One of my ancestral families has a narrative that its surname was created for them as part of a reward for a great service a remote ancestor did for the tsarina. Apparently, she took ill while traveling in his area of Lithuania, he took her in, got a doctor, and cared for her.
The reward included rights to a forest's lumber, and I have confirmation from many cousins that these ancestors ran a lumber mill. I spoke with a direct descendant of the individual who did this deed (my ancestor appears to have been a brother) and she described the house where she grew up, a structure that would be a mansion even today. Some cousins have visited the site of the sawmill, which is now nothing more than a bend in a road.
There is disagreement on when this event took place -- not a good sign for its authenticity -- with the two candidates c.1810 and c.1840; different individuals with the given name from the narrative would have been the right age at these times.
If there is any paperwork confirming it, it hasn't turned up. I'm not even sure what to look for or where to look. The significance of such a document is that it would presumably include the surname this family used before the new one was created for them, and is thus the key to connecting further back than I already have, to c.1800. Any ideas?