played an important role in development of the Russian colonies in America at the
beginning of XIX century. His house-museum was opened in Totma on August,
19th, 1990. It is the first museum of "Russian America" in Russia.
Ivan Aleksandrovich Kuskov was the vice-governor of the Russian-American
company for more than 20 years, that is the whole epoch of "Russian
In a small wooden house where there is a house-museum now, Ivan
Aleksandrovich Kuskov spent his last months. Since 1978 this house is
under state, and in 1986 it was redeemed and restored.
The exposition of the
museum acquaints visitors with the basic stages of life of Totma’s
sailor Ivan Aleksandrovich Kuskov.
I.A.Kuskov was born in
1765 in a family of Totma’s petty bourgeois. In 1787 he , as well as
many Totma’s people, went to Siberia. And in 1790 in Irkutsk he signed a
contract with Kargopol merchant Alexander Andreevich Baranov. According
to the contract " I.A.Kuskov was obliged to assist him at commercial
service and go with him from Irkutsk in Ohotsk, and then with Golikov
and Shelihov go to the American side ". This 31 years long contract has
defined I.A.Kuskov's destiny.
In July, 1791 I.A.Kuskov
arrived to island Kadiak near to the coast of Alaska. The
Russian-American company (in 1799-1867) was Russian trading association
established to develop "Russian America". One of its founders and its
first director was N.P.Ryazanov. With the support of Russian government
the company organized 25, 15 round-the-world expeditions, founded many
settlements. For its great merits only this company had the right to
have its own special flag - the flag of the Russian-American company,
and the right to issue the bank notes - marks.
In 1791-1808 Ivan
Aleksandrovich Kuskov carried out A.A.Baranov's many assignments on
inspection and studying of the new lands, the organizations of crafts,
on conducting the big and complex facilities of the Russian settlements
I.A.Kuskov showed his
talents also in sea business. Investigating the American coast, he made
several sea journeys by kayaks, and later and on sailing vessels. His
name is connected with creation of Russian merchant marine fleet in
Russian America. Sailing vessels "Ermak", "Rostislav", "Sitka" and
others were constructed with his initiative and active participation.
selfless activity has been highly appreciated by Russian government. In
1804 I.A.Kuskovu got a medal " For diligence " for carrying on the neck,
and in 1806 - the grade of commerce adviser. The minister of commerce,
N.P.Rumyantsev said: "... Such monarchical honor in Russia five persons
" have been awarded only. With assignment of the given grade of
I.A.Kuskov got the right to execute all trading-diplomatic missions on
behalf of the company.
talent was especially full showed during the period of 1808-1821. At
this time, on a plan of governors of the Russian-American company, on
Californian coast fortress Ross was founded in order to supply Russian
settlements on Alaska with food. To choose a place for a fortress,
I.A.Kuskov with group of industrialists made five sea campaigns to
The basic constructions of
the fortress were erected for three months. On September, 11th, 1812
Ivan Aleksandrovich Kuskov lifted Russian flag above the fortress which,
" on the taken out lot put under an icon of the Savior, has been named
main constructions of the fortress were finished in 1814. For defense
against possible attack of Indians the high paling was constructed with
12 guns. Inside there were 9 constructions and a well. In 1817
I.A.Kuskov made the situational plan of the fortress. The main
constructions of the fort were: Kuskov’s house, a barracks for
industrial people, warehouses, a pantry of the weapon. All economic
constructions - dairy and tanning factories, a mill, a stable,
two-storeyed shop with five pantries and ship-building shipyard - behind
its territory. In vicinities of a fort was up to 50 kitchen gardens, the
rye and wheat eared, the delivered cattle. Potato, turnip, beans,
cabbage, melons, water-melons grew up in kitchen gardens. Fruit trees
were planted. Though I.A.Kuskov's overall objective was development of
agriculture, he did not forget about the sea craft. Inhabitants of the
fort hunted sea beavers, whose skins were the main subject of trade of
the Russian-American company, fished, hunted on wild animals in
Within ten years Ivan
Aleksandrovich Kuskov governed fortress Ross: made geographical maps,
signed peace contracts and contracts about trade with king of Sandwich
The Main governor of
Russian-American Company Matvey Muraveov wrote about I.A.Kuskov: "...
And I with pleasure and sincere respect to him testify to his noble
behavior, his high honesty, his steady diligence ".
In 1821 I.A.Kuskov’s work
in the Russian-American company finished. In the spring of 1822 he went
to Russia and on July, 4th arrived in Totma.
In 1823 in Totma
I.A.Kuskov died, he was buried on cemetery of Spaso-Sumorin monastery.
Totma’s people still remember this sailor. Pavement is called after his
name , and in 1990 near the house-museum I.A.Kuskov's monument was
In memory of " Russian
America " and fortress Ross in 1976 in the USA the medal in honor of the
founder of settlement and the fortress was issued.