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3 1833 00560 9760 

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Bancroft. , HLibert Howe? , 

History of Alaska s 



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Allen County Public Ubl«| 
900 Webcter Street 


Entered according to Act of Congress ia the Year 1886, by 

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 

All Riglds Reserved . 



On the whole, the people of the United States have 
not paid an exorbitant price for the ground upon which 
to build a nation. Trinkets and trickery in the first 
instance, followed by some bluster, a little fighting, 
and a little money, and we have a very fair patch of 
earth, with a good title, in which there is plenty of 
equity, humanity, sacred rights, and star-spangled 
banner. What we did not steal ourselves we bought 
from those who did, and bought it cheap. 

Therein we did well, have that much more to be 
proud of, and to confirm us in our own esteem as a 
great and good nation; therein lies the great merit — 
the price we paid. Had it been dear, as have been 
some meagre strips of European soil, over which 
France, Germany, and the rest have fought for cen- 
turies, spending millions upon millions of lives and 
money, all in the line of insensate folly, and for that 
which they could not keep and were better off with- 
out — then we would cease boasting and hold our 
peace. But our neighbors have been weak while we 
are strong ; therefore it is not right for us to pay them 
much for their lands. 

Ignoring, as we do, the birthright of aboriginal 
races, that have no Christianity, steel, or gunpowder, 
we may say that the title to the Mississippi Valley 



was settled, and the Oregon Territory adjudged to be 
ours by divine right. Texas came easily; while one 
month's interest, at the then current rates, on the gold 
picked up in the Sierra Foothills during the first five 
years of American occupation would repay the cost of 
the Mexican war, and all that was given for California 
and the adjoining territory. 

In the case of Alaska we have one instance where 
bluster would not win; fighting was not to be thought 
of; and so we could pay for the stationary icebergs 
or let them alone. Nor with money easy, was Alaska 
a bad bargain at two cents an acre. It was indeed 
cheaper than stealing, now that the savages receive the 
teachings and diseases of civilization in reservations. 

In 1867 there were few who held this opinion, and 
not one in a hundred, even of those who were best in- 
formed, believed the territory to be worth the pur- 
chase money. If better known to-day, its resources 
are no better appreciated; and there are many who 
still deny that, apart from fish and fur-bearing ani 
mals, the country has any resources. 

The area of Alaska is greater than that of the 
thirteen original states of the Union, its extreme 
length being more than two thousand miles, and its 
extreme breadth about fourteen hundred; while its 
coast-line, including bays and islands, is greater than 
the circumference of the earth. The island of Una- 
laska is almost as far west of San Francisco as San 
Francisco is west of the capital of the United States ; 
while the distance from the former city to Fort 
St Michael, the most northerly point in America 
inhabited by the white man, is greater than to the 
city of Panamd. 


With the hmits of the continent at its extreme 
north-west, the Hmit of the history of western North 
America is reached. But it may be asked, what a 
land is this of which to write a history? Bleak, 
swampy, fog-begirt, and almost untenanted except by 
savages — can a country without a people furnish ma- 
terial for a history? Intercourse with the aborigines 
does not constitute all of history, and few except sav- 
ages have ever made their abiding-place in the wintry 
solitudes of Alaska; few vessels save bidarkas have 
ever threaded her myriad isles; few scientists have 
studied her geology, or catalogued her fauna and flora; 
few surveyors have measured her snow-turbaned hills ; 
few miners have dug for coal and iron, or prospected 
her mountains and streams for precious metals. Ex- 
cept on the islands, and at some of the more accessible 
points on the mainland, the natives are still unsubdued. 
Of settlements, there are scarce a dozen worthy the 
name ; of the interior, little is known ; and of any cor- 
rect map, at least four fifths must remain, to-day, 
absolutely blank, without names or lines except those 
of latitude and longitude. We may sail along the 
border, or be drawn by sledge-dogs over the frozen 
streams, until we arrive at the coldest, farthest west, 
separated from the rudest, farthest east by a narrow 
span of ocean, bridged in winter by thick-ribbed ice. 
What then can be said of this region — this Ultima 
Thule of the known world, whose northern point is 
but three or four degrees south of the highest lati- 
tude yet reached by man? 

Such is the general sentiment of Americans con- 
cerning a territory which not many years ago was 
purchased from Russia, as before mentioned, at the 

Hist. Alaska. 2* 

viii PREFACE. 

rate of about two cents an acre, and was considered 
dear at the price. 

To answer these questions is the purpose of the 
present volume. This America of the Russians has 
its little century or two of history, as herein we see, 
and which will ever remain its only possible inchoation, 
interesting to the story of future life and progress on 
its borders, as to every nation its infancy should be. 

Though it must be admitted that the greater por- 
tion of Alaska is practically worthless and uninhabit- 
able, yet my labor has been in vain if I have not made 
it appear that Alaska lacks not resources but develop- 
ment. Scandinavia, her old-world counterpart, is pos- 
sessed of far less natural wealth, and is far less grand 
in natural configuration. In Alaska we can count 
more than eleven hundred islands in a single group. 
We can trace the second longest watercourse in the 
world. We have large sections of territory where the 
average yearly temperature is higher than that of 
Stockholm or Christiania, where it is milder in win- 
ter, and where the fall of rain and snow is less than in 
the southern portion of Scandinavia. 

It has often been stated that Alaska is incapable of 
supporting a white population. The truth is, that her 
resources, though some of them are not yet available, 
are abundant, and of such a nature that, if properly 
economized, they will never be seriously impaired. 
The most habitable portions of Alaska, lying as they 
do mainly between 55° and 60° n., are in about the 
same latitude as Scotland and southern Scandinavia. 
The area of this portion of the territory is greater than 
that of Scotland and southern Scandinavia combined; 
and yet it contains to-da}^ but a few hundred, and 


has never contained more than a thousand white 
inhabitants; while the population of Scotland is about 
three millions and a half, and that of Norway and 
Sweden exceeds six millions. 

The day is not very far distant when the coal meas- 
ures and iron deposits of Scotland, and the mines and 
timber of Scandinavia, will be exhausted ; and it is not 
improbable that even when that day comes the re- 
sources of Alaska will be but partially opened. The 
little development that has been made of late years 
has been accomplished entirely by the enterprise 
and capital of Americans, aided by a few hundred 
hired natives. Already with a white population of 
five hundred, of whom more than four fifths are 
non-producers, the exports of the territory exceed 
$3,000,000 a year, or an average of $6,000 per capita. 
Where else in the world do we find such results ? 

It majT- be stated in answer that the bulk of these 
exports comes from the fur-seal grounds of the Pry- 
bilof Islands, which are virtually a stock-farm leased 
by the government to a commercial company; but the 
present value of this industry is due mainly to the 
careful fostering and judicious management of that 
company; and there are other industries which, if 
properly directed, promise in time to prove equally 
profitable. Apart from the seal-islands, and apart 
from the trade in land-furs that is diverted by the 
Hudson's Bay Company, the production of wealth 
for each white person in the territory is greater than 
in any portion of the United States or of the world. 
This wealth is derived almost entirely from the land 
and pelagic peltry, and from the fisheries of Alaska; 
for at present her mines are little developed, and 


her forests almost intact. And yet we are told that 
the country is without resources ! 

It may be supposed that for the history of such a 
country as Alaska, whatever existing information 
there might be would be quite accessible and easily 

I have not found it specially so. Here, as elsewhere 
in my historic fields, there were three classes of mate- 
rial which might be obtained : first, public and private 
archives; second, printed books and documents; and 
third, personal experiences and knowledge taken from 
the mouths of living witnesses. 

Of the class last named there are fewer authorities 
here than in any other part of my territory north of 
latitude 32°, though proportionately more than south 
of that line; and this notwithstanding three distinct 
journeys to that region by m}^ agent — a man thor- 
oughly conversant with Alaskan affairs, and a Rus- 
sian by birth — for the purpose of gathering original 
and verbal information. All places of historical im- 
portance were visited by him, and all persons of his- 
torical note still living there were seen and ques- 
tioned. Much fresh information was thus obtained; 
but the result was not as satisfactory as has been the 
case in some other quarters. 

The chief authorities in print for the earlier epochs 
are in the Russian language, and published for the 
most part in Russia; covering the later periods, books 
have been published — at various times in Europe and 
America, as will be seen by my list of authorities — 
and have been gathered in the usual way. 

The national archives, the most important of all 


sources, are divided, part being in Russia and part in 
America, though mostly in the Russian language. 
Some four or five years were occupied by my assist- 
ants and stenographers in making abstracts of mate- 
rial in Sitka, San Francisco, and Washington. For 
valuable cooperation in gaining from the archives of 
St Petersburg such material as I required, I am spe- 
cially indebted to my esteemed friend M. Pinart, and 
to the leading men of letters and certain officials in 
the Russian capital, from whom I have received every 





Russia's Share in America — Physical Features of Alaska — Configuration 
and Climate — The Southern Crescent — The Tumbled Mountains — 
Volcanoes and Islands — Vegetation — California- Japan Current — Arc- 
tic Seaboard and the Interior — Condition and Character of the Rus- 
sians in the Sixteenth Century — Serfs, Merchants, and Nobles — The 
Fur Currency — Foreign Commercial Relations — England in the 
White and Caspian Seas — Eastern Progress of the Russian Empire — 
The North-east Passage 1 



Siberia the Russian Canaan — From the Black and Caspian Seas over the 
Ural Mountains — Stroganof, the Salt-miner — Visit of Yermak — 
Occupation of the Ob by the Cossacks — Character of the Conquer- 
ors — Their Ostrog on the Tobol — The Straight Line of March thence 
to Okhotsk on the Pacific — The Promyshleniki — Lena River Reached 
— Ten Cossacks against Ten Thousand — Yakutski Ostrog — Explora- 
tion of the Amoor — Discoveries on the Arctic Seaboard — Ivory ver- 
sus Skins — The Land of the Chukchi Invaded — Okhotsk Estab- 
lished — Kamchatka Occupied — Rumors of Realms Beyond 14 



Purposes of Peter the Great — An Expedition Organized — Sets out from 
St Petersburg— Death of the Tsar — His Efforts Seconded by Cath- 
erine and Elizabeth — Bering and Chirikof at Kamchatka — They 
Coast Northward through Bering Strait and Prove Asia to be Sepa- 
rated from America — Adventures of Shestakof — Expeditions of Hens, 

( xiii ) 



Fedorof, and Gvozdef — America Sighted — Organization of the Sec- 
ond General Expedition— Bibliography — Personnel of the Expedi- 
tion — Bering, Chirikof, Spanberg, Walton, Croyfere, Steller, Miiller, 
Fisher, and Others — Russian Religion — Easy Morality — Model Mis- 
sionaries — The Long Weary Way across Siberia — Charges against 
Bering — Arrival of the Expedition at Okhotsk 35 



The Day of Departure — Arrival of Imperial Despatches — They Set Sail 
from Okhotsk — The Sv Petr and the Sv Pavel — Bering's and 
Chirikof 's Respective Commands — Arrival at Kamchatka — Winter- 
ing at Avatcha Bay — Embarkation — 111 Feeling between Chirikof 
and Bering — The Final Parting in Mid-ocean^Adventures of Chiri- 
kof — He Discovers the Mainland of America in Latitude.55° 21' — 
The Magnificence of his Surroundings — A Boat's Crew Sent Ashore 
— Another Sent to its Assistance — All Lost! — Heart-sick, Chirikof 
Hovers about the Place — And is Finally Driven Away by the Wind 
— He Discovers Unalaska, Adakh, and Attoo — The Presence of Sea- 
otters Noticed — Sickness — Return to Avatcha Bay — Death of Croyfere 
— Illness of Chirikof 




Discovery by Rule — The Land not where It ought to be — The Avatcha 
Council should Know — Bering Encounters the Mainland at Mount 
St EHas — Claims for the Priority of Discovery of North-westernmost 
America — Kyak Island — Scarcity of Water — The Return Voyage — 
Illness of Bering — Longings for Home — Kadiak — Ukamok — Sickness 
and Death — Intercourse with the Natives — Waxel's Adventure — 
Vows of the Dane — Amchitka, Kishka, Semiche, and other Islands 
Seen — At Bering Island — Wreck of ihe Sv Petr — Death of Bering 
— Gathering Sea-otter Skins — The Survivors Build a Small Sv Petr 
from the Wreck — Return to Kamchatka — Second Voyage of Chirikof. 75 



Effect of the Discovery in Siberia — Hunting Expeditions in Search of 
Sea-otters — Voyages of Bassof, Nevodchikof, and Yugof — Rich Har- 
vests of Sea-otter and Fur-seal Skins from the Aleutian Archipelago 



— The Cunning Promyshleniki and the Mild Islanders — The Old 
Tale of Wrong and Atrocity — Bloodshed on Attoo Island — Early 
Monopolies — Chuprof's and Kholodilof's Adventures — Russians De- 
feated on Unalaska and Amlia — Yugof's Unfortunate Speculation 
— Further Discovery — The Fate of Golodof — Other Adventures 99 



Tolstykh's Voyage— Movements of Vessels — Stsehlin's Map— Wreck of 
the Andreian i Natalia — Catherine Speaks — A Company Formed 
— Collecting Tribute — The Neue Nachrichten — Voyage of the Zak- 
har i Elizaveta — Terrible Retaliation of the Unalaskans — "Voyage 
of the Sv Troitska — Great Sufferings — Fatal Onslaught — Voyage 
of Glottof — Ship Nomenclature — Discovery of Kadiak — New Mode 
of Warfare— The Old Man's Tale— Solovief 's Infamies— The Okhotsk 
Government — More St Peters and St Pauls — Queen Catherine and the 
Merchant Nikoforof — End of Private Fur-hunting Expeditions 127 



Synd's Voyage in Bering Strait — Stsehlin's Peculiar Report — The Grand 
Government Expedition — Promotions and Rewards on the Strength 
of Prospective Achievements — Catherine is Sure of Divine Favor — 
Very Secret Instructions — Heavy Cost of the Expedition — The Long 
Journey to Kamchatka — Dire Misfortunes There — Results of the 
Effort — Death of the Commander — Journals and Reports — More Mer- 
cantile Voyages — The Ships Sv Nikolai, Sv Andrei, Sv Prokop, and 
Others — The Free and Easy Zaikof — His Luck 157 



Political Changes at St Petersburg — Exiles to Siberia — The Long Weary 
Way to Kamchatka — The Benyovski Conspiracy — The Author Bad 
Enough, but not So Bad as He would Like to Appear — Exile Regula- 
tions — Forgery, Treachery, Robbery, and Murder — Escape of the 
Exiles — Behm Appointed to Succeed Nilof as Commandant of Kam- 
chatka — Further Hunting Voyages — First Trading Expedition to the 
Mainland — Potop Zaikof — Prince William Sound — Ascent of Copper 



Slver — Treacherous Chugaches— Plight of the Russians— Homeof the 
Fur-seals — Its Discovery by Gerassim Pribylof — Jealousy of Rival 
Companies 175 



Russian Supremacy in the Farthest North-west — The Other European 
Powers would Know What It Means — Perez Looks at Alaska for 
Spain — The Santiago at Dixon Entrance — Cuadra Advances to 
Cross Sound — Cook for England Examines the Coast as Far as Icy 
Cape— Names Given to Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet— Rev- 
elations and Mistakes — Ledyard's Journey — Again Spain Sends to 
the North Arteaga, Who Takes Possession at Latitude 59° 8' — ^Bay of 
La Santisima Cruz — Results Attained 194 



First Attempted Settlement of the Russians in America — Voyage of Gri- 
gor Shelikof — Permanent Establishment of the Russians at Kadiak — 
Return of Shelikof— His Instructions to Samoilof, Colonial Command- 
er — The Historic Sable and Otter— Skins as Currency — Trapping 
and Tribute-collecting — Method of Conducting the Hunt — Regula- 
tions of the Peredovchiki— God's Sables and Man's— Review of the 
Fur-trade on the Coasts of Asia and America — Pernicious System In- 
troduced by the Promyshleniki — The China ISIarket— Foreign Ri- 
vals and their Method — Abuse of Natives — Cook's and Vancouver's 
Opinions of Competition with the Russians — Extirpation of Ani- 
mals 222 



French Interest in the North-west — La P6rouse's Examination — Discov- 
ery of Port des Fran9ais — A Disastrous Survey — English Visitors — 
Meares is Caught in Prince William Sound — Terrible Struggles with 
the Scurs'y — Portlock and Dixon Come to the Rescue — Their Two 
Years of Trading and Exploring — Ismailof and Bocharof Set Forth 
to Secure the Claims of Russia — A Treacherous Chief — Yakutat 
Bay Explored — Traces of Foreign Visitors Jealously Suppressed — 
Spain Resolves to Assert Herself — Martinez and Haro's Tour of In- 
vestigation — Fidalgo, Marchand, and Caamaiio — Vancouver's Expe- 
dition 255 






Flattering Prospects— Costly Outfit— The Usual Years of Preparation — 
An Expectant World to be Enlightened — Gathering of the Expedi- 
tion at Kamchatka — Divers Winterings and Ship-building — Prelim- 
inary Surveys North and South — At Unalaska and Kadiak — Russian 
Rewards — Periodic Promotion of Billings — At St Lawrence Island — 
Billings' Land Journey — Wretched Condition of Russian Hunters — 
End of the Tribute System — Result of the Expedition — Sarychef 's 
Surveys — Shelikof's Duplicity— Priestly Performance 282 



Shelikof's Grand Conception — Governor-general Jacobi Won to the 
Scheme — Shelikof's Modest Request — Alaska Laid under Monopoly 
— Stipulations of the Empress — Humane Orders of Kozlof-Ugrenin 
— Public Instructions and Secret Injunctions — Delarof's Administra- 
tion— SheLkof Induces Baranof to enter the Service of his Com- 
pany — Career and Traits of the New Manager — Shipwreck of Ba- 
ranof on Unalaska — Condition of the Colony — Rivalry and Other 
Troubles — Plans and Recommendations — Engagement with the Kal- 
jushes — Ship-building — The Englishman Shields — Launch and Trib- 
ulations of the Phoenix 305 



The Lebedef Company Occupies Cook Inlet — Quarrels between the Lebe- 
def and Shelikof Companies — Hostilities in Cook Inlet — Complaints 
of Kolomin against Konovalof — War upon Russians and Indians 
Alike — Life of the Marauders — Pacific Attitude of Baranof — His Pa- 
tience Exhausted — Playing the Autocrat — Arrest of the Ringleaders 
— Effect on the Natives — Baranof's Speech to his Hunters — Expedi- 
tion to Yakutat — Meeting with Vancouver — The Lebedef Company 
Circumvented — Troubles with Kaljushes— Purtof 'a Resolute Conduct 
— Zaikof's Expedition ;. 334 



Mechanics and Missionaries Arrive at Pavlovsk — Ambitious Schemes of 
Colonization — Agricultural Settlement Founded on Yakutat Bay — 
Shipwreck, Famine, and Sickness — Golovnin's Report on the Affairs 

xviii CONTENTS. 


of the Shelikof Company — Discontent of the Missionaries— Com- 
plaints of the Archimandrite— Father Makar in Unalaska— Father 
Juvenal in Kadiak— Divine Service at Three Saints— Juvenal's Voy- 
age to Ilyamna — His Reception and Missionary Labors — He Attempts 
to Abolish Polygamy — And Falls a Victim to an Ilyamna Damsel — 
He is Butchered by the Natives 351 



Threatened Exhaustion of the Seal-fisheries— Special Privileges Given to 
Siberian Merchants — Shelikof Petitions for a Grant of the Entire 
North-west — He is Supported by Rezanof — Muilnikof 's Enterprise — 
The United American Company — Its Act of Consolidation Confirmed 
by Imperial Oukaz — And its Name Changed to the Russian Ameri- 
can Company — Text of the Oukaz— Obligations of the Company 375 



Baranof 's Difficutties and Despondency — Sick and Hopeless — Arrival of 
the Elizaveta — An Expedition Sails for Norfolk Sound — Loss of 
Canoes— The Party Attacked by Kolosh— Treaty with the Sitkans— 
Yankee Visitors— A Fort Erected— The Yakutat Bay Settlement— 
Baranof Desires to be Relieved — His Official Tour of the Colonies — 
The Chief Manager's Piety — His Complaints of Foreign Encroach- 
ments — ^British Aggressiveness 384 



Rumors of Revolt among the Kolosh— They Attack Fort Sv Mikhail — 
Testimony of Abrossim Plotnikof — And of Ekaterina Lebedef — 
Sturgis' Equivocal Statement — Captain Barber as a Philanthropist — 
Khlebnikof's Version of the Massacre— Secret Instructions to Bara- 
nof — Tidings from Unalaska — Further Promotion of the Chief Man- 
ager — He Determines to Recapture Sitka — Preparations for the Expe- 
dition 401 



The Nadeshda and Neva Sail from Kronstadt — Lisiansky Arrives at 
Norfolk Sound in the JVeva^Baranof Sets Forth from Yakutat — 
His Narrow Escape from Shipwreck — He Joins Forces with Lisiansky 



— Fruitless Negotiations — Defeat of the Russians — The Fortress Bom- 
barded — And Evacuated by the Savages — The Natives Massacre 
their Children — Lisiansky's Visit to Kadiak — His Description of the 
Settlements — A Kolosh Embassy — A Dinner Party at Novo Arkhan- 
gelsk — The Neva's Homeward Voyage — Bibliography 421 


bezanof's visit. 
Voyage of the Nadeshda — A Russian Embassy Dismissed by the Japan- 
ese — Rezanof at St Paul Island — Wholesale Slaughter of Fur-seals — 
The Ambassador's Letter to the Emperor — The Envoy Proceeds to 
Kadiak — And Thence to Novo Arkhangelsk — His Report to the 
Russian American Company — Further Trouble with the Kolosh — 
The Ambassador's Instructions to the Chief Manager — Evil Tidings 
from Kadiak — Rezanof's Voyage to California — His Complaints 
against Naval Officers — His Opinion of the Missionaries — His Last 
Journey 443 



Ship-building at Novo Arkhangelsk — The Settlement Threatened by 
Kolosh — A Plot against the Chief Manager's Life — The Conspira- 
tors Taken by Surprise — Arrival of Golovnin in the Sloop-of-war 
Diana — His Description of the Settlement — Astor's Vessel, the 
Enterprise, at Novo Arkhangelsk — Negotiations for Trade — Golov- 
nin's Account of the Matter — Famum's Journey from Astoria 
to St Petersburg — Wreck of the Juno — SuflFerings of her Crew .... 461 



Baranof's Want of Means — O'Cain's Expedition to California — And to 
Japan— The Mercury at San Diego — Trading Contracts with Ameri- 
can Skippers — Kuskof on the Coast of New Albion — The Ross 
Colony Founded — Seal-hunting on the Coast of California — Ship- 
building — Agriculture — Shipments of Cereals to Novo Arkhangelsk — 
Horticulture — Stock-raising — Losses Incurred by the Company — 
Hunting-post Established at the Farallones — Failure of the Enter- 
prise — Sale of the Colony's Effects ^. 476 






Hagemeister in the Sandwich Islands — Baranof Again Desires to be Re- 
lieved — Eliot Sails for California in the Ilmen — His Captivity — 
Kotzebue in the Riirik in Search of a North-east Passage — His Ex- 
plorations in Kotzebue Sound — He Proceeds to Unalaska — And 
thence to California and the Sandwich Islands — King Kamehameha 
— A Stonn in the North Pacific —The Rurik Returns to Unalaska 
— Her Homeward Voyage — Bennett's Trip to the Sandwich Islands — 
Captain Lozaref at Novo Arkhangelsk— His Disputes with the Chief 
Manager — Sheffer Sails for Hawaii — And thence for Kauai — His 
Agreement with King Tomari — Jealousy of American and English 
Traders— Flight of the Russians 490 



Hagemeister Sails for Novo Arkhangelsk — He Supersedes Baranof — 
Transfer of the Company's Effects — The Accounts in Good Order — 
Sickness of the Ex-manager — Baranof Takes Leave of the Colonies — 
His Death — Remarks of Khlebnikof and Others on Baranof — Kora- 
sokovsky's Expedition to the Kuskokvim — Roquefeuil's Voyage — 
Massacre of his Hunters— Further Explorations — Dividends and In- 
crease of Capital — Commerce — Decrease in the Yield of Furs — The 
Company's Servants 510 



Golovnin's Report on the Colonies — The Company's Charter Renewed — 
New Privileges Granted — Mouravief Appointed Governor — Alaska 
Divided into Districts — Threatened Starvation — Chistiakof Super- 
sedes Mouravief — Foreign Trade Prohibited — The Anglo-Russian 
and Russo- American Treaties — More Explorations — Wrangell's Ad- 
ministration — He is Succeeded by Kuprianof — Disputes with the 
Hudson's Bay Company— Their Adjustment — Fort Stikeen — Etholen 
Appointed Grovernor— A Small-pox Epidemic— Statistical 630 



The Charter Renewed— Its Provisions— The Affair at Petropavlovsk — 
Outbreaks among the Natives— The Nulato Massacre— A Second 
Massacre Threatened at Novo Arkhangelsk — Explorations — Tho 

Western Union Telegraph Company — Westdahl's Experience — The 
Company Requests Another Renewal of its Charter — Negotiations 
with the Imperial Government — Their Failure — Population — Food 
Supplies — The Yield of Furs — Whaling — Dividends — Trade — Bib- 
liographical ^ 568 



Motives for the Transfer by the Russian Government — Negotiations Com- 
menced — Senator Cole's Efforts — The Treaty Signed and Ratified — 
Reasons for and against the Purchase — The Territory as an Invest- 
ment — Its Formal Cession — Influx of American Adventurers — Meas- 
ures in Congress — A Country without Law or Protection — Evil Effect 
of the Military Occupation — An Emeute at Sitka — Further Troubles 
with the Natives — Their Cause — Hootchenoo, or Molasses-rum — Rev- 
enue — Suggestions for a Civil Government — Want of Mail Facilities 
— Surveys and Explorations 



Imports and Exports — Cost of Collecting Revenue — The Hudson's Bay 
Company — Smuggling — The Alaska Commercial Company — It Ob- 
tains a Lease of the Prybilof Islands — The Terms of the Contract 
— Remuneration and Treatment of the Natives — Their Mode of Life 
— Investigation into the Company's Management — Statements of 
Robert Desty— And of the Secretary of the Treasury — Increase in 
the Value of Furs— Remarks of H. W. Elliott— Landing of the Fur- 
seals — Their Combats — Method of Driving and Slaughtering — Cur- 
ing, Dressing, and Dyeing — Sea-otters — Land Peltry ^. . . 630 




Salmon Packing— Price and Weight of the Raw Fish— Yukon River 
Salmon — Alaskan Canneries — Domestic Consumption and Waste — 
The Cod-banks of Alaska — Large Increase in the Catch of Cod-fish 
and Decrease in its Value — The Halibut-fisheries — Herring and Her- 
ring-oil — Mackerel — The Eulachon or Candle-fish — Value and Pros- 
pects of the Alaskan Fisheries — Whaling Enterprise — The North 
Pacific Whaling Fleet — Gradual Decrease in the Catch — Threatened 
Exhaustion of the Whaling-grounds 660 






Sitka during the Russian Occupation — The Town Half Deserted — Social 
Life at the Capital — The Sitka Library — Newspapers — Fort Wran- 
gell — Tongass — Harrisburg — Settlements on Cook Inlet — Kadiak — 
Wood Island — Spruce Island — Three Saints — Afognak — The Aleutian 
Islands — Volcanic Eruptions and Earthquakes — Saint Michael — Fort 
Yukon — Agriculture— Stock-raising — Timber — Ship-building — Coal- 
mining — Petroleum, Copper, Quicksilver, Lead, and Sulphur — Silver 
and Gold 671 



The First Churches in Russian America — A Diocese Established — Veni- 
aminof — The Sitka Cathedral — Conversion of the Indians — The Clergy 
Held in Contempt — Protestant Missions — Schools — The Sitka Semi- 
nary — The General Colonial Institute — Meteorological — Diseases — 
Hospitals — The Company's Pensioners — Creoles — Bibliographical 699 



The Organic Act — A Phantom of Civil Government — Proposed Indian 
Reservations — Educational Matters — Appointment of United States 
Officials — Report of Governor Kinkead — His Successor Appointed — 
Schwatka's Voyage on a Raft — Everette's Exploration — Stoney's 
Expedition — Mining on the Yukon and its Tributaries — The Takoo 
Mines— The Treadwell Lode— Fisheries— Commerce and Navigation 717 




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Russia's Share in America — Physical Features of Alaska — Configura- 
tion AND Climate — The Southern Crescent— The Tumbled Moun- 
tains — Volcanoes and Islands — Vegetation— California- Japan Cur- 
rent — Arctic Seaboard and the Interior — Condition and Charac- 
ter OF the Russians in the Sixteenth Century — Serfs, Merchants, 
AND Nobles— The Fur Currency— Foreign Commercial Relations — 
England in the White and Caspian Seas— Eastern Progress of 
the Russian Empire — The North-east Passage. 

In the great seizure and partition of America by 
European powers there was no reason why Kussia 
should not have a share. She was mistress in the 
east and north as were France and Spain in the west 
and south; she was as grasping as Portugal and as 
cold and cruel as England; and because she owned so 
much of Europe and Asia in the Arctic, the desire 
was only increased thereby to extend her broad belt 
quite round the world. It was but a step across from 
one continent to the other, and intercourse between 
the primitive peoples of the two had been common 
from time immemorial. It was but natural, I say, in 
the gigantic robbery of half a world, that Russia 
should have a share; and had she been quicker about 
it, the belt might as well have been continued to 
Greenland and Iceland. 

Geographically, Alaska is the northern end of the 
long Cordillera which begins at Cape Horn, extends 



through the two Americas, and is here joined by the 
Nevada-Cascade range; the Coast Range from Lower 
CaHfornia breaking into islands before reaching this 
point. It is not always and altogether that cold and 
desolate region which sometimes has been pictured, 
and which from its position we might expect. Its 
configuration and climate are exceedingly varied. 
The southern seaboard is comparatively mild and 
habitable; the northern frigid and inhospitable. 

Standing at Mount St Elias as the middle of a cres- 
cent, we see the shore-line stretching out in either 
direction, toward the south-east and the south-west, 
ending in the former at Dixon Inlet, and in the latter 
sweeping off and breaking into mountainous islands as 
it continues its course toward Kamchatka. It is a 
most exceedingly rough and uncouth country, this 
part of it; the shore-line being broken into fragments, 
with small and great islands guarding the labyrinth of 
channels, bays, sounds, and inlets that line the main- 
land. Back of these rise abruptly vast and rugged 
mountains, the two great continental chains coming 
together here as if in final struggle for the mastery. 
The coast range along the Pacific shore of Alaska 
attains an elevation in places of eight or nine thou- 
sand feet, lying for the most part under perpetual 
snow, with here and there glistening white peaks four- 
teen or sixteen thousand feet above the sea. And the 
ruggedness of this Sitkan or southern seaboard, the 
thirty-miles strip as it is sometimes called, with the 
Alexander archipelago, continues as we pass on, to 
the Alaskan -Mountains and the Aleutian archipelago. 
It is in the Alaskan Range that nature assumes the 
heroic, that the last battle of the mountains appears 
to have been fought. The din of it has as yet hardly 
passed away; the great peaks of the range stand 
there proudly triumphant but still angry; grumbling, 
smoking, and spitting fire, they gaze upon their fallen 
foes of the archipelago, giants like themselves, though 
now submerged, sunken in the sea, if not indeed 


hurled thence by their victorious rivals. These great 
towering volcanic peaks and the quaking islands are 
superb beyond description, filling the breast of the 
beholder with awe. And the ground about, though 
cold enough upon the surface, steams and sweats in 
sympathy, manifesting its internal warmth in geysers 
and hot springs, while from the depths of the sea 
sometimes belches forth fire, if certain navigators may 
be believed, and the sky blazes in northern lights. 

All along this sweep of southern seaboard Euro- 
peans may dwell in comfort if so inclined. Even in 
midwinter the cold is seldom severe or of long dura- 
tion. An average temperature is 42°, though ex- 
tremes have been named for certain localities of from 
19° to 58°, and again from 58° below zero in January, 
to 95° in summer. Winter is stormy, the winds at Sitka 
at this season being usually easterly, those from the 
south bringing rain and snow. When the wind is from 
the north-west the sky is clear, and the cold nights 
are often lighted by the display of the aurora borealis. 
Winter breaks up in March, and during the clear cold 
days of April the boats go out after furs. Yet, for a 
good portion of the year there is an universal and dis- 
mal dampness — fogs interminable and drizzling rain; 
clouds thick and heavy and low-lying, giving a w^ater 
fall of six or eight feet in thickness. 

Much of the soil is fertile, though in places wet. 
Behind a low^ wooded seaboard often rise abruptly icy 
steeps, with here and there between the glacier canons 
broad patches of sphagnum one or two feet thick, and 
well saturated with water. The perpetual snow-line 
of the Makushin volcano is three thousand feet above 
the sea, and vegetation ceases at an altitude of twenty- 
five hundred feet. Grain does not ripen, but grasses 
thrive almost everywhere on the lowlands. Berries 
are plentiful, particularly cranberries, though the sun- 
light is scarcely strong enough to flavor them well. 
Immense spruce forests tower over Prince William 
Sound and about Sitka. Kadiak is a good grazing 


country, capable of sustaining large droves of cattle. 
On the Aleutian Islands trees do not grow, but the 
grasses are luxuriant. In a word, here in the far 
north we find a vegetation rightly belonging to a much 
lower latitude. 

The warm Japan current which comes up along 
tne coast of Asia, bathing the islands of the Aleutian 
archipelago as it crosses the Pacific and washing the 
shores of America far to the southward, transforms 
the whole region from what would otherwise be inhos- 
pitable into a habitation fit for man. Arising off the 
inner and outer shores of Lower California, this stream 
first crosses the Pacific as the great northern equa- 
torial current, passing south of the Hawaiian Islands- 
and on to the coast of Asia, deflecting northward as 
it goes, and after its grand and life-compelling sweep 
slowly returns to its starting-point. It is this that 
clothes temperate isles in tropical vegetation, makes 
the silk-worm flourish far north of its rightful home, 
and sends joy to the heart of the hyperborean, even 
to him upon the strait of Bering, and almost to the 
Arctic sea. It is this that thickly covers the steep 
mountain sides to the height of a thousand feet and 
more with great growths of spruce, alder, willow, 
hemlock, and yellow cedar. It is the striking of this 
warm current of air and water against the cold shores 
of the north that causes nature to steam up in thick 
fogs and dripping moisture, and compels the surcharged 
clouds to drop their torrents. 

Chief among the fur-bearing animals is the sea- 
otter, in the taking of whose life the lives of thou- 
sands of human beings have been laid down. Of fish 
there are cod, herring, halibut, and salmon, in abun- 
dance. The whale and the walrus abound in plsfces. 

Go back into the interior if you can get there,, or 
round by the Alaskan shore north of the islands, 
along Bering sea and strait, which separate Asia and 
America and indent the eastern border with great 
bays into which flow rivers, one of them, the Yukon, 


liaving its sources far back in British Columbia; ascend 
this stream, or traverse the country between it and the 
Arctic Ocean, and you will find quite a different order 
of things. Clearer skies are there, and drier, colder 
airs, and ice eternal. Along the Arctic shore runs a 
line of hills in marked contrast to the mountains of 
the southern seaboard. Between these ranges flow 
the Yukon with its tributaries, the Kuskokvim, Sela- 
Avik, and other streams. 

Mr Petrof, who traversed this region in 1880, 
says of it: " Here is an immense tract reaching from 
Bering strait in a succession of rolling ice-bound 
moors and low mountain ranges, for seven hundred 
miles an unbroken waste, to the boundary line between 
lis and British America. Then, again, from the crests 
of Cook's Inlet and the flanks of Mount St Elias 
northward over that vast area of rugged mountain 
and lonely moor to the east, nearly eight hundred 
miles, is a great expanse of country ... by its position 
barred out from occupation ' and settlement by our 
own people. The climatic conditions are such that 
its immense area will remain undisturbed in the pos- 
session of its savage occupants, man and beast." 

Before speaking of the European discovery and 
conquest of Alaska, let us briefly glance at the con- 
dition and character of those about to assume the 
mastery here. 

It was in the middle of the sixteenth century that 
the Russians under Ivan Vassilievich, the Terrible, 
threw off the last yoke of Tartar Khans ; but with the 
independence of the nation thus gained, the free cities, 
principalities, and provinces lost all trace of their 
former liberties. An empire had been wrung from 
the grasp of foreign despots, but only to be held by a 
despotism more cruel than ever had been the Tartar 
domination. Ignorance, superstition, and servitude 
were the normal condition of the lower classes. The 
nation could scarcely be placed within the category 


of civilization. While in Spain the ruling spirit was 
fanaticism, in Russia it was despotism. 

Progress was chained; if any sought to improve 
their lot they dared not show their gains lest their 
master should take them. And the people thus long 
accustomed to abject servility and concealment ac- 
quired the habit of dissimulation to a remarkable 
degree. There was no recognition of the rights of 
man, and little of natural morality. It was a prees- 
tablished and fundamental doctrine that the weaker 
were slaves of the stronger. In feudal times the main 
difference between the lowest class in Russia and in 
other parts of Europe was that the former were not 
bound to the soil. Their condition however was none 
the less abject, their slavery if possible was more com- 
plete. And what is not a little singular in following 
the progress of nations, Russia, about the beginning 
of the seventeenth century, introduced this custom of 
binding men to lands, just when the other states of 
Europe were abolishing it. Freemen were authorized 
by law to sell themselves. Insolvent debtors became 
the property of their creditors. And howsoever bound, 
men could obtain their liberty only by purchase. 

Women, even of the better class, were held in ori- 
ental seclusion, and treated as beasts; husbands and 
fathers might torture and kill them, and sell the off- 
spring, but if a wife killed her husband she was buried 
up to the neck and left to starve. 

Pewter was unknown ; only wooden dishes were in 
use. Each man carried a knife and wooden spoon tied to 
the belt or sash. Bedding was scarcely used at court; 
among rich and poor alike a wooden bench, the bare 
floor, or at the most a skin of bear or Avolf, sufficed 
for sleeping. The domestic ties were loose; since the 
crimes of individuals were visited upon the whole kin- 
dred the children scattered as soon as they were able. 
The lower classes had but a single name, which was 
conferred in baptism, consequently the nearest rela- 
tives soon lost sight of each other in their wandering 


life. Subsequently the serfs were attached to the 
soil, but even to the present day an almost irresistible 
disposition to rove is noticeable among the Russian 

The nobles, reared by a nation of slaves, were scarcely 
more intelligent than they. But few of the priests 
understood Greek ; and reading and writing even among 
the nobles was almost unknown; astronomy and anat- 
omy were classed among the diabolic arts ; calculations 
were made by means of a string of balls, and skins of 
animals were the currency. Punishments were as 
barbarous as manners. The peculator was publicly 
branded with a hot iron, then sent back to his place, 
thus dishonoring himself and degrading his office. 
When a person was punished for crime, all the mem- 
bers of his family were doomed to suffer likewise. 
Every Russian who strayed beyond the frontier be- 
came a rebel and a heathen. 

Nobles alone could hold land; the tillers were as 
slaves. True, a middle or merchant class managed 
amidst the general disruption to maintain some of 
their ancient privileges. The gosti, or wholesale deal- 
ers, of Moscow, Novgorod, and Pleskovo might sit at 
table with princes, and go on embassies; they were 
free from imposts and many other exactions. Even the 
small traders preserved some of the benefits which had 
originated in the free commercial cities. _ The priests, 
seeing their influence at court declining, cultivated the 
merchants, and married among their families. 

Thus all combined to strengthen the trading class 
as compared with the agricultural. Taxes and salaries 
were paid in furs; in all old charters and other docu- 
ments penalties and rewards are given in furs. The 
very names of the early coins of Novgorod point to 
their origin ; we see there the grivernik grivnui, from 
the mane or long hairs along the back; the oushka 
and 2^oloushka, ear and half-ear. This feature in the 
national economy explains to a certain extent the 
slow spread of civilization over the tsar's dominions. 


In a country where furs are the circulating -medium, 
and hence the great desideratum, the people must 
scatter and lead a savage life. 

The same cause, however, which impeded social 
and intellectual development furnished a stimulus for 
the future aggrandizement of the Muscovite domain. 
For more than two and a half centuries the Hanseatic 
League had monopolized the foreign trade; but the 
decline of Novgorod, the growing industry of the 
Livonian cities, and the appearance of the ships of 
other countries in the Baltic were already threatening 
the downfall of Hanseatic commerce, when an unex- 
pected discovery made the English acquainted with the 
White Sea, which afforded direct intercourse with the 
inland provinces of the Russian empire. The Hanse, 
by its superiority in the Baltic, had excluded all other 
maritime nations from Russian commerce, but it was 
beyond the reach of their power to prevent the English 
from sailing to the White Sea. In 1553, at the sug- 
gestion of Sebastian Cabot, England sent three vessels 
under Sir Hugh Willoughby in search of a north-east 
passage to China. Two of the vessels were lost, and 
the third, commanded by Richard Chancellor, entered 
the White Sea. No sooner did he know that the 
shore was Russia than Chancellor put on a bold face 
and said he had come to establish commercial rela- 
tions. The tsar, informed of the arrival of the stran- 
gers, ordered them to Moscow. The insolent behavior 
of the Hanse League had excited the tsar's displeas- 
ure, and he was only too glad of other intercourse 
with civilized nations. Every encouragement was 
offered by the Russian monarch, and trade finally 
opened with England, and special privileges were 
granted to the so-called Russia Company of English 

The English commercial expeditions through Rus- 
sia, down the Volga, and .across the Caspian to Persia, 
were not financially successful, though perhaps valu- 
able as a hint to the Portuofuese that the latter did 


not hold the only road to India. To Russia, also, 
this traffic proved by no means an unalloyed blessing. 
The wealthy merchants of Dantzic and other Hanse 
towns along the Baltic, who had enjoyed a monopoly 
of Russian commerce, looked on with jealousy, and it 
was doubtless owing to enmity in this influential 
quarter that Ivan failed in all his attempts to secure 
Esthonia and Livonia, and gain access to the Baltic 
seaports. On the other hand, English enterprise 
brought about commerce with different nations, and 
introduced the products of north-western Europe into 
the tsar's dominions. Further than this, the Musco- 
vites copied English craft, and became more proficient 
in maritime affairs. An incident connected with this 
traffic may be considered the first link of a long chain 
of events which finally resulted in Russia's stride 
across the Ural Mountains, and the formation of a 
second or reserve empire, without which the original 
or European structure might long since have fallen. 
On the return of an English expedition from Persia 
across the Caspian, in 1573, the ship was attacked by 
Cossacks, who gained possession of vessel and cargo, 
setting the crew adrift in a boat furnished with some 
provisions. The Englishmen made their way to Astra- 
khan, and on their report of what had befallen them 
two armed vessels were sent out. The pirates were 
captured and put to death, while the cargo, worth 
between 30,000 and 40,000 pounds sterling, was safely 
landed at Astrakhan. The tsar then despatched a 
numerous land force to destroy the nest of robbers 
infesting the Lower Volga and the Caspian. His 
army spread dismay. The Cossacks saw that sub- 
mission was death, and many leaped from the blood- 
stained deck of their rude barks to the saddle, being 
equally familiar with both. Then they banded under 
determined leaders and set out for countries beyond 
the reach of Russia's long arm. Yermak Timofeief 
headed one of these bands, and thus the advance of 
the Slav race toward the Pacific began. Rude and 


spasmodic as it was, the traflSc of the EngHsh laid 
the foundation of Kussian commerce on the Caspian. 
Previous to the appearance of the EngHsh the Rus- 
sians had carried on their trade with Bokhara and 
Persia entirely by land; but from that time they 
began to construct transport ships on the Volga and 
to sail coastwise to the circumjacent harbors of the 

Before following the tide of conquest across the 
Ural Mountains, it may be well to cast a brief glance 
over the contemporaneous efforts of English and Dutch 
navigators to advance in the same easterly direction 
by water, or rather to thread their way between the 
masses of floating and solid ice besetting the navigable 
channels of the Arctic, demonstrating as they do the 
general impression prevalent among European nations 
at the time, that the route pursued by Columbus and 
his successors was not the only one leading to the in- 
exhaustible treasures of the Indies, and to that Cathay 
which the Latin maritime powers were making stren- 
uous efforts to monopolize. 

The last EngHsh expedition in search of the north- 
east passage, undertaken in the sixteenth century, 
consisted of two barks which sailed from England early 
in 1580, and were fortunate enough to pass beyond the 
straits of Vaigatz, but made no new discoveries and 
brought but a moderate return to their owners. The 
Russians meanwhile kept up a vigorous coasting- 
trade, their ill-shaped and ill-appointed craft generally 
being found far in advance of their more pretentious 

In 1594 the states-general of Holland offered a 
premium of twenty-five thousand florins to the lucky 
navigator who should open the much desired high- 
way. A squadron of four small vessels commanded 
by Cornelis Nay was the first to enter for the prize. 
A merchant named Linschoten, possessed of con- 
siderable scientific attainments, accompanied the ex- 


pedition as commercial agent, and Willem Barentz, 
who commanded one of the vessels, acted as pilot. 
They sailed from Holland on the 15th of June 1594, 
and arrived safely at the bay of Kilduyn, on the 
coast of Lapland. Here they separated, Nay heading 
for Vaigatz Straits and Barentz choosing a more 
northerly route. The latter discovered and named 
Ys Hoek, or Ice Cape, the northern extremity of 
Novaia Zemlia, while the other vessels passed through 
the straits, where they met with numerous Bussian 
lodkas, or small craft. This southern division entered 
the sea of Kara, called by Linschoten the sea of Tar- 
tary, on the 1st of August. Wooden crosses were 
observed at various points of the coast, and the inhab- 
itants bore evidence of intercourse with the Bussians 
by their manner of salutation. The Samoiedes had 
come in contact with the advancing Muscovites in the 
interior as well as on the coast. 

On the 11th of August, when their astronomical 
observations placed the vessels fifty leagues to the 
eastward of the straits, with land still in sight toward 
the east, this part of the expedition turned back, evi- 
dently apprehensive of sharing the fate of their Eng- 
lish predecessors, who had been unfortunate in those 
latitudes. The two divisions fell in with each other 
on the homeward voyage, and arrived at Amsterdam 
on the 25th of September of the same year. 

A second expedition sailed from Amsterdam on the 
same errand in 1595. It consisted of not less than 
seven vessels. Willem Barentz was chief in com- 
mand, assisted by Heemskerk, Linschoten, and Cor- 
nells Bijp. The departure of this squadron was for 
some reason delayed until July, and after weather- 
ing the North Cape a few of the vessels sailed di- 
rectly for the White Sea to trade, while the others 
proceeded through the straits of Vaigatz. They met, 
as usual, with Bussian lodkas, and for the first time 
definite information was obtained of the great river 
Yenissei, which the Bussians had already reached 


by land. After prolonged battling against ice and 
contrary winds and currents, the expedition turned 
back on the 15th of September and made sail for 

After this second failure the states-general washed 
their hands of further enterprise in that direction, 
but the city of Amsterdam still showed some faith in 
ultimate success by fitting out two ships and intrust- 
ing them respectively to Barentz and Rijp. This 
expedition made an early start, sailing on the 2 2d of 
May 1596. Their course was shaped in accordance 
with Barentz' theory that more to the north there 
was a better chance of finding an open sea. On the 
9th of June they discovered Bear Island in latitude 
74° 30'. Still keeping on their first course they again 
encountered land in latitude 79° 30', Spitzbergen, and 
in July the two vessels separated in search of a clear 
channel to the east. On the 26th of August Barentz 
was forced by a gale into a bay on the east coast of 
Novaia Zemlia, on which occasion the ice seriously 
damaged his vessel. Here the venturesome Hol- 
landers constructed a house and passed a winter full 
of misery, a continued struggle with famishing bears 
and the deadly cold. Toward spring the castaways 
constructed two open boats out of remnants of the 
wreck, fitted them out as well as they could, and put 
to sea on the 14th of June 1597. Six days later 
Barentz died. In July the unfortunates fell in with 
some Russian lodkas and obtained provisions. They 
finally reached Kilduyn Bay in Lapland, one of the 
rendezvous of White Sea traders. Several Dutch 
vessels were anchored there, and one of them was 
commanded by Bijp, who had returned to Amster- 
dam and sailed again on a private enterprise. He 
extended all possible aid to his former companions and 
obtained passage for them on several vessels. This 
put an end in Holland to explorations in search of a 
northern route to India, until the attempts of Hudson 
in 1608-9. The problem was partially solved hy 


Deshnefs obscure voyage in 1648, and after another 
failure by Wood in 1676, Russia made the attempt, 
Vitus Bering starting from Kamchatka; afterward 
were the efforts of Shalalirof and of Bilhngs. Finally 
a Swedish expedition under Nordenskjold accom- 
plished the feat in 1879, after wintering on the Arc- 
tic coast. 




Siberia the Russian Canaan — From the Black and Caspian Seas over 
THE Ural Mountains — Stroganof, the Salt-miner — Visit of Yer- 
MAK — Occupation of the Ob by the Cossacks— Character of the 
Conquerors — Their Ostrog on the Toeol — The Straight Line of 
March thence to Okhotsk on the Pacific— The Promyshlesiki — 
Lena River Reached— Ten Cossacks against Ten Thousand — Ya- 
kutski Ostrog — Exploration of the Amoor — Discoveries on the 
Arctic Seaboard — Ivory versus Skins — The Land of the Chukchi 
Invaded— Okhotsk Established— Kamchatka Occupied — Rumors op 
Realms Beyond. 

While the maritime nations of north-western Eu- 
rope were thus sending ship after ship into the Arctic 
ice-fields in the hope of finding a north-eastern passage 
to India, the Russians were slowly but surely forcing 
their way over Siberian rivers and steppes, and even 
along the Arctic coast from river-mouth to river- 
mouth, and that not in search of any India, or other 
grand attainment, but only after skins, and to get far- 
ther and farther from parental despotism. Their an- 
cient homes had not been abodes of peace, and no 
tender reminiscences or patriotic ties bound them to 
the soil of Russia. It was rather a yearning for per- 
sonal freedom, next after the consideration of the 
sohol, that drew the poor Slav farther and farther 
through forests and swamps away from his place of 
birth; he did not care to band for general indepen- 
dence. Rulers were of God, the church said, and he 
would not oppose them, but he would if possible es- 
cape. In view of these pecuhar tendencies the open- 


ing of the boundless expanse toward the east was a 
blessing not only to the oppressed but to the oppress- 
ors. The turbulent spirits, who might have caused 
trouble at home, in early times found their way to 
Siberia voluntarily, while later the ' paternal ' govern- 
ment gathered strength enough to send them there. 

A century sable-hunt half round the world this re- 
markable movement might be called. It was at once 
a discovery and a conquest, which was to carry Cos- 
sack and Russian across the vast continent, and across 
the narrowed Pacific to the fire-breathing islands, 
and the glistening mountains and majestic forests of 
Alaska. The shores of the Black and Caspian seas 
was the starting-point. Russia's eastern bound was 
then the Ural Mountains. Anika Stroganof set up 
salt-works there, and the people at the east brought 
him furs to trade. They were pretty little skins, and 
yielded the salt-miner a large profit; so he sent his 
traders as far as the great river Ob for them. And 
the autocrat of the empire smiled on these proceed- 
ings, and gave the salt-merchant lands, and allowed 
his descendants to become a power and call them- 
selves counts. 

In 1578 the grandson of the first Stroganof received 
a visit from a Cossack chieftain or ataman, named 
Yermak Timofeief, who with his followers had in 
Cossack fashion led a life of war and plunder, and 
was then flying from justice as administered by Ivan 
Vassilievich II. 

Yermak's mounted followers numbered a thousand, 
and Stroganof was anxious they should move on; so 
he told them of places toward the east, fine spots for 
robber-knights to seize and settle on, and he sent 
men to guide them thither. This was in 1578. At 
the river Ob the Cossacks found a little Tartar sover- 
eignty, a fragment of the great monarchy of Genghis 
Khan. The warlike spirit with which Tamerlane had 
once inspired the Tartars had long since fled. Their 
little kingdom, in which cattle-herding, the chase, and 


traffic were the only pursuits, now remained only 
because none had come to conquer them. The Cos- 
sacks were in the full flush of national development. 
They had ever been apt learners from the Tartars, 
against whom they had often served the Muscovites 
as advance guard. Now Yermak was in a strait. 
Behind him was the wrathful tsar, to fall into whose 
hands was certain death. Though his numbers were 
small, he must fight for it. Attacking the Tartars, 
in due time he became master of their capital city, 
though at the cost of half his little army. And now 
he must have more men. Perhaps he might buy 
friendship of the tsar. A rich gift of sables, with in- 
formation that he had conquered for him the kingdom 
of Kutchum Khan, accomplished the purpose. Re- 
enforcements and confirmation of rulership were the 
response. Thus was begun the long journey of the 
Russians across the continent. 

Vast as is the area of Siberia its several parts are 
remarkably similar. Plants, animals, and men; cli- 
mate, conditions, and custonls, are more alike than on 
the other side of the strait of Bering. The country 
and its contents are upon a dead level. A net-work of 
navigation is formed by the upper branches of rivers 
flowing into the frozen sea through the tundras, or 
ice-morass, of the north, so that the same kind of boats 
and sledges carry the traveller across the whole coun- 
try. The fierce and cunning Cossacks of Russia were 
in marked contrast to the disunited semi-nomads of 
Siberia, busy as they were taming the reindeer, hunt- 
ing with dogs, or fighting with the bow and arrow and 
lance ; and if they could conquer the Tartars of the 
Ob there was no reason why they could not march 
on to the Pacific. 

They were a singular people, brave as Spaniards 
and tough as gypsies. Their weapons, the later Eu- 
ropean kind, of iron and gunpowder, gave them a vast 
superiority over the tribes of Siberia, and their boats 


and horses seem to have been made for the purpose. 
The latter were small and enduring, adequate to the 
long day's march, and like their masters accustomed 
to cold, hunger, thirst, and continuous fatigue. Like 
the chamois and reindeer they would scrape off the 
snow from their scanty nourishment, or if grass was 
wanting they were glad to get frozen fish to eat. 

The invaders found it well to divide their forces, 
and advance in small scattered bodies, a dozen war- 
riors sometimes subjugating a tribe; then again some 
hundreds were required for the occupation of a river- 
territory or a kingdom. There was no need of a large 
united army, or of any great discipline. This also 
suited Cossack ideas and habits, as they were repub- 
lican in their way. Born equal, they everywhere met 
on a common footing. They chose their atamans and 
sotniks, or centurions, who, if they did not rule to suit, 
were quickly deposed and others elected. The highest 
position was open to the humblest aspirant. 

It was on the Tobol that the Cossacks and Rus- 
sians built their first ostrog, or fort, which later became 
Tobolsk, the head-quarters of their organized govern- 
ment, and the starting-point of their expeditions. 
Thence their conquering march was straight through 
the middle of Siberia, the line being equidistant from 
the mountains of the south and the morasses of the 
north, and it later became the principal line of traffic. 
On this line, cutting through the various river re- 
gions, the chief colonies of the country were founded. 
Eastward from Tobolsk, in the territory of the river 
Ob, the city of Tomsk; eastward from this, on the 
Yenissei, the city of Yenisseisk; then Irkutsk and 
Yakutsk in the Lena district, and finally, on the 
shores of the Pacific, Okhotsk, which stands upon 
about the same parallel as that of the starting-point. 
These cities grew successively one out of the other, 
and for every new river province the last served as 
a 2^oint cVappui for the various enterprises, military 

Hist, Alaska. 2 


or commercial. At every important river a halt was 
made, during which they settled themselves more 
firmly, and organized their new territory. They built 
boats, explored up the rivers, and down them even 
to the frozen ocean, where they founded little settle- 

The Cossacks themselves were a light troop, but 
they were preceded by a still lighter, a flying advance 
guard, called the promyshlenihi, a kind of Russian 
coureurs des hois. They were freebooters w^ho hunted 
on their own account and at their own risk. No one 
could control them. They flitted everywhere in the 
v/oods and morasses, companions of wild beasts. They 
made the several first discoveries in Siberia, and 
brought home the earliest information of hitherto 
unknown parts. 

In the spring of 1628 the Cossacks reached Lena 
River. The party consisted of ten men under Vassili 
Bugor, who had crossed over from the Yenissei on 
snow-shoes. Arrived at the Lena, the great central 
stream, lying midway between the beginning and end 
of their century-march, they built a boat and went 
down and up the river for some distance, spreading 
dismay and collecting their tribute of sable-skins. 
Ten Cossacks against the inhabitants of that great 
valley 1 I know of nothing in x\.merican history that 
equals it. After making the people swear submission, 
Bugor posted two of his men at the middle point on 
the river, and two each at points two hundred miles 
above and two hundred miles below. After three 
years of bluster and traffic Bugor returned to the 
Yenissei. In 1632 a Cossack chieftain named Beke- 
tof sailed far down the Lena and built the first ostrog 
on this river, among the Yakut nation. -This was 
the Yakutski Ostrog, out of which rose later the city 
of Yakutsk, the capital of eastern Siberia, and which 
finally served as head-quarters for expeditions to the 
Arctic and to the Pacific. From the Lena, Siberia 



extends, gradually narro\vin< 

about five or six hun- 
dred leao^ues further to the east. The lenj^th of the 
rivers decreases with the breadth of the land, and the 
mighty Lena is followed by the smaller Yana, Indi- 
girka, Kolima, and at last, in the farthest corner by 
the Anadir which empties into the Pacific. The dis- 

F.RIOA ,-_ 

Eastern Siberia. 

covery of these more distant rivers of Siberia began 
in 1638. Some Cossacks, under the leadership of a 
certain Busa, reached the Yana by water from the 
mouth of the Lena, while others, under the sotnik 
Ivanof, penetrated on horseback to its sources from 


Yakutsk. Here they heard of the Indigirka, and the 
year following they trotted on to the river. 

