Chris & Julie Petersen's Genealogy

Victor Petrovitch Butzkoy

Male 1890 - 1952  (62 years)

Personal Information    |    Notes    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Victor Petrovitch Butzkoy 
    Born 24 May 1890  Saint Petersburg, Russia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 18 Oct 1952  Oxford, Oxfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I1787  Petersen-de Lanskoy
    Last Modified 27 May 2021 

    Father Peter de Boutzkoy 
    Mother Nekrassof 
    Family ID F1111  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Catherine Werblowsky or Verblovski,   b. 8 Oct 1893, Saint Petersburg, Russia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Jan 1972, Nice, Alpes Maritimes, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 78 years) 
    Married 24 Sep 1915  Mironocitkoy Church, Kharkiv, Ukraine Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Divorced Yes, date unknown 
     1. Artemy Victor de Butzkoy,   b. 16 Jun 1916, Saint Petersburg, Russia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Nov 1993, Saint Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years)
    Last Modified 28 May 2021 
    Family ID F1109  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Valerie Horsman Soames,   b. 30 Oct 1908, Kensington, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   bur. 1985, Russian Orthodox Cemetery, Chiswick, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 76 years) 
    Married 15 Dec 1927  Newmarket, Cambridgeshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Divorced Yes, date unknown 
    Last Modified 28 May 2021 
    Family ID F1110  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
      1.'s "Border Crossing: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956" which lists both Victor and Catherine. The "Empress of Japan" sailed from Hong Kong Jan. 10, Shanghai Jan. 13, Kobe Jan. 17, and Yokohama Jan. 19 for a destination of Vancouver, Canada. It was most likely in Japan from where they took passage:
      A. Arrival 15 Jan 1917 at Vancouver, British Columbia, departing Hong Kong 10 Jul 1917 on the "Empress of Japan": Victor Boudzkoy, 30, Catherine, 24, married, both b. in Russia, Russian, both read and write, diplomat and diplomat's wife, last permanent address was Moscow, nearest relative is father/father-in-law P. Boudzkoy, no. 9 Mochovaja St. Petrograd, religion for both is "Orthodox."
      B. Victor Boudzkoy; arrival date: 31 Jan 1917; port of arrival: St. Albans, Vermont, United States; ship name: Empress of Japan; Port of Departure: Hong Kong, China; age 30; birth date: abt 1887; birth country: Russia; race/nationality: Russian."

      2.'s "World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918: "Victor P. Boutzkoy; 26, 213 W. 54, New York, NY, b. 24 May 1890 in St. Petersburg, Russia; alien; citizen of Russia; employment: "Assistant Imp[erial] Russian Military Attache" for the Russian Government employed in New York; dependents: wife and Child; married; Caucasian; previous military experience with First Russian Hussars; no exemptions; description: 6 ft., Med build, gray eyes, brown hair, not bald, no disabilities. Signed as "Lieut. Vic. P. Boutzkoy" in New York City, June 5, 1917.

      3. Also known as BOUTZKOY, BOUTSCO, BOUTSCOI. Butsko is a Ukranian name and may be the area of estates belonging to the Butsko family.

      4. Notes made by Irene Petersen, May 1976, from various documents while visiting her half-brother Arik Butzkoy in England:
      Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage. D416 27 (Romsey District): Victor Peter de Butzkoy, 37 years old, hereditary nobleman, father: Peter de Butzkoy (deceased), Retired Army Officer – Russian Army, and Valerie Horsman Soames, 19 years old, spinster, father: Gilbert Horsman Soames (deceased), Retired Army Officer, were married 15 Dec 1927.
      Surname: Boutzkoy (or Butzkoy, Boutsco, Boutscoi)
      Christian name: Victor
      Date of Birth: 24 May 1890
      Place of Birth: Petrograd, Russia
      Surname of Father: Boutzkoy
      Surname of Mother: Nekrassof
      At age 36: 6 ft. ½"; hair: dark; eyes: grey; face: round; nose: straight; no peculiarities.
      Valerie Horsman born 30 Oct 1908 in London; 5 ft. 10"; hair: fair; eyes: blue; face: round; nose: straight.
      Certificate Newmarket 14 May 1920
      Cap. Victor Butzkoy employed for past 12 months as interpreter and intermediary.
      Lived at 19 Rue Berlioz, Nice, as of 4 Sep 1934.
      In view of my foreign descent, I have been advised by my friends to accompany my application form by this explanatory letter.
      I am of Russian nationality, and though it is not of real importance, my family belonged to the old hereditary nobility, (of the Cossack Province of the Ukraine) – though for various reasons I have not been using my title for a certain number of years in the past.
      In 1911, I joined as a Military Cadet, the late Czar of Russia's Horse Guards. A year after I was commissioned as a Cornet in His Majesty's Hussars.
      I took part in the First World War with my regiment, in fact went through the invasion of East Prussia by the Russian Cavalry, and having been twice wounded, was appointed on the General Staff in 1916, and very soon sent as Assistant Military Attaché in Tokyo, and subsequently held the same position at our embassy in Washington, D.C.
      In May 1918, I found myself in Stockholm, attached to the Russian Legation there, where I met many members of the British Embassy who had left Petrograd owing to the Bolshevik regime and whom I used to know in Russia socially, and in the course of my General Staff duties, including the Ambassador, Sir George Buchanan, and General Sir Alfred Knox, M.P., etc. Some of them suggested that I should continue fighting against the Germans by joining the British Army as a Volunteer, to which I readily agreed. I was given written instructions, and an introduction by the British Military Attaché, Colonel Scales, and told to report to Brig. General the Hon.—Yarde Buller in Christiania, who, instead of sending me to the front in France, told me to travel unofficially round the coast of Norway to Murmansk, and to report there to General Sir Frederick Poole, who was in command of the Allied Expeditionary Corps about to land in North Russia any day.
      When I reported to General Poole, which was about the beginning of July 1918, he welcomed my desire to join the British Army, but said that in spite of my Russian Regimental rank as Major, and Staff rank as Colonel, I must start my service with the British Army in the ranks.
      After a short attachment to the 3rd Bn. Royal Scots, I was transferred to a special fighting unit, the Slavo-British Legion, and a few weeks after, I was gazetted as a Commissioned Officer in the British Army, and appointed as Staff Captain and later Brigade Major, to General Sir Reginald Gordon Finlayson, who was G.O.C. all Allied troops at the Front.
      Just before Christmas 1918, the new Allied G.O.C. (General Ironside) chose me for carrying military dispatches from Archangel to H.B.M. Minister in Stockholm, (Sir Msme Howard), who a few weeks afterwards, re-directed me with an additional lot of dispatches to the Foreign Office and War Office.
