Part 10 The Mysterious Marcus Terbey
Leonid Andreyevvich Shugaevsky, 1885 - 1949
For many years I was curious about my mother’s Uncle Leonid and wanted to know more about the man who brought my mother and her parents to this country. He was a soldier, revolutionary, adventurer, traveler and successful businessman. My mother, Ariadna, only knew a few details and wasn’t sure how much of what she heard was true. Like many other immigrants he adopted a new name in this country. He became Marcus Terbey.
Unfortunately, Marcus’s wife was ill-disposed to her newly immigrated in-laws and eventually forbade Marcus to have any contact with them. After this dictum, Valentin met secretly with Marcus but my mother never spoke with him again. In May 1949, less than two years after my mother and her parents emigrated, Marcus passed away from throat cancer and afterwards my mother’s parents seldom spoke of him.
My search started a few years back with some unsuccessful internet searches. More recently, armed with the correct spelling of Marcus’s name, and with more persistence and better luck, I struck gold in the form of some passport applications, steamship passenger lists, a US military pension application and a 1940 census record. There were big gaps and inconsistencies in the information but I wrote up the story of my great-uncle’s life as best I could.
Since that initial document, I stumbled into more information, some of it in my mother’s possession, some on the internet, and some in the documents I had already looked at many times. Following small and seeming insignificant details led to major discoveries. The internet has many nooks and crannies and successful research takes persistence. More information is certainly sitting in libraries and archives but I haven’t sought it out.
The following web pages present most of the information I found that directly relates to Marcus Terbey and some of the historical research I did along the way. I haven’t done much editing to create an exiting story but I think it still has interest for the casual reader.
In the New York Russian circles, Marcus was known by his birth name Leonid. Depending on the context I will use one or the other.
My curiosity was sparked by my mother's memories, so that is where we will start.
Click on images to enlarge.
This photo of Leonid from the family portrait ca, 1906 captures his personality.
We were not in contact with my uncle for a number of years. My grandmother was in contact. He was able to send things to her. The communists liked dollars so he subsidized his mother somewhat all along. He had a Wall Street address, so no matter where he went there was an address where he could be reached. Others at the office would know where he was. I had the address memorized. I still remember that it was on Maiden Lane.
My uncle had changed his name. His name was Mark Terbey in the United States. I don’t know too much about him except these stories that could be apocryphal about how he escaped Russia. He had participated in the 1905 Russian Revolution, and he was sent to Siberia and was going to be executed and a whole group of them were able to break out of prison. He tried to shave his face so that he would look different but he couldn’t finish the job, so he had a big towel wrapped around half of his face as though he had a toothache. He crossed the border into China and had lived in Shanghai. Then he came to the United States and became a US citizen. He went to Europe a lot. When he returned to what had become the Soviet Union he didn’t like what he saw of communism so he never repatriated.
I think the wife my uncle had in this country was his third wife. She was German. They met when she was his nurse when he was sick. And she used him. She was not a good person. She threw us out and made sure we didn’t inherit anything and she wanted us to return all the money he spent on our behalf. But my uncle forgave the dept. His wife didn’t want to give us a penny. She told Dedushka to go to work in a match factory (owned by Russians). Dedushka was old already. It was not something he could have done.
Mrs. Schmidt who was their friend (and also became our friend) broke off her relationship with the wife because she liked us and said that the wife was someone who only married my uncle for the money. She wanted all the money for herself and her family in Germany.
No one explained my uncle’s profession to me. He was originally trained as an engineer. He was an entrepreneur and an adventurer and he made money by trading on Wall Street. In 1929 he was exceptionally wealthy and then he lost it in the crash. But then he recovered.
My uncle had influential friends. He had friends in Washington he could visit who were close to the government, and that’s how he was able to speed our visas and got us the passage. It was because he had these very good friends.
From passenger lists I found on the internet, I noticed that my mother’s uncle never traveled first class, always tourist or third class, so I questioned her about his wealth. When her family arrived in the United States after World War II, Uncle Leonid certainly seemed very wealthy. He lived comfortably and could easily afford to bring them to this country. We don’t actually how wealthy he was. My mother doesn’t remember the amount that her uncle spent to bring her family to America, but thinks it may be around $1000. I haven’t researched what their passage on the RMS Queen Mary would have cost.
Marcus did have connections in Washington D.C as evidenced by the letter below. We don’t know how he made those connections.
