LEMONT – Lemont resident Lois Ryan went on a trip to Slovenia in September hoping to learn more about her grandmother, who had emigrated from there in 1909.
In one day, she discovered not only her grandmother’s birth village, but relatives she did not know she had.
Ryan was attending a conference for the Slovenian Genealogy Society International, which she joined last year.
“I’ve had a close relationship with my grandmother,” she said. “So, I wanted to trace my roots.”
Ryan said that before arriving in Slovenia, she only knew that her grandmother, Mary Race, was born in a village called Rodik.
Once in Slovenia, Ryan, along with her husband, Jim, traveled to Rodik to check on birth records.
Although there were multiple people with her grandmother’s name born in that village the same year, they were able to determine the house her grandmother was born in based on stories from when her grandmother came to visit in the 1960s.
The house and farm are still owned by the Race family and have been renovated into a country farm guest house.
Ryan said the speed in which she found her relatives was surprising.
“The thing was that of all those folks that were at the genealogical conference, I was the only to find the village [my grandmother was from], find the house she was born in and find my second cousins,” she said.
She said the cousins were equally excited to meet her.
“They were flabbergasted,” she said. “They were thrilled.”
Ryan said she corresponds with the cousins weekly by email and plans to visit the village again next year with her daughter and grandchildren.
Now able to fill her family tree on her grandmother’s side back to 1620, she hopes to learn more about her newly discovered family.
“What I learned is that I am from a line of warm, giving, wonderful relatives,” she said.
More about Lois Ryan
Residence: Lived in Lemont for five years
Career: Retired from sales in transportation
Hobbies: Traveling, reading
After Lois Ryan's story was published in a Slovenian newspaper, a woman from Ohio contacted her, saying she also had relatives with the same last name from that town. Ryan encourages anyone else who may have a connection to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.