      At the War Office I received orders to remain in England and in May 1919 I was appointed as Intermediary and Liaison Officer to the very large camp outside of Newmarket, which was started on Mr. Winston Churchill's initiative for the reception of hundreds of Russian P.O.W. Officers from Germany; the object of this scheme was to send them, after some rest and training, to fight on the various Fronts in Russia, where the struggle between the White Russian Forces against the Bolsheviks was then in full force. The Commandant of the Camp was a splendid English gentleman and officer, Colonel Thompson, D.S.O. M.C. (K.O.Y.L.I,).
      After the dispersal of the Camp in April 1920, I had the honour of being offered an appointment to a certain Department of the War Office; (the service etiquette does not allow me to mention the Department in writing).
      Early in 1921 I wished to be relieved of my duties in the above mentioned Department as I could not resist the desire to try to get through into Russia for giving help to, and even saving my poor parents in Russia.
      Ever since, I have been living in England, receiving a moderate income from one of my Estates which fortunately was in Polish-Ukrainian Territory, which income was of the greatest importance to me in view of a permanently weak state of health due to war wounds. Unfortunately this income stopped completely in the very beginning of the last war, when the German and Red Armies invaded Poland, and the whole position became permanent, owing to the existence of the Iron Curtain across Europe. This with my physical inability to do any regular work has left me entirely destitute.
      I should consider it a great honour and privilege to have a personal interview with a local member of your Association, Colonel Foster, who lives not far from here, if only you will deem it possible to arrange this.
      Yours faithfully.
      To the President, Officer's Association, 24 Belgrave Square, S.W. 1.
      P.S. Though my home is London (near the Bottom Kensington) was completely destroyed by the blitz in 1940, with all its contents, I still have a lot of old documents and papers, which could officially prove all my statements of this letter and of my application form.
      "Certificate dated Feb. 22 1918. Captain Victor P. Butskoy, Officer of the Russian Army, and is Assistant Military Attaché to the Russian Embassy, Washington, D.C."
      "Nov. 21, 1922. Victor P. Butzkoy. Former Major of the Russian Imperial Cavalry, ex-Major of the British Expeditionary Forces in North Russia, has finished with distinction the complete course of the Imperial Alexander Lyceum in Petrograd with its University classes."
      "Passport issued 12 December 1916 by Governor of Petrograd to Victor Petrovitch Butzkoy. The holder hereof, the Heriditary Nobleman Victor Petrovitch Butzkoy of the Orthodox Religion, thirty years of age, exempt from military service, Russian subject from the day of birth, is proceeding to Japan, Canada and the United States of North America on commercial business, in testimony whereof and for free passage is issued to him this passport with the affixing of the seal of the Governor of Petrograd, Deputy Governor, Chamberlain of the Imperial Court, signed (Lisogorsky)."

      5. May 2008 email correspondence between Irene Petersen, the step sister to Artemy (Arik) Butzkoy and Geraldine Bridgewater , who is a grand niece of Valerie Soames, Arik's father Victor's second wife:
      Irene: "I am… daughter of Catherine Werblovsky who was married to Victor de Butzkoy and half sister to Artemy V, de Butzkoy deceased Nov. 26th 1993 in St. Helier, Jersey in the Channel Islands. I have met Rose Soames Gow in 1949 in London, Valerie's mother. Weren't they related to Churchill somehow? I do have pictures and would be glad to email some to you. By the way Victor Petrovich de Butzkoy was a Nobleman himself and had a very impressive Military career as an officer in the Csar's Army. He was an Assistant Military Attache in Washington D.C. for over a year and half, 1916-1917. His father also raised Borzoi (sp) dogs. Please tell us more about your relationship to Valerie and any other recollections and where do you live at the present time?? Who did Valerie remarry (maybe a Russian Colonel?) with and when did she pass away. I think V. Butzkoy died in the 50's."
      Geraldine: "I would love to know more about Victor while he was married to Valerie and in particular I am trying to find out how the Grand Duchess Xenia became Valerie's Godmother when she entered the Russian Orthodox Church. Do you have any information on that by any chance? I wonder how close Victor Butzkoy was with the Imperial family. For your information Valerie married Kornelius/Cornelius Pechovsky, another Cossack who she met in the church in 1946, after she divorced Victor. I presume Victor did not marry again? Kornelius Pechovsky died in 1981 and Valerie in 1985. Both were buried at the Russian Orthodox Cemetery which is I believe in Chiswick. I went to Valerie's Funeral - a very moving affair. I would love to see any photos that you have of Victor and Valerie. Do you have any of Victor in uniform? Victor - so family records show - apparently met Rosie, Valerie's mother on the battlefields when Rosie was driving an ambulance in 1914-1918 in France. He was injured and she helped nurse him back during which time they fell in love and he moved into a house in Gloucester Rd., London, with Rosie who had recently been widowed from Gilbert Soames. (I am not sure about the connection to Winston Churchill.) Victor, I believe, continued to live with Rosie through the divorce with Catherine. Their relationship became very strained and they argued a lot. In 1925/6 Victor and [Rosie's daughter] Valerie eloped! and married in December. They went to live in Nice I believe with Valerie's Uncle Harry who had a villa there. Family records say that Uncle Harry asked Victor to pay for their board and lodgings by working in the gardens, which Victor was most reluctant to do because he preferred to go to the casino and mix with other Russian Nobility. Anyway, as you may be aware, after twenty years of marriage they divorced."
      Irene: "I know that my grandfather used to write from Germany to V.P. Butzkoy and also V.P. Butzkoy was trying to apply for a pension as he was in ill health and was in need of money for survival. I have sent you several pictures on several emails. I see that your email says Brighton, this is where Arik Butzkoy's son lives at the present time - Peter was born Dec. 2nd 1954 and his sister Susan born July 1959 might be in London; she has lived in Kentucky and owned many racing horses. Both are not married. Peter was once and had a son Richard. My brother used to live in Rottingdean."
      Geraldine: "I was looking through the papers downloaded from Chris and Julie's website and one paragraph about Victor really stood out and apparently you were also quite astonished. I am referring to the transcription in the book - I wonder what that was that was so incredulous? Also there is a letter from your grandfather to Victor before or just after your mother divorced him and there is the mention of £1800 pounds. I cannot read Russian but it seems to me he was angry in the letter. I was wondering whether you knew what that was about. Also just one last question if I may be so bold to ask you. In the notes I have there is an entry for Nov. 21, 1922: ' Victor P. Butzkoy Former Major of the Russian Imperial ..... has finished with distinction the complete course of the Imperial Alexander Lyceum in Petrograd with its University classes.' I wonder if you can you tell me what that means? Any light you can throw on all of this would be very helpful and in return I wll send you my completed manuscript when it is written if you would like?"
