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Hardships of Emma Mershon Konschine in Russia


Posted By: JCGS Volunteer
Date: 3/18/2020 at 14:08:47

Newton Woman May Be Out Of Russia
A clipping taken from a Washington paper has been sent by Mrs. Ida L. Pifer, of Washington, D.C., to Judge J. E. Mershon, at Des Moines. The clipping is believed to refer to Judge Mershon’s sister, Mrs. Emma Konschine, and her two sons, of Russia.
Mrs. Pifer, who once lived in Newton, has become interested in the finding of Mrs. Konschine, whom Mrs. Pifer knew very well when she lived in America.
Money was sent through the Hoover-Russia Relief commission before Christmas but no word has yet been heard from the sister and this leads them to believe more than ever that the mother and sons described below are the ones in whom many Newton and Iowa people are interested in.
The article follows:
By The Associated Press
Riga, February 2 – Mrs. Emma Pondafine, an American citizen, but a long-time resident of Russia, and her two sons, both Russian subjects, have escaped from Russia across the Finnish frontier and are now on their way to Christiania, according to advices received here today by the American commission. The two sons, not being American citizens, were unable to leave Russia under the agreement between the American relief administration and the soviet government.
The American commission’s information said the three fugitives planned to sail soon for America and that they were going to Buffalo, N.Y.
Source: Newton Daily News; February 13, 1922

Fund Of $400 Is On Way To Mrs. Konschine
A fund of $400 raised by private subscription here to aid Madame Emma Mershon Konschine, who is suffering extreme privation in Russia, is now being transmitted to her by Hon. James P. Goodrich, former governor of Indiana.
Following a series of letters interrogating many individuals ranking high in the affairs of the nation, as to a safe channel for transmission of American money to Russia, this means was deemed by M. A. McCord as the most reliable.
An attorney in New York, a friend of J. W. Hunter’s interviewed Mr. Goodrich who promised to deliver it in person. Mr. Goodrich has made three trips to Russia for the American Relief Commission, each time assuming the responsibility of private funds sent by Americans to friends in Russia, hence is versed in methods necessary in dealing with the soviets.
He sailed Saturday and will be in Moscow three months inspecting the American Food depot maintained by the American Relief commission, managed by Herbert Hoover.
In January $50 was placed with this commission to deliver over 500 pounds of food to Madame Konschine, so that the total raised here was $450.
Some days ago an Associated Press article was printed in The Daily News relating the escape from Russia of Madame Emma Ponafidine and her two sons, who had reached the Norse border and were planning to sail for America. Friends in the United States cherished hopes that the woman in question might be Emma Mershon, as some facts related fitted her case. However Madame Emma Ponafidine is the American wife of a distinguished Russian diplomat, and has written articles for the Atlantic Monthly of her year’s residence there.
These hopes dashed, friends in Iowa welcomed the more gladly this opportunity of sending cash by Hon. Jas. P. Goodrich.
Source: Newton Daily News; February 21, 1922

Mrs. Konschine Writes a Letter
Following is a letter received by M. A. McCord from Mrs. Emma Konschine who is answering a letter written by Mr. McCord to her some weeks ago. It is evident by the letter that the $50 which was sent her by Mr. McCord and the people of Newton had not yet been received by Mrs. Konschine, who is a victim of the reign of terror in Russia.
7th of March, 1922
Dear Friend:
You will never be able to picture in your imagination what occurred when your letter came to hand telling us that you and the other dear old friends in Newton are coming to our relief. It created quite a sensation in my rather large singing class, and especially my husband and children are deeply impressed. As for myself – rather weakened by the 3 years of rigid rations and tension of nerves – I fell ill of joy. The emotions were too great to endure without a reaction.
All will pass but love will remain – victorious over every foe – even the grave. Christ rose and ascended to heaven crowned with infinite power. I ask you to give our ardent love to all the dear friends who so charitably remembering me. May Bod bless you all a thousand fold and render to you in the world to come infinite joy for all the good which you are doing. The horrors are increasing here. Not long ago was permitted free sale, and many establishments and shops were opened up. They are rapidly closing up quite unable to endure the taxes put upon them.
Only a certain class are able to continue mercantile enterprises and get the affairs little by little in their hands.
Prices are going up every day fabulously. Salaries to the contrary, so professional service is the key to death’s door.
Yesterday a poor musician went to order two little screws for his work shop. They refused everywhere to do the work for less than 20 pounds of flour, which costs 1,250,000 at present. The work of the screws is for 2 hours time for one mechanic.
To earn 20 pounds of flour, a professional worker has to labor 90 hours – 15 days work of 6 hours a day. That is only one example, there are even worse cases. I cannot depict the circumstances by letter. Collections are being made continually here among the half famished – for the yet worse district.
Here little by little people drop in the grave – there they are swept off by thousands.
I have a class of 30 pupils – beautiful voices – all poor and half starved. They go to daily service at different offices, type writers, secretaries, etc., without rubbers or good shoes, living on rations like ours of sour cabbage, potatoes and a small crust of sour black bread. You can imagine how difficult it is for them to get on.
With a heroism remarkable and I believe unknown in the world history, these talented young people have gone forward with their work – coming to me in the evening for their lessons – all tired out with their daily work – and suffering rheumatism and other complaints on account of bad clothing.
The results of their artistical work is very satisfactory in spite of their awful conditions. I see in it all quite a divine miracle and special evidence of God’s mercy and help.
Without miraculous help from God no one could endure such a life over 3 months time. One pupil sings like a nightingale, going up to high g with the greatest ease, her voice is like a flute. Another goes up to high f with the same ease, her voice is also of remarkable beauty – like a silver bell, like a ray of sunshine.
It would perhaps fatigue you to hear a description of their all sopranos, contraltos, tenors, baritones, bases. Of all qualities I took many of them with quite spoiled voices – because there was a very bad teacher her before I came. Please do not think that I take any credit to myself for the result of my work. The merit must all be given to that wonderful Professor of singing – Francesco Lamperti in whose class I studied 3 ½ years in Italy coming out in opera afterwards (as you know) right from his studies.
That old Italian school gave all the great celebrities to the world and is the foundation of the song ethics of the whole artistic world. It is founded on God’s laws, governing sound emission. I remember the loving interest all my dear old friends felt in my artistic career when I sang and know that they will all be glad to know that my work was not in vain but that I am trying to give to others what I received.
Perhaps God will enable me to come to America with my pupils someday – and you will hear them sing. Over the grave of my artistical dreams (I was impeded to continue my career by circumstances unavoidable) has burst into life a beautiful plant covered with wonderful exotic flowers. Thanks be to God for all His wonderful mercies.
After three years of study my pupils were able to sing in opera here. In 4 months’ time I was able with them to give Faust, Evghayny, Onayghine, Rousalka, The Bohemian, and parts of other operas. If my health was better and if my pupils had better nourishment I should be able to do much more.
My God bless and keep you all and cause your lives to shine like stars. Give my love to everyone who remembers me.
Faithfully yours, Emma I Konschine, Rayoutoff
P.S. Pray for us!
Source: Newton Daily News; April 5, 1922


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