In 1639 the rugged mountains on the eastern bor- 
der of Siberia were crossed on horseback and on 
snow-shoes, and an ostrog was built on the sea-shore 
to which the name of Okhotsk was given. Thus the 
Pacific Ocean was first reached by the Russians on 
the shore of the Okhotsk Sea, a place destined to play 
an important part in the advance toward America. 
The discovery was achieved by Andrei Kopilof, a 
Cossack leader, who made his way thither from the 
Lena at the head of a small party, thus completing 
the march across the continent of Asia, in its broadest 
part, in about sixty years from the time of Yermak's 
visit to Stroganof 

The ascent of the Lena brought the Russians to 
Lake Baikal, and showed them another route to the 
Pacific, through China by way of the Amoor. The 
rich silver deposits in that quarter drew poj^ulation 
from the north-western ostrogs, something after the 
manner of a California mining rush. The Mantchoo 
Tartars were most of them absent from home at the 
time, completing their conquest of the celestial empire, 
which left the Amoor region comparatively defence- 
less. On the return of the Tartars the Russians were 
obliged to relinquish some of their pretensions, though 
they retained their hold on the mines, and continued 
trade with China. In 1643 Vassili Posharkof set out 
from Yakutsk with one hundred and thirty- two men, 
and following the course of the Amoor to its mouth, 
and thence proceeding north and westward some dis- 
tance along the coast, returned to Yakutsk in 1646 
by a different route, and one direct from the Okhotsk 

Sixteen Cossacks on the Indigirka took captive the 
ruling prince of the country. On their neighing steeds 


they charged his forces, armed with only bows and 
arrows, and vanquished them with great slaughter. 
In 1640 they had completed the conquest of the whole 
river, eight hundred miles long. Forthwith they again 
began to listen to tales of new streams in the east, of 
the Aliseia and the Kolima. Strengthened by addi- 
tional troops they proceeded in 1646 to subdue this 
region. East of the Kolima, where Siberia approaches 
its termination, dwelt the warlike Chukchi, the Tschuk- 
tschi of German writers. Their land did not allure 
with sables or silver-mines, but a new attraction was 
found for the European. Dating existence from pri- 
meval revulsions, were found on the shores and along 
the banks of rivers vast deposits of fossil ivory, the 
tusks of the ancient mammoth elephant. Similar de- 
posits had been found before in other parts of Siberia, 
iDut the largest were in the far north-east along the 
shores of the land of the Chukchi. This substance, 
which was called precious and a staple, exercised a 
powerful influence in the conquest of Siberia and in 
-a.ttracting emigrants to the north. Even at the pres- 
ent day it plays an important part in Siberian trafiic, 
and is also found in the northern regions of America. 

Isai Ignatief, with a company of promyshleniki, 
set out in search of mammoth tusks toward the Chuk- 
chi country. From the mouth of the Kolima he 
proceeded a short distance along the Arctic seaboard 
in boats. The natives were shy at first, but after 
some traffic they told the Russians of a large moun- 
tainous land which lay westward and toward the north 
pole, and the outline of whose coasts could be seen 
from time to time from the Siberian shore. This land, 
they said, was rich in ivory, and there were the most 
beautiful tusks heaped up there in huge banks and 
mounds. Many believed that it was peopled and 
connected with Novaia Zemlia in the west and with 
America in the east. 

With a daring which the well prepared Arctic ex- 
plorer of our time can scarcely understand, the Rus- 


sians committed themselves to their fragile lodki, or 
open sail-boats, of rough planks tied together with 
thongs, and struck out for that land of ivory toward 
the north pole. They sailed without compass out 
into that sea; they battled with the ice found there; 
their barks were shattered ; they were frozen in at sea 
hundreds of versts from land. They even wintered 
there that they might advance a little farther the fol- 
lowing summer. What can science or modern adven- 
ture show as a parallel ? Lost on a wilderness of ice, 
all w^armth departed, hungry, ill-clothed, with scarcely 
any shelter, yet still determined to achieve the land of 
ivory. Perhaps some of them did reach it; let us hope 
so, and that they obtained their fill of ivory. Nearly 
two centuries later the first light concerning this land 
came through the travels of Baron Wrangell, when it 
was recognized as a group of islands and named New 

Ignatief could hardly be said to have made the 
acquaintance of the Chukchi, so eager had he been 
after ivory. But better success attended the efforts 
of the Bussians a little later. By order of the tsar 
Alexis, seven Jcotches, a small decked craft, were sent 
along the shore in search of the mouth of the river 
Anadir, whose head-waters had been sighted by the 
venturesome promyshleniki. The expedition set out 
from the mouth of the Kolima June 20, 1648. Of 
four of these vessels nothing further is mentioned; but 
we know that the remaining three were commanded 
respectively by Simeon Deshnef and Gerassim Anku- 
dinof, Cossack chiefs, and Fedot Alexeief, peredovchik, 
that is to say, leader of promyshleniki. Deshnef, who 
forwarded a detailed account of his adventures to 
Yakutsk, speaks but incidentally of what happened be- 
fore reaching Cape Chukotsk. Then he says: "This 
isthmus, is quite different from that which is bound by 
the Biver Tschukotschia west of the Biver Kolima. 
It lies between the north, and north-east, and turns 


circular towards the river Anadir. On the Russian, 
that is, the west side of it, there falls a brook into 
the sea, by which the Tschuktschi have erected a 
scaffold like a tower of the bones of whales. Over- 
against the isthmus (it is not mentioned on Avhich 
side) there are two islands in the sea, upon which 
were seen people of the Tschuktschi nation, thro' 
whose lips were run pieces of the teeth of the sea- 
horse. One might sail from the isthmus to the river 
Anadir, with a fair wind, in three days and nights, 
and it might be travelled by land within the same 
time." The kotche commanded by Ankudinof was 
wrecked at the cape, but the inmates were saved by 
the other vessels. On the 20th of September Desh- 
nef and Alexeief made a landing and had an engage- 
ment with the Chukchi, during which Alexeief was 
wounded. After this the two ketches lost sight of 
each other and did not meet again. Deshnef drifted 
about until October, and at last he was also wrecked, 
as it appears, some distance to the south of the Ana- 
dir, in the vicinity of the river Olutorsk. He had 
only twenty-five men left, and with these he set out 
by land in search of the Anadir; but having no guide, 
he wandered about for ten weeks and at last reached 
its banks not far from the mouth. One half of his 
command started up the river, but hunger comj^elled 
them to return. The following summer Deshnef as- 
cended the Anadir in boats. He met with a tribe 
called the Ananli, made them tributary after con- 
siderable resistance, and founded the settlement of 
ostrog Anadirsk. Here he remained till 1650, when 
he was joined on the 23d of April by the Cossack 
Motora with a volunteer expedition from Kolimsk. 
Another expedition under Mikhail Stadukhin followed 
immediately after; but the latter, jealous of the suc- 
cesses already achieved by the others, went more to 
the southward for further discoveries and was never 
heard of again. Deshnef subsequently encountered a 
Yakut woman who had been with Fedot Alexeief 


and was told by her that Fedot and Ankudinof had 
been wrecked and that both had died of scurvy among 
the Koriaks.^ No mention is made by any of this 
party of having seen the American continent, though 
it is not impossible that some of them did see it. 
They were obliged to hug the Asiatic shore, and the 
opposite coast can be seen from there only on a clear 

Another account of Deshnef's voyage places it at 
a still earlier date, between 1580 and 1590, but the 
inaccuracy of this is evident.^ 

Last of all this region to be unveiled was that 
narrow south-eastern strip of Siberia, the Kamchatka 
peninsula, which, about the size and shape of Italy, 
projects six hundred geographical miles from the con- 
tinent into Bering and Okhotsk seas. The Cossack 
Luka Morosko started from Anadirsk in 1669 with 
a roving band and penetrated far to the southward, 
but what he saw was not known until some time after- 
ward. The name Kamchatka was known in Yakutsk 
by report from 1690. Some years later the first party 
of riders set out thither under the leadership of the 
Cossack colonel, Atlassof, who passes for the actual 

^ The voyage of Deshnef was almost forgotten when Mnller found a 
record of it in Kolimsk. Morshoi Sbornik, 1764, 37-49; Jefferys' Muller's 
Voy., v.-ix. 

^ An anonymous article in a literary monthly published in St Petersburg 
in 1769 contains the following: 'The honor of having taken the first steps 
toward the discovery of these new islands (which on account of their number 
may justly be termed an archipelago) belongs to the tsar Ivan Vassilievich 
II. After having conquered the whole of Siberia he desired to know its 
boundaries north and east, and the tribes inhabiting those far-off regions. 
For this purpose he sent out an expedition, which only returned during the 
reign of his son and successor, Tsar Feodor Ivanovich, bringing the first news 
of the existence of the Polar Sea on the noi'thern shore of Siberia, and another 
vast ocean in the east. In some of the old Siberian archives documents have 
been discovered which prove that the above-mentioned expedition made some 
important discoveries in the Arctic Sea, and, following along its shores to 
the north-east, one of the smaller vessels finally rounded the extreme point, 
Cape Chukotsk, and arrived safely on the coast of Kamchatka. The troubled 
times which came over Russia after this achievement during the lawless reigns 
of the usurper Boris Godunof, and of the False Dmitri after him, made it 
impossible to think of further explorations of the Kamchatka country, and 
even the name was almost forgotten after the lapse of a few years.' Yeshe- 
miansachnaia Sochineiiin, March, 1769, 336-7. 


discoverer and conqueror of Kamchatka. The Rus- 
sians found in Kamchatka Japanese writings and even 
some Japanese sailors cast ashore there by shipwreck. 
From the latter they learned that the land stretched 
far away to the south, and were at first induced to 
believe that Kamchatka reached as far as Japan, as 
indeed it is laid down on the oldest maps. 

Like the Spaniards in Mexico, the first Russians in 
Kamchatka were highly honored, almost deified, by 
the natives. That the aboriginal Americans should 
have ascribed divinit}^ to the first Spaniards is not 
strange. They came to them from off the limitless 
and mysterious water in huge white-winged canoes, 
in martial array, with gaudy trappings and glittering 
armor; they landed with imposing ceremonies; their 
leaders were men of dignified bearing and suave man- 
ners, and held their followers in control. The first 
appearance of the Russians in Kamchatka, however, 
presents an entirely different aspect; surely the Kam- 
chatkans of that day were satisfied with ungainly 

The Cossacks who came with Atlassof were rough- 
looking fellows, of small size, clad in furs like the 
Kamchatkans, most of them the offspring of unions 
between half Tartars and women from the native 
tribes of Siberia. They were filthy in their habits, 
and had just completed a weary ride of many months 
through the wilderness. They were naturally cruel 
and placed no restraint on their beastly propen- 
sities; nevertheless they were called gods by beings 
of a lower order than themselves, and it were well 
to propitiate them. Indeed, they did possess one 
attribute of the deity: they could kill. A few rusty 
firelocks, a few pounds of powder, and they were 
omnipotent. Gods are prone to quarrel as well as 
men, but can they die? The Kamchatkans thought 
not; so when they saw one of Atlassofs men struck 
down by another, saw the warm red blood gush from 
a mortal w^ound to stain the virgin snow, the spell 


was broken. These were no gods; and thenceforth 
the Russians had to fight for the supremacy. After 
many expeditions and many battles, for these people 
were in truth brave and lovers of liberty, the Rus- 
sians, in 1706, reached the southern extremity of 
the Kamchatka peninsula, where the}^ saw the north- 
ernmost islands of the Kurile chain which points to 

Thus did the Russians, after the lapse of a century 
full of toil and ravages, reach the extreme end of the 
Old World.. At the beginning of the eighteenth 
century they found themselves on a separate strip of 
coast, twelve hundred miles long, facing another 
twelve hundred miles' strip, the north-west end of 
America. It was hardly to be expected that they 
would rest contented where they were. 

The natives of Kamchatka did not appear to have 
any knowledge of America, so that the Russians were 
left to learn of the holshaia zemlia, or 'great land' 
toward the east, slowly and as they were able. Tall 
trunks of fir and other trees which did not grow in 
Kamchatka were thrown from time to time by cur- 
rents upon the shores along the east side of that 
country. Large flocks of land-birds came to the coast 
occasionally from the east and disappeared again in 
the same direction. Whales came from the east with 
spear-heads in their backs different from any used in 
Kamchatka; and now and then foreign-built boats 
and other unusual objects were washed upon the 
eastern coast. Even the waves carrying these tokens 
did not have as long a swell as those to the south. 
Hence they said this land must front a sea wholly 
or partially enclosed, and that toward the north the 
sides must be nearest together. Surely the Chukchi 
should know something about it. Indeed, often in 
their fights with these people the Russians had taken 
captives with pieces of walrus ivory thrust through 
their lips and cheeks, and speaking a language differ- 
ent from that of the Chukchi. And the story was 


that the great land was no island, but had rivers and 
chains of mountains without end.^ 

About this time the stolnik knias, Yassili Ivanovich 
Gagarin, was present at Yakutsk, sent thither by his 
uncle, the governor, Prince Matvei Petrovich Gagarin, 
to make discoveries. He issued several orders to the 
voivod, or nobleman, Trauernicht, who commanded in 
that section, one of them being that he should " make 
diligent inquiry about the islands situated opposite the 
mouth of the river Kolima, and the land of Kam- 
chatka; what people inhabited them; under whose 
jurisdiction they were; what was their employment; 

' iSIatvei Strebykhin, commander of the ostrog of Anadirsk, was instructed 
in 1711 to collect information concerning the Chukchi and an island or conti- 
nent lying to the eastward of their country. One of the results of this inves- 
tigation was a deposition- made and sworn to by the Yak out Cossack Peter 
Elianovich Popof, the promyshlenik Yegor Vassilievich Toldin, and the newly 
converted Yukagir Ivan Vassilievich Tei'eshkin, and dated Anadirsk, Sept. 
2, 1711. It was to the effect that on the 13th of January 1711 Popof and 
the two others, who served as interpreters, were sent out by Governor Fedor 
Kotovskoi to visit the A-alley of the Anadir and * eceive tribute from some of 
the Chukchi tribes. This done they were to proceed to the cape, Chukotskoi 
Noss, in order to persuade the Chukchi living there to become tributary to 
Russia. Popof met everywhere with a peremptory refusal to pay tribute. 
The Chukchi said that formerly the Russians had come to their country in 
ships, and they paid no tribute then, and therefore they would not do it now, 
and Popof must expect no hostages from them. The Chukchi who dwell 
near the cape keep tame reindeer, and in order to tind pasture for their animals 
they frequently change their habitation. Opposite tlie cape on either side, 
in the sea of Kolima as well as in that of Anadir, islands have been seen, 
which the Chukchi call a large country, and they say that the people living 
there liave large teeth in their mouths, projecting through the cheeks. Popof 
found ten of these men, prisoners among the Chukchi, with their cheeks still 
disfigured by the projecting ivory. In summer time they sail across to the 
Great Land in one day, and in the winter a swift reindeer team can make it 
in one day over the ice. In the other land there are sables, wolves, and bears. 
The people are, like the Chukchi, without any government. They have the 
wood of cedar, larch, and fir trees, which the Chukchi sometimes obtain for 
their bidars, weapons, and huts. About 2,000 people live at and near the 
cape, but the inhabitants of the other country are said to be three times 
that number, which is confirmed not only by prisoners but also by one of the 
Chukchi, who has often been there. Another statement was essentially as 
follows: Opposite the cape lies an island, within sight, of no great extent, 
devoid of timber, and inhabited by people resembling the Chukchi, though 
they speak their own language. It is half a day's voyage to the island from 
the cape. Beyond the island there is a large continent, scarcely to be seen 
from it, and that only on very clear days. In calm weather one may row 
over the sea to the continent, which is inhabited. There are large forests, 
and great rivers fall into the sea. The inhabitants have fortified dwellings 
with ramparts of earth. Their clothes are the skins of sable and fox. The 
Chukchi are often at war with them. Yeshemiassachnaia Sochinenia, 1786, 
152-6; IluUer's Voy., 24^6. 


how large the islands were and how distant from the 
continent." The commanders and Cossacks ordered 
to those regions were all commissioned with such in- 
quiries, with the promise of special rewards for such 
service from the emperor, who should be informed of 
any discoveries by express as soon as any authentic 
report was forwarded to Yakutsk. 

Orders had been issued as early as 1710 to the 
commanders of Ust-Yana and Kolima to give these 
discoveries their special attention. In answer, a dep- 
osition was sent in by the Cossack Yakov Permakof 
of Ust-Yana, stating that he once sailed from the 
Lena to the River Kolima, and that on the east side 
of Sviatoi Noss he had sighted an island in the sea, 
but was unable to ascertain if it was inhabited. There 
was also an island situated directly opposite the river 
Kolima, an island that might be seen from the conti- 
nent. Mountains could be seen upon it, but it was 
uncertain whether it was inhabited. 

The voivod Trauernicht was further encouraged,* 
and prepared two expeditions, one from the mouth of 
the river Yana and one from the Kolima, simultane- 
ously to search for the supposed island; for which 
purpose the men were either to go in boats or travel 
on the ice till it could be definitely ascertained if such 
an island existed. Concerning the first-named expedi- 
tion, which was begun by Merkuri Vagin, a Cossack, 
Miiller found several reports at Yakutsk, but in his 
opinion the documents did not deserve much consid- 

Vagin departed from Yakutsk during the autumn 
of 1711, with eleven other Cossacks, and in May 

* Knias Matvei Gagarin wrote to the voivod, under date of January 28, 
1711, as follows: 'I have heard by Cossacs and Dworanes from Jakutzk 
that you intend to send a party of Cossacs and volunteers to the new coun- 
try or island opposite the mouth of the river Kolima, but that you hesitated 
about doing it without orders; therefore I have found it necessary to tell you 
that you should bj' no means neglect to do it; and if other islands may be 
discovered, you will be pleased to do the same with respect to them. But 
above all things the expedition is to be made this present year, 1711. This 
I write to you by order of his Czarish Majesty.' Muller'x Voy., Intr., xv.-xvi. 


1712 he made a voyage from Ust-Yanskole Simovie 
to the frozen sea. On this occasion the Yakov Per- 
makof, previously mentioned, served as his guide. 
The party used sledges drawn by dogs, and after fol- 
lowing the coast to Sviatoi Noss, they emerged upon 
the frozen ocean and travelled directly north. They 
came to a desert island, without wood, which Vagin 
estimated to be from nine to twelve days' travel in 
circumference. From this island they saw, farther to 
the north, another island or land, but as the spring 
was already too far advanced, Vagin dared not pro- 
ceed, and his provisions running short the whole party 
returned to the continent, to provide themselves with 
a sufficient supply of fish during the summer. The 
point where he reached the coast was between Sviatoi 
Noss and the river Khroma. A Cossack had formerly 
erected a cross there, and after him it was named Ka- 
taief Krest. Being out of provisions, they failed in 
an attempt to reach the Khroma, and were compelled 
to eke out an existence on the sea-coast, devouring 
even the sledge-dogs. Vagin, however, still intended 
to prosecute his explorations ; but his Cossacks, remem- 
bering their sufferings, to prevent a repetition, rose 
against their leader and murdered him, his son, the 
guide Permakof, and one promyshlenik. The crime 
w^as revealed by one of the accomplices and the of- 
enders were brought to justice. During the trial it 
appeared that the guide Yakov Permakof did not 
believe the supposed large island to be really an island, 
but only vapor. 

The other expedition, that from the Kolima, met 
with no better success. It consisted of a single vessel 
commanded by the Cossack Vassili Stadukhin, with 
twenty -two men. He merely observed a single prom- 
ontory, extending into the sea to the east of Kolima, 
surrounded by ice, impenetrable by their vessels.^ 

^ They used shitihl, or boats, the planks of which were fastened together 
with rawhide straps and thongs. They measured about 30 feet in length and 
12 feet broad, with a flat bottom, calked with moss. The sails consisted of soft. 


Another expedition was undertaken by a Cossack 
named Amossof. He started in 1723 ^Yith a party 
to search for an island reported to extend from the 
mouth of the Yana beyond the mouth of the Indigirka. 
He proceeded to the Kohma, and was prepared to 
sail in July 1724. According to his account he found 
such shoals of ice before him that he changed his 
course and sailed along the coast eastward to the so- 
called habitation of Kopai, which he reached on the 
7th of August. Here again ice drove him back, and he 
returned to the Kolima. The dwelling of Kopai was 
about t\^'0 hundred versts east of that river. Amossof 
also mentioned a small island situated near the conti- 
nent, and during the following winter he made another 
journey, with sledges, of which he sent an account to 
the chancellery of Yakutsk. The report was to the 
effect that on the 3d of November 1724 he set out 
from Nishnoie Kolimskoie Simovie, and met with 
land in the frozen sea, returning to Kolima on the 23d 
of the same month. Upon this land he saw nothing 
but old huts covered with earth; it was unknown 
to what people the}^ belonged, and what had be- 
come of them. Want of provisi(3ns, and especially 
of doo^-food, had oblisfed him to turn back without 
making any further discoveries. This journey was 
also impeded by ridges of ice piled to a great height, 
which had to be crossed with the sledges. The place 
where Amossof left the continent to go over to the 
island is .between the Chukotcha and the Aliseia 
rivers. It was an island, in circumference about a 
day's travel with dogs, and about the same distance 
from the continent, whence its high mountains can 
easily be seen. To the north were two other islands, 
likewise mountainous and separated by narrow straits. 
These he had not visited and did not know their ex- 
tent. The first \yas without trees ; no tracks of animals 

dressed reindeei--skin, and in place of ropes, straps of elk-skin were used. The 
anchors were pieces of wood, to which heavy stones were fastened. MuUer^a 
Voy., Introd., xviii. 


were seen but those of reindeer, which live on moss. 
The old huts had been constructed of drift-wood and 
covered with earth. It is probable that they had 
been made by Yukagirs or Chukchi, who had fled 
before the first advance of the Russians, and subse- 
quently returned to the continent.^ 

Kopai, mentioned in Amossofs narrative, was a 
chief among the Shelages, living at the mouths of the 
Kolima and Aliseia rivers. He first paid tribute to 
Russia at the request of Vilegin, a promyshlenik, and 
in 1724 he paid tribute to Amossof Subsequently, 
however, he broke his allegiance and killed some of 
Amossofs party. 

The first passage by sea from Okhotsk to Kam- 
chatka took place in 1716. One of the sailors, a 
native of Hoorn in Holland, named Bush, was alive 
when Miiller visited Yakutsk in 1736, and he related 
to him the circumstances. On the 23d of May 1714 
a party of twent}^ Cossacks and sailors arrived at Ok- 
hotsk under command of Kosma Sokolof These were 
followed in July by some carpenters and shipwrights. 
The carpenters built a vessel for sea-service, resem- 
blino^ the Russian lodkas in use between Arkhans^el, 
Pustozersk, and Novaia Zemlia. The vessel was du- 
rable — fifty-one feet long, with eighteen feet beam, and 
drew when laden only three and a half feet of water. 
Embarking in June 1716, they followed the coast 
north-easterly till they came to the mouth of the river 
Ola, where a contrary wind drove them across the sea 
to Kamchatka. The land first sighted was a promon- 
tory north of the river Tigil, where they cast anchor. 
Some went ashore, but found only empty huts. The 
Kamchatkans had watched the approach of the vessel 
and fled to the mountains. The navigators again 
set sail, passed the Tigil, and arrived in one day at 

^ Miiller does not seem to have placed much faith in Amossofs report. 
He expresses the opinion that it was framed to sei-ve private purposes and 
subsequently altered to suit circumstances. Voy., Introd., xx. 


the mouth of the httle river Kharinzobka, in the 
vicinity of two small islands. From Kharinzobka 
they went the following day to the river Itcha, keep- 
ing the sea at night and making for the land in the 
morning. Here, again, some men were put ashore, 
but they could find neither inhabitants nor houses. 
They soon returned and the vessel sailed down the 
coast till they came to the river Krutogorova. They 
intended to make this river, but missed its mouth, 
and finding a convenient bay a little to the south 
they anchored. On searching the country, they met 
with a girl who was gathering edible roots in the 
field, and she showed them some huts, inhabited by 
twelve Kamchatka Cossacks, stationed there to receive 
tribute. The Cossacks were sent for, and served as 
guides and interpreters. The vessel was then brought 
to the mouth of the river Kompakova, and it was 
resolved to winter there. ^ 

Earl}^ in May 1717 they put to sea, and on the 
fourth day became lodged between fields of ice, and 
were held there for over five wrecks. At last they 
regained the coast of Okhotsk between the river Ola 
and Tanisky ostrog, Avhere they stayed several days, 
and then returned to Okhotsk about the middle of 
July. From that time there was constant navigation 
between Okhotsk and Kamchatka. 

In 1719 the.Kussian government sent two naviga- 
tors or surveyors, Ivan Yevreinof and Fedor Lushin, 
to make geographical observations, and specially to 
find, if possible, among the Kurile Islands the one 
from which the Japanese were said to obtain gold and 
silver. They arrived at Yakutsk in May 1720, crossed 
over to Kamchatka the same summer, and returned 
to Yakutsk in 1721.^ Yevreinof left Lushin in Sibe- 

' During the stay of Sokolof and Bush on the Kompakova, a whale was 
cast ashore, which had in its body a harpoon of European make, marked with 
Roman letters. Midler's Voy., In trod., xUJ. 

^ The results Avere kept secret and Miiiler could not get access to their in- 
structions, so that nothing more is known about this voyage. Muller's Voy.y 
Introd., xliii. 


ria and proceeded to Russia to report to the tsar, tak- 
ing witli him a map of the Kurile Islands as far as he 
had explored them. For the next three years, that is 
to say to 1724, rumors and ideas concerning the east 
assumed more and more definiteness in Kamchatka, 
and at Okhotsk, Yakutsk, and other Russian settle- 
ments, at last reaching Moscow and St Petersburg, 
there to find attentive listeners.'' 

Obviously the Great Land opposite, if any such 
there was, would present aspects quite difi'erenfc to the 
tough Cossacks and to the more susceptible Europeans 
from the south. The American Siberia, this farther- 
most north-west was once called, and if to the Amer- 
ican it was Siberia, to the Siberian it was America. 
The eastern end of Asia is lashed by the keen east- 
ern tempests and stands bleak and bare, without 
vegetation, and the greater part of the year wrapped 
in ice and snow. The western shores of America, 
though desolate and barren enough within the limits 
of Bering sea, are wonderfully different where they 
are washed by the Pacific and protected from the east 
by high chains of mountains. Here they are open to 
the mild westerly winds and warm ocean currents; 
they have a damper climate, and, in consequence, a 
more vigorous growth of trees and plants. In com- 
paratively high latitudes they are covered with fine 
forests down to the sea-shore. This is a contrast 
which repeats itself in all northern countries. The 
ruder Sweden in the east contrasts in a like manner 
with the milder Norway in the west; the desolate 

^ Miiller relates ' that in the year 1715 there lived at Kamchatka a man of 
a foreign nation, who, upon account of the Kamchatkan cedar-nuts and the 
low sl\nibs on which they grow, said that he came from a country to the east 
where there were large cedars which bore bigger nuts than those of Kam- 
chatka ; that his country was situated to the east of Kamchatka ; that there 
were found in it great rivers where he lived which discharged themselves 
westward into tlic Kamclia,tkan sea; that the inhabitants called themselves 
Tontoli; they resembled in their manner of living the people of Kamchatka 
and made use of skin boats or haklares like those of the Kamchadales. That 
many years ago he went over with some more of his countrymen to Karag- 
inskoi ostrow where his companions were slain by the inhabitants, and he 
alone made his escape to Kamchatka,' Voy., Introd., xxviii. 
Hist. Alaska. 2 


eastern coast of Greenland buried in polar ice, with 
its western coast inhabited, and at times gay with 
flowers and verdure. Thus the great eastern coun- 
try, the holshaia zemlia, rich in harbors, shelter, 
woods, and sea and land animals, might well become 
by report among the north-eastern Asiatics a garden 
of paradise. 





PuBPOSES OF Peter the Great— An Expedition Organized — Sets out 
PROM St Petersburg — Death of the Tsar — His Efforts Seconded 
BY Catherine and Elizabeth— Bering and Chirikof at Kamchat- 
ka — They Coast Northward through Bering Strait and Prove 
Asia to be Separated from America — Adventures of Shestakof — 
Expedition of Hens, Fedorof, and Gvozdef — America Sighted— Or- 
ganization OF the Second General Expedition — Bfeliography — ■ 
Personnel of the Expedition — Bering, Chirikof, Spanberg, Walton, 
Croyere, Steller, Muller, Fisher, and Others — Russian Religion — 
Easy Morality —Model Missionaries — The Long "Weary Way across 
Siberia— Charges against Bering — Arrival of the Expedition at 

The excessive curiosity of Peter the Great extended 
further than to ship-building, astronomy, and general 
geography. Vast as was the addition of Siberia to 
the Russian empire there lay something more beyond, 
still indistinct and shadowy in the world's mind, and 
the astute Peter determined to know what it was. 
The sea of Okhotsk had been found, and it was in the 
same latitude as the Baltic; the ostrog of Okhotsk 
had been built, and it stood upon almost exactly the 
same parallel as St Petersburg. Might not there be 
for him an American Russia, as already there was a 
European and an Asiatic Russia ? And might not 
this new Russia, occupying the same relative position 
to America that the old Russia did to Europe, be 
worth more to him than a dozen Siberias? He would 
see. And he would know, too, and that at once, 
whether the continents of Asia and America joined. 


This would be a good opportunity likewise to try his 
new ships, his new discipline, and see what the skilled 

fentlemen whom he had invited from Austria, and 
*russia, and Holland could do for him. There were 
many around him whom his enthusiasm had inspired, 
and who wished to try their mettle in strange ad- 

Such were the thoughts arising in the fertile brain 
of the great Peter which led to what may be called 
the two Kamchatka expeditions; that is, two prin- 
cipal expeditions from Kamchatka, with several sub- 
ordinate and collateral voyages, the first of which 
was to ascertain whether Asia and America joined or 
were separate, and the second to thoroughly explore 
eastern Siberia, to discover and examine the American 
coast opposite, and to learn something more of the 
Kurile Islands and Japan. Both explorations were 
under the command of Vitus Bering, a Danish cap- 
tain in the Russian service, who was engaged on the 
first about five years, the second series occupying 
some sixteen years, not wholly, however, under this 

For the guidance of his admiral. Count Apraxin, 
the tsar drew up instructions with his own hand. 
Two decked boats were to be built at Kamchatka, 
and, to assist Bering in the command, lieutenants Mar- 
tin Spanberg and Alexei Chirikof were appointed. 
Other officers as well as ship-builders and seamen 
were chosen, and on February 5, 1725, the expedition 
set out overland through Siberia. Three days there- 
after the monarch died; but his instructions were 
faithfully carried out by his successors, Catherine the 
wife and Elizabeth the daughter. 

Much trouble was experienced in crossing the con- 
tinent, in obtaining provisions, and in making ready 
the ships; so that it was not until the 21st of August 
1727 that Bering with Chirikof set sail in the Fortuna, 
from Okhotsk, for the southern end of the Kamchat- 
kan peninsula, where by July of the following year 


they had ready another vessel, the Gavril, or Gabriel. 
Leaving the river Kamchatka the 20th of July, they 
coasted the eastern shore of the peninsula northward, 
till on the 8th of August they found themselves in 
latitude 64° 30', at the river Anadir. The Chukchi 
there told them that after rounding East Cape the 
coast turned toward the west. Continuing, they 
passed and named St Lawrence Island, and the 
16th of August they were in latitude 67° 18', having 
passed the easternmost point of Asia, and through the 
strait of Bering. There the coast turned abruptly 
westward, as they had been told. If it continued in 
that direction, as was more than probable, Asia and 
America were not united.^ Bering's mission was ac- 
complished, and he therefore returned, reaching Kam- 
chatka in September. 

In connection with this first voyage of Bering, two 
expeditions were undertaken in the same direction 
under the auspices of Afanassiy Shestakof, a chief of 
the Yakutsk Cossacks. This bold man, whose energy 
was of that reckless, obstinate type that knows no 
defeat, went to St Petersburg and made several pro- 
posals to the senate forthe subjection of the independent 
Chukchi and Koriaks and the unruly Kamchatkans. 
The eloquence with which he advanced his scheme 
procured him applause and success. He was appointed 
chief of an expedition in which to accomplish his heart's 

The admiralty appointed a Hollander, Jacob Hens, 
pilot; Ivan Fedorof, second in command, Mikhail Gvoz- 
def, '"geodesist," or surveyor; Herdebal, searcher of 
ores, and ten sailors. He was to proceed both by 
land and by sea. From the arsenal at Catherineburg, 
Siberia, he was to be provided with small cannons and 
mortars, and ammunition, and a captain of the Siberian 
regiment of dragoons at Tobolsk, Dmitri Pavlutzki, 

^ Miiller, Voy. 4, is in error when he says that 'the circumstances on which 
the captain founded his judgment were false, he being then in a bay which, 
although one shore did trend to the west, the opposite shore ran again to the 
east.' Bering's suppositions were coi-rect in every particular. 


was ordered to join him, each receiving command 
over four hundred Cossacks, ^Yhile at the same time 
all the Cossacks stationed in ostrogs and simovies, or 
winter-quarters, in the Chukchi district, were placed 
at their disposal. With these instructions Shestakof 
returned to Siberia in June 1727. At Tobolsk he re- 
mained till late in November, wintered on the upper 
Lena, and arrived at Yakutsk the next summer. There 
a dispute arose between Shestakof and Pavlutzki, 
which caused their separation. In 1729 Shestakof 
went to Okhotsk and there took possession, for the 
purposes of his expedition, of the vessels with which 
Bering had lately returned from Kamchatka. On the 
1st of September he despatched his cousin, the syn- 
hoyarsJci,ov bastard noble, Ivan Shestakof, in the Gavril 
to the River Ud, whence he was to proceed to Kam- 
chatka and begin explorations, while he himself sailed 
in the Fortuna. This vessel was wrecked near Taniski 
ostrog, and nearly all on board perished, Shestakof 
barely saving his life in a canoe. With a small rem- 
nant of his men and some friendl}^ Tunguses and Kor- 
iaks he set out for Kamchatka on foot, but on the 
14th of March 1730 he was overpowered near the 
gulf of Penshinsk by a numerous body of Chukchi 
and received a mortal wound. Only three days before 
this Shestakof had sent orders to Taniski ostrog that 
the Cossack Tryfon Krupischef should embark for 
Bolsheretsk in a sea-o^oing^ vessel, thence make his 
way round the southern point of the peninsula, touch 
at Nishekamchatsk, and proceed to the river Ana- 
dir. The inhabitants of the "large country lying 
opposite to this river" he must ask to pay tribute to 
Russia. Gvozdef, the navigator, was to be taken on 
board if he desired, and shown every respect. 

After battling with adverse winds and misfortunes 
for about two years, the explorers passed northward 
along the Asiatic shore, by the gulf of Anadir, noting 
the Diomede Islands, and perhaps catching a glimpse 
of the American shore. The leaders were quarrelling 


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continually, and Fedorof, the navigator in command, 
was lame and confined to his bed during nearly all 
the voyage. On their return to Kamchatka they made 
the most contradictory statements before the author- 
ities. From Gvozdef s report we are told that at some 
time during the year 1730 he found himself between 
latitude 65° and 66°, "on a strange coast, situated 
opposite, at a small distance from the country of the 
Chukchi, and that he found people there, but could 
not speak with them for want of an interpreter."^ 

The land expedition was more successful. In Sep- 
tember 1730 Jacob Hens, the pilot, received intelli- 
gence from Pavlutzki, dated at Nishnekolimsk, to 
the effect that Shestakof s death would not delay the 
expedition. Hens was to go with one of the ves- 
sels left at Okhotsk by Bering, to the river Anadir, 
to the head-waters of which Pavlutzki was shortly to 
march. Whereupon Hens proceeded in the Gavril to 
the mouth of the Kamchatka, where he arrived in 
July 1731, and was told that a rebellious band of 
Kamchatkans had come to Nishnekamchatsk ostrog, 
killed most of the Russians there, and set fire to the 
houses. The few remaining Russians took shelter in 
the vessel, and Hens sent men and reduced the Kam- 
chatkans to obedience. This, however, prevented his 
going to the Anadir River. 

^Muller's Voyages, 8-11. Of the commander of this expedition, Ivan 
Fedorof, we have but little information beyond the fact that he died in 
February 1733, and that he had been -with Shestakof's expedition in 1727; 
that he had been ordered to join him together with the mate Hens, and 
the surveyor Gvozdef. His companion and assistant, and finally successor 
in command, Mikhail Spiridonovich Gvozdef, l^egan liis education in 1716, at 
the school of navigation, and in 1719 attended the St Petersburg Naval 
Academy, being in the surveying class. In 1721 he was sent on government 
duty to Novogorod, where he remained till 1725. In 1727 he graduated as 
surveyor, and was sent to Siberia to join Shestakof. After his exploration in 
Bering Strait, he was arrested in 1735 by the governor of Siberia at Tobolsk, 
upon an erroneous accusation, and sent back to Okhotsk in 1736. In 1741 
he explored and surveyed the Okhotsk coast for 200 versts southward, and in 
1742 he accompanied midshipman Sc^ielting to the Shantar Islands, at the 
mouth of the Amoor. After the disbandment of the Kamchatka expedition 
he remained in Siberia till 1754, when he was appointed teacher in the naval 
corps of cadets. The date of his death is not known. Zapishi, Hydrocjrafi- 
cheskar/o Dej>artamenta, ix. 78-87. 

It is possible that Gvozdef's voyage was of greater importance than the 


Meanwhile Pavlutzki had arrived at Anadirskoi 
ostrog in September 1730, and the following year he 
undertook a campaign against the obstinate Chuk- 
chi. On the 12th of March 1731 he put in motion 
his column, composed of 215 Russians, 160 Koriaks, 
and 60 Yukagirs, moving along the head- waters of 
some of the northern tributaries of the Anadir, and 
then turninaf northward to the coast of the Arctic. 
After marching two months at the rate of about 
ten versts a day, stopping frequently to rest, Pav- 
lutzki arrived at the frozen sea, near the mouth 
of a river. For two weeks he travelled eastward along 
the coast, mostly upon the ice and far from the shore. 
This was done, probably, for the purpose of avoiding 
an encounter with the natives, but at last, on the 7th 
of June, a large body of Chukchi was seen advancing, 

writers of that period ascribed to it. lu the year 1743 Captain Spanberg of 
Bering's expedition was commissioned by the imperial government to inves- 
tigate the results of this voyage. In case of a failure to obtain satisfactory 
information, Spanl^erg was to take command of another expedition to review 
and correct the work of Gvozdef and Fedorof. Spanberg evidently entered 
upon this duty with his usual energy, and as upon his report the order for a 
new expedition was countermanded from St Petersburg, we may suppose 
that Spanberg at least was satisfied that the information obtained by Gvozdef 
and Fedorof was satisfactory. Spanberg found in addition to two depositions 
made to Gvozdef on the subject an original journal kept by Fedorof alone, 
'for his own personal remembrance.' With the help of this document a chart 
was compiled by Spanberg under Gvozdef's supervision, illustrative of the 
voyage in question. The chart was finally transmitted to the admiralty 
college, where copies were executed, but the original can no longer be found. 
In his journal we find, after a detailed accurate description of the Diomede 
Islands, leaving no room for doubt as to their identity, an entry to the eflect 
that after sailing from the mouth of the Anadir River they steered in an east- 
erly direction, and after sailing five days with favorable wind, they saw land 
on their left side (northerly side), and hoped to find it an island. They made 
directly for this land, but when they had approached within half a verst, 
they saw that it was not an island, but a continent. The coast was sand and 
there were dwellings on the shore, and a number of people. There was also 
timber on this land, spruce and larch. They coasted along this land, keeping 
it on the left side for five days, and then, not seeing the end of it, they did 
not dare to go any farther in that direction because the water became too 
shallow for their small craft. The same statement was confirmed in the 
deposition of Shurikhin, a member of the expedition, also examined by Span- 
berg. Gvozdef, Fedorof, and Shurikhin agree in the statement that the 
natives of the 'continent' used skin boats covered on top or the Eskimo's 
kiak, which is found only on the American side of the strait. The descrip- 
tion of the land would fit well the country about Norton Sound, the only 
point on all that coast where the timber approaclies the shore. The shallow 
water found going to the southward, would also indicate that they approached 
the remarkable shoals lying off the mouths of the Yukon Eiver. Sokolqf, 
Istoria; Morskoi Ssboruik, passim. 


and as they would not listen to Pavlutzki's summons 
to obedience, he attacked and put them to flight. 
About the last of June another battle was fought 
and with the same result. After a rest of three days 
the march toward Chukotskoi Noss was resumed, but 
another larger body of natives was met with there and 
a third battle ensued, during which some articles were 
recovered which had been in possession of Shestakof. 
Pavlutzki claimed this engagement, also, as a victory 
and declared his total loss in the three battles to have 
been but three Russians, one Yukagir, and five Ko- 
riaks killed. But the Chukchi were by no means 
subdued. After reaching the cape the expedition re- 
turned across the country in a south-easterly direction 
and in October reached ostrog Anadirskoi.^ Pav- 
lutzki finally died at Yakutsk with the rank of voivod. 
His explorations were carried on with indomitable 
courage and rare ability, and altogether his achieve- 
ments furnish a worthy prelude to those of Bering 
and Chirikof a few years later. The feat of marching 
across the country of the warlike Chukchi was not 
repeated till half a century later, when a party under 
Billings, not as an army defying interference, but as 
an humble expedition, were suffered to pass by the 
insolent natives, who robbed them at every step with 

The second Kamchatka expedition, under the 
auspices of the empress Elizabeth, was the most 
brilliant effort toward scientific discovery which up 
to this time had been made by any government.* It 

* Mutter's Very., 11-15; Coxe's Russian Discoveries, 237; Burney's Chron. 
Hist, 128-37, 196etseq. 

* The sources of information concerning this expedition are numerous, but 
not altogether satisfactory. The first account, brief and wholly unreliable, 
was published by the Parisian geographer De LTsle, in 1752, in a pamphlet 
entitled Explication de la Carte des Nouvelles Decouvertcs au Nord de la Mer 
du Sud. In 1753 there was printed at Berlin, also in French, and immedi- 
ately translated into English and German, though never published in Russian, 
a Letter of a JRussian Naval Officer, which was ascribed to Miiller, who con- 
tradicted the statements of De LTsle, and gave his own version. Engel, in 
his Geoyraphische und Kritische Nachrichten, ii. 44, 47, endeavors to prove 


must be borne in mind that Siberia, discovered and 
named by the Cossacks in the sixteenth century, 
was in the earher part of the eighteenth but httle 
known to European Russia, and the region round 

Miiller to be the author of the letter. In 1758 Miiller published a volume 
entitled Voyages and Discoveries of the Hussians in the Arctic Sea, and the 
Eastern Ocean, in both German and Russian, which was translated into Eng- 
lish in 1771, and into French in 1776. The volume is accompanied by maps, 
and covers the entire ground, without, however, going into minor details, and 
without doing justice to the vast work performed by the attendant scientists. 
This was the chief authority until Sokolof took up the subject in a lengthy 
communication to the Zapiski Hydrograficheskago Departamenta in 1851. 

In 18'20 another brief description of the expedition was furnished by 
Sarychef, under the title of Voyages of Eussian Naval Officers in the Arctic 
Seas, from 1734 to 1742, printed in vol. iv. of the publications of the Russian 
admiralty department. In the mean time other publications connected with 
or resulting from the expedition, though not treating of it, appeared at vari- 
ous times, such as the Flora Siberica, by Gmelin, published serially between 
17-49 and 1769; A Voyage through Siberia, also by Gmelin, in 1752; A his- 
tory of Siberia, under the title of Sammlung russischer geschichten, by Miiller, 
in 1732-6; Description of the Kamchatka Country, by Krashennikof, in 1755; 
History of Siberia, by Fisher, in 1768 (this was in German, the Russian 
translation appearing only in 1774); Description of the Kamchatka Country, 
by Steller, in 1774; Journcd of a Voyage from Kamchatka to America, also by 
Steller, published in 1793, in Pcdlas, Neue Nord. Beitr. ; A Detailed Descrip- 
tion of the Voyages from the White Sea to the Gulf of Obi appeared in the 
Foiir Voyages of Lutke, in 1826; in 1841 Wrangell published a Voyage in 
Siberia, with frequent allusions to the second Kamchatka expedition. A 
few articles on the results of the expedition in the fields of natural history, 
astronomy, and history appeared in papers of the Imperial Academy of Sci- 
ences, and the documents collected by Miiller from the Siberian archives for 
his history of Siberia have been published from time to time in the proceed- 
ings of the imperial Russian historical and archceological commission. The 
most reliable source of information upon this subject has been found in the 
archives of the Russian naval department. The documents concerning the 
doings of the Bering expedition comprise 25 large bundles of over 30,000 
pages; these documents extend over a period of 17 years, between 1730 and 
1747. The archives of the hydrographic department of the Russian navy 
contain the journals of navigation of nearly all the vessels engaged, all in 
copies only. The original journals and maps were sent in 1754 to Irkutsk 
and placed in the hands of Miatlef, governor of Siberia, with a view to a 
resumption of the labors of the expedition; thence the papers were trans- 
ferred in 1759 to Governor Saimonof at Tobolsk, and they were finally given 
to Sokolof, above mentioned, by N. N. Muravief, governor general of eastern 
Siberia, for the purpose of writing an account of the expedition. The greater 
part of these documents were copies made by pupils of the naval corps of 
cadets and of the nautical academy, and though written clearly and care- 
fully, they are full of egregious errors. The collection comprises over 60 
manuscript volumes. The copies of the original maps accompanying the 
journals were also carelessly made. In the" archives and library of the 
imperial academy there exists the so-called 'Miiller Portfolio,' containing a 
large number of reports, letters, and journals of members of the academy 
accompanying the expedition, wi-itten in Russian, French, German, and Latin. 
The only naval journal found in this collection was kept by Master Khitrof, 
and is the most valuable thing in the portfolio. Sokolof's account of the 
second Kamchatka expedition begins with the following dedication of his 
work to Peter the Great: ' To thee I dedicate this work, to thee without 


Kamchatka scarcely at all. The maps of the day 
were problematical. The semi-geographical mission 
of the surveyors Lushin and Yevreinof to the Kurile 
Islands in 1719-21 had been barren of results. The 
first expedition of Bering from 1725 to 1730 had 
advanced along the river routes to Okhotsk, thence 
by sea to Kamchatka, and northward to the straits 
subsequently named after him, but made few discov- 
eries of importance, determining the astronomical 
positions of points and j)laces only by latitude without 
longitude, but revealing the trend of the Kamchatka 
coast to the northward. The expedition of Shestakof 
from 1727 to 1732 was more of a military nature, 
and resulted in little scientific information. The ex- 
ploration of Hens, Fedorof, and Gvozdef, made about 
the same time, was scarcely more satisfactory in its 
results, thouofh it served to confirm some thino^s re- 
ported by Bering during his first voyage. 

Russia wished to know more of this vast uncovered 
region, wished to map its boundaries, and mark off 
her claim. The California coast had been explored 
as far as Cape Mendocino, but over the broad area 
thence to the Arctic there still hung the great North- 
ern Mystery,^ with its Anian Strait, and silver moun- 
tains, and divers other fabulous tales. The northern 
provinces of Japan were likewise unknown to the 
enlightened world; and now the Muscovite, who had 
sat so long in deep darkness, would teach even the 
Celt and Saxon a thing or two. 

Soon after the return of Bering from his first expe- 
dition, namely, on the 30th of April 1730, the com- 
mander presented to the empress two letters called 
by him, " Proposals for the Organization of the 

•whom it would not exist, since the discoveries described in the same are the 
fruit of the great ideas conceived by thee, the benefactor, father, and organizer 
of this vast empire; to thee are thy subjects indebted for law, good order, and 
influence within and without, as well as for morality, knowledge, and every- 
thing else that makes a nation fortunate and important.' Zajnski Hydrograji- 
cheskaijo Departamenta, i.x. 199. 

* For a full exposition of which see Hist. Northwest Coast, i. , and Hist. Cat. , 
i., passim, this series. 


Okhotsk and Kamchatka country," and advised an 
immediate discovery of routes to America and Japan 
for the purpose of estabhshing commercial relations 
with these countries. He also recommended that the 
northern coast of the empire between the rivers Ob 
and Lena be thoroughly explored.^ The organization 
of the country already known, commanded the first 
attention of the empress, to which end she issued, on 
the 10th of May 1731, an oukaz ordering the former 
chief ])rokuror, or sergeant-at-arms of the senate, 
Skorniakof Pisaref, then in exile, to assume control of 
the extreme eastern country, and be furnished with 
the necessary means to advance its interests. The 
residence of the new official was to be Okhotsk, to 
which point laborers and settlers were to be sent from 
Yakutsk, together with a boat-builder, three mates, 
and a few mechanics.^ The exile-governor did not 
however long hold his position. Scarcely had he 
assumed office when the second Kamchatka expedi- 
tion was decided upon and Vitus Bering received the 
supreme command of all the territory included in his 

At that time several circumstances combined to 
carry forward the plans of Bering to their highest 
consummation. The empire was at peace and the 
imperial cabinet was presided over by Count Oster- 
mann, who had formerly been secretary of Admiral 
Cruce, and had devoted considerable attention to naval 
affairs. In the senate the expedition Avas earnestly 
supported by the chief secretary Kirilof ; in the ad- 
miralty college Count Golovin presided as the ruling 

^Appendix to Sokolof 's Second Expedition. Zapislci Hydrograjicheshago 
Departamenta, ix. 434. 

' Grigor Skorniakof Pisaref was appointed to command Okhotsk as an in- 
dependent district. His annual salary was fixed at 300 rubles, 100 bushels of 
rye meal, and 100 buckets of brandy. This individual had a checkered 
career. In 1715 he was a captain in the Preobrashenski lifeguards, and 
attached to the academy of naval artillery; in 1719, he was made comman- 
der of the naval academy; in 1720 he published a book, Practical Manual of 
Statistics and Mechanics; in 1722 he was made 'chief prokuror' of the senate; 
in 1723 he was relieved from the academy by Captain Narishkin; in 1727, he 
was punished with the knout and sent to Siberia as an exile. Morshoi Sbor- 
nik, i. 11, 17. 


spirit, while the prokuror was Saimonof, the rival of 
Kirilof. The foreign members of the Academy of 
Sciences, in order to preserve their prestige, were 
looking about for fields of activity, anxious to serve 
their new fatherland. The spirit of Peter the Great 
was yet alive among the leading subjects of the 
empire; his plans were still fresh in the memory of 
men, and all were eager to execute his progressive 
purposes. And soon all Siberia was flooded with men 
of science searchino^ out thinojs both laro-er and smaller 
than sables, and throwing Cossack and promyshlenik 
completely into the shade. By toilsome processes 
the necessary means of subsistence and materials 
were collected at the central stations throughout 
Siberia, and along the thirteen hundred leagues of Arc- 
tic sea-coast were placed at various points magazines 
of supplies for explorers. From six to seven months 
were sometimes occupied in transporting from the 
forest to the seaports trees for ship-building. And 
many and wide-spread as were the purposes, every 
man had his place. To every scientist was given his 
work and his field, to every captain the river he was to 
reconnoitre, or the coast he was to explore. And when 
the appointed time came there set forth simultane- 
ously, from all the chief i^iver-mouths in Siberia, like 
birds of passage, little exploring expeditions, to begin 
their battle with the ice and the morass. Some brought 
their work to a quick and successful issue; others 
encountered the sternest difficulties. 

But the adventures which chiefly concern us are 
those pointing toward the American continent, which 
were indeed the central idea of all these undertakings, 
and by far the most important outcome from this 
Siberian invasion by the scientists. Before embark- 
ing on the first great eastern voyage of discovery, let 
us glance at the personnel of the expedition. 

Captain-commander Ivan Ivanovich Bering, so the 
Bussians called him, notvyithstanding his baptismal 
name of Vitus, was a Dane by birth, as I have said, who 


had been in the Russian naval service about thirty 
years, advancing gradually from the rank of sub-lieuten- 
ant since 1704. He was strong in body and clear of 
mind even when nearly sixty; an acknowledged man 
of intelligence, honesty, and irreproachable conduct, 
though in his later years he displayed excessive care- 
fulness and indecision of character, governed too much 
by temper and caprice, and submitting too easily to the 
influence of subordinates. This may have been the effect 
of age, or of disease; but whatever the cause, he was 
rendered thereby less fit to command, especially so im- 
portant and hazardous an adventure in so inhospitable 
a region as Siberia at the beginning of the eighteenth 
century. He had been selected by Peter the Great 
to command the first expedition upon the representa- 
tions of admirals Seniavin and Sievers, because " he 
had been to India and knew all the approaches to that 
country."^ After his return he had advanced gradu- 

^ In the archives of the admiralty council in St Petersburg there is still 
preserved a manuscrijDt copy of the original instructions indited by Peter the 
Great for the first Bering expedition. The instructions were finally promul- 
gated by the admiralty college, or perhaps by Count Apraxin, and had been 
corrected in the great tsar's own handwriting, to read as follows: 

'1. To select such surveyors as have been in Siberia and have returned 
thence; upon which, at request of the senate, the following surveyors were 
ordered to the province of Siberia: Ivan Evreinof (died), Feodor Lushin, 
Peter Skobeltzin, Ivan Svostunof, Dmitri Baskakof, Vassili Shetilof, and 
Grigor Putilof. 

' 2. To select from naval lieutenants or second lieutenants, such as are fit to 
be sent to Siberia and Kamchatka. In the opinion of Vice-admii'al Sievers and 
Contre-admiral Seniavin, the most desirable individuals of that class were lieu- 
tenants Stanberg (Spanberg?), Zveref or Kessenkof, and the sub-lieutenants 
Chirikof and Laptief. It would not be bad to place over these as commander 
either Captain Bering or Von Verd; Bering has been to East India and knows 
the routes, and Von Verd was his mate. 

' 3. To select from the master-mechanics or apprentices such as are able to 
build a decked boat according to our model used with big ships; and for the same 
purpose to select four carpenters with their instruments, as young as possible, 
and one quartermaster and eight sailors. The boat-builder apprentice, Feo- 
dor Kozlof, has all the required qualifications, being able to draught plans of 
decked boats and to build them. (In Peter the Great's own handwriting: 
It is absolutely necessary to have some mate or second mate who has been to 
North America. ) 

'4. The usual complement of sails, blocks, ropes etc., and four falconets, 
with the necessary ammunition, should be increased by half — doubled, in 
Peter's own handwriting. 

'5. If such a mate cannot be found in the fleet it is necessary to write im- 
mediately to Holland for two men, experienced navigators in the Northern or 
Japan seas, and to forward them at once by way of Anadirsk. Vice-admiral 


ally to the rank of captain-commander, and had re- 
ceived a cash reward of a thousand rubles, an amount 
commonly granted at that time to envoys returning 
from distant countries. He was now anxious to ob- 
tain the rank of contre-admiral for his long services 
and discoveries. The admiralty college made repre- 
sentations to that effect to the imperial cabinet, but no 
reply was received.^ 

Next in command, appointed with Bering, and who 
had served as junior officer on the first expedition, and 
now a captain, was Alexei Ilich Chirikof, one of the 
best officers of his day, the pride and hope of the fleet. 
Russian historians are perhaps a little inclined to 

Sievers promises to forward these men immediately if they can be found in 
the imperial fleet Another addition in Peter's own handwriting: The rig- 
ging may be omitted, the rest is all right. Signed on the 23d of December, 

^ Berg in his researches into Siberian history foimd several documents 
giving biographical details concerning Bering and his family, which may be 
of some interest to the reader. He had with him in Siberia his wife and chil- 
dren, two sons named Thomas and Unos, who were still alive in the city of 
Revel when Sokolof wrote his history of the expedition. The -wife, Anna 
Matveievna. was a young and lively woman and apparently not without influ- 
ence; possibly a little unscrupulous. At all events it is known that in conse- 
quence of certain i-umors the senate issued an order in September 173S to 
keep an eye on the wife of Captain-commander Bering, then on her way from 
Siberia, as well as on other members of the expedition about to return, and 
to detail for the pui-pose an 'able man.' This supervision was proved to be 
necessary on the Siberian frontier, as it appeared that the lady carried in her 
baggage a large quantity of furs and government property. However, on her 
arrival at ISIoscow she surrendered everything, made a few presents to the 
customs officials, and hurried to St Petersburg, where she informed the in- 
spectors that she did not belong to Siberia but to St Petensburg. In 1744, 
when she asked for a widow's pension, or the award of her husband's salary 
for one year, she declared that she was 39 years of age; and in 1750, when she 
again petitioned for a pension, her age was given as 40 — not an uncom- 
mon mistake made bj' ladies. As characteristic of Bering's mind, Sokolof 
produces a letter written by him to Lieutenant Blunting, who at that time, 
1738, was quarrelling with the commander of the port of Okhotsk, Pisaref. 
' You know yourself better than I what kind of a man Pisaref is, ' he writes. 
'It is always better when a rabid dog is about, to get out of his way in order 
not to be bitten when it is^none of our business. You are yourself somewhat 
to blame, and perhaps you think that as an ofljcer you are exempt from pun- 
ishment, but if Captain-commander Villebois was your commander, you would 
have been punished' though you are an officer. I know not under what weak 
commanders you have served to cause you to act as you do; remember this 
and take care of yourself in the future, if you would avoid a sore head. No- 
body knows his fate, perhaps you will be an admiral yet, as has happened 
to Nikolai' Fedorovich Golovin, president of the admiralty college, but for- 
meiiy he was only a sub-lieutenant under my command; and look at Shafirof, 
what honors have been bestowed upon him, according to our latest letters. 
Pisaref 's fate is fortunately hidden from him. That may be your consolation. ' 
Zap. Hydr., ix. 209-10. 


magnify the faults of Bering the Dane as well as the 
merits of Chirikof the Russian. The latter they say 
was well educated, courageous, and straightforward, 
bright of intellect as well as thoughtful, and whose 
kind heart the exigencies of the cruel naval service had 
never been able wholly to debase. He had graduated 
from the naval academy in 1721, and had been at once 
promoted to a sub-lieutenancy, skipping the rank of 
midshipman. He was at first attached to the fleet, 
but subsequently received an appointment at the naval 
academy as instructor of the marines of the guard. 
"While in that position he was presented to Peter the 
Great by Sievers and Seniavin as one of the officers 
selected to join the first Bering expedition. He was 
placed under the immediate command of Bering, to- 
gether with Spanberg, in 1725. Before setting out 
he was promoted to lieutenant, and gave evidence 
throughout the expedition of great courage and com- 
mon-sense. On his return in 1730 he was made a 
captain-lieutenant; two years later, in 1732, he was 
again promoted and made full captain, " not by sen- 
iority but on account of superior knowledge and 
Avorth," as they said. At the time of his appoint- 
ment he was on special duty at Kazan, and he re- 
turned to St Petersburg only a few days before the 
departure of the expedition in February 1733; but 
he still found time to give most valuable assistance in 
framing the final instructions.^*' 

The third in command was Captain Martin Petrovich 
Spanberg, a countryman of Bering, a native of Den- 

^° It is remarkable that in all the accounts of quarrels between the heads of 
the various detachments of scientists and naval officers serving under Bering's 
command, the name of Chirikof is never found. He seems to have had the good- 
will of every one and escaped all complaints from superiors; he had with 
him in Siberia a wife and daughter. On his" return from the American coast 
he lived in the town of Yenisseisk, suffering from consumption until 1746; in 
that year he was ordered to St Petersburg, and upon his arrival was again 
appointed to the naval academy. In the same year he was transferred to 
Moscow to look after some naval affairs of importance, and on that occasion 
he made several propositions for the organization of further exploring expe- 
ditions. He died in 1747 with rank of captain-commander. Morskoi Sbor- 
nik, iv. 213-14. 