      Geraldine: "Thank you for the pictures. I presume they are all of Victor Butzkoy some with Catherine and I believe that there is also a photo of Valerie. I will have to get my magnifying glass out. Isn't it amazing that we are sharing all this information? I am 55 have recently published a book about my time as the first woman dealer on the London Metal Exchange. It is called "Ring of Truth" and is available on Amazon. I am now retired after also having worked in Local Government for the last twenty years. I paint, write, and swim; and I do gardening. Valerie is my father's cousin - her mother was my grandmother's sister. I used to visit her often and we were close. Just to let you know that I have passed on some information to the rest of the family and they are very impressed with Victor and his career, etc., and also now able to understand more clearly why he was always so short of money. I intend to write him up and do him justice for the family records. The truth is always so much better than family gossip! My cousin Julian Allason is looking into the name of Horstman or Horsman to find out its proper origins when he next visits his father James Allason who is now in his 90's. He was the originator of some of the stories about Victor. I shall let you all know the outcome as soon as he tells me something new. Did you ever hear any stories about Victor knowing the Grand Duchess Xenia or her husband Sandro?"

      6. Email from Geraldine Bridgewater of Brighton, England May 19, 2008. Unfortunately I had no information on the subjects she raises in her message:
      "I am researching the relationship between Count Butzkoy and my Great Aunt Valerie who was his second wife for twenty years. It particular I am trying to find out how Grand Duchess Xenia became Godmother to my Great Aunt. Valerie became a member of the Russian Orthodox church whilst she was married to Victor. It must have been a great honour to have the Grand Duchess Xenia, sister of the Tsar as your Godmother. A favour not often given, which makes me think that perhaps Victor had done some very special service to the Imperial family! Perhaps helping Xenia or her sister Olga to escape after the revolution, and that being a Godmother to his wife was one way of showing her gratitude.
      So I am interested in his early career and the information you have sent is very helpful indeed. And do you have any more? I am particularly interested in two items you have sent. The first was about a transcription in a book that your mother I believe was incredulous at! I wonder what that was.
      Also Victor went back to St. Petersburg in 1922 which must have been quite dangerous and completed a course at the Imperial Lyceum! I was wondering whether in 1922 they would still be calling it Imperial. It would be so helpful if you could throw some light on all of this for me. I promise to share with you all my information once I have got it all into perspective. Do you have any information as to any of Victor's Russian friends do we have any names of friends in France who he used to go to the Casino with. Also do we know who his boss was when he was working in Washington? Perhaps Victor was a good friend of Grand Duchess Xenias husband Sandro?"

      7. Website 20 Aug 2008 has the following image (no. 1975989) concerning Victor Butzkoy. It is from the National Archives, "Old German Files, 1909-21," case number: 8000-152954, publication #M1085, entitled: "Investigative Case, Files of the Bureau of Investigation 1908-1922." The case occurred in Washington, D.C., and was investigated by Warren W. Grimes on March 4, 1918. The report reads as follows:
      "Re: Victor Butskoy, (Suspicious Character.)
      At Washington.
      Received an anonymous letter addressed from the Sheridan, 1523 22nd St., N.W., February 27, 1918, reporting Victor Butskoy as making representations that he was a secretary of the Imperial Russian Embassy and had furnished an apartment in the Sheridan. I proceeded to the Imperial Russian Embassy and interviewed one of the secretaries, who advised me that Butskoy was attached to the staff of the military attache of the Russian Embassy, that he is an accredited agent of the Russian government and registered with the United States Department of State, as provided by the espionage act.
      (In explanation, the reason the matter was taken up with the Russian Imperial Embassy direct was that there was no record in this department showing the name of Butskoy on the lists received from the State Department.)
      Nothing further will be done in connection with this case."

      8. Website 20 Aug 2008 has the following image (no. 84949743), which is the City Directory for Washington DC-1918, published by the R.L. Polk and Company. The following entry is on page 266:
      "Butzkly Victor h8 1523 22d nw."

      9. Received the following July 25, 2008 attachment to an email from Geraldine Bridgewater through my mother Irene Petersen. Geraldine provided Irene with her research supported by all the information Irene had sent her. Geraldine would like to use this research "in a book that may or may not get published about how to find a Russian-masterpiece!" Irene indicates that she is not necessarily in agreement with all of the "facts" that Geraldine purports and that she would like to better check the following: Irene does not believe that Victor returned to school in St. Petersburg after arriving in London. Geraldine's research with minor spelling and punctuation corrections made by myself:
      "Count Butzkoy Victor Petrovich Butzkoy (sometimes spelt Boutzkoy, Boutsco or Boutscoi) was born on 24th May 1890 in St Petersburg.
      His father, Count Peter De Boutzkoy, was a hereditary nobleman of the Cossack province of the Ukraine. Peter de Boutzkoy was an Officer in the Imperial Army, probably a Major General. Victor's mother's maiden name was Nekrassof.
      At the age of twenty one Victor joined the Horse Guards of Czar Nicholas II. In 1912 he was commissioned as a Cornet in his majesty's Hussars, took part in the First World War with his regiment, went through the invasion of East Prussia by the Russian Cavalry and was twice wounded.
      On the 24th December 1915 Victor married Catherine Verblovski/Weblovsky in Chorchow, Russia. The following year on the 16th June 1916 his wife Catherine gave birth to a son in Petrograd called Artemy Victor Boutzkoy (Arik). Victor Butzkoy was twenty six and Catherine was twenty three.
      Having been wounded Victor was appointed to the General Staff and in 1916 went via Vladivostok to Tokyo with his wife Catherine. (photos) Their son Arik was left with his grandparents in Petrograd. Victor was Assistant Military Attaché.
      A Passport issued 12 December 1916 by the Governor of Petrograd shows Victor as a Russian subject from the date of birth, aged 30 years old, of the Orthodox Religion. He is exempt from military service and will be preceding to Japan, Canada and the United States on commercial business, in testimony whereof and for free passage is issued to him this passport with the affixing of the seal of the Governor of Petrograd, Deputy Governor, Chamberlain of the Imperial Court signed Lisogorsky.(copy of passport)
      As Assistant Military Attache, Victor would have been involved, with the negotiations taking place on trade agreements, for the purchase of weaponry for the Russian Army. Russian forces were in urgent need of supplies and required at least a million rifles and a thirty percent increase in cannons.
