top of page
Shugaevsky Family

Part 18   First Trip as a US Citizen

1918  - 1922

Click on images to enlarge.

The information detailing Marcus’s travels and his purported purpose for traveling are from his passport applications. For a while, I only had some sparse details from the 1923 passport application stating that he visited Japan, Siberia and Russia from 1918-1922. This passport application was issued to replace an emergency passport Leonid obtained in Constantinople on September 19, 1922. In 1923 (for his second trip), he states that his occupation is “salesman” and he is planning to do business for the American Mill Owners Corp on 52 Broad Street, New York City. We don't know his stated reason for the first trip or whether he was working for the Remington Arms Company, the US government or for some other reason.

1923 record-image_3QS7-99DQ-MYCP detail
1923 record-image_3QS7-99DQ-MYCP detail

Details from the 1923 passport application

When I finally checked, I found an image of the emergency passport application issued to Marcus in Constantinople and it has more details. As is often the case, the information provided doesn’t always seem to agree within the form and with other documents. For example, His (false) emigration year has moved from 1905 to 1906. After this he claims to have lived in the US uninterruptedly from 1908-1918. He doesn’t mention Bridgeport as a residence on this form (or anywhere else).

The 1922 Constantinople application is the earliest document I found with the address that Ariadna memorized before she emigrated, 75 Maiden Lane ℅ Charles Billinger. Also, Marcus claims he was residing in Russia for the purpose of commerce for H. Wadham and Co., 36 Wall St. in New York City. More about these two men further along.

Here are some dates from the application (images to the right):

April 27, 1918       left United States

May 15-20 1918   in Japan

May 28, 1918       arrives in Vladivostok, Russia (2½ months before                                 the US Army arrives)

(then there is a four year gap)

June 27, 1922    it’s not listed with the other places but later on we                               find out he was in Latvia

Sept 15, 1922     leaves Russia

Sept 18, 1922     this is the date of this application made in 


Not everything is 100% accurate or complete. Marcus visited other countries between 1918 and 1922. On side 2 there is a document submitted section with “Instructions from Evan Young, American commissioner Riga, dated June 27, 1922.” which leads me to believe that he was in Latvia. Interestingly, Marcus's brother Anatoly may have been in Latvia and/or Estonia around this time.

19220919 passport cropped.jpg
19220919 passport p2.jpg

Emergency passport application 

19220919 passport p2 detail.jpg

I wonder if Marcus may have been intentionally hiding his tracks by “loosing” his passport. Or maybe it was just out of date, stolen, or actually lost. At the time a passport was a folded piece of paper. Marcus must have been in Constantinople since that is where the application was made. The 1925 passport application confirms this. 

Odessa, Ukraine, to Istanbul, Turkey.jpg

The Turkish city, Istanbul, was still called Constantinople by western countries when Marcus stopped there. It is a strategic port and accessible by ship from Ukraine where his mother and brother were living.  The Ottoman empire was on the loosing side of WWI and Allied troops controlled what is now Turkey. The map is from Google Maps and shows current political boundaries.

g Leonid 1920 .jpeg

This photo, marked 1920 on the back, was with my family’s documents and must have been made during Marcus’s first trip. It appears to have been taken aboard a ship - notice the ladder and the water in the background. Marcus suffered from an injury to his eye, which is visible in this photo. There is no injury evident in the photo taken during his US Military service. My mom thinks that the writing at the top may say that the photo was taken in Russia. After finding it with family photos, I saw that it was used for the emergency passport application from Constantinople. 

White Russians 

When Leonid visited Constantinople it was full of Russian refugees who had fled from the Bolsheviks two years before. I give the details of this exodus in Anatoly's history. To summarize, towards the end of the Russian Civil War the White (anti-Bolshevik) Russians controlled the area around the Crimea but were in retreat. In November 1920, the general of the White Army decided to evacuate anybody that want to leave. Over 100,000 men, women and children (including Anatoly) were ferried across the Black Sea. Most of the civilians disembarked in Constantinople.   The White Army (including Anatoly) set up a base in nearby Gallipoli. Most of these soldiers left sometime in 1921, but some stayed till 1923. 

The Bolsheviks were almost fully in control of Russia when Leonid left and traveled to Constantinople in 1922. Before November 1920 he traveled in areas torn apart by civil war. It is hard to imagine how Leonid could travel from Vladivostok to the Baltic States during this time.


