Sunday, March 7, 2021

Supreme Court, Russian Empire Style (Don't Mess with Chava Lefand, Part 2)

In January, I wrote about my 5th great grandmother, Chava Lefand, and the lengths to which she tried to keep her sons from being conscripted into the Russian Empire's military.  (You can see that here.)  Well, this past week I got another file related to Chava, and it shows once again that she was a very persistent woman, bringing her concerns to the highest levels of government.

Chava Lefand generated lots of paperwork!

In the previous case, we learned Chava was notified in 1855 that her sons were to be released from conscription, likely as a result of her efforts.  But that obviously didn't happen, because in this new case, which consists of documents generated in 1859, Chava was petitioning for her son to be returned from his military service.  That son was my 4th great grandfather Berko/Ber Lefand.

Chava petitioned to the Governing Senate (which is a loose equivalent to the Russian Empire's Supreme Court), and received a response titled "Decree of His Imperial Majesty the Autocrat of All Russia, From the Governing Senate," which can be seen in the above image, dated January 30, 1859.  Chava's petition had stated that her son Berko had been called up for service by mistake; however, the Governing Senate disagreed and decided that her family had owed a son for military service.

The file then shows that the Chernigov Provincial Government took that decree and contacted the Nizhyn District Court, notifying them of the decision and asked that they notify Chava personally at her place of residence in the village of Drozdovka.  I can't image that notification went well!

Chava was notified of this decision on March 10, 1859, and she gave a receipt (which was signed by someone else, since she was illiterate).

Now, while Berko was apparently in the military in 1859, he continued having children in the area; he had children born in 1860, 1862 and 1864, according to Nezhin's Jewish metrical records.  (He also had at least two children born in the 1850s, but that decade's birth records are more sparse.)  In those 1860s birth records, it specified that he was actually a private in the police, rather than someone serving in the military.  (If anyone can help to explain this from a historical perspective, please help!)

Chava lived until 1884, so hopefully I'll come across more documents about her.  She doesn't sound like the kind of woman who would take this no as the final answer!  My next task is trying to figure out if I can find records of the Governing Senate to see what they have about Chava and this case and any others.  So hopefully there will be more to come!

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