      At the outbreak of the World War I neither the Russian Army or the Russian Economy were prepared for war, despite the fact that the Russian Government had assigned more then 22% of the state budget to the army and navy between 1898 and 1913. The situation had been made worse by the losses of the Russian army during the Russo-Japanese war (1904-1905) which had still not been restored by 1914! This is because the Russian Government was largely concerned with financing the construction of large warships. However troops in the field required weapons much more than warships and so the Russian government had to re-orientate state naval factories to the production of land arms. This required significant investment.
      The British Ambassador to Russia, Sir George Buchanan, reported to the British Prime-minister, Sir Edward Grey, that Sazanov, the Japanese Minister, would accept rights over the Changchun-Harbin Railway in return for supplying one million rifles to the Russians and that the Russians had given their consent to this agreement. But the Japanese would require the raw material to make the weapons. Russia was unable to supply all the raw materials required and so the remainder would have to come from the U.S and England.
      The reason why Russia needed Japan to make the weapons according to Sir George Buchanan, the British Ambassador, was that Japan had both the factories and the skilled workforce. Negotiations were awkward because Russia and Japan had only recently reached agreement on disputed territories of Mongolia and Manchuria and Japanese interest in Korea was still a delicate matter. When Japan won the 1905 war the Japanese Empire enjoyed a newly found status amongst the super-powers as a leader of north east Asia and Russia had its international prestige seriously damaged. So negotiations lacked any real trust between the Japanese and Russians despite the fact that they were now allies fighting a common enemy and there were regular accusations of spying made from both sides. (pp. 22, 23, 24, Dangerous Rapprochement Russia and Japan in the First World War 1914-1916 Igor. R.Savelieve, Yuri S. Pestushko, Acta Slavica, Japonica, 2001 Nr 18. copyright Slavic Research Centre, Hokkaida University, Sapporo Japan) .
      On March 17th 1917, Czar Nicholas abdicated in favour of his brother Michael (Misha). There was still an Imperial Russia but its power was being gradually eroded. Russia's economy was severely weakened by its role in World War One despite the support given by the Allies. The war had jeopardized further the already weak institution of the Czarist Regime and as a result it's very existence was threatened.
      During November 1917, Victor and his Wife left Tokyo and traveled to the United States. As Assistant Military Attaché he would work with colleagues to ensure the supply of raw materials from the U.S. to Japan for the making of weapons for the Russian Army.
      Their arrival in Washington was announced in the newspapers society pages on December 9th 1917.
      'A lonely couple. Strangers in a strange land. But I prophesy that they won't be lonely long, After society once discovers them, for they are charming and awfully good-looking . They are Captain and Mme Butzkoy of Russia. He is here in connection with some special work for the Embassy. Both are young, both a very good looking, speak English perfectly and are quite sociable. He has been decorated twice for valor, has been wounded several times and has done a lot of interesting things. I am told he likes riding and is a marvelous horseman. They have an apartment at the Marlborough just now but will move next week to the Sheridan. They expect to be in Washington all winter'.
      In April 1918 Victor and Catherine left the U.S to Sweden. They would have been concerned at events taking place in Russia. Both had family in Petrograd including their son Arik who was still living with his grandparents.
      By May 1918 Victor is in Stockholm attached to the Russian Legation where he again meets up with members of the British Embassy who have left Petrograd owing to the Bolshevik uprising.
      During the course of his general staff duties he works with Sir George Buchanan, the British Ambassador to Russia, and General Sir Alfred Knox M.P. (With grateful acknowledgment to Irene Petersen, who made these notes in May 1976 from various documents while visiting her half -brother Arik Butzkoy in England.)
      On July 16th 1918 the Russian Revolution entered its final stage when the Czar and his family were murdered by the Bolsheviks at Ekaterinburg. But at the time the deaths were not announced and there were only rumours and counter rumours. It was not at all clear what had happened. On July 2Oth, Grand Duchess Xenia's records in her diary;-
      'In the newspapers there is a small exert from Nickys letter (Czar Nicholas II) to some General in Stockholm, that they are all alive now thanks to Commissar (Chkognevich?) and that it a better life over there... and that maybe Alix will be going into the convent! But where are they?' (Once a Grand Duchess page 136 para 1, para 4, page 137, para 2, John Van Der Kiste & Coryne Hall Sutton Publishing Limited 2002)
      By the 25th July the advancing White Army had taken Ekaterinburg and found the house where the Czar and his family had been imprisoned empty. Rumours that the Czar and his family were now dead circulated openly but the Dowager Empress refused to believe it.
      By December 1918 it was becoming clear to many that the Czar and his family had been murdered. But the surviving Romonovs were still hopeful that the White Army would prevail against the Bolsheviks and that Russia would recover it's former imperial status! However Grand Duchess Xenia and the Dowager Empress did not want to leave Russia while there was still a chance that the White Army would be victorious. (Once a Grand Duchess, John Van Der Kiste & Coryne Hall Sutton Publishing Limited 2002)
      Victor would have known that the nearer the White Army got to being victorious the more danger the Romanovs would be in. He expected the Bolsheviks would kill the remaining Romanovs.
      Complicating the matter further had been the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, which the Bolshevik Regime had signed with the Germans. This meant that the Bolshevik Government of Russia was no longer an enemy of Germany and so the Bolsheviks withdrew Russian Troops from the Allied forces. The signing of the Treaty prompted an all out Civil War in Russia because the Russian Army split into two opposing forces;- The Bolshevik Red Army and the Imperialist White Army. The Whites volunteered to fight on with the Allied Forces. But with the Bolsheviks now withdrawn the strategic northern ports of Murmansk and Archangel had become vulnerable to an invasion by Germany. So a multi-national force made up of U.S, British and French personnel was dispatched to protect supplies and equipment and to keep the ports open. A huge amount of fighting took place in and around Archangel. Xenia wrote in her Diary, 'In Murmansk there are about 30,000 French and Czechoslovaks, Judging by some newspapers there is a battle going on in Yaroslvl between the Bolsheviks and the White Guards and nearly all the towns are burned to the ground.' (Once a Grand Duchess page 136 para 1, para 4, page 137, para2, John Van Der Kiste & Coryne Hall Sutton Publishing Limited 2002)
      The Allied Expeditionary Force, including White Russians, were intent on beating back the Bolsheviks and were sent to Siberia to protect the rear. Grand Duke Michael, the Czar's brother (Misha) was living in Perm at this time.
      Misha's life was in danger not only because he was the Czar's brother but also because when Nicholas II had abdicated he had nominated Misha as his successor. The Czar did this in order to protect his son Alexei, who had been very ill. Knowing the offer was something of a poisonous chalice Misha had wisely turned it down. Although he later agreed that if the Russian people so requested it he would accept.