This is a 1945 photostat of a 1935 letter from the U.S. Department of State signed by Cordell Hull. The letter asks the Diplomatic and Consular offices to give provide assistance to “Mr. Marcus Terbey of Brooklyn, New York who is now abroad.” Cordell Hull was the longest serving U.S. Secretary of State and served in that position during most of World War II. Hull Drive in Wyndmoor, PA where Ariadna now lives and where I grew up is named after him. This document has the spelling of Marcus’s name that I used to make my initial discoveries.
Here Marcus's address is given as Brooklyn and there are other records with Brooklyn addresses. Later on, in a 1940 census record, he claims he was living on Amsterdam Ave. in Manhattan in 1935.
There are several copies of the photo on the right. Valentin’s notes on the backs of two copies are shown below. The photo is marked 1941 on the back along with Leonid's Russian name and year of birth, 1886. Since I first published my research on Leonid I have found out that he was born in October 1885. More on this below.
I thought that Marcus may have mailed the photo to Valentin in Czechoslovakia (Ariadna doesn’t remember this). Mark “Therbey” is (written in Cyrillic script), Mr Lemi and Charles Bellinger are written in Roman letters). Written in English is the address Ariadna memorized when she was still in Europe, "Mr. Charles Bellinger, Perrin, and Son, 75 Maiden Lane, New York, America." The earliest use of this address that I have found is from 1922. Maiden Lane is in the Manhattan financial district. More on Charles Bellinger later on. We don’t know who Mr Lemi was. I assume he worked in the same office.
Leonid in 1941. He is approxi-mately 55 years old in this photo.
Click to enlarge
Back to the beginning
Documents vary as to whether Leonid was born in 1885 or 1886. Most later documents have the 1895 date. Valentin mostly wrote 1896, but sometimes wrote 1895. This is odd since Valentin was usually meticulous. Because of the genealogy book from St. Petersburg (image on the right), my mother and I thought it was 1886. Marcus’s passport applications and World War II draft record use 1885. A 1940 census record also indicates a birth year of 1885. The month and day of his birth is October 12. I started corresponding with two historians in Ukraine, mostly to send them images of documents and photos from my grandfather. They also sent valuable information. A Chernigov historian found Leonid's baptismal record. He sent me images and translated some of it.
Selection from the Genealogy Book of Chernigov Landed Gentry, 1901: #6 is Leonid, born in 1886.
Leonid Andreyevich Shugaevsky was born on October 12, 1885. He was baptized in Chernigov - October 2, 1886 in Pyatnitskaya church.
Godfather - nobleman Andrei Stefanovich Koshman, godmother - Elena Andreevna Yashchenko.
The rite of baptism was performed by the grandfather - Archpriest Stefan Shugaevsky.
In a later document Marcus claims that his birthplace is St Petersburg. My mother and I believe it was probably somewhere in Ukraine.
We do not have any stories of his early life. I imagine he was very energetic, extroverted, and bold. My mother remembers that her father grew up speaking French because he had a French governess. Leonid, being only two years younger, probably also grew up speaking French. This becomes important later in this story.
A Miraculaous Healing
As I have mentioned elsewhere, internet searches are never consistent. The same query can give very different results on different days. Right before I created this web page I found that Leonid had a childhood disease that was cured after his father made a pilgrimage and prayed in front of an icon. Details are below. There are some issues with the translation. Also, Andrei's patronymic starts with "S not "Y".
In the month of June 1888, Archpriest, rector of the church of the Kozelshchansk community received the following written statement:
“I consider it a moral duty to declare to you, in order to glorify the name of the Lord the Savior and His Most Holy Mother, the miraculous healing of my child Leonid in 1887. From the first days of my son’s life, terrible eczema took the appearance of leprosy; the child suffered from this illness for more than a year and a half ... Having tried all kinds of medical facilities in my situation, prescribed by more than ten doctors, including university ones, and not seeing any benefit, I arrived in the summer of 1887 in Kozelshchina to pray before the miraculous image of the Mother of God. The intercessor of the Christians heeded my prayer: upon my return to the family with the image of the Mother of God, the child began to recover quickly and is now healthy. I humbly ask you to bring this my true story into the annals of the miracles of the Mother of God ... A nobleman of the Chernigov province Andrei Y. Shugaevsky. "
Source: Click here
Source: Click here
The Nativity Cathedral and convent in Kozelshchyna
If we calculate Leonid's birth year from the above information with October 12 we get 1885.
The first miracle attributed to this icon of Kozelshchina was in 1881, only seven years before Andrei's visit. The icon was originally the property of a family but eventually became the centerpiece of a church and convent. I found three different but similar images of it. On the right is the one that I think best fits written descriptions.
Click the right arrow below to continue Leonid's story!