Baba Sara (my father’s mother) was saying that her father (my grand-grand father) was serving in tsar army in south Russia which makes my father to believe that the service was in one of kozak places. His name was David Bimbot Бимбот (1885 – 1961).
Bimbot for his service to czar was granted to choose to live in any city in Russia and he chose Nizhniy Novgorod. He had 12 daughters and one son. Baba Sara was from Dvinsk Двинск. In 1917 baba Sara was serving in White Army (on the tsar side) as a nurse or sestra milocerdia in Denikinsky army.
After the Red revolution the fact of serving on czar’s side was the secret of baba Sara and she never talked about it for sake of her survival. Her family had to give up everything they had including one of silver dinner set out which a few items are still in my family.
After revolution baba Sara was a kook and as my dad said, she was “a kind, hearty woman preparing Jewish and Russian dishes”. Another name was mentioned by my father was Bimbman Zalman Nasonovich, was living in Sverdlovsk, was serving Red army as a “chekist” чекист and was a book-maker переплетчиk, died tragically in a car accident.
One of baba Sara sisters, aunt Xaia Davidonva (1987 – 1962), Fridman by her husband last name was also living in Nizhniy Novgorod. I remember visiting her son, my father’s cousin uncle Grisha and his family back those days.
My aunt Raia, one of baba Sara sisters or cousin, got married a Russian man, Kopilov, the soviet officer who was once arrested and never came back home and aunt Raia was roaming from place to place in Moscow almost for the rest of her life.
She had a son who also was arrested after one of meetings carrying unti-Stalin’s ideas. He was thrown in jail and released later. I visited her a few times in Moscow and remembered her as a strong and very intelligent woman of soviet times.
Deda Iakov (my father’s father) was born in Viachiza Вячица (eastern Belorussia). His last name was Vilensky which comes from Lithuania/Poland place city Vilnius. more. Last name Vilensky is originated from this place. If you are a Christian you might want to know about 3 saints by last name Vilensky from this place.
Iakov was a religious man reading torah in synagogue. From Iakov’s first marriage he had a daughter and a son. Both of them were living in Minsk. After WWII stepbrother found my father searching by last name Vilensky. Stepbrother arrived to my father to give money to his father’s graveyard improvements and left. Nobody saw him after that.
My father could not tell for sure under which circumstances his parents met each other. He was born in Dnepropetrovsk (Ukraine). During great hunger in 1932, his parents returned to Nizhniy Novgorod where my father met my mother.
My mother’s family was originated from celo Maloe Boldino, which is a village located and shared between Russian and Mordovian people.
My mother’s mother, Antonina Sergaeva was born in 1914. My mother’s father Gregorij was a craftsman in wood and skin skills. He was making horse harnesses, saddles, cart’s wheels, etc. His father (my grand-grandfather) was drawing religious icons one of which is in our family. His was kindly called by name “teteka”, as my aunt Marusia, one of my mother sisters remembered.
My mother’s father, Trofim Protasov was born in 1913. When I was recording this story after my family, I wrote 2 places – selo Lvovka and Michailovskoe in Nizhniy Novgorod oblast, near cello Maloe Boldino. There is also celo Protasovo in Mordovia just a few minutes of drive from Bolshoe Boldino, where my mother’s family eventually lived and where I spent most of my summer months during my childhood. I’m not sure which place exactly I should consider as a precise origin place for my Russian grandfather.
He served in soviet army during WWII near Moskow and returned home in 1947.
After the WWII he was working in MTF (Molocho Tovarnia Ferma) as a manager управляющий of kolkhoz (many farms united together).
As my aunt Marusia remembered, he was moody, loving working alone and very strong man. After he married my grandmother he built a house near celo Lvovka on a hill separately from the rest of Lvovka villagers. I saw this hill and can only imagine the isolation for entire Protasov’s family and relate it to my personal isolation here in Canada where my nearest neighbors are about 5 – 10 minutes to walk in different directions. Trofim Protasov passed his self-confidence and strong power-will to his daughter Anna, my mother. She was second in the family and had a nick name “Iron Anna” who in turn passed these “iron” qualities to me which luckily got dissolved with humor and some kind of humbleness of my father. My mother’s only brother, the first child in Protasov’s family Valentin got married chuvashian woman and moved to Chebocksari, capital of Chuvashia. He died yearly back in 1970th. He had two sons and I hope that one of them will carry his last name since all men carrying Protasov last name were killed in WWII.
And only the name celo Protasovo in Mordovia reminds that once this place was populated with Protasov folks.
Third child, my mother’s sister was aunt Nadia got married uncle Bladimir. He came from Minsk to study in Nizhniy Novgorod. They moved to Minsk eventually. Forth child, my mother’s sister was aunt Marysia which I already mentioned. She married local men Ivan and only her family became a continuation of my grand-father family even under different last name. One of her daughters Elena married Mordovian men Nikolay. Another of her daughters Olga got married a Russian men Sergey from Vachi Вачи and they moved to Moscow. Her son Volodia will be the future holder of the family icon drawn by Teteka. My sister is upset with this fact because my grandmother Antonina made a will to pass all belongings from her house go to her daughter Anna. Last child, my mother’s sister was aunt Nina. She married uncle Volodia, also Russian, from Ivanovo oblast and she lived in Yurievetz after their marriage all her life.
This story of my family is showing to you my reader that definition of the word “Russian” is far more complex then one may think. One can call himself a Russian only if been part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Russian is a nationality and religion at the same time, same as as Jewish. In both ethnical groups, one can be Russian or Jew without following the region. If a person was not born from Russian parents but on territory of Russia, then this person is called Rossianin or “of Russia”. Unfortunately, English language does not have a word corresponding to Rossianin to make your life less complicated to understand a difference. Religion of the ethnical group defines it all.
For example, Tatarin from Tatarstan is Rossianin and not Russian. Why? Because they follow Muslim religion.
Mordovian from Mordovia is Rossianin. Because of the same Christian Orthodoxy Mordovians call themselves Russians. But, traditional costumes and languages of both Mordovians and Russians are different. Both cultures easy marry each other.
Chyvashian from Chyvashia is Rossianin. Being ancestors of Volga Bulgaria prior to uniting with Russia (1551) they were pagans. Only later forcefully they joined Russian Orthodoxy. They have different language which is of Turk but with Russian letters.
Russians were also pagans before they got Christianized. In many ways, Christianity got layered over paganism.
I will be talking more about Russia and Russian. This topic is not easy to explain in one paragraph especially with lack of English words.
My next story will be about Russian Jews.