Christmas, more than other holidays, brings on so much nostalgia, especially memories of our parents. My sister and I lost our parents when we were 19, and 26 respectively. They died within a year and a half of each other. Although we knew quite a bit about our mother's background, we knew very little about my father's.
I noticed I have a few Estonian readers of this blog and I thought I would write what little I know about my Estonian grandmother.
When emigres came to the United States, especially in the late 20's, early 30's, many of them wanted to keep their past secret for many reasons: to avoid reprisals, wanting to start fresh, and with new names, after cutting off all ties with regimes that were at the very least, not friendly.
I think my grandmother's name was Mildred or Marina and her last name I heard was Neurman, but I believe she marred again, so this was not my father's last name. Her last name could have been Kueller.
She was born in Estonia in 1886 and married an Austrian. They were divorced when my father was five and I think my father went to live with his father who lived in Moscow. And perhaps he lived part of the time with my grandmother as well. But I do know he went to school in Moscow, a gymnasium, they were called. My grandfather had something to do with the Trans-Siberian railway; we have few real facts. My father changed his name before I was born to Allan French, but his first name was Alexander.
Later, much later, after the Russian Revolution, and a few intervening years spent in Paris, my father came to the United States. His mother followed later; the 1930 US census, lists her as living in New York with my mother and father. I do remember that we were told she died of cancer in New York City. It was interesting as he changed my grandmother's name to Millie French.
I know this photograph was taken in Parnu, Estonia, and from the dress, perhaps in 1918 or when dresses were still long, but shoes and hose showed.
I have no photos of my grandfather as his picture was cut out of the few family photos we have.
So, the mystery remains and will probably remain. I send her picture out in cyberspace in memory of a grandmother my sister and I never knew.