Moussia 9: Vladimir’s ancestry (1)


Vladimir Vsevolodovich


Engineer Roads and Traffic

Factory: tel. 231-38                                                                          Home: tel 279-10
Bolshoy Sampsonievskij Prospekt 84a       Bolshaya Puskarshkaya Street 59/10

Vladimir Baranovsky, Moussia’s first husband, was a civil engineer as shown on the above 1917 business card. The above photograph was taken in Chicago (taken by Theatrical Studio, 359 No Clark Street, Chicago), in the early 1920s, when he  contemplated a singing career .

He came from an illustrious family of inventors, linguists and high-ranking officers, married with women from comparable families. A few years after his arrival in the USA in 1918, he became a successful bridge design engineer in his new country.

In 1917, he worked at factory of his late uncle Vladimir Stepanovich Baranovsky, the Baranovsky Machine  and Pipe Factory, adjacent to the Nobel Machine-construction Factory in the Bolshoy Sampsonievsky Prospekt in Vyborg, close to the Finnish border. Both factories fabricated advanced technology guns and munitions, Nobel using patents of V.S. Baranovsky and vice-versa. Vyborg was and still is the large industrial area of Petrograd, as St. Petersburg was called since 1914. The workers of both factories were heavily involved in the revolution and demonstrated in their thousands in Sampsonievsky Prospekt throughout 1917. Vladimir Vsevolodovich was a direct witness of these demonstrations, first  in February and again in May and in July/August in which the workers of the Baranovsky plant were at the forefront. He already arranged for an international passport to go to the United States in August 1917, as we shall see later. He did not leave immediately, but awaited the outcome of ongoing political events.

His grandfather, Stepan Baranovsky, was a most remarkable man.  He was born December 21, 1817 in Kapustina in the province of Yaruslav, as the son of Ivan Baranovsky and Tekla Jaroshevsky. Stefan showed great promise already when he was young. He attended a governmental gymnasium  in Chernikov where he already became a teacher. In 1833 he received a government scholarship to study at a gymnasium in St. Petersburg where he became senior teacher also. From 1836-1842 he lectured in History and Statistics in Pskov. From 1842 to 1862 he was Assistant Professor, later full Professor of Russian and Russian literature in Helsinki University. In 1862, at the age of only 45 he resigned and moved to Saint Petersburg in order to further develop some of his technical inventions. From 1868 until 1881 he was Chief Inspector of schools in Western Siberia.

Stepan was multi-talented. He spoke Russian and Finnish and was listed in the reputable Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedias as having also mastered also German, French, English, Swedish, Danish,  Polish, Arabic, Turkish and Persian. He published books on the most diverse subjects in the fields of linguistics, literary history, theology, geography, statistics, medicine, hygiene, mechanics and geometry. He published atlases and articles on the need for railways in Central and Eastern Russia.

He is reported to have been the first to urge the construction of the Trans-Siberia railway.

He invented a small submarine and had it built together with his oldest son Vladimir. He also invented methods to use compressed air for the propulsion of motor vehicles also used for the Baranovsky Locomotive, a vehicle to transport trains along wider gauge rails.

In Helsinki, he was also influential in the social field. He made crime statistics and founded a Temperance Society of which he was the chairman. He also took the initiative for a Protection of Animals Society and, in 1860, a shelter for women leaving prisons and hospitals and a night shelter for the homeless.

In 1845, Stepan married  Sofia Johanna Ottilia von Wittenheim (1822-1856), daughter of Baron Gustav von Wittenheim. Their children were:

  • Vladimir (1847-1879, who became an inventor of worldwide renown)
  • Eugenia (1851- after 1898, wife of  Dr. Wladyslaw Sila-Nowicki, Moussia’s uncle)
  •  Vsevolod (1853-1921, the father of Vladimir, first husband of Moussia)
  •  Lev (1855 – shortly after 1931, the father of Olga, first wife of Alexander Kerensky).
  • Two daughters who died in childhood, Sophia and Olga

Both Vsevolod and Lev would pursue military careers.

In the following article (2), the next generation of this family will be discussed in some detail because their destinies would be interlinked by marriage and by the events of before, during and after the Russian revolution

Stepan and Sofia in 1845

Stepan’s oldest son Vladimir Stepanovich (1846-1879) is still famous today outside Russia for having invented the rapid-firing field artillery and naval gun. Educated at home, he attended lectures in a technical institute in Paris and studied on and off at St. Petersburg University. From 1865 onwards he worked as a foreman at the Carr and MacPherson’s Shipbuilding Plant in St. Petersburg, which was renamed the  Baltic Shipbuilding Plant in 1895 and still exists today. Working as an engineer at the Nobel’s factory in 1867-75, he invented a quick-firing gun  which was soon adopted for use on land and on ships by armies and navies around the world, with single-piece cartridges and a cartridge assembling machine. Baranovsky’s 2.5-inch gun was introduced in the Russian Army in 1877. He founded a plant for the manufacture of detonating fuses, cartridge cases, and other artillery equipment in 1878. He also invented a de-watering machine for gold mines and a fire-fighting water cannon, amongst others.

In 1879, Vladimir S. was mortally wounded during a test firing.

Vladimir Stepanovich Baranovsky

This is the building in Art Nouveau style  where Vladimir Vsevolodovich lived in 1917, at Bolshaya Puskarshkaya Street 59/10, Petrograd.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.