My Russian Heritage

Gabe Rentfrow, MVC writer

My family history is extensive, my ancestors, the de Livrons lived in France, Russia, Germany and now America. They have been a part of Renaissance movements, escaped death multiple times, faced persecution from others, and commanded a major fleet.
The story of the de Livron family starts in Geneva, Switzerland, with my ancestors, a family affiliated with John Calvin and the Protestant Reformation. They were also in the council of 200 and council of 60. Still standing in this area is a castle in modern day Collins, France, which is in ruins, that has the de Livron Crest. My sixth great grandfather Jean Sylvester de Livron was the console general from France, working as a representative who spoke on behalf of France in Spain.
His son, Francois de Livron, my fifth great grandfather, was expelled from Spain during the Spanish inquisition when he was about 19 years old. He joined the German/Austrian naval fleet. During his work for the fleet, Admiral Count Chernyshev, Russian General Admiral under the reign of Catherine the Great, took notice of Francois and invited him to join the Russian navy as a lieutenant in 1799. Later, during his work for the Russian navy, Francois changed his name to Franz Ivanovich de Livron and became Major General of the Russian Imperial Navy. During his work, he was awarded several of the highest naval decorations of the Russian Naval Federation.
Franz had five sons who went through the Russian naval cadet corps and became officers in the Russian Imperial Navy. They were all highly decorated in the navy. All five had children who also went through the Russian Imperial Navy. One son became a spy for Russia, spying against Japan, but did counterintelligence against Russia and was shot to death. Some were given titles such as barrons, marquis, and prince. Some of these sons had private islands and statues erected to commemorate those who died for Russia. There are even a cape,a gulf, and an island in the sea of Japan named after them .
My great great grandfather, Martin Borisovich de Livron, who lived from 1881-1926, was captain of the second rank for the navy. He was wounded and captured in the Korean strait and became a POW in Japan, and later was released.
After that time, the Bolshevik uprising began, which was the uprising of the poorer class against the higher richer class. During the Bolshevik revolution, Martin’s ship was taken by his crew and the crew under him had orders to kill him, but, since he was respected by his crew, they let him board another ship. The first few ships, among which were Italian and American ships, and other unnamed ships did not let him board, but later another ship let him on board.
Martin had plans to meet with his wife, daughter, and son (my great grandfather) in Constantinople, Turkey. He told them that if things got bad during the uprising, they would meet there. Once the uprising began, his wife Catherine took their children Borris and Nina to flee on one of the last ships taking Russian nobility out of Russia. Though, before they boarded the ship it was blown up by the Bolsheviks. Since there were no more ships taking refugees out of the country, Catherine took her children away and hid them in a well (circle) of their luggage in Odessa, and went to the French console. Since their last name was French and she spoke French, she pretended to be French and got new documents which allowed her to take her and her children on a ship taking French citizens out of Russia.
Once their ship arrived in Constantinople it was quarantined due to an outbreak of typhus on board. Later, Martin found out that they were on that boat,and snuck them out at night, and went into the city of Constantinople. Most of the rest of the de Livron family was not as lucky and were murdered during the revolution.
Martin and his family ended up as refugees and Martin wrote a letter to France seeking citizenship, yet later did not accept because the French military did not help Russia during the communist uprising. Instead the family went to Germany.
Martin Borisovich, my great-great-grandfather arrived at Ellis Island with his daughter and wife on August 3rd, 1923. Their names were later engraved in the Statue of Liberty. Borris, my great grandfather, did not go because they wanted him to finish school in Germany, and he stayed in Germany until he was 18. He attempted to come to America and was rejected at Ellis Island since he did not have the proper paperwork. Yet he later took a boat to Canada and successfully crossed at Niagara Falls on April 5th, 1925.
Later in Martin’s life, he married a Russian woman named Eugenia who was a qualifying Olympic swimmer for America and had two sons Martin Borris and Andrew de Livron, who is my grandfather, both of whom were the first de Livrons in at least seven generations to not be born in nobility.
Back in Russia, the de Livron estate, built in the 1800s, still stands in Penza, Russia where they fled during the Bolshevik uprising. Those times were so bad that the estate was traded for a bag of oats since they did not have enough food. Later it was remodeled, and the tenants found all sorts of money, gold, and jewels hidden in the walls. The estate is now being used as an apartment complex. The de Livron family also has three castles in France, one located in Collins, France, which are in ruins, and two chateaus that have the de Livron Crest.
We have a very long dynasty, stretching from the 1500s to my great grandparents, the last of the Russian nobility. The dynasty is so important now that students in Russia read and write about our de Livron family dynasty. To find our heritage we used and combined it with google translate to translate all French and Russian texts and names.