Therese Adams Muranaka, San
Diego Museum of Man, Ethnic Technology Notes
No. 21, 1988.
Molokans of Baja California
Last edited in fair use by Andrei Conovaloff, 16
|This 16-page booklet was
published for "Saddles
and Samovars: Diverse Cultures of Baja
California," a display shown
at the Dan Diego Museum of Man
for 9 months, from July 1988 through March
26, 1989. Showcased were some of
artifacts that Muranaka (right) excavated
in the colony, many from outhouse pits, for her
thesis. The state of
California loaned the items. About 20 Dukh-i-zhiniki
attended the preview opening, and we sang 2
songs led by John & Ann Mendrin, Downey CA.
Though Muranaka astutely titled this booklet "Spirit
Jumpers," she was misinformed, like all
journalists and scholars before her, by the
false label "Molokan"
extensively used in all of her
English citations, and by misinformed
informants. Corrections are added here in
red some 25 years after publication of the
booklet, in 2016. Similar errors occur in the
references below and her thesis:
Muranaka, Therese Adams. "The
Molokan Colony of
Spiritual Christian Pryguny from
Russia at Guadalupe, Baja California:
Continuity and change in a sectarian community,"
Ph.D thesis, Department of Anthropology,
University of Arizona, 1992.
In 1995, Muranaka's work inspired George Mohoff, who grew and
married up in the Guadalupe Valley, and moved
to Los Angeles, to publish the most extensive
resident-written book about the Spiritual
Christians from Russia in Mexico: The
Russian Colony of Guadalupe Molokans in
Mexico, with many similar errors
times, it is shown in the Old and New Testaments the
movements of people from one land to another — like
Abraham, Izaac, Jacob, Moses and others — and of their
worthy trials and tribulations before God [Shubin 1963:2].
Tanya Shubin [right]
watched out the window as
the train coursed on and on through the tropical jungle
and oppressive heat. For a young girl from the mountainous
lands of Armenia, the tropics of Panama with its strange
birds and mammals were intriguing and unusual and hinted
of the strange lands she and her family of Spiritual Christian
peasants from Russia
see as they made their way to freedom. Carrying only a
small satchel of the plain clothing she wore as a Prygun
or Spiritual Christian
pondered the events which had led to this flight of her
family and the other Spiritual Christians
to the New World and wondered where the Spirit would lead
Many years ago, a group of Spiritual
Christians from Russia
established a settlement
on the Guadalupe River above Ensenada in Baja California.
Now known as Francisco
Zarco or Colonia
rusa (the Russian colony),
their colony is located 35 miles southeast of Tijuana. In
1905, the 105 families pooled their resources and
purchased 13,000 acres (20.3 mi2)
of land from the Mexican government under Porfirio Diaz. The
official deed dates from 1907, but the settlers remember an
established colony there at an earlier date (Deway 1966:36 and Appendix A; San
Diego Union August 26 and September 5, 1905).
Before large numbers of Spiritual
Christians began to arrived in Los Angeles, international
news reported 200,000 were on their way; equal to the
population of the County, and twice the city population at
the time. About 1% of that
number actually arrived, but nobody would know that for
5-10 years. This news
alerted officials to divert them as quickly as possible
away from the city.
Attorney and investor Donald Barker,
and others, were heavily invested in Baja California,
which they expected to be annexed to the U.S. Barker was
probably contacted by educated Russians, Demens and de
Blumenthals organized to advise
and divert the immigrants. As
the first waves were arriving in January 1905, some were
escorted to Mexico by summer, particularly those led by
P.M. Shubin, who also inspected with others much of the US
and Mexico as a prospective colonizing client of several
railroads. Several families stayed in Guadalupe Valley
probably to test the area for living, then others came.
Some immigrated via Panama, then Mexico, and were not
allowed into the U.S..
