Part 7 (Finally, a Woman)
Anastasia Andreyevna Shugaevskaya, ca.1865-1943
Most women are lost to history, so it is rewarding to be able to include a whole page on one of my female ancestors. I’m also happy to reach the realm of personal memory – my mother knew her grandmother Anastasia. Her childhood memories of Anastasia are in the Rena's Memories section of this web site.
My grandfather Valentin wrote some details about Anastasia on the back of a photo. Here we learn that Anastasia’s maiden name was Koshman and she was born ca.1865 and died April 4th, 1943. I find it odd that Valentin didn't know Anastasia's exact year of birth.
In 1882 Anastasia first gave birth and she was still very young. My mother was told that Anastasia was barely eighteen when she married André. If Anastasia and André married in 1881 and we subtract eighteen years we arrive at 1865 as Anastasia's birth year. This matches the year written on the back of the photo.
According to Valentin, the photo is from the 1890s. To me it looks like to could have been earlier. If the photo (on the right) is from the 1890s it is not a wedding photo as I originally thought it might be. I have searched for the significance of the outfit. My mother says it is just a traditional Ukrainian outfit. We have a similar portrait of my grandmother, Polina.
Anastasia's father was Andrei Stepanovich Koshman, “owner of a small estate near the village of Kovrai, near Poltava”. My mother remembers being told that Anastasia was born in Poltava. Poltava was the name of both a city and a gubernia (an administrative district) at the time. The back of this photo is (I believe) the only mention of the village of Kovrai. Kovrai is a small village which is actually a little closer to Kiev than Poltava, but still in Poltava Gubernia. I assume that the Koshmans had a residence in the city of Poltava and Anastasia was born there.
In 1865 the city of Poltava was an important city with about 30,000 inhabitants. It had a district school, a male gymnasium (secondary school), an Institute for Noble Maidens (finishing school), a spiritual academy, a cadet corps, a theater and would soon be connected by railway to other important cities. Two of Anastasia's children traveled from Chernigov to attend school in Poltava.
Interesting fact: There is a town near the city of Poltava called Koshmanivka (Кошманівка). I originally thought the suffix meant "mill" as in Koshman's Mill, but I haven't been able to confirm that.
Koshman sounds like a German name which would not be unusual. Over the centuries there were several large immigrations of Germans that settled in the Russian Empire. The first major immigration started under Tsarina Catherine II who was herself a German. They were given religious tolerance, greater political rights, more economic opportunity than they had at home, and exemption from military service. Initially they were brought in to farm recently conquered lands, but eventually took their place at all levels of Russian society.
From printed text on the front and back of an original studio copy of the photo, we find it was taken in “Tchernigov” (also translated as Chernigov, or Chernihiv). The information about the photo studio is printed in French.
There is more text on the photo that could be translated.
Click on images to enlarge.
Anastasia in 1903.
Valentin wrote notes on the back of a photo of Anastasia. The photo is a copy of the one below.
Anastasia in the 1890's in a traditional Ukrainian outfit. These images of the front and back are from the original photo. On the front is a Russian imperial eagle. The writing is in French. In 1890 Anastasia would have been about 25 years old – it seems odd that Valentin didn't know the year of her birth.
Anastasia's daughter -in-law Polina in a similar outfit
The marker towards bottom left of map is the current village of Kovrai, which is about 240 Km (150 miles) from the city of Poltava (bottom of map, towards the right) – a very long trip in those days. We don’t know whether Kovrai was Anastasia’s birthplace or if she spent much time there at all. Kiev (left side), Chernihiv (top left) and Romny (center) are also circled on the map.
We don't know how Anastasia met and married the much older Andrei (the difference in age was about 19 years). We don't know if Anastasia was living in Poltava when they met, or where Andrei lived, or where the wedding ceremony took place. Andrei traveled for his work so it is easy to imagine them meeting in Poltava on one of his trips. I wonder how well they knew each other before they got married.
Early on in her marriage, Anastasia had a traumatic experience, the loss of her first child. Below is the story told by my mom.
Dedushka was the oldest to survive childhood. His mother got married very young. She was barely 18. And she had a baby right away. A wet nurse was taken from the countryside who lied about herself and didn’t have enough milk and the baby perished. It was a traumatic experience. Because Dedushka’s mother was young she didn’t realize what was happening.
