Fedushkin (center), and fellow officers with Grand Duchesses Maria, Anastasia and Olga
An envelope containing previously unseen photographs of the Imperial family, hidden for more than a hundred years was discovered last year in the attic of an old two-story mansion located in Yessentuki, a city in Stavropol Krai, Russia, located at the base of the Caucasus Mountains.
The workers stumbled upon the pictures during the repair of the roof of the building, where the photos were found in an envelope under a decrepit beam.
In pre-revolutionary times, the owner of the mansion was Colonel Zaretsky, but after the revolution the house, like most other buildings, was nationalized by the Bolsheviks.
Today, the mansion houses the Federal Treasury Department in the Stavropol Territory. It was in August of last last year, that a half-decayed envelope, which had been stored under an old attic beam was discovered, containing the miraculously preserved photographs.
Photo card autographed by the grand duchesses
Photo card autographed by Alexei
Fedushkin with Grand Duchess Olga
“In seven of the nine cards – the same person – a tall, handsome Cossack, is photographed with colleagues and members of the family of Nicholas II, ” said Vera Samarina, Deputy Head of the Regional Treasury Administration.
Samarina was able to establish the alleged personality of the mysterious Cossack, who was among those close to the Imperial family – his name was Anatoly Semyonovich Fedushkin (1887-1958). He was born in the village of Chervlennoy of the Terek Cossack Army. Today this village is on the territory of the Chechen Republic. He later served in His Own Imperial Majesty’s Convoy. the military unit responsible for guarding the emperor and his family.
Two of the cards, judging by their inscriptions were presented to him by the four grand duchesses: Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia bearing the date “April 1917” on the back. A separate photo postcard depicts the heir to the throne Tsesarevich Alexei, bearing the inscription “Anatoly Semenovich” on the back.
Another photograph found in the Yessentuki hiding place, shows Fedushkin standing next to the emperor, Alexei, two of the grand duchesses and other people against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Unfortunately, the photo is in such a poorly preserved state, it is unsuitable for publishing or sharing.
It is worth noting that service in His Own Imperial Majesty’s Convoy, was a family tradition of the Cossack family Fedushkin. After the abdication of Nicholas II, the members of His Own Imperial Majesty’s Convoy remained completely loyal to their oath of allegiance to the tsar.
Apparently, the Imperial family held Anatoly Semyonovich Fedushkin in their trust very closely. His name, is repeatedly mentioned in the diaries and letters of the Grand Duchesses and the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna herself.
Fedushkin with fellow officers
In June 1916, when several officers of the Imperial convoy were to go to the front, the empress presented each of them with an icon. Among those who accepted the gift was Anatoly Fedushkin. Grand Duchess Tatiana gave him a silk shirt with a pinned note: “May God bless and keep you, dear Jusik! Tatyana”. According to Samarina, Fedushkin took it with him when he went into exile.
Anatoly Fedushkin was among the White emigres, and after leaving Russia, he lived in different countries. He died, according to various sources, in 1958, either in New York, or in San Francisco. The envelope containing the photos dear to his heart was apparently hidden before fleeing Russia. After all, if the Bolsheviks had arrested him, and found such incriminating photographs, he would have surely been shot.
The photographs are now in the collection of the Museum of the Regional Department of the Federal Treasury in the Stavropol Territory.
© Paul Gilbert. 29 January 2019