Re: Jews employed by the Czars #russia


Jules Levin
 

The story in general can be true.  There is no doubt that a personal
contact by a Jew with nobility could yield rewards.  For example, the
sculptor Antakolsky (he did the iconic statue of Peter the Great in the
Hermitage) was in an art class in Kovno when a princess visited and saw
his work.  Since he would not convert, he became the first unbaptized
Jew admitted to the Royal Academy in St. Petersburg, thanks to the
princess's patronage. Another example is personal.  My greatgrandfather
had a military supply store (!) on Kronshtadt. a restricted naval base,
selling authorized supplies:  uniforms, accouterments including swords
and daggers, etc.  (I know it from his ads in the Kronshtatskij Vestnik,
not from family legends.)  He owned a second store in Viipuri (Vyburg). 
They were rich--all the children were educated by tutors.  It is
impossible that he had all that without noble patronage.     On the
other hand, where are the details?  Some of the questions could be
settled by Russian historians.  The names and ages of all princesses in
1810 or in 1840 are a matter of public record.  Perhaps also are their
travel itineraries.  It may be significant that all 3 cases--yours and
the 2 I cited--involve Litvaks.  I also know that all the Jews selling
luxury goods to the Imperial Guards stationed on Tsarskoe Selo (the
shops were directly opposite the Summer Palace) were Litvaks.  If you
narrow down the story by working the Russian end, it might be easier to
find what you want in the Jewish records.

Jules Levin


On 10/14/2020 7:51 AM, YaleZuss via groups.jewishgen.org wrote:
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?
Yale Zussman

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