For other Spiritual Christian faiths who rejected living
with those congregations bound for Mexico, Demens arranged
for hundreds to move to Hawaii in 1906. 110 went
but returned within 6 months. Though Shubin scouted
Hawaii, he never returned but scouted Texas and other
In Los Angeles, Barker appears to have acted as
a broker-agent who got a loan from a Los Angeles bank to
buy public land from Mexico ($2/acre), to buy supplies
requested by colonists (add 85% to the loan), to build one
of the 3 flour mills in Ensenada, and arranged for each
colonist to pay for his land and share of communal
supplies with wheat delivered to the mill. Each colonist
appears to have paid earnest money at $50 per share to
secure a membership in the commune. The rest of the loan
was payable in wheat, or cash, as the member was able. All
accounting was done at the Barker mill in Ensenada, which
was one of 3 flour mills in the city. The loan was paid in
These people were known as Pryguny
and on the advice of A.P. Demens the
Russian writer Leo Tolstoy (Young
1932:12, Dunn 1970:307, Tolstoy
1933:351-354), they had come family by family to the New
World from the vicinity of Kars, now in modern-day Turkey (Figure
2). As with many immigrant groups, they
came to the Americas with a purpose. They were members
of a Christian religious group who believed in peace, the
Bible, and a simple way of life. In their efforts to evade
the Imperial Russian government's intrusions into their
private ways (M. Rogoff 1983, Conybeare 1962:293- 294), families
fled through the Ukraine to Bremen or Hamburg and from there
to Ellis Island, Galveston, or across the Isthmus of Panama
by train (since the canal was not opened until 1914). Other
Spiritual Christians Some
Molokans came to the United States by way of
Harbin in China; some came after a hiatus in Argentina,
Chile, and other Latin American countries (Lisizin 1984:11).
Figure 2. Kars and vicinity, origin of this Prygun the
exodus to the United States at the turn of the 20th century.
The families in Mexico came from only
a few villages which are not well documented. Nearly all
would just say Kars (province), either due to not knowing
the name of their village, to not reveal the village in
case they might be deported, or perhaps to protect their
relatives who remained. About 1% of all Spiritual
Christians in Russia migrated to North America
from many villages in Kars, the Caucasus and a few from
Central Russia. For most no detailed records exist. (Large
Spiritual Christian Doukhobor and Molokan
Villages, 1879-1921, by Jonathan Kalmakoff.)
many hardships, families led
by V.G. Pivovaroff arrived as early as Spring 1904 in Los Angeles, in Alta
California (Desatoff 1977, Deway 1966:33, Lisizin 1984:10, Young 1927:54). They settled
in "Russian Town" — regions that would become "The
Flats" of Boyle Heights or Hollenbeck Heights — and
later in Belvedere,
Maywood, Bell, Huntington Park, San Pedro, Lynwood,
and Palomar Park (? Palomares, Rancho
San Jose?) (Dolbee
1983, Sokoloff 1918, Young 1932:16).
They knew that Los Angeles was their destination because it
had been prophesied that they would always be protected by
"the angels" (M. Rogoff 1983).
Finding land expensive, however, and needing vast tracts to
farm winter wheat in the old ways (Schmieder
1928:415- 420), they began looking further for a cheaper,
and less materialistic, lifestyle. In 1907, officially
purchasing a large tract of land in Mexico known as Ex-Misión Nuestra Señora de
Guadalupe, formerly a Dominican mission on
the Guadalupe River above Ensenada (Goldbaum
1971:56), they settled down to maintain forever the old ways
(Figure 3 [map
showing San Diego to Ensenada]).
built villages in the Strassendorf
[German shoestring, single-street
row village] pattern (Post
and Lutz 1976:140, Schmieder
1928:417), with houses arranged side by side along a single,
straight, tree-lined road (Figure 4). Houses were made of
bricks of sun-dried mud and straw stacked with mud mortar
and whitewashed in the fashion of the Mexican adobes of Baja
California, but roofs were shingled and steeply-pitched in
the old Russian way to keep out the snow they would never
see in Guadalupe (Figure 5). Every family had the same sized
strip of land on the main street and each homestead had a
house entered by means of a narrow passage with a room on
either side, one of which was the kitchen, the other a
family living area. At the back, another kitchen might be
attached, with a large bake-oven or pechka (Story 1960:35). Cousins
visiting from Los Angeles remembered as a Saturday night
treat the banya, a
sauna consisting of a floor of heated stones on which cold
water was poured to provide a steam bath for the family (Deway 1966:49). An outhouse, a laundry
room, a chicken house (perhaps with a room for the hired
hand upstairs), a duck pen, and a cattle barn completed most
households (Story 1960:36). Each family
had a small orchard or garden, a well, and perhaps a
Interiors varied considerably throughout the colony's
history. Both of the two rooms, the kitchen and "living"
rooms, had feather beds in them; as late as 1960, they had
huge storage chests still containing blankets made in Russia
but U.S. or Mexican-made sheets (Story
1960:36). Wood, and later gas, stoves, benches built in the
walls, kettles mixing bowls, coffee pots, short clear tea
glasses and china saucers, wooden spoons and bowls furnished
the interiors (H. Rogoff 1988). The
[brass urn, wood-fired water
heater] or tea service and a Bible, always open,
were on display. They did not use the
new Kniga solntse, dukh i zhzin' (Book
of the Sun, Spirit and Life) created in Los Angeles
in 1928, nor adopt the new rituals imposed on all Pryguny
in the U.S.. Wedding pictures, perhaps a
colored print of the Last Supper, and a Victrola might have
been allowed in later years (Story
1960:38, Montemayor 1980).
