"I’d like to share this on report ancestor hunting in Slovenia and tell a bit of the story of how Urban at Ancestry Slovenia made our trip such a success. In 2016, my husband’s sister and I began planning a trip to find out about ancestors who had left Slovenia for the U.S. over 100 years ago. In addition to ancestor hunting, we wanted to see the birth country of the grandparents, so we’d rented a car and mapped out a driving tour of Slovenia from east to west. We’d been working on the US records for almost two years, and we were sure we had collected all of the relevant records to be found in the U.S. In fact, we’d already discovered that the Grandparents were not from Ljubljana, as family members had thought, but from tiny, remote villages located somewhere near Sevnica (Grandmother) and Brežice, Slovenia (Grandfather.) We didn’t know a thing about these villages, and we weren’t aware of any relatives currently living in Slovenia. Four months before our trip, a volunteer at the Slovenian Genealogy Society International (SGSI) in Cleveland, Ohio, helped determine that the older records for our family in Sevnica and Brežice would be at the archives of Maribor. She gave us the name of Gregor Skafar, archivist for the Archdiocese of Maribor. We sent our U.S. records directly to him. Fortunately, this same volunteer had expertise in tracing family history for herself in Slovenia. She suggested that in addition to contacting Gregor Skafar, we might want to hire a guide for the ancestry hunting part of our trip.
We started a flurry of communications. In the end, we connected with someone described as a part of a team of “detective guides.” This person was Urban, a licensed Slovenian travel guide who also enjoyed helping people find their roots in Slovenia. Urban spoke perfect English, as well as Slovenian and several other languages. He kept in regular email contact with us from our first contact until we returned to the U.S. at the conclusion of our trip. Another month went by and we hadn’t heard from the Maribor Archives. Now, we were worried we wouldn’t get the records in time for our trip. At this point, things needed to move fast. Thanks to Urban, they did! Urban asked for copies of all we had sent to Gregor in Maribor so we sent him the US records. Urban indicated getting records from the archives could be a slow process, so he contacted Gregor directly to see how the research was going. Urban’s involvement seemed to make all the difference. We heard from Gregor that he would have the records we’d requested (birth/baptism for grandparents, birth/baptism and marriages for great grandparents, and any death records the archives had. Gregor said these would be ready for pick-up in Maribor on the day of our arrival in Ljubljana. To save time, we asked Urban if he would consider going to Maribor and collecting the records from Gregor for us. Urban agreed to do this, so he actually met Gregor for us. He talked to Gregor regarding the records and made arrangements for us to pay the Maribor Archives for the record copies while we were in Slovenia.
Meanwhile, Urban used his time alone with our records to plan our visit to the two locations where the Grandparents were born. He met us at our hotel in Ljubljana, where we discussed the plan he’d made and looked over the maps he’d created for our guided trip. He translated the records he had picked up for us from Maribor, and he even sketched our family tree to explain to anyone we happened to meet who we were and who we were looking for. We had rented a car with GPS, but it was great to have Urban drive us to these rural, mountainous locations. He helped us with several practical questions we had, and he made recommendations for local dining along the way, even selecting menu items for us. We were delighted with the trip Urban planned for us!
Finally, Urban proved an experienced ancestor hunter, as well as a personable fellow. He took us to the rural residences where the grandparents were born, inside parishes, and into local homes. It was so much fun to meet the people who currently lived on the site of homes that had been either greatly remodeled or raised all together for newer buildings since our ancestors were there over one hundred years ago. We were made to feel so welcome! Everyone we met knew the history of their property or had some connection to the people of our surnames. We found that amazing considering all of the time that had passed. It was in this setting that Urban translated the fun and informative communications between all of us. We left with gifts of red and white wine, pear schnapps, and many new email connections to help with our Slovenian family tree in the future.
If I’m fortunate enough to travel to Slovenia again, Urban of Ancestry Slovenia (ancestry-slovenia.com) will be my guide!"