Olga was the oldest daughter of Victor and Emilie Ligda to survive infancy. There were no family accounts of her early years. She would have been three when her family moved to Italy in 1874, eight or nine when her family moved to Paris in 1879 and 18 when the family left for the United States. In that period, she probably completed her education. 1 Her Sister Val remembers Olga as having many friends and wanting to stay in Paris when the family moved. She waited until the last possible moment before agreeing to go along.

Olga did not adjust easily to California. She had few acquaintenences and missed all the friends she knew in Paris. She was active in church, attending Holy Trinity at the corner of Van Ness & Green Streets with the rest of her family. There she met Fr. Ephrim  P. Alexine, a Disciplinarian in the Theological School. Although he was almost 21 years her senior, a romance developed and they were married on February 11/23, 1890 at the Church.  The ceremony ceremony was performed by the Bishop for the Aleutians & Alaska.  On February 14, 1892, they had their only child: Olga Alexine. Sometime thereafter, Fr. Alexine was assigned to a church in Alaska and the family moved to Belkofski (on the Alaskan Peninsula) where they were living when the 1900 census was taken.  Olga did not feel Alaska was a good place to raise their daughter, then eight and not yet able to read or write.  She and her husband agreed that Olga would take Ollie to Paris where she would be educated.

I was unable to find a record of when Olga and Ollie left Alaska, but they were living in Paris at the time of her father’s death in 1902. In 1905, they returned to Alaska.  She mailed a postcard from London on 7/1/05. On August 4, she and her daughter arrived in San Francisco from Victoria aboard the City of Pueblo, prompting Vic to write Alec, “Greetings to Olga.”

In 1906, Olga rejoined her husband in Alaska. She was living there in 1907 when she returned to Oakland for final settlement of her father’s estate. She received $2,217.41 in cash and a 1/7 interest in the real property. During her stay, she visited her brother, Paul, and sister-in-law, Edith, in San Rafael. She would have been present for the birth of her nephew, Victor, the second grandchild, who was born in September. In November, there was a dispute about the distribution of the estate and Olga left with some bitterness toward the family in general and toward her sister, Val, in particular.

From postcards, we know Olga was in Washington D.C. on 1/14/08 and back in Paris on 2/14 & 3/31/08. On 7/8/08, there’s a card from Berlin, “on a trip.” Val says Fr. Alexine inherited an estate from relatives in Russia. He resigned his position with the Church so he could return to Russia and manage the estate.  He rejoined Olga and his daughter in Paris and the family moved to Ceiro Ckonube or Ceiro Okonybe which Olga described as: “in the country far from roads with no dust in the air.”

Olga liked the estate.  On 11/22/09, she wrote: It’s such a pleasure to live in the country.  I enjoy it more and more and don’t want to live in the city any more.  Of course I can not keep Ollie here all the time but as long as she is satisfied we shall stay where we are.  We are all well and happy.”  The Alexines were very well off. On 2/2/10, Olga wrote from Kiev, “on a spree,” but the most telling evidence of her station and feelings is in a letter of 8/1/10 in which she reports: “The harvest is very good this year so that the peasants are quite happy they will have enough to eat this coming year.”

In the winter, when her health suffered, she left the country for milder climates. For example, on January 5, 1912, she wrote from Odessa:

“I left home a month ago and came to stay for the winter . . . I am most of the time sick in bed . . . I was very sorry to leave my husband for all the winter again; you remember that I spent last winter in Warthava, Poland, but it is impossible for me to stay in the country in winter; it’s too cold and lonely for me and Ollie there, so Papa lets us kindly go where we want and we have all the money we can spend.”

Olga goes on to describe her plans to go to operas and on a trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg, saying: “. . . traveling was always my pleasure.”

Her outlook brightened as the weather improved.  On May 9, she wrote:

“We came home last week from Odessa . . . My health is improving . . . I hope to be well this summer and take long walks . . . I always liked you [Edith] and took your part against the whole family who tried from the first to set me against you, but I knew them too well to pay any attention to what they were saying.”

On November 24, 1912, Olga expressed sorrow on hearing some news (probably the failure of her brothers’ business). ” . . . we always expected something of that kind for it is impossible to do business the way you did everyone pulling his way.” She also referred to the argument she had with her Sister Val 10 years ago (when their father died?): ” . . . but you all sided with her against me and my Ollie, that I thought the best way for me was to leave you all to yourself and decided that I had no more brothers or mother any more . . .” Olga also mentioned that Edith was the only one who kept her posted of family news.

During the winter of 1912-13, Olga’s health suffered. On March 7, 1913, she wrote:

“I was so sick for several month that I could do nothing but moan and suffer . . . the doctor says I cannot hope to be better before the summer comes . . . Ollie is going to be married in the last part of August . . . she will move to Odessa and of course we follow her there. The climate is much milder there and I like the sea so much.”

On April 4, 1913, she wrote her nephew, Vic (then 5) from Kiev in a tone which indicated she realized she did not have long to live: “You must be a big boy by this time. How I would like to see you. Be noble brave boy. Respect your parents and think sometimes of your poor aunt Olga that is far, far away from you all.”

Three days later, she wrote: “I am back in the hospital and my health is recovering very slowly if at all. No appetite and am so nervous and weak and don’t sleep for whole nights.” In the same letter was a note from Ollie: “The doctor told me that she will only live till fall. Oh how she suffers what pains no one can imagine.”

We know Olga died in 1913, but the date is uncertain. Ollie wrote on 3/26/14: “Sunday was just a year that I lost my own darling mama.” That date would not be accurate as it would have the deat predate Olga’s last two cards.  Ollie included a picture of a church in Kiev, saying her mother was buried there.

Fr. Alexine survived his wife by less than a year.  He was sick on June 25, 1913, when his daughter wrote: “I am afraid to leave my father alone he gets so old & you would never know him.” She was still caring for him in December, but the tone of her correspondence indicated he did not have long to live.


  1. French law required all children between the ages of 6 and 13 attend school.