Hist. Alaska. 4 


mark. It is not known when he entered the Kussian 
service, but he accompanied the first expedition as 
senior officer. He was ilhterate, with a reckless au- 
dacity, rough, and exceedingly cruel, avaricious and 
selfish, but strong in mind, bod}^, and purpose, of great 
energy, and a good seaman. His bad reputation ex- 
tended over all Siberia, and was long preserved in the 
memory of the people. Sibiriaks feared him and his 
wanton oppression. Some of them thought him a 
great general, while othei-s called him an escaped ex- 
ecutioner. He was always accompanied by a dog of 
huge dimensions, which it was said would tear people 
to pieces at his master's command. Chirikof thought 
him possessed of some sparks of a noble ambition, but 
all was put down by his subordinates to a love of 
tyranny. His knowledge of the Russian language was 
exceedingly limited. Having been made a captain- 
lieutenant during the first expedition, he was now a 
captain, like Chirikof, but higher on the list Little 
is said of his share in the work performed by the expe- 
dition, but his name occurs in hundreds of complaints 
and petitions from victims of his licentiousness, cruelty, 
and avarice. He was just the man to become rich. 
On his return from Siberia he brought with him a 
thousand yards of army cloth, a thousand bales of fur, 
and whole herds of horses. He carried to Siberia 
his wife and son, and they accompanied him at sea.^^ 
Such is the character of the man as presented by 
Russian authorities, which are all we have on the 
subject. Again it will be noticed that while Chirikof, 
the Russian, is highly praised, Spanberg, the Dane, 
is roundly rated, and we may make allowance accord- 

" He returned to St Petersburg from Siberia without orders in 1745, and 
■v^as promptly placed under arrest and remanded for trial. His sentence was 
death, but in the mean time other charges had been preferred, based upon com- 
plaints of the people of Siberia, and the sentence was postponed. After many- 
delays he was released at the request of the Danish ambassador. In 1749 he 
was given the command of a newly constructed man-of-war, which foundered 
on leaving the harbor of Arkhangelsk; for this he was again tried by court- 
martial and again acquitted. He died at last in 1761, with the rank of cap- 
tain of the first class. Sokolof, in Zap. Ilydr., ix. 215-26. 


Of the other officers of the expedition there is not 
much to be said, as they were not prominently con- 
nected with the discovery of the American coast. 
Lieutenant Walton, the companion of Spanberg, was 
an Englishman who had entered the Russian service 
only two years before. Midshipman Schelting was an 
illegitimate son of Contre-admiral Petrovski, a Hol- 
lander. He was twenty-five years of age and had 
been attached to the fleet only two years. Lieutenant 
Lassenius, the senior officer of the Arctic detach- 
ments, who was instructed to explore the coast beyond 
the Lena river, was a Dane. He had also but recently 
entered the Russian service. According to Gmelin 
he was a skilful and experienced officer; later he was 
relieved by Lieutenant Laptief, also an old lieutenant 
who had been recommended to Peter the Great for 
the first expedition as a considerate and courageous 
man. The less said of the morals of any of these 
mariners the better. Neither the age nor the nation 
was conspicuous for justice or refinement. Drinking 
and gambling were among the more innocent amuse- 
ments, at least in the eyes of the sailors, among whom 
were the most hardened villains that could be picked 
out from the black sheep of the naval service. There 
can be no doubt that an almost brutal discipline was 
sometimes necessary, but the practice of it was com- 
mon. In regard to honesty, we must not suppose that 
the appropriation of public property by officers of the 
government was then regarded as a greater crime than 

Upon the request of the senate the imperial acad- 
emy had instructed its member, Joseph de L'Isle, 
to compile a map of Kamchatka and adjoining coun- 
tries; but not satisfied with this, the senate demanded 
the appointment of an astronomer to join the expedi- 
tion accompanied by some students advanced in astron- 
omy, and two or three versed in mineralogy. Two 
volunteers for this service were found among the 


academicians, Johann Gmelin, professor of chemistry 
and natural history, and Louis de L'Isle de la Croyere, 
a brother of the map-maker and professor of astron- 
omy. These were joined by a third, Gerhard Miiller, 
professor of history and geography. The senate 
accepted these, but ordered further twelve students 
from the Slavo-Latin school at Moscow to be trained 
in the academy for the proposed expedition. The 
admiralty college urged the necessity of extending 
the exploration over the whole northern coast of 
Siberia, and it was then that were appointed as com- 
manders subordinate to Bering, Spanberg, and Chi- 
rikof, one lieutenant, three sub-lieutenants, and a 
command of servants and soldiers numbering one hun- 
dred and fifty-seven in all. A few members of the 
college proposed to send the whole expedition to the 
coast of Kamchatka round the world by sea, the 
earliest plan toward circumnavigation conceived by a 
Russian; but their counsel did not prevail. ^^ 

The command of the proposed expedition to Japan 
was given to Captain Spanberg, assisted by Lieuten- 
ant Walton and Midshipman Schelting. The explor- 
ation of the northern coast was intrusted to lieutenants 
Muravief and Pavlof; lieutenants Meygin, Skuratof^ 
and Ovtzin were also appointed but subsequently re- 
lieved by Masters Minnin, Pronchishchef, and Las- 
senius. The two latter died and were replaced by two 
brothers, the lieutenants Hariton and Dmitri Laptief. 
Another detail consisted of three lieutenants, Waxel, 
Plunting, and Endogarof, four masters, twelve master's 
mates, ship and boat builders, three surgeons, nine 
assistant surgeons, a chaplain, six monks, commissaries, 
navigators, a number of cadets and sailors, all num- 
bering five hundred and seventy men. From the 
academy the final appointments were the naturalist 
Gmelin and the historian Miiller, who were subse- 
quently relieved by Steller and Fisher; the astronomer 

^2 Both Berg, in his Lives of Admirals, ii. 238, and Gmelin, in his Voyage 
in Siberia, make mention of these j)roposals. 


De L'Isle de la Croyere, with five students, four sur- 
veyors, who were increased in Siberia by four more, 
an interpreter, an instrument-maker, two artists, and 
a special escort of fourteen men. An engineer and 
architect named Frederick Stael was also attached to 
the expedition for the construction of roads and har- 
bors, but he died on his way to Siberia. 

Miiller and Gmelin were both young men, the first 
being twenty-eight and the other twenty-four. They 
were learned and enthusiastic German scientists who 
had come to Russia several years before, one as a 
doctor of medicine and professor of chemistry and 
natural history, the other as professor of history and 
geography. Both attained distinction in the scientific 
world. De L'Isle de la Croyere was also well edu- 
cated, though conspicuous rather as a lover of good 
eating and drinking, than as a learned man." 

Another scientific member of the expedition, who 
joined it somewhat later, was George Wilhelm Steller. 
He was born in Winsheim, Franconia, on the 10th 
of March 1709, He studied theology and natural 
science in the universities of Wittenberg, Leipsic, and 
Jena, and settled in Halle, devoting himself chiefly 
to anatomy, botany, and medicine. He proceeded to 
Berlin and passed a brilliant examination, and in 1734 
he joined the Russian army before Dantzic, doing 
duty as staff-surgeon. In December he was sent to 
St Petersburg with a ship-load of wounded soldiers. 
Here he accepted the position of leib medicus, or body- 
surgeon to the famous bishop of Novgorod, Theo- 
phanos Prokopovich, a favorite of Peter the Great, 
and with him he remained till his death, except when 
serving in Siberia. 

When Bering left St Petersburg to enter upon his 

^^ According to Berg and Sokolof, Gmelin returned to his own country 
shortly after returning from this expedition in the year 1749, having obtained 
his final discharge from the Russian service. He died in 1755. Miiller was 
appointed historian in the Academy of Science in 1747; from 1754 to 1765 he 
was conference secretary of the academy; in 1705 he was appointed director 
of the Foundling House of Moscow, and in 1766 he was placed in charge of 
the Moscow archives of the foreign office. He died in 1783. 


second expedition, Steller, then of the imperial acad- 
emy, was ordered to join the expedition specially to 
examine the natural history of Kamchatka. He 
reached his new field in 1758. In 1740, after giving 
ample proof of his ability and energy by making fre- 
quent and valuable shipments of specimens for the 
museum of the academy, he forwarded a petition to 
the senate for permission to accompany Lieutenant 
Spanberg on his voyage to Japan. While awaiting 
an answer he was importuned by Bering to join his 
expedition. Steller replied that in the absence of 
orders he would draw upon himself the displeasure 
of the authorities, but the commander said he would 
assume all responsibility and provide him with an 
official memorandum to that effect, and a regular ap- 
pointment to take charge of the department of natural 
science in his expedition. Steller finally consented, 
and we are indebted to him for some of the most re- 
liable information concerning the Russian discoveries 
on the American coast. -^^ 

In consideration of distance and privations the 
empress doubled every salary. The departure of the 
expedition began in February 1733. Bering and 
Chirikof were instructed to build at Okhotsk or in 
Kamchatka, wherever it was most convenient, two 
vessels of the class then called packet-boats, and then 
to proceed, in accordance with the plans of Professor 
De la Croyere, without separating, to the exploration 
of the American coast, which was supposed to lie but 
a short distance from Kamchatka. After reaching 
that shore they were to coast southward to the forty- 
fifth parallel, and then return to the north, crossing 

'* These scientists had a way of marrying, with the view of throwing some 
pai't of their infelicities upon their wives. Steller tried it, as MuUer and 
Fisher had done, and as the rough old scca-captains used to do, but he found 
his wife one too many for him. She was the widow of a certain Doctor Mes- 
serchmidt, and daughter of a Colonel Von Bochler, and did not at all object to 
become the wife of the rising young scientist, but to go to Siberia, Kamchatka, 
perhaps to the north pole, was quite a different matter. True, she promised 
him, but that was before marriage, which of course did not count. And the 
sorrowful Steller was at last obliged to go wifeless to his ice-fields, leaving his 
spouse to flirt the weary hours away at the gay capital. Mortikoi Sbornik, c. 145. 


back to Asia at Bering Strait. If the season proved 
too short they were authorized to go into winter-quar- 
ters, and conclude the work the following season. 
Captain Spanberg was to proceed from Okhotsk in 
the direction of Japan with one ship and two sloops, 
beginning his explorations at the Kurile Islands. In 
order to facilitate the progress of the expedition the 
local Siberian authorities were instructed to erect on 
the banks of the principal rivers, and on the Arctic, 
beacons to indicate the location of the magazines of 
provisions and stores for the various detachments, and 
also to inform all the nomadic natives of Siberia and 
the promyshleniki, that they must assist the members 
of the expedition as far as lay in their power. 

One important purpose of the expedition was to 
discover a new route to the Okhotsk Sea without 
passing Yakutsk, by going through the southern dis- 
tricts of Siberia, and striking the head- waters of the 
Yuda, which had been reported navigable. A warn- 
ing was attached to the instructions against crossing 
the Amoor, "in order not to awaken the suspicions of 
the Chinese government," The academicians Gmelin 
and Miiller were intrusted with the exploration of 
the interior of Siberia and Kamchatka, assisting each 
other in their researches, and making a general geo- 
graphical survey with the assistance of the cadet en- 
gineers attached to their detachment. Croyere, with 
some of the students who had been in training at 
the observatory of the academy for several years, was 
to make astronomical observations along the route 
of progress, and accompany Bering to the coast of 
America. He was granted great liberty of action, and 
furnished with ample means, the best instruments to 
be obtained at that time, and a numerous escort of 
soldiers and laborers. 

It was an unknown country to which they were 
all going, and for an unknown time. The admiralty 
college had thought six years sufficient, but most 
were going for sixteen years, and many forever. Be- 


sides nearly all the officers, a number of the rank and 
file were taking with them their wives and children. 
Lieutenant Ovtzin and one naval officer were the first 
to leave for Kazan in order to begin their prepara- 
tions. Captain Spanberg with ten mechanics set out 
next to erect temporary buildings along the road and 
in the towns of Siberia, for the accommodation of the 
expedition. In March 1733 other members took their 
departure, followed by lengthy caravans loaded with 
supplies from the storehouses of the admiralty. The 
scientists from the academy tarried in St Petersburg 
till August, and then proceeded to Kazan to join their 
companions. At the beginning of winter the whole 
force had advanced as far as Tobolsk, where they went 
into winter-quarters. In the spring of 1734 the ex- 
pedition embarked on small vessels built during the 
winter on the rivers Ob, Irtish, and Yenissei. The 
main body arrived at Yakutsk in the summer of 1735, 
after having wintered at some point beyond Irkutsk. 
Bering himself had proceeded by land from Tobolsk 
and reached Yakutsk in October 1734, in advance of 
nearly all his assistants. Here the winter was again 
utilized for the construction of boats, and in the spring 
of 1735 the lieutenants Pronchishchef and Lassenius 
proceeded northward down the Lena Piver, with the 
intention of sailing eastward along the Arctic coast. 
The transportation of men and stores to Okhotsk 
was accomplished partly in boats, and partly on horse- 
back over a rugged chain of mountains. This proved 
to be the most laborious part of the journey. Captain 
Spanberg had been the first to arrive at Okhotsk, 
having travelled in advance of the expedition; but 
on arrival he discovered, to his dismay, that nothing 
had been done by the local commander to prepare for 
the reception of so large a body. Not a building had 
been erected, not a keel laid, and the only available 
logs were still standing in the forest. Spanberg went 
to work at once with his force of mechanics, but lack 
of provisions caused frequent interruptions as the men 


were obliged to go fishing and hunting. After a 
while the commander of the Okhotsk country, Skor- 
niakof Pisaref, made his appearance. He offered no 
excuse and his presence did not mend matters, Pisa- 
ref and Spanberg had both been invested with extra- 
ordinary powers, independent of each other, and both 
were stubborn and inclined to quarrel. The former 
lived in a fort a short distance up the river, while 
the latter had built a house for himself at the mouth 
of the river, where he intended to establish the port. 
Each had his separate command, and each called him- 
self the senior officer, threatening his opponent with 
swift annihilation. Each lorded it over his dependants 
and exacted abject obedience, and we may well im- 
agine that the subordinates led a wretched life. 

Bering at Yakutsk encountered much the same 
difficulties as Spanberg, but on a larger scale. His 
supplies were scattered along the road from the fron- 
tier of Asia to Yakutsk awaiting transportation, and 
the most urgent appeals to the Siberian authorities 
failed to secure the requisite means.^^ It had been 
the captain-commander's intention to facilitate his in- 
tercourse with the natives of Kamchatka by means 
of missionary labor. Immediately after his return 
from the first expedition, he had petitioned the holy 

^^ Sgibnef, in his History of Kamchatka, gives the reasons for the delay. 
It would seem after all that government was none too rigorous in Siberia. It 
appears that the quarrels between Spanberg and Pisaref were preceded by 
petty altercations between the latter and the voivod in command at Yakutsk. 
As early as 1732 Pisaref had been instructed to draw all necessary supplies 
from Yakutsk, but the voivod Shadovski refused to give him anything. 
Pisaref complained to the governor at Irkutsk and received an oukaz empow- 
ering him to confine Shadovski in irons until he issued what was needed for 
the jorosecution of work at Okhotsk. Subsequently another oukaz came to 
Tobolsk ordering Shadovski to arrest Pisaref, which was no sooner done than 
the order was revoked. Meanwhile working parties were forwarded to 
Okhotsk evei'y year, but want of provisions forced them to desert before any- 
thing had been accomplished. Numbers of these workmen died of starvation 
on the road. Morskoi Sbornik, cv. 25-7. Under date of October 7, 1738, an 
order was issued from the chancellery of Irkutsk providing for the preparation 
of ' sea-stores ' for the Bering expedition in Kamchatka. The quantity was 
determined to the pound, as well as the quality, and si^ecial instructions were 
given for the manufacture of liquor from sarana, a kind of fern, and for its 
preservation in casks. If necessary, the whole population of Kamchatka was 
to be employed in gathering this plant, and to be paid for their labor in 
tobacco. Sgibnef, in Morskoi Sbornik, ci. 137-40. 


synod for missionaries to undertake the conversion of 
the Kamchatkans. The senate promulgated a law 
exempting all baptized natives of that country for ten 
years from the payment of tribute to the government. 
The first missionary selected for the new field was the 
monk Filevski, a great preacher and pillar of the 
church, but before reaching Kamchatka he was 
arrested on the river Aldan, for assaulting and half 
killing one of the monks of his suite, and for refusing 
to hold divine services or to read the prayers for the 
imperial family. Religion in Siberia had seemingly 
run mad. After his arrival in Kamchatka he added 
much to the general confusion by acts of violence and 
a meddlesome spirit, which stirred up strife alike 
among clergy and laity, Russians and natives. 

The position of Bering was exceedingly trying; on 
him must fall the odium attending the faults and 
misfortunes of them all. Throughout the journey, 
and afterward to the end, complaints were forwarded 
to Irkutsk, Tobolsk, and St Petersburg. That he 
was a foreigner made it none the less a pleasure for 
the Russians to curse him. The senate and admiralty 
college were exasperated by reason of the slow move- 
ment, beiuH" is'norant of the insurmountable obstacles. 
First among the accusers was the infamous Pisaref, 
who charged both Bering and Spanberg with licen- 
tiousness and "excessive use of tobacco and brandy." 
He reported that up to that time, 1737, nothing had 
been accomplished for the objects of the expedition, 
and nothing could be expected beyond loss to the 
imperial treasury; that the leaders of the expedition 
had come to Siberia only to fill their pockets, not 
only Bering, but his wife, who was about to return to 
Moscow; and that Bering had received valuable pres- 
ents at Irkutsk from contractors for supplies. An- 
other officer in exile, a captain-lieutenant of the navy, 
named Kozantzof, represented that Bering's force was 
in a state of anarchy, that all its operations were 
carried on at a wasteful expenditure, and that in his 


opinion nothing would come of it all. Spanberg him- 
self began to refuse obedience to Bering, complaining 
bitterly of the delay in obtaining stores for his voy- 
age to Japan. Bering's immediate assistant, Chirikof, 
received instructions from St Petersburg to inquire 
into some of these complaints. Another of the officers 
of the expedition, Blunting, being dissatisfied with 
Bering's non-interference in his quarrel with Pisaref, 
insulted the former and was tried by court-martial 
and sentenced to the ranks for two months. To re- 
venge himself, the young lieutenant sent charges 
to St Petersburg, reflecting on Bering's conduct, one 
of which was illicit manufacture of brandy and the 
expenditure of powder in making fireworks, as well as 
the "employment of the drum corps for his own amuse- 
ment, though there was nothing to rejoice over." 

The members of the academy also became dissatis- 
fied and complained of abuse and ill-treatment on the 
part of Bering, asking to be relieved from obedience 
to him as commander. In 1738 the expense of the 
expedition, which had not then left the sea-coast, was 
over three hundred thousand rubles in cash paid from 
the imperial treasury, without counting the great 
quantities of supplies furnished by the various dis- 
tricts in kind. At this rate Alaska would cost more 
than it could be sold for a hundred years hence. The 
empress issued an oukaz on the 15th of September 
1738, instructing the senate and the admiralty col- 
lege to review the accounts of the Kamchatka expe- 
dition, and ascertain if it could not be carried on 
without such a drain on the treasury. The senate 
reported that the cost thus far made it necessary to 
continue the work or all would be lost. Much time 
was wasted in correspondence on these matters, and 
only at the beginning of 1739 did the main body reach 
Okhotsk. In July an officer named Tolbukhin arrived 
with orders from the empress to investigate the "doings 
of Bering." He was followed in September by Lari- 
onof, another officer who had been ordered to assist 


him. The supply of provisions at Okhotsk was alto- 
gether inadequate to the large number of men stationed 
there. During the winter following the suffering 
became so great that Bering was obliged to send large 
detachments away to regions where they could support 
themselves by hunting. At that time the whole force 
consisted of 141 men at Okhotsk, 192 employed in the 
magazines and in the transportation of stores, 70 at 
Irkutsk, 39 in attendance upon the various officers 

Plan of Okhotsk. 

and scientists, and 141 on the three vessels already 
built, in all 583 men. Under Spanberg's active super- 
vision two vessels had been built, the brigantine,^rM- 
angel Mikhail, and the double sloop, Nadeshda, or 
Hope; and two old craft, the Fortuna, reconstructed 
in some degree from the first of that name, and the 
Gavril, had been repaired. Spanberg was ready to 
go to sea in September, but lack of provisions detained 
him.^^ In October the sloop Fortuna was sent to Kam- 

^^ According to Bering's report of November 29, 1737, the quantity of 
provisions on hand in all his magazines in Okhotsk and Kamchatka consisted 
of 10.4fl9 pounds of flour; 1,784 lbs. grits; 249 lbs. hard bread; G59 lbs. salt; 
182 lbs. dried fish; 21 1 lbs. butter; 48 lbs. oil; and 683 buckets of brandy. At 
the same time he forwarded a requisition tor 1738 for: 1,912 lbs. flour; 2,566 


chatka for a cargo of pitch for the ship-building at 
Okhotsk. The mate Kodichef, and the surveyor 
Svitunof, in charge, were instructed to carry the pro- 
visions that had accumulated in the Kamchatkan 
magazines to Bolsheretsk, as the most convenient 
port from which to transfer them to the vessels of 
Bering's expedition. The student Krashonnikof also 
went to Kamchatka in the Fortuna. On the 13th 
of October, when about to enter the river at Bol- 
sheretsk, the wretched craft was overtaken by a gale 
and thrown upon the shore. The future historian of 
Kamchatka, Krashennikof, reached the land "clad in 
one garment only." 

Despite the apparently insurmountable difficulties 
resulting from want of transportation and lack of sup- 
plies, Bering and Chirikof found themselves in readi- 
ness to go to sea in the month of August 1740. At 
that time the number of men at Okhotsk belonging 
to the expedition was 166, with 80 engaged in the 
transportation of stores over the mountain trails. 
During the summer the astronomer Croyere with 
his suite had arrived at Okhotsk, accompanied by the 
naturalist S teller. Toward the end of August an 
event occurred that filled Bering and his officers with 
joy. The great stumbling-block of the expedition and 
its most persistent enemy, Pisaref, was relieved from 
his official position by another exile, Antoine Deviere, 
a former favorite of Peter the Great, and chief of 
police of St Petersburg. ^^ According to Sgibnef, 
Deviere was the first honorable and efficient com- 

Ibs. meal; 2,369 lbs. hard bread; 1,026 lbs meat; 410 lbs. fish; 554 lbs. butter; 
75 lbs. oil; and 320 buckets of brandy. For the year 1739 his requisition for 
his own and for Spanberg's expedition was: 930 lbs. flour; 2,565 lbs. meal; 
4,617 lbs. hard bread; 1,025 lbs. meat; 4l0 lbs. fish; 546 lbs. butter; 163 lbs. 
salt, and 660 buckets of brandy. With the flour it was not only necessary 
to make kvass, but to bake hard bread; the meal was oatmeal, which was 
issued because pease and barley could not be obtained. Zap. Hydr., ix. 337. 
1" It was in 1738 that Antoine Devifere was cliief of police of the Russian 
capital, but falling into disgrace he M-as sent to Siberia. In 1741 he was 
made commander of Okhotsk, and in 1742 recalled to St Petersburg by 
Elizabeth, made a count, and restored to his former position. He died in 
1745. Morskoi SborniL cv. 31, 33. 


mander of Okhotsk. He sold the property which his 
predecessors had dishonestly obtained, and with the 
proceeds paid the arrears of salaries. Under his 
active supervision buildings were erected, a school 
established, and everything arranged for a quick 
despatch of the American expedition.^^ 

^^ It was at the suggestion of Bering that Devifere opened this the first 
school in Kamchatka in 1741; it was located at Bolsheretsk and began its 
operations with 20 pupils. Morskoi Sbornik, ci. 142. 




The D^y of Departure — Arrival of Imperial Despatches — They Set 
Sail from Okhotsk — The ' Sv Petr' and the * Sv Pavel'— Bering's 


Wintering at Avatcha Bay — Embarkation — Ill-feeling between 
Chirikof and Bering — The Final Parting in Mid-ocean — Adven- 
TURr; OF Chirikof— He Discovers the Mainland of America in 
Latitude 55° 21' — The Magnificence of his Surroundings — A 
Boat's Crew Sent Ashore — Another Sent to its Assistance — All 
Lost! — Heart-sick, Chirikof Hovers about the Place — And is 
finally Driven Away by the Wind — He Discovers Unalaska, 
Adakh, and Attoo — The Presence of Sea-otters Noticed — Sick- 
ness — Return to Avatcha Bay — Death of Croyere — Illness of 

Six years the grand expedition had occupied in 
crossing Siberia; no wonder subordinates swore and 
the imperial treasurer groaned. But now the de- 
voutly wished for hour had come, the happy consum- 
mation was at hand. New islands and new seas should 
pay the reckoning, while the natives of a new conti- 
nent should be made to bleed for all this toil and 

The 15th of August 1740 had been fixed as the day 
of departure, but just as they were about to embark 
Captain Spanberg arrived from Yakutsk with the in- 
telligence that an imperial courier was at hand with 
despatches requiring answers. This delayed the ex- 
pedition till the 1st of September, when the double 
sloop with stores was despatched in advance. At the 
mouth of the river she ran aground, and the transfer 



of cargo became necessary, after which she was again 
made ready. On the 8th of September the expedition 
finally embarked. Bering commanded the Sv Petr, 
and Chirikof the Sv Pavel, the two companion vessels 
having been named the St Peter and the St Paul. 
Bering's second was Lieutenant Waxel, while with 
Chirikof were lieutenants Chikhachef and Plunting.^ 
The double sloop was commanded by Master Khitrof 
and the galiot by second mate Btishchef. Passengers 
on the double sloop were Cro^^ere, Steller, the sur- 
veyor Krassilnikof, and the student Gorlanof. The 
vessels were all fitted out with jDrovisions for a year 
and eight months, but the grounding of the double 
sloop caused considerable loss in both provisions and 
spare rigging. 

In crossing the Okhotsk Sea the vessels parted com- 
pany, but they all reached the harbor of Bolsheretsk 
in safety about the middle of September. Here they 
landed the two members of the academy for the pur- 
pose of exploring the Kamchatka peninsula, and took 
on board the mate Yelagin. The little fleet then 
passed round the southern end of the peninsula to the 
gulf of Avatcha, where the Sv Pavel arrived the 27th 
of September, and the Sv Petr the 6th of October. 
The sloop met with a series of disasters and was com- 
pelled to return to Bolsheretsk on the 8th of October, 
and to remain there for the winter. The galiot also 
returned for the winter, unable to weather Cape Lo- 
patka so late in the season, and this rendered it neces- 
sary to transport supplies overland from Bolsheretsk 

* With Waxel was a young son. The other officers of the Sv Petr were 
Eselberg, mate; Yushin, second mate; Lagunof, commissary; Khotiaintzof, 
master; Jansen, boatswain; Ivanof, boatswain's mate; Rossiliiis, ship's con- 
stable; Feich, surgeon; Betge, assistant surgeon; Plenisner, artist and corporal 
of Cossacks; and among the sailors the former Lieut. Ovtzin, who had been 
reduced to the ranks. In Kamchatka the force was increased by Khitrof, the 
marine, and Johann Synd, a son of Feich, the father returning to St Peters- 
burg on account of ill-health. On the Sv Pavel were : Dementief , master; 
Shiganof and Yurlof, second mates; Chaglokof, commissary; Korostlef,. 
master; Savelief, boatswain; Kachikof, ship's constable; the monk Lau, who 
also served as assistant surgeon ; the force being further increased in Kam- 
chatka by Yelagin, mate, and the marine Yurlof. The second mate Shigaaiof, 
and Yurlof, were subsequently promoted in Kamchatka. 


to Avatcha during the winter, an operation attended 
with great difficulties and loss.^ Bering approved of 
the selection of Avatcha Bay as a harbor, by Yelagin, 
it being the best on the coast. A few buildings had 
been erected, and to these the commander proceeded 
at once to add a church. The place was named Pe- 

Beaching^ his vessels for the winter, Bering^ secured 
the services of the natives for the transportation of 
supplies from Bolsheretsk, and then distributed his 
command in small detachments, requiring them to 
live for the most part on such game and fish as they 
could catch. Removed from the interference of local 
authorities, which had been troublesome at Okhotsk, 
Bering passed a quiet winter and concluded the final 
preparations for sea in accordance with his plans. 
Croyere and Steller joined him in the spring; and 
with the opening of navigation, in accordance with 
instructions, on the 4th of May 1741 the commander 
assembled his officers, including the astronomer, for 
general consultation. Each present was to give his 
views, and a majority was to decide. All were of 
opinion that the unknown shore lay either due east 
or north-east; but this sensible decision, the adoption 
of which would have saved them much suffering and 
disaster, was not permitted to prevail. Science in 
Bussia was as despotic as government. The renowned 
astronomer De L'Isle de la Croyere had made a map 
presented by the imperial academy to the senate. 

2 The sloop finally reached Avatcha the following summer but only after 
two exploring vessels had gone to sea. According to Steller a supply-ship 
met the vessels of the expedition in the outer harbor, and the greater portion 
of the cargo was transferred to the Sv Petr. Steller, Beschreibung von Kam- 
tschatka,i. 112. The galiot returned to Okhotsk during the summer in charge 
of second mate Shigonof , and carrying as passengers Krashennikof , with a valu- 
able collection of notes as the result of his investigations. Zap. Hydr., ix. 371 . 

^ According to Miiller the church was dedicated to the apostles Peter and 
Paul, and the harbor derived its name therefrom; but subsequent investiga- 
tions of the local archives by Sokolof and Polonski seemed to indicate that 
the church, a small wooden structure, was erected in memory of the bu'th of 
the virgin, and that the harbor was named after the two ships. Its name 
occui's on the earliest pages of the journals of the expedition. Miiller, Samm- 
liinfj russischer geschichten, i. 22; Sokolof, in Zap. Hydr., ix. 372. 
Hist. Alaska. 5 


That august body had forwarded it to Bering, and 
the author's brother, present at the council, also had 
with him a copy. No land was set down upon this 
chart toward the east, but some distance south-east 
of Avatcha Bay, between latitudes 46° and 47°, there 
was a coast extending about 15° of longitude from west 
to cast. The land was drawn in such a manner as to 
indicate that it had been sighted on the south side, 
and the words Terres vues ]}aT dom Jean de Gama 
were inscribed upon it. The absurdity of sending out 
an expedition for discovery, requiring it to follow 
mapped imagination, seems never to have occurred to 
the Solons of St Petersburg, and this when they 
knew well enough that the continents were not far 
asunder toward the north. 

The mariners thought it safer to go by the chart, 
which after all must have some influence on the land, 
the drawing having passed through such imperial 
processes, and hence arrived at the fatal determination 
to steer first south-east by east in search of the Land 
of Gama, and after discovering it to take its northern 
coast as a guide to the north-east or east; but if no 
land was found in latitude 46°, then the course should 
be altered to north-east by east till land was made. 
The coast once found, it was to be followed to latitude 
65°. The action of the several officers under every 
conceivable emergency was determined by the council. 
All were to return to Avatcha Bay by the end of 
September.^ Yet with all the care, when put into 
practice, their plans were found to be exceedingly de- 
fective. Steller went on the Sv Petr, while Croyere 
was attached to Chirikof's vessel. The crew of the 

*It is not known who Juan de Gama was, nor when the pretended discov- 
ery was made by him. In 1G49 Texeira, cosmographer to the king of Portu- 
gal, published a map on which 10 or 12 degrees north-east from Jaj)an, in 
latitude 44° and 45°, were represented a multitude of islands and a coast ex- 
tending toward the east, labelled: 'Terre vue par Jean de Gama, Indien, en 
allant de la Chine a la Nouvelle Espagne.' The situation of the 'Land of 
Gama,' on Texeira 's maps, seems to be the same as the 'Company's Land' 
discovered by the Kastrilom under Martin Geritzin de Vries, in 1643, or 
perhaps earlier. Mullers Voy., i. 37-S; Buniey'n Chronol. Hist., 162-3. 


Sv Petr numbered seventy-seven, and that of the Sv 
Pavel seventy-five. Both ships had still provisions 
]eft for five and a half months, with one hundred 
barrels of water, sixteen cords of wood, and two boats 

On the morning of the 4th of June 1741, after 
solemn prayer, the two ships sailed from Avatcha Bay 
with a light southerly wind.^ . Noon of the second 
day saw them thirty miles from Light House Point. 
Chirikof, who was about five miles to windward of 
Bering, noticed that the latter steered southward 
of the course proposed. Signalling Bering that he 
would speak with him, Chirikof proposed that they 
should keep as near together as possible to avoid final 
separation in a fog. He also spoke of the manifest 
change from the agreed course, whereat Bering ap- 
peared annoyed, and when later Chirikof signalled to 
speak with him a second time the commander paid no 
attention to it. As we proceed we shall find serious 
defects in the character of both of these men. For a 
commander-in-chief, Berino^ was becomino- timid, and 
perhaps too much bound to instructions; for a sub- 
ordinate, Chirikof was dogmatic and obstinate. About 
noon of the 6th of June Bering ordered Chirikof 
to proceed in advance, trusting apparently more to 
his skill and judgment than to his own. On the 7th 
of June the wind changed to the north and increased. 
In the course of the next few days the two ships 
approached each other occasionally and exchanged 
signals, but Chirikof remained in the lead. In the 
afternoon of the 12th they found themselves in lati- 
tude 46,° and came to the conclusion that there was 
no Gama Land such as given in the chart, and at 3 
o'clock they changed their course to east by north. 
On the 14th the wind drew ahead, blowing strong 

° Details of Bering's voyage in the archives of St Petersburg consist of 
reports and journals by Waxel, Yuskin, and Khitrof, the first two in copies, 
the latter in the original. Of Chirikof 's voyage there are copies of journals 
by himself and by Yelagin his mate. A few other details have been obtained 
from Steller and Muller. Zap. Hydr., passmi. 


from the eastward, and compelling to a more north- 
erly course for nearly two days, till they found them- 
selves in latitude 48°, Bering keeping to the windward 
of Chirikof on account of the better sailing qualities 
of his vessel. Chirikof finally signalled for instruc- 
tions, and asked how long the northerly course was 
to be pursued. Bering's answer was to follow him 
and he would see. 

A few hours later the course was changed to the 
southward. On the 15th the wind was a little more 
to the south and the northerly course was resumed. 
On the 18th, in the morning, Bering informed Chiri- 
kof that as they were in latitude 49° they must turn 
south, but Chirikof said that with the prevailing wind a 
change was impracticable, and it would be best to con- 
tinue the course east by north. The following day in 
latitude 49° 30' the wind increased, blowing violently 
from the east, and sails were shortened during the night. 
Next morning Chirikof sighted the Sv Petr about 
three leagues to the north, but Bering did not see 
him, and thinking himself to the windward shaped his 
course to the north-west. This manoeuvre completed 
the separation of the vessels forever. Bering made 
every effort to find the consort; he spent three days 
between latitudes 50° and 51°, and finally sailed south- 
east as far as 45°, but all in vain. Chirikof had taken 
an easterly course and his subsequent movements were 
entirely distinct from those of his commander. 

First let us follow the fortunes of Chirikof, who 
must ever be regarded as the hero of this expedition. 

After losing sight of the Su Petr, which he thought 
was to the northward, Chirikof allowed the Sv Pavel 
to drift a while, so that his commander might find 
him. Then he steered south-east in search of him, 
and after making two degrees of longitude to the 
eastward, on the morning of the 23d of June he found 
himself in latitude 48°. A council of ofiScers decided 
that it was folly to waste time in search of Bering, 


and that they would prosecute the object of the voy- 
age, which was to find land toward the east. Hence 
with light, favorable winds, the Sv Pavel went for- 
ward, occasionally shaping her course a little more to 
the north, until on the 11th of July signs of land 
were seen in drift-wood, seals, and gulls. Without 
slacking his speed, but casting the lead constantly, 
Chirikof proceeded, and during the night of the 15th 
he sighted land in latitude 55° 21.' Thus was the 
great discovery achieved. The high wooded moun- 
tains looming before the enraptured gaze of eyes long 
accustomed to the tamer glories of Siberia, were at 
once pronounced to belong to the continent of Amer- 

Day broke calm and clear; the coast was visible in 
distinct outUnes at a distance of three or four miles; 
the lead indicated sixty fathoms, and the ship was 
surrounded by myriads of ducks and gulls. At noon 
it was still calm, and an observation gave the latitude 
as 55° 41'. A boat was lowered but failed to find a 
landing-place. In the evening a light wind arose, 
and the vessel stood north-westward along the shore 
under short sails. Toward morning the wind increased 
from the eastward with rain and fog, and the bright 
green land which they had found was lost to them 
again. At last, some time after daylight, high moun- 
tains once more appeared above the clouds, and at 
noon of the l7th the entrance to a great bay was 
observed in latitude 57° 15'. The mate, Dementief, 
was ordered to explore the entrance in the long-boat 
manned with ten armed sailors.'' 

The party was furnished with provisions for several 
days, with muskets, and other arms, including a small 

® Sokolof declares emphatically that the poiut of land made was a slight 
projection of the coast between capes Addington and Bartholomew of Van- 
couver's map. Zaj:). Hydr., ix. 399. 

' The mate, Abram Mikhailovich Dementief, is spoken of by Miiller in his 
Letter of a Russian Naval, Officer, as a man of good family, young, good-look- 
ing, kind-hearted, skilled in his profession, and anxious to serve his country. 
Sokolof in his history of the expedition hints at a love affair at Okhotsk, 
which had ended unhappily. Morskoi Sbornik, cv. 113; Zap. Hydr., iv. 400-1. 


brass cannon. Chirikof issued instructions to meet 
probable emergencies, and explained how they were to 
communicate with the ship by signals. The boat was 
seen to reach the shore and disappear behind a small 
projection of land; a few minutes later the precon- 
certed signals were observed, and it was concluded 
that the boat had landed in safety.^ The day passed 
without further information from the shore. During 
the next and for several successive days, signals were 
observed from time to time, which were interpreted 
to mean that all was well with Dementief At last, 
as the party did not return, Chirikof began to fear 
that the boat had suffered damage in landing, and on 
the 23d Sidor Savelief, with some sailors, a carpenter 
and a calker, was sent ashore to assist Dementief, and 
repair his boat if necessary,^ The strictest injunctions 
were issued that either one or both of the boats should 
return immediately. Their movements were anxiously 
watched from the ship. The small boat was seen to 
land, but no preparation for a return could be observed. 
A great smoke was seen rising from the point round 
which the first crew had disappeared. 

The night was passed in great anxiety; but every 
heart was gladdened when next morning two boats 
were seen to leave the coast. One was larger than 
the other, and no one doubted that Dementief and 
Savelief were at last returning. The captain ordered 
all made ready for instant departure. During the 
bustle which followed little attention was paid to the 
approaching boats, but presentl}^ they were discovered 
to be canoes filled with savages, who seemed to be as 
much astonished as the Russians, and after a rapid 
survey of the apparition they turned shoreward, 
shouting Agail Agail Then dread fell on all, and 

^ Sokolof omits in his account the mention of Dementief 's signal after reach- 
ing the land, but the fact is confirmed by Chirikof's own journal in both the 
original, and the translation in Sammhiiif/ al.ler Reisheachr., xx. 37"2. 

^This date is differently given by different authors; in the Sammlung^ 
the date is the '2Ist; the number of Savelief's companions is also variously 
placed at fi-om three to six. Midler's Voyaije, 41; Zap. Ilydr., ix. 401. 


Chirikof cursed himself for permitting the sailors to 
appear on deck in such numbers as to frighten away 
the savages, and thus prevent their seizure and an 
exchange of prisoners. Gradually the full force of 
the calamity fell upon him. His men had all been 
seized and murdered on the spot, or were still held 
for a worse fate. 

He was on an unknown and dangerous coast, with- 
out boats, and his numbers greatly reduced. A 
strong west wind just then sprang up and compelled 
him to weigh anchor and run for the open sea. His 
heart was very sore, for he was a humane man and 
warmly attached to his comrades. He cruised about 
the neighborhood for several days, loath to leave it, 
though he had given up the shore parties all as lost, 
and as soon as the wind permitted he again approached 
the point which had proved so fatal to his undertak- 
ing. But no trace of the lost sailors could be discov- 
ered. A council of officers was then called to deter- 
mine what next to do.^° 

All agreed that further attempts at discovery 
were out of the question, and that the}^ should at 
once make for Kamchatka. With his own hand 
Chirikof added to the minutes of the council, "Were 
it not for our extraordinary misfortunes there would 
be ample time to prosecute the work." The Sv Pavel 
was then headed for the north-west, keeping the coast 
in sight. The want of boats prevented a landing for 
water, which was now dealt out Jti rations ; they tried 
to catch rain and also to distil sea-water, in both of 
which efforts, to a certain extent, they were success- 

On the 31st of July, at a distance of about eighteen 
miles to the north, huge mountains covered with snow 
were seen extending apparently to the westward. The 

^" Sokolof gives the date of this council as the 26th, 11 days after the dis- 
covery of land. Chirikof and Miiller, as well as the Sammlung, make it 
the 27th. All accounts agree that the latitude obsei'ved on the day of the 
council was 58° 21'. The quantity of water on hand was then 45 casks. 
Mv>ller's Voyage, 42; Zap. Hydr., ix. 402. 


wind increased and veered to the westward, with rain 
and fog. The course was changed more to the south- 
ward, and on the 2d of August they again sighted 
land to the westward, ^^ but it soon disappeared in 
the fog. 

On the 4th of September in latitude 52° 30^ they 
discovered high land in a northerly direction, proba- 
bly the island of Unalaska. Two days later, after 
considerable westing with a favorable wind, land was 
again sighted in latitude 51° 30'; and on the evening 
of the 8th, while becalmed in a fog, they were alarmed 
by the roar of breakers, while soundings showed 
twenty-eight fathoms. Chirikof anchored with diffi- 
culty owing to the hard rocky bottom, and the follow- 
ing morning when the fog lifted he found himself in 
a small shallow bay less than a mile in width and 
surrounded by tremendous cliffs, probabl}^ Adakh 
Island. The mountains were barren, with here and 
there small patches of grass or moss. While await- 
ing a favorable wind, they saw seven savages come 
out in seven canoes, chanting invocations, and taking 
no notice of the presents flung to them by the Rus- 
sians. ^^ A few canoes linally approached the ship, 
bringing fresh water in bladders, but the bearers re- 
fused to mount to the deck. Chirikof in his journal 
describes them as well built men resembling the Tar- 
tars in features; not corpulent but healthy, with 
scarcely any beard. On their heads they wore shades 
made of thin boards ornamented with colors, and 
feathers of aquatic birds. A few also had bone carv- 
ings attached to their head-dress.'^^ Later in the day 
the natives came in greater numbers, fourteen h/aks, 
or small closed skin boats, surrounding the vessel, 

11 Sokolof in Zap. Hydr. , ix. 403, insists that this land was the point dis- 
covered by Bering 10 days before; but there can be but little doubt that it 
was the island of Kadiak. 

^^ Sokolof on the authoi'ity of Chikhachef asserts that these natives refused 
beads, tobacco, pijies, and other trifles, asking only for knives, but how the 
savages expressed this desire he does not explain, nor does he show how they 
knew anything about iron implements. Zap. Hydr., ix. 404. 

'^ Chiriko/^s Journ(d, in Imperial Naval Archives, xvi. 


which they examined with great curiosity, but they 
refused to go on board. Toward evening by shp- 
ping an anchor they got to sea, and on the 21st high 
land was siglited again in latitude 52° 36V* probably 
the island of Attoo, the westernmost of all the Aleu- 
tian chain. Chirikof supposed that all the land he 
saw hereabout was part of the American continent; 
for when he pressed northward, indications of land 
were everywhere present, but when he turned south- 
ward, such indications ceased. The presence of sea- 
otters was frequently remarked, though they could not 
realize the important part this animal was to play in 
shaping the destinies of man in this region. The 21st 
of August orders were issued to cook the usual quan- 
tity of rye meal once a day instead of twice, and to 
decrease the allowance of water. As an offset an 
extra drink of rum was allowed. ^^ 

Despite the scurvy and general despondency disci- 
pline was rigidly enforced, and finally, when the water 
for cooking the rye meal could be spared but once a 
week, no complaints were heard. Yet cold, excessive 
moisture and hunger and thirst were making con- 
stant and sure inroads. By the 16th Chirikof and 
Chikhachef were both down with the scurvy, and one 
man died the same day. Five days later the captain 
was unable to leave his berth, but his mind remained 
clear and he issued his orders with regularity and 
precision. Midshipman Pluntirig was also unable to 
appear on deck. The ship's constable, Kachikof, died 
the 26th, and from that time one death followed 
another in quick succession. On the 6th of October 
Lieutenant Chikhachef and one sailor died, and on the 
8th Plunting's sufferings were ended. The sails were 

'*In his description of the expedition the astronomer, Croy^re, becomes 
confused, saying that after losing sight of land on the 4th, no more was seen 
till the 20th, wlaen the ship came to anchor 200 fathoms from a mountainous 
coast in latitude 51° 12', where 21 canoes appeared. Sammlung, xx. 395. 

'^ From the journal of the mate Yelagin we learn that on the 14th there 
remained only 12 casks of water, and that the rye mush was furnished once 
a day, the other meals consisting of liard bread and butter. Salt beef was 
boiled in sea- water. Naval Archives, xvi. 


falling ill pieces owing to constant exposure to rain 
and snow, and the enfeebled crew was unable to re- 
pair them. Slowly the ship moved westward with 
little attempt at navigation. The last observation had 
been made the 2d of October, but only the longitude 
was found, indicatino^ a distance of eleven decrees from 
the Kamchatka shore. Fortune helping them, on the 
morning of the 8th land appeared in the west, which 
proved to be the coast of Kamchatka in the vicinity 
of Avatcha Ba}^ A light contrary wind detained 
them for two days, and having no boats they dis- 
charged a cannon to bring help from the shore. 

Of those who had left this harbor in the Sv Pavel 
less than five months before, twenty-one were lost. 
The pilot, Yelagin, alone of all the officers could appear 
on deck, and he finally brought the ship into the har- 
bor of Petropavlovsk, established by him the preced- 
ing winter. The astronomer, Croj^ere, who had for 
weeks been confined to his berth, apparently keeping 
alive by the constant use of strong liquor, asked to be 
taken ashore at once, but as soon as he was exposed to 
the air on deck he fell and presently expired. Chiri- 
kof, very ill, was landed at noon the same day.^^ 

1^ Sokolof with much national pride exults in the achievements of Chirikof, 
a true Russian, as agamst Bering the Dane. ' And thus having discovered 
the American coast 36 hours earlier than Bering, ' he writes, ' eleven degrees 
of longitude farther to the east; having followed this coast three degrees 
farther to the north; and after having left the coast five days later than 
Bering, Chirikof returned to Kamchatka, eight degrees farther west than 
Bei-ing's landing-place, a whole month earlier; having made on his route the 
same discoveries of the Aleutian Islands. During this whole time the sails 
were never taken in, and no supply of fresh water was obtained; they suffered 
equally from storms, privations, disease, and mortality — the officei-s as well 
as the men. How different were the results, and what proof do they not 
furnislA of the superiority of the Russians in scientific navigation ! ' So the 
learner is often apt to grow bold and impudent and despise the teacher. The 
great Peter was not above learning navigation from Bering the Dane. Zap. 
Hydr., ix. 407-8. 




Discovert by Rule — The Land not where It ought to be — The 
AvATCHA Council should Know — Bering Encounters the Main- 
land AT Mount St Elias — Claims for the PpaoRiTY of Discovery op 
North-westernmost America — Kyak Island — Scarcity of Water — 
The Return Voyage — Illness of Bering — Longings for Home— 
Kadiak — Ukamok — Sickness and Death — Intercourse with the 
Natives — Waxel's Adventure — Vows of the Dane — Amchitka, 


Wreck of the ' Sv Petr' — Death of Bering — Gathering Sea-otter 
Skins— The Survivors Build a Small *Sv Petr' from the Wreck — 
Return to Kamchatka — Second Voyage of Chirikof. 

We will now return to the commander. Possibly 
we might imagine Chirikof easily reconciled to a 
separation from his superior, who, instead of striking 
out intelligently for the achievement of a purpose, 
allowed himself to be carried hither and thither by 
omnipotent winds and imperial instructions. But not 
so Bering. With the loss of Chirikof and the Sv 
Pavel his right arm was gone. For a whole day he 
drifted in a strong gale under reefed sails before he 
would leave the spot to take the direction in which 
he supposed Chirikof to be. Then he was obliged to 
lie to again, and on the morning of the 22d, finding 
himself twelve leagues south of the point of separa- 
tion, it was concluded in a council of officers to aban- 
don further search and resume their course, not the 
last course of east by north as it should have been, 
but to the southward till latitude 46° was reached, 
where they had already been and seen nothing. It 


was now evident that Bering was becoming incompe- 
tent; that, deprived of the assistance of Chirikof's 
stronger mind and sounder judgment, he intended to 
follow strictly the resolutions of the Avatcha council. 
He would steer south-east by east to latitude 46°, 
then change the course to east by north, and thus 
waste in mid-ocean the brief days of the short 
northern summer. The 24th saw Bering at the 
southernmost point named, where numbers of birds 
seemed to indicate land ahead, and tempted him to 
continue to latitude 45° 16', when finding nothing, 
and convinced for a second time of the inaccuracy of 
Croyere's chart, he again bent his course east by 
north, which was changed the third day to north- 
north-east to compensate for having gone below 
latitude 46°. The wind changed repeatedly from 
south-west to south-east, being always light and ac- 
companied with clouds and fogs; but nothing special 
occurred until the 9th of July, when a strong east- 
erly wind compelled them to head more to the north 
until they reached latitude 51° 30^ The wind then 
changed, allowing them to steer north-east by east. 
From time to time they were misled by land-floating 
drift, and weeds, and marine mammals, but the lead 
indicated a depth of between one hundred and ninety 
and two hundred fathoms. 

The second month was now at hand, and Bering 
ordered a reduced allowance of water. From the 12tli 
of July he was so firmly convinced of the close prox- 
imity of land that he hove to at night lest he should run 
aground. Five weeks had elapsed since the Sv Petr 
had left Avatcha Bay and the ship's log showed that 
forty-six degrees of longitude separated them from 
their point of departure, and still the land remained 
invisible. The wind became more favorable, blowing 
from the west, and Bering concluded to change his 
course to the northward in order to fall in the sooner 
with the land. 

•On the 13th, in latitude 54° 30', in a council of 





officers, another change to north-north-east was deter- 
mined on. These frequent changes and the general 
indecision in the management of the expedition proved 
almost fatal; but about noon of the IGth, in latitude 
58° 14', the lookout reported a towering peak and a 
high chain of snow-covered mountains, without doubt 
Mount St Elias, and the extending range. A north 

1 , ! , !- 

Scale in German Miles 
iS to the deyree 



Kyak Island. 

wind held them off from the point first seen, but on the 
evening of the 20th they came upon an island in 59° 
40V which was Kyak, but which they called St Elias 
from the da v. 

^ In his calculation of latitude Bering was seven minutes in error, while 
in longitude he was eight degrees out of the way. Such a difference may be 
accounted for on the ground that Bering's observations were based upon dead 


It will be remembered that Chirikof found land on 
the night of the 15th while Bering saw Mount St 
Elias at noon of the 16th, vrhich would give the former 
priority in the honor of discovery by say thirty-six 
hours.^ But even Chirikof, who amongst Russians 
was the noblest and most chivalrous of them all, if 
we may believe the story of Gvozdef, may not justly 
set up the claim as first discoverer of north-western- 
most America. True, Gvozdef saw only what any one 
might see in sailing through the strait of Bering — 
he says he saw or found himself on the land opposite 
to Asia. Other Europeans had passed that way 
before Gvozdef, and the savages had crossed and re- 
crossed before ever Europeans were there; so we may 
well enough leave out these two sides of the northern 
strait, and call Chirikof the first discoverer of land 
opposite Kamchatka, which it was the object of this 
imperial expedition to find, and which he certainly was 
the first to achieve. 

After these years of preparation and weeks of 
tempest-tossing we should expect to see the Dane de- 
lighted on reaching the grand consummation of the 
united ambitions of monarchs and mariners. But if 

reckoning, without allowing for the ocean and tidal currents which in those 
waters often cause a gain or loss of seven leagues a day. The identity of 
Kyak is established by comparing Bering's with Cook's observations which 
would be enough even if the chart appended to Khitrof's journal had not 
been preserved. At first both Cook and Vancouver thought it Yakutat Bay, 
which they named after Bering, but both changed their minds. As late as 
1787 the Russian admiralty college declared that the island of Tzukli (Mon- 
tague of Vancouver) was the point of Bering's discovery, but Admiral Sary- 
chef, who examined the journals of the expedition, pointed at once to Kyak 
Island as the oidy point to which the description of Bering and Steller could 
apply. Sarychef made one mistake in applying the name of Cape St Elias 
to the nearest point of the mainland called Cape Suckling by Cook. Zap. 
Hydr., ix. 383-4. 

^ The date of Bering's discovery, or the day when land was first sighted 
by his lookout, has been variously stated. Muller makes it the 20th of July, 
and Steller the ISth; the 16th is in accordance with Bering's journal, and 
according to Bering's observation the latitude was 58° 28'. "This date is con- 
firmed by a manuscript chart compiled by Petrof and Waxel with the help 
of the original log-books of both vessels. 'The claim set up by certain Spanish 
writers in favor of Francisco Gali as first discoverer of this region is based on 
a misprint in an early account of his voyage. For particulars see Hist. Cal., 
i., tliis series. 


we may believe Steller, when his officers gathered 
round with their congratulations Bering shrugged his 
shoulders as he glanced at the rugged shore and said, 
"A great discovery no doubt, and the accomplishment 
of all our desires ; but who knows where we are, when 
we shall see Russia, and what we shall have to eat in 
the mean time?"^ 

Beating up with a light wind Bering succeeded in 
gaining anchorage on a clay bottom under the lee 
of the island in twenty-two fathoms. Two boats 
were sent ashore, one under Khitrof to reconnoitre, 
and another in which was Steller in search of water. 
Khitrof found among the small islands in the gulf a 
good harbor. He saw some rude deserted huts whose 
owmers had probably retreated on the approach of the 
Russians. The habitations were constructed of logs 
and rough planks, and were roofed with bark and dried 
grass. A few semi-subterranean structures of sods 
evidently served as storehouses. On entering, the 
Russians picked up some rough cordage, a whetstone 
on which copper implements had been sharpened, a 
small box of poplar wood, a rattle made of baked clay, 
several broken arrows, and articles of household fur- 
niture.^ In another place the men came upon a cellar 
in which was a quantity of dried salmon. Of this 
Khitrof took two bundles. There were several red 
foxes which seemed not at all frightened at the sight 
of the Russians. To compensate the natives for the 
fish taken, some trifles of Russian manufacture, tobacco 
and clay pipes, were left. 

Steller's party landed on another island and found 
a • cellar or subterranean storehouse with some red 
salmon, and herbs dressed in a manner customary 
with the Kamchatkans. He also found ropes made 
of sea-weed, and various household utensils. Going 
inland he came to a place where some savages had 
been eating, and had left there an arrow and an in- 

3 Steller's Diary, 190. 

*For full description of these people see Native Races, i., this series. 


strument for lighting fire by friction. Steller also 
gathered plants to analyze on shipboard. He regretted 
that no more time was granted him in which to ex- 
amine the American coast, his whole stay covering 
only six hours, while the sailors were filling the water- 
casks.^ The latter reported having found two fire- 
places lately in use. They saw pieces of hewn wood, 
and the tracks of a man in the grass; some smoked 
fish was also brought on board and was found quite 

Early next morning, the 21st of July, contrary to> 
his custom Bering came on deck and ordered anchor- 
up. It was no use for the officers to call attention to 
the yet unfilled water-casks, or beg to see something 
of the country they had found. The Dane was deaf 
alike to argument and entreaty. For once during 
the voyage he was firm. He and a hundred others 
had been working for the past eight years to the one 
end of seeing that land; and now having seen it, that 
was the end of it; he desired to go home. It would 
have been as well for him had he tarried long enough 
at least to fill his water-casks. 

Dense clouds obscured the sky as Bering began his 
return voyage, and rain fell incessantly. Dismal forces 
were closing in round the Dane, to whom Bussia was 
very far away indeed. By soundings a westerly course 
was shaped along a depth of from forty to fifty 
fathoms, by which means he was enabled to avoid the 
coast he could not see. On the 25th the general 
opinion in council was that by steering to the south- 

^ Steller in vain begged the commander to let him have a small boat and a 
few men with which to examine the place. Perched upon a steep rock the 
enthusiastic scientist was taking in as much as possible of America when the 
crusty Dane ordered him aboard if he would not be left. In his journal, edited 
by Pallas, Steller describes the situation as follows: 'On descending the 
mountain, covered with a A'ast forest without any trace of road or trail, I 
found it impossible to make my way through the thicket and consequently 
reascended; looking mournfully at the limits of my observation I turned my 
eyes toward the continent which it was not in my power to explore, and 
observed at the distance of a few versts a smoke ascending from a wooded 
eminence. Again receiving a positive order to join the ship I returned mourn- 
fully with my collection. ' Pallas, Steller's Journal, passim. 
Hist. Alaska. 6 


west the coast of Kamchatka must be finally reached. 
Easterly winds drove the vessel to within a short 
distance of some shore invisible through the fog, and 
the greatest caution had to be observed in keeping 
away from the banks and shoals indicated by the 
soundings. On the 26th land was made once more, 
probably the coast of Kadiak, but an easterly wind 
and shallow water prevented a landing. Too much 
land now, to avoid which a more direct course south 
was taken ; but progress was impeded by the numer- 
ous islands which skirted the continent, hidden in im- 
penetrable fog. 

On the 30th an island was discovered which Bering 
named Tumannoi, or Foggy Island, but no landing 
was made.^ Little progress was made among the 
islands in Aug^ust, owino^ to the thick mist and con- 
trary winds. As the water gave out and scurvy came 
the ship once more found itself among a labyrinth of 
islands with high peaks looming in the distance. The 
largest then in view was named Eudokia. A small 
supply of water, consisting of a few casks only, was 
obtained there, the heavy surf making the landing 
dangerous. At a new council held the 10th, in lati- 
tude 53°, to which petty officers were admitted, it was 
determined that as it had been decided to return to 
Kamchatka at the end of September, and it was then 
already near the middle of August, and the harbor of 
Petropavlovsk was at least 1,600 miles distant, while 
twenty-six of the company w^ere ill, a further explora- 
tion of the American coast had become impracticable, 
and it was necessary to proceed to the parallel of 
Petropavlovsk, and then sail westward to Kamchatka. 

Now, it is very plain to one having a knowledge of 
the currents that it was much easier to make such a 
resolution than to carry it out. Further than this, all 

® The charts of the imperial academy at St Petersburg, in the last quarter 
of the eighteenth century, located this point variously as a portion of Kadiak 
and as the island of Trinidad, of the Spanish discoverers. It is now kno\^Ti 
that Foggy Island was Ukamok, named Chirikof Island by Vancouver, in 
latitude 55' 48'. 


attempts to proceed to the westward were baffled by 
the barrier of land. Then the}^ must have water, and 
so they anchored on the 30th, at a group of islands 
in latitude 54° 48^ Here the first death occurred — a 
sailor named Shumagin succumbed to scurvy. His 
name was given to the island, and a supply of brackish 
water was obtained.' 

