I am looking for relatives of my great grandfather Mihhail/Mikhail ZDANOVICH in Belarus. I haven't been successful in finding anything so far. I just might not know where to look. That's why I decided to reach out to fellow genealogy enthusiasts here.
My great grandfather Mikhail Zdanovich was born in Minsk gubernia, Navagrudak uyezd, Ostrovni volost, Belarus on July 21, 1890 and died in Tartu, Estonia January 13, 1983. He had two sons, Arkadi and Evgeni (who later took the name Heino Eugen). On his marriage certificate to my great grandmother Anna (neé Makstin), his father's name is listed as Foma. The record also places him in the 30th engineering division (based in Navagrudak?) as a soldier (soldat) prior to marriage. Here is the snippet of his marriage records from Estonia in 1918.
Here's where it gets a bit tricky. I don't actually know if he or his family were Jewish. I am taking a little leap here by reaching out to Jewish genealogy researchers. But I hope you will hear my story out.
He is obviously married in the Russian Orthodox faith in Estonia (as stated in the marriage certificate), but that could be because of his wife's family since he had just come to Estonia. Heritage and religion were things that people didn't talk about during the Soviet occupation in my country and that's why there's a big part of Mikhail's history that we don't know. But there is a family story that his wife would sometimes jokingly call him a "Polish jew". I think it was when he said or did something specific that reflected how his upbringing was different to what was common for his wife, and it was always said as kind of cheeky taunt. I've been thinking, though, that one doesn't simply come up with such a phrase to call someone if there wasn't any truth to it. He also had really dark, almost black hair all his life - a stereotype, I know. Perhaps that was why his wife made that comment? Who knows.
There's some more stories and things I know of. I don't know if they are of help, but I will write them here anyway:
Firstly, there is the vagueness of the story about how he even ended up in South Estonia during WW1. He is said to have been a war prisoner being transported on a train to Tallinn to be executed, but somehow escaped (maybe something happened to the train?) and he ended up in a local manor, where he met his future wife Anna.
Secondly, after his passing in 1983, Mikhail's son Arkadi wrote to Mikhail's sister in Belarus. I couldn't relocate the address at the moment, but it led to a small village that doesn't seem to exist anymore. What is more, Mihkail's sister along with her daughter and granddaugther visited Mihkail once in Estonia in the late 1960s - early 1970s. But they would be impossible to track down since they would probably have married names and those we simply don't know.
Thirdly, he apparently often mentioned Baranovichi and Ostrova. If he was a soldier at the time, maybe the reference was to the Baranovichi Offensive in July 1916?
Lastly, a story about his ancestors moving from Eastern Poland to Belarus at some point. Or just living in the border area (the border moved many times throughout history)? And also us being a little Italian??
That being said, this is all I have to go on. Some stories, but nothing concrete pointing to any relatives. As far as I know, he could have made some of it up.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading my story! I genuinely appreciate it. If you have come across this man or his family in your research, or could point me in any direction, it would be greatly appreciated.