One question is why Leonid went to Constantinople in the first place. In June he was in Latvia and there are closer embassies to get a passport. Wild guesses include, visiting family in Ukraine and then going to Constantinople or looking for his brother in Gallipoli and either finding him or not finding him. 

Some Reflection

Three things stand out for me from this time period. First, Marcus transitions from an immigrant without much money, to a soldier, to a worker at an arms factory, to having business partners in the New York Financial district. It is the last step that is the most perplexing. If Mr Billinger and Mr Wadham were Russian that might explain how they connected with Marcus, but they are not Russian. 

In a short amount of time, there was enough trust built up that these business associates (I assume it was they) financed Marcus on a daring trip. Or was money coming from Remington or others? Marcus was not a previously a business person. Could he convince these men to send him away to make business deals? The whole issue has many unanswered questions.

Second, there is the timing of the trip. Marcus started the trip during war time. This can be explained by his wanting to be where the action (and where his family) was. He was a revolutionary and there was a revolution in progress. He may have gone with idea that he might stay. My mother mentioned that he considered moving back to Russia till he saw what the government was like. The civil war in Russia wasn’t completely over until October 1922. By then Marcus was already on his way home. Marcus must have traveled between communist and non-communist controlled areas. I wonder how he avoided being killed or taken prisoner. 

There may have been one other reason for Marcus to return to Russia. When he came to the US he was married. Was he still married? Was he in communication with his wife and planning to see her? Was he widowed? We don't know.

Third, there is the length of the trip. How did Marcus survive and what was he doing? How much business was he actually conducting and what where his other activities?

Update: The Latest News from 1918

In March of 2021 I received an email from a historian friend in Chernihiv, Ukraine. 

About Leonid Shugaevsky.


On November 30, 1918, one of the Chernigov newspapers "Chernigovskaya Misl" reported that L.A. Shugaevsky, was appointed a senior official on special assignments under the Chernigov provincial headman (last month of the reign of Hetman P. Skoropadsky).

For most of 1918 Ukraine was an "independent" country controlled by a pro-Ukrainian but anti-socialist leader. The countries independence was insured by the presence of the German military. Germany lost WWI, German troops left Ukraine, and on December 14, 1918 Skoropadsky's conservative government fell. 

From this information we know that Leonid was back in his home town. His brother, Valentin, sister-in-law, Polina, and mother, Anastasia were there as well.

Копия S7309285.JPG

Some Historical Review

When Marcus began his journey in April 1918, World War I was over in the east but still gridlocked in the west. The Allies who had been arming the Russians and making loans to them were upset. Peace in the east enabled the Central Powers to move substantial forces to France. Then the US entered the war (April 1917) but large numbers of troops didn’t arrive till 1918. World War I ended in November 1918 about seven months after Leonid departed. Civil war in the lands of the former Russian Empire would continue till 1922. 

In the Treaty of Brest Litovsk the Bolsheviks gave up Finland, the Baltic States, Ukraine, and other territories. They were willing to do this because the Bolshevik Revolution was only six months old and they were weak at home. When World War I ended, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was declared void and the Bolsheviks set about trying to reclaim lost territories. They weren’t completely successful. The Baltic States maintained their independence and Marcus spent much of his time abroad there.

Marcus first went west and crossed the Pacific. According to the emergency passport, he spent five days in Japan and a week later, on May 18,1918, he arrived in Vladivostok. Two months later the American Expeditionary Force, Siberia would arrive to guard American supplied weapons depots, help an independent Czech army exit Russia, and guard the railroad. To the consternation of the other anti-Bolshevik forces the US commander avoided clashes with the Bolsheviks, but they did have some battles.

Other combatants included White Russian (anti-communist) forces, the independent Czech army, British troops, 70,000 Japanese troops, Italian troops and an independent Cossack army that only seemed interested in rape and plunder. One AEF objective was to keep Japan from controlling the railroad. For this purpose the Russian Railway Service Corps was formed and run by US personnel. 

Most of the Allied forces didn’t arrive in Siberia till late 1918. By this time Leonid had somehow managed to successfully cross a war torn country and was living in Ukraine.


American Expeditionary Force, Siberia marching in Vladivstok in 1918 (top image) and an AEF hospital car north of Vladivostok Images are public domain from Wikipedia.

bottom of page