The commander now fell ill, and was soon confined 
to his cabin. The Sv Pctr was at this place six days. 
One night a fire had been observed on a small island 
toward the north-east, and while the larger boats were 
engaged in watering, Khitrof went there with five 
men, but only, after a long pull, to find the people 
gone. In attempting to return, a strong head-wind 
threw them upon the beach of another island, and 
kept them there till the 2d of September, when they 
were relieved by the larger boat. During the next 
two days several unsuccessful attempts were made 
to proceed, for the ship's position was perilous. After 
a violent storm, which lasted all night, loud voices 
were heard on the nearest island on the morning of 
the 5th. A fire was plainly visible, and to the great 
joy of the discoverers two canoes, each containing a 
native, advanced toward the ship. They stopped, 
however, at a considerable distance displaying sticks 
adorned with eagles' feathers; and with gestures in- 
vited the Russians to come ashore. The latter, on 
the other hand, threw presents to the savages, and 
endeavored to induce them to approach the vessel, 
but in vain. After gazing with mingled wonder and 
dread for a time at the strange craft, the natives pad- 
dled for the shore. 

Lieutenant Waxel, accompanied by nine men well 
armed, went to pay them a visit. They beckoned 
them to come to the boat; the savages in return beck- 
oned the strangers to disembark. At last Waxel 

' Miiller states that the name was applied to the group, while an officer 
of the navy, with the expedition, in a letter published anonymously, says that 
only the island which furnished the water was named after the deceased sailor. 


ordered three men to land, among them the inter- 
preter, while he moored the boat to a rock.^ 

Expressions of good-will were profuse on both 
sides, the natives offering a repast of whale-meat. 
Their presence on the island was evidently temporary, 
as no women or children or habitation could be seen, 
and for every man there was just one hidarka, or skin 
canoe having two or three seats — the Kussian term 
for an improved kyak. No bows, arrows, spears, or 
any other weapons which might have alarmed the 
strangers, were visible, and the Russians went about 
freely among the natives, taking care, in accordance 
with strict injunctions of Waxel, not to lose sight of 
the boat. Meanwhile one of the natives summoned 
courage to visit Waxel in the boat. He seemed to 
be an elder and a chief, and the lieutenant gave him 
the most precious thing he had — brandy; the savage 
began to drink, but immediately spat it out, crying to 
his people that he was poisoned. All AVaxel's efforts 
to quiet him were unavailing; needles, glass beads, an 
iron kettle, tobacco, and pipes were offered in vain. 
He would accept nothing. He was allowed to go, 
and at the same time Waxel recalled his men. The 
natives made an attempt to detain them, but finally 
allowed the two Russians to go, keeping hold of the 
interpreter. Others ran to the rock to which the 
boat was moored and seized the rope, which Waxel 
thereupon ordered cut. The interpreter in the mean 
time pleaded with the Russians not to abandon him, 
but they could afford no aid. As a final effort to save 
the interpreter two muskets were discharged, and as 
the report echoed from the surrounding cliffs, the sav- 
ages fell to the ground while the interpreter sprang 
into the boat. As the ship was making ready to sail 
next day seven of these savages came and exchanged 
gifts. This was on the 6th of September. After a 

® The interpreters accompanying the expedition belonged to the Koriak 
and Chukchi tribes, and were of no use in conversing with the natives, but 
they were bold and inspired the islanders with confidence, being in outward 
appearance like themselves. 


very stormy passage land was sighted again on the 
24th, in latitude 51° 11'? There was a coast with 
islands and mountains, to the highest of which Bering 
gave the name of St John, from the day. 

The position of the ship was critical. Finally they 
escaped the dangerous shore, only to be driven by a 
storm of seventeen days' duration down to latitude 48°. 
Disease spread. Every day one or more died, until 
there were scarcely enough left to manage the ship. 
*' The most eloquent pen," said Steller, " would fail to 
describe the misery of our condition." Opinion was 
divided whether they should seek a harbor on the 
American coast or sail directly to Kamchatka. Bering 
was profuse in his promises to celestial powers, slight- 
ing none, Catholic or Protestant, Greek or German. 
He vowed to make ample donations to the Russian 
church at Petropavlovsk and to the Lutheran church 
at Viborg, Finland, where some of his relatives re- 

A northerly course was kept until the 22d of Octo- 
ber, when an easterly breeze made it possible to head 
the unfortunate craft for Kamchatka. Only fifteen 
casks of water remained, and the commander was so 
reduced by sickness and despondency that the burden 
of affairs fell almost wholly on Wax el. On the 25 th 
land was sighted in latitude 51° and named St Maka- 
rius. This was the island of Amchitka. On the 
28th another island in latitude 52° was named St 
Stephen (Kishka). On the 29th in latitude 52° 30' 
still another island was discovered and named St 
Abram (Semichi Island). On the 30th two other 
islands were sighted and mistaken by the bewildered 
navigators as the first of the Kuriles. On the 1st 
of November in latitude 54° they found themselves 
within about sixteen miles of a high line of coast. 

^ The latitude of the land was variously reported by Waxel, and subse- 
quently by Chirikof from his examination of journals, at 51° 27', 52° 30', and 
51° 12'. It is safe to presume that the St John's mountain of Bering was 
situated either on the island of Umnak or on one of the Four Peaks Islands. 
Sokolof was of the opinion that it was Atkha Island. Za'p. Hydr., ix. 393. 


The condition of the explorers still continued critical. 
Notwithstanding sickness and misery the decimated 
crew was obliged to work night and day, in rain, snow, 
and cold; the sails and rigging were so rotten that 
it was dangerous to set much canvas, even if the crew 
had been able.^° At last, on the 4th, the lookout sighted 
land. It was distant; only the mountain tops appear- 
ing above the horizon; and though the Sv Petr was 
headed directly for the land all day, they could not 
reach it. An observation at noon made the latitude 

" It would be impossible to describe," says Steller, 
"the joy created by the sight of land; the dying' 
crawled upon deck to see with their own eyes what 
they would not believe; even the feeble commander 
was carried out of his cabin. To the astonishment 
of all a small keg of brandy was taken from some 
hiding-place and dealt out in celebration of the sup- 
posed approach to the coast of Kamchatka." 

On the morning of the 5th another misfortune was. 
discovered. All the shrouds on the starboard side 
were broken, owing to contraction caused by frost. 
Lieutenant Wax el at once reported to the commander, 
who was confined in his berth, and from him received 
orders convoking a council of officers to deliberate 
upon the situation. It was well known that the fresh 
water was almost exhausted, and that the ravages of 
scorbutic disease were becoming more alarming every 
day. The continuous wetting with spray and rain 
became more dangerous and insupportable as the cold 
increased, covering with a coat of ice the surface of 
every object exposed to its action, animate or inani- 

'"Miiller writes: 'The sickness was so dreadful that the two sailors who 
used to be at the rudder were obliged to be led to it by two others who could 
hardly walk, and when one could sit and steer no longer another in but little 
better condition supplied his place.' Muller's Sammlung, 51. The commander 
was still confined to his cabin; the ofiicers though scarcely able to walk, were 
quarrelling among themselves; the crew were dying at the rate of one or two 
every day; no hard bread, no spirits, and but very little water; dampness and 
cold; and to all this was added the almost certainty of impending disaster. 
Sokolof, in Zap. IJydr., ix. 395. 


mate. Soon the council came to the conclusion that 
it was necessary to seek relief at the nearest point of 
land, be it island or continent/^ The wind was from 
the north, and the soundings indicated between thirty 
and forty fathoms over sandy bottom. After steering 
south-west for some time the soundings decreased to 
twelve fathoms, and the vessel was found to be only 
a short distance from the shore. Then at the com- 
mand of Waxel, over the bows of the doomed ship, 
down went the anchors of the Sv Petr for the last 
time. It was 5 o'clock in the afternoon. The sea 
began- to rise, and in less than an hour a cable broke. 
Then other cables were lost; and just as the despair- 
ing mariners were about to bend the last one on board, 
a huge wave lifted the vessel over a ledge of rocks 
into smooth water of about four fathoms, but not 
before seriously injuring the hull. This action of the 
elements settled the fate of the expedition; there w^as 
no alternative but to remain for the winter on that 
coast, ignorant of its extent and location as they 
were. It was on a calm moonlit night that the stormy 
voyage of over four months was thus suddenly ter- 

All able to work were landed to prepare for disem- 
barking the sick. A preliminary shelter was con- 
structed by digging niches into the sandy banks of a 
small stream and covering them with sails. Drift- 
wood was found along the shore, but there was no 
sign of any timber which might be made useful. No 
trace of human occupation was visible. On the morn- 

^1 Steller maintains that Bering refused fo give the necessary orders, sup- 
posing that it would still be possible to reach Avatcha, and that he was 
supported in his opinion by Ovtzin ; but the contrary opinion of Waxel and 
Khitrof prevailed. Sokolof, in Zap. Hydr., ix. 397. 

'^ A letter of one of the officers says: 'In endeavoring to go to the west 
we were cast on a desert isle where we had the prospect of remaining the 
greater part of our days. Our vessel was broken up on one of the banks with 
which the isle is surrounded. We failed not to save ourselves on shore, with 
all such things as we thought we had need of; for by a marked kindness of 
providence the wind and waves threw after us upon the shore the wreck and 
the remains of our vessel, which we gathered together to put us in a state, 
with the blessing of God, to quit this desolate abode. ' Burney's Chronol. Hist., 
172-.3. See also Sokolof, in Zap. Hydr., ix. 399. 


ing of the 8th preparations for landing the sick 
were completed and the work began. Many of the 
unfortunates drew their last breath as soon as they 
come in contact with the fresh air, while others ex- 
pired during the process of removal. During the day 
following Commander Bering w^as carried ashore. He 
had been daily growing weaker, and had evidently 
made up his mind that he must die. Four men car- 
ried him in a hand-barrow w^ell secured against the 
air. Shortly afterward the last remnant of the unfor- 
tunate ship was torn from its single cable and came 
upon the shore. Steller searched in vain for anti- 
scorbutic herbs and plants under the deep snow, and 
there was no game or wild-fowl at hand. The only 
animals visible on land were the pest si or Arctic foxes, 
exceedingly bold and rapacious. They fell upon the 
corpses and devoured them almost before the survivors 
could make preparations for their burial. It seemed 
to be impossible to frighten them away. The stock 
of powder was small, and it would not do to waste 
it on beasts; it must be kept for killing men. The 
sea-otter was already known to the Russians from a 
few specimens captured on the coast of Kamchatka, 
and among the Kurile Islands. Soon the castaways 
discovered the presence of these animals in the sur- 
rounding waters. The flesh seemed to them most pal- 
atable, and Steller even considered it as anti-scorbutic. 
The skins were preserved by the survivors and subse- 
quently led to the discovery of a wealth that Bering 
and Chirikof had failed to see in their voyages of 

Some relief in the way of provisions was afforded 
by the carcass of a whale cast upon the beach. It 

'^ At that time the Chinese merchants at Kiakhta paid from SO to 
100 rubles for sea-otter skins; 900 sea-otters were killed on the island by 
the crew of the Sv Petr; the skins were divided equally among all, but 
Steller was most fortunate. In his capacity of physician he received many 
presents, and he bought many skins, the property of persons who in the uncer- 
tainty of living held them in light esteem. His share alone is said to have 
amounted to 300 choice skins, which he carried with him to Kamchatka. Stel- 
le7-'s Journal, 172, ITo, passim; Mullei; Samvihuuj, 54-5. 


was not very delicate food, but proved of great ser- 
vice when nothing better could be had. It afforded 
also the material for feeding lamps during the long 
dreary nights of winter. No distinction was made in 
the division of food between officers and men; every 
one had a fair and equal portion. Lieutenant Waxel 
was now recognized as general manager, the com- 
mander being beyond duty. Misfortune and misery 
had toned down the rough aggressiveness of the lieu- 
tenant, and nearly all of the wise regulations there- 
after adopted must be credited to him, though he 
frequently acted upon Steller's advice. Both did 
their utmost to give occupation to all who were able 
as the only remedy against their mortal enemy, the 

Toward the end of November Khitrof and Waxel 
also were prostrated by disease, and the prospect 
before the castaways was indeed a gloomy one. The 
excursions to diiferent parts of the island in search 
of food and fuel became more and more contracted, 
and dull despair settled upon the whole community. 

As for the commander, no wonder he had longed 
to return; for it was now apparent to all, as it may 
have been to him these many days, that he must die. 
And we can pardon him the infirmities of age, dis- 
ease, and temper; the labors of his life had been 
severe and his death was honorable, though the con- 
ditions were by no means pleasing. Toward the laso 
he became if possible more timid, and exceedingly 
suspicious. He could hardly endure even the pres- 
ence of Steller, his friend and confidant, yet this 
faithful companion praises his firm spirit and dignified 

It was under such circumstances that Vitus Bering 
died — on this cold forbiddino^ isle, under the sky of 
an Arctic wmter, the 8th of December 1741, in a 
miserable hut half covered by the sand which came 
trickhng down upon him Jhrough the boards that had 
been placed to bar its progress. Thus passed from 


earth, as nameless tens of thousands have done, the 
illustrious commander of the expeditions which had 
disclosed the separation of the two worlds and dis- 
covered north-westernmost America. 

On the 10th of December the second mate, Kho- 
tiaintzof, died, and a few days later three of the sailors. 
On the 8th of January death demanded another vic- 
tim, the commissary Lagunof, making thirty-one up 
to this time.^* 

At length the survivors began slowly to improve in 
health. The ship's constable, Rossilius, with two men, 
was despatched northward to explore; but they learned 
only that they were on an island. Later the sailor, 
Anchugof, was ordered south ward, and after an absence 
of nearly four weeks he returned half-starved, with- 
out information of any kind. Another was sent west, 
but with the same result. It was only then that many 
would believe they were not on the shore of Kam- 
chatka, and that it depended upon their own exertions 
whether they ever left their present dwellings, cer- 
tainly not very attractive ones, these excavations in 
the earth roofed over with sails.^^ The foreigners 
formed a separate colony in one large cavity. There 
were five of these, Steller, Rossilius, Plenisner, Assist- 
ant Surgeon Betge, and a soldier named Zand. Waxel 
occupied a dwelling by himself and another private 
domicile had been constructed by the two boatswains, 
Ivanof and Alexeief All the others lived together 
in one large excavation. 

The provisions were by no means abundant, but 

^* A list of the effects of Bering and the petty officers, preserved in the 
naval archives, contains: 3 quadrants, 1 chronometer, 1 compass, 1 spy -glass, 
1 gold watch, 1 pair of pistols, 8 copper drinking-cups, a few pipes, 11 books 
on navigation, a bundle of charts, 2 bundles of calculations, 7 maps, and 8 
dozen packs of playing-cards. With the exception of the playing-cards, all 
were sold at auction in Kamchatka, and brought 1,000 rubles. Sokolof, in Zap. 
Hydr., ix 10, 11. 

'^ Nagaief , an assistant of Sokolof in the collection and digestion of docu- 
ments concerning the expedition, states that he found original entries of Waxel 
and Khitrof in the journal, to the efTect that after Bering's death the only two 
remaining officers declared their willingaess- to temporarily resign their rank 
and put themselves on an equality withthe men, but that the latter refused, 
and continued to obey their superiors. Morskoi Sbornik, cvi. 215. 


great care was exercised in distributing them, keeping 
always in view the possibiHty of a further sea- voyage 
in search of Kamchatka. The principal food was the 
meat of marine mammals killed about the shore, sea- 
otters, seals, and sea-lions. Carcasses of whales were 
cast ashore twice during the winter, and though in 
an advanced state of putrefaction they yielded an 
abundant supply to the unfortunates, who had ceased 
to be very particular as to the quality of their diet. 
In the spring the sea-cows made their appearance and 
furnished the mariners with an abundance of more 
palatable meat. The only fuel was drift-wood, for 
which they had to mine the deep snow for eight or 
ten miles round. The winter was cold and stormy 
throughout, and the approach of spring was heralded 
by dense fogs hanging about the island for weeks 
without lifting sufficiently to afford a glance at the 
surrounding sea. 

A council was now held and some proposed sending 
the single remaining ship's boat for assistance ; others 
were of the opinion that the ship itself, though half 
broken up, might still be repaired; but finally it was 
determined to take the wreck entirely to pieces and 
out of therfTconstruct a new craft of a size sufficient 
to hold the entire company. A singular question 
here presented itself to these navigators, accustomed 
as they were to the iron discipline of the imperial 
service, Would they not be punished for taking to 
pieces a government vessel? After some discussion 
it dawned on their dim visions that perhaps after 
all the punishment of their dread ruler might be 
no worse than death on that island. Hence it was 
solemnly resolved to begin at once; the wreck was 
dismantled, and in May the keel was laid for the 
new vessel. 

The three ship's carpenters were dead, but a Cossack 
who had once worked in the ship-yard at Okhotsk 
was chosen to superintei^ the construction, and he 
proved quite successful in drawing the plans and 


moulding the frames/^ The lack of material and 
tools naturally delayed the work, and it was the 10th 
of August before the vessel could be launched. She 
was constructed almost wholly without iron, and meas- 
ured thirty-six feet in length at the keel, and forty- 
one feet on deck, with a beam of twelve feet and a 
depth of hold of only five and a half feet. She was 
still called the Sv Petr. The vessel had to be provi- 
sioned wholly from the meat of sea-animals.^'' 

On the 16th of August,^^ after a stay of over 
nine months on this island, to which they gave the 
name of Bering, at the suggestion of Khitrof, and 
after protracted prayers and devotions, this remnant 
of the commander's crew set sail from the scene of 
suffering and disaster. On the third day out, as might 
be expected from such construction, the vessel was 
found to be leaking badly, and within half an hour 
there were two feet of water in the hold. Some lead 
and ammunition were thrown out, and the leak was 
stopped. On the ninth day the hearts of the unhappy 
crew were gladdened by a full view of the Kamchatka 
shore, and on the following day, the 26th of August, 
the juvenile Sv Petr was safely anchored in the bay 
of Avatcha. The survivors were received by the few 
inhabitants of Petropavlovsk with great rejoicing; 
they had long since been given up as dead. They 
remained at the landing-place to recuperate for 
nearly a year, and finally proceeded to Okhotsk in 

"^ He succeeded so well in his undertaking that he received as reward from 
the grateful empress the patent of nobility. Sammlung, xx. 394. 

^^ Zap. Hydr., ix. 413. The author of t\\Q Sammlungen states that when 
the sea-otters disappeared in March the llussians had recourse to dogs, bears, 
and lions, meaning of course seals (seehund), fur-seal (seebdr), and sea-lions. 
Samm/nitg. xx. 39.3. 

i^Sokolof makes the date of departure the 12th. Zap. Hydr., ix. 413; 
obviously an error on the part of some one. 

^^ In the church of Petropavlovsk there is still preserved a memorial of 
this event; a silver mounted image of the apostles Peter and Paul with the 
inscription, ' An oiTering iu memory of our miraculous rescue from a barren 
island, and our return to the coast of Kamchatka, by lieutenant Dimitri 
Ovtzin, and the whole company, Augus^741.' Polonski, Kamchatka Archives, 
MS., vol. xiii. 


Before he had fairly recovered from the effects of 
his last voyage, Chirikof made another effort to see 
something more of the American coast which he had 
found. He commanded the >Si' Pavel again, but the 
only officer of the former voyage now with him was 
the pilot Yelagin.^" Sailing from Avatcha Bay the 
25th of May 1742, he shaped his course due east. 
His progress was slow, and on the 8th of June he 
sighted the first land in latitude 52°. Only the snow- 
covered tops of high mountains were visible above the 
fog and clouds which enveloped the island called by 
Chirikof, St Theodore, but which we know to-day as 
Attoo. A series of southerly gales then set in which 
carried the ship northward to latitude 54° 30'. On 
the 16th of June, owing to the wretched condition of 
the vessel, it was deemed best to return to Kamchatka. 
On the way back the Sv Pavel passed within a short 
distance of the island where at that moment Bering's 
companions were still suffering. Chirikof sighted the 
southern point of the island and named it St Julian. 
The expedition reached Petropavlovsk the 1st of July. ^^ 

^"Miiller, Voyage, 112, maintains that Chirikof intended to search for 
Bering; but Sokolof scouts the idea upon the ground that he could not have 
had the faintest suspicion of his whereabouts ; it was then believed tliat Bering 
and all his crew had perished. Solcolof, in Zajj. Hydr., ix. 414. 

-^ As this last attempt of Chirikof ends the operations of the expedition 
which accomplished the discovery of the American coast, the official list of 
all those engaged in the enterprise in its various branches, taken from Bering's 
private journal, will not be out of place. The names are arranged according 
to rank as follows: Captain-commander, Vitus Bering; captains, Martin 
Spanberg and Alexei Chirikof; lieutenants, Dmitri Laptief , Yegor Endogurof, 
William Walton, Peter Lassenius, Dmitri Ovtzin, Stej^an Muravief, Mikhail 
Pavlof, Stepan Malygin, Alexei Skuratof, Ivan Sukhotin, Hariton Laptief, 
Ivan Chikhachef; midshipman, Alexei Schelting; mates, Sven Waxel, Vassill 
Promchishchef, Mikhail Phmting, Andreian Eselberg, Lev Kazimerof, Ivan 
Kashelef, Fedor Minin, Sofron Kliitrof, Abram Dementief; second mates, 
Ivan Vereshchagin, Ivan Yelagin, Matvei Petrof, Dmitri Sterlegof, Semen 
Cheliuskin, Vassili Rtishchef, Vassili Andreief, Gavril Rudnef, Peter Pazni- 
akof, Marko Golovin, Ivan Biref, Kharlam Yushin, Moissei Yurlof, Andrei 
Shiganof; marines, Vassili Perenago, Joann Synd, Andreian Yurlof; naval 
cadets, Mikhail Scherbinin, Vassili Khmetevski, Ossip Glazof, Emilian 
Rodichef, Andrei Velikopolski, Fedor Kanishchef, Sergei Spiridof, Sei-gei 
Sunkof ; commissaries, Agafon Choglokof, Fedor Kolychef, Stepan Ivashenin, 
Ivan Lagunof ; navigators, Ivan Belui, Alikhail Vosikof ; assistant navigators, 
Dmitri Korostlef, Nikita Khotiaintzof; boatswains, Niels Jansen, Sidor 
Savelief; boatswaua's mate, Fedor Kozlof; boat-builders, Andrei Kozmin, 
William Butzovski, Henrich Hovins, Caspar Feich; assistant surgeons, 
Ivan Stupin, William Berensen, Peter Brauner, Sim Gren, Thomas Vinzen- 



In the August following, and before the survivors of 
Bering's party could reach that port, Chirikof sailed 
for Okhotsk. 

dorf, Henricli Schaffer, Elias Giinther, Kii'il Shemchushuykof, Moritz Ar- 
menus, Andreas Heei', Ivan Paxin, Henrich Hebel, Mikhail Brant, Matthias 
Betge, Johann Lau; academicians, Gerhard Miiller, Johaiin Gmelin, Louis 
Croj'ere; Professor Johann Fischer; adjunct, George Wilhelm Steller; stu- 
dents, Stepan Krashennikof, Fedor Popof, Luka Ivanof, Alexei Tretiakof, 
Alexe'i Gorlonof; instrument-maker, Stepan Ovsiannikof; painter, Johann 
Berkhan; draughtsman, Johann Lui'senino; translator, Ilia Yakhontof; sur- 
veyors, Andrei Krassilnikof, Nikifor Chekin, Moissei Oushakof, Alexander 
Ivanof, Peter Skobeltzin, Dmitri Baskakof, Ivan Svistunof, Vassili Shetilof, 
Vassili Selifontof, Ivan Kindiarof, Vassili Somof, Mikhail Gvozdef ; assistant 
surveyors, Mikhail Vuikhodzef, Fedor Prianishnikof, Alexei Maksheief, 
Ivan Shavrigin; assay er, Simon Gardebol; mineralogists, Dmitri Odintzof, 
Friedrich Weidel, Elias Schehl, Zakar Medvedef, Agapius Leskin, Ivan 
Samoilof . There was also one parish priest, with six subordinate members of 
the clergy. The following is the naval roster of Bering's command as dis- 
tributed among the various divisions of the expedition. 

EosTER OF Bering's Command in 1740. 

Captain Commander, 





Second Mates 

Naval Cadets 


Ass't Surgeons 

Medical Cadets 


Boatswain's Mates. . 


















On the Ships of 

Bering. Chin- Span- 
" kof. berg. 


On the Double 

of with 

Span- Arctic 
berg. Exped. 



In the 

White T^tal. 


































Call it science, or patriotism, or progress, there is 
this to be said about the first Russian discoveries in 
America — little would have been heard of them for 
some time to come if ever, had it not been for the 
beautiful furs brought back from Bering Island and 

According to the ledgers of the admiralty college the expenditure in 
behalf of the expedition up to the end of the year 1742 has been as follows: 




For pay and uniform 







For provisions 


At St Petersburg ^ 

For transportation 


For scientific instruments 







At Kazan 


At Arkhangelsk 

Rigging, lumber, and provisions. 








At Ilinsk 


In the Province of Siberia. 

Cash, provisions, and stores .... 
Sundry expenditure 



Grand total 



Sokolof, in Zap. Hydr., ix. 446-52. 

Spanberg made a reconnoissance in the sea of Okhotsk in 1740. In Sep- 
tember 174 J he crossed from Okhotsk to Kamchatka with the packet-boat 
Sv loann, the 'hmg&ntine Arkhawjr-l Mikhail, the double sloop Nadeshda, and 
the sloop Bolsherelsk, this being the beginning of an official expedition to 
Japan. Although the squadron was so pretentious, and had on board many 
learned men who were to expound the mysteries of those parts, nothing of 
importance came from it. This was one branch of the explorations included 
in Bering's scheme. Another was a survey of the coast of Okhotsk Sea by 
Lieutenant Walton in 1741. 

Explorations were also carried on along the Kamchatka coast. In 1742 Sur- 
veyor Oushakof explored the coast from Bolsheretsk northward to Figil, and 
from the Bay of Avatcha to Cape Kronotzkoi. A portion of this work had 
previously been attempted by the pilot Yelagin in 1739, and maps prepared 
by him are still preserved in the naval archives at St Petersburg, but for 
some reason the later survey was adopted as authority. Steller and Gorlanof 
continued their investigations in Kamchatka until 1744. In accordance with 
instructions they also experimented in agricultural pursuits, meeting with no 
success in their attempts. When the combined commands of Chinkof, 
Waxel, and Spalding arrived at Okhotsk, they found orders awaiting them to 
proceed to Yakutsk and remain there for further instructions. This order 
virtually ended the expedition. The leaders claimed that all its objects 
had been attained as far as possible. Many of the officers and scientists 


elsewhere, Siberia was still suflEicient to satisfy the 
tsar for purposes of expatriation, and the Russians 
were not such zealots as to undertake conquest for 
the sake of conversion, and to make religion a cloak 

had already returned before accomplishing their task; others were still 
detained by sickness and other circumstances ; others again had died and the 
force still fit for duty of any kind was very much reduced. The provisions 
amassed with such immense labor and trouble had been expended, the rigging 
and sails of ships were completely worn out, the ships themselves were unsea- 
worthy, and the resources of all Siberia had been nearly exhausted. The 
native tribes and convict settlers had been crushed by the most oppressive re- 
quisitions in labor and stores, and even the forests in the immediate vicinity 
of settlements had been thinned out to an alarming extent for the require- 
ments of the expedition. In 1743 a famine raged in eastern Siberia to such 
an extent that in the month of September an imperial oukaz ordained the 
immediate suspension of other operations. The force was divided into small 
detachments and scattered here and there in the more fertile districts of 
Siberia. The temporary suspension of the labors of the expedition was fol- 
lowed by an entire abandonment of the work. The Siberian contingents 
returned to their proper stations, the sailors and mechanics belonging to the 
navy were ordered to Tomsk and Yenisseisk. Through intrigues at the 
imperial court the commanders were long detained in the wilds of Siberia; 
Chirikof and Spanberg until 1746, "Waxel until 1749, and Rtishchef until 
1754, when a new expedition was already on the tajAs. The original charts 
and journals of the expedition were forwarded to Irkutsk only in 17o4, though 
official copies had certainly been taken previous to that time. From Irkutsk 
they were removed in 1759 to the city of Tobolsk, and agaua copied. No 
reason was given for retaining the originals, but it is certain that they were 
destroyed durmg a fire in Tobolsk in 1788. Zap. Hydr., v. 265. Records of 
promotions conferred upon a few members of the expedition have been pre- 
served. Ovtzin and Laptief were made lieutenants on Wax el's recommenda- 
tion in 1743; Alexei Ivanof and Yelagin were promoted to the same rank on 
Chu-ikof's recommendation in 1744. On the 20th of November 1749 an im- 
perial oukaz bestowed a money reward upon all the survivors of Bering's 
command on the Sv Petr, 'for having suffered many unheard of hardships.' 
Khitrof was made a lieutenant and finally captain of the first rank. Waxel 
was promoted to a captain of the second rank in 1744, while all his command 
obtained a reward in money from the admiralty college. In 1754 the force 
of Lieutenant Rtishchef at Tomsk consisted of 42 men, and that of Lieutenant 
Khenetevski at Okliotsk, of 46 men; the last two officers evidently remained 
in Siberia, as they are mentioned again in the archives of Okhotsk as captains 
in 1773. 

The marine Synd, who undertook the unfortunate expedition to Bering 
Straits, also remained in Siberia, promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and 
died at Okhotsk in 1779. Siberian Archives; Midler, 9th ser. ; Zap. Hijdr., v. 
268. The young widow of the astronomer De la Croyere in 1774 married 
Captain Lebedef, who was assigned to the command of Kamchatka. Sgilmef, 
in Morakoi Sbornik; cii. 5, 55. The town of Okhotsk had received a great 
impetus during the operations of the Bering expedition, for which it served 
as the maritime base. A few rude vessels were constructed at Okhotsk 
during the first decade of the eighteenth century, and official records are still 
in existence of all the shipping constructed at that port from the year 1714 
to modern times. Up to the time when Bering's exiDcdition left Okhotsk for 
the interior of Siberia 19 vessels were enumerated in this list. The first of 
these vessels was a lodka, a craft with one mast, half-decked over, 27 feet in 
length, with 18 (!) feet beam, drawing with a full cargo only three feet and 
a half of water. The keel was laid at Okhotsk in May 1714, and she was 


for tlieir atrocities; hence, but for these costly skins, 
each of which proclaimed in loudest strains the glories 
of Alaska, the Great Land might long have rested 

launched in May 1710. The builder was carpenter Kiril Plotniteki(?). The 
vessel had a brief existence, for she stranded in 17-1, and was finally burned 
for the iron in 17-7. The second vessel was of the same class. The keel was 
laid in 1718 for the first Kamchatka expedition, but she was never finished, 
and rotted on the stocks. The third was also a lodka, 54 feet in length by 18 
in width; she was constructed at Oudsk, near Okhotsk, in 1719, by one Teta- 
rinof. This craft also was never launched, and finally fell to pieces. The 
fourth vessel, also a lodka, was begun by a carpenter named Kargopoltzof, 
in 17-0, and laimched in 1723. Bcrmg caused her to be retimbered in 1727, 
and in 1734 the vessel was beached as unseaworthy, but she was finally 
repaired in 1741 and wrcckotl on the Kurile Islaiids in tlie same year. The 
fifth, a lodka, was built near Okhotsk in 1724, but was never finished 'for 
want of material.' The .sixth vessel constructed at Okhotsk was the shitika 
Fortima, built in one year by a marine, Chaplin, probably an Englishman, 
and launched in June 1727. In 1730 the Fortima was hauled up as unsea- 
worthy, but in 1731 she was repaired once moi'e and finally retiml^ered in 
1737, and wrecked in the same year near Bolsheretsk. The seventh on the 
list, the Sv Gai-ril, was constructed under Bering's immediate supervision at 
Nishekamchatsk in the year 1728. In 1737 she was retunbered by Lieu- 
tenant opanberg at Okhotsk. In 1738 she was wrecked on the coast of Kam- 
chatka, but again repaired in the follovvuig year, 1739. She was finally broken 
up as unseaworthy in 1755. The eighth vessel constructed at Okhotsk was 
the Vostochnid Gavril, or Eastern Gabriel, built in 1729 by Sphanef for Shes- 
takof's expedition. After Gvozdef's voyage to Bering Strait the Eastern 
Gabriel was wrecked in October 1739 by Fedoref near Bolsheretsk. The Lev 
(Lion) was also built by Sphanef at Okhotsk in 1729, but was burned by the 
hostile Koriaks in September of the sr^me year. A lodka built by Churckr.ief 
iu 1729 is the tenth on the list. The navigator Moshkof used this craft for 
an exploration of the Shantar Islands, but she proved unseaworthy and was 
abandoned. Next on the list is the brigantine Arkhangel Mikhail, begun at 
Okhotsk in 1735 and launched in 1737 for Bering's second expedition. The 
builders were Rogachef and Kozmin, superintended by Spanberg himself. 
The brigantine did good service, but was finally wrecked in 1753. The 12th 
on the list is the double sloop Nadeshda, with three masts (?) and gaff-top- 
sails. She was begun by the same builders at Okhotsk in 1735 and launched in 
1737. This also proved a useful ci'aft, but she was finally wrecked in 1753 
by one Naoumof on the Kurile Islands. The sloop Bolsheretsh was built by 
Spanberg in 1739 of bii'ch timber, and provided with 18 oars. She was 
declared to be unseaworthy in 1745. The galiot Okhotsk, the 14th on the 
list, was built by Rogachef at Okhotsk in 1737. Ten years later she was 
repaired, and wrecked the year after. The packet-boat *S'(' Petr, the vessel 
in which Bering sailed, was also built by Rogachef and Kozmin in 1741. 
She was wrecked and rebuilt on Bering Island in the same year, as we have 
seen. The vessel of Chirikof, the big •S'l; Pavel, was built by the same per- 
sons in Okhotsk and launched in 1740, and only four years later she was 
abandoned as unseaworthy. The next on the list is the packet-boat /oan 
Krest'del, or St John the Baptist, built in Okhotsk by Kozmin 1741, for Span- 
berg's expedition, and wrecked near Bolsheretsk in October 1743, under com- 
mand of Lieutenant Khmetevski. The sloop Elizaveta, the 18th on the list, 
was built at Okhotsk bj' Kozmin, wrecked on the Kamchatka coast in 1745, 
repaired, and wrecked again in 1755. The small Sv Petr, built on Bering 
Island out of the remains of the larger vessel, was sunk on the coast of Kam- 
chatka in 1753, but raised and beached in 1754. Okhotsk Archives; Syibnef, 
Moiskoi Sbornik, 1S55, 12-210. 
Hist. Alaska. 7 


unclisturbecl. Be that as it may, it was chiefly on the 
voyages of Bering and Chirikof that Russia ever after 
based lier claim to the ownership of north-western- 
most America. ^'^ 

^- The voyages of Vitus Bering have funiished material for much learned 
discussion. The French astronomer Dc LTsle de la Croy^re advanced the 
claim of having been largely instrumental in their accomplishment, more so per- 
haps than he was justly entitled to, though it cannot be denied that he had 
much to say in the organization of the second expedition under Bering. With 
the honor of having planned the expedition, he should not attempt to escape 
the odium of having furnished it with such villainous charts, to which ihay be 
attributed most of that suffering and loss of life which followed. Nor is he by 
any means just to Bering, seeking as he does in his account to deprive him of 
any part in the discovery, claiming that Chirikof's party made the only dis- 
covery Avorthy of mention. He does not even state that Bering touched upon 
the American coast at all; according to his narrative Bering ' sailed from Kam- 
chatka, but did not go far, having been compelled by a storm to anchor at a 
desert island where he and most of his companions perished.' An author 
makes nothing by such trickery. His attempted deceit is sure eooner or 
later to fall back upon his own lacad. Nor will it do to pretend ignorance. 
Professor Miiller, of the imperial academy of science, accompanied Bering 
on his last voyage. At the time De LTsle was writing his treatise Muller 
Vv-as living in the same street in St Petersburg, and meeting as they must 
have done daily, it would have been easy to ascertain the truth if he had 
wished to knov/ it. That such wretched maps as Croyere's should have been 
given to the world by Russia, or in her name, is all the more to be deplored, 
because the Russians, though they had then scarcely gained a place among 
seafaring nations, had made the most strenuous efforts at discovery in water? 
so inhospitable that people less imu'ed to the rigors of climate, and less de- 
spotically governed, would never have thought of navigating them. Others 
may have furnished the idea which the Russians alone, who to be sure would 
reap the first benefits from such discoveries, were possessed of power and 
endurance to carrj' out. 




Eft^ct of the Discovery in Siberia — HujSTIng Expeditions in Search 
OF Sea-otters — Voyages of Bassof, Nevodchikof, and Yugof — 
Rich Harvests of Sea-otter and Fur-seal Skins from the Aleu- 
tian Archipelago — ^The Cunning Promyshleniki and the Mild 
Islanders— The Old Tale of Wrong and Atiiocity— Bloodshed 
on Attoo Island— Early Monopolies — Chuprof's and Kholodilof's 
Adventures— Russlans Defeated on Unalaska and Amlia— Yu- 
gof's Unfortunate Speculation — Further Discovery — The Fate of 
GoLODOF — Other Adventures. 

One would think that, with full knowledge of the 
sufferings and dangers encountered by Bering's and 
Chirikofs expeditions, men w^ould hesitate before risk- 
ing their lives for otter-skins. But such was not the 
case. When a small vessel was made ready to follow 
the course of the Sv Petr and the Sv Pavel there was 
no lack of men to join it, though some of them w^ere 
still scarcely able to crawl, from the effects of former 
disaster. As the little sable had enticed the Cossack 
from the Black Sea and the Volga across the Ural 
Mountains and the vast plains of Siberia to the shores 
of the Okhotsk Sea and the Pacific, so now the sea- 
otter lures the same venturesome race out among the 
islands, and ice, and fog-banks of ocean. 

The first to engage in hunting sea-otters and other 
fur-bearing animals, east of Kamchatka, was Emilian 
Bassof, who embarked as early as 1743, if we may 
believe Vassili Berg, our best authority on the sub- 
ject.^ Bassof was sergeant of the military company 

' Berg, Khronologicheskdia Istoria Otiirytiy Aleutskikh Ostrovahh, 2, 3, i)a.s- 


of lower Kamchatka, whose imagination had become 
excited b}^ the wealth brought home by Bering's crew. 
Forming a partnership with a merchant from Moscow, 
Andrei Serebrennikof, he built a small shitika^ which 
he called the Kapiton, sailed to Bering Island, passed 
the winter there, and returned to Kamchatka in the 
follo^\*ing year.^ A second voyage was made the fol- 
lowing July,* with Nikofor Trapeznikof as partner, 
the same vessel being employed. Besides Bering 
Island, Bassof also visited Copper Island, and col- 
lected 1,600 sea-ottere, 2,000 fur-seals, and 2,000 blue 
Arctic foxes. From this trip Bassof returned on the 
31st of July 1746. A third voyage was undertaken 
by Bassof in 1747, from Avhich he returned in the 
following year, and embarked for a last voyage in 

sim. Most authorities are silent concemiDg this expedition, but Sgibnef, 
Morshoi Sbornih, cii. 74, states that Bassof sailed on his first voyage in 1743. 

^ The shitikas, from the E,^^ssian shi-'d, to sew, were vessels made almost 
without iron bolts, the planks being 'sewed' together or fastened with leather 
or seal-skin thongs. 

* From pipers preserved in the chancellerj' of Bolsheretsk. See also Berg, 
Khfonoloijlcheslcciia Istoria, 3, 4. 

■* The author of Xeue Nachrlrhten doubts the authenticity of these state- 
ments. But, as Berg had access to all the arcliives, we may safely accept his 
statement, though in the chronological table appended to his work the expedi- 
tion of the Kapiton is omitted. Berg, Khronol. Istoria, Appendix. Sgibnef 
states that Bassof formed a partnership with Trapeznikof in 1747 to undertake 
' the second voyage,' from which they realized a return of 112,220 rubles. 
Morsloi Sbornik, cii. -v. 74. 

^ A report to the commander of Okhotsk with reference to the third voj'- 
age was discovered by Prince >Shakhovskoi in the archives of Okhotsk. From 
this document Berg gives the following extracts: 'Most respectful report of 
Sergeant Emilian I3assof to the councillor of the port of Okhotsk : — After hav- 
ing set out with some Cossacks upon a sea-voyage last year (1747), in search 
of unknown islands, in the shitika Sv Petr, at our own expense, we arrived 
at a previously discovered small island,' Copper Island. 'On the beach about 
50 pounds of native copper was gathered. On the south-eastern side of the 
same island we found some unknown material, some ore or mineral, of which 
v.-e took a pound or two. Our men picked up 205 pebbles on the beach great 
and small, and among them were two yellow ones and one pink. We also 
found a new kind of fish. . .We brought with us to the port of Nishekam- 
chatsk sea-otters male and female 970 skins, and the same number of tails, 
and 1,520 blue foxes. These furs were all divided in sliares among those who 
were with me on the above-mentioned voyage.. .Sergeant Emilian Bassof.' 
Berg, Khronol. Istoria, 4. The ship Sv Petr, Captain Emilian Bassof, is like- 
wise mentioned in Berg's tabular list of voyages under date of 1750. 'A for- 
tunate event which occurred while I was engaged in collecting information 
M'ith regard to these voyages,' says Berg, 'placed me in possession of papers 
containing the names of owners of vessels and the furs shipped on those occa- 


All was still dark regarding lands and navigation 
eastward. But when Bassof's reports reached the 
imperial senate an oukaz was forwarded at once to 
the admiralty college ordaining that any charts com- 
piled from Bering's and Chirikof's journals, together 
with their log-books and other papers, should be 
sent to the senate for transmittal to the governor 
general of Siberia. The admiralty college intrusted 
the execution of this order to the eminent hydrog- 
rapher Admiral Nagaief, who finally compiled a chart 
for the guidance of hunters and traders navigating 
along the Aleutian Islands,*' 

Bassof was scarcely back from his first voyage and 
it was noised abroad that he had been successful, when 
there were others ready to follow his example. A 
larger venture was set on foot early in 1745, while 
Bassof was still absent on his second voyage, under the 
auspices of Lieutenant Lebedef, he who had married 
Croyere's widow. While in command at Bolsheretsk 
he issued a permit for a voyage to the newly discov- 
ered islands, on the 25th of February, to the mer- 
chants Afanassi Chebaievskoi of Lalsk and Arkhip 
Trapeznikof of Irkutsk. Their avowed purpose vras 
to hunt sea- otters and make discoveries eastward of 
Kamchatka, Associated with them were Yakof Chu- 

sions: 1st, papers obtained from Court Counsellor Ivan Ossipovich Zelonski; 
2d, some incomplete data compiled by myself while living at Kadiak from 
verbal tradition and private lettei's; 3d, letters I found in Mr Shelikof's 
archives; and 4th, letters I received between the years 1760 and 1785 from 
the merchant Ivan Savicli Lapin, of Solikamsk.' The dates given of Bassof 'a 
four voyages are 1743, 1745, 1747, and 1749, Bcrcj, KJtronol. Istoria, G. 

'^ Morslcoi Sbornik, cii, 11, 55. The editor of the Sihirshj Viestnih (Sibe- 
rian Messenger), G. I, Spasski, in 1822, devoted four numbers of his pub- 
lication to a minute description of Copper Island, accompanied by a chart 
indicating Bassof's occupation of the place, as on its northern side two bays 
are named Bassofskaya and Petrofskaya respectively, after Bassof and one of 
his vessels. From the description in the Viestnih "it is evident that Bassof 
wintered on Copper Island in 1749, and obtained most of his furs there. A 
cross which was preserved on the island for many j'cars, bore an inscription 
to the effect that Yefim Kuznctzof, a new convert (probably a Kamchatka 
native), wasadded to Bassof's command on the 7th of April 1750. It is probable 
that the baptism of this convert took place on the island, and that the name 
of the man was added to Bassof's list only when he became a Christian. ' Sih. 
Viestnilc, 1S22, numbers 2 to 6, passim. Bassof died in 1754, leaving a 
daughter with whom the merchant, Lapin, one of Berg's authorities, was per- 
sonally acquainted. Khronol. Istoria, passim. 


prof, Radion Yatof, Ivan Kholchevnikof, Pavel Kar- 
abelnikof, Larion Beliaief, Nikolai Chuprof, Lazar 
Karmanof, and Kiril Kozlof/ They built a large 
shitika and named it the Yevdohia. As morekhod, or 
navigator, they engaged a Tobolsk peasant named 
Mikhail Nevodchikof, who had been with Bering, and 
who was even credited by various authors with the 
discovery of the Aleutian Islands.^ In these expedi- 
tions the bold promyshleniki were ever the main-stay. 
Nevodchikof was doubtless aware that Bassof had col- 
lected his furs at Bering and Copper islands, but trust- 
ing to his memory, or perhaps following the advice of 
other companions of Bering, he passed by these isl- 
ands, shaping his course south-east in search of the land 
named by Bering Obmannui, or Delusive Islands, The 
Yevdohia had sailed from the mouth of the Kam- 
chatka on the 1 9th of September 1745,^ and after a voy- 
age of six days the adventurous promyshleniki sighted 
the first of the Blishni group of the Aleutian isles. 
Passing by the first, Attoo, Nevodchikof anchored near 
the second, Agatoo, about noon of the 24th. Next 
morning over a hundred armed natives assembled on 
the beach and beckoned the Russians to land, but it 
was not deemed safe in view of their number; so they 
threw into the water a few trifling presents, and in 
return the natives threw back some birds just killed. 
On the 26th Chuprof landed with a few men armed 
with muskets for water. They met some natives, to 

^ Bolfsheretsh Archives; Neve Nackr., 9, 10. 

^ From the fact that Nevodchikof was called a peasant we must not infer 
that he was an agricultural laborer, but simply of the peasant class, one of 
the numerous castes into which Russian society was divided. The so-called 
'civil classes' of society outside of government officials were merchants, 
hiptzvi, again divided into lirst, second, and third guild; tradesmen, 
chaninui, and peasants, Jcrestlaninni; but many of the latter class were 
engaged in trade and commerce. Ivan Lapin told Berg that he knew Ne- 
vodchikof personally, and that he had served with Bering on his voyage to 
America in 1741. Nevodchikof was a silversmith from Oustioug, and came 
to Siberia in search of fortune. Meeting with no success he went on to Kam- 
chatka, and there finding himself without a passport he was taken into the 
government service. Lapin was in possession of a silver snuffbox, the work 
of Nevodchikof. Khronol. Istorla, 7. 

^Keue Nachr.y 10; Khronol. Jst., 7. 

^^OLI:xcE axd elood. ics 

%y1ic n.1 they gave tobacco and pipes, and received a stick 
ornamented with the head of a seal carved in bone. 
Then the savages wanted one of the muskets, and 
when refused they became angry and attempted to 
capture the party by seizing their boat. Finally Chup- 
rof ordered his men to fire, and for the first time the 
thundering echoes of musketry resounded from the 
hills of Agatoo. One bullet took effect in the hand 
of a native; the crimson fluid gushed forth over the 
white sand, and the long era of bloodshed, violence, 
and rapine for the poor Aleuts was begun. ^° As the 
natives had no arms except bone-pointed spears, which 
they vainly endeavored to thrust through the sides 
of the boat, shedding of blood might easily have been 
avoided. At all events the Russians could not now^ 
winter there, so they worked the ship back to the 
first island, and anchored for the night. 

The following morning Chuprof, who seems to have 
come to the front as leader, and one Shevyrin, landed 
Vv^th several men. They saw tracks but encountered 
no one. The ship then moved slowly along the coast, 
and on the following day the Cossack Shekhurdin, 
with six men, was sent ashore for water and to recon- 
noitre. Toward night they came upon a party of five 
natives with their wives and children, who immedi- 
ately abandoned their huts and ran for the mountains. 
In the morning Shekhurdin boarded the ship, which 
was still moving along the shore in search of a suit- 
able place for wintering, and returned again with a 
larger force. On a bluff facing the sea they saw fif- 
teen savages, one of whom they captured, together 
with an old woman who insisted on following the 
prisoner. ^^ The two natives, with a quantity of seal- 

"Wlien the natives perceived the wound of their comrade they threw off 
their garments, carried him into the sea, and endeavored to wash off the 
blood. Khronol. Ist.,S; Neue Nadir., 13. SeeN'ativeIiacei:,vol.i., this series. 

'1 'Es gclang ihren auch, ungeachtet dor Gegeniwehr, welche die Insulaner 
mit ihren Knochernen Spiessen leisteten, selbige herunter zu jagen nnd einen 
davon gefangen zu nehmen, der sogleich aufs Schiff gebracht ward. Sie 
ergiifl'en auch ein altes Weile, welche sie bis zur Hiitte verfolgt hatten, und 
brachten auch diese, mit dcm zugleich erbeuteten Seehundsfett und Fellen, 
Kum Schiff,' Neue Nachrichten, 14, 15. 


blubber found in the hut, were taken on board the 
Yevdohia. A storm arose shortly after, during which 
the ship was driven out to sea with the loss of an 
anchor and a yawl. 

From the 2d to the 9th of October the gale con- 
tinued; then they approached the island and selected 
a wintering-place for the ship. The natives were less 
timid than at first, though they found in the hut the 
bodies of two men who had evidently died from 
wounds received during the scuffle on the bluff. The 
old woman, who had been released, returned with 
thirty-four of her people; they danced and sang to 
the sound of bladder-drums, and made presents of 
colored cla}^ receiving in return handkerchiefs, needles, 
and thimbles. After the first ceremonial visit both 
parties separated on the most friendly terms. Before 
the end of the month the same party came again 
accompanied by the old woman and several children, 
and briuOTno;- mfts of sea-fowl, seal-meat, and fish. 
Dancing and singing were again nidulged in. 

On the 26th of October Shevyrin, Chuprof, and 
Nevodchikof, with seven men, set out in search of 
their new friends and found them encamped under a 
cliff. On this occasion they purchased a hidar,^^ with 
an extra covering of skin, for two cotton shirts. They 
found stone axes and bone needles in use among the 
natives, who seemed to subsist altogether upon the 
flesh of sea-otters, seals, and sea-lions, and upon fish. 

The reign of violence and bloodshed already inaug- 
urated on the island of Agatoo was quickly established 
on Attoo. Two days prior to his visit to the friendly 
natives, Chuprof, anxious to acquire a more minute 
knowledge of the island, sent out one of his subordi- 
nates, Alexei Beliaicf, with ten men to explore. This 
man discovered several habitations with whose in- 

^^ 'Und fanclen sie unter einem Felsen {Utess), Kauften von ihnen ein 
Baidar (ledernen Kahn) und eine Baidarenhaut, wovor sie ihnen zwey Hemden 
gaben und zurukkehrten, ohne die gei-ingste Feindseligkeiterfahren zu liaben.' 
Neue Nachr., 15. Tlie bidar was an open skin boat, and the largest of the 


mates he managed to pick a quarrel, in the course of 
which fifteen of the islanders were killed. ^^ Even the 
Cossack Shekhurdin, who had accompanied Beliaicf, 
was shocked at such proceedings and went and told 
Chuprof, who said nothing, but merely sent the 
butchering party more powder and lead." 

These and like outrages of the promyshleniki were 
not known in Russia until after several years, and if 
they had been it would have made little difference, ^^ 
Their efforts were successful; but we may easily 
believe that the interval between December 1745 and 
the day when the Yevdokia departed, which was the 
14th of September 1746, was not a time of rejoicing 
to the people of Attoo. To this day the cruelties 
committed by the first Russians are recited by the 
poverty-stricken remnants of a once prosperous and 
happy people. 

The return voyage was not a fortunate one; for six 
wrecks the heavily laden craft battled with the waves, 
^nd at last, on the 30th of October, she was cast upon 
a rocky coast with the loss of nearly all her valuable 
cargo. Ignorant as to their situation the men made 
their w^ay into the interior, suffering from cold and 
hunger, but finally they succeeded in finding some 

" There ia little doubt that this encounter was wilfully provoked, and 
the male natives slaughtered for a purpose. Berg merely hints that women 
were at the bottom of it, but in the Neue Nachr. it is distinctly charged thr.t 
Beliaief caused the men to be shot in ortler to secure the women. Some dis- 
pute about an iron bolt that had disappeared, and which the natives could or 
would not return, was seized upon as an excuse. Berg, Khronol. Id., 8, 9; 
Neue Nachr., IG. 

^*In the Neue Nachr., 16, Chuprof is accused of a plan for the destruc- 
tion of a number of natives, by means of a porridge seasoned with corrosive 

'■'>An islander, Temnak, was carried away to Kamchatka on the Yevdohia. 
He claimed to be a native of At (Attoo?). In 1750 he was sent to Okhotsk 
with Nevodchikof, after having been baptized at Nishekamchatsk by the mis- 
sionary Osoip Khotumzevskoi. He was fitted out with clothing at the ex- 
pense of the government and named PaA'el Nevodchikof, the pilot having acted 
as his godfather, and finally adopting him. 'Schon am 24sten October hatte 
Czjuiyrotv zehn Mann, unter Anfiihrung des Lcirion Beajeiv zii kundschaften 
ausgeschikt. Dieser fand verschiedene Ivrten (Wohnungen), der Insulaner 
Und well er ihnen feindselig begegnete und die wenigen Insulaner sich daher 
mit ihren Knochemen Lanzen zwi Wehre setzten, so nahm er daher Gelegen- 
lieit alle Manner funfzehn an der Zalil zu erschiessen, un die zwriikgebliebe- 
nen Weiber zur Unzucht gebrauchen zu Kcnnen.' Neue Nachr., 11. 


human habitations. On questioning the natives they 
learned to their consternation that they were not on 
the mainland, but on the island of Karaghinski off 
the coast of Kamchatka. The Koriaks were already 
tributary to the Russians, and treated their visitors 
kindly until Beliaief made advances to the wife of the 
ycssaul, or chief, whose wrath was with difficulty as- 
suaged. Finally in May 1747 a descent was made 
on the island by an armed party of Olutor.iki, a war- 
like tribe living near the mouth of the Olutorsk river 
on the mainland.^*' 

In a bloody fight during which many natives and 

^8 The origin of the word alent may perhaps be referred to these people. 
The first mention of the Olutorski tribe was in a report of the Cossack Atlas- 
sof, the conqneror of Kamchatka, in 1700. He states tliat on the coast of 
Kamchatka the Liiitortzi are called strangers by the surrounding Koriaks, 
Vihom they much resembled. Morskoi Suonii/j, ci. 4-73. In 171-i Afanassi 
retrof, a nobleman, built on the Olutorsk river an ostrog of the same name; 
he was free'.y assisted by the natives. In the following year Petrof forvrarded 
all the tribute he had collected, consisting of 1-il bundles of sables, of 40 skins 
each, 5,G40 red foxes, 10 cross foxes, l.'^7 sea-otters, two land-otters, and 22 
ounces of gold taken from a wrecked Japanese junk. Subsecjueutly the 
natives revolted and killed Petrof and nearly all his followers. Morskoi 
S')0)~)uk, ci. 4-82, 296. It is probable that when the Russians first encoun- 
tered the natives of the Aleutian Islands, being already acquainted with the 
Olutoi-ski, they applied that name, pronounced by them Aliutorski, to a race 
that certainly resembles the latter. On the whole coast of Kamchatka these 
Olutorski were the only whale-hunters, a pursuit followed also by Aleuts. 
Russian authors generally derive the name from the Aleut word aUil\ What 
dost thou want? If this phrase ever Mas in general use it has entirely dis- 
appeared, and it certainly is no nearer the word Aleut, or Aleutski, as the 
Russians pronounce it, than is Olutorski. Choris, pt. vii. 12. Engel, in Geo- 
ijrapliinche mid Kritl-<che Nachrlchten, i. v. 6, 7; vi.-vii., lefers to an article 
in the Leydatar Zeltuiiu, Feb. 26, 1765, where it is siid that 'the traders 
from the Kovima (Kolima), sailed out of that liver and were fortunate 
enough to double the cape of the Chukchi in latitude 74^; they then sailed 
southward and discovered some islands in latitude 04°, v.-here they traded 
with the natives and obtained some tine black foxes of which some speci- 
mens were sent to the empress as a present. They named those islands 
Alcyut, and I think that some of them adjoined America.' Engel then 
goes on to say: 'These sailors called th^se islands "Aleyut;" the word seema 
to me to be somewhat mutilated. JJuller says that the island situated 
half a day's journey from Chukchi land, is inhabited by people named Ak- 
hyukh-Alial, and it appears that these traders actually come to this island, 
or perhaps to another one also situated in that neighborhood, the people of 
which Muller calls Peckale ; he also speaks of a great country lying farther 
to the east named Kitchin Aliat. I believe, therefore, that the said Aleyut 
is nothing but the Aliat or Aeliat which forms the ending of both of the above- 
mentioned names.' It is evident that Engel confounds the voyages of the 
promyshleniki to the Aleutian Islands with the discovery of the Diomede 
Islands in Bering Straits. The Kitchin Aliat may bear some relation to 
either the Kutchin tribes of the American coast or more probably to the 
luuuit or Eskimos. 


several Russians were killed, the invaders were de- 
feated, and as they left the island the Olutorski declared 
their intention to return with reenforcements and to 
exterminate the Russians and all who paid tribute to 
them. The prom^'shleniki were anxious to be off, 
and the islanders freely assisted them in constructing 
two large bidars. On the 27th of June they departed, 
and arrived at the ostrog of Nishekamchatsk on the 
21st of July with a little over three hundred sea- 
otter skins, the remnant of the valuable cargo of the 

Immediately upon receiving information of the dis- 
covery of the Aleutian isles, Elizabeth issued as pecial 
oukaz appointing Nevodchikof to their oversight with 
the rank of a master in the imperial navy, in which 
capacity he was retained in the government service 
at Okhotsk. In accordance with the old laws which 
exacted tribute from all savage tribes, Cossacks were 
to be detailed to make collections during the expedi- 
tion that might be sent forth. 

Meanwhile the several reports, and the rich cargoes 
brought back by Bassof's vessels, had roused the 
merchants of Siberia. ^^ In 1746 the Moscow mer- 
chant Andrei Rybenskoi, through his agent, Andrei 

^^ Some discrepancy exists in our authorities witli regard to dates and de- 
tails of the latter part of this expedition. Berg briefly states that Nevodchikof 
sailed from Attoo Sept. 14, 174G, and that his vessel was wrecked the 30th 
of Oct. on an island, where he was obliged to pass the winter. Klironol. 1st., 
10, 11. A few lines farther on we are told that the party returned to Kam- 
chatka in July 1746, with 300 sea-otters and with but a small portion of the 
original crew, having lost 52 men on the voyage. The same author states 
that on the strength of a report of the outrages committed upon natives, pre- 
sented by the Cossack Shekhurdin, all the survivors were subjected to legal 
process. To add to the coniusion of dates and data, Eerg subsequently tells 
us that the value of the cargo brought back to Kamchatka by Nevodchikof 
was 19,200 rubles (much more than 3C0 sea-otters would bring at that time), 
and that the Ycvdolcia was wrecked in 1754! Khrovol. 1st., 11, 12. In the 
Neue Nachr., 17, 18, the dates are less conflicting, and we are informed that 
Nevodchikof 's party returned in two bidars with 320 sea-otters, of which they 
paid one tenth into the imperial treasury. The number of lives lost during 
the voyage is here placed at only 12 Russians and natives of Kamchatka. 

