Characters of Central Virginia: ”Anastasia”

Rick Britton

Rick Britton

Award-winning historian and cartographer Rick Britton is frequent guest on WINA’s Charlottesville Right Now with Coy Barefoot. In January and February of 2010 Rick presented six lectures in a new series entitled "Characters of Central Virginia: The Famous, the Infamous, & the Undeniably Odd". The series was held at the Charlottesville Senior Center.

Central Virginia has always been known for its fascinating inhabitants. This six-session series featured: Dr. Thomas Walker, discoverer of the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky; James Monroe, forgotten hero of the American Revolution; Dolley Madison, our nation’s first "First Lady"; Claudius Crozet who built the world’s longest railroad tunnel; Ben Ficklin, founder of the Pony Express; Cyrus McCormick who invented the reaper; the "Moon Ghost" who haunted southern Albemarle; self-made millionaire Samuel Miller; Maud Coleman Woods, "America’s Most Beautiful Blonde"; lunatic and philanthropist Archie Chaloner; Congressional Medal winner Frank Peregoy; and "Anastasia," the Romanov family pretender who once convinced the world!

In this podcast Rick looks at the twists and turns of "Anastasia’s" life — her journey from a Berlin asylum to No. 35 University Circle in Charlottesville, Virginia — have fascinated the world for decades. The questions seem insurmountable: How had she escaped a Bolshevik firing squad? How had she escaped a Russia ripped to shreds by civil war? Chronically plagued by ill health and a fluctuating disposition, "Anastasia" consistently maintained her ersatz identity. Whether she was using the name Madame Tchaikovsky, or Anna Manahan, her claim remained the same. She said she was Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna, improbable survivor of a royal dynasty and rightful heiress to all remaining monies and holdings that had belonged to her father, Csar Nicolas II of Russia.

Join us again next Thursday when Rick returns with the life of Tech. Sgt. Frank Dabney Peregoy. Born in Nelson County and raised in Charlottesville, Peregoy was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the Charlottesville City Armory on June 4, 1945.