After the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, it became easier for citizens in those parts of the world to communicate with those of us in the West.
My own ancestors came from that part of the world and it was at around this time my family in Canada began to learn more about our ancestry and family tree.
After World War II, many individuals were displaced as a result of the political agreements of the states involved in settling territorial issues at the time. My parents’ families were affected. They fled Ukraine for Western Europe and eventually Canada. Many records of their lives in Ukraine were lost. For nearly half a century after the descent of the Iron Curtain, communications and ties with out remaining families in Ukraine were greatly curtailed.
Today, we know more about our ancestry, thanks to communications we’ve had with family members in today’s Ukraine, and to the efforts of an aunt who was interested in our genealogy.
Among the interesting connections in our ancestry are our ties to Petro Konashevych (Петро (Кононович) Конашевич-Сагайдачний), a significant political, civic and military leader and diplomat in 16th and 17th century Ukraine. From 1614 until 1622 he held the rank of Hetman with the Ukrainian Cossacks. Sahaidachny was a nickname he earned at the Zaporozhian Sich, a Cossack republic. The nickname refers to an archer’s quiver and denoted his high military rank.
He was born ca 1570 to an aristocratic family. He received a privileged education in the best universities of the time. The Konashevych family had been accepted into Polish nobility in the 16th century and was granted a coat of arms with a history dating back to the 12th century.
He participated in early 17th century in military campaigns against the Tatars and Turks and led the Cossacks in capturing cities from the Turks and freeing slaves. He also led a Cossack army in a campaign by Poland against Muscovy. His military success attracted the attention of European rulers and his victories strengthened the Cossack union and influence in the region. Sahaidachny placed his significant energy towards the religious and cultural rights of the Ukrainian people and sought to unite Cossack military prowess with the Ukrainian clergy and nobility.
He died from wounds sustained in his final military campaign in 1622. His ultimate popularity made him the subject of several Ukrainian folk songs.