^^ Making due allowance for the low prices of furs at that time, and the 
comparatively high value of money, Bassof 's importations cannot be consid- 
ered over-estimated at half a million dollars. Btrcj, Khronol. 1st., 11. 


Vsevldof, also Feoclor Kholodilof of Totemsk, Nikofor 
Trapeznikof, and Vassili Balin of Irkutsk, Kosma 
Nerstof of Totma, Mikhail Nikilinicli of Novo Yaiisk, 
and Feodor Shiikof of Yaroslavl/^ petitioned the com- 
mander of Bolsheretsk for permission to hunt, and two 
vessels were fitted out. The navigator selected for 
I'lholodilof's vessel was Andrei Tolstjdih, a merchant 
of the town of Selengisk, who was destined to play a 
prominent part in the gradual discovery of the Aleu- 
tian chain. The two vessels sailed from the Kam- 
chatka River within a few days of each other. One, 
the Su loann, commanded by Tolstykh, sailed the 
20th of August manned by forty-six jDromyshleniki 
and six Cossacks. They reached Bering, or Com- 
mander, Island, and wintered there in accordance with 
the wishes of Shukof, Nerstof, and otlier shareholders 
in the enterprise. After a moderately successful hunt- 
ing season Tolstykh put to sea once more on the 31st 
of May 1747. He shaped his course to the south in 
search of the island reported by Steller on June 21, 
1741.20 J'ailing in this he changed his course to the 
northward, and finally came to anchor in the road- 
stead of Nishekamchatsk on the 14th of August. 
During the voyage he had collected 683 sea-otters 
and 1,481 blue foxes, and all from Bering Island. 
Vsevidof sailed from Kamchatka the 26th of August 
1746, and returned the 25th of July 1749, with a 
cargo of over a thousand sea-otters and more than 
two thousand blue foxes.^^ 

^^Nem Narhr., 18, 19; Berg, Khronol. 1st., 11, 12. These merchants de- 
sired to build two vessels at their own expense ' to go in pursuit of marine 
animals during the following year;' they also asked for permission to employ 
native Kainchatkans and Russian mariners and hunters, and to make tempo- 
rary use of some nautical instruments saved from a wreck. Neue Nachr., 20. 
This Trapeznikof was evidently the same who was in partnership with Bassof 
the preceding year. 

'^■'StcUer's Journal, 1. 47. 

^^ Bcr'j, Khronol. fd., app. It is probable that Vsevidof passed the winter 
following his departure on Copper Island, as on the earliest charts a bay on 
the north-eastern side of that island is named Vsevidof 's Harbor. In a descrip- 
tion of Copper Island, published in the Slhlrsli Viestni!:, it is stated that on 
the 2d of March 1747 two promyshleniki named Yurlof and Vtoruikh fell 
from a cliff and died of tlieir injuries, Tliese men could only have be- 


About this time a voyage was accomplished over 
an entirely new route. Three traders in the north, 
Ivan Shilkin of Solvichegodsk, Afanassi Bakof of 
Oustioug, and one Novikof of Irkutsk, built a vessel 
on the banks of the Anadir Kiver and called it Pro- 
Izoj) i ZancU^ They succeeded in making their way 
down the river and through the Onemenskoi mouth 
into the gulf of Anadir. From the 10th of July 1747 
to the 15th of September these daring navigators 
battled with contrary winds and currents along the 
coast, and finally came to anchor on the coast of Be- 
ring Island. On the 30th of October, when nearly the 
whole crew was scattered over the island hunting and 
trapping and gathering fuel, a storm arose and threw 
the vessel upon a rocky reef, where she was soon demol- 
ished. Bethinking themselves of Bering's ship, with 
remnants of that and of their own, and some large 
sticks of drift-wood, the castaways built a boat about 
fifty feet long. In this cockle-shell, which was named 
the KajDiton, they put to sea the following summer. 
Despite their misfortune the spirit of adventure was 
not quenched, and the promyshleniki boldly steered 
north-eastward in search of new discoveries. They 
obtained a distant view of land in that direction, and 
almost reached the continent of America, but the 
land disappeared in the fog, and they returned to 
Commander Islands. After a brief trip to Copper 
Island they reached the coast of Kamchatka in Au- 
gust 1749.'=^ 

longed to Vsevidof's vessel. Berg says that Ivan Rybinskoi of Moscow and 
Stephen Tyrin of Yaroslaf in 1747 despatched a vessel named loann, which 
sailed foi' the nearest Aleutian Islands and returned in 1749 with 1,000 sea- 
otters and 2,000 blue foxes, the cargo being sold for 52,590 rubles, which is 
but another account of Vsevidof's voyage. Khronoi. Int., 14. 

•'^ Berg, Khronoi. 1st., 16. This name is given in the Russian edition of 
Berg, Perkiip i Zant. The latter will be remembered as one of the sailors 
with Bering's expedition, and the former is a common Russian name. The 
men of that name were probably employed to build the vessel. 

^3 The cargo of the Kapiton was valued only at 4,780 rubles, and it is diffi- 
cult to understand how they could carry furs representing even this small 
value in a vessel of that size. On account of the rigging, artillery, and ship's 
stores of various kinds left by Bering's companions on the island named after 
him, an order had been issued from Okhotsk prohibiting traders from landing 


The first effort to obtain a monopoly of traffic with 
the newly discovered islands was made in February 
1748, by an Irkutsk merchant named Emihan Yugof, 
who obtained from the senate for himself and partners^* 
an oukaz granting permission to fit out four vessels 
for voyages to the islands "in the sea of Kamchatka," 
with the privilege that during their absence no other 
parties should be allowed to equip vessels in pursuit 
of sea-otters. In consideration of this privilege Yugof s 
company agreed to pay into the imperial treasury one 
third of the furs collected. A special order to this 
effect was issued to Captain Lebedef, the commander 
of Kamchatka, from the provincial chancellery at Ir- 
kutsk under date of July 1748. Yugof himself, how- 
ever, did not arrive at Bolsheretsk till November 1 749, 
and instead of four ships he had but one small vessel 
ready to sail by the 6th of October 1750. This boat, 
named the Sv loann, with a crew of twenty-five men 
and two Cossacks, was wrecked before leaving the coast 
of Kamchatka. Over a jesiv passed by before Yugof 
was ready to sail again. He liad received permission 
to employ naval officers, but his associates were un- 
willing to furnish money enough for an expedition on 
a large scale. The second ship, also named the Sv 
loann, sailed in October 1751. For three years noth- 
ing was heard of this expedition, and upon the state- 
ment of the commander of Okhotsk that the instructions 
of the government had been disregarded by the firm, 
an order was issued from Irkutsk, in 1753, for the con- 
fiscation of Yugof's property on his return."^ Captain 

there until the government property could be disposed of. The craft con- 
structed by Bassof and Serebrennikof was consequently seized by the govern- 
ment authorities immediately after entering poit. The conliscated vessel was 
snbsecjuently delivered to the merchant Ivan Shilkin, with permission to 
make liunting and exploring voyages to the eastern islands. NcncNachr., 30. 
The prohilntory order concerning Bering Island was disregarded altogether 
by the promyshleniki, who made a constant practice of landing and wintering 
there. Benj, Khronol. Int., 10. 

'•" These were Ignatiy Ivanof and Matvei Shchorbakof of St Petersburg, 
and Petr Maltzof, Arkhip Trapeznikof, Feodor Solovief, and Dmitri Yagof 
of Irkutsk. Neue Nadir., 20. 

'^'^ Kamchatka Archives, 17iJ4. 


Chereclof, who had succeeded Captain Lebedcf in the 
command of Kamchatka, was at the same time author- 
ized to accept similar proposals from other firms, but 
none were made. On the 22d of July 1754, the Sv 
loann unexpectedly sailed into the harbor of Nishe- 
kamchatsk with a rich cargo which was at once placed 
under seal by the government officials. The leader of 
the expedition did not return, but the mate Grigor 
Nizovtzof presented a written report to the effect that 
the whole cargo had been obtained from Bering and 
Copper islands, and that Yugof had died at the latter 
place. The cargo consisted of 790 sea-otters, 7,044 
blue foxes, 2,212 fur-seals.^'' 

It is evident that the authorities of Bolsheretsk did 
not consider this first monopoly to extend beyond 
Bering and Copper islands, as even before Yugof 
sailed other companies were granted permission to fit 
out sea-otter hunting expeditions to "such islands as 
had not yet been made tributary." Andrei Tolstykh, 
who had served as navigator under Kholodilof, obtained 
permission from the chancellery of Bolsheretsk to fit 
out a vessel, and sailed on the 19th of August 1749, 
arriving at Bering Island the 6th of September. Here 
he wintered, securing, however, only 47 sea-otters, 
and in May of the following year he proceeded to the 
Aleutian Islands, first visited by Ncvodchikof. Here 
he met with better luck, and finally returned to Kam- 
chatka the 3d of July 1752, with a cargo of 1,772 sea- 
otters, 750 blue foxes, and 840 fur-seals.^' 

The enterprising merchant Nikofor Trapeznikof of 

*® The furs were subsequently released on the payment of the stipulated 
one third. Keiie Nackr., 33. 

'^ Tolstykh reported that he came to an island the inhabitants of which 
had not previously paid tribute; they seemed to be of Chukchi extraction, as 
they tattooed their faces in a similar manner and also wore labrcts or orna- 
ments of walrus ivory in their cheeks. According to his statement these 
'Aleuts' had killed two natives of Kamchatka without the least provocation. 
On another island the natives voluntarily paid tribute in sea-otter skins. Neiie 
Nachr., 26. It is difficult to determine from this report which island Tolstykh 
visited; the description of the natives would point to St Lawrence Island, 
but tlie tribute paid in sea-otter-skins can only have come from the Aleutian 
chain. Probably he had sailed to the northward first and then changed his 
course to the Aleutian Islands. See Native liuces, vol. i. this seiies. 


Irkutsk also received permission to sail for the Aleu- 
tian Islands in 1749 under promise of delivering to 
the government not only the tribute collected from 
the natives, but one tenth of the furs obtained. Tra- 
peznikof built a ship, named it the Boris i Gleb, and 
sailed in August. He passed four winters on vari- 
ous islands, returning in 1753 with a cargo valued at 
105,736 rubles. The Cossack Sila Shevyrin acted 
as tribute-gatherer on this adventure.^^ During the 
same year, 1749, the merchants Rybinskoi and Tyrin 
sent out the shitika Sv loann to the Near Islands, the 
vessel returnino^ in Aus^ust 1752 with 700 sea-otters 
and 700 blue foxes. ^^ 

Late in 1749 Shilkin built the Sv Simeon i Anna 
and manned her with fourteen Russians and twenty 
natives of Kamchatka. The Cossack Alexei Vorobief, 
or Morolief, served as navigator; Cossacks Ivan Mi- 
nukhin and Alexei Baginef accompanied the ship as 
tribute-gatherers. They left the coast of Kamchatka 
the 5th of August 1750, but after sailing eastw^ard 
two weeks the vessel was wrecked on a small un- 
known island. Here the party remained till the fol- 
lowing autumn, during wliich time Vorobief succeeded 
in constructing a small craft out of the wreck and 
drift-wood. This vessel was named the Ycremy and 
carried the castaways to Kamchatka in the autumn 
of 1752, with a cargo of 820 sea-otters, 1,900 blue 
foxes, and 7,000 fur-seals, all collected on the island 
upon which they were wrecked.^" 

*^ It seems that the island of Atkha was first discovered during the voyage 
of Trapeznikof. Cook and La Purouse call it Atghha, and Holmberg I Acha. 
t'arlofj. Pac. Coast, MS., iii. 470. Shevyrin acknowledged that he had re- 
ceived tribute to the amount of one sea-otter each from the following natives : 
Igja, Oeknu, Ogogoetakh, Shalukiankh, Alak, Tukun, Ononushan, Kotog- 
sioga, Oonashayupu, Lak, Yoreshugilaik, Ungalikan, Shati, and Chyipaks. 
Bolfihcretfik Archives, 1754; -Neut: Nadir. 24-5; Berfj, Khronol. fst., 18. 

'■''She was a lucky craft, making continuous voyages till 176.3, and bring- 
ing over 5,000 sea-otters from the islands. Berg, Khronol. 1st., 18, 19. 

^^ Neiie Nadir., 19. Berg states that the Simeon i Anna carried a crew 
of 14 Russian and 30 natives of Kamchatka, and that the party returned with 
1,980 sea-otters, collected on one of the small islands adjoining Bering Island. 
Khronol. 1st. , 24. The fact that fur-seals formed a part of the cargo would 
confirm the assumption that the locality of the wreck was one of the group 
of the Commander Islands. 


By this time the merchants of Siberia and Kam- 
chatka had gathered confidence regarding the traffic, 
and ship-building became the order of the day. Un- 
fortunately, even the first principles of naval archi- 
tecture were ill understood at Kamchatka, and so late 
as 1760 the promyshleniki made exceeding dangerous 
voyages in most ridiculous vessels — flatboats, shi- 
tikas, and similar craft, usually built without iron 
and often so weak as to fall to pieces in the first gale 
that struck them. As long as the weather was calm 
or nearly so, they might live, but let a storm catch 
them any distance from land and they must sink. We 
should naturally suppose that even in these reckless, 
thoughtless promyshleniki, common instinct would 
prompt greater care of life, but they seemed to flock 
like sheep to the slaughter. We must say for them 
that in this folly their courage was undaunted, and 
their patience under privations and suffering mar- 
vellous. Despotism has its uses. 

He who would adventure here in those days must 
first collect the men. Then from the poor resources 
at hand he would select the material for his vessel, 
which was usually built of green timber just from the 
forest, and with no tool but the axe, the constant com- 
panion of every Russian laborer or hunter. Rope for 
the rigging and cables it was necessary to transport 
on pack-horses from Irkutsk, whence they generally 
arrived in a damaged condition, the long hawsers being- 
cut into many pieces on account of their weight. 
Flour, meat, and other provisions were purchased at 
Kirensk and Yakutsk at exorbitant prices. In such 
crazy craft the promyshleniki were obliged to brave 
the stormy waters of the Okhotsk Sea and navigate 
along the chain of sunken rocks that lined the coast 
of Kamchatka.^^ 

'1 Miiller says the price of iron in Okhotsk in 1746 was half a ruble, or 
about 40 cents, a pound. Voy., i. 82. The crews were obtained in the follow- 
ing manner: The merchant would notify his agent, or correspondent, living at 
Irkutsk, Yakutsk, or Kirensk, who would engage hunters and laborers; each 
agent hiring a few men, providing them with clothing, and sending them to 
Hist. Alaska. 8 


Nikofor Trapeznikof had been very fortunate in his 
first venture with the Boris i Gleb, and therefore 
concluded to continue. In 1752 he sent out the same 
vessel in command of Alexei Drushinnin, a merchant 
of Kursk. This navigator shaped his course for Ber- 
ing Island, but wrecked his vessel on a sunken rock 
when approaching his destination. No lives were lost 
and enough of the wreck was saved to construct 
another craft of somewhat smaller dimensions, which 
they named the Abram. In this vessel they set 
out once more in 1754, but after a few days' cruising 
in the immediate vicinity another shipwreck confined 
them again to the same island in a worse predicament 
than before. 

Meanwhile Trapeznikof had fitted out another 
shitika, the Sv Nikolai, with the Cossack Radion 
Durnef as commander, and the Cossack Shevyrin 
as tribute-gatherer. Durnef called at Bering Island 
and took from there the greater part of the crew 
of the Boris i Gleh, leaving four men in charge of 
surplus stores and the wreck of the Abram. The 
Sv Nikolai proceeded eastward and made several 
new discoveries. Durnef s party passed two winters 
on some island not previously known to the promy- 
shleniki, and finally they returned to Kamchatka in 
1757 with a cargo valued at 187,268 rubles. This 

Okhotsk. There they were first employed in building and equipping the 
ship; and we may imagine what kind of ship-carpenters and sailors tliey 
made. There was one benefit attending this method, however; as these men 
had never seen a ship or the ocean they could not realize the danger of com- 
mitting their lives to such vessels, though the navigators could not have been 
ignorant of the risk to their own lives. Before sailing, an agreement with the 
list of shares was drawn up and duly entered in the hook. This each signed 
or affixed his mark thereto. For example: If the vessel carried a crew of 40 
men, including the navigator and the 2>ei'cdovchik, or leader of hunters, acting 
also as ship's clerk, the whole cargo, on the return of the vessel, was divided 
into two equal shares, one half going to the owners, and the other half being 
again divided into 45, 46, or pei'haps 48 shares, of which each member of the 
snip's company received one, while of the additional five or six shares three 
went to the navigator, two to the peredovchick, and one or two to the church. 
It sometimes happened that at the end of a fortunate voyage the share of 
each hunter amounted to between 2,000 and 3,000 rubles; but when the 
voyages were unsuccessful the unfortunate fellows were kept in perpetual 
indebtedness to their employer. 


was the most successful venture of the kind under- 
taken since the first cUscovery of the island.^' 

In 1753 three vessels were despatched from 
Okhotsk, the respective owners of which were An- 
drei Serebrennikof of Moscow, Feodor Kholodilof of 
Tomsk, and Simeon Krassilnikof of Tula. They ex- 
pressed their intention to search for the Great Land, 
as the American continent was then called by these 
people. Serebrennikof's vessel was commanded by 
Petr Bashnakof, assisted by the Cossack Maxim 
Lazaref, as tribute-collector, and carried a crew of 
thirty-four promyshleniki. Serebrennikof sailed in 
July 1753, shaping his course directly east from 
Kamchatka, and arrived at some unknown islands 
without touching any of those already discovered. 
The ship was anchored in an open bight not far from 
shore, when an easterly gale carried it out to sea. 
During the storm four other islands were sighted, but 
as no one on board was able to make astronomical 
observations the land could not be located definitely 
on the chart.^^ For some time the heavy sea pre- 
vented the navio^ators from landins^, and the wind car- 
ried them still farther to the east. At last three 
islands suddenly appeared through the fog, and before 
the sails could be lowered the ship was thrown upon 
one of them. When the mariners reached the shore 
they were met by armed natives, who threw spears 
and arrows at them. A few discharges of fire-arms, 
however, soon scattered the savages.^* 

The wrecked hunters remained on the island till 

^^ Neue Nachr., 31. The cargo was itemized as follows: 2,295 sea-otters 
killed by the ship's company, and 732 sea-otters purchased of the natives for 
articles of trifling value, making a formidable total of 3,027 sea-otters. The 
immense quantity of these animals killed by the promyshleniki themselves, 
is proof that the islands upon which they wintered had not been visited before. 

^^ Neue Nachr., Z5-Q. 

^* According to Bashnakof this island was 70 versts in length and sur- 
rounded by 12 smaller islands. This description is applicable to the island 
of Tanaga, and on the strength of this circumstance Count Benyovski, the 
Kamchatkan conspirator, ascribes the discovery of the eastern Aleutian or 
Fox Islands to Serebrennikof, one of the owners of the ship. Benyovskis 
Memoirs and Travels, i. 83. 


June 1754, and then sailed for Kamchatka in a small 
boat built out of the remains of the other. The carga 
landed at Nishekamchatsk was of too little value to 
be registered in the official lists of shipments.^^ 

Kholodilof's vessel sailed from Kamchatka in 
August 1753, and according to the custom generally 
adopted by the promyshleniki was hauled up on 
Bering Island for the winter, in order to lay in a 
supply of sea-cow meat. Nine men were lost here 
by the upsetting of the bidar, and in June of the 
following year the voyage was continued. A serious 
leak was discovered when running before a westerly 
gale, but an island was reached just in time to save 
the crew. There they remained till July 1755.^^ This 
expedition returned to Kamchatka late in 1755 with 
a cargo of sixteen hundred sea-otter skins. 

The vessel fitted out by Krassilnikof did not sail 
until the summer of 1754, immediately after Captain 
Nilof assumed command of the military force at 
Okhotsk, and temporary command of the district,^^ 
Bering Island was reached in October, and after lay- 
ing in a stock of sea-cow meat and preparing the 
vessel, Krassilnikof set out once more in August of 
the following year. A stormy passage brought him 
to an island that seemed densely populated, but he 
did not deem it safe to land there; so he faced the 
sea again, was tossed about by storms for weeks and 
carried to the westward until at last Copper Island 
came in sight again, on which a few days later the 
ship was totally wrecked. ^^ The crew was saved and 

•^^Bashnakof was wrecked again in 1764, when Tolstykh picked him up on 
Attoo Island. ^<)!oo, the westernmost of the Aleutian Islands. Holmberg, 
1854, writes Attn, and near it another / Agattv. Carlog. Pac. Coast, MS., iii. 
482; Berg, Khronol. 1st., 25-7; Neue Nachr., 35-6. 

^^ This was the island previously visited by Trapeznikof. In the spring, 
before Kholodilof's party sailed, they were joined by a Koriak and a native 
of Kamchatka, who stated that they had deserted from Trapeznikof 's ship, 
intending to live among the natives. There had been six deserters originally, 
but four had been killed by the natives for trying to force their wives. The 
other two had been more cautious, and were provided with wives by their 
hosts, and well treated. Neue Nachr., 54; Berg, Khronol. 1st., 21. 

^'' Morskoi Sbornik, cv. 11,40. 

^^ Neue Nachr., 37-8. 


a, small quantity of provisions stored in a rudely con- 
structed magazine. The ship's company was then 
divided into several small hunting parties, five- men 
remaining near the scene of the wreck to guard the 
provisions. Three of the men were drowned on the 
15th of October. ^^ And as a crowning disaster a 
tidal wave destroyed their storehouse, carrying all 
that remained of their provisions into the sea. After 
a. winter passed in misery they packed up their furs 
in the spring, a poor lot, consisting of 150 sea-otters 
and 1,300 blue foxes, and managed to make the cross- 
ing to Bering Island in two bidars, which they had 
constructed of sea-lion skins. From Bering Island a 
portion of the company returned to Kamchatka in 
the small boat Ahram, built by Trapeznikof's men."*^ 
In 1756 the merchants Trapeznikof, Shukof, and 
Palin fitted out a vessel and engaged as its com- 
mander the most famous navigator of the time, 
Andrei Tolstykh. The ship was named after the com- 
mander and his wife, who accompanied him, Andreicm i 
Natalia, almost the first departure from the estab- 
lished custom of bestowing saint's names upon ships. 
Tolstykh sailed from the Kamchatka Biver in Sep- 
tember, with a crew of thirty-eight Bussians and 
natives of Kamchatka, and the Cossack Venediet 
Obiukhof as tribute-collector. The usual halt for the 
winter was made on Bering Island, but though an 
ample supply of meat was obtained not a single sea- 
otter could be found. Fifteen years from the first 
discovery of the island had sufficed to exterminate 
the animal. Nine men of the Krassilnikof expedi- 
tion were here added to the crew, and in June 1757 
Tolstykh continued his voyage, reaching the nearest 
Aleutian island in eleven days. They arrived at a 

'^^Berg, Khronol. 1st., 29. 

^'^ Finding that the Ahram could not carry tne whole cargo of furs and 
crew, 12 men were selected from the ship's company to return on that small 
vessel, while 1 1 others Avere taken away by the ships of Serebrennikof and 
Tolstykh. Two were engaged by the trader Shilkin for another voyage of 
discovery. Neue Nachr. , 39-40. 


favorable moment; Trapeznikof's ship, the Sv NiJcolcd^ 
was on the point of saihng for Kamchatka and sev- 
eral chiefs had assembled to bid their visitors farewell. 
Satisfactory arranc^ements were at once entered into 
for the collection of tribute and a continuation of 
peaceful intercourse. The most influential chief, named 
Tunulgasan, was received with due solemnity and pre- 
sented with a copper kettle and a full suit of clothes 
of Russian pattern. This magnificent gift induced 
him to leave several boys in charge of the Russians, 
for the avowed purpose of learning their language^ 
but really to serve as hostages. 

In accordance with instructions from the Okhotsk 
authorities Tolstykh endeavored to persuade the chief 
of Attoo to visit Kamchatka in his vessel, but in this 
he failed. After living on this island in peace with 
the natives for over a year, Tolstykh departed with 
5,360 sea-otters and 1,190 blue foxes, and reached 
Kamchatka in the autumn of 1758." 

An unfortunate voyage was made about this time 
by a vessel belonging to the merchant Ivan Shilkin, 
the Kapiton, which it will be remembered was built 
out of a wreck by Bakof and Novikof.*'^ Ignaty 
Studentzof was the Cossack accompanying this expe- 
dition, and upon his report rests all the information 
concerning it extant. They sailed from Okhotsk in 
September 1757, but were forced by stress of weather 
to make for the Kamchatka shore and pass the win- 
ter there, to repair a damage. Sei/ting sail again in 
1758 they touched at Bering Island, passed by Attoo 

*' Neue Nachr., 43; Berg, Khronol. 1st., app. 

*^ The Kaf'don had been confiscated by the government, but was finally 
delivered to Sliilkin to reimburse him for losses incurred. Berg mentions 
especially that iron bolts were fieely used in repairing this vessel. As early 
as 17o'2 a trader named Glazachef establislied iron- works at Nishekamchatsk, 
and being enabled to sell such iron as he could manufacture cheaper than it 
could be imported, he made a fortune. Subsequently Behm, commander of 
Kamchatka, persuaded him to transfer the works to the government, and 
remain in cliarge at a fixed salary. Glazachef finally left the service, and his 
successors not understanding the business, failed. The whole annual yield 
of the works never exceeded one thousand pounds of metal, and under Behm's 
successor the enterprise was abandoned altogether. Morskoi Sbornik, ciii. 
13, 14. 


where Tolstykh was then trading, and went on to the 
eastward, finally bringing up near an unknown island. 
A party sent ashore by Stuclentzof to reconnoitre were 
beaten off by a band of natives, and innnediately after- 
ward a sudden gale drove the ship from her anchorage 
to sea/^ The mariners were cast upon a rocky island 
in the neighborhood, saving nothing but their lives, 
a small quantity of provisions, and their fire-arms. 
While still exhausted from battling with the icy waves 
they beheld approaching a large bidar with natives. 
There were only fifteen able to defend themselves, but 
they put on what show of strength and courage they 
could command and went to meet the enemy. One 
of the men, Nikolai Chuprof, who had "been to the 
islands" before and spoke the Aleut language, implored 
the natives for assistance in their distressed condition, 
but the answer was a shower of spears and arrows.^* 
A volley from the guns, however, killing two, put 
them to flight as usual. Starvation followed, and 
there were seven long months of it. Sea-weed and 
the water-soaked skins of sea-otters washed ashore 
from the sunken vessel were their only food. Seven- 
teen died, and the remainder were saved onl}^ by the 
putrid carcass of a whale cast ashore by the sea. 
Rousing themselves they built a boat out of drift- 
wood and the remains of their wreck, killed 230 sea- 
otters within a few days prior to their departure, and 
succeeded in reaching the island where Serebrennikof's 
vessel was then moored, and near which they anchored. 
But a gale arising, their cables snapped, and the boat 
went clown with everything on board save the crew. 
Only thirteen of this unfortunate company of thirty- 
nine finally returned to Kamchatka on Serebrennikof's 
vessel.*^ After an absence of four years in search of 
a fortune they landed destitute even of clothing. 

« Berg, Khronol. 1st., 35-6. 

** This was the brother of the notorious Yakof Chuprof who committed 
the infamous outrages upon the natives during Nevodchikof s first voyage to 
the islands; Nikolai accompanied his brother then. Berg, Khronol. 1st., 37. 

*^ Neue Nachr., 37-8; Berg, Khronol. 1st., 45-6. 


Thus from year to year the promyshleniki pushed 
eastward step by step. A merchant of Turinsk, Stepan 
Glottof, was the first to visit and carry on peaceful 
traffic with the inhabitants of XJmnak and Unalaska. 
He commanded the small craft Yulian, built at Nishe- 
kamchatsk by Nikoforof, in which he sailed on the 2d 
of September 1758, accompanied by the Cossack Savs 
Ponomaref, who w^as instructed to persuade the Aleuta 
to become Russian subjects and pay tribute. Niko- 
forof intended the vessel to go at once in search of 
new islands without stopping at any of those already 
known to the promyshleniki; but long-continued con- 
trary gales compelled Glottof to winter at Bering 
Island, where he remained till the following August. 
Thence he sailed eastward for thirty days and landed 
on an unknown island.*^ There the hunters con- 
cluded to spend the winter; but they found the na- 
tives so friendly that three seasons ^^assed before 
Glottof thought of returning to Kamchatka. The 
Yulian arrived at Bolsheretsk on the 3 1st of August 
1762, with a large and valuable cargo containing be- 
sides cross and red foxes the first black foxes from 
the Aleutian Islands.*' 

Two other vessels are said to have been despatched 
to the islands in 1758, by the merchant Simeon 
Krassilnikof, and Nikofor Trapeznikof, but only of 
one of them, the Vladimir, have we any information. 
The leaders of this expedition were the peredovchik, 
Dmitri Paikof, and the Cossack Sava Shevj^rin. They 
put to sea from Nishekamchatsk on the 28th of Sej)- 

^^ Umnak, according to Berg, Khronol. 1st. , 3G. 

*' In Berg's summary of fur shipments the cargo of the Yulian is itemized 
as follows: Tribute to the government, 11 sea-otters and 26 black foxes; 
cargo, 1,405 sea-otters, 280 sea-otter tails, 1,002 black foxes, 1,100 cross 
foxes, 400 red foxes, 22 walrus-tusks, and 58 blue foxes; the whole valued at 
130,450 rubles. Khrovol. 1st., Aj?]:). In the Neue Kochr., no mention of this 
voyage is made; Coxe also is silent on the subject. The fact of the presence 
of walrus-tusks shows that theie was traffic in the article between the Una- 
laskans and the natives of the Alaska peninsula, where the huge pennipeds 
still abound. The Cossack Ponomaref sent to the authorities at Okhotsk 
quite a correct map of the Aleutian archipelago, indicating eight large islands 
north-east of Unalaska. He says tliat the merchant Peter Shishkin assisted 
him in compiling a chart. Berg, Khronol. 1st. 37. 


tember, with a crew of forty-five men, made the pas- 
sage to Bering Island in twenty-four hours, and there 
hauled up their vessel for the winter. On the 16th 
of July 1759 Paikof set sail once more, taking at first 
a southerly course.*^ 

It is not known how far Paikof pursued his south- 
erly course, but he discovered no land and returned 
to the north, arriving in the vicinity of Atkha Island 
the 1st of September. Finding no convenient harbor 
he went on to Umnak Island and made preparations 
to pass the winter. The ship's company was divided 
into three artels, or parties, the first of which was 
commanded by Alexei Drushinnin and stationed on 
the island of Sitkhin.*^ The Cossack, Shevyrin, took 
ten men to Atkha and the remainder of the crew 
established their winter-quarters in the immediate 
vicinit}^ of the vessel under command of Simeon Pole- 
voi. Paikof was evidently only navigator and had 
no command on shore. The first season passed in 
apparently peaceful intercourse with the natives.^*' 

*^A general impression prevailed among the promyshleniki of the time 
that there was land to the southward of the Aleutian Isles. Ivan Savich 
Lapiii, from whom Berg obtained much information, stated that Gavril Push- 
karef, a companion of Bering, who had survived the terrible winter on 
Bering Island, always asserted positively that there must be land to the 
southward. The sea-otters and fur-seals, he said, though found about Bering 
Island and its vicinity during the summer, invariably disappeared in a 
southerly direction. It was known that they did not go to Kamcliatka or to 
the Kurile Islands, and though ignorant as to the actual whereabouts of the 
otters and seals, Pushkaref frequently assured Lapin and Trapeznikof that 
they could make their fortune by discovering the winter haunts of these 
animals in the south. Berrj, Khronol. I>it., 38. 

■'^According to Cook, Seetien; and La P^rouse, and Holmberg, Sitchin. 
CartO(j. Pac. Coaat, MS., iii. 474. In Neiie Nachr. it is spelled Sitkin, while 
Berg has Sigdak. Khronol. 1st., .39; Umnak Islaml, south-west of Unalaska. 
On Cook's Atlas, 1778, written Umanak; La P^rouse, 1786, Ounmak; Holm- 
berg, 1854, / Umnak. Cartog. Pac. Coast, MS., iii. 458; Neue Nachr., 49. 

^"The custom of the promyshleniki after establishing themselves on an 
island, was to divide the command into small parties, each of which was sta- 
tioned in the immediate vicinity of a native village, whose chief was induced 
by presents to assist in compelling his people to hunt, on the pretext perhaps 
that the empress, who, although a woman, was the greatest and most benig- 
nant being on earth, required such service of them. When they returned 
their catch was taken and a few trifling presents made them, such as beads 
and tobacco-leaf. Two objects were at once accomplished by the cunning 
promyshleniki. While all the able-bodied men were thus away gathering 
skins for them, they were having their own way with the women of the villages. 
Actual trade or exchange of Pi,ussian manufactures for skins was carried on 


At first the Russians believed the island of Amlia 
to be uninhabited, but during a hunting expedition a 
boy of eight years was discovered hidden in the grass. 
He was unable or unwilling to give any information, 
but was taken to the Russian camp, baptized and 
named Yermola, and instructed in the Russian lan- 
guage. Subsequently a party of four men, two women, 
and four children were discovered and were at once 
employed by the promyshleniki to dig roots and gather 
wood for them. In time other natives visited the 
strangers in canoes, and exchanged seal-meat and fish 
for needles, thread, and glass beads.^^ 

In the spring of the following year, when the de- 
tached hunting parties came back to the ship, it was 
found that only one Russian on Atkha Island had lost 
his life at the hands of the natives, and that he met 
his fate through his own fault. Polevoi was much 
pleased with the quantity of furs obtained and con- 
cluded to send the detachments again immediately to 
the same localities. Shevyrin had only just returned 
to Atkha with eleven men when the natives, who 
doubtless had suffered at the hands of the Russians 
during the winter, fell upon the party and killed them 
all. Drushinnin heard of this through the natives on 
Sitkhin Island and returned at once to the vessel at 
Amlia. The crew of the Vladimir was now reduced 
to such an extent that the hunters felt serious appre- 
hensions as to their safety, and consequently they 
began to make the necessary preparations for return- 
ing to Kamchatka at once. These preparations were 
interrupted, however, by the unexpected arrival of 
the Gavril, a vessel belonging to the merchant Be- 

only where the natives refused to hunt for the Russians without reward. All 
kinds of outrages were constantly practised on the timid islanders by the ruf- 
fianly taskmasters. 

^^Nfue Nachr., 50. Amluh according to Cook, whilst Holmberg writes 
I Amlja. Cartoff. Pac. Coast, MS., iii. 466. 

52 Bechevin, a rich merchant of Irkutsk, despatched in 1760 the largest 
vessel hitherto sent to the Aleutian Islands. It is not known where the 
Gavril was built; her length was 62 feet, and she carried 40 Russians and 20 


The Gavril had passed through the Kurile Islands 
in July and arrived at Atkha on the 25th of Sep- 
tember.^^ The fears entertained by the Vladimir's 
weakened crew vanished at once, and a written agree- 
ment was entered into by the members of the two 
expeditions to hunt in partnership. Strong detach- 
ments were sent out to the stations occupied during 
the previous season, and also to the island of Signam, 
north-east of Atkha. The result of the season's 
work proved gratifying; about 900 sea-otters and 400 
foxes of various kinds, and 432 pounds of walrus- 
tusks were ready for shipment.^* 

A consultation was held in the following spring, 
when it was concluded that the Vladimir should remain 
at Amlia a little longer, and then return to Kamchatka 
with as many of the furs as she could carry, while the 
Gavril would proceed in search of new discoveries. 
The joint force was equally divided between the two 
vessels, and the Gavril set sail once more, taking an 
easterly course and touching first at Umnak Island. 
There they found a vessel belonging to NikoforoP^ 
engaged in hunting, and consequently they limited 
their operations to mending the sails and replenishing 

natives of Kamchatka. The authorities of Bolsheretsk placed on board a 
sergeant of Cossacks, Gavril Pushkaref, and three men, Andrei Shdanof, 
Yakof Sharipof, and Prokop Lobaskhef. Bechevin also sent two of his confi- 
dential clerks, Nikofor Golodof and Afanassiy Askolkof. Neue Nachr., 51. 
Two other vessels were recorded by Berg as having sailed for the islands in 
1759. Kybinskoi and his partners built a ship named the Sv Pet?' i Sv 
Pavel, and sent her out to search for land south of the Aleutian Isles. She 
had a crew of 33 Russians and natives of Kamchatka under Andrei Serebrenn- 
ikof, the former partner of Sergeant Bassof. All that is known of this voy- 
age is that the vessel returned in 1761,. with a cargo of 2,000 sea-otters, but 
without having made any new discoveries. In the same year, 1759, a ship 
called the Zakhar i Elizaveta was fitted out by a company consisting of 
Postnikof of Shuysk, Krassilinikof of Tula, and Kulkof, a citizen of Vologda. 
Stepan Cherepanof was navigator. The vessel sailed from Nishekamchatsk, 
and after an absence of three years arrived at Okhotsk in 1762, with 1,750 
sea-otters and 530 blue foxes. Berg, Khronol. 1st., 40-1. 

^^ According to the Neue Nachr. the Gavril touched at one of the Aleutian 
Isles on the 24th of August, but finding the vessels of Postnikof, Trapeznikof, 
and Serebrennikof, at anchor there, they pushed on to the eastward. Neue 
Nachr., 52. 

^^Berg, Khronol. Ixt., App. Here was another evidence of constant traffic 
between the islanders and the inhabitants of the Alaskan peninsula. 

^*The Yulian, according to Neue Nachr., 53. 


their stock of wood and water. They then proceeded 
to what they considered to be the island of " Alaksha," 
but whether this party actually wintered on the penin- 
sula of Alaska is not quite clear. As soon as a suit- 
able harbor had been found the ship was beached, and 
the crew proceeded to erect winter-quarters on shore. 
The inhabitants of the vicinity received the Russians 
in a friendly manner; they traded honestly, and gave 
their children as hostages. ^^ However, this peace 
and good-will were not of long duration. The lawless 
promyshleniki of Bechevin's soon gave the natives 
much trouble, fully justifying them in any retaliation. 

In January 1762 Golodof and Pushkaref, with a 
party of twenty hunters, coasted in bidars in search 
of food, and landed upon an adjoining island.^^ While 
indulging in their customary outrages they were sur- 
prised by a body of natives who killed Golodof and 
another Russian, and wounded three more. Shortly 
afterward the Russian camp was attacked, four men 
killed, as many wounded, and the huts reduced to 
ashes. In May the Cossack Lobashkof and one of 
the promyshleniki went to bathe in a hot spring 
situated about five versts from the harbor, and were 
killed by the natives.^^ In return the Russians put 
seven of the hostages to death. The islanders again 
attacked the Russian camp, but were repulsed. 

As it was evident that the natives had determined 

°^ The Russians received nine children as hostages, and in addition they 
engaged two men and three M^omen to work for them. N^eue Nachr. , 53-4. 

^' It is impossilile to determine which island this was. In N'eue Nachr. 
it is called Uniunga, a name not to be found on any chart. Berg calls it Ounga, 
but there is no evidence to indicate that the men of Beche\'in's expedition pro- 
ceeded around the peninsula and north-eastward as far as the Shumagin Isl- 
ands. Keuc Nachr., 54; Bern, Khronol. ht., 43. The name of Ounungun, 
applied to the Unalaska people by their western neighbors, according to Pinart, 
may throw some light upon tliis question; it is probable that the locality of 
Golodof's and Pushkaref 's exploits was not the peninsula at all, but Agun- 
alaksh, the Aleut name of Unalaska, which was subsequently abbreviated by 
the Russians. 

^'^Ncne Nachr., 55. This is another point in support of the theory that the 
Gavril landed on Unalaska. Five versts (three and a half miles) from the 
principal settlement on Unalaska Island are hot springs, aboriginally resorted 
to for curing rheumatic and skin diseases. Hot springs exist also near the 
settlement of Morshevoi on the south point of the peninsula, but they are 
within less than half a mile from the shore. 


upon the destruction of the entire company, the out- 
l^nng detachments were recalled. The ship was then 
repaired and the whole command returned to Umnak 
Island. There they took on board two natives with 
their families, who had promised to pilot them to other 
islands ; but as soon as the vessel had gained the open 
sea a violent gale from the eastward drove her before 
it until on the 23d of September the mariners found 
themselves near an unknown coast, without masts, 
sails, or rudder, and with but little rigging. The land, 
however, proved to be Kamchatka, and on the 25th 
the helpless craft drifted into the bay of Kalatcheva, 
seventy versts from Avatcha Bay. Bechevin landed 
his cargo, consisting of 900 sea-otters and 350 foxes, 
valued at 52,570 rubles. '^^ The cove where the landing 
was effected subsequently received the name of Beche- 

Charges of gross brutalities, committed during this 
voyage, have been made against Sergeant Pushkaref. 
On leaving the Aleutian Isles the crew of the Gavril, 
with Pushkaref 's consent, took with them twenty-five 
young women under the pretext that they were to be 
employed in picking berries and gathering roots for 
the ship's company. When the coast of Kamchatka 
was first sighted a boat was sent ashore with six men 
and fourteen of these girls. The latter were then 
ordered to pick berries. Two of them ran away and 
were lost in the hills, and during the return of the 
boat to the ship one of them was killed by a man 
named Korelin.^*^ In a fit of despair the remaining 
girls threw themselves into the sea and were drowned. 
In order to rid himself of troublesome witnesses to 
this outrage, Pushkaref had all the remaining islanders 
thrown overboard, wdth the exception of one boy, 
Moise, and Ivan, an interpreter who had been in 
the service of Andrei Serebrennikof. Three of the 

^^Berg, Khronol. I-it., app. 

^° Neue Nachr. , 56. Berg states that it was Pushkaref himself who had 
accompanied the women to the shore. Khronol. 1st., 45. 


women had died before leaving the islands. ^^ An im- 
perial oukaz issued from the chanceller}^ at Okhotsk 
to a company consisting of Orekhof, Lapin, and Shilof. 
who asked permission to despatch an expedition to 
the islands, enjoins on the promyshleniki the great- 
est care and kindness in their intercourse with the 
natives. The eleventh paragraph of the oukaz reads 
as follows: "As it appears from reports forwarded by 
Colonel Plenisner, who was charged with the inves- 
tigation and final settlement of the affairs of the 
Bechevin company, that that company during their 
voyage to and from the Aleutian Islands on a hunt- 
ing and trading expedition committed indescribable 
outrages and abuses on the inhabitants, and even were 
guilty of murder, inciting the natives to bloody re- 
prisals, it is hereby enjoined upon the company about 
to sail, and especially upon the master, Isma'ilof, and 
the peredovchik, Lukanin, to see that no such barbar- 
ities, plunder, and ravaging of women are committed 
under any circumstances." The whole document is 
of a similar tenor and goes far to prove that the au- 
thorities were convinced that the outrages reported 
to them had in truth been committed.^^ 

From this time forward the authorities of Siberia 
evidently favored the formation of privileged companies, 
and the Bechevin investigation may be considered as 
the beginning of the end of free traffic in the Ameri- 
can possessions of the Russian empire. 

'^''■Nciie Nachr., 57; Berg, Khronol. 1st., 45. 

^'~ Bfrg, Khronol. 1st., 45-52. The oukaz is signed by Captain-lieutenant 
Sava Zubof, and dated August 29, 1770. Berg found in some letters written 
by the collegiate chancellor Anton Ivanovich Lassef, a civil engineer of the 
government at Irkutsk, a notice to the effect that Bechevin suffered much 
during a penal inquisition with torture, conducted against him in 1764 by 
K*A*K*, probably Knias (Prince) Alexander Korzakof, who is mentioned aa 
having been detaileil on a government mission to Irkutsk about that time. 




TotSTYKH's Voyage — Movements of Vessels — St^ehlin's Map — Wreck 


Formed — Collecting Tribute — The 'Neue Nachrichten' — Voyage 
of the 'Zakhar i Elizaveta'— Terrible Retaliation of the Una- 
LASKANS — Voyage of the 'SvTroI'tska' — Great Sufferings — Fatal 
Onslaught— Voyage of Glottof — Ship Nomenclature — Discovery 
OF Kadiak — New Mode op Warfare — The Old Man's Tale— Solo- 
vief's Infamies — The Okhotsk Government— More ' St Peters ' and 
'St Pauls' — Queen Catherine and the Merchant Nikoforof — End 
OF Private Fur-hunting Expeditions. 

The first vessel which sailed to the Aleutian Islands 
under protection of a special imperial oukaz was the 
Andreian i Natalia, owned and commanded by An- 
drei Tolstykh, a man of courage and perseverance, 
who during his three previous voyages had amassed 
some fortune, and concluded to adventure it on this 

The Andreian i Natalia left Kamchatka the 27th 
of September 1760. In two days J3ering Island was 
reached, when in accordance with custom the ship was 
hauled up for the winter. In the June following Tol- 
stykh again put to sea, steering at first southerly, then 
northward, arriving at Attoo Island the 5th of August.^ 

^ Tolstykh began his official report as follows: 'By virtue of an oukaz of 
her Imperial Majesty, the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, issued through the 
Chancellery of Bolsheretsk in Kamchatka, on the 4th day of August 1760, and 
in pursuance of an order deposited with Lieutenant Vassili Shmalef, I was 
permitted to put to sea with the Cossacks Petr Vassiutinski and Maxim 
Lazaref, detailed for this service.' Berrj, Khronol. 1st., 53; Neue Nachr., 59; 
Shelikof, Puteshestvie, 134; Grewingk, Beitrag zur Kenntniss der nordivest- 
kiiste Amerikas, 315. 

* He met a vessel returning to Kamchatka, probably the Sv Peter i Sv 



Three vessels were there trading, belonging respect- 
ively to Chebaievski, Postnikof, and Trapeznikof. 
Tolstykh had hoped to find the friendly chief Tunul- 
gasan, whom he had met before, but the aboriginal 
had died, and his successor, Bakutun, told the new- 
comers that there were too many Russians on his 
island already, and they might as well pass on, but 
appeased with presents the monarch finally gave 
Tolstykh some of his own relatives as hostages, who 
were also to serve as interpreters and guides to other 
islands. After a sojourn of two weeks the vessel con- 
tinued to the eastward, and on the 28th of August 
reached an island which was subsequently ascertained 
to be Adakh.^ 

Pavel, with over 2,500 sea- otters on board valued at 150,000 rubles. Neiie 
Nurhr., 68-9; Khronoh 1st., app.; Grewingk, 314. 

^In Nem Nachr., 61, the island is named Ajaga or Kajachu, names not to 
be found in any chart. Grewingk states that Tolstykh brought news of the 
islands Kanaga, Tchechina, Tagalak, Atchu, Amlag, and Atach. Grewinrjh, 
Beitrag, 315; SheVikof, Puteshextvie, 135. There was necessarily great con- 
fusion in the application of names to the newly discovered islands. On the 
map of Stajhlhi, an offspring of Croy^re's abortion published in English in 
1774, the new northern archipelago was laid down in the most remarkable 
manner. By colorings the islands were divided into four groups, the largest 
of Avhich was called Anadirsk group, and included Alaska, a large island ex- 
tending east and west in latitude 65°, and Unalaska, and Amchitla, Umnak, 
Sannakh, Yunaska, and a number of other islands with imaginary names. 
This group is placed in a wide passage between the continents of Asia and 
America. To the south-west and extending from latitude 60° to 55°, we find 
the Aleutian group comprising Amlia, Atkha, BuUdir, 'Kadiak,'and 'StHer- 
mogen.' To the north-west of this group, in latitude 00°, Staehlin placed the 
Olutorskoi Islands, containing Kanaga, Ayak (Adakh?), and Copper Island. 
To the southward of the latter we find Bermg Island, with two pretty large 
adjoining islands, and still farther south a group of imaginary discoveries to 
which the names bestowed by Bering upon the nearest Aleutian islands wei'e 
applied. Stjehlin's inti^oduction to this description of the archipelago is suffi- 
ciently original to merit a place in these pages. He begins as follows: 'It 
appears, from the accounts of our illiterate sea-faring men, that there is no 
essential difference, in any respect, betM^een these sevei-al islands, and their 
inhabitants; and that they seem to be pretty much alike. It is needless to 
name every one of the islands which compose our new northern archipelago, 
as they arc set doAvn in the map hereto annexed, with their situation and size. 
As to the absolute accuracy of the two first articles, namely, the true situa- 
tion, as to geographical latitude and longitude, and their exact dimensions, I 
would not be answerable for them, until they can be ascertained by astronom- 
ical observations. Of these islands we know in general, and for certain, that 
those which are situated between latitude 50th to the 55th degree, resemble 
the islands of the Knrild, with regard to the weather, the productions, as also 
in the figure, appearance, clothing, food, way of life, and manners. . .of the 
inhabitants, whereas those from the 55th to the GOth degree, which are the 
islands of Olutora and Afeuta, are in all these particulars very like Kam- 
chatka. Those of the third division have a different aspect, and are situated 


There was every indication of multitudes of sea- 
otters in this vicinity, and as soon as a convenient 
harbor had been found all hands were set to work on 
Adakh and the adjoining island of Kanaga. Parties 
were also despatched to other islands as far eastward 
as Atkha and Amlia, meeting everywhere a friendly 
reception. After a stay on these islands, subse- 
quently named after him the Andreianovski, of nearly 
three years, Tolstykh collected quite a valuable cargo 
of furs, and finally started homeward on the 14tli of 
June 1764. He stopped at Attoo Island to land his 
interpreters and repair his vessel, which was leaking 
badly. Some shipwrecked Russians were also taken 
on board, and on the 27th of August the Andreian i 
Natalia took her final departure for Kamchatka. On 
the 4th day of September the coast was sighted, but 
Tolstykh lost his vessel in attempting to weather the 
cape of Kamchatka. He succeeded, however, in sav- 
ing both crew and cargo.^ 

As Tolstykh and "Vassiutkinski claimed to have per- 
suaded the inhabitants of six islands to become sub- 
between the 60tli and 67th degree of north latitude. The former, which are 
like Kamtschatka, are full of mountains and volcanoes, have no woods, and 
but few plants. The more northern islands abound in woods and fields, and 
consequently in wild beasts. As to the savage inhabitants of these newly 
discovered islands, they are but one remove from brutes, and differ from the 
inhabitants of the islands lately discovered in the. . .South Sea, being the 
very reverse of the friendly and hospitable people of Otaheite. ' Stcehlin's New 
North. Archipelago, 16-20. The author begins his description of the islands 
■with Ajak, which he represents as 150 versts in circumfei'ence, with high 
rocky mountains, valleys, dry slopes, plains, morass, turf, meadows, and 
'roads,' adding astutely, 'so that you may easily go over all the island.' He 
also states that the inhabitants of Ajak cannot be numbered, because they 
move from island to island, crossing straits in bidars. In a note the rather 
remarkable explanation is given that 'bidars are large boats made of whales' 
ribs.' Id., 25. The account given by StEehlin of Kadiak Island is evidently 
based on Solovief 's experience in 1762, but on the chart the island is altogether 
out of place, being south of the Aleutian islands. The inhabitants are painted 
in the blackest colors, in accordance witli Solovief 's impressions. He every- 
where displays the grossest ignorance. The word torbassa, a Kamchatka 
expression for fur-boots or skin-boots, Stsehlin applies to snow-shoes, and 
kamish, signifying thread made of reindeer sinew, he defines as thread made 
of the fibre of a reed. 

* The reports of Tolstykh's voyage are conflicting; the Neue Nachr. gave 
his catch as only 1,880 full grown sea-otters, 778 yearlings, and 372 pups. 
Berg places it at 3,036 sea-otters, and 532 blue foxes, in addition to govern- 
ment tribute of 100 sea-otters, and values the cargo at 120,000 rubles. 
Khronol. 1st., 54, app.; Ne^le Nachr., 62, 
Hist. Alaska. 9 


jects of Russia and to pay tribute, the voyage was 
duly reported to the empress, who subsequently re- 
warded Tolstykh and the two Cossacks.^ 

One vessel was despatched to the islands in 1760, 
but our information concerning it is meagre. It was 
built and fitted out under the auspices of the mer- 
chant Terentiy Chebaievski, and under the immediate 
superintendence of his clerk Vassili Popof Berg 
claims to have found a notice in the papers of Zelon- 
ski to the effect that Chebaievski's vessel returned 
in 1763 with a cargo valued at 104,218 rubles. ° 

A plan had been formed by this combination of 
wealthy merchants for making a thorough examina- 
tion of the Aleutian chain and the adjoining con- 
tinent, and then to decide upon the 'most favorable 
locality for opening operations on a larger scale. The 
object of the expedition was well conceived and de- 
serving of success, but a chain of unfortunate circum- 
stances combined to frustrate their designs. Three of 
the ships fitted out by the partners were destroyed 
with all on board, and the fourth returned without 
even paying expenses." We have the names of only two 
of the three vessels destroyed, the Zahhar i Elizaveta 

^ Berg states that among the papers of the former governor of eastern 
Siberia, Dennis Ivanovich Checherin, he found a rescrij)t of the empress 
Catherine of which he gives the following copy: 'Dennis Ivano\-ich: Your 
communication concerning the subjection into allegiance to Me of six hitherto 
unknown islands, as well as the copies of rej)orts of Cossack Vassiutkinski and 
his companions, I have read with satisfaction. Such enterprise pleases Us 
very much. It is to be deplored that the papers giving a more detailed 
description of the islands and their inhabitants have been lost during the 
wreck of the vessel. The promise of leward from Me to the merchant Tol- 
stykh, returning to him the tenth part of proceeds accruing to Our treasury 
from each sea-voyage, I fully approve, and hereby order you to carry out 
this design. You will also promote the Cossacks Vassiutkinski and Lazarof for 
their services to the rank of Nobles in your district. INIay God grant them 
good success in their projected voyage next sprmg and a safe return at its 
conclusion. You will impress upon the hunters that they must treat their 
new brethren and countrymen, the inhabitants of Our newly acquired islands, 
with the greatest kindness and without any oppression or abuse. March 2, 
1766. Catherine.' Benj, Khronol. 1st., 66-7; Vrewinfjh, Beitrag., 315. 

® Khronol. 1st., app.; Greiringl; Beitrag, 315. It was e-vident that Popof 
did not sail with this expedition, for we see him mentioned as an active partner 
in the more extensive enterprises undertaken in 1762 by Trapeznikof, Protassof, 
and Lapin, Berg's best and most frequently quoted authority of the history 
of that period. See also D'Autti-oche, Voyage en Sihirie, ii. 113; Antidote, i. 

' Veniaminof, i. 118-131, 


commanded by Drushinnin, owned by Kulkof, and the 
Sv Troitska, or Holy Trinity, commanded by Ivan 
Korovin. The third is known to have been com- 
manded by Medvedef, a master in the navy. The 
fourth vessel was the property of Trapeznikof, but 
who commanded her is not known. ^ 

The Zahhar i Elizaveta sailed from Okhotsk the 
6th of September 17G2, wintered at Avatcha Bay, 
and proceeding the following July reached Attoo, 
where seven of the shipwrecked crew of the Sv Petr i 
Sv Pavel were taken on board. One of these was 
Korelin, who alone survived this expedition and fur- 
nished a report of it. From Attoo Drushinnin pro- 
ceeded to Adakh, w^here another vessel, the Andreian 
i Natalia was then anchored, but as the natives all 
produced receipts for tribute signed by Tolstykh, 
Drushinnin contented himself with filling his water- 
casks and moved on.^ 

From Adakh tlie Zakhar i Elizaveta proceeded to 
Umnak where a party of Glottofs men were then 

* Ve.niaminof, i. 118. The ship of Medvedef was lost at Umnak; the 
ship commanded by Drushinnin was manned with 34 llussians of whom three 
only returned. Among them was Bragin who is mentioned in Sarychef, ii. 
37, as having wintered on Kadiak Island in 1705. Berg claims that Dru- 
shiniun's crew consisted of 8 natives of Kamchatka and 34 Russians, including 
the peredovchik JMiasnikh. Khronol. Int., 58. 

'•'Neue Ncichr., 72-3. The Neiie Nachrichttn is a small octavo printed in 
German black letter and published in Hamburg and Leipsic in 1776. It bears 
no authorship on the title-page but the initials J. L. S. Most bibliographers 
have pronounced it anonymous, as the authorship is involved in some uncer- 
tainty. The library of congress has the work catalogued under Stiihlin or 
Strahlin. M. J. Von Stahlin published an account of the new northern 
archipelago in the Peterahurger Geoyraphixcher Kalevder in 1774. This was 
translated into English in London, during the same year, in a small octavo vol- 
ume. There is, however, no reason to believe that Staehlin was the J. L. S. 
of Neue Nachrichten, as many of his statements in the other work do not agree 
with the text of the latter. A man named A. L. SchliJzer pulilished in the 
year 1771, at Halle, Germany, a quarto volume of over 400 pages entitled 
Allgemeine Geschichte, Von dem Norden, treating on kindred subjects. It is 
probable that in Mr Schlozer we find the original J. L. S., as the llrst of the 
initials might easily have been inadvertently changed. It is a signilicant fact 
that in Shelikof's voyage we find whole passages and pages almost the verbal 
translation from the Nachrichten. Explanations and corrections of this volume 
were subsequently published under the auspices of Buffon in the Sept Epoques 
de la Nature, GreivivgJc, Beitrag and Pallas Nordische Bertrage., i. 273. 
Further than this, in Acta Petropolitana, vi. 126, J. A. L. Von Schlozer is 
mentioned as author of Neve Nachrichten, and corresponding member of the 
Imperial Academy of Sciences. 


hunting. The peredovchik Miasnikh was sent out 
with thirty-five men to explore the coast. They went 
to the north-eastern end of the island, and after meet- 
ing everywhere with indications of the recent presence 
of Russians, the}^ returned to the ship about the mid- 
dle of September. On the day of their return letters 
were also received through native messengers from 
the vessels commanded by Korovin and Medvedef, 
who had lately located themselves on the islands of 
Umnak and Unalaska. Drushinnin at once sent out 
a reconnoitring party to the latter island, and in due 
time a favorable report was received inducing the 
commander to move his craft to Unalaska, where he 
anchored the 2 2d near the northern end of the island. 
When the cargo had been landed and a foundation 
had been laid for a winter habitation, two of the chiefs 
of neighboring villages voluntarily opened friendly 
intercourse by offering hostages. Others from more 
distant settlements soon followed their example. 

