The Russian Bear

Quinn Brook Farm holds a fascinating history, some of which I have yet to uncover. Not much is known about the first 150 years of the property (although I intend to do my research), but in 1920 the property was bought by heiress Marion Ream whose father Norman Bruce Ream made his wealth by speculating livestock and grain. By some accounts Marion was heiress to the Nabisco fortune.The Ream family owned much of the property in Thompson including what is now the Quinnatisset Country Club.

On a trip to Paris, Marion met Count Anastase Vonsiatsky who escaped from the Russian Revolution. They married and returned to Thompson, Ct where they made their home. Marion purchased the farm house, barn and 200 acres of land for Vonsiatsky's sister Natasha Mamedove and her husband, Lev, who opened the inn called "The Russian Bear Tea Room". Natasha was quite a cook and the restaurant became very successful with people traveling an hour just to dine here. After a while they opened up the restaurant in both Boston and on Cape Cod. The Russian Bear was open here until 1947.

Count Vonsiatsky lived next door in the place now named "Koinania".  His father was assassinated in Russia and he held a deep fear of also being assassinated. He had a bunker full of guns. If you walked into the bunker to harm him and didn't know your way around, there was a deep hole in which you could fall to your death. He trained a small army of men in hopes to return to Russia and overthrow communism.They were housed in the barracks. Many people in Russia and around the globe supported his efforts and became followers.

The Count enjoyed acting and held many plays for all to see. The accounts say that they were held in a Dairy Barn - whether that is the barn on our property or next door, I don't know, but he held many social outings here. Marion and the Count dined daily at The Russian Bear and he used the tavern to court many a potential fascist.

Vonsiatsky had a very charismatic personality and was quite the ladies man. He held an allowance of $10,000 a month from his wife (picture that in 1925) and lived large. His activities were significant enough that he caught the attention of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Vonsiatsky had friends in the wrong places and gave a sizable donation to a Hitler supporter and soon found himself in prison for the entirety of WWII. It seems Vonsiatsky didn't mean to support the communist party and was not an anti-semite, but didn't know how to choose his friends well. The Swastika was first a symbol of Fascism before it was taken over by the communist party. I have to say that my partial Jewish roots cringe when I see the symbol but know in the pictures it did not have the same meaning that we read into it.

After the war he was released and moved to St. Petersburg, Fl with his mistress. He, his mistress and Marion are now buried in Putnam. When Marion died, she donated the land across the street to the Quinnatisset Country Club. She is remembered as a very kind and generous person.

More information can be gleaned from the book "The Russian Fascists" Tragedy and Farce in Exile, 1925-1945 by John J. Stephan. Many of the images and information below is taken from that book.


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