In 1959, at Grandmother Ligda’s request, I agreed to write a Ligda Lineage. I think she thought of the job as examining what few documents had been saved or could be easily located, talking to the living family members, and writing what I learned in some readable form. I took the documents she gave me. I located others. I talked to my Grandmother and Great Aunt Valentine, but had the nagging feeling there was much undiscovered. I did not feel ready to write what I learned. Over 50 years have passed. In that time I have not forgotten my promise to write the Lineage. From time to time I have made efforts to locate additional records. There have been far more disappointments than successes, but I have come this far and now put it in writing with the hope that at some other time the task will be continued by a Ligda who will have more luck than I.
Like my grandmother, I was curious of the name’s origin. She wrote me that she had seen: ” . . .an old book which has the name Ligda plus other syllables as a figure in ancient Greek history. 1 Additionally, she said her husband, Paul, had: “. . . seen the name in Herodotus or Plutarch’s Lives, but I couldn’t find it. In a letter of November 1, 1906, Paul wrote: “It is a Greek name of extraordinary antiquity.” These references indicate the name is Greek. I found evidence to support that. For example, Paul’s brother, Valadimir, in applying for a teaching position in Honolulu in 1921, listed his nationality as Greek. However, my Great-Grandfathear, Victor Ligda, was a Russian subject in 1874 when he was issued a Russian passport. I later located the record of his arrival in the United States in 1889 and the record of his nationalization in 1894. In both documents, he lilsted his citizenship as Russian. However, he could have been a nationalized Russian citizen. The records of his place of birth are conflicting. The 1900 census lists his birth place as well as his parents’ birth place as Russia. His death certificate lists his birth place as well as his parents’ birth place as Greece. The census information is probably more reliable as Victor would have provided the information whereas the information on the death certificate would have been provided by Emilie, his widow. I came across another reference in a letter written by my Grandfather, Paul, on October 31, 1906 in which he said his blood mixture was half German, a quarter Russian, and a quarter Greek. His maternal grandparents were German, so his paternal grandparents would have supplied the Greek and Russian blood. Regrettably, he did not mention which of his grandparents was Greek and which was Russian.
I tried to document Victor’s parents in Russia and in Greece. I was never able to do so, but I did get records of Ligdas who had lived in both countries. The Genealogical Commission of Russian Nobility in Vanves, France (reported to have the only records from Russia predating the 1917 Revolution), located records of two Ligdas, one of whom, Alexis, who was born in 1777 and died in 1840, could possibly have been Nicholas Ligda’s father 2
The Greek Archives of National Fighters in the National Library contain references to four Ligdas who fought in the 1821-29 War of Independence: Anthony Ligda from Kalavr, Demetros Ligda from Agrinio, Athanasios Ligda from Agrinio, and John Ligda from Valtio. There are 19 pages of records of subsequent claims filed written in an older style of Greek now difficult to translate. I asked the help of the staff at the Greek Consulate in San Francisco. They were able to translate enough of the documentation to eliminate all four as direct ancestors. All the claims were filed after the Nicholas Ligda was in Russia. 3
The records I’ve examined establish that Ligdas lived in both Russia and Greece in the 18th Century and that the name could have originated in either place. To compound the mystery of the origin, Adam Ligda of Brackenridge, Pennslyvania, a member of an unrelated Ligda Family, says his mother (born in 1882) told him that she knew of two Ligda Families living in Czechoslovakia. Adam says all the children in his family speak Slovak, so it is likely the name has roots in that region as well. Take your pick: Slovak, Russian, or Greek.
I have not been able to document our Ligda Family beyond Victor Nicholas Ligda (1832-1902) whose 1874 Russian passport is the oldest document I have. I took that passport to Russian in 1975 and showed it to various Russian officials in hopes of locating some record that would actually name Victor’s parents. I talked to one person who claimed to have access to those records. He promised to do the research and mail what he found to me. He did not. I have written Italian and French officials for records they may have kept on aliens during the periods Victor and his family lived in those countries. Both referred me to private sources I have not contacted. I was advised the civil authorites in Italy did not keep records before 1886. In 1991, while in Paris, I examined the civil records, but found just the birth records of Victor’s children. Neither the Police nor the Russian Embassy claimed to have records of aliens living in Paris in that period. I wrote the East German officials for the record of Victor and Emilie’s marriage in Scheeburg and was advised none could be found.
The 1900 census records list Victor and two of his sons, Paul and Alexander, as naturalized citizens. I never found the records of Paul or Alexander’s naturalization. I did find the record of Victor’s naturalization in San Francisco on July 25, 1884. Unfortunately, it is limited to a certification of the fact of the naturalization and that Victor had renounced his allegiance to the Czar of Russia. Victor’s petition for citizenship, which probably contained more detailed information about his family, was destroyed.
The records of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco contain a single family record – the marriage of Olga Ligda to Evfimii Alexin on February 11/23, 1890. At their suggestion, I wrote St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Paris for additional records. I got no reply.
Among the records I have located, copied, or reviewed are:
Victor Nicholas Ligda’s Russian passport, record of arrival in the United States with his family, naturalization record, 1900 census, his will, and death certificate;
Simeon Ligda’s record of arrival in the United States
Olga Ligda’s marriage certificate, record of her arrival in San Francisco from Alaska in 1905, several postcards and letters in her hand written to the family during her travels and from her home in Russia;
Ollie Ligda’s listing in the 1900 census and letters written from Russia;
Paul Ligda’s letters;
Edith Ligda’s letters;
Alexander Ligda’s notes, his marriage certificate, and record of the annulment of that marriage to Fannie;
Pierre Ligda’s letters, records of passage to Japan and return, marriage certificate, and record of his divorce obtained by his wife, Agnes;
Vladimir Ligda’s birth certificate, grammar school records, his personnel file with the Honolulu Board of Education, the Hilo High School yearbooks, some correspondence, and record of the probate of his estate;;
Valentine Ligda’s birth certificate, notes, some correspondence, and personal interviews with her prior to her death;;
Herb Ligda’s letters.
I have also run the name through the Mormon Church database on a few occasions, the last in 2012, without locating additional records.
This list should help whoever assumes the task of improving on what I have been able to accomplish to do so without needless duplication.
Paul Ligda, 2013
- She was referring to Bury, A History of Greece, Macmillan & Co. (1951) which mentions (at pages 194 and 233) Lygdamis, the tyrant of Naxos, who lived about 550 B.C. There was also a Roman poet, Lygdamus, who was born in 43 B.C. See the Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, Macmillan & Co. (1904), p. 637. ↩
- The complete report is: “Alexis, son of Michael, born 12 March 1777; died 2 February 1840 whose tombstone was placed by his children (Necropolis of Moscow). With him has been buried (probably his sister) Maria, daughter of Michael, deceased 30 December 1837 who had married a Prokofiev. The complete list of families inscribed to the Nobility of Moscow does not mention the family.” ↩
- Anthony died before his son, Petros, filed his claim on May 2, 1865. Demetros, who was illiterate, someone file his claim in 1846. Athanasios, who was wounded in the war, died in 1830, leaving a 6 year old son, John. John, an officer with a command of 25 soldiers, died before a claim was filed in 1846 on behalf of his children. ↩