This friendly reception encouraged Drushinnin to 
adhere to the old practice of dividing his force into 
small parties for the winter in order to secure better 
results both in hunting and in procuring subsistence. 
The peredovchik accordingly sent out Petr Shekalef 
with eleven men; another party of eleven men under 
Mikhail Khudiakof, and a third of nine men under 
Yefim Koshigin. The last named remained at the 
harbor; Khudiakof located his party at Kalekhtak; 
while Shekalef went to the little island of Inaluk, 
about thirty versts distant from the ship. Drushinnin 
accompanied the latter party. Stepan Korelin, who 
subsequently alone survived to relate the occurrences 
of that disastrous winter, was also a member of the 
Inaluk party who had constructed a cabin in close 
proximity to the native habitation, containing some 
twenty inmates. The relations between the promysh- 
leniki and the natives appeared to be altogether 
friendly, and no trouble was apprehended until the 
beginning of December. On the 4th a party of five 


men set out in the morning to look after the fox- 
traps.^*' Drushinnin, Shekalef, and Shevyrin then paid 
a visit to the native dwelhng. They had just entered 
the low aperture when they were set upon by a num- 
ber of armed men, who knocked down Shekalef and 
Drushinin with clubs and then finished them with the 
knives they bought of them the day before. Shevyrin 
had taken with him from the house an axe, and when 
the excited savages turned their attention to him he 
made such good use of his weapon that he succeeded 
in regaining the Russian winter-quarters alive, though 
severely wounded. Bragin and Korelin at once began 
to fire upon the Aleuts with their muskets from 
w^ithin, but Kokovin, who happened to be outside, 
was quickly surrounded, thrown down, and assaulted 
with knives and spears until Korelin, armed with a 
huge bear-knife, made a gallant sortie, wounded two 
of the islanders, put the others to flight, and rescued 
his half-dead comrade." 

A close siege of four days followed this sanguinary 
onslaught. The fire-arms of the Russians prevented 
a charge by the enemy, but it was unsafe to show 
themselves outside the hut even for a moment, in 
search of water or food. To add to their apprehensions, 
the savages displayed in plain view the garments and 
arms of their comrades who had gone to visit the fox- 
traps, a sure indication that they were no longer among 
the living. Under the shelter of night the Russians 
launched a bidar and pulled away out of the harbor, 
the natives watching their movements, but making no 
attempt to pursue. Once out of sight of their en- 
emies Korelin and the other fugitives landed, pulled 

^^ Berg states that Drusliirmin sent out these men and then resolved to visit 
the dwelling of the natives with the remainder of his men, Korelin, Bragin, 
Shevyrin, Kokovin, and one other. In the Neue Nachrichten we find an 
account of the occurrence ditfering considerably in its details. Drushinnin's 
name is not mentioned, while the number remaining at home is given as five, 
Shekalef, Korelin, Bragin, Shevyrin, and Kokovm. There is every reason to 
believe, however, that Berg was correct, as Drusliumin was with the pai-ty and 
does not appear in any account of subsequent events. Khronol. 1st., 59; Neue 
JSfachr., 75-6. 

^'^ Neue Nachr., 77; Coxe^s Russian Discoveries, i. 38; Veniaminof, i. 22. 


their boat upon the beach, and set out across the hills 
to Kalekhtak, where they expected to find Khudiakof 
and his detachment. It was after dark when they 
reached the neighborhood. They fired signal-guns, 
but receiving no reply they wisely kept at a distance. 
Before long, however, they found themselves pursued 
b}^ a horde of savages, and discovering an isolated, pre- 
cipitous rock near the beach which could be defended 
for a time, they concluded to make a stand there. With 
their fire-arms they finally beat off the pursuers and 
resumed their retreat, this time with but little hope 
of finding those alive who had remained with the ship. 
Presently an object caught their eyes which confirmed 
their worst apprehensions. It was the main-hatch 
lying on the beach, having been washed up b}' the 
waves. Without waiting further confirmation of their 
fears the four men took to the mountains, hiding in 
the ravines until nightfall. Under cover of darkness 
they ajDproached the anchorage, only to find the ship 
broken up, and some stores with the dead bodies of 
their comrades scattered on the beach. Gathering a 
few packages of dried fish and some empty leather 
provision-bags they stole away into the hills, where a 
temporary shelter was hastily constructed. Thence 
they made occasional excursions at night to the scene 
of disaster, whicli must have occurred simultaneously 
with those of Inaluk and Kalekhtak, in search of 
such needed articles as had been left by the savages. ^^ 
The leather provision-bags, though cut open, were 
very acceptable as material for the construction of a 
small bidar. 

From the 9th of December 1763 until the 2d of 

i^Davidof tells a story of the manner in which the Aleuts secured a simul- 
taneous onslaught upon all three of the Russian detachments. According- 
to him, they resorted to the old device of distributing among the chiefs of 
villages bundles of sticks, equal in number, one of which was to be burned 
each day till the last designated the day. Dn/kratnoie Puteshestoie, ii. 1C7. 
Veniaminof ridicules the story and declares it to be an invention of Davidof, 
as the Aleuts had numbers up to a thousand and could easily have appointed 
any day without the help of sticks. Veniaminof. Zapiski, i. 118. No mention 
of it is made in Xeue Xachrichten. Berg also quotes Davidof. Sheliko/'s Voy- 
aue, 97. 


February 1764 these unfortunates remained in hiding, 
but on the latter date their bidar was successfully 
launched, and before morning the party had emerged 
from Kapiton Bay, coasting to the westward in search 
of one of Trapeznikof 's vessels commanded by Koro- 
vin.^^ Thous^h travellino^ only at night and hiding^ 
among the cliifs by day, they were soon discovered by 
the natives, and in the vicinity of Makushin village 
they were compelled to sustain a siege of five weeks 
in a cave, exposed to constant attacks/"* During this 
whole time they suffered intensely from hunger and 
thirst, and would certainly have succumbed had it not 
been for an ample supply of powder and lead which 
prevented their enemies from engaging them at close 
quarters. At last on the 30th of March the fugitives 
succeeded in joining their countrymen under Korovin, 
who were then stationed on the southern shore of 
Makushin Bay. Shevyrin died at Unalaska during 
the same year; the other three, Korelin, Kokovin, 
and Bragin, recovered their strength, but only the 
former finally reached Kamchatka with Solovief s ves- 
sel, after passing through additional vicissitudes. 

The ship Sv Tro'itsJca, which Korovin commanded, 
was fitted out in 1762 by Nikofor Trapeznikof," and 

^^Veniaminof in relating this occurrence adds that a charitable native 
found the fugitives during the winter, and not only failed to betray them, but 
supplied them with provisions, paying them occasional stealthy visits at night. 
Veniaminof, Zax>., i. 99. 

^^Berg, Khronol. 1st., 72; Dvuhr. Put., ii. 113. 

^^ Berg succeeded in collecting the following data concerning the transac- 
tions of this enterprising citizen of Irkutsk. In the course of 25 years he 
despatched 10 vessels upon voyages of discovery to the eastward of Kam- 
chatka. His shitika Niholai made three voyages between 1762 and 1766. 
A small boat named the Fish returned in 1757 with an exceedingly rich cargo, 
valued at 254,900 rubles. The Sv TroiLfka, the Sv Petr i Sv Pavel, and one 
other vessel which returned in 1763 with a cargo valued at 105,730 rubles, 
also belonged to Trapeznikof. The sea-otter-skins alone brought by these 
expeditions numbered over 10,000. Berg concludes as follows: ' It would be 
of interest to know how much wealth Trapeznikof realized out of all these 
enterprises. Ivan Savich Lapin told me that through losses sustained in some 
of his undertakings, and through the bankruptcy of some of his debtors, 
Trapeznikof suddenly found himself reduced from wealth to poverty. ' His 
old age was passed in straitened circumstances, and he left barely enough to 
defray the expenses of his burial. Khronol. 1st., 62-3, App. 


sailed from the mouth of the Kamchatka River on 
the 15th of September, with a crew of thirty-eight 
Russians and six Kamchatkans. They passed the 
winter on Bering Island, remaining until the 1st of 
August of the following year. The ship fitted out 
by Protassof and commanded by Medvedef had also 
wintered there, and before sailing the two commanders 
made some exchanges in their crews. After sustain- 
ing some loss by death, Korovin had at the time of 
his departure from Bering Island thirty-seven men 
and Medvedef forty-nine. Both vessels made a short 
run to the Aleutian Islands, reaching the straits be- 
tween Umnak and Unalaska on the 15th of August. 
Medvedef concluded to remain on Umnak Island 
while Korovin selected an anchorage on the Unalaska 
shore. The native villages on the coast appeared to 
be deserted, but a short distance inland some inhabited 
dwellings were found. The chief of the settlement 
offered several small boys as hostages, and produced 
tribute receipts signed by the Cossack Ponomaref 
Korovin evidently was satisfied with his reception, as 
he returned immediate!}' to the ship, landed his whole 
cargo, erected a large hut of drift-wood, and built 
several bidars for his hunting parties.^^ 

In a few weeks all the arrangements for the winter 
were made, and Korovin set out with two boats 
manned by nine men each, one of them commanded 
by Barnashef, who had visited the island previously 
with Glottof. They visited three villages in succes- 
sion, meeting everywhere with a friendly reception on 
the part of the chiefs, but nearly all the adult males 
appeared to be absent from home. After the safe 
return of this party another expedition was sent out 
to the east side of the island whence they also re- 
turned unmolested accompanied by some hostages, 
having met during their journey with some men of 
Drushinnin's party. Feeling now safe, Korovin sent 
out a hunting party of twenty-three under Barnashef, 

^^Pallaft, Xordtsche Bcitrafje, i. 274. 



in two bidars, to the west end of the island. Each 
boat carried eight muskets and every man had a pistol 
and a lance; provisions had been prepared for the 

At various times during the season letters were 
received from the detached parties reportin<^ their 
safety, but about the middle of December Korovin 
received warning that a large force of natives was 
marching toward the ship with hostile designs. The 
Russian commander at once called his men under arms 


tlOa .^:_^:.__. 

Scene of Conflict. 

and kept a strict watch. The following day about 
seventy savages made their appearance carrying bun- 
dles of sea-otter skins in order to throw the promysh- 
leniki oflp their guard; but Korovin would allow only 
ten of them to approach his house at the same time. 
The savages perceiving that their design was known, 
and that suriprise had become impossible, disposed of 
their furs quietly and retreated. On the same even- 
mg, however, three natives of Kamchatka came to 
the house in a great fright, reporting that they be- 


longed to Kulkof s ship, that is to say Drushinnin's 
party, and that the vessel had been destroyed and all 
their comrades killed. 

The promyshleniki, now thoroughly alarmed, pre- 
pared for defence. After remaining unmolested for 
two days, a large force attacked and besieged them 
closely for four days, during which time two Russians 
were killed with arrows, and five natives were counted 
dead on the field. On the fifth day the enemy re- 
treated to a cave near by, keeping up, however, a 
vigilant blockade, and making it dangerous to proceed 
any distance from the house. Worn out with con- 
stant watching and firing, Korovin at last concluded 
to bury his iron, the article most coveted by the 
savages, and his stores of blubber and oil under the 
house, and to retreat to the ship. His plan was car- 
ried out, and the ship anchored within a short distance 
of the shore. The danger of sudden attack was thus 
lessened, but hunger and the scurvy were there as 
relentless as the savages. At length, on the 26th of 
April, reenforced by the three fugitives from Dru- 
shinnin's command, Korovin put to sea, but so reduced 
was his crew that the ship could scarcely be worked. 
During a gale on the 28th the unfortunate promy- 
shleniki were wrecked in a cove on Umnak Island. 
Several of the sick died or were drowned, and eight 
of the hostages made their escape. The arms, am- 
munition, some sails, and a few sea-lion skins were all 
that could be saved, A temporary shelter and fortifi- 
cation was constructed of empty casks, sails, and skins, 
where the remaining sixteen, including three disabled 
by scurvy, the three hostages, and the faithful inter- 
preter, Kashmak, hoped to secure some rest before 
beginning a new struggle. Their hope was in vain. 
During the first night a large party of savages ap- 
proached stealthily from the sea and when within a 
few yards of the miserable encampment discharged 
their spears and arrows with terrible efiect, piercing 
the tent and the barricade of sea-lion skins in many 


places. Two of the Russians and the three hostages 
were killed, and all the other Russians severely 

The onslaught was so sudden that there was no 
time to get ready the fire-arms, but Korovin with four 
of the least disabled seized their lances and made a 
sortie, killing two of the savages and driving away 
the remainder. Covered with wounds, the five brave 
men returned to their comrades, now thoroughly dis- 
heartened. In the mean time the gale had continued 
unabated, breaking up the stranded vessel and scat- 
tering the cargo upon the beach. Soon after day- 
light the natives returned to resume the work of 
plunder, the Russians being too feeble to interfere. 
They carried off what booty they could and remained 
away two days, during which time such of the wounded 
promyshleniki as were still able to move about picked 
up what fragments of provisions and furs the savages 
had left, also a small quantity of iron.^^ On the 29th 
died one of the wounded men, who was also suffer- 
ing from scurvy. Three days afterward one hundred 
and fifty islanders approached from the east and fired 
at the Russians with muskets, but the bullets fell wide 
of the mark.^'' They then set fire to the dry grass in 
order to burn out the fugitives. A constant firing 
of the Russians, however, foiled their efforts, and at 
last the savages retired. The victors found themselves 
in such a state of prostration that they remained on 
the same spot until the 21st of July, when the few 
survivors, twelve in number, six of whom were natives 
of Kamchatka, embarked in a roughly constructed 
bidar in search of Medvedef 's party. After ten days 
of coasting the sufferers arrived at a place where the 
charred remains of a burned vessel, of torn garments, 
sails and rigging, gave evidence of another disaster. 

" Veniamiqf, Zap., i. 132-4; Sarychef, Putesh., ii. 30. 

'* A portion of this iron was set aside as an offering to the shrine of the 
saint whose assistance they implored in their distress. Neue Nachr., 93-4. 

" This is the first instance recorded of the iise of fire-arms by the native 
Aleutians. Neue Nachr., 95; Sr/ibiicf, in Jllors/coi Shomik, c. 46. 


Filled with alarm the fugitives landed and hastened 
up to a house which had escaped destruction. It was 
empty, but in an adjoining bath-house twenty dead 
bodies were found, among them that of the commander 
Medvedef. There was some indication of the corpses 
having been dragged to the spot with straps and belts 
tied around their necks, but no further details of the 
catastrojihe could be obtained, and not a soul sur- 
vived to tell the tale.^° Necessity compelled Korovin 
to remain at this ghastly spot, and preparations were 
made to repair the house for the approaching winter, 
when Stepan Glottof, who in the mean time had ar- 
rived on the other side of Umnak Island, made his 
appearance with eight men. The so lately despairing 
promyshleniki were wild with joy, and forgetting on 
the instant their hunger and diseases, they planned 
further ventures, agreeing with Glottof to hunt and 
trade on joint account. 

The voyage of Glottof, covering the four years 
from 1762 to 1765 inclusive, was by far the most 
important of the earlier expeditions to the islands, 
and constitutes an epoch in the swarming of the pro- 

A new vessel to which was given the old name of 

Andreian i Natalia^^ was built in the Kamchatka River 

by Terentiy Chebaievski, Vassili and Ivan Popof, and 

Ivan Lapin, and sailed on the 1st of October 1762, 

under command of Glottof, wintering at Copper Isl- 

2° Neue Nachr., 105; Veniaminof, Zap., i. 98; Berg, Khronol. 1st., 70. 

^^ Ship nomenclature in Alaskan waters at this time is confusing. St Peter 
and St Paul were the favorites, but there were other names continued from 
one ship to another, and the same name was even given to two ships afloat at 
the same time. 

^'^Sarychef, Putesh., ii. 37. During the winter Yakof Malevinskoi, with 13 
men, was sent to Bering Island in a bidar with instructions to gather up what 
useful material still remained of Bering's vessel, which seems to have been a 
magazine of naval stores for the promyshleniki for nearly a quarter of a cen- 
tury. Malevinskoi, who died shortly after his voyage to Bering Island, was 
very successful in his mission. He secured between eight and nine hundred 
pounds of old iron, 400 pounds of rigging and cable, some lead, several thou- 
sand strings of beads, and some copper. Ncue Nachr., 105. For a time the 


On the 26th of July 1763 Glottof again put to sea, 
and after a tedious and stormy voyage sighted Um- 
nak on the 24th of August. Having previously 
visited this island and Unalaska, whence he brought 
the first black foxes to Kamchatka, the commander 
concluded not to loiter there, but to sail on in search 
of new discoveries. Passing eight large islands and 
a multitude of smaller ones, Glottof finally anchored 
on the 8th of September off the coast of a large and 
mountainous island, called Kikhtak by the natives, 
but now known as Kadiak. The first meeting of the 
Russians with the inhabitants of this isle was not 
promising. A few of the savages approached the 
ship in their kyaks, but the Aleut interpreter, Ivan 
Glottof, a godchild of the commander, could not con- 
verse with them, and when on landing some habita- 
tions were discovered, they were found to be deserted, 
A few days later a party came to the Russian camp 
with an Aleutian boy w^ho had been captured several 
years before during a hostile descent of the Kadiak 
people upon the island of Sannakh, and through him 
intercourse was held. Glottof endeavored to per- 
suade the savages to pay tribute to the imperial gov- 
ernment and to furnish hostages, but they refused. 
The natives here were of fiercer aspect, more intelli- 
gent and manly, and of finer physique than those of 

authorities at Kamchatka had forbidden the promyshleniki to visit Copper 
Island, under the impression that valuable deposits of copper were located 
thei'e. In 1755 Peter Yakovlef, a mining engineer, was ordered to the island 
to investigate the matter. On the north-west point, where the native copper 
had been repoi'ted to exist, was a narrow reef of rocks some 20 or 30 fathoms 
in width, partially covered at flood tide, but Yakovlef stated that he could 
not discover any indication of copper there. On another reef, running still 
farther out into the sea, he noticed two veins of reddish and greenish appear- 
ance, but the metal had long since been removed with the aid of picks and 
adzes. At the foot of this reef, however, he found pieces of copper evidently 
smoothed by the action of the sea. Captain Krenitzin in 1/68 reported that 
much copper was found on the island, that it was washed up by the sea in 
such quantities that ships could be loaded with it. Pallas, Nord. Beitr., i. 253. 
The author, however, remarks that at the time of his writing, 17S0, the copper 
had greatly diminished in quantity and but few pieces larger than a bean 
could be found. Zaikof, another navigator, reported about the same time 
that copper was washed upon the beach, but that one of the promontories 
presented every appearance of a copper-mine. 


the more western isles. At first they would not even 
allow the interpreter to remain temporarily with the 
Russians, but a few days later the boy made his 
appearance in the Russian camp, and subsequently 
proved of great service to his new patrons. '^^ Under 
such circumstances Glottof deemed it best not to dis- 
charge the cargo, but to keep the ship moored in a 
bay near the mouth of a creek, where she floated at 
every high tide. A strict watch was kept night and 
day. Early one morning a large body of armed 
islanders crept up to the anchorage unobserved, and 
sent a shower of arrows upon the Russian sentinels 
hidden behind the bulwarks on the deck. The guards 
discharged their muskets, and the deafening sound 
sent the savages scattering. In their wild alarm they 
left oil the ground rude ladders, packages of sulphur, 
dried moss, and birch bark, a proof of their intention 
to fire the ship, and also of the fact that the Kadiak 
people were a race more warlike and more dangerous 
to deal with than the Aleuts. They were certainly 
fertile in both offensive and defensive devices; for 
only four days after the first attack, previous to which 
they had been unacquainted with fire-arms, they 
again made their appearance in large force, and pro- 
vided with ingeniously contrived shields of wood and 
wicker-work intended to ward oflP the Russian's bullets. 
The islanders, however, had not had an opportunity 
of estimating the force of missiles propelled by powder, 
for the Russians had purposely fired high during their 
attack, and another rout was the result of a second 

The defeated enemy allowed three weeks to pass by 
without molesting the intruders, but on the 26th of 
October there was yet another attack. The elaborate 
preparations now made showed wonderful ability for 
savages. Seven large portable breastworks, conceal- 

2' This boy was subsequently taken to Kamchatka and baptized under 
the name of Alexander Popof. Neuc Nachr., 106; Veniaminof, Zap., i. 102. 
For manners and customs of the aborigines see Native Races, vols. i. and iii. , 
this series. 


ing from thirty to forty warriors each, were seen ap- 
proaching the vessel early one morning, and when 
near enough spears and arrows began to drop like hail 
upon the deck. The promyshleniki replied with vol- 
ley after volley of musketry, but this time the shields 
appeared to be bullet-proof and the enemy kept on 
advancing until, as a last resort, Glottof landed a 
body of men and made a furious charge upon the 
islanders, who were growing more bold and defiant 
ever}^ moment. This unexpected attack had the 
desired effect, and after a brief struo^sfle the savagfes 
dropped their shields and sought safety in flight. 
The result of this third battle caused the natives to 
despair of driving off the Russians, and to withdraw 
from the neighborhood.^* 

Deeming it dangerous to send out hunting parties, 
Glottof employed his men in constructing a house of 
drift-wood and in securing a good supply of such fish 
as could be obtained from a creek and a lagoon in the 
immediate vicinity of the anchorage. Late in Decem- 
ber two natives made their appearance at the Russian 
camp. They held a long parley with the interpreter 
from a safe distance, and finally came up to the house. 
Kind treatment and persuasion seemed to have no 
effect; nor did presents even; instinctively these most 
intellectual of savages felt that they had met their 
fate. They went away with some trifling gifts, and 
not another native was seen by the disappointed Glot- 
tof till April of the following year. Four men then 
came to the encampment and were persuaded to sell 
some fox-skins, taking glass beads in payment. Ah, 
the vanity of humanity ! Cotton and woollen goods 
had no attractions. Ornament before dress. They 
appeared at last to believe in Glottof's professions of 
friendship, and went away promising to persuade their 
people to come and trade with the Russians. Shortly 

^*NeueNachr., 109-10; Berg,Khronol. 1st., 66. The point at which Glottof 
made his first landing was near the southern end of the island, probably near 
the present village of Aiaklitalik. 


afterward a party brought fox and sea-otter skins, 
accepting glass beads; and friendly intercourse ensued 
until Glottof was ready to sail from the locality, where 
his party had suffered greatly from disease without 
deriving much commercial advantage. ^^ 

Glottof felt satisfied, however, that he was near to 
the American continent, because he noticed that the 
natives made use of deer-skins for dress. In the im- 
mediate vicinity of the Russian encampment there was 
no timber, but the natives said that large forests grew 
in the northern part of the island. ^^ 

Through Holmberg's researches in Kadiak we pos- 
sess the deposition of a native of the island, which 
evidently refers to Glottofs sojourn on Kadiak. 
Holmberg states that he passed two days in a hut 
on the south side of the island, and that he there 
listened to the tales of an old man named Arsenti 
Aminak, whom he designates as the "only speaking 
monument of pagan times on Kadiak." A Creole 
named Panfilof served as interpreter, and Holmberg 
took down his translation, word for word, as follows: 
" I was a boy of nine or ten years, for I was already 
set to paddle in a bidarka, when the first Russian ship 
with two masts appeared near Cape Aliulik. Before 
that time we had never seen a ship; we had inter- 
course with the Aglegnutes of Aliaska peninsula, with 
the Tnaianas of the Kenai peninsula, and wdth the 
Koloshes; and some wise men even knew something 
of the Californias; but ships and white men we did 
not know at all. When we espied the ship at a dis- 
tance we thought it was an immense whale, and were 
curious to have a better look at it. We went out to 
sea in our bidarkas, but soon discovered that it was no 
whale, but another unknown monster of which we were 

^* During the winter the scurvy broke out among the crew and nine Rus- 
sians died. XeveNacJn:, 111; Berg, Khronol. 1st., 6G; Sa7-ychef, Putesh., ii. 38. 

^*^0n the 25th of April Glottof sent Luka Vtorushin, with 11 men, in 
search of material to make hoops for water-casks; he returned the following 
day with a supply, and reported groves of alder and willow at a distance of 
about 30 miles. Neue Nadir., 115. 


afraid, and the smell of which (tar probably) made us 
sick. The people on the ship had buttons on their 
clothes, and at first we thought they must be cuttle- 
fish, but when we saw them put fire into their mouth 
and blow out smoke we knew they must be devils, as 
we did not know tobacco then. The ship sailed by the 
island of Aiakhtalik, one of the Goose Islands at the 
south end of Kadiak, where then a large village was 
situated, and then passed by the Cape Aliulik (Cape 
Trinidad) into Kaniat (Alitak) Bay, where it anch- 
ored and lowered the boats. We followed full of fear, 
and at the same time curious to see what would 
become of the strange apparition, but we did not dare 
to approach the ship. Among our people there was a 
brave warrior named Ishinik, who was so bold that he 
feared nothing in the world; he undertook to visit 
the ship and came back with presents in his hand, a 
red shirt, an Aleut hood, and some glass beads. He 
said there was nothing to fear, ' they only wish to buy 
our sea-otter skins and to give us glass beads and 
other riches for them.' We did not fully believe his 
statement. The old and wise people held a council in 
the kashima,^'^ and some said : ' Who knows what sick- 
ness they may bring us; let us await them on the 
shore, then if they give us a good price for our skins 
we can do business afterward.' 

" Our people formerly were at war with the Fox 
Island people, whom we called Tayaoot. My father 
once made a raid upon Unalaska and brought back 
among other booty a little girl left by her fleeing 
parents. As a prisoner taken in war she was our 
slave, but my father treated her like a daughter, and 
brought her up with his other children. We called 
her Plioo, which means ashes, because she had been 
taken from the ashes of her house. On the Russian 
ship which came from Unalaska there were many 

^'' A large building where the men work in the winter, and also used for 
councils and festivities. For a full description of these people see Native 
Races, vol. i., this series. 
Hist. Alaska. 10 


Aleuts and among tliem the father of our slave. He 
came to my father's house, and when he saw that his 
daughter was not kept like a slave but was well 
cared for, he told him confidentially, out of gratitude, 
that the Russians would take the sea-otter skins with- 
out payment if they could. This warning saved my 
father, who, though not fully beHeving the Aleut, 
acted cautiously. The Russians came ashore together 
with the Aleuts and the latter persuaded our people 
to trade, saying: 'Why are you afraid of the Rus- 
sians? Look at us, we live with them and they do us 
no harm.' Our people, dazzled by the sight of such 
quantities of goods, left their weapons in the bidar 
and went to the Russians with their sea-otter skins. 
"While they were busy trading, the Aleuts, who car- 
ried arms concealed about them, at a signal from the 
Russians fell upon our people, killing about thirty and 
taking away their sea-otter skins. A few men had 
cautiously watched the result of the first intercourse 
from a distance, among them my father. These at- 
tempted to escape in their bidarkas, but they were 
overtaken by the Aleuts and killed. My father alone 
was saved by the father of his slave, who gave him 
his bidarka when my father's own had been pierced 
with arrows and was sinking. In this bidarka he fled 
to Akhiok. My father's name was Penashigak. The 
time of the arrival of this ship was the month of 
A.ugust, as the whales were coming into the bays and 
the berries were ripe. The Russians remained for 
the winter, but could not find sufficient food in Kaniat 
Bay. They were compelled to leave the ship in charge 
of a few watchmen and moved into a bay opposite 
. Aiakhtalik Island. Here was a lake full of herrings 
; and a kind of smelt. They lived in tents here through 
\th.e winter. The brave Ishinik, who first dared to 
visit the ship, was liked by the Russians and acted 
as a mediator. When the fish decreased in the lake 
during the winter the Russians moved about from 
village to village. Whenever we saw a boat coming at 


a distance we fled to the hills, and when we returned 
no ynkala (dried fish) could be found in the houses. 
In the lake near the Russian camp there was a poison- 
ous kind of starfish; we knew it very well, but said 
nothing about it to the Russians. We never ate 
them, and even the gulls would not touch them; 
many Russians died from eating them. But we in- 
jured them also in other ways. They put up fox- 
traps and we removed them for the sake of obtaining 
the iron material. When the Russians had examined 
our coast they left our island during the following 

On the 24th of May Glottof finally left Kadiak, 
and passing through the numerous islands lining the 
south coast of the Alaska peninsula made a landing 
on Umnak with the intention to hunt and trade in 
the same locality which he had previously visited. 
When the ship entered the well known bay the houses 
erected by the promyshleniki were still standing, but 
no sign of life was visible. The commander hastened 
to the shore and soon found signs of death and de- 
struction. The body of an unknown Russian was 
there; Glottof 's own house had been destroyed, and 
another building erected near by.^^ 

On the 5th of July an exploring party of sixteen 
discovered the remains of Medvedef's ship, and the 
still unburied bodies of its crew. Upon consultation 
it was decided to take steps at once to ascertain 
whether any survivors of the disaster were to be 
found on the island. On the 7th of July some natives 

^^ This narrative of which we have given above only the portion relating to 
Glottof 's visit, coming as it does from the mouth of an eye-witness, is interest- 
ing, but it is somewhat difficult to determine its historical value, as it is im- 
possible to locate or identify all the various incidents. The first part evidently 
refers to the landing of Glottof, though there is a wide discrepancy between 
the latter's account and that of Arsenti Aminak; in his estimate of time the 
latter is certainly mistaken and he does not mention the hostile encounters 
between natives and Russians related by Glottof. He also ascribes the mor- 
tality among the invaders to the consumption of poisonous iish instead of to 
the actual cause, the ravages of scorbutic disease. Holmhenj, Ethnographische 
Shizzen; Sarydief, Putesh., ii. 42-3; Grewingk Beitr., 316. 

'^'Berg, Khronol. 1st., 70; Pallas, Nord. Beitr., i. 276. 


approaclied the vessel and endeavored to persuade 
Glottof to land with only two men, for the purpose 
of trading, displaying at the same time a large number 
of sea-otter skins on the beach. When they found 
that their devices did not succeed, they retreated to> 
a distance and began to fire with muskets at the ship, 
without, however, doing any damage. Later in the 
day a few natives came off in their canoes and pad- 
dled round the ship. As Glottof was desirous of ob- 
taining; information concerninof the recent occurrences 
on the island, the bold natives were not molested, and 
finally one of them ventured on board the ship, par- 
taking of food, and told freely all that had happened 
since Glottof's visit, hinting also at the existence of 
Korovin's small party in some part of the island. 
He acknowledged that it had been the intention of 
the natives to kill Glottof after enticing him to land, 
imagining that they would have no difficulty in deal- 
ing with the crew after the leader was despatched. 
After a vain attempt to find Korovin's camp, some 
natives advised the Russians to cross the island to 
the opposite side, where they would find their country- 
men engaged in building a house beside a brook. The 
information proved correct, and the hearts of Korovin 
and his men were soon gladdened b}?- the appearance 
of their countrymen. 

Glottof evidently did not intend to feed the addi- 
tional members in idleness. In a few days he sent 
out Korovin with twenty men in a bidar to reconnoi- 
tre the coast of Umnak and search for fugitive Rus- 
sians who might have survived the various massacres. 
For a long time he could find no living soul, Russian 
or native; but at last, in September, he fell in with 
some parties of the latter. They greeted the Rus- 
sians with musket-shots, and would not listen to 
overtures. At various places where Korovin at- 
tempted to stop to hunt the natives opposed his 
landing, and engagements ensued. At the place of 
the massacre of Barnashef and his crew, his bidar 


and the remains of his cargo were found, and a few 
women and boys who Hngered about the place were 
taken prisoners and questioned as to the details of 
the bloody episode. 

Later in the winter Korovin was sent out again 
with a party of men and the Aleut interpreter, Ivan 
Glottof They proceeded to the western end of Un- 
alaska and there learned from the natives that a Rus- 
sian vessel commanded by Solovief was anchored in 
one of the harbors of that island. Korovin at once 
shaped his course for the point, but reached it only 
after several sharp engagements with the natives, 
inflicting severe loss upon them. He remained with 
Solofief three days and then returned to the scene of 
his last encounter with the natives, who seemed to 
have benefited by the lesson administered by Korovin, 
being quite tractable and willing to trade and assist 
in hunting. Before the end of the year the deep- 
rooted hatred of the Russian intruders again came to 
the surface, and the hunters concluded to return to 
the ship. On the passage from Unalaska to Umnak 
they had two engagements and were finally wrecked 
upon the latter island. As it was midwinter they 
were forced to remain there till the 6th of April fol- 
lowing, subject to the greatest privations. After 
another tedious voyage along the coast the party at 
last rejoined Glottof with a small quantity of furs 
as the result of the season's work. On account of 
Korovin's failures in hunting, Glottof and his part- 
ners declared the agreement with them void. The 
brave leader, whose indomitable courage alone had car- 
ried his companions through an appalling succession of 
disasters, certainly deserved better treatment. The 
Kamchatkans belongino^ to his former crew entered 
Glottof s service ; but five Russians concluded to cast 
their lots with him. In June they found Solovief, 
who willingly received them into his company, and in 
his vessel they finally reached Kamchatka. ^° 

^" The vessel commanded by Solovief was owned by Ouledovaki, a mer- 


Solovief had been fortunate in his voyage from 
Kamchatka to Umnak, passing along the Aleutian 
isles with as much safety and despatch as a trained 
sea-captain could have done, provided with all the 
instruments of modern nautical science. In less than 
a month, a remarkably quick passage for those days, 
he sighted the island of Umnak, but finding no con- 
venient anchorage he went to Unalaska. 

A few natives who still remembered Solovief from 
his former visit, came to greet the new arrivals and 
informed them of the cruel fate that had befallen 
Medvedef and his companions. The Cossack Kore- 
nef was ordered to reconnoitre the northern coast of 
the island with a detachment of twenty men. He 
reported on his return that he had found only three 
vacant habitations of the natives, but some fragments 
of Russian arms and clothing led him to suspect that 
some of his countrymen had suffered at the hands of 
the savages in that vicinity. In the course of time 
Solovief managed to obtain from the natives detailed 
accounts of the various massacres. The recital of 
cruelties committed inflamed his passions, and he 
resolved to avenge the murder of his countrymen. 
His first care, however, was to establish himself firmly 
on the island and to introduce order and discipline 
among his men. He adhered to his designs with 
great persistency and unnecessary cruelty.^^ 

chant of Irkutsk. It was the Sv Pctr i Sv Pavel which we have so often 
met ; it had sailed from the mouth of the Kamchatka river on the 24th of 
August 1764. Ber<j, Khronol. 1st., 73. 

''^Berg, while faithfully relating the cruelties perpetrated by Solovief, 
seems to have been inclined to palliate his ci'inies. He says: ' A quiet citizen 
and friend of mankind reading of these doings will perhaps execrate the 
terrible Solovief and call him a barbarous destroyer of men, but he would 
change his opinion on learning that after this period of terrible punishment, 
the inhabitants of the Aleutian Islands never again dared to make another 
attack upon the Prussians. Would he not acknowledge that such measures 
were necessary for the safety of future voyagers? Curious to know how 
Solovief succeeded in his enterprise, and how he was situated subsequently, 
I questioned Ivan Savich Lapin concerning his fate, and received the follow- 
ing answer: His many fortunate voyages brought him great profits, but as 
he was a shiftless man and rather dissipated in his habits, he expended dur- 
ing every winter passed at Okhotsk or in Kamchatka the earnings of three 
years of hardships, setting out upon every new voyage with nothing but debts 


Solovief had not quite finished his preparations 
when the savage islanders, made bold by frequent 
victories, attempted the first attack, an unfortunate 
one for the Aleuts. The promyshleniki, who were 
ready for the fray at any moment, on this occasion 
destroyed a hundred of their assailants on the spot, 
and broke up their bidars and temporary habitations. 
With this victory Solovief contented himself until 
he was reenforced by Korovin, Kokovin, and a few 
others, when he divided his force, leaving half to 
guard the ship while with the others he set out in 
search of the ''blood-thirsty natives," who had de- 
stroyed Drushinnin and Medvedef 

The bloodshed perpetrated by this band of avengers 
was appalling. A majority of all the natives con- 
nected with the previous attacks on the Russians paid 
with their lives for presuming to defend their homes 
against invaders. Being informed that three hundred 
of the natives had assembled in a fortified village, 
Solovief marched his force to the spot. At first the 
Russians were greeted with showers of arrows from 
every aperture, but when the natives discovered that 
bullets came flying in as fast as arrows went out, they 
closed the openings, took down the notched posts 
serving as ladders, and sat down to await their fate. 
Unwilling to charge upon the dwellings, and seeing 
that he could not do much injury to the enemy as 
long as they remained within, Solovief managed to 
place bladders filled with powder under the log foun- 
dation of the structure, which was soon blown into the 
air. Many of the inmates survived the explosion only 
to be despatched by the promyshleniki with muskets 
and sabres. ^^ 

behind him. He lost his life in the most miserable manner at Okhotsk.' 
Berg, Khronol. 1st., 75-6. Among his companions Solovief acquired the 
nickname of 'Oushasnui Soloviy,' the 'terrible nightingale,' a play upon his 
name, Solovey being the Russian for nightingale. Baerand Wrangell, Riissische 
Besitzimgen, 192. 

^'i Davidof states that Solovief put to death 3,000 Aleuts (?) during this 
campaign. Dvulcr. Purtesh., ii. 108. Berg writes on the authority of Lapin that 
'only '200 were killed. Khronol. 1st., 75. Veniaminof discusses the deeds 
of Solovief and his companions in a dispassionate way, relying mainly on 


At the end of his crusade, Solovief, having suc- 
ceeded in subjugating the natives, estabHshed ' friendly 
intercourse' with them. A few of the chiefs of Una- 
laska tendered their submission. During the winter 
his men suffered from scurvy, and many died.^ Ob- 
serving which the savages regained courage and be- 
gan to revolt. The people of Makushin village were 
the most determined, but Solovief managed to en- 
trap the chief, who confessed that he had intended 
to overpower the Russians and burn their ship. In 
June two more of the scurvy-stricken crew died, and 
Solovief was only too glad to accept of the offer of 
Korovin and his companions, who had only just ar- 
rived, to join his expedition. The Cossack Shevyrin 
died on the third of August and another Russian in 

Late in the autumn Solovief again despatched 
Korenef with a detachment of promyshleniki to the 
northern part of the island. He did not return until 
the 30th of January 17G6, and was immediately or- 
dered out again to explore the west coast. During 
the first days of February a young Aleut named 
Kyginik, a son of the chief, came voluntarily into the 
Russian camp and requested to be baptized, and to be 
permitted to remain with the promyshleniki. His 
wish was willingly complied with, and if the promysh- 
leniki claimed a miracle as the cause of the action, I 
should acquiesce. Nothing but the mighty power of 

what he heard by word of mouth from Aleut eye-witnesses of the \ariou3 
transactions. He accused Berg of attempting to make Solovief's career • 
appear less criminal and repulsive, and declares that ' nearly a century has 
elapsed since that period of terror, and there is no reason for concealing what 
was done by the first promyshleniki, or for palliating or glorifying their cruel 
outrages upon the Aleuts. ' He had no desire to enlarge upon the great crimes 
committed by ignorant and unrestrained meu, especially when they were his 
countrymen; but his work would not be done if he failed to tell what people 
had seen of the doings of Solovief and his companions. Veniaminof stated 
on what he calls good authoritj', that Solovief experimented on the penetra- 
tive power of musket-balls by tying 12 Aleutians together and discharging his 
rifle at them at short range; report has it that the bullets lodged in the ninth 
man. Zap., ii. 101. 

^' One died in February, five in March and April, and six in May; all these 
•were Russians with the exception of one, a Kamchatkan. Neue Nachr., 141. 

^* Neue Nachr., 143. 


God could have saDctified the heart of this benighted 
one under these bright examples of Christianity. In 
May Solovief began his preparations for departure, col- 
lecting and packing his furs for the voyage and repair- 
ing his vessel. He sailed the 1st of June and reached 
Kamchatka the 5th of July.^^ 

At Okhotsk there was great disorder, amounting 
almost to anarchy, under the administration of Cap- 
tain Zybin, up to 1754, when the latter was relieved 
by Captain Nilof, who subsequently became known 
and lost his life during the famous convict revolt of 
XamclKitka under the leadership of Benyovski.^'^ In 
1761 Major Plenisner was appointed to the command 
of Kamchatka for five years; he held this position until 
relieved by Nilof ^'^ 

In 1765 a new company was formed by Lapin, 
Shilof, and Orekhof, the latter a gunsmith from Tula. 
They built two vessels at Okhotsk, naming them after 
those excessively honored apostles the Sv Petr and the 
Sv Pavel, and crossed over to Bolsheretsk, where they 
remained till August.^^ The Sv Petr was commanded 
by Tolstykh and carried a crew of forty-nine Rus- 
sians, twelve natives of Kamchatka, and two Aleuts. 
Acting under tlie old delusion that there must be land 
somewhere to the southward, Tolstykh steered in that 
direction, but after a fruitless cruise of two months 
he concluded to make the port of Petropavlovsk to 
winter; but on the 2d of October in attempting to 
anchor near Cape Skipunskoi, in a gale, the vessel was 
cast upon the rocks and broken in pieces.^'' 

"^ The cargo collected during this murderous expedition consisted of 500 
black foxes and 500 sea-otters, a portion of the latter having been brought 
into the joint company by Korovin and his companions. Neite Nachr., 146. 

^'^ Morshol Sbornil; cv. 40; Sijibnef, in Id., cii. 76. 

^' Plenisner was to receive double pay while in command, and he was in- 
structed to send out the naval lieutenant Synd with two ships to explore the 
American coast, and also to send another exijedition to explore the Kurile 
Islands. Sgibnef, in Morsl:oi Shornik, cii. .37-8. 

^* The authorities of Bolsheretsk asserted that the party sailed only after all 
the liquor obtained for the voyage had been drank. Berg, Khronol. 1st., 76-7. 

^^ Neue Nachr., 49. Berg mentions that in this wreck only three out of a 
crew of 63 were saved, but he does not state whether Tolstykh was among 
the survivors. 


The Sv Pavel was commanded by Master Afanassly 
Ocheredin, and carried a crew of sixty men. Sailing 
from Bolsheretsk the 1st of August they steered for 
the farther Aleutian Isles, and w^ent into winter- 
quarters the 1st of September in a bay of Umnak.. 
At first the natives were friendly, but as soon as^ 
tribute was demanded intercourse ceased for the win- 
ter, and the Russians suffered greatly from hunger 
and disease. Scarcely had the promyshleniki begun 
to overcome the dread disease in the spring, with the 
help of anti-scorbutic plants, when Ocheredin sent out 
detachments to demand tribute of the natives. In 
August 1767 a peredovchik named Poloskof, was 
despatched with twenty-eight men in two boats to 
hunt. Having heard of the massacre of Medvedef 
and Korovin, he passed by Unalaska and estab- 
lished himself at Akutan, distributing small detach- 
ments of hunters over the neighboring islands. In 
the following January he was attacked and four of his 
men killed. Onslaughts were made by the natives at 
the same time upon Ocheredin's vessel and another 
craft commanded by Popof, who was then trading at 
Unalaska. In August Poloskof rejoined Ocheredin, 
and their operations were continued until 1770.*'' 

Ocheredin's share of the proceeds was 600 sea- 
otters, 756 black foxes, 1,230 red foxes; and with this 
rich cargo he arrived at Okhotsk on the 24th of 
July 1770.*^ The partners in this enterprise received 
in addition to a large return on their investment 
gracious acknowledgments from the imperial govern- 
ment. In 1764, when the first black fox-skins had 

*° In the month of September 1768 Ocheredin was notified by Captain 
Levashef, of the Krenitzin expedition, to transfer to him (Levashef) all the 
tribute collected. With an armed vessel anchored in Kapiton Bay, Popof 
and Ocheredin met with no further opposition from the natives. Unalaska 
to the south-west of the Alaska peninsula. On Cook's atlas, 1778, written 
Ooualaslca; La P^rouse, 1736, Ouimlaska; Sut'd y Mex., Viage, I. Unalaska; 
Holmberg, /. Unalaschka. Carton. Pac. Coast, MS., iii. 454. 

*^ Berij, Khronol. 1st., app. Two natives of the island, Alexei Solovief 
and Boris Ocheredin, were taken to Okhotsk on the Sv Pavel with the inten- 
tion of sending them to St Petersburg, but both died of consumption on their 
joui'ney through Siberia. Neue Nachr., 162-3. 


been forwarded to the empress, gold medals were 
awarded to the merchants Orekhof, Kulkof, Shapkin, 
Panof, and Nikoforof. Desirous of obtaining a more 
detailed account of the doings of her subjects in the far 
east, Catherine ordered to be sent to St Petersburg one 
of the traders, promising to pay his expenses. When 
this order reached Okhotsk only one merchant engaged 
in the island trade could be found, Yassili Shilof He 
was duly despatched to the imperial court, and on 
arriving at St Petersburg was at once granted an 
interview by the empress, who questioned him closely 
upon the locality of the new discoveries, and the mode 
of conducting the traffic. The empress was much 
pleased with the intelligent answers of Shilof, who 
exhibited a map of his own making, representing the 
Aleutian Islands from Bering to Amlia, This the 
empress ordered to be deposited in the admiralty 

Three other vessels were despatched in 1766-7, but 
of their movements we have but indefinite records. 
The Vladimir, owned by Krassilnikof and commanded 
by Soposhnikof, sailed in 1766, and returned from the 
Near Islands with 1,400 sea-otters, 2,000 fur-seals, 
and 1,050 blue foxes. In the following year the Sv 

*'^ In the Shurnal Admiralttiestv Kollegiy, under date of Feb. 5, 1767, the 
following entry can be found: ' The Oustioushk mercliant, Shilof, laid before 
the college, in illustration of his voyages to the Kamchatka Islands, a chart 
on which their location as far as known is laid down. He also gave satisfac- 
tory verbal explanations concerning their inhabitants and resources. The 
college having inspected and examined this chart and compared it with the 
one compiled by Captain Chirikof, at the wish and will expressed by Her 
Imperial Majesty, and upon careful consideration, present most respectfully 
the following report: The college deems the report of Shilof concerning navi- 
gation and trade insufficient for official consideration, and in many respects 
contradictory; especially the chart, which does not agree in many important 
points with other charts in the hands of the college; and moreover it could 
not be expected to be correct, being compiled by a person knowing nothing 
of the science and rules of navigation. On the other hand, as far as this 
document is concerned we must commend the spirit which instigated its con- 
ception and induced the author to undergo hardships and dangers in extend- 
ing the navigation and trade of Russia. And we find in it the base upon 
which to build further investigation and discoveries of unknown countries, 
which well deserves the approbation of our most Gracious Imperial Majesty.' 
Two imperial oukazes were issued, dated respectively April 19 and Aj^ril 20, 
1767, granting Shilof and Lapin exemption from military duty and conferring 
upon each a gold medal for services rendered. Berg, Khronol. 1st., 70-2. 


Petr i Sv Pavel, owned by the brothers Panof, sailed, 
and returned after a cruise of three years with a very 
rich cargo composed of 5,000 sea-otters and 1,100 blue 
foxes. The loann Oustioushki, owned by Ivan Popof, 
made two voyages between 1767 and 1770, returning 
the second time with 3,000 sea-otters, 1,663 black 
foxes, 230 cross foxes, 1,025 red foxes, and 1,162 blue 
foxes.^^ The merchants Poloponissof and Popof also 
sent out a ship in 1767, the Joann Predtecha, which 
returned after an absence of five years with 60 sea- 
otters, 6,300 fur-seals, and 1,280 blue foxes.** This 
ends the list of private enterprises prior to the resump- 
tion of exploration by the imperial government. 

*^ The cargo as given by Berg seems extraordinarily large, and it is probable 
that the Panof expedition consisted of two vessels, for Sgibnef states that a 
ship-builder named Bubnof constructed in 1767 two vessels, the galiot Sv 
Pavel, 56 feet long, at a cost of 5,737 rubles; and the galiot Sv Petr, of the 
same length, 19 feet beam and 9 feet depth of hold, at a cost of 6,633 rubles. 
The rigging for these ships was brouglit from Tobolsk, and 500 pounds of 
iron were carried all the way from Arkhangel, being two years en route. 
Sgibnef, in Morskoi Shornih, cv. 47-8. According to Capt. Shmalef the loann 
Ouslioushfiki made a third prosperous trip from which she returned in 1772 with 
a cargo yielding a net profit of 1,000 rubles to each share. Berg, Khronol. 1st., 
83; Pallas, Nord. Beitrage, i. 276; Sarychef Putesh., ii. 37. 

^^ Berg, Khronol. 1st., app.; Grewingk, Beitrage, 315. 




Synd's Voyage in Beking Strait— St^hlin's Peculiar Report— The 
Grand Government Expedition — Promotions and Rewards on the 
Strength of Prospective Achievements— Catherine is Sure of Di- 
vine Favor — Very Secret Instructions — Heavy Cost of the Expe- 
dition — The Long Journey to Kamchatka — Dire Misfortunes 
There — Results of the Effort — Death of the Commander— Jour- 
nals AND Reports — More Mercantile Voyages — The Ships 'Sv 
Nikolai,' 'Sv Andrei,' 'Sv Prokop,' and Others — The Free and 
Easy ZaTkof— His Luck. 

I WILL briefly mention here a voyage by a lieuten- 
ant of the imperial navy named Synd, or Syndo, 
though there is no proof of his having touched any 
part of Alaska. Under orders of Saimonof, then 
governor of Siberia, Lieutenant Synd, who had been 
one of the youngest companions of Bering, sailed from 
Okhotsk in 1764, upon a voyage of discovery in the 
direction of Bering Strait, in a vessel called by way of 
variety the Sv Pavel. During the first season Synd 
did not get beyond the mouth of the Kharinzof Biver 
on the west coast of Kamchatka in the vicinity of 
Tigil. His craft proved unseaworthy; and after win- 
tering at his first anchorage he sailed again in June 
1765, in the ship Sv Ekaterina, and wintered at the 
Ouka Biver a little to the southward of Karagin 
Island.^ He sailed northward the following year, 
reached the vicinity of Bering Strait within a month, 
dotting down upon his chart as he moved along a 

^Zap.Hydr.,x. 70-3. 



multitude of imaginary islands extending up to lati- 
tude 64° 59', and reported a mountainous coast not far 
from the land of the Chukchi," between latitude 64° 
and 66°, which he conjectured to be the American 
continent. On the 2d of September he began his 
return voyage, following the coast down to Nishe- 
kamchatsk, but not until 1768 did his expedition 
return to Okhotsk.^ 

Another and far more important expedition under 
the immediate auspices of the imperial government 
was organized by Chicherin, governor of Siberia, 
under instructions of the admiralty college. As early 
as 1763 Chicherin had reported to the imperial gov- 
ernment the latest discoveries among the Aleutian 
Isles by Siberian traders, pointing at the same time 
to the necessity of having these discoveries verified 
by officers of the navy, who might be appointed as 

2 Steehlin in his Account of the New Northern Archipelago, 12-15, gives a 
strangely garbled report of this expedition, as follows: 'The empress. . .erect- 
ing a commercial company composed of Russian merchants for trading with 
the new islands, and to further promote this end, the admiralty oihce at 
Okhotskoi, on the sea of Penshinsk, had orders from her Majesty to assist this 
trading company of Kamchatka in tbe prosecution of their undertaking; to 
provide them with convoys, and to endeavor to procure all possible informa- 
tion relative to the islands and coast they intended to visit to the north and 
north-east beyond Kamchatka. In the year 1764 these traders accordingly 
sailed from the harbor of Ochotskoi with some two-masted galiots, and single- 
masted vessels of the kind in Siberia called dostchennikof (covei-ed bai'ges), 
under a convoy from the aforesaid admiralty office, commanded by Lieutenant 
Syndo. They passed the sea of Ochotskoi, went round the southern cape of 
Kamchatka into the Pacific Ocean, steering along the eastern coast, keeping 
northward, and at last came to an anchor in the liarbor of Peter-Paul, and 
wintered in the ostrog or palisaded village. The next year they pursued tlieir 
voyage farther northward, and in that and the following year, 17G5 and 1766, 
they discovered by degrees the whole archipelago of islands of different sizes, 
which increased upon them the farther they went between the 56th and 67th 
degrees of north latitude, and they returned safely in the same year. The 
reports they made to the government chancellery at Irkutsk, and from thence 
sent to the directing senate, together with the maps and charts thereto 
annexed, made a considerable alteration in the regions of the sea of Anadir 
and in the situation of the opposite coast of America, and gave them quite a 
diflerent appearance fi'om that in the above-mentioned map engraved in the 
year 1758. This difference is made apparent by comparing it with the amended 
map published last year, 1773, by the academy of sciences, and is made still 
more visible by the accurate little map of the newly discovered northern 
archipelago, hereto annexed, which is drawn up from original accounts.' The 
'accurate little map' referred to is perhaps the most preposterous piece of im- 
aginary geography in existence, a worthy companion of the charts of Croyfere. 


commanders of the trading vessels and instructed to 
keep correct journals of their exploring voyages. 
This report was duly considered by the empress and 
resulted in the organization of the Krenitzin expedi- 

The empress issued a special oukaz instructing the 
admiralty college to detail a number of officers of the 
navy, intrusting the command to the most experienced 
among them versed in the science of navigation and 
kindred branches of knowledge.* 

The expedition, having been recommended to the 
special attention of the admiralty college with instruc- 
tions to keep its destination secret, was at once set on 
foot. The command was given to Captain-lieutenant 
Petr Kumich Krenitzin, who was to select his com- 
panions.^ All were placed under the immediate com- 
mand of the governor of Siberia, and were to proceed 
to the newly discovered islands on the vessels of 
traders, one on each, without assuming any command, 
turning their attention solely to taking astronomical 
-observations and to noting all they saw. At the same 

^ The results of this expedition were published by Coxa in 1780. He ob- 
tained his information principally from the historian Robertson, who had been 
granted access to the archives of the navy department by the empress. Pallas 
translated Coxe's account into his Nordische Beitrage, published in 1781; and 
in the same year a Russian translation appeared in the Academic Monthly axLd 
was republished in the selections from the monthly. Robertson, however, 
had no opportunity to look into the details of the organization and manage- 
ment of the expedition, and confined himself to results; consequently the 
actual details of the enterprise remained unknown until Sokolof investigated 
the subject, having access to the original journals and charts. Zap. Hydr., 
X. 17-71. 

* A portion of the oukaz reads as follows: ' We promise our imperial good- 
will not only to the commander of the expedition but to all his subordinates, 
and assure them that upon their safe return from their voyage every participant 
shall be advanced one step in rank and be entitled to a life pension in propor- 
tion to the salary received during the voyage. On account of the distance to 
be traversed and the hardships to be encountered, I grant to each member of 
the expedition doable pay and allowance of subsistence from the time of de- 
parture to the day of retui-n; this extra allowance to continue for a period of 
two years. ' Sokolof, Irkutsk A rchives. With the final instructions the gra- 
cious sovereign forwarded to Governor Chicherin a gold watch for each of the 
officers in command. 

* In order to mislead the public with regard to the objects of the expedi- 
tion the admiralty college gave it the official name of 'An Expedition for the 
Exploration of the Forests on the rivers Kama and Brela.' Sokolof, Zap. 
Hydr., 75. 


time the governor was informed that if he deemed it 
better to employ government vessels, he might engage 
ships of the promjshleniki, or build new crafts, and 
despatch Krenitzin and his chief assistant on two of 
the latter, independent of the trader's fleet. ^ 

Krenitzin was promoted to captain of the second 
rank, and Lieutenant Mikhail Levashef, whom the 
commander had chosen for his chief assistant, to be 
captain-lieutenant. All the subalterns were advanced 
one step in rank, as had been promised them. The 
command took its departure from St Petersburg the 
1st of July 1764, arriving in Tobolsk the 17th of Sep- 
tember.'^ At this place the expedition was reenforced 
by ten cadets from the local school of navigation, and 
also provided with additional supplies and stores. They 
left Tobolsk at the beginning of March 1765, arriving 
at Yakutsk in July and at Okhotsk in October, after 
a difficult journey over the tundra and mountains in- 
tervening between Yakutsk and the sea.*^ 

^The instructions of the governor began with these words: 'Fully aware 
of your knowledge and your zeal for the glory of her Imperial Majesty, and 
tlie benefit of your country, the admiralty college expects you to employ all 
your ardor and perseverance in the prosecution of this enterprise. ' There was 
also a ' secret addition' to these instructions. Believing that the expedition 
aliout to be desj^atched along the Arctic coast of Siberia under command of 
Cliichagof , to search for the north-east passage, would finally reach Kamchatka 
and meet there the vessels of the Krenitzin expedition, the admiralty college 
thought it necessary to establish a code of signals known to the commanders 
of both squadrons. Tliese signals consisted of an extraordinary arrangement 
of the sails, frequent lowering and hoisting of flags, and discharges of cannon. 
In their endeavors to provide for all contingencies the framers of these instruc- 
tionsalso suggested that in times of fog, and in theabsence of fire-armsorammu- 
nition, the vessels should approach each other as nearly as possible, when the 
command was to shout three times ' agai!' in a manner similar to the shout of 
' hurrah ! ' by troops, and if the other vessel should answer with the same 
cry, three times re; eated, the crew of the first was again to shout, ' Boshe 
pomogi ! ' God help you, also three times, and await from the other vessel the 
reply, ' Da, pomoshet i nam !' yes, he will help us. Then when all these sig- 
nals had been correctly answered the crew of the first vessel was to shout, 
' Umnak Island!' three times, and await an answer from the other crew of 
' Onnekotan Island ! ' three times repeated. IrhuUk Archives; Sokolof, Zap. 
Hydr., x. 76-7. Sokolof also mentions that the expedition was fitted out 
with 12 quadrants and the charts of Bering, of the merchant Shishkin, and of 
Vertlugof; those of the last two covering respectively the Aleutian Islands 
and north-eastern Siberia and Japan. 

' The subaltern officers consisted of seven mates, Dudin 1st, Dudin 2d, 
Shebanof, Krasheninnikof, Chinenoi, Stepanof, and Sralef j one corporal, and 
four quartermasters. Zap. Hydr., x. 77-8. 

* At Yakutsk Krenitzin received another batch of instructions from the 


Upon tlie receipt of full reports of the expedition, 
the thrice gracious and benignant Catherine ex- 
pressed her thanks to Governor Chicherin for all his 
arrangements in a special rescript, hoping for com- 
plete success of the undertaking. The empress also 
thanked the governor for " framing such wise instruc- 
tions." In alluding to the departure of Krenitzin 
for the coast from Yakutsk she wrote: "May the 
Almighty bless his journey. I am sure that you will 
not slacken your zeal in promoting the enterprise, 
and whatever occurs during the journey worthy of 
note you will report to me at once. I am now wait- 
ing with impatience news of his farther progress."^ 

When Krenitzin arrived at Okhotsk he found to 
his great disappointment that the vessels intended for 
his use were not ready, the keels only having been 
laid and a few timbers selected for the frames. All 
labor had been suspended for lack of timber. When 
Chicherin was informed of this he instructed Kre- 
nitzin to temporarily supersede Captain Rtishchef, 
second in command of Okhotsk, and to superintend 
in person the construction of his vessels. If he should 
find it impossible to complete the ships, he was au- 
thorized to engage others from the traders. Through 
Colonel Plenisner, Krentzin also encountered obstacles 
to his progress. ^° 

prolific pen of Chicherin, advising the commander to obtain from the merchants 
who had already visited the Aleutian Isles, a detailed description of tlieir 
discoveries, and to locate them on his charts; to turn his special attention to 
the large and populous island of Kadiak, which should be circumnavigated i-f 
possible and thoroughly explored in order to ascertain whether it was an 
island or mainland. Irkutsk Archives', Sokolof, x. 78-9; Sarychef, ii. 37; Pal- 
las, JSTord. Beitr., i. 282. 

''The imperial rescripts are in Irkutsk Archives; Zapiski Hydr., dated Oct. 
11, 1764; April 11, July 11, and Oct. 12, 1765. 

