In Full Faith: How a Kochyovo Native Became a Minister and Served in the Churches in USA [part 1]

I still did not know how much excitement the study of minister Prisadsky’s biography would bring me as I began my research.  I met a large and friendly Prisadsky family in America, engaged in short correspondence with a professor at Stanford University, remotely met a Perm Opera House singer and plunged into the history of Russia in the early 19th century.

I came across the name Prisadsky as I was typing the word «Kochyovo» into Google to find out more about my village. He was listed on the Wikipedia page in the section “People Associated with the Village.” I clicked on the last name, which is not typical for these places, but I did not learn much. But what little information there was, it was enough to pique my interest in it.  Eventually I added information to the Wikipedia page myself.

Alexander Mikhailovich Prisadsky was born in Kochyovo in 1881. His fate led him through Perm, Harbin (China), the Aleutian Islands in the Pacific Ocean, the city of Berkeley in West Virginia (America), where in 1940 he headed an Orthodox parish, and according to his contemporaries was one of the best priests.

The mere mention of the Aleutian Islands made me dig deeper. As I learned more, the personality of Alexander Prisadsky became clearer. It was obvious to me that his name should not be allowed to be forgotten.  The history of his long journey is tied to one of the most difficult historical periods in Russia.

As a starting point, I looked up the birth registers for 1881 through the Church of St. Nicholas in the village of Kochyovo.  All of that information can now be found on the Internet. Lo and behold, on Page 22, a page that turned yellow with age, on July 19 in the “Newborn Names” columns, the name “Alexander” was written in neat handwriting between the babies Nikanor and Nikolai.  Next column had information about the parents. Father was Mikhail Vladimirovich Prisadsky, the priest in the local church.  Nadezhda Alexandovna was his wife. Practically nothing is known about the mother. (Author’s Note – Researchers that dig into the archives and investigate the past have probably noticed — women were rarely mentioned. Usually as an addendum to the husband).

Record in the birth register.  Photo – Julia Kuchevasova

After he graduated from the Tula Theological Seminary in 1877, student Mikhail Prisadsky (born in 1853) comes to tiny Kochyovo, where the residents practically do not speak Russian, and Komi-Permyak language is used in everyday life. Kochyovo just changed its status from a hamlet to a village. The reason for this status change is the Nikolsky temple built in 1878. Alexander is born here, and until 1887, Mikhail Prisadsky’s beautiful handwriting neatly fills the birth registers at the church. I am grateful to him, because as I was digging into the registers and searching for data about my ancestors, I began to understand why the priest’s handwriting and literacy have great value. I easily find an inscription made by his hand about another baby — Zinovy, born in 1882. Zinovy ​​is my great-great-grandfather. And because of this one documented detail I can be grateful to the Prisadsky family.

A little later, my research led me to several mentions about a certain Vladimir Prisadsky. He could have been Alexander’s older brother according to his age. And it is quite possible that Mikhail Vladimirovich and Nadezhda Alexandrovna named both sons after their parents. Therefore, I leave that as a plausible version of events, keeping in mind that my whole well-built story about the brothers could collapse later on.

Also the births records contain an entry about two daughters: Vera (08/11/1883) and Augusta (10/27/1885).

On August 6, 1889, the head of diocese issued a Decree of the Perm Consistory, titled «On the illegal actions of the priest of Nikolaev Church in Kochyovsk, M. Prisadsky, and the priest of the Yukseevskaya Transfiguration Church, N. Savelov.» It remains to be seen what the actual story behind this decree was. It is only known that it was recorded under the category «Property and occupation crimes and offenses of ordained personnel.» Perhaps the subsequent change of the village’s minister is connected with this case. There is a short mention of Prisadsky in the village “Tabory,” in the Okhansk district, where the head of the family was most likely transferred to. But all of the documents perished in a fire in 2008. So I cannot tell you about this period of their life.

The brothers maintain their friendship, which would explain that they both were admitted to the same educational institution, a year apart — first to the Perm Theological Seminary, and later to the Kazan Veterinary Institute, which they graduated from in 1906.

The Perm Theological Seminary is the oldest educational institution in Perm and has a rich history. It was one of the best theological schools in Russia. Education received in seminaries, especially in philosophy, psychology, didactics, ancient languages, gave people from the clergy an opportunity to continue their studies in secular higher educational institutions — universities and institutes, as well as the opportunity teach and administer medical aid.