      Victor was aware of the deteriorating circumstances and would have been concerned for the safety of his family and friends and the remaining members of the Romanov family who were still in Russia. It is also quite likely that he was a friend of the Grand Duke Michael (Misha) and would have been planning to get him out of Russia too. As a Diplomat for the Russian Imperial Court, he would have been immediately compromised and his life endangered if he had gone back into Russia. As a White Russian and an Honorary Nobleman his allegiance would have been with the Czar. Being part of the Intelligence Services he would have been well informed about the events taking place around the Imperial family in 1918. Some letters to and from the Royal family in England to the Romanovs at Ay-Todor were still getting through. Although in most cases it was simply too dangerous for them to receive correspondence.
      Queen Alexandra, sister to the Dowager Empress, feared greatly for their lives, wanting them all to escape Russia and come to England. But there was some reticence on behalf of the British Government and King George V because they feared reprisal from the Bolshevik Government who might try to instigate a revolution in Great Britain.
      Carrying dispatches from Murmansk to Archangel Victor would have been in a unique position to know what was happening on the front-line as well as inside Russia. His allegiance would have been with anyone fighting the Bolsheviks and he would have been in touch with the hundreds of Russians fighting in the White Army. Many of whom would have been of the landed gentry hoping to get back their lands which had been confiscated by the Bolsheviks. All would have been concerned about their families safety, even more so after receiving reports that people were being murdered quite openly in the streets of Russia. .
      Although it cannot be verified that Victor was in touch with the Grand Duchess Xenia and her family at this time, he was working with Sir George Buchanan, the British Ambassador to Russia, who was at this time negotiating between the Russian Cabinet and the British Foreign Office, for the release of the Grand Duchess Xenia and her family. (Once a Grand Duchess, page 120, para 4, John Van Der Kiste & Coryne Hall Sutton Publishing Limited 2002)
      Victor would have known the danger the Imperial Family faced and would have been doing everything possible including encouraging those who were in the right positions to discuss how to get the Czar's family safely back in control of Russia again and if not, then at the very least to arrange their safe escape. But calamitous events moved more rapidly than the opportunities to put them right arose.
      The Czar's sister's Xenia and Olga were with their children at Ay-Todor in the Crimea along with the Dowager Empress whilst many of the Grand Dukes had been imprisoned in Alapayevsk. Grand Duke Michael (Misha) and his secretary Johnson had been living in comparative freedom in the Korolev Rooms in Perm since March. Shortly before dusk on the 12th June they were taken away by a group of men. Nothing had been heard of them since.
      For months rumours circulated that Misha had been rescued by monarchists and was in hiding. Many believe that his disappearance from Perm was a deliberate move by the White Army to spirit him out of Bolshevik hands and thwart Germany's plans to set him up as a puppet Czar, while other reports said he was living in Omsk. Plans for his restoration continued during the Autumn of 1918.
      Lt. Col Anatoly Pepelyev and 16,000 men of the 5th Polish Rifle Division seized Perm in December 1918. But as was later found out Michael and his secretary had been executed by the Bolsheviks and Xenia and her family never heard from him again. (Once a Grand Duchess, page 134, John Van Der Kiste &Coryne Hall Sutton Publishing U.K. 2002)
      Xenia's Husband, Grand Duke Alexander (Sandro) was planning to leave to speak at a conference in Paris with the Allies and explain how bad things were in Russia. He begged Xenia and the family to leave Russia but failed to convince them despite the fact that across Europe monarchies were being overthrown.
      Victor explains in his own words what he was doing at this time.
      'It was suggested to me that I should continue fighting against the Germans by joining the British Army as a volunteer, to which I readily agreed. I was given written instructions and an introduction by the British Military Attaché, Colonel Scales and told to report to Brigadier General the Honorable Yarde Buller in Christiania, who instead of sending me to the front in France told me to travel unofficially round the coast of Norway to Murmansk and to report there to General Sir Frederick Poole, who was in command of the Allied Expeditionary Corps about to land in North Russia any day.
      When I reported to General Poole, which was about the beginning of July 1918. He welcomed my desire to join the British Army, but said that in spite of my Russian Regimental rank as Major, and Staff rank as Colonel. I must start my service with the British Army in the ranks.
      After a short attachment to the 3rd Bn. Royal Scots, I was transferred to a special fighting unit, The Slavo -British Legion, and a few weeks after, I was gazetted as a commissioned officer in the British Army, and appointed as Staff Captain and later Brigade Major, to General Sir Reginald Gordon Finlayson, who was G.O.C. (Group Overall Commander) Allied troops at the Front.
      Just before Christmas 1918, the new Allied G.O.C. General Ironside, chose me for carrying military dispatches from Archangel to H.B.M Minister in Stockholm. (Sir Msme Howard) who a few weeks afterwards redirected me with an additional lot of dispatches to the Foreign Office and the War Office'. (from Victor Butzkoy letter to President of the Officer Association 1940)
      Victor's wife Catherine was staying at the Dawson Mansion Hotel Pembridge Square in London when Victor took up his new appointment as an Interpreter and Intermediary at the Newmarket Camp.
      'At the War Office I received orders to remain in England and in May 1919 I was appointed Intermediary and Liaison Officer to the very large camp outside of Newmarket, which was started on Mr. Winston Churchill's initiative for the reception of hundreds of Russian P.O.W. officers from Germany; the object of this scheme was to send them after some rest and training to fight on the various fronts in Russia, where the struggle between the White Russian forces and Bolsheviks was then in full force.
      The Commandant of the Camp was a splendid English gentleman and officer, Colonel Thompson, D.S.O.M.C (K.OY.L.I)'. (Victor Butzkoy Letter written sometime after 1940.)
      By the Autumn of 1919 the Red army had gained superiority and General Ironside was forced to abandon the White Army to its fate. It was too late to save Misha but not too late to save the remaining Romanovs.
      'After the dispersal of the camp in 1920 I had the honor of being offered an appointment with a certain department of the War Office; The service etiquette does not allow me to mention the department in writing. (Extract letter written by Victor Buzkoy to the Presidents Association, 24 Belgrave Square S.W.1. with grateful acknowledgment to Irene Petersen, who made these notes in May 1976 from various documents while visiting her half -brother Arik Butzkoy in England.)
      Rosie Soames
      It was probably about this time that Victor met Rosie Soames. Rosie was the daughter of Alfred Allason. She was a red headed beauty who married Gilbert Soames, an Army Officer with the Lancashire Fussiliers.
      Gilbert's father was the Liberal M.P. Arthur Wellesley Soames. He was born in 1852 and in 1876 married Eveline the daughter of T. Horsman Coles Esq of Ore, Sussex. He unsuccessfully contested Ipswich in 1892 and 1895, but was elected for S. Norfolk in 1898 and sat in the Commons until he retired in 1918. He died in 1934. He was in favour of Home Rule and other items in the advanced Liberal programme. They lived at 18 Park Crescent London.