^" Col. Plenisner, who commanded the military station at Okhotsk, quar- 
relled with Krenitzin and sent complaints to Irkutsk. The governor wrote to 
Krenitzin, instead of replying to the accuser, as follows: ' Perhaps Plenisner 
will cause you trouble. From my knowledge of you, and I had the honor of 
knowing you for some time at Tobolsk, I conclude that you will give him no 
provocation; but I do not know Plenisner personally. It seems to me that 
there is something in the air of Okhotsk that causes all officers stationed there 
to quarrel.' After assuring Krenitzin of his sincere friendship, the governor 
advised him to avoid all petty quarrels in order not to displease the empress, 
and concluded as follows: ' If Plenisner seriously interferes with your arrange- 
Hi8T. Alaska. 11 


At last, in August 1766, the ships were completed 
and launched, a brigantine called the Sv Ekaterina 
and a hooker, the Sv Pavel; two others, old vessels, 
had also been fitted out, the galiot Sv Pavel and the 
Gavril}'^ The squadron sailed from Okhotsk the 10th 
of October. The third day out, at a distance of only- 
ten leagues from Okhotsk, all the vessels became sep- 
arated from each other. On the 17th Krenitzin first 
sighted land in latitude 53° 45', and the following day 
the brigantine was discovered to be leaking badly, 
rendering it necessary to run for the land. A gale 
arose, and the result was a total wreck twenty-five 
versts north of Bolsheretsk,near the small river Ontok, 
the crew reaching the shore in safety the 24th. Lev- 
ashef, on the hooker Sv Pavel, sighted the coast of 
Kamchatka on the 18th, and on the 22d approached 
the harbor of Bolsheretsk, but waited to take advan- 
tage of a spring tide to cross the bar. On the follow- 
ing day a storm came up, causing the vessel to break 
from her cables. Levashef attempted to put to sea, 
but failing he finally ran the ship ashore on the 24th, 
about seven versts from Bolsheretsk River. The 
crew and the greater part of the cargo were landed. 
The Sv Gavril succeeded in entering Bolsheretsk 
harbor, but was overtaken by the same storm and cast 
upon the beach. The galiot Sv Pavel drifted out of 
her course into the Pacific, and after more than two 
months of agony the thirteen survivors, among whom 
was the commander, found themselves on one of the 

ments, I give you permission to report directly to her Imperial Majesty, and 
to the admiralty college, but I hope that God will not let it come to that, 
and that He will give you peace and good -will. Such is my sincere wish.' 
Irhutxh Archives; Zap. Ilydr., x. 80; Morshoi Shornik, cv. 49-50. 

i^'The expeditionary force was distributed as follows: the Sv Ekaterina, 
commanded by Krenitzin, carried 72 men; the hooker .5 1' Pavel, commanded 
by Levashef, 52; the galiot Sv Pavel, commanded by Dudin 2d, 43; and the 
Sv Gavril, commanded by Dudin 1st, 21. The cost of fitting out the expedi- 
tion reached the sum of 100,837 rubles, then a large amount of money. The 
empress wrote Chicherin on the subject of expense under date of May 28, 
1764: ' Perhaps the execution of my plans will involve some expenditm-e of 
money, and thei-efore I authorize you to employ for the purpose the first funds 
coming into your treasury, sending a strict account of expenditure to the 
admiralty college.' Zap. Ilydr., x. 81. 



Kurile Islands with their vessel a wreck. Such was 
the beginning, and might as well have been the end, 
of the empress' grand scientific expedition. 

The shipwrecked crews passed the winter at Bol- 
sheretsk, where they were joined during the following 
summer by mate Dudin 2d, and the survivors of the 
crew of the wrecked galiot. The hooker Sv Pavel and 
the Sv Gavril were repaired, Levashef taking com- 
mand of the former with a crew of fifty-eight, while 
Krenitzin sailed in the latter with a crew of sixty- 
six. Each vessel was provided with a large bidar. 
Sailing from Bolsheretsk the 17th of August 1767, 
the expedition arrived at Nishekamchatsk on the 6th 
of September. Here another winter must be passed. 
The Sv Gavril was unfit for navigation, and Kren- 
itzin concluded to take the galiot Sv Ekaterina, Synd, 
commander, just returned. ^^ Chichagof, about the 
meeting with whom the admiralty college had been 

^'■^ For a description of bidars and bidarkas see Native Races, vol. i. , this 
series. Tlie galiot Sv Ehaterina had 3 mates, 1 second mate, 3 cadets, 1 
boatswain, 1 boatswain's mate, 2 quartermasters, 1 clerk, 1 surgeon, 1 ship's 
corporal, 1 blacksmith, 1 carpenter, 1 boat-builder, 1 sail-maker, 1 infantry- 
soldier, 41 Cossacks, 9 sailors, and 2 Aleuts — a total of 72. The hooker Sv 
Pavel, carried 4 mates, 4 cadets, 4 quartermasters, 1 surgeon, 1 ship's corporal, 

1 locksmith, 1 carpenter, 1 turner, 1 soldier, 38 Cossacks, 5 promyshleniki, 

2 Aleuts, and 1 volunteer, a Siberian nobleman. The provisions were dis- 
tributed as follows: 

Galiot, St Ekatenna. 


Hooker, Sv Pavel. 


















Butter . .... 



Meat .... 



Dried fish, bundles of 

Salt fish, barrels 

Dried fish, bundles of 

Salt fish, barrels . . 


Brandy buckets 

Brandy, buckets 



Wood, fathoms 

Wood fathoms 




The armament consisted of 2 copper half-pound falconets, 2 small iron 
falconets and 1 large iron cannon, 39 muskets, 6 musketoons, and 13 rifles. 
Irkutsk Archives : Zap. Hydr., ix. 68-9. 


SO anxious, had in the mean time already accomplished 
two journeys, 1765-6, also attended by misfortune. 
The winter was passed by the men in boiling sea-^ 
water for salt, and in making tar out of spruce. They 
also constructed two large bidars and some water- 
casks, and in the spring all hands were busy fishing. 
By the first of April the ice began to disappear from 
the river, and on the 1st of July both vessels were 
ready for sea. The Krenitzin expedition was not 
only unlucky, but it seemed to carry a curse with it. 
One of the crew of the Sv Pavel, a Cossack named 
Taborukin, landed in Kamchatka not quite cured of 
an attack of small-pox and infected the whole neigh- 
borhood. In two years the population was more than 
decimated. ^^ 

On the 21st of June the ships were towed out of 
the mouth of the Kamchatka River, and on the 2 2d 
they spread their sails, steering an easterly course and 
stopping at Bering Island for water. Owing to con- 
trary winds their progress was slow, and on the 11th 
of August, in latitude 54° 33', the two ships became 
separated during a strong south-south-west gale and 
thick weather. On the 14th of August Krenitzin 
sighted the islands of Signam and Amukhta; on the 
20th of the same month he reached the strait between 
Umnak and Unalaska, called by him Oonalaksha. 
Here he met with the first Aleuts, whom he was to 
know only too well in the future. These natives were 
evidently acquainted with Russians, for on approach- 
ing the vessel they cried "zdorovo!" good health; 
they also asked, "Why do you come? Will you live 
quietly and peacefully with our people?" They were 
assured that the new arrivals would not only live in 
peace but make many presents. This was the 1st 
of November, and the Aleuts returned to Unalaska. 
On the 22d Levashef's craft also appeared and both 
vessels proceeded together to a bay on the north side 
of Unalaska, Captain Harbor. Here they laid in a 

^^ Sgibnef, in Morskoi Sbornik, cii. 46-7. 


supply of fresh water with the assistance of the na- 
tives. On the following clay an Aleut reported that 
the inhabitants of Akutan and Unalga had killed 
fifteen of Lapin's crew who had wintered on Unga. 
Without investigating the report both commanders 
hoisted their anchors and proceeded northward. On 
the 30th of August they entered the strait between 
Unimak and the peninsula. The hooker grounded, 
but was released next day without damage, and the 
search for a wintering harbor was continued.^* 

On the 5th of September the two ships separated 
not to meet again until the following spring. On the 
18th of September Krenitzin succeeded in finding a 
beach adapted to haul up his vessel for the winter on 
the island of Unimak, while Levashef proceeded to 
Unalaska and anchored on the 16th of September in 
the innermost cove of Captain Harbor, still known by 
his name.^^ 

About the middle of October, before Krenitzin had 
succeeded in erecting winter-quarters of drift-wood, 
the only material at hand, two large bidars appeared 
filled with natives who demanded presents. They 
received some trifles with a promise of additional gifts 
if they would come to the ship. In the mean time 
the strangers had questioned the interpreter, anxious 
to discover the strength of Krenitzin's crew, when 
suddenly one of the natives threw his spear at the 
Russians. Nobody was injured and the savages 
retreated under a severe fire of muskets and cannon 
from ship and shore. Fortunately the cannonade 

^* Krenitzin's instructions contained a statement that a good harbor had 
been discovered in that locality by Bechevin's vessel commanded by Golodof 
and Pushkaref in 1762. Neue Nachr., 52. It has already been intimated 
above that Bechevin did not actually reach the peninsula, then called Alaksha 
Island, but wintered on Unalaska, which abounds in good harbors. Accord- 
ing to Cook, Oonemalc; La P(5rouse, Ouinnah; Sutil y Mex., Viage, Ida Uni- 
mah; Holmberg, /. Unimak. Cartog. Pac. Coast, MS., iii. 450. 

1^ Levashef chose for his wintering place an anchorage at the head of the 
inner bay of lUiuliuk, sheltered by two little islands from the north wind, 
and near the mouth of two excellent trout-streams. The location of his camp 
can still be traced, the ground-plan of four great subterranean winter-huts 
being still plainly visible, though now covered with a luxuriant growth of 
grasses and shrubs. 


proved as harmless as the spear-throwing. Insignifi- 
cant as was this encounter, it proved the beginning of 
bitter strife. All the subsequent meetings with the 
natives were of a hostile character. While exploring 
the peninsula shore two Cossacks were wounded by- 
spears thrown by hidden savages, and one night a 
native crawled up stealthily to within a few yards of 
the Russian huts, but was discovered, and fled.^^ 

In the month of December scurvy appeared, the 
first victim being a Cossack who had been wounded 
by th§ savages. In January 1769 the number of 
sick had reached twenty -two, and in April only twelve 
of the company were free from disease, and those were 
much weakened by hunger. The whole number of 
deaths during the winter was thirty-six. During 
December and January the savages kept away, but 
in February they once more made their appearance, 
and a few traded furs, whale-meat, and seal-blubber 
for beads. ^^ On the 10th of May some natives brought 
letters from Levashef, and the messengers received 
a liberal compensation. On the 24th the galiot was 
launched once more, and on the 6th of June Levashef 
joined Krenitzin's party. 

Levashef had also met with misfortune during the 
winter. It is true that the natives did not attack 
him because the promyshleniki wdio had passed the 
preceding winter at Unalaska had left in his hands 
thirty-three hostages, the children of chiefs, but rumors 
were constantly afloat of intended attacks, making it 

^^ Krenitzin's journal states that during the night numerous voices were 
heard on the strait, and guns were twice discharged in the direction of the 
camp, M'hile signals could be distinguished imitating the cry of the sea-lion. 
On account of the impending danger five sentries were posted. Irkutsk Ar- 
chivef:; Ziq->. Hiiilr., ix. 91. 

^' The daily journal of Krenitzin contains an entry to the effect that on the 
night of the 11th of April several bidars were discovered in the strait, and 
that they were iired upon twice by the Russians with canister. Such treat- 
ment certainly did not serve to pacify the natives. It seems that during the 
whole winter it had been the practice to fire from time to time during the 
night in order to 'prevent any savages skulking about from attempting an 
attack. ' Three times during the winter severe shocks of earthquake were 
felt — on January hlth, February 20th, and March 16th. Krenitzin's Journal; 
Irkutsk Archives; Zap. Ilydr., x. 91-2. 


necessary to exercise vigilance. Lack of food and fuel 
caused great suffering among the crew; it was impos- 
sible to live comfortably on board the ship, and the 
huts constructed of drift-wood were frequently thrown 
down by the furious gales of winter. The weather 
was very boisterous throughout the season, and in 
May the number of sick had reached twenty-seven.^^ 
Obviously they must return; so on the 23d of June 
both vessels left their anchorage. During the voyage 
they became separated, Krenitzin arriving at Kam- 
chatka the 29th of July, and Levashef on the 24tii 
of August.^^ 

The winter was passed by the expedition at Nishe- 
kamchatsk, but as there were little provisions and 
no money the suffering was great. The only avail- 
able source of supply was the dried fish of the natives, 
which had to be purchased at exorbitant prices.'^'' On 
the 4th of July both vessels were ready for sea, when 
Captain Krenitzin attempting to cross the river in a 
dug-out, the frail craft capsized and he was drowned. 
Levashef assumed command, and having assigned 
Dudin 2d to the galiot he sailed from Kamchatka 
the 8th, arriving at Okhotsk the 3d of August. Le- 
vashef returned to St Petersburg, arriving there the 
22d of October 1771; seven years and four months 
from his departure. The expedition was a praise- 
worthy effort, but miserably carried out. 

Meanwhile, fresh information had reached St Peters- 
burg of the successes of the Russian promyshleniki 
on the Aleutian Islands, telling the empress and her 

^^ Levashef's journal under date of December 16th contains the following: 
'Nearly all the men say that we are doomed to perish, that we have been 
abandoned by God ; we have bad food, and but little of that, and we can find 
no shelter from the snow-storms and rain.' Levashef's Journal; Irkutsk 
Archives; Zap. Hydr., x. 93. 

^^ Zap. Hydr., x. 94; Coze's Russian Dis., 300; Pallas, Nord. Beitr., i. 

'^'^ An entry in Krenitzin's journal states that 200 pounds of flour were 
sent from Bolsheretsk to his relief, but it spoiled in transmittal. Nineteen 
barrels of salt fish were also transported overland across the peninsula. On 
the 2Sth of September 1769, and on the 4th of May 1770, heavy earthquakes 
occurred, and on the latter date the Kluchevskaia volcano was in eruption. 
Krenitzin's Journal ; Zap. Hydr., x. 94. 


learned society a hundredfold more of Alaska than 
they were ever to learn from their special messengers. 
Tolstykh reported that during a cruise among the 
islands in his ship Andreian i Natalia, 1760 to 1764, 
he subjugated six islands and named them the 
Andreienof group, as we have seen. Another re- 
port stated that four vessels of one company had 
been despatched in 1762 to Unalaska and Umnak. 
Glottof reported that he had wintered at Kadiak in 
1763. In 1766, as already stated, the merchant Shilof 
arrived at St Petersburg and was presented to the 

An important change of government policy now took 
place in the treatment of the Aleuts. Upon Krenit- 
zin's Representations the collection of tribute by the 
promyshleniki and Cossacks was prohibited by an 

^^ The information furnished by Levashef's journal was divided into four 
heads: A description of the island of Unalaska; the inhabitants; tribute; 
traffic. The description was superficial, adding scarcely anything to previous 
accounts. In regard to tribute Levashef stated that it was i^aid only by those 
who had given their children as hostages. The promyshleniki's mode of car- 
rying on trade is described as follows: 'The Russians have for some years 
past been accustomed to repair to tliese islands in quest of furs of which they 
have imposed a tax upon the inhabitants. They go in the autumn to Bering 
and Copper islands, and there pass tlie winter employing themselves in killing 
fur--seals and sea-lions. The flesh of the latter is prepared for food, and is 
esteemed a great delicacy. The skins of the sea-lions are carried to the eastern 
islands. The following summer they sail eastward to the Fox Islands and 
again haul up their ships for the winter. They then endeavor to procure by 
force, or by persuasion, children as hostages, generally the sons of chiefs; 
this accomplished they deliver fox-traps to the inhabitants and also sea-lion 
skins for the manufacture of bidarkas, for which they expect in return furs 
and provisions during the winter. After obtaining from the savages a certain 
quantity of fui-s as tribute or tax, foi which they give receipts, the promysh- 
leniki pay for the remainder in beads, corals, woollen cloth, copper kettles, 
hatchets, etc. In the spring they get back their traps and deliver the hostages. 
They dare not hunt alone or in small numbers. These people could not com- 
preliend for some time for what purpose the Russians imposed a tribute of 
skins which they did not keep themselves, for their own chiefs had no revenue; 
nor could they be made to believe that there were any more Russians in 
existence than those who came among them, for in their own country all the 
men of an island go out together.' The most important j)art of Levashef's 
report is the description of the inhabitants, which furnishes some valuable 
ethnological information. See Native Races, passim, this series. The hydro- 
graphic results of the expedition were meagre. The navigators of this costly 
enterprise had no means of ascertaining the longitude, and consequently their 
observations were very unsatisfactory. Tliey located Unimak, Unalaska, and 
Umnak between latitudes 53' '1'.)' and 54° 3S'. Special charts were made of 
Unimak, the northern coast of Unalaska, and the harbor of St Paul, now 
known as Captain Harbor. Levanhefs Journal; Irkutsk Archives; Zap. Hydr., 
X. 97-203; Coxe's Russian Dis., 220-2. 


imperial oukaz.-" The business of fitting-out trading 
expeditions for the Aleutian Isles continued about as 
usual, notwithstanding the terrible risks and misfor- 
tunes. Of hunting expeditions to discovered islands it 
is not necessary to give full details. 

In the year 1768 a company of three merchants, 
JZassypkin, Orekhof, and Moukhin, despatched the 
ship Sv Nikolai to the islands, meeting Avith great 
success; the vessel returned in 1773 with a cargo con- 
sisting of 2,450 sea-otters and 1,127 blue foxes.'^^ The 
Sv Andrei — Sv Adrian according to Berg — belonging 
to Poloponissof and Popof, sailed from Kamchatka in 
1769. In 1773 she was wrecked on the return voy- 
age in the vicinity of Ouda River. The cargo, con- 
sisting of 1,200 sea-otters, 996 black foxes, 1,419 cross 
foxes, and 593 red foxes, was saved. ^* The same year 
sailed from Okhotsk the Sv Prokojy, owned by the 
merchants Okoshinikof and Protodiakonof She re- 
turned after four years with an insignificant cargo of 
250 sea-otters, 20 black and 40 cross foxes.-^ In 1770 
the ship Sv Alexandr Nevski, the property of the mer- 
chant Serebrennikof, sailed for the islands and returned 
after a four years' voyage with 2,340 sea-otters and 
1,130 blue foxes.^^ "Shilof, Orekhof, and Lapin, in July 
of the same year, fitted out once more the old ship Sv 
Pavel at Okhotsk, and despatched her to the islands 
under command of the notorious Solovief By this 
time the Aleuts were evidently thoroughly subjugated, 

''-Berg claims that this oukaz was not issued until 1779, 10 years after 
Krenitzin returned. Khronol. 1st., 80. Berg's statements conceniing the 
Krenitzin expedition are brief and vague. The best authority on the subject 
now extant is Sokolof, who had access to the archives of Irkutsk, and who 
published the results of his investigation in volume x. of Za2J. Hijdr. The 
description of Krenitzui's voyage in Coxe's Buss/aii Dis., 221 et seq., is based 
to a certain extent on questionable authority, but it was translated verbally 
by Pallas in his Nord. Bdtr., i. 249-72. The same account was copied in 
German in Biischhi'/s JUajazine, vol. xvi., and strangely enough retranslated 
into Russian by Sarychef. 

'^^ Berg, Khronol. I$L, app. ; Gj-ewincjk, Beitr., 317. 

^^ Berg, Klironol. Id., G4-6, app. The nature of the cargo proves that the 
voyage extended at least to Unalaska. 

^'^ Berg, Khronol. Int., G7. No reason for the ill-success of tliis venture has 
been transmitted. 

^'^Berg, Khronol. 1st., 86. 


as the man who had slaughtered their brethren by 
hundreds during his former visit passed four addi- 
tional years in safety among them, and then returned 
with an exceedingly valuable cargo of 1,900 sea-otters, 
1,493 black, 2,115 cross, and 1,275 red foxes. He 
claims to have reached the Alaska peninsula, and de- 
scribes Unimak and adjoining islands.^'' 

The next voyage on record is that of Potap Zaikof, 
a master in the navy, who entered the service of the 
Shilof and Lapin company, and sailed from Okhotsk 
on the 22d of September 1772, in the ship Sv Vladi- 
mir. Zaikof had with him a peredovchik named Sho- 
shin and a crew of sixty-nine men.^^ At the outset 
this expedition was attended with misfortune. Driven 
north, the mariners were obliged to winter there, 
then after tempest-tossings south they finally reached 
Copper Island, where they spent the second winter. 

Zaikof made a careful survey of the island, the first 
on record, though promyshleniki had visited the spot 
annually for over twenty-five years. Almost a year 
elapsed before Zaikof set sail again on the 2d of July 
1774, and for some unexplained reason twenty-three 
days were consumed in reaching Attoo, only seventy 
leagues distant. Having achieved this remarkable 
feat he remained there till the 4th of July follow- 
ing. The progress of Zaikof on his eastward course 
was so slow that it becomes necessary to look after a 
few other expeditions which had set out since his de- • 

The ship ArJchangel Sv Mikhail, the property of 
Kholodilof, was fitted out in 1772, and sailed from Bol- 
sheretsk on the 8th of September with Master Dmitri 
Polutof as commander, and a crew of sixty-three men. 
This vessel also was beached by a storm on the coast 

'^^Pallas, Nord. Beitr., viii. 32(>-34; St Petershirger Zeiting, 1782— an ex- 
tract from Solovief's journal. Another Sv Pavel, despatched in 1774 by a 
Tobolsk trader named Ossokin, was wrecked immediately after setting sail 
from Okhotsk. Grewingk, Beitr., 319. 

'^^Berg, Khronol. 1st., 87; Pallas, Nord. Beitr., iii. 274-88; Grevnnqk, 
Beitr.. iii. 18. 


of Kamchatka ; after which, passing the tardy Zaikof, 
Polutof went to Unalaska, where he remained two 
years, trading peaceably, and then proceeded toKadiak. 
On this last trip he set out on the 15th of June 1776, 
taking with him some Aleutian hunters and inter- 
preters. After a voyage of nine days the Sv Mikhail 
anchored in a capacious bay on the east coast of the 
island, probably the bay of Oojak on the shores of 
which the Orlova settlement was subsequently founded. 
The natives kept away from the vicinity of the harbor 
for some time, and a month elapsed before they ventured 
to approach the Russians. They were heavily armed, 
extremely cautious in their movements, and evidently 
but little inclined to listen to friendly overtures. 
Polutof perceived that it was useless to remain under 
such circumstances. He finally wintered at Atkha, 
and the following year returned, landing at Nishekam- 
chatsk. The total yield of this adventure was 3,720 
sea-otters, 488 black, 431 cross, 204 red, 901 blue foxes, 
and 143 fur-seals.^^ 

Thus Polutof accomplished an extended and profit- 
able voyage, while the trained navigator Zaikof was 
yet taking preparatory steps, moving from island to 
island, at the rate of one hundred miles per annum. ^" 
The latter had on the 4th of July 1775 sailed from 
Attoo, leaving ten men behind to hunt during his 
absence. On the 19th the Sv Vladimir reached Um- 
nak, where another vessel, the Sv Yevpl, or St Jewell, 
owned by the merchant Burenin, and despatched in 
1773 from Nishekamshatsk, was already anchored. 
Aware of the bloody scenes but lately acted there- 
about, Zaikof induced the commander of the Sv Yepvl 

''^^ Berg, Khronol. 1st., app. 

^^ From papers furnished him by Timofeif Shmalef , Berg heard of another 
vessel belonging to the merchants Grigor and Petr Panof, which sailed for 
the islands in 1772. Khronol. 1st., 90-7; Grewinrik,Beitr., S19. Another voyage 
undertaken in 1772 is described by Pallas in Nord. Beitr., ii. 308-24, under 
the following title: 'Des Peredofschik's Dimitry Bragin Bericht von einer im 
Jahre 1772 angetretenen euijahrigen Seereise zu den zwischen Kamtschatka 
und Amerika gelegenen Inseln.' Since Grewingk describes this voyage as oc- 
cupying the four years from 1772 to 1776, it is rather doubtful whether the 
description applies to the one year voyage of Bragin. 




1 '3M1^^ ,*=^^ 

Brag IN 's Map. 


to hunt on joint account.^^ The agreement was that 
the Sv Yevpl should remain at Umnak with thirty- 
five men, while the Sv Vladimir, with sixty men 
and fully provisioned, was to set out in search of 
new discoveries. On rejoining, the furs obtained by 
the two parties were to be divided. Zaikof sailed 
eastward on the 3d of August, and in three weeks 
reached the harbor where Krenitzin wintered with 
the Sv Ekaterina. Here the commander of the expe- 
dition considered himself entitled to a prolonged rest, 
and consequently he remained stationary for three 
years, making surveys of the neighborhood while his 
crew attended to the business of hunting and trap- 

On the 27th of May 1778 the Sv Vladimir put to 
sea once more, steering for the bay where the com- 
panion ship was anchored. Upon this brief passage, 
which at that time of the year can easily be accom- 
plished in three days, Zaikof managed to spend fifty- 
three days. At last, however, the juncture of the two 
ships was effected and the furs were duly divided, but 
after attending to these arduous duties the captain 
concluded to wait another year before taking his final 
departure for Okhotsk. Not until the 9th of May 
1779 did Zaikof sail from Umnak, and after brief 
stoppages at Attoo and Bering islands the Sv Vladi- 
mir found herself safely anchored in the harbor of 
Okhotsk on the Gth of September. ^^ 

^1 The Sv Yevpl sailed for the islands in 1773, and returned in 1779. lu 
the cargo were 63 land-otters, the first shipped by the promyshleniki, and 
proving that this vessel must have reached the continent. Berg, Khro7iol. 1st. , 
97, app. A comparison of this cargo with the furs carried back by the Sv Vla- 
dimir wox;ld indicate that Zaikof must have taken the lion's share on closing 
the partnership. 

'''^ Berg thought it improbable that Zaikof should have known anything of 
astronomical observations (he was a master in the navy!), but he acknowl- 
edged that Zaikof did discover an error committed by Captain Krenitzin in 
placing his anchorage five degrees too far to the westward. Khronol. 1st., 98. 

^^ With all his apparently unnecessary delays, Zaikof in his report to the 
o-^Tiers of the vessel made a very good showing compared with the results ot 
other voyages. During an absence of more than 7 years he lost but 1"2 out of 
his numerous crew, and his cargo consisted of 4,372 sea-otters, 3,949 foxes of 
different kinds, 92 land-otters, 1 wolverene and 3 wolves— the first brought 
from America — IS minks, 1,725 fur-seals, and 350 pounds of walrus ivory, the 


Two of the owners of the Sv Vladimir, Orekhof and 
Lapin, proceeded to St Petersburg with a present of 
three hundred choice black foxes for the empress. 
The gift was graciously received; the donors were en- 
tertained at the imperial palace, decorated with gold 
medals, and admitted to an interview with Catherine, 
who made the most minute inquiries into the opera- 
tions of her subjects in the easternmost confines of her 
territory. The indebtedness of the firm to the gov- 
ernment for nautical instruments and supplies, timber, 
and taxes, was also remitted.^'* 

It has been elsevv^here mentioned that the promy- 
shleniki and traders occasionally ventured upon voy- 
ages from the coast of Kamchatka to the eastward 
islands in open boats or bidars. Two of these expe- 
ditions took place in 1772, under the auspices of a 
merchant named Ivan Novikof, The voyage of over 
a thousand miles from Bolsheretsk around the south- 
ern extremity of Kamchatka to the islands was twice 
safely performed, the whole enterprise netting the 
owners 15,600 rubles. Considerinsr the hiofher value 
of money in those times and the insignificant outlay 
required in this instance, the enterprise met with en- 
couraging success. 

From this time to the visit of Captain Cook, single 
traders and small companies continued the traflfic with 
the islands in much the same manner as before, though 
a general tendency to consolidation was perceptible.^'' 

whole valued at 300,410 rubles. Berg declares that at the prices established 
by the Russian- American Company at tho time of his ■writing, 1812, the same 
furs would have been worth 1,003,588 rubles. Khronol. 1st., 91-3. 

" Berg also states that this present was made after the return of the Sv 
Vladimir from the islands, but he speaks of the journey of Orekhof and Lapin 
as having taken place in 1770. The discrepancy may be owing to a typo- 
graphical error. Khronol. 1st., 93-4. 

^*In 1774 the merchants Protodiakonof and Okoshinikof fitted out the 
ship Sv Prokop for the second time, but on her return from a fourth cruise 
the owners refused to engage again in such enterprises, having barely covered 
expenses during a period of eight years. 




Political Changes at St Petersburg — Exiles to Siberia — The Long 
Weary Way to Kamchatka — The Benyovski Conspiracy — The Au- 
thor Bad enough, but not so Bad as He would like to Appear — 
Exile Regulations — Forgery, Treachery, Robbery, and Murder — 
Escape of the Exiles— Behm Appointed to Succeed Nilof as Com- 
mandant OF Kamchatka— Further Hunting Voyages- First Trad- 
ing Expedition to the Mainland— Potop ZaIkof — Prince William 
Sound— Ascent of Copper River — Treacherous Csugaches— Plight 
of the Russians — Home of the Fur-seals — Its Discovery by Geras- 
SIM Pribylof — Jealousy of Rival Companies. 

It was a time of rapid and sweeping political changes 
at the imperial court. All along the road to Siberia, 
to Yakutsk, and even to Okhotsk and Kamchatka, one 
batch of exiles followed another, political castaways, 
prisoners of war, or victims of too deep diplomacy, 
as much out of place in this broad, bleak penitentiary 
as would be promyshleniki and otters in St Peters- 
burg. In one of these illustrious bands was a Polish 
count, Augustine Benyovski by name,^ who had 
played somewhat too recklessly at conspiracy. Nor 
was Siberia to deprive him of this pastime. Long 
before he reached Yakutsk he had plotted and organ- 
ized a secret society of exiles with himself as chief. 
The more prominent of the other members were a 
Doctor Hoffman, a resident of Yakutsk, Major Wind- 
blath. Captain Panof, Captain Hipolite Stepanof, 
Colonel Baturin, and Sopronof, the secretary of the 

^ Sgibnef states that Benyovski did not call himself count or baron in 
Kamchatka, but simply beinosk or beinak. Morshoi ShorniJc, cii. 51. 

(175 J 


society.^ 'The object of this association very naturally 
was to get its members out of limbo ; or in other words 
mutual assistance on the part of the members in 
making their escape from Siberia. The chief exacted 
from each his sisfnature to a written ao^reement, done 
in the vicinity of Yakutsk, and dated the 27th of 
August 1770. After a month of tedious progress 
through the wastes of eastern Siberia, the count's 
party was overtaken by a courier from Yakutsk who 
claimed to have important despatches for the com- 
mander of Okhotsk; at the same time he reported 
that Dr Hoffman was dead. The suspicions of Ben- 
yovski and his companions w^ere aroused. Persuad- 
ing the tired courier that he needed a little rest, they 
feasted him well, and after nightfall while he slept 
they ransacked his satchel, and took therefrom a 
formidable-looking document which proved to contain 
an expose of their plans, obtained from Hoffman's 
papers. Benyovski was equal to the emergency. He 
w^rote another letter upon official paper, with which 
he had provided himself at Yakutsk, full of the most 
sober recommendations of the exiles to the commander 
of Okhotsk. This document was inserted into the 
pilfered envelope, and carried forward to its destina- 
tion by the unsuspecting messenger.^ 

The forged letter did its work. When Benyovski 
and his companions arrived at Okhotsk they were 
received with the greatest kindness by Colonel Plen- 
isner,^ the commandant, who regarded them as unfor- 
tunate gentlemen, like himself, not for a moment to 
be placed in the category of criminals. Hence he 
granted them every privilege, and supplied them freely 
with food, clothing, and even arms. Being a man of 
little education and of dissipated habits, Plenisner was 

^ Benyov^ki's Memoirs and Travels, i. 67. 

* Benyovshi's Memoirs and Travels, i. 72; Morshoi Sbornik, cii. 97. 

* This man was probably the same mentioned in connection with the second 
expedition of Bering and Shcstakof's campaign in the Chukchi country, and 
who was appointed to tlie command of Kamchatka in January 1761, for a 
term of five years. SijiOnef, in Morskoi Sbornik, cii. 37-8. 


easily deceived by the plausible tongue of the courtly 
Pole, who quickly perceived that he had made an 
egregious mistake in framing his forged letter. He 
saw that residence at Okhotsk promised favorable 
opportunity for escape in view of the confidence re- 
posed in him by the commander, though he had 
thought that Kamchatka offered the best facilities, 
and had urged in the letter early transportation of 
the exiles to that locality. Though willing to oblige 
his new friends, in every possible manner, Colonel 
Plenisner did not dare to act in direct opposition to 
his orders, and in October a detachment of exiles, 
embracing all the conspirators, was sent by the ship 
Sv Petr i Sv Pavel to Bolsheretsk, Kamchatka,^ 
where they were transferred to the charge of Captain 
Nilof, commandant of the district.^ 

^ Benyovski describes this craft as of 200 tons burden, armed with 8 can- 
nons, and manned with a crew of 43, commanded by Yesurin and Korostilof. 
The vessel was laden with flour and brandy. Benyovski's Memoirs and Travels, 
i. 79-80. 

^ Benyovski claims that the passage was an exceedingly stormy one, and 
that the ship was on the verge of destruction, owing to the incapacity and 
drunkenness of both officers and men, when he, a prisoner in irons, took com- 
mand and by his ' superior knowledge of navigation succeeded in shortening 
sail and bringing the vessel into its proper course, thus saving the lives of all 
on board.' As the passage was a short one we may doubt the statement of 
the boastful Benyovski. The count also claimed that the privileges subse- 
qiiently granted him by Nilof were based upon his heroic action on this occa- 
sion. Nilof had formerly been the commandant of the Cossack ostrog of 
Ishiga, but Zubritski when recalled to St Petersburg summoned him as his 
successor in 1769. He was given to drink, and easily deceived, and had 
ah-eady been victimized by an exiled official named Ryshkof. The latter hav- 
ing failed in various attempts to trade with the natives, prevailed npon Nilof 
to advance sums from the public funds for the purpose of engaging in agricult- 
ural experiments. Of course the money was lost and the experiments resulted 
in failure. Sgihnef, in Morshoi Sbornih, cii. 51-69. Shortly after their arrival the 
following regulations concerning the exiles were promulgated at Bolsheretsk: 
1st. The captives were to be liberated from close restriction and furnished 
with food for three days; after which they were to provide their own subsist- 
ence. 2d. The chancellery was to furnish each exile with a gun and lance, one 
pound of powder, four pounds of lead, an axe, some knives, and other utensils 
with which to build themselves a house. They were at liberty to select a 
location within half a league of the town; each man was to pay to the gov- 
ernment 100 rubles during the first year in consideration of the advance, 
payments to be made in money or skins at the option of the exiles. 3d. 
Each exile was bound to labor one day of each week for the government, 
and they were not allowed to absent themselves from their location over 24 
hours without permission of the commandant. Each was also to furnish the 
treasury of Bolsheretsk with 6 sables, 2 foxes, 50 gray sqvdrrels, and 24 
ermines annually. 

Hist. Alaska. 12 


We may as well take it for granted before proceed- 
ing further that three fourths of all that Benyovski 
says of himself are lies; with this understanding I 
will continue his story, building it for the most part 
on what others say of him. 

In Kamchatka as in Okhotsk through his superior 
social qualifications the count was enabled to gain the 
confidence and good-will of the commander, so that the 
hardships of his position were greatly alleviated. He 
was not obliged to join his companions in the toilsome 
and dangerous chase of fur-bearing animals, finding 
more congenial employment in Captain Nilofs office 
and residence.^ The count accompanied his patron on 
various official tours of inspection, in which he came 
in contact with his numerous fellow-exiles scattered 
through the interior in small settlements. His origi- 
nal plan of escape from the Russian domains was ever 
present in his mind and he neglected no opportunity 
to enlarge the membership of his secret society. In 
order to ingratiate himself still more with Nilof he re- 
sorted to his old trick of forgery, and revealed to the 
credulous commaander an imaginary plot to poison him 
and the officers of his staff. He claimed in his memoirs 
that in consideration of this service Nilof formally re- 
voked his sentence of exile. ^ 

While still travelling with Nilof in the beginning of 
1771, Benyovski intercepted a letter directed to the 
former by one of the conspirators betraying the plot.^ 

' Benyovski goes out of the way to prove himself a great rascal. He ex- 
plains how he ingratiated himself with Nilof and his family, claiming that he 
was employed as tutor to several young girls and boys, and that in his capa- 
city of clerk to the father he forged repoi'ts to the impei'ial government, prais- 
ing the conduct of the exiles. He also states that he made use of his fascinations 
to work upon the feelings of one of the young daughters, and to gain control 
of her heart and mind. Sgibnef, however, a careful and industrious inves- 
tigator, says, first, tliat the count did not play upon the afiections of Nilof 'a 
daughter, and secondly that Nilof never had a daughter. BenyovsWs Memoirs 
and Travels, i. 100-2; Morskoi Sbornik, cii. 51-69. 

^ Benyovski' s Memoirs and Travels, i. 135-7. Sgibnef, however, states 
that no amnesty or special privileges were granted to Benyovski. Morskoi 
Shornik, cii. 69. 

^Benyovski gives the following list of members of the secret socijty of 
exiles: Benyovski, Panof, Baturin, Stepanof Solmanof, Windblath, Krustief, 
and Vassili, Benyovski's servant. Later a lai-ge number was added, among them 



The traitor, whose name was Leontief, was killed by 
order of the court. The plan settled upon for final 
action was to overcome the garrison of Bolsheretsk, 
imprison the commander, plunder the public treasury 
and storehouses, and sail for Japan or some of the 
islands of the Pacific with as many of the conspirators 
as desired to go.^° 

Benyovski's statement of his exploits at Kamchatka, 
for unblushing impudence in the telling, borders the 
sublime. Arriving at Bolsheretsk on the 1st of De- 
cember a half-starved prisoner clothed in rags, he was 
advanced to the position of confidant of the acting 
governor before two weeks had elapsed, being also the 
accepted suitor for the hand of his daughter. During 
the same time he had succeeded in rousing the spirit 
of revolt not only in the breasts of his fellow-exiles, 
but among the free merchants and government offi- 
cials, who he claimed were ready to rise at a moment's 
warning and overthrow their rulers. Within a few 
days, or weeks at the most, this grand conspiracy had 
not only been called into existence but had survived 
spasms of internal dissensions and attempted treason, 
all suppressed by the strength and presence of mind 
of one man — Benyovski. Then he tells how he 
cheated the commander and others in games and sold 
his influence for presents of furs and costly garments. 
On the 1st of January 1771 a fete took place at the 
house of Captain Nilof. Benyovski claims that it 

many who were not exiles: Dumitri Kuznetzof, a free merchant, Afanassiy 
Kumen, a Cossack captain; Ivan Sibaief, captain of infantry; Alexei Proto- 
pop, archdeacon of the church, free; Leonti Popof, captain of infantry, free; 
Ivan Churin, merchant, free; Magnus INIeder, surgeon-general of the admi- 
ralty, exiled for 20 years; Ivan Volkof, hunter, free; Kasiinir Bielski, Polish 
exile; Grigor Lobchof, colonel of infantry, exile; Prince Heraclius Zadskoi, 
exiled; Julien Brandorp, exiled Swede; Nikolai Serebrennikof, captain of the 
guards, exile; Andrei Biatziuin, exile. All the members of the Russian church 
joining the conspiracy were obliged fii'st to confess and receive the sacrament 
in order to make their oath more binding. Benyovslci's Memoirs and Travels, 
i. 108-9. 

^'' At that time the province was estimated to contain over 15,000 inhabit- 
ants classified in the official returns as follows: 22 infantry officers; 4'22 Rus- 
sian riflemen; 1,500 Cossacks and officers; 26 civil officers; 82 Russian 
merchants; 700 descendants of exiles (200 females), free; 1,600 exiles; 8,000 
males and 3,000 female natives of Kamchatka; 40 Russian men. Benyovski's 
Memoirs and Travels, i. 301; Morskoi Sbornik, ciii. 81. 


had been arranged to celebrate his betrothal to Afan- 
assia Nilof, to whom he had promised marriage, 
though already possessed of a wife in Poland. In 
his diary he states at length how he suppressed 
another counter-conspiracy a few moments before pro- 
ceeding to the festive scene, and sentenced two of his 
former companions to death. Meanwhile Benyovski's 
cruel and arbitrary treatment of his associates had 
made him many enemies, and reports of his designs- 
reached the authorities. He succeeded repeatedly in 
dispersing the growing suspicion, but finally the dan- 
ger became so threatening that he concluded to pre- 
cipitate the execution of his plot. 

On the 26th of April Captain Nilof sent an officer 
with two Cossacks to Benyovski's residence with 
orders to summon him to the chancellery, there to 
give an account of his intentions. The summons of 
the chief conspirator brought to the spot about a 
dozen of his associates, who bound and gagged the 
captain's messengers. Then hoisting the signal of 
general revolt, which called all the members of the 
society together, he proceeded to Nilof's quarters, 
where the feeble show of resistance made by the 
trembling drunkard and his family furnished sufficient 
excuse for a general charge upon the premises. During 
the melee the commander was killed. The murder was 
premeditated, as the best means of preventing partici- 
pants from turning back. 

Before resolving upon the final attack, Benyovski 
had secured the services of the commander of the 
only vessel then in port, the Sv Petr i Sv Pavel, 
and as soon as the momentary success of the enter- 
prise was assured his whole force was set to work to 
repair and fit out this craft. The magazines and 
storehouses were ransacked, and not satisfied with 
the quantity of powder on hand, he shipped a supply 
of sulphur, saltpetre, and charcoal necessary for the 
manufacture of that article. ^^ 

"Benyovski's o\vn inventory of the 'armament' of the Sv Petr i Sv 


The interval between Benyovski's accession to 
power and his departure to Bolsheretsk was filled 
with brief trials and severe punishments of recreant 
members of his band who endeavored to open the 
way for their own pardon by the old authorities 
by betraying the new. The knout was freely used, 
and the sentence of death imposed almost daily. At 
last on the 12th of May the Sv Petr i Sv Pavel sailed 
out of the harbor of Bolsheretsk midst the firing 
of salvos, the ringing of bells, and the solemn te 
deum on the quarter-deck. The voyage is involved 
in mystery, caused chiefly by the contradictory re- 
ports of Benyovski himself. He says he anchored 
in a bay of Bering Island on the 19th of May, after a 
passage of seven days, took on board twenty-six bar- 
rels of water, and sailed again, after a brief sojourn 
on the island, during which he claimed to have fallen 
in with a Captain Okhotin of the ship Elizaveta, 
whom Benyovski describes as an exiled Saxon noble- 

On the 7th of June he claims to have communi- 
cated with the Chukchi in latitude 64°, and only 
three days later, on the 10th of June, he landed 
on the island of Kadiak, over 1,000 miles away. 
Another entry in the count's diary describes his 
arrival on the island of Amchitka, one of the Andrian- 
ovski group, on the 21st of June, and two days later 
the arrival of the ship at Ourumusir, one of the 
Kurile Islands, is noted. In explanation of this re- 
markable feat he gives the speed of his vessel at ten 
and a half knots an hour, which might be true, driven 
by a gale. The only part of this journey susceptible 

Pavel was as follows: '96 men, 9 of them females; 8 cannon; 2 howitzers; 2 
mortars; 120 muskets with bayonets; 80 sabres; 60 pistols; 1,600 pounds of 
powder; 2,000 pounds of lead; 800 pounds of salt meat; 1,200 pounds of salt 
fish; 3,000 pounds of dried fish; 1,400 pounds of whale-oil; 200 pounds of 
sugar; 500 pounds of tea; 4,000 pounds of spoiled flour; 40 pounds of butter; 
113 pounds of cheese; 6,000 poimds of iron; 120 hand-grenades; 900 cannon- 
balls; 50 pounds of sulphur; 200 i:>ounds of saltpetre; several barrels of char- 
coal; 36 barrels of water; 138 barrels of brandy; 126 cases of furs; 14 anchors; 
sails and cordage; one boat and one skiflF.' Memoirs and Travels, i. 271. 


of proof is the arrival of the survivors in the harbor 
of Macao on the Chinese coast.^^ 

The successor of the murdered Nilof was Major 
Magnus Carl von Behm, who was appointed to the 
full command of Kamchatka by an imperial oukaz 
dated April 30, 1772, but he did not assume charge 
of his district until the 1 5th of October of the follow- 
ing year, having met with detention in his progress 
through Siberia. ^^ 

In 1776 the name of Grigor Ivanovich Shelikof 
is first mentioned among the merchants engaged in 
operations on the islands and coast of north-west 
America. This man, who has justly been called the 
founder of the Russian colonies on this continent, first 
came to Okhotsk from Kiakhta on the Chinese fron- 
tier and formed a partnersliip with Lebedef-Lash- 
tochkin for the purpose of hunting and trading on 
the Kurile Islands. This field, however, was not 
large enough for Shelikof 's ambition, and forming 
another partnership with one Luka Alin, he built a 

'^Sgibnef states that Benyovski was informed after his departure from 
Bering Island that a party of his associates had laid plans to detain the vessel 
and return to Kamchatka. Several of the accused -were punished by flogging, 
while Ismailof and Paranchin, with the latter's wife, were put ashore on an 
island of the Kurile group, whence they were brought back by Protodiakonof, 
a trader, in 1772. This would explain the circumstance that Cook could not 
obtain any detinite information concerning Benyovski's voyage from Ismailof 
when he met the latter at Unalaska in 1778. Sgibnef, in Morskoi Shornik, c. 
ii. 6"2-3. From jNIacao Benyovski managed to reach the French colony on 
Madagascar Island, and finally he proceeded to Paris with the object of ob- 
taining the assistance of the French government in subjugating the natives, 
of Madagascar. Here he met with only partial success, but definite informa- 
tion is extant to the effect that on the 14th of April 1774 Benyovski embarked 
for Maryland on the ship Robert and Anne. He was accompanied by his 
family and arrived at Baltimore on July 8th the same year, with a cargo of 
merchandise for Madagascar valued at £4,000. In Baltimore he succeeded 
in obtaining assistance from resident merchants, who chartered for him a 
vessel of about 450 tons, the I)itr€pid, armed with 20 guns, and with this craft 
he sailed from Baltimore on October 25, 1784. The last letter received from 
the count Avas dated from the coast of Brazil. A few months later he reached 
his destination and at once organized a conspiracy for the purpose of setting 
up an independent government on the island of Madagascar, but in an action 
with French colonial troops he was killed on the 23d of May 1786. 

^■^ Major Behm's salary was fixed at GOO rubles per ammm, ami his jurisdic- 
tion was subsequently cxtcndetl over the Aleutian Islands by an oukaz of the 
governor general of Irkutsk. Sr/ibnef, in Mortshoi Sbomik, iii. 7. 


vessel at Nishekamchatsk, named it of course the Sv 
Pavel, and despatched it to the islands.^* Another 
vessel of the same name was fitted out by the most 
fortunate of all the Siberian adventurers, Orekhof, 
Lapin, and Shilof The command was given to Master 
Gerassim Grigorovich Ismailof, a man who subse- 
quently figures prominently in explorations of Alaska, 
and of whom Cook speaks in terms of high commenda- 

Leaving the discussion of the voyages of English 
and French explorers, which took place about this 
time, to another chapter, we shall follow the move- 
ments of Siberian traders and promyshleniki up to 
the point of final amalgamation into a few power- 
ful companies. In 1777 Shelikof, Solovief, and the 
Panof brothers fitted out a vessel named the Bai^- 
folome'i i Varnabas, which sailed from Nishekam- 
chatsk and returned after an absence of four years with 
a small cargo valued at 58,000 rubles.'^ In the same 
year another trader, who was to play a prominent 
part in the development of the Russian colonies in 
the Pacific, first appears upon the scene. Ivan Lari- 

^* It was commanded by Sapochnikof , of whom Cook speaks in terms of 
praise. This vessel returned in 1780 with a cargo valued at 75,240 rubles. 
Berg, Khronol. 1st., 101, app. 

^^Cook spells his name Erasim Gregorieoff Sin Ismyloff. Cook's Voy., ii. 
497. Gregorief Sin is an obsolete form of Grigorovich, both signifying ' son 
of Grigor.' Ismailof was considered one of the most successful navigators 
among the Russian pioneers. Much of this reputation he doubtless owed to 
the information received from Cook, who speaks of his intelligence and acute- 
ness of observation. Concerning his escape from Benyovski, see note 12. 
The name of Ismailof's vessel, the Sv Pavel, led Corporal Ledyard, of Cook's 
marine guard, and subsequently a self-styled American colonel, into the mis- 
take of reporting that he saw at Unalaska the very vessel in which Bering made 
his voyage of discovery, the corporal being unaware that that craft had been 
destroyed. Life of Ledyard, 86; Pinherton's Voy., xvi. 781-2; Cook's Third 
Voy., ii. 494, 523. Berg states that he could find no accounts of the present 
voyage bejtend a brief notice of Ismailof's return in 1781 with a very rich 
cargo valued at 172,000 rubles. Khronol. 1st., 101. His peredovchik was 
Ivan Lukanin. He commanded the Trekh Sviatiteli in 1783, the vessel on 
which Shelikof himself embarked, the Simeon m 1793, on which occasion he 
met Vancouver's oflQcers, without telling them of his intercourse with Cook, 
and the Alexandr in 1795. Berg, Kronol. 1st., Table ii., app. 

^••Berg, Khronol 1st., mentions the despatch of the &\\v^ Alexand Nevski 
by the brothers Panof in 1776, and its return in 1779, but gives no details of 
the voyage. This is probably an error. See p. 169. 


novich Golikof, a merchant of the town of Kursk, 
who held the office of collector of the spirits tax in 
the province of Irkutsk/^ formed a partnership with 
Shelikof At joint expense they built a ship named 
Sv Andrei Pervosvannui, that is to say St Andrew 
the First-called, which sailed from Petropavlovsk for 
the Aleutian Islands. This vessel was subsequently 
wrecked, but the whole cargo, valued at 133,450 rubles, 
was saved. ^^ Another ship, the Zossima i Savatia, 
was despatched in the same year by Yakof Protas- 
sof, but after remaining four years on the nearest 
Aleutian isles, the expedition returned with a small 
cargo valued at less than 50,000 rubles. In 1778 
the two Panof brothers associated themselves with 
Arsenius Kuznetzof, also one of the former com- 
panions of Benyovski,^^ and constructed a vessel 
named the Sv Nikolai, which sailed from Petropav- 
lovsk. This craft was absent seven years and finally 
rewarded the patience of the owners with a rich cargo 
consisting of 2,521 sea-otters, 230 land-otters, and 
3,300 foxes of various kinds.^*^ The same firm de- 
spatched another vessel in the same year, the Kliment, 
which returned in 1785 with a cargo of 1,118 sea- 
otters, 500 land-otters, and 830 foxes. The com- 
mander of this expedition was Ocheredin.^^ 

^'' Berg. KhronoL 1st., 102. 

'^^ Berg, Khronol. 1st., app. ; Grewinqh, Beitr., 321. 

^^Bcrg, Khronol. 1st., 103; Syn Otechestva, 1S21, No. 27. 

^'^ Berg, Klironol. 1st., 105. The nature of the cargo would indicate that at 
least a portion of the cruise was spent in the vicinity of the mainland of 

2^ Though Polutof appears to have brought it home. Berg during his 
sojourn at Kadiak had an opportunity to converse with a hunter named 
Tuyurskoi, who liad been one of Ochercdin's crew. This man stated that 
the expedition had passed the winter of 1779 at Kadiak, and that they had 
witli them GO Aleuts for the purpose of hunting sea-otters. The Kadiaks, 
however, would not allow these men to hunt, scarcely permitting t^ein to land 
even. During the whole winter, which was passed under constant appre- 
hension of attacks, only 100 sca-ottex's were secured, and 20 of the crew died 
of scurvy. In the spring the promyshleniki made all haste to proceed to 
Unalaska. Berg, Khronol . l.-^f., 104-7. Berg also .states that another craft of 
the same name, >i^ N/Jco/ai, the property of Shelikof and Kozitzin, sailed for 
the islands in 1778, but he could find no details concerning the voyage in the 
archives beyond the statement that the same vessel made three successive 
voyages in the same direction. Kadiak, east of the Alaska peninsula. On 


The ship Sv loami Predtecha, or St John the Fore- 
runner, belonging to Shehkof and Gohkof, sailed 
from Petropavlovsk in 1779, and remained absent six 
years without proceeding beyond the nearest Aleutian 
Islands, finally returning to Okhotsk with a cargo of 
little value. In the following year the brothers Panof 
iitted out once more the Sv Yei'iol. This old craft was 
wrecked on her return voyage not far from Kam- 
chatka, but the cargo, valued at 70,000 rubles, was 
saved and brought into port by another vessel. ^^ 

With the funds realized from the sale of the cargo 
of the Sv Pavel Shelikof had constructed another craft, 
with the intention of extending his operations among 
the islands. The vessel was named the Sv loann Ryl- 
skoi, St John of Rylsk, and sailed from Petropavlovsk 
in 1780.-3 

The Sv Prokop, fitted out by the merchants Shu- 
ralef and Krivorotof, also sailed in 1780, but was 
w^recked on the coast of Kamchatka soon after leav- 
ing Okhotsk. Four vessels sailed for the islands in 
1781, the Sv Pavel, despatched for the second time by 
Shelikof and Alin; the Sv Alexei, despatched by the 
merchant Popof; the Alexandr Nevski, belonging to 
the firm of Orekhof, Lapin, and Shilof;^* and Sv 
Georgiy, fitted out by Lebedef-Lastochkin and Sheli- 
kof, wherein Pribylof made the all-important discovery 
of the Fur Seal Islands in 1786,^' which will be duly 

Cook's Athiii, 1778, P<l Kadjac; La P^rouse, 1786, J. Kichtak; Dixon, 1789, 
Kodiac; Vancouver, 1790-95, Kodiak; Sutil y Mex., Viage, Isla Kadlac; 
Hohnberg, Kadjalc. Cartog. Pac. Coast, MS., iii. 434. 

-'Berg, Khronol. 1st., 107; Grewhigk, Beitr., S'23. 

"'■^ After an absence of six years this vessel returned, but was wrecked on 
the coast of Kamchatka. The cargo, however, comprising 900 sea-otters and 
over 18,000 fur-seals, was saved. Shelikof seems to have been the first among 
the traders to deal more extensively in fur-seals. JJp to 1780 he had imported 
70,000 of these skins. Berg, Khronol. U., 106-7. 

^'The Sv Pavel returned after a five years' cruise with a cargo valued at 
35,000 rubles; the Sv Alexei also returned after an absence of five years and 
met with great success; the Alexandr Nevski, which had just made a cruise 
to the Kurile Islands under the command of the Greek, Eustrate Delarof, was 
placed under the command of Stepan Zaikof for this expedition, and returned 
in five years with a rich assortment of furs, valued at 283,000 rubles, Berg, 
Khronol. 1st., 807-9. See note 19. 

'■^^ After an eight years' cruise Pribylof returned to Okhotsk with a cargo of 
2,720 sea-otters, 31,100 fur-seals, nearly 8,000 foxes, and a large quantity 


discussed in its chronological order. For 1782 only 
one departure of a trading-vessel for the islands has 
been recorded. This vessel was fitted out by Yakov 
Protassof at Nishekamchatsk.'^'^ Lebedef-Lastochkin 
organized a special company in 1783 for the purpose 
of extending his operations on the islands. The capital 
of this enterprise was divided into sixty-five shares, 
most of them being in Lebedef's hands.^'' 

In 1783 the first direct attempt was made by the 
Russian traders to extend their operations to the main- 
land of America, to the northward and eastward of 
Kadiak. The fur-bearing animals had for some years 
been rapidly disappearing from the Aleutian Islands 
and the lower peninsula, and despairing of further 
success on the old hunting-grounds the commanders 
of three vessels then anchored at Unalaska came to 
the conclusion that it was best to embark on new dis- 
coveries. They met and agreed to submit themselves 
to the leadership of Potap Zaikof, a navigator of some 

of walrus ivory and whalebone. Berg, Khronol. 1st., 107; Veniaminof, i. 131-2; 
Sauer's Astron. and Georj. Exjjed., 246; Grewmgk, Beitr., 323. 

^^ Protassof s vessel returned in 17S6, and according to Berg his cargo con- 
sisted chiefly of fur-seals. Berg, Khronol. 1st., 111. As the discovery of the 
Seal Islands occurred in that year the skins must have been obtained at the 
Commander Islands. 

*' Berg furnishes a full list of the share-holders, which may serve to demon- 
strate how such affairs were managed in those early times. The 65 shares 
were divided as follows: The merchant Lebedef-Lastochkin, 34 shares; Ye- 
fim Popof, 1 share; Grigor Deshurinskoi, 1 shai'e; Elias Zavialof, 1 share; 
Ivan Korotaief, 1 share; Vassili Neviashin, 1 share; Mikhail Issaief, 1 share; 
Vassili Shapkin, 2 shares; Vassili Kulof, I share; Mikhail Tubinskoi, 1 share; 
Feodor Nikuliaskoi, 2 shares; Arseni Kuznetzof, 1 share; Vassili Krivishin, 
1 share; Mikhail Dushakof, 2 shares; Ivan Lapin, 2 shares; Alexei Polevoi, 

1 share; Ivan Bolsheretsk, 2 shares; Dmitri Lorokin, 1 share; the manu- 
facturer, Ivan Savelief, 5 shares; the citizen, Ssava Chebykin, l|share; the 
citizen, Spiridon Burakof, 1 share; and Court Counsellor Peter Budishchef, 

2 shares : total, 65. 

In the division of profits there were to be added to this number 1 share 
for the church, and the orphans in the school of Okhotsk; 1 share to the 
peredovchik, Petr Kolomin, 1 share to the boatswam, Durygin, 1 shai-e to 
the navigator, Potap Zaikof, and 2 shares to such of the crew as distinguished 
themselves during the voyage by industry, bravery, or otherwise, making the 
value of 1 share at the division of profits one seventy-first of the whole pro- 
ceeds. Berg, Khronol, 1st., 109, 211; Grewingk, Beitr., 324; Pallas, Nord. 
Beitr., vi. 165, 175. At the end of the cruise the first vessel sent by this 
company was -wrecked on the island of St Paul. The cargo was saved, but 
pi'oved barely sufficient to cover expenses. 



reputation, and leave to him the selection of new hunt- 
ing-grounds. These vessels were the Sv Alexei, com- 
manded by Eustrate Delarof ; the Sv Mikhail, under 
Polutof, and the Alexandr Nevski, commanded by 
Za'ikof. The latter had learned from Captain Cook 
and his companions during their sojourn in Kam- 
chatka that they had discovered a vast gulf on the 
coast of America and named it Prince William Sound.^ 
To this point he concluded to shape his course. 

