Questioning the Validity of the converstion between Mary DesRochers Broderick and Jill Johansen in the 1970s

June 21, 2010 - Beth email to family

I recently remember that when I went to visit Jill by myself in the early 1990's with mom and
again in 2006 all by myself and Jill showed me pictures and I also took lots of notes.  All my
notes are in St. Louis in some box and along with photos I took of the family with Uncle Paul even
in the photos in Jill's old beautiful house among trees and vines down a long driveway in Ladue or
Clayton, do you remember it? 

So I will have to find those old notes I took about 20 years ago, but even then when I asked for
detail about Russia which she went into, she never mentioned Rasputin or Baku oil or any oil for
that matter.  And that must have been why in my earlier emails if you remember several weeks
ago, that I dismissed the Rasputin story and the Baku oil fields.  Even when I saw them in Mary's
5 page notes, it was hard to believe that Jill said those things, mainly because she refutes them
so strongly.  In fact, she laughed.
When Jeanne and I asked her in April, two months ago, she laughed when we asked her about
Rasputin and the Baku oil fields, she just laughed and said that Phil liked to tell "stories".

But I did research about all the Summer Palaces in Russia, and even the summer palaces of
Catherine the Great and Peter look like the Palace of Versailles in France, and the Winter
Palaces, not much different.  And the McCallum house looks like a barn in comparison.
Jill said that there were pictures of what appeared to be royals in the house, but remember
that even common people back then had pictures of their kings and queens in their homes,
like the people today have the queen's pictures on the wall, and even if they were portraits of
them, maybe the wealthy factory  owner put them in there as it was a very beautiful house.
And it was interesting that Jill said to us both that the only thing she remembers about any
royals at all that visited the home was maybe the queen or a princess who made a pit stop there
and she had tea (and probably used their bathroom) and the family were ecstatic about having
a royal stop at their house.  Apparently, no other big deals happened.  (playing with the Czar's
children?, Rasputin who did not come to St. Petersburg and visit the palace until 1905 when
Vera who was the youngest was already 21 years old? - I don't think so !!!!) 
When Jeanne and I asked her in April, two months ago, she laughed when we asked her about
Rasputin and the Baku oil fields, she just laughed and said that Phil liked to tell "stories".
Frankly, I think dad was full of it and loved to stories just like Jill says.

Also, on this trip when we asked her if William owned the house, she said "no" and that he
was only the manager there.  I think in the book, Intrepid Woman, that Anne and
Charlotte found online and which we are trying to order for everyone in the family, it mentioned
the name of the owner of the plant.  I know that it mentioned the name of the factory.  It was
called the "Schlusselburg  Calico Printing Company (or Printing Works).  So there is a lot in the
book that we will be learning about.

Also, I read lots on the web about the Baku Oil Fields and it mentioned extremely wealthy men
and industrial titan were purchasing those fields. 

It says in Intrepid Woman that William McCallum was the director/manager of the factory, so 
even if he did have a nice salary I doubt very much that he could afford to purchase that huge
beautiful house.  And he did have 12 children to support also.  Jill told us both a story that a
company friend of theirs came to visit them in Russia and they spoke about how William could
afford to live so much better than he could who was a worker in England and it was because
the cost of living in Russia was so very low and so William's salary could go so much farther in
Russia.  And probably the main reason why the owner probably had the factory in Russia was
because of the very cheap labor there.  (Just like the companies in US move business to India).

When we asked her about Vera being there when the Bolshevik Revolution occurred, she said
that Vera was not in Russia at that time and that she had left some years before then.  But
she was the youngest child of 12 and we did not ask about the other children.
Mary had in her notes that some of them were in Russia at that time and a some things that
happened to them when trying to get out.  Maybe more info about this is in my notes in Miami.

Mary says that only Jill gave her that information at the time she was there in the 1970's. 

There are so very many contradictions in all of this.


Jeanne reply June 21, 2010

I believe what my mother wrote because she had never heard any of Phils stories. Plus Jill was extremely lucid at that time. However, I do think some of the details may be misleading..... I'll research more when I do have time.

Im most interested in your notes from a while back. That would be a great find for sure. I like how thorough you have been below, and I’ll copy all of this to the site. Any ideas on how we can contact the author? I’d love to share our pics with him and vice versa. There is that wonderful pic of Margaret (in Jills album). He mentions Margaret a lot in his book.

Paul reply to family June 21, 2010

Good points. Vera was married with 3 children [dad was 6] when the revolution occurred in October of 1917……..there was an earlier revolution in 05 or 06 but it did not end the rule of the tsar. Rasputin came to St. Petersburg in 1900 or 1903 and I think he was helping with the czar’s hemophiliac son in 05, so that story is hogwash.