Porches were edged with carved wooden railings, unlike the
No elaborate meeting hall
existed in the village but a simple building without icons
or statues served as a place of meetings
and worship. A new meeting
hall church was built as late as
1955 to 1957 (Story 1960-60
127) Services at this sobranie
or meeting [assembly/ meeting
hall] consisted of spiritual verses and songs
through which the presence of the Holy Spirit was felt.
Because of the fervor of the meetings, the people were known
as the "Spirit Jumpers." Pacifism, sobriety and social
conscience were stressed. "It is against our religion for
one man to consider himself better in any way than his
fellows. We are all equal before God. The only superiority
one man holds over another is in his years of experience and
spiritual wisdom" (an elder quoted in Young
In keeping with
views, clothing was simple to make.
The men wore the Russian-style shirt with a rope belt [kosovorotka],
long baggy pants, and boots. The women wore long skirts and
over-blouses. On special occasions, a hand-made lace shawl
known as kosinka ["triangle", photo right] was worn
over the head and tied behind the neck (Figure 6), cut like a lace bashlik.
Under the kosinka,
a married woman wore her hair bound at the neck in a snood [chepchik]
tied with ribbons. No jewelry or ornament without function
As dictated by the religion, all harvests were held together
and the food was stockpiled and distributed by elected
elders. Everything was produced on the individual homestead
with the exception of coffee, sugar, salt, and rice, which
were purchased in Ensenada or San Diego (M.
Rogoff 1983). Daily food was plainly prepared and
featured a Russian meat soup [vegetable] or borshch, lapsha or noodles, and
loaves of wheat bread from outdoor ovens. The Pryguny
practiced bee-keeping and kept flocks of geese (Figure 7).
In general, dietary patterns followed kosher rules from
Leviticus 23, with prohibitions on alcohol, shellfish,
animals without cloven hooves [Deuteronomy
14:8], and pigs ("The pig does not look to the sky"*). In later years, goats or sheep
were considered food for guests, along with the garden's
regular fare of pickled cabbage, cucumbers, olives, onions,
pumpkins, and melons (Post and Lutz
1976:144, Story 1960:31).
* Original quote from: The
Works of the Emperor Julian, Volume 1, by Julian
(Emperor of Rome), translated by W. C. Wright,
1913, page 495. — Written in 300s. Julian
the Apostate was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363,
not Jewish and mostly
the name for these settlers, comes from the characteristic
jumping of a few anointed members, who often raise both
hands during meetings, indicating contact with the Holy
Spirit, which typically starts abruptly, sometimes with a
shout and stomp, then continuing with body swaying, foot
stomping, and hopping, skipping and/or leaping, sometimes
from their standing position moving toward others for
conformation of the Spirit and around the room. Their
jumping is somewhat similar to Pentecostalism.
Each Prygun congregation has at least one prophet(ess)
and anyone may feel the Holy Spirit and jump at any time,
which distinguished their form of Spiritual
Christianity in Russia. After settlement in Mexico,
these Pryguny did not participate in the "Azusa
Street Revival" like some of the varieties of
Spiritual Christians who remained in Los Angeles. When the
new holy book, Kniga
solntse dukh i zhin' (Book of the Sun,
Spirit and Life) was finalized in 1928, it
was not placed on their altar table in Mexico, as it was
in Los Angeles, therefore the congregation in Mexico did
not convert to a Dukh-i-zhiniki
faith. When most Pryguny in Mexico
moved to the U.S., if they wished to fellowship with the
Americanized Spiritual Christians, they had to join Dukh-i-zhiznik
congregations and accept the new book and rituals. No
Mexico Prygun families moved to
northern California and joined Molokane. Because
much of their services are similar in Russian with Dukh-i-zhizniki,
many fluent in Russian could participate in the U.S. Dukh-i-zhiznik
congregations while privately not entirely embracing these
new religions, else they could attend if they followed the
rituals without speaking.
