I am trying to find as much about my great-grandfather, Peter Stark, as I can and am hitting a wall. I hired two genealogists last year and neither were able to find anything more than I already had from Ancestry.com. I will describe a bit about what I have know/done already to “show my work” so to speak and see if anyone has some ideas of what I can do next!
My grandfather is named Paul Stark and he lists Peter Stark as his father in column 21 (nearest relative in the county from which you came) in the Canadian Passenger List, 1865-1935 (vol. 7, page 82, sheet no. 22, row 17). Paul Stark immigrated from Bremen Germany on April 5 1927 and arrived in Halifax Canada on April 15 1927 on a ship named “Yorck”. On the passenger list, Paul Stark states that Peter is located at “Gudgallen, East Pr.” On the Bremen Passenger List from the Staats Archiv Bremen, it is listed as “Gudhallen Deutsch”. Either way, neither genealogist was able to find such a place. However, I found a place on genealogy.net that might be correct.
One strategy I had was to work backwards from Paul Stark and find a place of birth and go from there. On Paul’s Certificate of Canadian Citizenship (we have the original paper copy) he lists the Place and Date of Birth as “Wilicacnashshoi, Kuban, Russia, 7th June 1907”. He lists that he is a Subject Citizen of “Germany”. It is possible that this is a spelling error on my grandfather’s part because there is a Mennonite Settlement near the Kuban River in Russia with a town called “Welikoknjasheskoje” and it is more likely Paul was born there. He did recall memories of the Black Sea and living near a train station which lines up with a settlement that is referred to as Wohldemfürst or Alexanderfeld (some hand-drawn maps show them as almost connected). Paul Stark definitely spoke German so it makes sense that he was born in a German-speaking settlement in Russia in 1907.
It is probably a huge understatement to say that the political situation in that area at that time was complicated and only got worse and the rumours of my great-grandfather’s death also make a lot of sense. I don’t think it is possible to find a death certificate for him and he isn’t listed in the memorial for Stalin’s Terror list, but I was thinking I would be able to find a birth or baptism certificate but no luck. Any ideas on that?
Another strategy I thought of was researching his wife! My great-grandmother is named Pauline Friederike Laible and was born December 20 1870 in Stuttgart, Württemberg, Deutschland. She died in Germany (we think) in 1949. Along with my grandfather Paul, they had 3 other children called Jacob, Elizabeth and Frieda Stark. I was hoping that if I could find a marriage certificate for Peter and Pauline, Peter would have his birth information and parents’ names listed. Pauline’s family all seem to be born and died in Bittenfeld, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, so I am not sure when or where Pauline married Peter and how they settled in Kuban, Russia by 1907. Any thoughts?