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A Visit to Brusylov: the family home town in the Ukraine

By Lyuda Gonchar (wife of Don Bossin)

When Don told me that the Bossin family was looking for someone in Ukraine to get pictures of the place or maybe even the house where their grandparents lived; I decided to do it since I was planning a trip to Ukraine that summer.

I rented a car and driver for a day. The distance between Talnoe (where my mom lives and where I was staying) and Brusylov is 220 km:  approx. 3 and a half hours of driving. My mother insisted on going to Brysilov with me.  I didn’t mind as she wanted to have an adventure and I was a bit nervous and could use the company.

Brusylov is a small city with a population of  about 5,400 people now. At the beginning of the 20th century, the population was approximately 14,000 people.  Lots of people emigrated during the first twenty-five years, with WWI and the revolution and then came WWII which was a disaster to the population and to the Jewish and Ukrainian people who remained.

My first stop was at city hall. I asked if they had heard of Sinelnikova street in the city. And the answer was ‘no’, they didn’t recall this name, not now or in the past. They looked at the old maps and papers in the archives, but they could not find it.  Then I asked if they could direct me to the oldest person in the city, because maybe they could help: they often know names and people and history.

So they did and I met with a woman who was 90 years old, but she could not recall the name of the street.  She was very nice and sent me to a man who is an historian, “He definitely knows” she said.

But that man didn’t recall Sinelnikova street.  Then he decided to call his son, who is also an historian, and who lives in Kiev and does research on the history of Brusylov in the central archive in Kiev.  This was a lucky break.  The son said ‘yes’ there was  a Sinelnikova street in Brusylov before the revolution in 1917.  This street was renamed so many times that no one remembers all the names.  I told him my story and much to my surprise he even knew where building  number16 was and he said that Sinelnikova was a very long street and most of the Jewish population had lived on this street, but in the period between the WW1 and the revolution almost all the Jewish people left.  So his father went with us to show where this place is.  So nowadays all the buildings are pretty new and it was hard to find an old house.  And around the #16 lot there is a commercial building along with other buildings built in a few decade ago: first it was a medical centre then there was a small manufacturer there and now there is a temporary church.

It was an interesting adventure and I am pleased to present you with some limited history, and I hope this has been helpful.

If anyone wants to see the photos that Lyuda took write me and I’ll forward them on.

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