Molokan, the name for these settlers, is similar to
the Russian word for "milk" ( moloko ).
Although scholars of Russian sectarianism such as Klibanov
(1982:107-109) leave no doubt as to the Milky River ( Molochnye Vody )
origins of the Doukhobors, from whom the Molokans evolved,
most doubt any real connection between Molochnye Vody
and the Molokan name ( Dunn
and Dunn 1978:352). A more likely
explanation is that the name "Molokan" comes from the
practice of drinking milk during the Russian Orthodox fast
seasons such as Lent, during which the Orthodox were
restricted from milk and milk products ( Lane 1978:100, Shubin 1963:10, Struve 1967:228). In
the early years of the sect's persecution in Russia, milk
and milk products were also the only foods which Molokan
conscientious objectors, imprisoned for their beliefs,
could trust had not been contaminated as defined by kosher law
( J. J. Samarin
1988). The explanation most commonly given in Guadalupe
today is that the name comes from Paul's First Epistle to
the Corinthians, Chapter 3 Verse 2 about Christians
drinking "spiritual milk."
To understand who the Pryguny
Molokans are and why they fled Imperial
Russia, one must look to the origins of Orthodox
Christianity. In A.D. 1054, Latin Catholicism and Greek
Catholicism (later known as Orthodoxy) officially split
under the leadership of Michael Cerularius. In 1654 Russian
Orthodoxy (the Third Rome) was divided again by the backlash
of protests over changes in ritual made by the Patriarch
Nikon. The protesters were known as the "Old Believers" [staroobryadsty : Old Ritualists]
and from the Orthodox point of view were dangerous
schismatics or raskolniki.
"Orthodox peasants were wont to say that among the Rascolniks 'every moujik (peasant man)
formed a sect, and every baba
(peasant woman) a persuasion'" (Stepniak
Splintering, rejoining and splintering again, raskolniki such as the
Old Believers were divided in two categories: popovtsy (those with
priests) and bespopovtsy
(those without priests) (Fadner
1967:755). Molokans are a priestless sect which first
appeared in the historical record about 1765 after a split
with the Doukhobors,
a group now famous in Western
Canada (Kolarz 1961:349, Stepniak 1888:266, Struve
1967:228). Part of the "Spiritual Christian" movement, their
founder was a Russian tailor named Simion Uklein whose
doctrine (written in a book called "The Ritual") included
the following: no priests, no formal church organization, no
status differences, and an opposition to material progress (Young 1932:83-84). Bratsvo or
"brotherhood" and obshchestvo
or economic "community"
were central ideas. Unlike the Doukhobors, however, who were
almost solely peasants, the Molokan drew early converts from
merchants and industrialists (Lane
1978:100). Pacifism, reason and self-perfection through work
were highly valued (Lane
1978:102). The Molokans have been characterized overall as a
Utopian type of sect which seeks, from a distance removed
from the surrounding society, to reconstruct the world in a
better way (cf. Wilson 1970:47).
Sociologically speaking, Molokans fit the definition of a
sect in that their behavior as a group contrasts with that
of the outside world, they consider themselves as divinely
inspired or chosen, they set themselves apart by their
clothing and speech, and they have a codified body of laws
considered sacred (Young
only documented Pryguny as they transformed to Dukh-i-zhizniki.]
Under Uklein's leadership, the sect spread from Tambov to
Voronezh, to the Cossacks on the Don River, to Saratov, and
from there to the Caucasus with Isaiah Ivanov Krylov and
across the Volga River with Peter Dementev. Further
expansion was noted in Vladimir, and to the area of
Ryazan under a follower named Moses the Dalmatian (Conybeare 1962:291).
