by John Devore
My Grandmother (who is deceased) was born in the Midwest shortly after her family moved from the Volga region of Russia. She had about 12 siblings, most of whom stayed around the Russell, Kansas, area and are still there today. I remember her talking about some family moving to Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Her family name was Bitter, and I want to know more about where the rest of the family went and what has happened to them.
I would like to share one story I remember from the many she told me as a child. When she was young, her family would write letters to the family they had left behind in Russia. Sometimes, they would receive responses back. The letters her family received back contained very little information about how their loved ones were doing. The letters were about superficial things like the weather and how everything was just fine in Russia. Every letter they received would always ask about their stamp collection. This was very odd because they didn't have a stamp collection. After the fourth or fifth letter, this began to get a little strange. What did this mean, this stamp collection? Out of curiosity, someone peeled back a stamp on one of the letters and made a chilling discovery. Written behind the stamp of every letter were messages like "Please help, they are killing us," "They have taken our homes," and "We are starving, send money." One day, the letters stopped coming, and they did not hear from them again. Of course, they had tried to help, but it was too late.
Story written by John Devore of Portland, Oregon and used with his permission.
Last updated October 26, 2023