Joseph Davidovich Nozadze (Иосип Давидович Нозадзе) ~ 1889-1945

I’ve been kicking myself ever since I sat down to tackle the Nozadze history.  I had the means but I didn’t have the motive 🙁

I wasn’t interested in the past when I was young and with my parents’ reluctance to talk about their past, I allowed the past to pass me by …

I could have sat with Balia and discussed her childhood with her, found out about her family and got the goss from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and I didn’t.  Had I done so, I wouldn’t have been twisting in the wind wondering who was who and what was what.

Oh for a time machine to go back and rectify things!

One thing I do know for sure is that Joseph was born on April 9, 1889, in Tiflis, the capital of Georgia.

I have two versions of my grandfather’s life. One from my aunt, written years ago, and the other from my nephew from the early 2000s when he hired a researcher to find out more.

Until I can hire a researcher to confirm things, these two totally different variations of Joseph’s life are here for you to check out, and don’t forget that cup of salt as you read both versions 😀

What my nephew said he found out …

The name Nozadze is the 10th most popular surname in Georgia, nevertheless some facts have been found and/or validated.

Josif Davidovich Nozadze was born in 1889 in Tiflis (present day Tblisi) and attended the Alexis Military School in Moscow. Upon graduation he became a junior lieutenant in the Salians Infantry Division (Line) which was based in Baku (today’s Azerbaijan). It was probably in Baku that he met Anna Akimovna Borodinova, the daughter of a wealthy building contractor*.
Joseph and Anya met in St Petersburg, not Baku. My mother told me her grandfather was involved with oil pipelines, so I assumed he was an engineer, not a building contractor, but his company could have been the one laying them around Baku.

Josif’s regiment was one of four which made up the 3rd Caucasian Army Corps, which saw heavy action against the Austro-Hungarian Army in southern Poland in the Brusilov offensives in 1915/16. During this combat the 3rd Caucasian lost over half of its strength but stood fast where other units caved in. Tsar Nicholas referred to them as “the splendid 3rd Caucasian” and visited them in person according to his diaries.

Josif won a total of 6 battlefield medals for bravery. He was awarded the following orders …


St Stanislaus 3rd Class with swords and bow
(on February 27, 1915)

St Anna 3rd Class with swords
(July 3, 1915)

St Anna 4th Class with the legend "For Gallantry"
(on April 1, 1915)

St Anna 3rd Class with swords and bow
(August 19, 1915)

St Stanislaus 2nd Class with swords
(on June 3, 1915)

St Anna 2nd Class with swords
(May 1, 1917)

As my Russian researcher wrote to me, «according to this, he would have been considered a heroic military officer».

And this is my take on what my aunt wrote down …

• Joseph’s mother was Evgeniya who, at 16, fell in love with a wealthy landowner who was widowed with 10 children.

• Her family (surname not mentioned but I was told it was Saginashvili by my mother) threatened to disown her if she went ahead and married David Nozadze.

• She eloped with him and bore 19 children, the 16th was Joseph Davidovich.

• Her (unnamed) family asked if they could take charge of Joseph since Evgeniya’s younger brother, who was heir to the Saginashvili name, had died in an accident.

• Evgeniya’s family sent Joseph to the Corps des Pages in St Petersburg when he was young and he lived with his 2nd cousin, Prince Ucha Dadiani.

• Jenny mentions a military academy where Joseph was sent, like his maternal grandfather before him, but there is no mention of its name. He proved to be an excellent student but not quite as good as his grandfather.

• He attended the Law Faculty at the university while continuing with his military studies. When studies were completed, he joined his grandfather’s regiment.

• He was the ADC to the Commanding Officer and the regiment was sent to Persia, where he learned how to gamble and this became a lifelong addiction.

• At first his grandfather was happy to pay off Joseph’s gambling debts, as well as paying him a monthly allowance. Joseph felt on top of the world and he was in 7th Heaven.

• However on his return to Georgia, he found that arrangements were being made for his engagement to Maria, a relative of Ucha’s, who not only was older than him but someone he didn’t like either.

• He protested to his grandfather and after the quarrel, his grandfather cut off all funds to Joseph in anger but after explaining things to Ucha, Ucha had words with his grandfather and the funds were restored.

• He was in St Petersburg when he first set eyes on Anna Akimovna Borodinova. It was love at first sight for Joseph and he set about finding out more about her with Ucha’s help. 

A young Joseph Davidovich


I haven’t got the year when he married Balia but it would have been before WWI started.  He saw her on the stairs of a hotel in St Petersburg and decided there and then that she was the woman he wanted to marry.Salyanskychestbadge_sm_colour

Okay, so we know Joseph was born in Tiflis and assume that it’s true that his father was a wealthy landowner and that the family grew up in Gori.

He went to a military academy, but which one?  My nephew said he was at the Alexis Military School in Moscow. I couldn’t find anything about the Alexis Military School – the only military academy that sounded similar was the Alekseevskoe Military School, so you can read about it here.

He then joined 206th Infantry Salyan His Imperial Highness Grand Duke Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich Regiment  (206-я стрелковая Сальян Его Императорское Высочество великий князь цесаревич Алексей Николаевич полк), ending up as a Colonel — but this was a battlefield promotion and, apparently, he refused to accept this unless the promotion was signed by the Tsar.

Joseph was in Vladivostok when he heard news about the Bolsheviks which was so worrying that he cabled Anya in Baku and told her to get on a train and come to Vladivostok immediately!  Anya did that and she was joined by her father, step-mother and step-sister.

I don’t know what he was doing there :/  I heard he had been wounded by mustard gas so perhaps he was invalided out and perhaps had joined the White Army in Vladivostok.

Click to enlarge

When Anya joined him, he also met his daughter, Melitza, for the first time.  She was born on the train so would have been days or perhaps a week old 😀

His second daughter, Evgeniya, was born in Vladivostok in 1922 and Anya’s father, Akim, organised for her, her kids, Lida (her step-sister) and Maria (her step-mother) to leave for Shanghai, but when?  I don’t have a date of their departure.

Akim refused to leave so he stayed in Vladivostok.  No doubt he was hoping that the Whites would defeat the Reds and he could get his family back but God knows what happened to him when the Bolsheviks took the city 🙁

Vladivostok's bay

Vladivostok’s bay (Click to enlarge)

Because Joseph had been an officer in the Imperial Army, he would have been killed by the Bolsheviks had they come across him.  Akim arranged for him to leave Vladivostok by sea and there was a story that Lindy told me of the Reds checking the ship before it left.  Joseph was hiding in the captain’s cabin at the back of a cupboard, standing on a upturned bucket, while it was being searched 😮

My nephew says that Joseph’s ship left in 1923 and he went to Tsingtao then up to Harbin.  Did he go to Harbin to bring his family down to Shanghai, or did he go to Harbin to look for work?  Big mystery!

Anyway, Joseph ended up in Shanghai and you can read about how he and Anya fared there on this page.

Having spoken to my mother’s cousin, Sasha, it would seem that my poor grandfather went through some testing times when his partner in their successful Georgian/Russian restaurant called «Alla Verdy» did the dirty and Joseph lost all his investment 🙁

That apparently was the last straw and Sasha said Joseph was never himself after that.  He lost all hope and enthusiasm for life.  Poor man!

However he must have picked up a bit when mom brought Lindy to Shanghai (either in late 1939 or early 1940) and introduced him to his first grandchild 🙂

Joseph, Anya and Evgeniya were in Shanghai during WWII and sadly Joseph died of tropical sprue in 1945  🙁




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