Perm Theological Seminary – photo from open sources.


Singing should be especially noted. The whole seminary sang, almost everyone sang, except for those who had no hearing — there were only a few of them. During church services, two choirs sang — the right and the left.  Both included the best voices — the singers. The best voices were selected for the bishop’s choir. But some singers, who usually tried not to participate in these choirs, managed to get a job at other city choirs in order to make some money. The students had a very close connection with theater, where many acted as extras. There were cases when the seminary singers provided extra voices to the opera choir. »

V. A. Ignatiev, a seminary student who later became a teacher and an author about everyday life, mentions one student’s beautiful, booming voice in his book «DIXI ET ANIMAM LEVAVI:»

“Another event from the time of teaching at the seminary, memorable for many residents of the village, is the visit of the seminary comrades for the summer holidays. They came from the Kama region, from the western side of the Urals. The strength of the bond between seminary brethren can be surprising.  The bond was so strong that even such a long distance — 600-700 versts (translator’s note – “verst” is a unit of distance equivalent to 0.6629 miles, or 1.067 kilometers) — did not hinder this journey, although 80 versts had to be done on horseback. Four brothers arrived, and they were all singers: Prisadsky Vladimir Mikhailovich (bass), Smirnov Ivan Vasilyevich (tenor), Gorbunov Alexander Stepanovich (second tenor) and Ionin Pavel Petrovich (second tenor, close to baritone). It is evident that they were an ensemble to perform quartets or trios. Smirnov, the owner of a high tenor with a very pleasant sound, stood out the most. Only a skilled artist or an author with the writing talent of N.V. Gogol could describe the days when these seminary singers stayed in our Techa! Imagine people who were captured, and are paraded everywhere, asked and questioned. This was approximately the same situation that our guests found themselves in: everybody was inviting them to their homes, and receptions and formal evening were arranged for them. Elizaveta Ivanovna Stefanovskaya who was a philanthropist, the wife of the zemstvo governor, and a well-known benefactor of our rural youth talents, co-organized a concert with their performance. And everywhere there was singing, enthusiastic applause, endless requests that they sing and sing. This is where the proverb “The guest is a martyr” really came true.  And they were martyrs. »

Later, Vladimir did not give up his passion for singing. During his time at the Kazan Veterinary Institute, he sang in the Kazan Choir. A few more years later, he would become the regent (director of the church choir) in the village of Pokcha, in Cherdynsky district. Those were the last found references to brother Vladimir.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything at all about his sister Vera. But Augusta Prisadskaya is mentioned in the list of graduates from the Perm Diocesan Women’s School for 1902. Students who went to such schools were from families of clergy members. And they were educated to become teachers in parish schools.

Photograph from the book “You Cannot Stop the Ties through Time,” made to commemorate the Solikamsk State Pedagogical Institute 100-year anniversary.  Augusta Prisadskaya is second from the left in the front row.

The greatest gift to me was the book “You Cannot Stop the Ties through Time,” that Solikamsk State Pedagogical Institute released to celebrate its 110-year anniversary.  Underneath one of the preserved old photographs I saw an inscription: “A. M. Prisadskaya.”  Next to it was a short text, which stated that Augusta Mikhailovna was one of the best educators in the gymnasium.  I looked at the Augusta’s beautiful face for a long time.  Here she is, second in the front row, looking in the photographer’s direction.  She does not know yet that soon, in 1921, her father, who teaches in the schools under the diocese jurisdiction, who has a kamelaukion (translator’s note – kamelaukion is a piece of headgear awarded to and worn by orthodox ministers), and who was awarded by a silver medal in honor of tsar Alexander III’s reign, will pass away due to hunger.  Her brother Alexander will live a long life, filled with hardships, faith, and service to God and Motherland.  Although the Motherland will be thousands of kilometers away from him.

(To be continued…)

Article written by: Julia Kuchevasova

Translated by: Sergey Galkin

Photo: Church in the Kochyovo village.  Photo from 1924. Photo provided by Kochyovo Ethnography and Lifestyle Museum.

Translated from: http://газетапарма.рф/archives/87025