      Aurthur Soames had a famous father too. He was William Aldwin Soames of Tramore Lodge Brighton. He was a wealthy Russian merchant, meaning he dealt in Russian goods, and the founder of Brighton College. William and his brother were both first class cricket players and played for Sussex.
      Rosie and Gilbert had one son Robert Horsman Soames born in 1906 and a daughter Valerie Soames born in 1908. Gilbert was killed in France by a sniper's bullet in January 1917.
      After her husband's death Rosie joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and was initially attached to the Australian forces.
      Family history says her ambulance driving led to a meeting with Major Victor Petrovich Butzkoy who had been injured in the field. (A Record of The Allason Family 1790 -1987, James Allason)
      Despite the fact he was married Major Butzkoy embarked on an affair with Rosie which led to him moving in with her and the family at Gloucester Road in Kensington. [?] although very beautiful [?]got up to some strange and exciting adventures. She bought a large noisy Harley-Davidson motor bike which suprised the top-hatted churchgoers when she rode it in Queens Gate on Sundays. Then she took her children to visit the battlefields of Flanders, (where her husband and his uncle had died, and where her brothers had commanded Battalions) with her daughter Valerie riding pillion and her son Bob in the side-car, because he was recovering from pneumonia, they bumped around Ypres and Neueve Chappelle until the side car collapsed. The french blacksmith called on to repair it found a dozen live hand-grenades stowed in it by Bob, who was very indignant when they were put in the pond, since he was planning to take them back to Charterhouse! (James Allason, A record of the Allason Family 1987)
      The Grand Duchess Xenia was now living in London, first at 18 Lennox Gardens and then at 2 Princes Gate, Kensington.
      Count Butzkoy knew the Grand Duchess Xenia and her family and it is likely that he introduced Rosie to her. The Grand Duchess Xenia was living in the same neighbourhood as Rosie and family memoirs recall them often together. On July 27th 1922, Victor divorced his wife Catherine. (The divorce papers give his profession as 'Attaché in London.)
      Catherine then moved to Paris and on the 9th October 1923 was married for the second time to Nicholas Olimpieff in St Cloud, Paris France. She would marry a third time, in 1933, to a Nicholas Filanov or Filonoff and move to Nice, Alpes Martimes, France where she would continue to live until her death on the 8th October 1972. Interestingly enough all three husbands had been Cossacks!
      Having worked at the 'certain department at the War Office' Victor tells us that: ' Early in 1921 I wished to be relieved of my duties in the above mentioned department as I could not resist the desire to try to get through into Russia for giving help to and even saving my poor parents in Russia'.
      Family records show the following. 'I had mentioned to my 'incredulous mother that I had a copy of the Butzkoy transcription from the book you lent me last week. I did in fact have it and on it you also had the following.
      November 21st 1922, Victor P. Butzkoy. Former Major of the Russian Imperial Cavalry, Ex Major of the British Expeditionary Forces in North Russia, has finished with distinction the complete course of the Imperial Alexander Lyceum in Petrograd with it's University Classes' (Taken from the notes of Irene Petersen).
      How long Victor stayed in Russia is not known. This rather cryptic statement about finishing with distinction the complete course of the Imperial Alexander Lyceum in Petrograd with it's University Classes begs more questions than it answers.
      It is unlikely that in 1922 the Academy at which he had been studying would have still been called 'Imperial' given the Bolshevik regime. Newspaper articles of the day reveal in grotesque detail the tumultuous events taking place in that great city in 1922.
      In 'Tombs of Rulers Robbed By Soviet', news from Russia of the sacking of churches and the arrest of clergy is followed today by dispatches reporting the violation of the tombs of all Russian Saints and Rulers by the Bolsheviki in a frantic search for treasure with which to keep up their tottering regime.'' (New York Times June 1922)
      Tombs of the Czars were being opened and systematically robbed of jewelry and other valuables. Only the tomb of Peter the Great survived untouched. The article very distressing to read and too appalling for me to repeat in detail mentions that in one case a whole silver coffin of Anna Ivanova was dragged from the church and shipped to Moscow for melting down. The Sarcophagus of Catherine The Great was broken open and necklaces and rings torn from the body of the Empress.' Seeking to reinforce their pecuniary interests it is by no means sure that the proceeds of this confiscation would serve to aid the starving.' (New York Times June 1922).
      The Russian Orthodox Church was under attack with artifacts of gold and silver and holy icons being stolen and or vandalized. (Lenin's 'Black Hundreds' Anti-Clerical Campaign) 'Seeking the destruction of the church the Soviets try now to produce scission in the Russian clergy. Using several unworthy priests, they are trying by the habitual process of falsification of elections to summon a new council docile to their wishes to elect in the place of Tikhon, a Patriarch willing to destroy the interior strength of the Church. The Russian people, terrorized by the Soviets, are in no condition to fight against their oppressors. Russians who have found asylum in civilized countries are equally powerless'. (New York Times June 1922).
      According to the Liberte Correspondent in Paris, the desecration of the tombs of the saints was ordered by Lenin in an effort to increase his power by playing on the superstitions of the ignorant. All this while the Soviet power had proclaimed in communist Russia that liberty of conscience of religion, was guaranteed to all and the Government would not intervene in Church affairs.
      On June 9th 1922, The New York Times published an appeal from exiled Russians living in Paris. 'The Bolesheviki have decapitated the Orthodox Russian Church in taking away the Head, Tikhon, Patriarch of All The Russias, a Patriarch freely elected according to ecclesiastical rules, elected after the fall of the old regime has been arrested and forced to abandon the direction of the church. Russian organizations having their centre in Paris, meeting without distinction of religious faith and political convictions, address this appeal to the whole world'.
      'To all peoples, their governments, to Christian churches and to all religious communities; Innumerable are the misfortunes of the Russian people and deep its distress. Stricken by World War, followed by Civil War, reduced to blackest misery by the Communist regime, decimated by terror, succumbing on mass to deadly epidemics, exterminated by famine, the Russian people possess one consolation- close union with the church. 'It was about the church that rallied the mass of the people. It is only within its walls that it felt the supreme liberty of the spirit which constitutes the most precious possession of the human beings. The church, in the person, or its clergy and its faithful had not been spared. Twenty eight Bishops and thousands of priests and monks were martyrized and put to death. Christians and all of you who possess the sacred fire which animates humanity, answer our appeal and each one, in the limits of your power act against the sacriligious acts of the Bolsheviki.'' (New York Times June 1922)
      The Russian famine of 1921 which began in the early spring lasted through 1922 and killed an estimated 5 million people. The famine resulted from the combined effect of the disruption of the agricultural production started during World War I and continued through the Russian Revolution and proceeding Civil War. A drought in 1921 added to the misery.
