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Pine, oak, birch and aspen; notes from years ago on the Potchep forest

The war in Ukraine has turned my thoughts to my grandmother. Her father’s estates were situated in western Russia, not far from the current border with Ukraine. I remember her telling me how beautiful Kyiv was, so she must have visited it at least once. Recently I again sorted through the Russian documents I took from my parents’ house and rediscovered these records, which have been partially translated by my mother. They appear to be the records and information about the timber forests which belonged to my great-grandfather’s estate in Potchep. I can find no date on them.

I have written about the fire which destroyed the Potchep residence here, but I know very little else about the estate. And my mother’s translation, although in English, is also not very easy to understand. For example, what is a Quartal? I would imagine it is a fourth of something. So why are twenty eight quartals mentioned? I was also for awhile stumped by the measurement of “deciton”, which I discovered through Google, apparently means ten tonnes.

My mother has obviously translated word for word, without much thought for meaning – perhaps she was going to do this but never got around to it? Here is one section of her translation:

“Short news of vegetation. In the telegram I was shown the area of coniferous trees over 40 years old in 25 deciton, in detailed study of the description it was shown to be less than 40 years and the area over 40 years of age appears to be only 2 deciton. Pines from 90-100 years appear to be 10 deciton, oak trees from 40-90 years old are around 200 years. See same as first Potchep.”

Apparently Potchep was purchased by my great-great grandfather, and my great-grandfather was the last owner. Perhaps the telegram was originally sent to my great-great grandfather before he bought Potchep? To me it sounds as if someone gave the wrong information prior to the sale of the land. But what does “the first Potchep” mean? As far as I know there was only one.

Another bit of my mother’s translation reads:

“Quartal #1 is found in the Petrovski survey… and is composed of ready oaks and pine forest found in gullies and ravines, is around two decitons thick nut trees and twenty decitons of nut and young trembling aspen from 10-20 years old, also scattered in gullies.

Quartal #2, 3 and 4 are situated in the Victorian farmstead.”

Victorian farmstead? Strange. Why would a Russian estate have a farmstead called Victorian? I wish my mother had translated these notes in a more understandable way.

I never know what to do with documents such as these. They are certainly interesting but who to? Who would want them? Should I donate them to someone or, now that I have photographed them, throw them out? These are questions I constantly ask myself with regards to these sort of documents.

Alex

Alex de Fircks is a writer of memoir and short fiction. She blogs about family, moments in time, memories and travel. Alex is passionate about history, genealogy and family stories.

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