Doctrinal divisions existed among the
many Spiritual Christian faiths —
arose in the Molokan sect (Young 1932:71), giving rise to
the Subbotniki or
"Sabbatarians" (who followed Jewish Talmudic law more
closely), the "Evangelical
Christians" of the Don River (who eventually allowed
themselves to be drafted), the "Communists" (who made
various efforts at total equality through a sharing of
personal property), the original Molokane
original or "Steadfast"
by Pryguny (because they who
did not "jump" in ecstasy at religious meetings), and the Pryguny or "Spirit
Jumpers" (some of whom are called Maksimisty followers of after
Maxim Rudometkin) (Lane 1978:102). Many
who came to the U.S. were followers of Klubnikin, along
with Zionists, New Israelites, Baptists, God's People,
The practice of jumping and prophesy varies extensively
among congregations. At least one person may stomp his/her foot,
standing in place with hands raised, for a short time at
the height of singing, sometimes uttering a prophesy. In very charismatic congregations, now
only among Dukh-i-zhizniki, everyone, including
children, must jump to exhaustion with prophesy.
Religious persecution started each time the displaced Spiritual Christian
settlement grew prosperous or (with the exception of the
Evangelical Christians) the Imperial Russian government
demanded conscripts, which the Spiritual
Christians Molokans refused (M.
Rogoff 1983). At these times, severe laws against the Spiritual Christians Molokans
were enacted (Conybeare
1962:293-294). Responding to these new problems and to the
urgings of the famous Russian writer and pacifist Leo Tolstoy for the Dukhobortsy who burned
guns in 1895, were arrested and exiled, the Society of
Friends, London, organized a mass migration of 7,411
mostly followers of P.V. Verigin (1/3 of all Dukhobortsy)
to central Canada. Five year later, other Spiritual Christians Molokans
began a disorganized flight from Russia, family by family,
between 1904 and 1906 (Dunn 1970:307, Tolstoy
1% of all Spiritual Christians left Russia for North
America from 1899 to 1930, and some returned.
Fleeing in all directions, perhaps 3,500 people from many Spiritual Christian groups
migrated to the United States (Samarin
1982:753), departing by way of Hamburg or Bremen and
entering at Ellis Island or Galveston, or via the Isthmus of
Panama. Most of the non-dukhoborsty
the advice of P.A. Demens who directed them to Los
Angeles, found their way to
California beginning in January 1905
1904, following leaders Phillip M. Shubin
(Frontispiece) and Ivan G. Samarin, who had come ahead in
1900 to scout for land after visiting the Doukhobors of
Canada and working their way down to San Francisco and Los
Angeles (Shubin 1963:26) to meet P.A. Demens. Spiritual Christian Molokan
families settled in the aforementioned suburbs of Los
Angeles (Moore 1973:21-22), but the
heart of their settlement was in the Vignes and First
Streets section [Bethlehem],
where a meeting hall at the
Stimson-Lafayette Industrial School church
and cooperative grocery store
were located. Spiritual Christian
businesses were identifiable by names ending in -in, -off or -eff suffixes.
In the 1920s, when Spiritual
Christians moved east across the Los Angeles River and
congregations had room to divide, and perhaps a thousand
returned to the city after fleeing during the bride-selling
scandal (1911-1915), each congregation tried to have
their own store, 15 counted, which was labeled by the name
of the proprietor — Shubin's Market, Klubnikin's,
Metchikoff's, etc. Also the congregations were named by
the dominant village of the members, or the surname of the
presbyter (presviter); for example, Romanovsky
sobranie (village) was also called Klubnikin
sobranie (presbyter), among other nicknames which
changed over time and division.
Modern-day events have been
difficult for the Pryguny
Molokans of the Guadalupe Valley. On a hill
overlooking the colony the cemetery
tells the story. At the top of the hill rows of the older
headstones written in the Cyrillic alphabet can still be
seen. One can still read the stone of Ivan A. Bibayoff
(Figure 8, right). The stones of many of Phillip M. Shubin's
descendants must be there, too, no longer marked.* In the middle of the cemetery,
closer to the valley floor, are headstones written in
Cyrillic with Spanish transcriptions, e.g., Sergei
Filatoff's with "Sergio
Filatoff" written in Spanish. At the base of the hill
are headstones written only in Spanish and decorated more
elaborately with plastic flowers, crosses, and religious
figurines. These stones are standing evidence of death,
intermarriage, and near-abandonment of the Russian
village in more recent years.
* P.M. Shubin (1850- 1932)
resided in Los Angeles, not Mexico. Few, if any, of his
relatives were buried there. Only one Ignatsz
Schubin is listed, who moved to Arizona in 1916.
