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Finding Their Roots In Some Unexpected Places

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We all know our own story. We’ve lived through the pages of our own book of life, but very few know how it all began. And, sometimes, it’s the members of our blood line that are no longer with us that can supply us with the most answers.
We’re now entering a time where people are becoming more and more curious of that beginning and uncovering their ancestral story to discover the pages in their book that they cannot write themselves.
Diane and Terry Sakal are amongst those that went looking for answers and discovered an entire side of lineage that was never previously known.
“A woman came to visit and she said that she was sure she was related to Terry somehow,” said Diane Sakal. “That got Terry curious so we started looking through some of his old things and came across his baby book.”
Inside the baby book contained a lineage that his mother had written before she passed. The lineage contained the names of his parents and his grandparents.
“It was a start,” said Terry Sakal.
From that point the curiosity grew and the Sakals decided to join Ancestry.com to help fill in the blanks.
“There’s nothing there because when the people came here from Eastern Europe the people doing the census were English so the names were all spelled wrong,” said Diane Sakal.
“I had to use all kinds of resources. I sent emails to historical societies in different areas, checked newspapers, visited cemeteries, things other than just the information on Ancestry. But, there’s more and more information all the time on Ancestry.”
A little frustrated with the lack of information the Sakals resorted to searching for everything that had to do with their roots and came across a blog where genealogists would answer questions.
“I sent a message saying who Terry’s family was, and the village they were from, and that we were having trouble finding any information.”
The Sakals were then directed to a genealogist from the area that could be of more assistance.
The genealogist returned eight pages of information to the Sakals and an address to contact a living family member.
The Sakals made contact and eventually travelled to Ukraine to spend some time with their long lost relatives and learn more about Terry Sakal’s story.
“To find your family stuff you have to do a lot of digging,” said Diane Sakal. “(When you have) more information about somebody’s life you find or when you have pictures, then they become people. There’s a whole story with that person.
“We found a lot of information from the cemeteries,” she continued, noting that on most old headstones the person’s middle name is usually included. A name that they were given in relation to their parent and thus making a connection a likelihood.
Leone Sigurdson, our Valley Historian, also uses gravestones to find out information in her searches.
Having completed 25,000 graves and taken pictures of over 16,000, she has built quite an addition to the archives that she is in charge of.
“Quite a few people come to me with questions about their ancestors,” said Sigurdson. “They’ll see me on Find A Grave and ask for more information. I’ll try to find them an obituary because there’s a lot of history there for them. I also have taken people through cemeteries to search for information.”
Sigurdson is currently working through the archives to attach obituaries where possible to help build the information that she possesses.
“I just want to help people find their ancestors,” she concluded.
“You need to do this,” said Diane Sakal. “Everyone should know where they come from.”

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Jakki Lumax
REPORTER
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