The background of
Conversations about our ancestors were
not popular in our family, the same way it was in any other Russian
(Soviet!) family. Nothing out of the common—sometimes I overheard
sketchy phrases or was shown very old photos… At times the grandmother
or mom mentioned some very small details about our family history and
those sounded more like family tales.
When I became an adult, I began to realize some absurdity: my
grandfather wrote in questionnaires that his father was an ordinary clerk,
or (in some other questionnaires) a bookkeeper or sometimes a cook, and
that his mother was a peasant, but our grandparents’ old furniture,
utensils and all other conditions of their habitation corresponded more
likely to those of the pre-revolutionary middle class. Neither my
grandmother, nor both great-grandmothers worked much outside of the house and they were supported by husbands. My
grandmother (like her 5 sisters) studied in a private gymnasium and
grandfather - in Moscow Supreme Imperial Technical School, also
Either my grandparents did not tell the whole truth, or cooks and peasants were paid very well before 1917!
In the beginning of the 1990’s, when archives slightly re-opened and it
became no longer formidable to ask simple children's questions about family heritage, I have
started to dig into archives. At that time there was little of Russian-language Internet, Russian genealogy was in its embryo stage, and I could find only little about my family history. But I was amazed with even what was possible to find...
And when in February 2007,
after more than a 10-year break, I have undertaken the “excavation” in
archives again - the information simply overflowed me. In just 3
months, I was able to find 8 generations of my mother's branch! I have
also found what locations they came from.
Now, after 10 months of my researches I uncovered 11 generations of my
mother’s branch and almost finished 2 chargeable researches by request.
In one of those, I also uncovered 11 generation, beginning that
research with only a very small amount of information about the
customer’s forefathers: full name and the estate address of his
grandfather. I found something amazing about his forefathers in the
archives, but I can’t provide details without his permission. I may say
only that the customer was pleasantly surprised!
A year after.
As of May 2008, in my mother’s heritage line I’ve researched as deep as the middle of the XVIIth century and was able to find an ancestor who was born as early as 1620!
Not bad for a family tree of state serfs, right? Now my family tree is 13 generations deep.
I became an acquaintance with one of the descendants of the lairds who owned my ancestors for several generations. With help of other genealogists, I also found the lost (during the Russian Revolution of 1917) branch of the Stolyarov family. Without their help, I wouldn’t probably able to do that on my own.
In addition, I helped others in their own searches. Among those whom I helped was a descendant of Russian merchants, who presently resides in France and doesn’t speak any Russian. For him, I found his second cousins in Moscow and France.
My daughter and I traveled to Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar, Eysk and Primorsko-Ahtarsk. Of course, we visited local beaches and swam, but we also studied their archives. We found what city my fraternal grandfather came from and now I am researching that branch further.
My second-uncles were found (not themselves of course, but archival information about them)—in
the Poltava archives of village Belotserkovzy of Lokhvizkiy uezd.
I discovered two more female relatives-my 4 times great grandmother Ulyana Nikitina, who was born in 1792 in Tarchanovo-Ruzskiy uezd, and her mother, who is my 5 times great grandmother, Kseniya Anikieva. I also found a marriage license (and marriage search!) of my great grandfather Vasiliy Alekseev Letov and great grandmother Evdokiya Surikov. Now, I have a direct proof of us related to the Surikov family.
Vasiliy’s marriage search also provided lots of interesting information, including that in 1896 he became a retired army reserve officer. Our family didn’t know anything about his service in the Army.
Now my genealogical research is being done in the Russian National Archive of Older Historical Documents. Their documents helped me to connect relatives resided in Tarchanovo in 1709 and 1748. Those relatives were all found.
I recently received the requested information about the Andrianovs from Zlatoustinskiy Archive. It contains a lot of new and interesting facts. The further I search, the more interesting my search becomes.
(To be continued…)