The first major emigration from Guadalupe took place in 1912*, when an unknown number of
settlers departed (Schmieder
1928:421). Dissatisfaction with the land or fear of the
uprisings in Northern Mexico during the Mexican Revolution
(cf. the pacificos
in Reed 1983:57) may have been
the causes. Certainly popular folklore cites more than one
raid by the Villistas of
Pancho Villa looking for food, clothing, and horses (M. Rogoff 1983, J.
A. Samarin 1988).
* Probably in January
1916, when all 110 members of the Tiukma congregation
left for the Chino Valley of Arizona, led by V.G.
Pivovaroff and A.N. Abramoff presbyter. (Dzheromskiy Colony
Arizona 1916, by Andrei Conovaloff and Mike
Rudometkin, updated : 17 June 2016.)
In 1926-1928 some leaders in Mexico, including
Pivovaroff, were trying to make arrangements to migrate to
Canada, but they needed financing and enlisted interest
from a few Pryguny in Los Angeles. In 1928
delegates from both settlements areas were escorted to
Canada, with plans to migrate, and shown property in
Alberta where they were offered a block of about 60 square
miles east of Calgary near other immigrants also from
Spiritual Christian Dukhoborsty and
Anabaptists (Mennonites). Resistance from businessmen established
in Los Angeles appears to have cancelled the offer. (Prygun pokhod to
The second major exodus from the valley took place after the
creation of the ejido El
Porvenir in Guadalupe Valley in 1937. Article 27 of the
Political Constitution of the United States of Mexico of
February 15, 1917, says, "The ownership of lands and waters
... is vested originally in the nation which ... has the
right to transmit title thereto to private persons ... the
nation shall have at all times the right to impose upon
private property such restriction as the interest may
require ... in order to conserve and equitably distribute
the public wealth" (Deway 1966:52).
Elaborated in the Agricultural Code of Mexico, these laws
gave President Lazaro Cardenas the right to reapportion
tracts of land above a certain size to the general
population, a procedure known as the ejido system (Meyer and Sherman 1979:378). ["Can I buy
by David W. Connell, Connell & Associates, 1998: "...since the constitutional reforms of 1992 ejido
land now can be converted into private property and
sold to third parties, including foreigners."]
On September 19, 1937, the Mexican government requested a dotación or "donation"
and on November 28, 1937, reapportioned 2920 hectares
adjoining the colonia to
58 Mexican ejidatarios.
The ejido, known
as El Porvenir ("things to come"), did not incorporate Prygun
lands, but caused great consternation amongst
just the same. Colonists such as Mary
Rogoff (1983) claim that President Cardenas himself
came to the valley and, impressed with the industrious
farms, decided not to take Prygun
Russian lands to enlarge the ejido. Many colonists
were not convinced and consolidated their holdings in the
United States. In 1938, 10 families
resettled on 200
acres in Ramona, San Diego County, California.
The final change for the colony came with the completion of
a new road in 1958 (Deway 1966:82,
Story 1960:162, Kvammen 1976) and
with the coming of squatters who claimed portions of the
valley as their own. The year 1958, in particular, was an
election year and activists of the General Union of Mexican
Workers and Peasants (UGOCM) were organizing takeovers of
private properties to speed land reform (Deway
1966:80). Associated with this movement, 3000 workers
appeared in the Guadalupe Valley during the night of July
10,1958 (San Diego Union July 12, 1958 to
July 11, 1959). Known as paracaidistas
or "parachutists" for their sudden appearance "from
the skies," they formed the poblado Francisco Zarco (cf. Meyer and Sherman 1979:385-386) at the
fork of the calle
principal and Mexico Highway 3 (the Tecate-Ensenada
highway). Backed by the Ley
de Tierras Ociosas ("Law of Idle Lands") of June
23, 1920, the squatters were attracted by fallow Prygun
fields. Acts of civil disobedience followed as more and more
squatters came. Destroying plantings, raiding stock, and
robbing orchards were some of the techniques used to drive
both Prygun Russian
and Mexican owners from their lands. Russian dolls with
beards were burnt in effigy and threats to torch crops and
harm families were made (Deway 1966:84,
M. Rogoff 1983). In August of 1959,107
hectares of Prygun Russian
land were given officially to the poblado. Anxiety about holdings which were
not constantly supervised forced the sale of more and more
Russian-held parcels (Deway
1966:98-99) and brought about the effective demise of the
More than 1000 acres on the east side
of Ensenada was taken by the government from Vasili
Kondratovich Popoff, to expand the city. He argued that
part of his land be given back as a private
Spiritual Christian cemetery, which was granted.