      Hunger was so severe that instead of seed grain being planted it was eaten. The first 'Pomgol', meaning relief for the starving, was created by Patriarch Tikhon and included, scientists, artists, church leaders and public activitsts, many of whom were of non-Bolshevik persuasion. The Patriach Tikhon appealed to the international religious community and soon aid began arriving. The Soviet government disiked this course of affairs, disbanded Tikhon's Pomgol on August 27th 1921 and instigated their own Pomgol!
      Among their fund raising activities was the first state run lottery with all proceeds directed for famine relief. The state Pomgol took an active part in the requisition of Russian Orthodox Church valuables by force. This action was justified by Lenin because Patriarch Tikhon had refused to sell holy church artifacts.
      International aid was eventually secured through The International Committee for Russian Relief, The International Committee of the Red Cross, Hoovers American Relief Association, The League of Red Cross Societies and the International Save the children Union, which had the British Save the Children's Fund as a major contributor. England sent 600 tons of grain and the first feeding centre was opened in October in Saratov.
      Victor would have born witness to these terrible events. We know that he left for Russia during 1921 and probably did not arrive back in England until sometime after November 1922.
      We cannot know exactly what he was doing in Petrograd but concern for his family and friends would have been uppermost in his mind. As a faithful follower of the Orthodox Religion he would have been horrified at the events taking place. One can only assume that he would have been doing everything he could to help any survivors of the massacres that were taking place in the streets of Petrograd. There would be no doubt that he would also be putting his own life at risk in doing so. Perhaps he had relatives who were priests or monks.
      During the time Victor was in Petrograd, Lenin was busy giving speeches and writing his 'Testiment' and he was on the rostrum at various committees speaking against the appointment of Stalin. Lenin had already survived an assassination attempt in 1918 but with bullets still lodged in his neck because it had been too dangerous to remove them, he was getting weaker by the day. In 1922 he suffered the first of three strokes that would eventually kill him.
      To those monitoring the political situation 1922 was as good a year for opportunity as any other. The atmosphere, even in public places must have been charged with the ambitions of many as thoughts of who might replace the leader took hold.
      To outsiders, with their lives in danger the end of Lenin might if handled with care, provide an opportunity to restore Russia to its former glory, and if not, then it was probably going to be the very last opportunity to save any remnants of Czarist Russia.
      Victor, clearly a man of action, was not going to sit back and watch the motherland burn without having one more last attempt to salvage whatever it was he went there for.
      Writing some eighty years later it is impossible to know what he was doing or what was going through his mind. We can only imagine what it must have felt like to see the world you know and love utterly destroyed. This latest outrage and act of indecency against the church must have been the very last straw for so many Russians both at home and abroad. In some it would have provoked a greater compulsion to do something about the Red Terror than in others. Victor was still young enough but was he willing?
      We shall never know and all of this is supposition. So what we must accept is that he went for the reasons he gave, to save his family.
      Whether he was successful or not, he was back in London by 1923. Now divorced, Victor continues to have contact with his wife Catherine who although living in France brings Arik their son, over for a visit and they spend time in Torquay together. (photos)
      But by 1924 the relationship between Rosie and Victor had become strained and there were frequent quarrels. Victor appears to have enjoyed a number of relationships with women and had an affair with Isadora Duncan. In photos of them together, Victor appears to be around 33 years old and it is not clear whether they are taken in Paris or a Russian city. Both Victor and Isadora traveled extensively. (Photos.) [Note from Irene Petersen who provided the photos to the author - the photos were taken in the Nice, France area.]
      After several years together Victor and Rosie parted company and in 1928 Victor eloped with Rosie's daughter Valerie who was now nineteen years old.
      They were married on the fifteenth December 1928 in Romsey District. Victor was 36. He is described on the wedding certificate as, 6ft. 1/2'', hair dark, eyes grey, face round, nose straight no peculiarities. Valerie born 30th October 1908 in London 5ft 10'' hair fair, eyes blue, face round, nose straight. Valerie was now the Countess Butzkoy although Victor didn't use his hereditary title and always referred to himself as Majoy V Butzkoy.
      After the marriage they moved to Nice. Valerie had a small allowance from her father's estate. From 1926 to 1933 Valerie and Victor stayed with Uncle Harry who had served in the 1914-1918 war and been awarded the Military Cross. Afterward he had retired to his Villa in Nice. Harry had been at school with Winston Churchill.
      Harry took pity on them and offered them board and lodgings on condition that Victor worked in the garden. This he was most reluctant to do and preferred to gamble at the Casino with his fellow Russian Aristocrats. Apart from his gambling habit Major Butzkoy was also well known for breeding Borzoi hunting dogs! His father was also a famous breeder in Russia.
      In September 1934 their address was given as 19 Rue Berlioz, Nice. Catherine, Victor's first wife had recently moved to Nice from Paris presumably with the young Arik. Valerie could now speak fluent French and Russian and had adopted the Russian way of life. In Nice the couple would have socialized with a large fraternity of exiled Russian nobility.
      In 1935, Uncle Harry died. When Valerie became ill with measles they returned to England. Rosie, provided them with less than comfortable lodgings over a shop in Hampstead.
      Valerie had joined the Russian Orthodox Church and the Grand Duchess Xenia, sister of the late Czar Nicholas II became her Godmother. How this happened family records do not say. But it would have been a great honour to have the Grand Duchess Xenia as your Godmother.
      Could it be that this honour was given to Valerie as a way of saying thank you for some singular service done for the Imperial Family by her husband Count Victor Butzkoy?
      Again we cannot know for sure but I think it is a reasonable conclusion to arrive at given the circumstances that I have outlined in this story.
      Valerie received a number of gifts from the Grand Duchess Xenia. The Grand Duchess did not have much money and needed financial support from the British Royal Family who housed her at their own expense first at Frogmore and then at Wilderness House. However she did have jewelry, paintings, silver and other family items that she brought with her when she left Russia. Later more items concealed in boxes, apparently only full of rubbish, were shipped to her from Russia.
      Many of these items she sold or auctioned to friends for much needed cash for the Russian charities and groups of immigrants that she helped support all around the world. Items that she couldn't sell she often gave away to her friends who were themselves doing a lot to support the Grand Duchesses charities.
      For many years Valerie helped, on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church in London, at fundraising events for The Russian Refugees Benevolent Fund. (photos)
      The paintings of Two Young Women in a Grotto by Neff and the watercolour portraits by August Bouvier were given to Valerie along with the jewelry, some of which appears in the paintings and which prompted me to to investigate the paintings further. I remember seeing them in Valerie's bedroom in 1965.
