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I.A.Kuskov's house-museum

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I.A.Kuskov's house-museum

Ivan Kuskov 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 America".

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 Totmas sailor Ivan Aleksandrovich Kuskov.

I.A.Kuskov was born in 1765 in a family of Totmas petty bourgeois. In 1787 he , as well as many Totmas 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 in America.

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.

I.A.Kuskov's bright 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.


I.A.Kuskov's organizing 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 California.

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 Ross ".

The 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: Kuskovs 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 neighboring woods.

Within ten years Ivan Aleksandrovich Kuskov governed fortress Ross: made geographical maps, signed peace contracts and contracts about trade with king of Sandwich Islands.

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.Kuskovs 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. Totmas people still remember this sailor. Pavement is called after his name , and in 1990 near the house-museum I.A.Kuskov's monument was opened.

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.


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