Mohoff said that he believed most Prygun families,
like his, abandoned Mexico for California for economic
disparity reasons. He said that during WWII one of
his friends, who left the Valley to find work in Los
Angeles County, returned within the year driving a car.
The local boys did not believe their friend actually
earned enough to buy a car. "If I worked my whole life in
Mexico, I would never earn enough to buy a car!" exclaimed
Mohoff. "When we were convinced he was telling us the
truth, we all wanted to go to Los Angeles!"
Japanese, Chinese, and Jewish settlers, among other ethnic
groups, bought property from the original squatters as time
went on, completely changing the ethnic character of the
village. Today only one family of rusos puros or "pure Russians" exists in
the colonia and
six or seven Pryguny
are married to Mexican spouses. A small family of Cossacks
from Ensenada once lived in the valley. Because they speak
Russian with the Pryguny Russians,
they are well informed and have left an excellent memoir of
the valley's history (Lisizin 1984).
All that is left is a colony in ruins. Residents claim that
in ten years no Prygun
will be heard in a valley which was known for the sound of Prygun Russian
voices singing a cappella
as visitors turned in from the main road (Rangel
1983, Long 1983). Today's visitor sees
nothing of the area where Tanya Shubin, the young girl who
crossed the Isthmus of Panama, lived with her husband Moses
Desatoff. Her children, grandchildren, and
great-grandchildren live in Alta California, Oregon, and
Alaska (Dolbee 1983). No one in the
village remembers how still she sat as she crossed the U.S.
border on her way to a new home in Los Angeles, or how
quietly she held the little girl who had died on the trip
because she wanted to bury her close by. Many sufferings,
many joys associated with the Pryguny
Russians of Guadalupe have
been forgotten. As one walks through Guadalupe today, parts
of the village are in ruins, weedy and overgrown. The casual
visitor looks down the long road and sees only Salsola kali or
tumbleweeds, also known as the "Russian
For ye have not received the spirit of the
bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit
of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit
itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the
children of God, and if children then heirs, heirs of
God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we
suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together,
for I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are
not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be
revealed in us
Figure 9. Unidentified Prygun
Molokan families, from an old print found
in Guadalupe Colony.
Later this photo was labeled: "Ivan M
Kapsoff family, San Antonio.... "
I remember my first trip to Guadalupe with Elena Teresa
Orozco and trying to look inconspicuous driving down the
main street in a white Mercedes-Benz with Alta California
I remember catching my breath at Dukh-i-zhiznik
Molokan John A. Samarin's memories of his
boyhood in Guadalupe, shared with me in the company of his
son John J. Samarin.
I remember making Judie Dolbee stand still for 20 minutes in
the worst part of San Diego so I could take her picture for
a series of Dukh-i-zhiznik
I remember the half hour spent in phone conversation with
Dr. Leiand A. Fetzer, Professor of Germanic and Slavic
Studies at San Diego State University, and my feeble
attempts to spell "Bibaiv [sic]," "Bibaev," "Bibayeff," now
I remember taking a "shortcut" on our way to Guadalupe with
Helen Long balanced in the back seat of a '67 Volkswagen so
that we could see her ancestral home.
I remember Irma Retana's careful translations of Spanish
documents while her family ate dinner without her.
I remember the hospitality extended to strangers by the
Hector Fuentes family of Guadalupe.
I remember the patience of my husband Jason Muranaka and my
son Jay-Michael, which knew no bounds.
Therese Adams Muranaka
San Diego, California
New York: Russell and Russell, Inc.
interview [original colonist]. Woodburn, Oregon,
April 24, 1977
Deway, John Sanford
||The Colonia Rusa of
Guadalupe Valley: A Study of Settlement,
Competition and Change. M.A. Thesis
(Geography), California State University, Los
communication [Tanya Shubin Desatoff's
||Canadian and Soviet
Doukhobors: An Examination of the Mechanisms of
Social Change. Canadian
Slavic Studies 4(2):300-326.
