Thursday, January 7, 2016

Konstantin & Natalia: From Harbin to San Francisco

Evidently, this is a childhood portrait of my grandfather, Konstantin—alongside his sister, Mariya (aka Moora, my great-aunt). It was taken in Harbin, China in 1913. Konstantin was five or six years old, Moora was about six months.

Konstantin Aleksandrovich Vasilyev (Васильев Константин Александрович) was an architect who grew up in Harbin, China, and later lived and worked in Chongjin, North Korea, and Seoul, South Korea. Although he identified as Russian, his father—Aleksander Vasilyev née Vasiliauskas—was Lithuanian, and his mother—Vera Doroshenko—was Ukrainian and Polish. He was born on May 26, 1908, and died of Tuberculosis on November 11, 1946. He's interred in the Yanghwajin Foreign Missionary Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea as Konstantin Aleksandrovich Vasileyev.

Tracing your Russian roots can be difficult. Strike that. It's harder than a cat trying to bury crap on a marble floor. But sometimes, if you're lucky, you find a vintage family photo where someone scribbled genealogical-type info on the back.

Writing on the back of Konstantin and Mariya's photograph, 1913, Harbin, China.
The year is 1913. Summer or Spring. The town of Harbin.
This is your father and Mura. Kostya was 5 years old or a little more. Mura was 5-6 months old or even less.
Kostya was born on 26 May (old-style 13 May) 1908.
Mura — 23 January 1913.
This missive was most likely penned by my Great-Aunt Yelena Aleksandrovna Vasilyeva (Василевa Елена Александровна) who I hope to learn more about someday. Many thanks to my pal, Vyacheslav Tomenko, for translating.

In 1933, Konstantin (or Kostya) married Natalia Feodosievna Mitrofanenko (Митрофаненко Наталья) in Harbin. Natalia was born on September 3, 1915 in Ust-Karsk, Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia (Усть-карск Забайкальск). Her father was a Justice of the Peace, and her mother was a merchant. Both parents were Ukrainian. You can read more about them here.

Natalia Feodosievna Mitrofanenko aka Natalie F. Vasilev, 1958, San Francisco, California.

And this lovely, very Ukrainian-lookin' broad is Natalie F. Vasilev. Natalia came to San Francisco in 1953, and I believe she submitted this photo along with her Declaration of Intention to become a citizen. It was most likely taken in 1958—which would put her at around 43-ish years old. Hubba.

Petition for Naturalization for Natalie Feodosievna Vasilev nee Mitrofanenko from 1958
Receipt for Natalie Vasilev's Declaration of Intention, filed under her birth surname, Mitrofanenko.
Citizenship admission for Natalie Feodosievna Vasilev, dated 1958

Natalie F. Vasilev died on November 29, 2006, in Pacifica, California. You can read her obituary here.

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