The baby that perished was also named Valentin. According to the record to the right, the baby was born in 1882 and died in 1884 so it was over a year old when it perished. From the story I originally thought the baby was younger when it died. We don't know where Anastasia and Andrei lived when their first child was born.
Detail from the Genealogy Book of Chernigov Landed Gentry, 1901.
#4 was a child named Valentin born in 1882 who died in infancy.
#5 is my grandfather, also named Valentin born in 1884.
#6 is Leonid, born in 1886.
#7 is Anatoly, born in 1889
Maria, born in 1894 is not in this book
My grandfather, Valentin, was born in Kiev in 1884. Later that year he was baptized in a town in Ukraine called Romny (marked on the map above). According to one source, when my grandfather was ten years old, the family moved to Chernihiv, the city where Andrei grew up and where his father was a priest. This would have been around the time Maria was born and when Valentin entered gymnasium.
Anastasia had four children who survived til adulthood. Each will have their own section. Valentin and Anatoly went to the classical gymnasium in Chernihiv, Leonid went to a cadet academy in Poltava, and Maria went to the Poltava Institute for Noble Maidens.
1917 was a tumultuous year for Russia and for the Shugaevsky family. World War I had drained the country's finances. Valentin was living in the capital, Petrograd (St. Petersburg) where there were shortages of food and fuel as well as political unrest. There Valentin met Polina Kunashova, a much younger woman who was to became his wife.
Around this time Anastasia's daughter Maria passed away. It is curious that Valentin didn't know if it was in 1916 or 1917. In March 1917 the Czar abdicated, but the provisional government continued participating in the war. Anastasia’s youngest son Anatoly, 28 years old at the time, graduated from a military academy in Kiev. In November, the Bolsheviks took power and Anatoly joined the White (anti-Bolshevik) movement. As far as I know, Anatoly never returned. Anatoly's wife ended up living with Anastasia. The only thing that we know about the wife is that she lost her job because she attended church.
In November of 1917, Anastasia's husband died. Valentin took a leave of absence to return to Chernihiv and because of the civil war was unable to return to Petrograd. Around this time Valentin’s future bride, Polina Kunashova, came from Petrograd to live with Anastasia and finish secondary school in Chernihiv. I don't know if the future couple was engaged. One reason Polina came to Chernihiv was for the weather – she had tuberculosis and the weather in Chernihiv is not as harsh as in Petrograd. I don’t know if Anatoly’s wife and Polina were living with Anastasia at the same time. Polina was fun-loving and exuberant. Anastasia was more reserved and was recently widowed. It is hard to imagine what their relationship was like.
Anastasia had some support from her son Leonid who had emigrated to the United States. He was able to send her dollars which were very much in demand. Leonid was also able to visit her at least once.
Germany occupied Ukraine in the autumn of 1941. Somehow Anastasia managed to survive two winters of Nazi occupation before she passed away (April 1943). Anastasia was around 78 years old when she died. At this time the Nazis were in retreat.
My mother remembers when a peasant arrived from Chernigov with news of Anastasia's death. For the peasant to have made the trip Nazi Germany must have still occupied both Chernigov and Kiev. The peasant also brought Anastasia's cross which was worn from many years of use (holding it while praying).
After Anastasia's death, Valentin's last living relative (besides his wife and child) was his brother Leonid who was in New York City. Later that year when the Soviets were approaching Kiev, he would head west with his family.
After I initially published the material on this page I remembered that an informal family portrait from 1906 or 1907 includes two relatives. One is Gregory Yevinovich Chervinski, who was the husband of Anastasia's older sister, Elena. Standing behind him is his son, Mistislav. Thus we know that Anastasia had an older sister.
Family portrait ca. 1906 that includes The husband of Anastasia's sister, Elena, and his son. We don't know why Elena is not present.
Anastasia was considered a beauty in her youth and known as a fantastic cook. She was very critical of her daughter-in-law's (my grandmother's) cooking. She was also very strict. My mother was used to being indulged by her nanny, Lyusha, who was still very young herself. Lyusha could hardly wait for Anastasia to leave.