The most important things of life are accomplished one by one, and often they are heart-turning experiences, said Paul Cardall in his keynote address at this year’s Brigham Young University Conference on Family History and Genealogy.
Cardall’s personal heart-turning experiences began in a literal sense. When he was born, his half-functioning heart required immediate surgery, and he has had multiple surgeries throughout his life. After a heart transplant seven years ago, he “got lost and ended up divorced,” he said. After he met and married Tina, a wonderful Catholic woman, he began a journey of family ancestry discovery and music that took them on a circuitous route to his wife’s Slovenian homeland and family members she had never met.
During World War II, Tina’s ancestors joined a Slovenian movement of guerilla freedom fighters seeking to take advantage of the unsettled conditions to create a better government. After the war, they fled Yugoslavia and Josip Tito’s leadership. The freedom fighters in Tina’s family immigrated to Ohio and then moved to Duluth, Minnesota, where her mother and maternal grandmother joined them in 1953. The family eventually settled in Price, Utah. As political refugees in an unsettled world, they knew little about their family’s past.
Paul undertook the project of tracing the family line but made little progress. The needed information was in church archives in Slovenia, written in Slovenian, and access requires permission from the church leaders who maintain the archives.
“How can I track the family down?” Paul wondered. “Maybe I can turn the hearts of the fathers to help me find them,” he thought. He hired a genealogist in Slovenia to seek the family lines. She had connections with the clergy who keep the records; she knows the system and speaks the language. She and Paul developed a working friendship.