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Ancestral Cooking Forum

In Search of Jim Hercules

Congratulations Nina:

This is a wonderful site for not only researching and sharing family recipes, but also linking food to historical research.

Below is my posting from the Afrigeneas Mailing list about Jim Hercules. Since then I've discovered more about him.

Jim Hercules at the Court of Tsar Alexander III and Tsar Nicholas

Date: Sun, 20 May 2001 13:23:22 -0500 (CDT)
Sender: owner-afrigeneas@Lists.MsState.Edu

Hello Afrigeneas:

I am researching the origins of Jim Hercules. Hercules was described as one
of four "Ethiopian guards" at the court of Tsar Nicholas II, Russia's last
Tsar. I first learned of him in Massie's book, "Nicholas and Alexandra." The author quotes Imperial family friend, Anna Vyrubova. He was first a servant of Nicholas' father, Alexander III. As an employee of Nicholas, he guarded the door of the Tsar's library and the Tsaritza's

Hercules is said to have been American. But it never said from what state he was from. The author wrote that when he returned from his vacations in America, Jim would bring back treats for the Tsar's children. Guava jelly was mentioned as one such treat. This leads me to believe that he was from the lower South. (Although I dislike it, guava was a staple in my Floridian family).

I researched Hercules in the Afrigeneas archives and found the surname in
several Caribbean countries (Antigua, Nevis, Anguilla). Since there was a
constant flow of Caribbean families to the US before and after the Civil
War, perhaps his family could have originated from there.

The reign of Alexander III is from 1881 to 1894.

The reign of Tsar Nicholas II is from 1894 to 1918.

I am fascinated by Jim Hercules. On his trips home to America, he could
have shared his experiences with his family or friends, or even the Black

If you know anything more about Jim Hercules or his family, please let me

Best regards,

K Wyer Lane

Post Script:

I checked the Hercules name in the Ellis Island Database. Sure enough, I found Hercules sailing from various ports. He and other Hercules family members were from the Caribbean. The records also show that he must have survived the early years of the Russian Revolution when the Imperial Family was murdered.

Nina, your Forum has inspired me to restart my research on Jim Hercules.

Foremost in my research is:
1)How did a Caribbean man (a British subject) land in Russia?
2)How did Hercules become a servant/guard to two Tsars?
3)Did he go home to America or to the Americas? (Caribbean)

Perhaps I'll never find the answers to my questions. What I do know is that Guava Jelly was the key to finding the ancestry of Jim Hercules.

Nina thanks so much for managing this site. I do hope that other members of the Afrigeneas family will contribute historical connections to food.


K Wyer Lane

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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