This summer, Harvey and I went on a trip of a lifetime: a trip that took us to a far-away land where my and Grandad Lupichuk’s side of the family were born. These were your Great, Great Grandparents and this land is called the Ukraine.
On this trip, we visited some interesting cities but there is one special place in the countryside around the Crimean city of Sevastopol that we will never forget. Can you see Sevastopol on the map?
We are about to tell you all about a place near there that will keep us wondering and asking questions for a long, long time. It is here that we made an important discovery.
It was a beautiful summer day and we had spent most of the morning adventuring in the big city with fellow travellers. Our Yalta - Sevastopol private guide Sergey Tsarapora took us with the other travellers to the outskirts of the city that afternoon and it was a relief to be in the fresh, quiet countryside. When we arrived, Great Uncle Harvey and I decided to venture off alone on a rough path leading to a field – you can see the path in the photograph above. We found a nice rock to sit on to take a rest together and the rock we sat on is right in the middle of the picture.
After a few minutes of sitting, enjoying the view and kicking dirt on the ground beside the rock, Great Uncle Harvey discovered three buttons! How odd to find buttons in the middle of nowhere! We knelt down to see them better, and dig them around the rock. Sitting down again, we brushed away the dusty soil. We wondered, "What were these buttons doing here? Why would they be lying in the dirt? How did they get there? Who did they belong to? A man? A woman? A child?”
We cleaned them up a bit more and realized we were holding history in our hands! After taking a closer look, we discovered that these buttons seemed to have come from military uniforms. We could tell that they were old but we didn't know anything else about them. Little did we know the mystery that would unfold with these three buttons.
The next day we met our Ukrainian friend, private guide Sergey Tsarapora, who lived near this place in the countryside. When Sergey saw the three buttons we found, his jaw dropped! He could not believe his eyes. Tour guide Sergey Tsarapora told us all about how these three buttons were a part of the history of the area and we were very lucky to have found them.
Historian Sergey Tsarapora told us stories about the past. He explained to us that those very buttons we were holding in our hands were worn on the jackets of men who fought in a war more than 120 years ago. Can you imagine that? How old are you? How old are the buttons on your shirt? One? Two? Maybe 10 years old? That war was the Crimean War and it took place in the 1850’s.
Do you remember what country Great Uncle Harvey and I were in? Yes, the Ukraine. Well, it turns out that those buttons were not worn by Ukrainian men, but were worn by men in the British military. Why were people fighting over Ukrainian land along the Crimean Peninsula? Well, everyone wanted to have this special City of Sevastopol because it is a port city like Vancouver. This means ships can come and go easily so Sevastopol was an ideal port for travel or to trade goods.
Can you imagine Joven, Connell and a neighbour wanting to take over Tarek’s bedroom while Nadia is calling it hers too? That is what it was like when Britain, France and Turkey were competing with Russia to take over that city in the Ukraine. Not fair, eh?
Here is where all the troops were stationed while Sevastopol was under siege, and you can see on the map
Is it possible that your Grandmother Lupichuk's British family (The Stephens, The O’Connors and The Northcotts) were in the Ukraine and that one these buttons could have belonged to them? Is it possible that our families met some time in the past? Do you think we found these buttons for a reason or was it just by chance? However you answer these questions, it leads to the mystery of whether or not our families met in the past. Maybe all of our ancestors knew each other at another time in history
We left the buttons with our friend Sergey, in Yalta (a city near Sevastapol) so they could stay in the country where they rightfully belong. They are considered historical artifacts and so it is not possible to take them out of the Ukraine.
The story is our story and our story as a family, and we wanted to share it with you. We have some photographs of the buttons that private guide Sergey Tsarapora took for us. The photos are enlarged. The real buttons are about the size of a dime
There are some things we know about the buttons. If you look closely at the photographs, you will see that there are cannons on two of the buttons and with a bit of research we discovered that they were buttons from an artillery officer or sergeant's military uniform. These buttons were made by a company called Firmin & Sons that has been making uniform buttons since 1655. Wow! That’s more than 300 years ago! The name of the company is stamped on the back of two of the buttons.
The third button is a mystery. It seems to have a horse and a lion holding a crest. You need to look at it and see what you think. The back of the button was just plain, no maker’s name.