Mysterious Paper Depicts Czar, Czarina

Speidel, Lucille. "Mysterious Paper Depicts Czar, Czarina." North Dakota REC/RTC, June 1996.

It was another one of those rainy summer days during July of 1995. We were at the farm at Monango, N.D., where we raise vegetables. When we couldn't work outside because of the rain, I decided to look through some old letters that my husband Luverne's mother had saved, looking for old stamps and postmarks from North Dakota.

These letters had been moved into Ellendale in 1978 when Luverne's parents moved into town. When we married in 1989, Luverne moved to Aberdeen, S.D., and the old papers were moved back to the farm. This basket of letters sat in the garage at the farm until the summer of 1994, another rainy day, when I shook out the mouse droppings and moved the letters into the farm house. They sat in the house for another year.

As we looked through the box, we found letters from relatives -- some written in German, parts of which Luverne could read. We had fun going through many of those old letters.

Next, I picked up a piece of folded paper with two pictures with it. Obviously, the pictures were very old. Luverne's grandparents' names -- Gottlieb and Johanna Oster -- were on the back of one picture. The other picture showed three little girls on a ornate chair; we're not sure who they are.

The piece of folded paper was the most exciting find of all. I carefully unfolded it and viewed it. Since I do not read German, I could not read all of it, but I could read the date -- May 14,1896 -- and the names Nikolai Alexandrowitch and Alexandra Feodorowna. I then looked at the pictures, the gold trim, the gold lettering at the top, and the quality of the paper. Suddenly I realized this was no ordinary piece of paper. I showed to Laverne to confirm what I was seeing. Laverne spent the rest of the day wishing he could speak to his grandfather.

We've shown this document to several relatives, and they knew nothing about it. We feel it may be part of the program for the coronation of Czar Nikolai and his wife Alexandra of Russia. Through research we discovered that the date May 14, 1896, was the coronation date by the Russian calendar which is 12 days behind our calendar. Translated, the words at the top read, "God be the Kaiser's (or Czar's ) Protector." Further down it says, "Songs for the Crowning Fest."

We wonder how this document got to Monango, N.D., and who brought it (or mailed it!) We continue to be excited by this find and are continuing to research it.

The song program for the czar's coronation a century ago. Luverne and Lucille Speidel of Aberdeen, SD wonder how these historical items celebrating the czar's coronation in 1896 came to be at the farm of Luverne's grandfather homsteaded in North Dakota.
Does anyone recognize the girls in this photo? If so, contact the staff of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Libaries, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599;


Reprinted with permission of the North Dakota REC/RTC Magazine.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller