This is our Pop’s story as dictated verbally by him a few years ago. I’ll be sharing excerpts every Tuesday.
Our Pop is the boy on the right standing next to our paternal grandmother babushka Martha. Our Aunt Anna who is the one remaining family member alive is on the left side next to our paternal grandfather Timofey.
When I add to our Pop’s story in my Tuesday with Moisi posts I’ll italicize my inserts to the original story. Pop’s original story will not be italicized.
In his own words as translated into English from Russian:
My name is Moisi Timofeyavich Bagdanov. The name Moisi is the anglicized version of Moses. In the Russian language it is pronounced as Moses. I list my birth date as May 25th, 1923. I’m sure of the year but I’m not sure of the actual day of my birth because I was born at home and no records were kept in those days. All that I know was that I was born sometime in May, according to my mother. We lived in a village called Saleem in southern Russia about 200 miles south of present day Rostov. Our village was in a network of about 30 other villages mainly inhabited by Russian Molokans. And that is who we were.
I was born into a large family – twelve children altogether – and we never seemed to have enough of life’s necessities. My earliest memories involve my cousin Michael and me. We were inseparable playmates. One day we went into the fields where watermelons and cantaloupes were growing. We had a knife between us and so decided to check out how the fruit was ripening. I very much remember the verbal tongue lashing I received as a result of our informal field testing! Another time I remember being chased from my grandfather’s bee hives because of the mischief we were causing there. In the spring of 1928, at the ripe old age of four, I was placed on my first plow horse and thus began my career in farming.
In the spring of 1929 I remember the agricultural advances that were made when our village and two others invested in a tractor, threshing machine, and a combine for the wheat harvest. By today’s standards they would be very primitive, but at that time they were a godsend. The whole village participated in the harvest with singing and gratitude because of these labor saving devices. I also remember a very small dairy near our village which produced cheese, cottage cheese, and butter. We kept these products from spoiling by packing our underground cellars with snow in the winter. We poured water over the snow turning it to ice. That small cellar served as our refrigerator for the entire year.
(Seven of the 12 siblings remaining together in the USA in 1982. Jim, Vasilli, Pop Moisi, Anna, Mikhael (Mike) who was visiting the U.S.A. for the first time, Alex, and John.) The next photo has the spouses added. Aunt Anna’s husband was deceased already. Uncle Jim was divorced.
Mikhael did not imigrate to the USA like the rest of these siblings in the photo. After escaping to Persia with the family and living there for several years he heard things were better in Russia so he returned. He was immediately arrested and sent to Siberia. Miraculously he survived his time there. He applied to visit the U.S.A. many times and was finally granted permission in the early 80’s when these photos were taken. The U.S. family had not seen Mikhael for 40 years and this visit was such a happy reunion for everyone. When my parents took their trips to Russia and then returned as missionaries to Russia in the 90’s they were able to have many good visits with Mikhael and his family.
Uncle Mike center top row next to Pop(Moisi) and sister Anna with babushka Martha (Moisi’s mother) sitting in front of them. All my brothers and sisters. Six of us were already married in 1982. Leonard and Lana, the twins were not married yet. Several grandchildren and great grandchildren not born yet.
Steve, Len, Greg, Ellen, Leonard, Uncle Mike (Mikhael), Moisi, Aunt Anna, Lana, Mom, Nick, Vera
Kelly, Kathy holding Melissa, Tim, Nina (Tim’s first wife who died in the early 90’s from complications of Cystic Fibrosis), Babushka Martha, Aunt Maria(Uncle Mike’s wife), Baby Stephen, Sandee, Fred
John, David, Michelle, Josh, Daniel, Debbee, Danielle, and Michael
Moisi’s kids, my brothers and sisters and me are in bold print.
Some details and history about Molokans from an earlier post of mine can be found here.