“A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH”
by Johannes Froebel-Parker, ©2018, blogging at FroebelGalleries
(Aug. 31, 2018) — [Editor’s Note: The author is a longtime reader of The Post & Email.]
The Mohawk Valley of Upstate New York is full of superlatives: Landscape, History, Warfare and Indian Massacres. Close to the Catskill Mountains and the home of Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame, it lures tourists, sports aficionados, and those just wanting to “get away.” Indeed, the mineral springs of Sharon Springs and Richfield Springs are renowned for their supposed health benefits for which New Yorkers, many of them Eastern European Jewish immigrants and their families, who made their way northward to escape the stifling New York City heat in the age before air conditioning. It is a tranquil oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, and the turmoil of 20th century Bolshevism albeit East Bloc Communism.
The monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), situated aptly in the hamlet called Jordanville, NY, was founded by Russian Orthodox monks from Russia and the Carpatho-Russian area of what is today northeastern Slovakia including the village of Ladimirovna where, ironically, this author has paternal relatives.
With the assassination of the Tsar and his family members came a prohibition in the then Soviet Union to commemorate them in the prayers of the dead during Divine Liturgy. They had been reduced to historical and officially deprecated relics of an “imperialist” past. The emigrated Russian Orthodox Church outside of the Soviet Union could carry on in freedom and were free to revere the Tsar, the New Martyrs of the Communist Yoke, and other family members such as Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna (née von Hessen-Darmstadt und bei Rhein) the sister of the Tsaritza.
Whereas the Church under Soviet control had been denuded of monarchist allusions, references, and reverence, Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Monastery and Seminary was and is proudly fond and reverent of the Imperial Family.
This brings us to the topic of legendary lore: Anastasia Nicholaevna Romanov. There is no longer any doubt that she is, indeed, dead. However, controversy still brews and at this writing is again percolating as to whether she actually died on 17 July 1918 with her parents and siblings.
The lady known simultaneously as Evgenia Smetisko, Eugenia Smetisko, Eugenie Smetisko, Eugenia Smith and Grand Duchess Anastasia Nicholaevna Romanov of Russia defies all attempts to dismiss her as a deluded old lady, sweet but misguided, a lover of fantasy in whose world only she in her chaotic but non-threatening mind could live.
She arrived in 1922 claiming to be an Eastern European immigrant, married yet without her husband at the tender age of 23 as she purported to have been born 1899. She claimed that she was German, but was also known to state to U.S. immigration authorities that she was Ukrainian. She had light brown hair, grey blue eyes and was rather short as is attested to by one border crossing document from Canada to the USA: 5’1.”
There are no coincidences; these are same physical characteristics of the historical Anastasia Romanov.
Her life is explained in two publications by this author: The Art of the Authoress of Anastasia (2015: Authorhouse) and Anastasia Again: The Hidden Secret of the Romanovs (2018: IceBox Publishing), but the topic of this narrative has more to do with her death, burial, legacy and unresolved details of all three.
Newport, Rhode Island, that venerable enclave of the Yachting Set and American industrial nobility as well as the descendants of the Winthrop Fleet albeit early colonial English settlers was the genteel locale for the last years of aka “Evgenia/Anastasia’s” life. It was not an idle life by any stretch of the imagination. She had always planned to found a museum of Russian History in which to honor her parents and to set the record straight on Imperialist Russia and the Bolshevik Revolution from her point of view.
As director of the St. Nicholas House Foundation, with its headquarters at 25 Bowery Street, “Smetisko/Romanov” collected and added to Romanov objects as well as those associated with the era which seemed to have been hers to administer as she bequeathed them to the Museum of Russian History at the monastery. On one tour, a guide was overheard saying, “She was told not to bid so high for the icon scarf (which had its origin in the Feodorovsky Cathedral in Tsarskoe Selo) but she bought it anyway.”
Clearly, she was a force to be reckoned with and a woman intent on doing what she wanted, headstrong, just as Anastasia of lore.
Her death brought other philanthropic benefits to the monastery. How a seemingly penniless Eastern European, Post World War I, married yet unaccompanied immigrant could die and be so altruistic in her death has one good explanation. In any case, she arranged for the museum to be endowed with a sizeable annuity reaching into the various tens of thousands of dollars which will continue in perpetuity.
Read the rest here.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.