Discovery of 18th century family farm opens door to family’s mark in cultural history

It takes piece by piece to finally discover the gems from my family’s history. Now after a few years, I can pinpoint the location of my family’s 18th century farm on Google Maps.

Thanks to the hard work of a local historical society, I finally have the history of my paternal 5th great-grandparents’ farm from 1794. That farm is now a small village noted on Wikipedia here.

My 5th-great-grandfather Alexsei Kirsanov was a Don Cossack major who was granted land along the Sal River in southern Russia and started the farm. Less than a decade later, he died and his wife Martha was noted as wife of the village mayor.

Today, the farm is a healthy village of more than 500 people with a school, cultural center and medical centers. So hope exists that this village could still exist when I am able to visit the ancestral roots of my paternal grandmother’s family.


Then even more family history came my way. I noticed the name of another village detailed with a history carried the same name as the surname of my 4th-great-grandmother on the same webpage. I learned that a distant cousin- 7th cousin  Lt. Col. Ivan Mikhailovich Kuznetsov- donated his land for the construction of a church after his death. His grandfather was my 6th-great-grandfather.

kuznetsov church credit:

Thanks to my 6th cousin in the USA,  I was able to connect this distant cousin from the 18th century to my family. The family of my 6th cousin wrote about their Don Cossack ancestry in a book after visiting archives in St. Petersburg.

That research resulted in me  finding the booklet written by researcher Sergei Koryagin on my Don Cossack Kuznetsov family back to the early 1700s for a mere $10 US dollars.

So how did this journey all start? I stopped researching only in English and switched my journey to Russian. After finding the All Russian Family Tree Forum, translated into English by Google Translate, I discovered my 6th cousin (connected to me by a 5th-great-grandfather) with all the information one state way.

That’s all it took for this domino effect. Get out of your comfort zone and doors will keep opening to the history of your ancestors.

Related posts:
Discovering Don Cossack ancestry the easy way

The priceless value of a sixth cousin

The priceless value of a sixth cousin

I have been eager to find the closest cousins as possible but the cousins with the most information have been those who needed to be identified by pulling out the family tree.

I was excited to seeing a posting by a distant cousin on a genealogy forum. The man’s paternal grandmother was born into the same family as my paternal grandmother. Our grandmothers were 4th cousins, leaving our common ancestor as our 5th great-grandpa.

The effort it took to track down my Russian-American 6th cousin was quite the feat. He posted his message on the most popular Russian genealogy forum 10  years ago so the postal and e-mail addresses he posted were out-of- date.

I had to research him on Google and find information on him on  Intellius before I called the right house. I knew this was worth all the effort when I uncovered he wrote a book on his southern Russian ancestry in ENGLISH.

Anytime I can find documented research on my Russian ancestors in English, it is a happy dance marathon. This is the first time ever that I had the luck of finding information on my ancestors in English.

The details that my sixth cousin found by visiting archives in St. Petersburg on my direct ancestors, starting from my great-grandfather’s generation, was beyond words. I never thought a sixth cousin would be so resourceful.

The cherry on top of this cake was that my cousin uncovered the full names of 3rd and 4th great-grandmothers, a task that is hardly easy to accomplish in Russian genealogy. Uncovering these surnames proved we are cousins twice, through our 5th great-grandfather and my 4th great-grandmother.

This all opened another door I never expected. Thanks to our Don Cossack ancestry, I was able to find information on my 4th great-grandmother’s family in  a genealogy book written by Sergei Koryagin.

So, now I have information on more than 30 relatives of my 4th great-grandmother. Koryagin details the service of the Don Cossacks in my 4th great-grandmother’s family in his genealogy book.

All due to the efforts of finding a 6th cousin, I have more than names and dates on relatives of my grandmother and 4th great-grandmother. This would have costed me thousands of dollars on my own.

Not all distant cousins are filled with family information but it is worth the effort to say hello to cousins who are connected to those great-great-great-great-great-grandparents. The information awaiting you to break down some brick walls could be just an e-mail message away.

Related post:

Discovering Don Cossack ancestry the easy way

Discovering Don Cossack ancestry the easy way

Now that the Soviet Union has been gone for two decades, the curiosity about Don Cossack ancestry is safe to pursue. The effort to find information can be complicated if genealogy research is done the traditional way of contacting regional archives.

If you don’t have full names, birthplaces and birth dates of your ancestors, some regional archives may not do paid research for you. Consistency in research services in Russian regional archives does not exist as I have painfully learned. Also, so many records of Don Cossacks were intentionally destroyed by government officials during the communist era.

Thankfully, the destruction of archives on Don Cossacks was not as severe in St. Petersburg, where so many valuable records exist on Don Cossacks. Hiring a professional researcher to look at records in St. Petersburg without knowing the file numbers is pricey.

That is why I am eternally grateful to Sergei Koryagin, a professional researcher in Moscow. He has published booklets on more than 60 surnames connected to Don Cossack ancestry. Each booklet costs $10 U.S. dollars.

Koryagin published 10 pages of material on the Don Cossack ancestry of my Kirsanov family. The booklet included a family tree with the name of my 6th great-grandfather, born in the 1720s. The information on my ancestors covers when they entered Cossack service, where they served, how they were promoted and how they were rewarded for their service.

A great-grandson of my great-grandfather’s brother purchased this booklet on our Kirsanov ancestors and found my post on looking for Kirsanov relatives on, the best forum for finding Russian relatives and ancestor information. I never expected to find relatives of my great-grandfather. But this third cousin had his great-grandfather’s family tree, which included information on my grandmother’s entire family and several preceding generations. It was undeniable that we were related.

Now, I have a picture of my great-grandfather with his father and five of his six children. It was touching to see my grandmother as a two-year-old with her big brothers. My cousin also gave me a picture of my great-grandmother with my great-grandfather’s brother. Another third cousin from my Kirsanov family gave me scans of three letters my great-grandfather wrote to his brother in the early 1900s and a photo of my great-grandfather in his Cossack uniform. I never heard that my great-grandfather was a Cossack. My family only discussed my grandmother’s uncles and earlier generations as Cossacks.

I am doing further research on my great-grandfather in St. Petersburg archives. I gave a wonderful researcher my great-grandfather’s nobility file numbers to see whether more information could be found on him. Koryagin only had Don Cossack information on my great-grandfather’s brother but Koryagin printed my great-grandfather’s nobility application file number and an American fifth cousin from my Kirsanov family had another file number in his book on our shared ancestry. I found the fifth cousin on after my third cousin e-mailed me an extensive Kirsanov family tree. The domino effect is just awesome.

I have posted two images below that show the surnames researched by Koryagin. If you see a family name, e-mail him at  in Russian and ask him from which villages your surname was researched. After you receive your booklet, read this post on translating your family information into English easily for free.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Please click on the images to download them.