Dunn, Stephen P., and Ethel Dunn
Molokans in America. Dialectical
Fadner, F. L
|| Russian Sects. In: New Catholic
Encyclopedia, Volume XII, pp. 753-756.
|| Towns of Baja
California: A 1918 Report. Translated with
introduction and supplemental annotations by William
O. Hendricks. Glendale, California: La Siesta Press.
Dr. W. Michael Mathes, Associate Professor of
History at the University of San Francisco. The
of San Diego History, Spring 1972, Volume 18, Number
|| History of Religious
Sectarianism in Russia (1860s-1917). Edited
by Stephen P. Dunn, translated by Ethel Dunn.
Oxford: Pergamon Press.
||Religion in the
Soviet Union. London: Macmillan, and
New York: St. Martin's Press.
|| A Study of the
Relationship Between Population Growth and the
Development of Agriculture in Guadalupe Valley, Baja
California. Mexico. M.A. Thesis
(Anthropology), California State University, Los
in the Soviet Union: A Sociological Study.
London: George Alien and Unwin.
|| Secta religiosa
molokan y la Colonia rusa de Guadalupe, Ensenada,
Baja California. Unpublished manuscript. [The Molokan
religious sect and the Russian colony of
Guadalupe, Ensenada, Baja California]
communication [descendant of Jose Matias Moreno, who
owned the Ex-Misión
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe land grant].
Meyer, Michael C, and William L. Sherman
||The Course of Mexican
History. New York: Oxford University Press.
||Baja's Russian Colony
Dwindling Away. Los
Angeles Times, February 10,1980, p. 2:10.
Moore, William Burgess
|Molokan Oral Tradition: Legends
and Memorates of an Ethnic Sect. University
of California Publications. Folklore Studies 28.
Post, Lauren C., and Carl Lutz
Colony of Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico. In: Brand Book,
Volume IV. pp. 140-155. San Diego: San Diego Corral
of the Westerners.
||Russian Emigre Group
Fading in Mexico. San
Diego Union, June 20, 1983, pp. B-l and 2.
Penguin Books, Ltd. [1914 original is online.]
communication [Guadalupe Valley Molokan].
communication [Guadalupe Valley resident since
Samarin, Ivan G.
||Dukh i Zhizn' [Spirit and Life].
Third Edition. Los Angeles.
Samarin, John A.
Samarin, John J.
San Diego Union
|Issue of August 26,
1905, p. 1, col. 6.
Issue of September 5,1905, p. 7, col. 6
Issue of July 12,1958, p. 1:4.
Issue of July 13,1958, pp. 1:4-5.
Issue of July 14,1958, pp. 1:6-7.
Issue of July 15,1958, pp. 5:1-2.
Issue of July 16,1958, pp. 5:1-2.
Issue of August 8,1958,0.5:1.
Issue of July 11,1959, p. 5:1.
||The Russian Colony of
Guadalupe Valley. Lower
California Publications in Geography
Shubin, Peter Phillip
Los Angeles, California.
||The Russians in Los
Angeles. Sociological Monographs. Los
Angeles: University of Southern California Press.
Slepniak, a.k.a. Sergei Mikhailovich Kravchinskii
Peasantry. New York: Harper and
Story, Sidney Rochelle
|| Spiritual Christians
in Mexico: Profile of a Russian Village.
Ph.D. Dissertation (Anthropology),
University of California, Los Angeles.
Contemporary Russia. Translated by L.
Sheppard and A. Manson. New York: Charles Scribner's
sochinenii. Volume 27, pp. 351-354 (May 2,
Полное собрание сочинений : Complete
Collection of Works online page 210 shows 2
requests from Molokans in the Caucasus for
Tolstoy's help to go to America — 1 March 1900
from Kars province, and 2 May 1900 from Erivan
governate. When he got the second request, Tolstoy
wrote: "I thought I was finished dealing with
molokans, ..." which may indicate he was annoyed
with them. There is no indication that he
responded to them after these dates. A request for
copies of these messages, if they exist, has been
forwarded to Tolstoy archives in Russia.
Wilson, Bryan R.
A Sociological Study,
London: Oxford University Press.
Young, Pauline V.
of the Prygun
A Study in Primary Group Relations. Sociology and Social
Attitudes and Values of Russian Lumber Workers. Sociology and Social
Research 12(6): 543-553.
||The Pilgrims of
Russian Town: The Community of Spiritual Christian
Jumpers in America. Chicago: University of