      The picture and the portraits are of the Grand Duchess Xenia's Great Aunts, who were sisters, Grand Duchess Maria Nicholaievna Romonov, who married the Duke of Leuchtenberg and then Count Grigori Strogonov and Olga Nicholaievna Romonov, Queen of Wurttermberg, daughters of Czar Nicholas I.
      Because Grand Duchess Xenia's husband, The Grand Duke Alexander (Sandro) was also her cousin it means that The Grand Duchess Maria and Olga were his Aunts as well.
      Valerie became increasingly unhappy in her relationship with with Victor and after nearly twenty years of marriage obtained a divorce in 1945.
      Major Victor Petrovitch Buzkoy continued to live in London and during the second world war applied for work. One of the letters he wrote has been used to tell this story .
      It was a letter to The President of the Officers Association requesting an introduction to a Colonel Foster. (Provided by Irene Petersen, a daughter of Catherine Werblovsky and half-sister to Arik Butzkoy. The Petersens who live in Alaska and Hawaii have done an enormous amount of work on their family tree and most of the photos and documents come from their website and family archive) .
      We dont know whether Victor was successful in his endeavor to obtain work. But he continued to live in London until about 1948, when he moved to Oxford were he died on the 18th October 1952 aged sixty two years.
      His son Artemy Victor Butzkoy, Arik, as he was known and who also inherited the title Count, married on 28th August 1951 to Barbara Dorothy Julia Mathias in Esher Surrey England. Arik published a book on making Rugs and was very wealthy indeed. He apparently invented a rug making or knitting machine and had a number of business interests in London including a toy manufacturer. He lived next door to George Harrison of the Beatles in a large mansion with butlers and other household staff. He had a number of classic cars on the forecourt and he collected armour!
      He had two children Susan and Peter. Susan is a successful racehorse owner in California and Peter lives in Brighton, England. (Arik) Artemy Victor Butzkoy died on the 26th November 1993 in Brighton East Sussex England.
      In 1946 Valerie met Cornelius Pechovsky, A Cossack at the Russian Cathedral in London. He was a very religious man who although his father had been a Czarist officer, had been taken prisoner by the Germans as a Red Air Force Officer! He later escaped and more or less walked to England all the while avoiding enemy lines.
      Valerie and Cornelius married in 1947 and had a long and affectionate marriage until he died in 1981. Their time together was spent helping Russian Refugees from all around the world and they had many friends who often called on them and stayed. The interior of their many houses resembled that of a dacha in pre-revolutionary times - every surface adorned with Russian Icons and silver-bound likeness of the last Czar, Grand Duchess Xenia and other members of the Romanov Family. Valerie died in 1985.
      G. Bridgewater. @June 2008

      1. Catherine divorced Victor de Butzkoy 27 Jul 1922. A paper in the possession of Catherine's daughter Irene Petersen from "Administration Diocesaine des Egls. Orthodoxes Russe en Europe" (French for Diocese Administration of the Russian Orthodox Church in Europe) dated 9 Oct 1922 with no address says in Russian that Catherine and Victor Butskoy were married at the Mironocitkoy Church [Russian orthodox] in Kharkov, Ukraine, on September 24, 1915 with divorce July 27, 1922, at the fault of the husband.

      2. By Kerry Petersen: copy of email dated August 06, 2007. Subject: The scandalous tale that connects Kerry personally with Ina Coolbrith - Who would have thought such a thing possible?
      I recently shared my passion for the history of Ina Coolbrith with my mother. She was not familiar with Ina being California's Poet Laureate and the inspiration of many early writers and poets. As many of you are aware, I have been contributing research to Greg Whitman who is penning the revisionist history on Ina and her "mormoness." I had my mom read the Rhodehamel/Woods book for background. She than shocked me with a family story I had never heard (and I am the family historian!).
      My mother came over from France as a young 16-year-old girl after WWII. Her side of the family is Latvian Jew and her mother had left Russia around the Bolshevik Revolution for Nice France. My mother was able to survive the horrors of the war, especially being Jewish with her single mother living in the same building as the Gestapo. After the war, Mormon missionaries sent her to Utah where she met my father. Then along came me.
      My grandmother was Catherine Werblowsky and she had married Victor de Butzkoy in St. Petersburg before the Revolution. He worked for the military and was posted overseas prior to the Revolution. Long and short they ended up in Nice.
      Meanwhile in Oakland per the webpage (very good if you haven't yet read it) which I sent you last week, there was a local poet named Joseph Duncan who divorced his wife for the great love of his life – Ina Coolbrith. Joseph was the father of Isadora Duncan, the great dancer. Isadora as a young girl, was inspired by the local Oakland librarian, Ina Coolbrith, in her reading much as Jack London would later be inspired by the same Ina. Ina could bring out the creative talents of all she met and Isadora was no exception. Through classical literature and poetry, Isadora was inspired on the worldwide greatness. Later in life in her memoirs, she recalled in her memoirs "the beauty and fire of the poet's eyes" in talking about Ina Coolbrith.
      Isadora (perhaps like Ina) was disillusioned with marriage perhaps because of her father's divorce to her mother. She vowed that she would never marry. Later in Europe, she was a free spirit and always with lovers. Turns out that one of the lovers was Victor de Butzkoy, the husband to my grandmother. My grandmother confirmed the relationship of Victor and Isadora to her daughter Irene. Victor was a ladie's man and eventually after seven years of marriage and one child, Catherine would divorce him in Nice. Catherine later remarried and my mother came from the later marriage. She was always in touch with her half-brother, Arik. As a boy, I lived with Arik one summer in England in 1965. (He was very wealthy and his next door neighbor was George Harrison of the Beatles – which made me quite famous when I returned to the States at the end of the summer.)
      Sounds like an odd story, but my mother has the pictures to prove it. The second photo attached is Victor and Catherine in Russia. The first photo is Victor with Isadora presumably in Nice. Victor is the one in the white suit as well as the one in the uniforms. Victor and Catherine were part of the large Russian community in Nice from after the Revolution and Isadora loved Russia.
      Ina Coolbrith, as the niece to the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, probably knew my early San Francisco Mormon ancestors, the Winners since he was the local Branch President. And through Ina to Isadora and her father Joseph, the other part of my family in Europe connects in three degrees or so. Because of Ina inadvertently breaking up the Duncan family, was Isadora and her free loving spirit (also perhaps a bit from Ina) responsible for breaking up my grandmother's marriage? On the other hand if the marriage hadn't broken up, my mother would not have been born of the later marriage and I certainly would not be typing this.
      Truth is stranger than fiction. What more can I say since I am overwhelmed after having spend countless hundreds of hours on Ina over the last few years!"