On the 27th of July the three ships were towed to 
anchorage in a small cove, probably on the north side 
of Kaye Island, which, as they subsequently discov- 
ered, was named Kyak by the natives. Boats and 
bidarkas were sent out at once in various directions 
in search of game and of inhabitants — the few natives 
observed on entering the bay having fled to the hills 
at sight of the Russians. On the third day one of 
the detached parties succeeded in bringing to the 
ships a girl and two small children, but it was not 
until the middle of August that anything like friendly 
intercourse could be established, and the natives in- 
duced to trade peltries. ^^ 

On the 18th the bidarchik Nagaief returned to the 
anchorage with quite a number of sea-otter skins, all 
made into garments, and reported the discovery of a 
large river — the Atnah, or Copper — which he had 
ascended for some distance. He had met with a large 
body of natives in a bidar and traded with them, both 
parties landing on the beach at a distance of six 
hundred fathoms from each other and then meeting 
half-way. These people informed him that at their 
home was a safe harbor for ships, referring of course 

^^ Zaikof had obtained rough tracings of some of the charts compiled by 
Cook in exchange for favors extended to the English discoverer. Tikhmenef, 
i. 113. It is supposed that the Sv Yevpl, 177o-79, reached the continent, 
and probably the Sv Nikolai and others, but this ■« as accidental. 

■■'^ Two natives who were kept as hostages on Zaikof 's vessel stated that 
Kyak was not a permanent place of residence, but was visited only in search 
of game by the people seen by the Russians, their homes being to the west- 
ward, at the distance of 'two days' paddling,' from which statement we may 
conclude that they were from Nuchek or Hinchinbrook Island. Zaiko/'s Jour- 
nal, in Sitka Archives, MS., iv. ; TikJin.enef, 1st. Ohos., ii., app. 3. 


to Nuchek, where both Enghsh and Spanish ships 
had already called. Many days were spent by Zaikof 
in futile attempts to secure a native guide to the safe 
harbor mentioned as having already been visited by 
ships, but bribes and promises proved of no avail, 
and at last he set out in the direction of the island 
of Khta-aluk (Nuchek), plainly visible to the west- 
ward. The commanders of the two other ships must 
have sailed before him and cruised about Prince Will- 
iam Sound — named gulf of Chugach by the Russians 
— in search of hunting-grounds, and this scattering of 
forces beyond the bounds of proper control proved 
dangerous, for the Chugatsches were not only fiercer 
than the Aleuts, but they seemed to entertain posi- 
tive ideas of proprietary rights. 

The combined crews of the three vessels, number- 
ing over three hundred, including Aleut hunters, 
would surely have been able to withstand any attack 
of the poorly armed Chugatsches and to protect their 
hunting parties, but they wandered about in small de- 
tachments, committing outrages whenever they came 
upon a village with unprotected women and children. 
The Russians, who had for some time been accus- 
tomed to overcome all opposition on the part of the 
natives with comparative ease, imagined that their 
superior arms would give them the same advantage 
here. They soon discovered their mistake. The Chu- 
gatsches, as well as their allies from Cook Inlet, and 
even from Kadiak, summoned by fleet messengers for 
the occasion, showed little fear of Russian guns, and 
used their own spears and arrows to such advantage 
that the invaders were themselves beaten in several 

In the harbor of Nuchek Nagaief met twenty- 
eight men from the Panof company's ship, the Alexe'i, 
fourteen of whom had been wounded by the Chu- 
gatsches during a night attack. They had left their 
ships on the 15th of August, a month previous, in 
search of this bay, numbering thirty-seven men, be- 


sides peredovchik Lazaref, who was in command, but 
had searched in vain. One dark night, while encamped 
on an island, their sentries had been surprised, nine 
men killed, and half of the remainder wounded. With 
the greatest difficulty only had they succeeded at last 
in beating off with their fire-arms their assailants 
armed merely with spears, bows and arrows, and clubs. 
Other encounters took place. On the 18th of Septem- 
ber one of the parties of Russians surprised a native 
village on a small island; the men fled to the moun- 
tains, leaving women, children, and stores of provisions. 
The considerate promyshleniki seized " only half" the 
females — probably not the oldest — and some of the 
food. During the next night, however, the men of 
the village, with reenforcements from the neighbor- 
hood, attacked the Russian camp, killing three Rus- 
sians and a female interpreter from Unalaska, and 
wounding nine men. During the struggle all the hos- 
tages thus far obtained by capture escaped, with the 
exception of four women and two small boys. The 
Russians now proceeded to the harbor selected as 
winter-quarters,^" and active operations ceased for 
the time. 

The favorable season had been so foolishly wasted 
in roaming about and quarrelling with the natives, 
who took good care not to reveal to their unwel- 
come visitors the best fishing and hunting grounds, 
that food became scarce early in the winter. Be- 
sides this it was found necessary to keep one third 
of the force continually under arms to guard against 
sudden assaults; and this hostility naturally inter- 
fered with the search for the necessary supplies of 
fish, game,, fuel, and water. The result was that scurvy 
of a very malignant type broke out among the crews, 
and nearly one half of the men died before spring re- 
leased them and enabled Zaikof to refit his vessel and 

^° The description of this harbor is not very clear, but the probability is 
that it was one of the bays on the north end of Montagu, or Sukluk, Island, 
which is named Zaikof Harbor on Russian maps. This is also confirmed by 
traditions of the natives collected on the spot by Mr Petrof in 1881. 


sail for the Aleutian isles, after an experience fully as 
dismal as that encountered a few years later, in nearly 
the same locality, by Captain Meares, who might have 
saved himself much misfortune had he known of Zai- 
kof's attempt and its disastrous result. 

Thus unfortunately ended the attempt of the Rus- 
sians to gain a foothold upon the continental coast of 

The only subordinate commander of this expedition 
who seems to have actually explored and intelligently 

*^ Eustraie Delarof subsequently gave Captain Billings the following ac- 
count of this expedition : ' On arriving at Prince William Sound a number of 
canoes surrounded the vessel and on one of them they displayed some kind of 
a flag. I hoisted ours, wlienthe natives paddled three times around the ship, 
one man standing up waving his hands and chanting. They came on board 
and I obtained fourteen sea-otter skins in exchange for some glass beads; they 
would accept no shirts or any kind of clothing; they conducted themselves 
in a friendly manner, and we ate, drank, and slept together in the greatest 
harmony. They said that two ships had been there some years previously, 
and that they had obtained beads and other articles from them. According to 
their description these vessels must have been English (they referred of course 
to Cook's expedition) ; the natives had knives and copper kettles which they 
said they obtained by making a 14 days' journey up a large river and trading 
with other natives who brought these goods from some locality still farther 
inland (a Hudson's Bay Company post?) — Suddenly, on the 8th of September, 
the natives changed their attitude, making a furious attack on my people. 
I knew of no cause for this change until one of my boats returned, when I 
learned that there had been quarrelling and fighting between the boat's crew 
and the natives. I have no doubt that my people were the aggressors. 
Polutof's vessel was at that time in the vicinity and I left him there.' Saver\s 
Geor/.cmd Astron. JExped., 197. Martin Sauer, the secretary of Captain Joseph 
Billings, states that while at Prince William Sound in 1790 he fell in with a 
woman who had been forcibly detained by Polutof and had subsequently 
become acquainted with Zaikof. She praised the latter as a just man and 
related how her people revenged themselves on Polutof for his ill-treatment. 
A wood-cutting party had been sent ashore from each vessel and had pitched 
their tents a short distance from each other. It was very dark and only one 
man was on the watch near a fire on the beach. The natives crawled up 
unnoticed by the sentry, killed him, and then stealing into Polutof's tent 
massacred him and his companions without molesting Zaikof 's tent or any of 
his people. Bitter complaints were made by the Chugatsche people of the do- 
ings of Polutof who liad seized their furs without paying for them and had 
carried off by force many of the women. Salter's Geag. and Astron. Exped., i. 
187, 190; Grewljiijl; Beilr., 323; Pallas, Nord. Beih:, i. 212. In the historical 
review attached by Mr Dall to his Alaska and its Resources, the author has 
committed blunders which can be ascribed only to his inability to understand 
the Russian authorities. Under date of 1781 he remarks that ' ZaiUof ex- 
plored in detail Chugach Gulf and wintered on Bering Island... A vessel, 
called the St Acxius, commanded by Alexeief Popof, was attacked by natives 
in Prince William Sound. Zaikof explored Captain's Harbor, Uiialaska, July 
1-13, 1783.' /(/., 307. Mr Dall's Zaikof expedition of 1781 is, of course, the 
same with that of 1783, when he wintered on Montagu (not Bering) Island, in 
a bay still bearing his name. TheAlexei, as we have seen above, was cora- 
mamled by Delarof. 


described these unknown regions, was Nagaief, the 
discoverer of Copper River. Nearly all the valuable 
information contained in Zaikof's journal came from 
this man.^^ 

This failure to extend their field of operations seri- 
ously checked the spirit of enterprise which had hith- 
erto manifested itself among the Siberian merchants, 
and for some time only one small vessel was despatched 
from Siberia for the Aleutian Islands. ^^ 

The year 1786, as already mentioned, witnessed the 
discovery of the Fur Seal Islands, the breeding-ground 
of the seals, and therefore of the highest importance. 
The Russian promyshleniki who first visited the Fox 
Islands soon began to surmise the existence of some 
islands in the north by observing the annual migra- 
tion of the fur-seals through the passes between cer- 
tain of the islands— northward in the spring and 
southward in the autumn, when they were accom- 
panied by their young. This surmise was confirmed 
by an Aleut tradition to the effect that a young chief- 
tain of Unimak had once been cast away on a group 
of islands in the north, which they called Amik.^* The 

^^Nagaief told Zaikof that the natives he had encountered called them- 
selves Chugatches, and that they met in war and trade five other tribes : 1st, 
the Koniagas, or people of Kadiak; 2d, a tribe living on a gulf of the main 
land between Kadiak and the Chugatsche country, named the Kinaias; 3d, the 
YuUits, living on the large river discovered by Nagaief; 4th, a tribe living on 
the coast of the mainland from Kyak Island eastward, called Lakhamit; 
and 5th, beyond these again tlie Kaljush, a warlike tribe with large wooden 
boats. This description of the tribes and their location was doubtless cor- 
rect at the time, though the 'Lakharaite' (the Aglegmutes) have since been 
pushed eastwai-d of Kyak Island by the Kaljushes, or Thlinkeets. Nagaief also 
correctly stated that the YuUits, or Copper River natives, lived only on the 
upi^er river, but traded copper and land-furs with the coast people for seal- 
skins, dried fish, and oil. Zaikof's Journal, MS.; Sitka Archives, iv.; Tikme- 
nef, 1st., Obosr., ii., app., 7, 8. Zaikof's own description of the country, its 
resources, its people, and the manners and customs, is both minute and cor- 
rect. His manuscript journal is still in existence, and it furnishes proof 
positive that his visit to Prince William Sound in 1783 was the first made by 
him or any other Russian in a sea-goiag vessel. 

^* The (S";; Georgiy left Nishekamchatsk on Panof 's account, and returned 
in two yeai's with a little over 1,000 fui'-seals and less than 200 blue foxes, 
having evidently confined its operations to the Commander Islands. The 
same vessel made another voyage in 1787, remaining absent six years, but 
with an equally unsatisfactory result. Berg, Khronol. 1st., 114-15. 

"•^A term and incident commemorated in a native song. Veniaminof, Za- 
piski, ii. 269; i. 17; Sarychef, Putesh., i. 28. 


high peaks of his native place had guided him back 
after a short stay. While furs remained abundant on 
the groups already known, none chose to expose him- 
self in frail boats to seek new lands; but in and after 
1781 the rapid depletion of the hunting-grounds led 
to many a search for Amik; yet while it lay within 
two days' sail from the southern isles, a friendly 
mist long hid the home of the fur-seals from the 

In 1786 this search was joined by Master Gerassim 
Pribylof,^^ who for five years had been hunting and 
trading with little profit on the islands, in the Su 
Georguj, fitted out by Lebedef-Lastochkin and his 
partners. Although reputed a skillful navigator, he 
cruised for over three weeks around the Amik group 
without finding them, though constantl}^ meeting with 
unmistakable evidence of the close proximity of land. 
At last, in the first days of June, fate favored the 
persistent explorer; the mantle of fog was lifted and 
before him loomed the high coast of the eastern end 
of the most southern island. The discovery was 
named St George, after Pribylof's vessel; but finding 
no anchorage the commander ordered the peredovchik 
Popof and all the hunters to land, with a supply of 
provisions for the winter, while he stood away again 
for the Aleutian Islands, there to spread such reports 
as to keep others from following his path. 

The shores of St George literally swarmed with 
sea-otters, Avhich undisturbed so far by human beings 
could be killed as easily as those of Bering Island 
during the first winter after its discovery. Large 
numbers of walrus were secured on the ice and upon 
the adjoining small islands ; arctic foxes could be caught 
by hand, and with the approach of summer the fur- 
seals made their appearance by thousands.^^ 

^^His name was G«rassim Gavrilovich Pribylof. Veniaminof gives his 
name as Ga\Tilo on one occasion. ZapisJci, ii. 271. He was a master in the 
navy, connected with the port of Okhotsk, but entered the employ of Lebedef- 
Lastochkm and his partners in 1778. Id. 

36 Shelikof in a letter to Delarof, dated Okhotsk, 1789, stated that durin.'; 


On the 29th of June, 1787, an unusually clear 
atmosphere enabled the promyshleniki to see for the 
first time the island of St Paul, thirty miles to the 
northward; and the sea being smooth a bidar was at 
once despatched to examine the new discovery. The 
party landed upon the other island the same day, and 
named it St Peter and St Paul, the saints of the day.^'' 
The first half of the name, however, was soon lost in 
popular usage and only St Paul retained. The group 
was known as the Pribylof.^^ 

While Shelikof was one of the partners who had 
fitted out the Sv Georgiy, he does not appear to have 
held a large interest and looked with no little envy 
on the success achieved by what must be regarded as 
rivals to his own company. He did not waste much 
time, however, in unpleasant sentiments, but set about 
at once to secretly buy up more shares in the Lebedef 
company. In this undertaking he succeeded so well 
that he could look with equanimity upon the fierce 
rivalry growing up between the two large firms; no 
matter which side gained an advantage, he felt secure. 
He was certainly the first who fully understood the 
actual and prospective value of Pribylof's discovery. 

the first year the hunters obtained on the newly discovered islands 40,000 
fur-seal skins, 2,000 sea-otters, 400 pounds (14,400 lbs.) of walrus ivory, and 
more whalebone than the ship could carry. Shelikof upbraided Delarof for 
not having anticipated this discovery, with two good ships at his command. 
Tihhmenef, 1st. Obozr., ii. app. 21. 

^' Owing to the constant fog and murky atmosphere that envelop the islands, 
the less elevated St Paul is rarely seen from St George, while the hills of the 
latter are frequently visible from St Paul. 

^^ The claim of Pribylof to their first European discovery was thrown into 
doubt by the report that the Russians on reaching the island of St Paul 
found the brass hilt and trimming of a sword, a clay pipe, and the remains of 
a fire. The statement was confirmed by all who effected the first landing on 
St Paul. Veniaminof, Zapiski, ii. 268. Berg, who has traced the course of 
nearly every other vessel in these waters, states that nothing was known of 
Pribylof's present voyage beyond his return with a rich cargo. Khronol, 1st., 
104. One reason for this was the secrecy observed for some time. La P^rouse 
met Pribylof shortly after his return, but learned nothing. 





Russian Supbemacy in the Farthest North-west — The Other European 
Powers would Know what it Means — Perez Looks at Alaska for 
Spain— The 'Santiago' at Dixon Entrance— Cuadra Advances to 
Cross Sound — Cook for England Examines the Coast as far as Icy 
•Cape — Names Given to Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet — 
Revelations and Mistakes — Ledyard's Journey — Again Spain 
Sends to the North Arteaga, who Takes Possession at Latitude 
59° 8'— Bay of La Santisima Cruz— Results Attained. 

The gradual establishment of Russian supremacy 
in north-westernmost America upon a permanent basis 
had not escaped the attention of Spanish statesmen. 
Within a few years after the disastrous failure of the 
Russian exploring expeditions under Krenitzin and 
Levashef, a succinct account of all that had been ac- 
complished by the joint efforts of the promyshleniki 
and the naval officers, under the auspices of the 
imperial government, had been transmitted to the 
court of Spain by its accredited and secret agents at 
St Petersburg.^ 

Alarmed by tidings of numerous and important 
discoveries along the extension of her own South Sea 
coast line, Spain ordered an expedition for exploring 

1 The communications concerning Russia's plans of conquest in Asia and 
America, forwarded to the court of Spain fi'om St Petersburg, make mention 
of an expedition organized in 1764. Two captains, named Cweliacow and 
Ponobasew in the document, were to sail from Arkhangel in the White Sea, 
and meet Captain Krenitzin, Avho was to sail from Kamchatka. This is a 
somewhat mixed account of the Krenitzin and Levashef expedition, which 
did not finally sail till 1768, but was expected to fall in with lieutenants 
Chichagof and Ponomaref , who were instrficted to coast eastward along Siberia 
and to pass through Bering Strait. 

(194 J 


and seizing the coast to the northward of California. 
In 1773 accordingly the viceroy of Mexico, Revilla 
Gigedo, assigned for this purpose the new transport 
Santiago, commanded by Juan Perez, who was asked 
to prepare a plan of operations. In this he expressed 
his intention to reach the Northwest Coast in latitude 
45° or 50°; but his orders to attain a higher latitude 
were peremptory, and it is solely owing to this that the 
voyage falls within the scope of the present volume. 
Minute directions were furnished for the ceremonies 
of claiming and taking possession. The wording of 
the written declaration, to be deposited in convenient 
and prominent places, was prescribed. The commander 
was instructed to keep the object of his voyage secret, 
but to strike the coast w^ell to north, in latitude 60° 
if possible, and to take possession above any settle- 
ments he might find, without, however, disturbing 
the Russians. Appended to his instructions was a 
full translation of Stsehlin's Account of the Neiv 
Northern Archipelago, together with the fanciful map 
accompanying that volume. Each island of the Aleu- 
tian group w^as described in detail, besides many 
others, the product of the fertile imagination of such 
men as Stsehlin and De I'lsle de la Croyere. Even 
the island of Kadiak, which had then only been twice 
visited by promyshleniki, was included in the list. 

The Santiago sailed from San Bias January 24, 
1774, with eighty-eight men, including two mission- 
aries and a surgeon. The incidents of nearly the 
whole of this voyage occurred south of the territory 
embraced by this volume; but between the 15th and 
17th of July Perez and his companions sighted two 
capes, the southernmost of which he thought was in 
latitude 55°, and the other about eight leagues to the 
north. These points were named Santa Margarita 
and Santa Magdalena, respectively.^ 

^ The latitiide given by Perez, if correct, would make it difficult to locate 
these capes so as to agree with the minute and circumstantial description of 
the contours of the coast; but allowing for an error which might easily arise 


These capes, the southernmost point of Prince of 
Wales Island, and the north point of Queen Charlotte 
Island, lie on both sides of the present boundary of 
Alaska, but Perez and his men had intercourse with 
the inhabitants of the latter cape only. The mere 
sighting of one of the southern capes of Alaska, and 
its location by rough estimate, would scarcely justify 
a discussion of the voyage of Juan Perez in the annals 
of Alaska, were it not for an apparently trifling incident 
• mentioned in the various diarios of this expedition. In 
the hands of the natives were seen an old bayonet and 
pieces of other iron implements, which the pilot con- 
jectured must have belonged to the boats' crews lost 
from Chirikof's vessel somewhere in these latitudes in 
1741.^ In the absence of all knowledge of any civ- 
ilized visitor to that section during the interval be- 
tween Chirikof s and Perez' voyages we cannot well 
criticise the conclusion arrived at. It could scarcely 
be presumed that at that early date a Pussian bayo- 
net should have passed from hand to hand or from. 
tribe to tribe, around the coast from the Aleutian 
Islands, or perhaps Kadiak, a distance of from eight 
hundred to one thousand miles. It appears highly 
probable that Chirikof's mishap occurred in this vicin- 
ity, the*Prince of Wales or Queen Charlotte Islands, 
and in that case the present boundary of Alaska 
would be very nearly identical with the northern 
limit of the territorial claims of Spain as based upon 
the right of discovery. The avowed objects of this 
voyage had not been obtained by Perez; he did not 
ascend to the latitude of 60°; he did not ascertain the 
existence of permanent Russian establishments, and 
he made no discoveries of available sea-ports. His 
intercourse with the Alaskan natives, if such they 

from the imperfect instruments of the times, we must come to the conclusion 
that Perez discovered Dixon Sound. The allusion to an island situated to 
the west of the northernmost cape, the Santa Chi'istina or Catalina of the re- 
corders of the voyage, can scarcely refer to any point but the Forrester Island 
of our modem maps. 

3 Maurelle, Compendio de Noticias, MS., 169. 


were, was carried on without anchoring. The details 
of the expedition of Perez, so far as they relate to 
incidents that occurred south of the line of 54° 40', 
are discussed in my History of the Northwest Coast} 

The second Spanish expedition which extended its 
operations to Alaskan waters was organized in the 
following year, 1775. The command was intrusted 
to Bruno Heceta, a lieutenant and acting captain, 
who selected the Santiago as his flag-ship. Juan* 
Perez sailed with Heceta as pilot and second in com- 
mand. The small schooner Sono7'a, or Felicidad, 
accompanied the larger craft as consort, commanded 
by Lieutenant Juan Francisco de Bodega y Cuadra, 
with Antonio Maurelle as pilot. ^ 

The expedition sailed from San Bias March 16th. 
After going far out to sea and returning to the coast 
again in latitude 48° on the 14th of July, taking pos- 
session of the country, and after a disastrous encounter 
with the savages of that region, the two vessels be- 
came separated during a northerly gale on the 30th 
of July.« 

The Sonara alone made discoveries within the pres- 
ent boundaries of Alaska. After the separation the 
little craft, only 36 feet in length, was boldly headed 

* Not less than four journals or diaries of the voyage are extant. Two of 
these were kept by the missionaries or chaplains of the expedition, Crespf 
and Pena; the first has been printed in Palou, Noticias, i. 61^4-88, and the 
other was copied from the manuscript Viages al Norte de California, etc. , in 
the Spanish Archives. The third journal, entitled Perez, Relacion del Viage, 
etc., 1774, is contained in the Mayer manuscripts and also in Maurelle, Com- 
pendio de Noticias, MS., 159-75. The fourth journal is also a manuscript 
under the title, Perez, Tabla Diaria, etc. , contained in Maurelle, Compendio, 
179-85. Brief mention of this voyage can also be found in Navarrete, Sutil y 
Mex., Viage, 92-3; Humboldt, Essai Pol, 331-2; Mofras, Explor., i.; Navar- 
rete, Viages Apdc., 53-4; Greenhow's Mem., 69; Id., Or. and Cal., 114^17; 
Twiss' Hist. Or., 55-6; Id., Or. Question, 66-7; Falcover's Or. Question, 19; 
Id., Discov. 3Iiss., 62; Bustamante, in Cavo, Tres Sighs, iii. 119; Palou, 
Vida, 160-2; Forbes' Hist. Cal, 114-16; Calvo, Col Trent., i. 338; Nicolay's 
Oregon Ter., 30-2; Findlay's Directory, i. 349-50; Pou^sin, Question de I'Ore- 
gon, 38-9; MacGregor's Prog. Amer., i. 535; Tikhmenef, Istor. Obosr., i. 
preface; Baranof, in Sitha Archives, MS., i. Nos. 5 and 6. 

5 See Hist. Northivest Coast, i. 158, this series. 

® The outward and homeward voyage of the Santiago has been fully re- 
lated in Hist. Northwest Coast, i., this series. 



Cuadka's Voyagk. 


seaward and kept upon a general north-westerly course. 
On the 13th of August indications of land were ob- 
served, though the only chart in their possession, that 
of Bellin, based upon Russian discoveries and to a 
great extent upon imagination, placed them at a dis- 
tance of one hundred and sixty leagues from the con- 
tinental coast. Cuadra's latitude, by observation, on 
that day was 55° 40'. During the next two days the 
signs of land became stronger and more frequent, and 
the navigators, in the belief that they were approach- 
ing the Tumannoi or Foggy' Islands of Chirikof, ob- 
served the greatest caution. 

At last, on the 16th, came in. view a mountainous 
coast among whose many peaks was one they called 
San Jacinto, and the prominent cape jutting from it 
the Cabo de Engano. Their description of both cape 
and mountain is so clear as to leave no doubt of their 
identity with the Mount Edgecumbe of Cook and the 
cape of the same name. That the original nomencla- 
ture has not been preserved is owing to Spain's neglect 
in not publishing the achievements of her explorers. 
On the following day the goleta put to sea again, 
weathering Cape Engaiio and following the coast in a 
north-westerly direction until another wide estuary was 
discovered and named the bay of Guadalupe, subse- 
quently known as Shelikof Bay or Port Mary. Here 
Cuadra anchored for the day, observing the wooded 
shores rising at an acute angle from the sea. In the 
morning of the 18th two canoes, containing two men 
and two women, emerged from the head of the bay, 
but at the sight of the vessel they hurriedly landed 
and fled. The explorers then put to sea again and 
proceeded in a northerly direction until a good anchor- 
age was found in latitude 57° 20', with a good sandy 
beach and convenient watering-places. 

A landing was eflected at the mouth of a stream, 
near a deserted hut and a stockaded enclosure, proba- 
bly used for defence by the natives. The instructions 
of the viceroy, concerning the forms of taking posses- 


sion, were carried out so far as circumstances would 

During the ceremonies no natives were in sight, 
but after returning to their vessel the Spaniards saw 
the savages take up the cross which they had planted 
and place it before their hut, as if to say "this is the 
better place." 

On the 19th another landing was made, when the 
natives emerged from the forest waving a white cloth 
attached to a pole in token of peaceful intentions. The 
signal was answered by the Spaniards and the savages 
advanced slowly to the opposite bank of the stream. 
They were unarmed and accompanied by women and 
children. A few trifling presents were offered and 
received by one of the natives who waded into the 
middle of the stream. This friendly intercourse was, 
however, suddenly interrupted when the Spaniards 
began to fill their water-casks. The women and chil- 
dren were at once sent away and the men assumed a 
threatening attitude. The Spaniards prepared for 
defence while preserving an unconcerned air, and 
finally the savages retreated. 

The place of this first landing of Spanish explorers 
upon Alaskan soil was called the anchorage ''de los 
Remedies" and can be nothing else than the entrance 
to Klokachef Sound between Kruzof and Chichagof 

^ The entry in the journal referring to this event was as follows: 'El mismo 
dia bajaron &, tierra con los preparatives que ofrecia su poco tripulacion y ar- 
reglados d la instruccion tomaron posesion, dejando los docuraentos y la cruz 
colocados con la seguridad posible, habiendo arbolado en aquel puesto las ban- 
deras del Key nuestro Sefior.' Vlajes al Norte, MS., 25. 

^ lu tlie journal of this voyage contained in the Viajes al Norte, the country 
is described as full of mountains, their base covered with pines like those at 
Trinidad, but barren or covered with snow toward the summit. The ' Yn- 
dios,' said to resemble those met with in latitude 41°, wei'e clothed chiefly 
in furs. The latitudes as observed by Cuadra at Cape Eugaiio, Guadalupe 
Bay, and the Entrada de los Kemedios, agrees with our positions for Cape 
Edgecumbe, Shelikof Bay, and the southern shore of Klokachef Sound, but 
the Spanish explorer places the longitude of the last anchorage some twelve 
miles to the westward of Cabo de Phigauo. This would lead to the conclusion 
that the ceremony of taking possession took place just inside of Seadion 
Point, a very exposed position, while the description of the country coincides 
better with Kalinin cove, a few miles to the eastward. See Karta Vkhodov 
Novo Arkhcuujdskomu. PorUi, etc., 1809, 1833, and 1848. 


The weather was cold and threatening during the 
sojourn of the Sonora in this bay, and both officers 
and the poorly clothed and sheltered crew began to 
suffer from scurvy. They took a west-north-westerly 
direction on the 21st, in order to ascertain whether 
their discovery was located on the west or east shore 
of the Pacific, a doubt engendered by the great differ- 
ence in longitude between the Russian discoveries as 
indicated on Bellin's chart and their own; and having 
by that time reached a latitude of 57° 58', or the 
vicinity of Cross Sound, they changed their course 
to the southward to examine carefully all the inlets 
of the coast. 

On the 24th^of August, in latitude 55° 14', the ex- 
plorers entered a magnificent sound extending far to 
the northward and abounding in sheltered anchorages. 
Cuadra was ill, but he ordered the j9z7o^o to take pos- 
session in the name of Spain, and for the second time 
the royal banner of Castile waved over Alaska. The 
sound was called Bucareli, a name still preserved on 
many maps. It is located on the west coast of the 
island subsequently named after the prince of Wales.^ 

After a careful inspection of the bay, during which 
not an aboriginal was to be seen, the Sonora once 
more stood out to sea, sighting six leagues from the 
harbor an island which was named San Bias, the 
same seen in 1774 by Juan Perez from Cape Santa 
Margarita, and named by him Santa Cristina. It is 
now known as Forrester Island. A landing was 
effected and water obtained, while the south point of 
Prince of Wales Island, named Santa Magdalena by 
Perez, was plainly in view.^*^ Contrary winds kept 
the little craft beating about until the navigators suc- 
ceeded in again making the coast in latitude 55° 50', 

^ The piloto expressed the opinion that this bay was the scene of Chirikof 's 
* landfall, ' and the place where his boat's crew perished was one of the northern 
arms of the bay in the latitude named by the Russian discoverer. The Span- 
iard did not seem to take longitude into the account at all. Viajes al Norte, 
MS., 30. 

^o Viajes al Norte, MS., 31. Cuadra named it Cabo de San Agustin. 


where a deep indentation was observed, with its western 
point in latitude 56° 3'. Thence a high mountainous 
coast was seen extending north-westerly to a point 
marking the southern limit of the broad estuary 
bounded by Cabo de Engano in the north." 

From the 28th of August to the 1st of September 
the winds compelled the navigators to hug the shore 
in the vicinity of latitude 56° 30^ The crew, weak- 
ened by scurvy, were unable to combat the adverse 
winds. The vessel was swept by tremendous seas; 
spars and portions of the rigging were carried away; 
and when at last a steady strong north-wester began 
to blow, both commander and pilots concluded that 
further efforts to gain the desired latitude were use- 
less. The prow of the Sonora was turned southward 
and the swelling sails soon carried her far away from 
Alaska. ^^ 

Orders for another Spanish expedition to the north 
coast were issued in 1776, but preparations were not 
completed till 1779, or until after Cook's important 
English explorations in this quarter. 

The voyage of Captain Cook with the ships Reso- 
lution and Jbiscovery has been discussed at length in 
an earlier volume, with reference to discoveries on the 
Northwest Coast south of the present boundary of 
Alaska. It is only necessary here to repeat briefly a few 
paragraphs from Cook's secret instructions from the ad- 
miralty and to take up the thread of narrative where 
I dropped it in the historic precincts of Nootka.^^ 

" The description furnished by the journal of these discoveries is not clear, 
but the ensenada may probably be identified with Christian Sound, or Clarence 
Sound, on our modern maps. 

1^ The log of the Sonora as copied in the Viajen al Norte places the expedi- 
tion in latitude 55° 4' on the 14th of August, and from that date till the 8th 
of September Cuadra's operations were confined to present Alaskan waters. 
The highest latitude, 57° 57', was reached the 22d, in the vicinity of Cape 
Cross, or the soutli point of Yacobi Island. Vinjea al Norte, MS., 56-8. Ac- 
cpunts of this voyage can also be found in Ileceta, Setjunda Exploracion; 
Maiirelle, Diaiio del Viaije de la Sonora, 1775, No. 3 of Viages ul Norte; 
Maurtlle's Journal of a Voyage in 1775, London, 1781, in Barrmgton's Miscel- 
lanies. See also lilM. Northwest Coast, vol. i., this series. Juan Perez 
Cuadra's pilot died before reaching San Bias. 

''* The instructions were signed by the ' Commissioners for executing the 


After ordering the commander to go from New 
Zealand to New Albion and avoid touching Spanish 
territory, the document goes on to say: "And if, in 
your farther progress to the northward, as hereafter 
directed, you find any subjects of any European prince 
or state upon any part of the coast you may think 
proper to visit, you are not to disturb them, or to give 
them any just cause of offence, but on the contrary to 
treat them with civility and friendship. Upon your 
arrival on the coast of New Albion you are to put 
into the first convenient port to recruit your wood 
and water, and procure refreshments, and then to 
proceed northward along the coast, as far as the lati- 
tude of 65,° or farther, if you are not obstructed by 
lands or ice; taking care not to lose any time in 
exploring rivers or inlets, or upon any other account, 
until you get into the before-mentioned latitude of 
65°." After being enjoined at length to make a 
thorough search for a navigable passage into Hudson 
or Baffin bays, Cook is further instructed as follows : 
" You are also, with the consent of the natives, to 
take possession, in the name of the King of Great 
Britain, of convenient situations in such countries as 
you may discover, that have not already been discov- 
ered or visited by any other European power. . .but 
if you find the countries so discovered are uninhabited, 
you are to take possession of them for his Majesty, by 
setting up proper marks and inscriptions, as first dis- 
coverers and possessors." During the discussion of 
Cook's progress in viewing the coasts of Alaska I 
shall have occasion to refer to these instructions.^* 

On the 26th of April 1778 the expedition sailed 
out of Nootka Bay on its northward course, but vio- 
lent gales drove it from the land which was not made 
again until the evening of May 1st in latitude 55° 

Office of Lord High Admiral of Great Britian and Ireland, etc., Sandwich, 
C. Spencer, and H. Palliser, through their secretary, Ph. Stephens, on the 6th 
of July 1776.' Cook's Voy., i. introd. xxxiv.-xxxv. 
^^ Cook's Voy., i. introd. xxxii.-xxxv. 


20', in tlie vicinity of Port Bucareli, discovered by 
Cuadra three years before. 

On the 2d and 3d of May Cook passed along the 
coast included in Cuadra's discoveries of 1775, giving 
to Mount San Jacinto and the Cabo de Engafio the 
name of Edgecumbe. Puerto de los Pemedios was 
named bay of Islands, and Cook correctly surmised 
its connection with the bay lying eastward of Cape 
Edgecumbe. In the morning of the 3d the two sloops 
had reached the highest latitude attained by Cuadra; 
a high mountain in the north and a wide inlet were 
called Mount Fairweather and Cross Sound respec- 
tively, by which names both are known to this day.^^ 
Cape Fairweather has since been named Cape Spencer, 
On the 5th Mount St Elias was sighted above the 
northern horizon, one hundred and twenty miles away, 
and the following day the broad opening of Yakutat, 
or Bering, Bay was observed.^® 

Proceeding slowly along the coast with baffling 
winds, he on the 10th gave the name of Cape Suck- 
ling to the cape forming the southern extremity of 
Comptroller Bay, but owing to 'thick' weather Kyak 
Island, named Kaye by Cook, was not discovered until 
two days later. ^~ At the foot of a tree on the south 
point of Kaye Island a bottle was deposited containing 
a paj^er with the names of the ships and date of 'dis- 
covery,' and a few coins. For some reason the cere- 
mony of taking possession was omitted, though Cook 
must have believed in the existence of all the condi- 
tions mentioned in his instructions and relating to 
' uninhabited ' discoveries.^^ 

The name of Comptroller Bay was also applied to 
the indentation bearing that designation to-day. The 

'^The3cl of May is marked in the calendars as 'Finding of the Cross;' 
hence the name applied to the sound. 

^^ Cook discusses at length the identity of this with Bering's landing. He 
does not, however, advance any very cogent reasons for his belief. 

^' In another chapter of this volume I have stated my reasons for believing 
this to have been the scene of Bering's discovery and Steller's brief explora- 
tion of the country in 1741. 

^^Cook'd Voi/.,u. 351-3. 


sight of the south point of Nuchek Island, named by 
him Cape Hinehinbrook, led Cook to indulge in hopes 
of finding a jDassage to the north beyond it, the tower- 
ing heights that border Prince William Sound not 
being visible at the time. A leak in the Resolution 
induced the commander to seek shelter, and the ships 
were anchored in one of the coves of Nuchek Bay, 
the Port Etches of later maps. A boat's crew sent 
out to hunt met with a number of natives in two skin 
canoes, who followed them to the immediate vicinity 
of the ships, but would not go on board. ^^ On the 
following day, the 13th, Cook sailed again in search 
of a safer anchorage, without discovering the land- 
locked cove on the north side of the bay subsequently 
selected by the Russians for their first permanent 
establishment in this region. The next anchorage 
was found some eight leagues to the northward at 
Snug Corner Cove, still known by that name. Here 
considerable intercourse with the natives took place. 
They were bold, inclined to thievery, and apparently 
unacquainted with fire-arms. '^° 

After several vain attempts to find a northern pas- 
sage the two ships turned southward, and the largest 
island in the sound was discovered and named Mon- 

^^ The natives made the same sign of friendship described by the Spanish 
explorers in connection with the Alexander Archipelago, displaying a white 
garment or skin, and extending their arms. The people were evidently of 
Innuit extraction, but had adopted some of the practices of their Thlinkeet 
neighbors in the east, such as powdering the hair with down, etc. Comp- 
troller Bay, at the mouth of the Atnah or Copper River, so called by Cook 
in his Atlas, 1778, and also by Dixon and Vancouver; La P(5rouse, 1786, 
i?e du Controle; Sutil y Mex., Viage, B. Controlleur. Cartog. Pac. Coast, 
MS., iii. 394. 

^^ These natives not only attempted to take away a boat from the ship's 
side, but upon the report of one of their number, who had examined the 
Discovery, that only a man or two were visible on her decks, the whole band 
of visitors hastily paddled over to the other vessel with the evident intention 
of taking possession of her. The appearance of the crew, who had been en- 
gaged on some duty in the hold, caused the savages to change their mind. 
Cook's Voy., ii. 359. Cook here also noticed for the first time that these 
natives had a few glass beads of light blue, a circumstance he wrongly cou- 
sidei'ed as an indication of intercourse with other tribes visiting the Hudson's 
Bay Company's posts in the far north-west. Blue glass beads were among the 
few articles of trade in the hands of the Russian promyshleniki, and doubtless 
found their way to Prince William Sound from Kadiak by way of Cook 


tagu, the Sukluk of the natives. The name of Prince 
Wihiam Sound was then appHed to the whole inlet. 

On the 21s't Cape Elizabeth, the south-eastern point 
of Cook Inlet, was first sighted and named; and as 
the western shore of that great estuary was not vis- 
ible, the hopes of finding an open passage to the 
northward were once more revived. A gale, how- 
ever, prevented the explorers from rounding the cape, 
and necessitated a southerly course, which brought 
into view the point of land named Cape St Hermo- 
genes by Bering — the eastern cape of Marmot Island. 
Thence the course was northward, which opened be- 
fore the eyes of the explorer the broad estuary still 
bearing the name of the commander. Believing that 
Kadiak and Afognak islands, with Point Banks, formed 
but a part of the mountainous coast to the westward, 
with Cape Douglas in the foreground, Cook entered 
the inlet full of hope. Was not the Aliaska of Bus- 
sian maps represented as an island ? And must not 
this wide passage lead the navigator into the Arctic 
Ocean between this island and the continent ? The 
discovery of an extension of the high mountains to 
the north of Cape Douglas did not discourage him.-^ 
On the same day, however, the 27th of May, these 
high hopes were crushed, as far as Cook himself was 
concerned. The haze hanging over the land in the 
west suddenly disappeared, and what had been taken 
for a chain of islands stood revealed as the summits 
of a mountain range, connected everywhere and show- 
ing every characteristic of a continent.. 

Though fully convinced of the futility of the attempt 
Cook continued to beat his vessels up the inlet.^"^ 
The strong ebb-tides, running at a velocity of four 
or five knots, greatly retarded their progress, and as 

^1 ' As it was supposed to be wholly unconnected with the land of Cape 
Elizabeth,' says Cook; 'for, in a N. N. E. direction, the sight was unlimited 
by everything but the horizon.' Cook's Voy., ii. 386 j Juvenal, Jour., MS., 

^* ' I was now fully persuaded that I should find no passage by this inlet ; 
and my persevering in the search of it here, was more to satisfy other people, 
than to confirm my own opinion. ' Cook's Voy. , ii. 386. 


the winds were either Hght or unfavorable, it became 
necessary to anchor the vessels every time the tide 
turned against them. The muddy water and the large 
quantities of floating trees led Cook to believe him- 
self within the mouth of a large river, and without 
fully ascertaining the fact, he sailed away from his 
new discovery unchanged in his opinion.'^ 

The iirst natives were encountered on the 30th, and 
a larger party, including women and children, visited 
the ships the following day. The scene of this meeting 
was in the vicinity of West Foreland, or the present 
village of Kustatan. These savages were described by 
Cook as resembling the natives of Prince William 
Sound, speaking the same language and using the 
same kind of skin-covered canoes. From this fact 
we must infer that the Innuit in those days occu- 
pied more of the coast of Cook Inlet than they do 
to-day. It is probable, however, that these people 
were not permanent residents, but engaged in a hunt- 
ing expedition away from their home.^* Blue beads 
and long iron knives were found in the possession of 
all these peoples. We know that these articles came 
from the Russians, but Cook was loath to acknowl- 
edge the presence of another European power.^^ 

On the first of June the boats sent out to explore 
returned after having entered the Turn-again arm of 
the inlet and the mouth of the Kinik River, and in 

'^ The coast of Cook Inlet rests upon a base of blue clay wasbed by the 
tides, and this fact contributed more to the discoloration of the water than the 
few rivers emptying into the inlet. 

'^' Still higher up the inlet Cook saw a native jiropel liis kyak with a double- 
bladed paddle, and as this implement is used onty by the natives of the Aleu- 
tian Islands, and occasionally by those of the northern shores of Bering Sea, 
it becomes all the more probable that the advance of the Russians to Kadiak, 
and their presence among the Shumagin Islands, had already instigated the 
sea-otter hunters to undertake long journeys in search of their quany. 
CooL-'s Voy. , ii. 389-92. On the other hand, the natives encountered on the 
Kenai Peninsula, on the occasion of taking possession of the country, were 
evidently Tinuehs, or Kenai proper, to judge from the description of their 
ornaments, clothes, and weapons, and from the fact that they had dogs and 
were apparently without canoes. 

'^^Cook mentions that the natives called iron goone. Now chugun, or 
rather chugoon, is Russian for cast-iron, though also used for all iron articles 
by the ignorant classes. Cook's Voy., ii. 392. 


the afternoon Lieutenant King was despatched to 
take possession of the point at which the above- 
mentioned arm branches off to the eastward. Some 
lords aboriginal were present, but it is nowhere written 
that King asked their permission to take possession 
of the country, as the admiralty had ordered. 

On the 4th of June the latitude of the Iliamna 
volcano was ascertained, but the mountain was not 
named. ^*^ On the 5th of June the two ships emerged 
from the inlet that had been entered with such flatter- 
ing hopes, and proceeded southward along the coast 
of the continent in search of an opening to the west- 
ward and northward. The season was fast advancing 
and much remained to be done, so they hastened 
forward. Shuiak Island, Afognak, and Kadiak were 
placed on their chart as one continuous coast and part 
of the continent, while names were given only to the 
prominent headlands.^'' On the 16th Foggy Island, 
the Tumannoi of Bering, was made, and on the 19th 
the two ships were passing through the Shumagin 
group, the largest island of which Cook erroneously 
put down as Kadiak on his chart. In this vicinity 
the Discovery was approached by several canoes and 
a letter enclosed in a case was delivered by one of 
the natives, who bowed and took off his cap in good 
European fashion. The document was written in 
Russian and dated 1778.^^^ Unable to understand 

^^ The only local names about the inlet which we can trace to Cook are: 
Cape Douglas, Mt St Augustine (Chernobira Island), Turn-again River, Point 
Possession, Anchor Point, Point Bede, Cape Elizabeth, Barren Islands. The 
inlet was named Cook River by order of Lord Sandwich, the explorer having 
left a blank in his journal. Cook's Voy., ii. 396. 

-' The north point of Shuiak was named Point Banks; the easterly point 
of Afognak, Cape Whitsunday, and the entrance to the strait between the 
latter island and Kadiak, Whitsuntide Bay. The description of this locality 
does not, however, agree with the published sketch. Cook's Voy., ii. 404, and 
Cha7-t of Cook River, 353. Cape Chiniatsk was named Cape Greville and is 
still thus indicated on English and American sailing-charts. Cape Barnabas 
aiKl Two-headed Cape coiTCspond with the east point of Sitkhalidak Island 
and Nazigak Island at the entrance of Kaguiak Bay. The island Sitkhinak 
was named Trinity on the 14th of June, and subsequently the south point of 
Kadiak obtained the same designation. Cook's Voy., ii. 407-9. 

'^^In the body of the note there was also a reference to the year 1776, the 
date of a Russian expedition to Kadiak. Cook's Voy., ii. 414. 


its contents, Cook paid no attention to it. These 
natives as well as those subsequently met with at 
Halibut (Sannakh) Island used the double-bladed 
paddle, a certain indication that they were Aleuts, 
hunting for the Russians.^'' 

Passing Unimak with its smoking volcanoes and 
failing to notice the best pass into Bering Sea, be- 
tween Unimak and Akun, the explorers at last man- 
aged to cross into the narrowest and most dangerous 
of all these passes, between Unalga and Unalaska. 
After a long search for an anchorage the vessels were 
safely moored in Samghanooda Bay, opening into 
Unalga Strait. Intercourse with the natives was at 
once opened, and one of them delivered another Rus- 
sian note. The principal object in seeking this anch- 
orage was water, and hence the stay there was brief; 
but from the manners of the people and articles in 
their possession. Cook felt assured at last that he was 
on ground occupied by the Bussians. The necessar}^ 
business was quickly despatched, and on the 2d of 
July the two ships stood out to sea again with every 
prospect of an open field of exploration in the north. 
The north coast of the Alaska peninsula was followed 
till the north shore of Bristol Bay loomed before 
them, and made another change of course necessary. 
Cook's disappointment was great. Not until the 16tli 
of July was hope again revived by the sight of Cape 
Newenham, the southern point of the estuary of the 

Without imagining himself in the mouth of a river, 
Cook pushed forward until stopped by shoals, which 
to his dismay extended in every direction but that 
from which he had come. After a brief interview 

^' Cook also mentions that they did not understand the language of the 
natives of Prince William Sound, and that one of them wore a black cloth 
jacket and green breeches. Cook's Voy., ii. 417. 

'" Here Lieutenant Williamson was sent ashore to ascend a mountain and 
obtain a view. He saw no land, except in the north, and after taking formal 
possession returned to the ship. Cook gave the name Bristol Bay to the 
whole bend of the coast betwen Unimak Island and the cape just discovered. 
Voy., ii. 430-4. 

HiBT. Alaska. 14 


with some natives, who also were found in posses- 
sion of iron knives, all haste was made to extricate the 
vessel from the network of shoals. At last, on the 
28th, the soundings made a westerly course possible, 
which was on the following day changed to the north- 
ward, and on the 3d of August land was made again, 
and the ships anchored between an island and the 
main. The former was named Sledge Island, from a 
wooden sledge with bone runners found upon it. The 
next discovery, named King Island, was made on the 
7th, and at last, on the 9th, the western extremity 
of the American continent lay clearly before them, 
the coast beyond receding so far to the eastward as 
to leave no room for doubt.^^ 

After a brisk run across to the coast of Asia the 
ships returned to the Alaskan shore and located Icy 
Cape, the eastern limit of the arctic cruise. Cape Mul- 
grave, and Cape Lisburne, but ice barred further prog- 
ress on the American coast as well as on that of 
Asia. On the 29th Cook named Cape North and 
concluded to return southward, postponing a further 
examination of the Polar Sea for another season — 
which never came for him. On the evening of the 2d 
of September the ships passed East Cape. The fol- 
lowing day St Lawrence Bay was revisited and ex- 
amined,^' and on the 5th the ships were again headed 
for the American coast. During the following day 
Norton Sound was entered and names were applied 
to Cape Derby, at the entrance of Goloni Bay, and 
Cape Denbigh. 

Cook remained in this sound until the 17th of Sep- 
tember in order to fully ascertain the fact of his being 
then on the coast of the American continent and 
not on the fabulous island of " Alaschka" represented 

'"^^Cook^s Voy., ii. 444. 

3^ The editor of Cook's Voyage, in vol. ii. 473, comments upon the curious 
coincidence that Bering passed between St Lawrence Bay and St Lawrence 
Island on Auguft 10, 1728, and 50 years later, on August 10, 1778, Cook 
passed the same spot, naming the bay after the patron saint of that day in the 
calendar. Due allowance for the dillercnce between dates in the Julian and 
Gregorian calendars, however, spoils this nice little ' coincidence. ' 


upon Stseliliii's map of the Neiv Northern Archipelago. 
Captain King had been intrusted with the examina- 
tion of Norton Bay, the only point where the existence 
of a channel was at all probable. ^^ 

On leaving Norton Sound it was Cook's intention 
to steer directly south in order to survey the coast inter- 
vening between his last discovery and the point he had 
named Shoalness on the Kuskokvim; but the shallow- 
ness of that part of Bering Sea compelled him to run 
far to the westward, and prevented him from seeing 
anything of the Yukon mouth, and the low country 
between that river and the Kuskokvim, and the island 
of Nvmivak.^^ After obtaining another sight of St 
Lawrence Island, which he named Clark, Cook steered 
south-south-west and on the 23d sighted St Matthew 
Island, which he named Gore.^^ 

On the 2d of October Unalaska was sighted, and 
passing Kalekhtah Bay, called Egoochshac by Cook, 
the two ships anchored in Samghanooda Bay on the 
3d of October. Both vessels were at once overhauled 
by the carpenters for necessary repairs, and a portion 
of the cargo was landed for the purpose of restowing.^^ 

^'■^Cooh's Voy., ii. 482-3. I find that Captain Cook makes mention of the 
fact that one of the natives inquired for him by the title of 'capitane,' which 
he considers a case of misunderstanding. It is, however, not at all improbable 
that the Russian word kapitan had been preserved among the natives of the 
vicinity of Bering Strait since Bering's and Gvozdef 's time. » 

''^Cook supposed, however, the existence of a large river in that vicinity, 
as the water was comparatively fresh and very muddy. Cook's Voy., ii. 491. 

'^^ Cook claims to have seen sea-otters here, but was piobably mistaken, 
for this animal was never found there by subsequent visitois, and the place 
being uninhabited, theie was nothmg to drive them away. The Pribylof group 
were the northernmost point from which sea-otters were ever procured, and 
there they became quickly exterminated. 

^'' During a visit of Mr Ivan Petrof to Samghanooda Bay on the 3d of 
October 1S78, the 100th anniversary of Cook's landing, he obtained from the 
natives a few traditions relative to Cook's visit. One old chief stated that 
his father had told him of two English ships that had anchoi-ed in Samgha- 
nooda, M'hich is now known as 'English Bukhta.' The time of their stay had 
been somewhat lengthened in transmittal from father to son, for it was 
claimed that the ships wintered there, that the people caught fish and killed 
seals for the visitoi's, and that several of them ' kept native women \\ith tl;cm.' 
See Cook's Voy., ii. 521. The old chief also stated that the 'English' had 
built houses and pointed out a spot where an excavation had evidcnt!y been 
made long years ago. This last report referred of course only to some tem- 
porary shelter for protecting the landed cargo. The same man pointed out 
to Mr Petrof the position in which the ships had been moored, according 


While the ship's companies were engaged in water- 
ing, repairing, fishing, and gathering berries as an. 
anti-scorbutic, a messenger arrived on the 8th with a 
note written in Russian for the commander of each 
vessel, and a gift, consisting of a salmon pie, baked of 
rye-meal. There was no one able to read the notes, 
but, being now sure that some Russians resided in the 
immediate vicinity. Cook caused a suitable return to 
be made in the shape of sundry bottles of liquor. Cor- 
poral John Ledyard w^as sent with the returning 
messenger to find the Russians, invite them to the 
anchorage, and obtain all available information con- 
cerning their discoveries in American waters. ^^ 

Ledyard's experience on this occasion has been de- 
scribed by himself and transmitted to posterity by his 
biographer. He succeeded in his mission, passed a 
few days at the settlement of Illiuliuk, and brought 
back three Russian hunters, who were well received, 
and who freely imparted such information as could be 
conveyed by signs and numerals. '^^ They promised to 

to the recollection of his father, a position which agreed exactly with that 
indicated on Cook's chart of Samghanooda, which the chief certainly neVer 
had seen. 

2^ Cook's Voy., ii. 495. Cook merely says that he sent Ledyard, but in 
Sparks'' Life of Ltdyard, 79-80, it is claimed that he volunteered and thereby 
relieved Cook from the dilemma of selecting an officer for such a 'dangerous' 
expedition. The present of bread M'as in accordance with an ancient Russian 
custom, still observed, of presenting bread and salt to new an-ivals in a town, 
dwelling, or neighborhood, emblematic of the wish that the recipient might 
never want for the necessaries of life. Among the wealthy the most elabo- 
rate confectionery and silver or gold receptacles take the place of bread and 
salt on such occasions. 

^^ Ledyard's narrative of this excursion seems to me somewhat highly col- 
ored, though evidently written in good faith. The man was ' sensational ' by 
nature. His native guides evidently did not take him to his destination by 
the shortest route. There is and was at that time an easy path only 12 miles 
in length from the head of Samghanooda Bay to Captain Harbor, where lay the 
Russian settlement. Ledyard was made to walk ' 15 miles into the interior ' on 
the first day, to a native village, where he passed the night, and where ' a young 
woman seemed very busy to please ' him, and on the following day he again 
walked until three hours before dark ere reaching Captain Harbor, which he 
called 'four leagues over.' It is about five miles. The distance he claims to 
have walked after this Mas measured by 'tired and swollen feet, 'but finally he 
was carried across to the settlement, squeezed into the ' hole ' of a two-hatch 
bidarka. He was hospitably entertained after due exchange of civilities and 
delivery of Cook's presents. The next morning the repellent odors of a 
matutinal meal composed of ' whale, sea-horse, and bear ' upset Ledyard's 
stomach, though bears and walruses are unknown in Unalaska, The weather 


bring a map showing all the Russian discoveries. On 
the 14th the commander of the Russian expedition in 
this quarter arrived from a journey and landed near 
Samghanooda. His name was Gerassim Grigorovich 

The usual civilities were exchanged and Cook had 
every opportunity of questioning his visitor, but it is 
evident that the advantage was w^th the Russian, who 
learned from the Englishman what was of the utmost 
importance to the Siberian merchants, wiiile he told 
what he chose, holding back much information in his 
possession, for instance the visit of Polutof to Kadiak 
in 1776 and the long residence at Unimak Strait of 

iDeing bad he remained another day and examined the settlement, counting 
thirty Russians and seventy Kamchatkans. He also visited a small sloop of 
30 tons, lying near the village, and thus describes his feelings on that occa- 
sion: ' It is natural to an ingenuous mind, when it enters a town, a house, or 
ship, that has been rendered famous by any particular event, to feel the 
full force of that pleasure, which results from gratifying a noble curiosity. I 
was no sooner informed that this sloop was the same in which the famous 
Bering had performed those discoveries which did him so much lionor, and his 
country so much service, than I was determined to go on board of her and 
indulge in the generous feelings the occasion inspired.' He remained an hour, 
«ujoying himself, I trust, without the slightest suspicion of the fact that 
the craft he had in his mind had been broken up on Bering Island, and 
that the sloop constructed from the remains was at that time lying fathoms 
deep under the surface on the Asiatic shore. The sentimental Yankee 
returned to the ships in less than one day. Sparks' Life of Ledyard, 85-90. 

^^The report given by Ismailof of Cook's ^'isit was received by Major 
Behm, commander of Kamchatka in April 1779. The document simply stated 
that two English ships had anchored on the north side of Unalaska; that he 
i(IsmailGf) had rendered the visitors every assistance in obtaining food and 
water, and that they liad communicated by signs only, owing to his ignorance 
of the English language. Sr/ibnef in l\Iorskoi Sboriiik, ciii. 7, 21. Ismailof 
■evidently took a more sensible view of Cook's expedition than did the author- 
ities in Kamchatka. At the time of the presence of the two ships in Avatcha 
Bay, Behm was on the point of leaving for Irkutsk, but in view of the ' critical 
•condition of the country' he consented to remain at the head of afi'airs. The 
general impression was, that the vessels had come at the instigation of Ben- 
yovski with hostile intent. A deputation of men not connected with the 
public sei'vice was first sent to meet the strangers, probably to ' draw fire, ' 
consisting of Behm's servant, a merchant, and a clerk. At the same time 
runners and messengers were despatched to all the forts and ostrogs to put 
the garrisons upon their guard. The subsequent friendly intercourse with 
the strangers was carried on under constant apprehension. The desired sup- 
plies were furnished free of charge, because, as Shmalef wrote, ' the high 
price we must have asked would ha^•e incensed them. ' Shmalef never be- 
lieved in the scientific objects of the expedition and urged the for^^'arding of 
reenforcements. The presents of curiosities made to Behm were all by him 
transmitted to the imperial academy, in order to purge himself of all suspicion 
of having been bribed by the enemy. S(jibnef, in Morskoi Sbornik^ ciii. 7, 22-6. 


Zaikof, who was even then at Umnak, close by. The 
corrected map of the islands shown to Cook was 
probably the work of this same Potap Zaikof ^° The 
most important correction he received for his own 
work was the existence of the island of Unimak, 
which had been laid down on Cook's chart as part of 
the continent. Ismailof remained near Samghanooda 
until the 21st of October, and on his departure was 
intrusted with despatches for the lords commissioners 
of the British admiralty which he promised to for- 
ward the following spring to Okhotsk and thence to 
St Petersburg by way of Siberia. 

Another intelligent Russian whom Cook mentioned 
in his journal was Yakof Ivanovich Saposhnikof, in 
command of a vessel then lying at Unga." 

The accompanying reproduction of the chart show- 
ing Cook's discoveries and surveys as far as they fall 
within the scope of this volume will convey an ade- 
quate idea of how much we owe to this eminent navi- 

On the 26th of October, after a sojourn of twenty- 
three days, the Resolution and Discovery sailed from 
Samghanooda Harbor for the Hawaiian Islands, 
where the gallant commander was to end his explora- 
tion and his life. 

In the following year the expedition returned to 
Kamchatka under command of Captain Clarke, next 
to Cook in rank, and thence proceeded to explore 
beyond Bering Strait for a north-east passage tO' 
the Atlantic. After reaching latitude 70° 33' near 
the American coast the vessels were obliged by ice 
to turn back. The conclusion arrived at was that no 
passage existed south of latitude 65°, and that it must 

*^ With reference to a Russian note received on board the Discovery in the 
vicinity of the Shuinagin Islands, Cook understood Ismailof to say that it 
had been written at Uninak, l)ut it is safe to assume that he said the writer 
was then at Uniiiak, and tliat Zaikof had extended his explorations to the 
Shumagin. C'ook'n Voy., ii. 4!)0. 

^' Berg mentions tlie sloop named Pavel, or St Paul, commanded by the 
matrosti (sailor) Saposhnikof, which returned to Okhotsk in 1780. KhronoL 
1st., Table i. 



Cook's Voyage— Southekn Section. 



be sought north of Bering Strait, beyond Icy Cape, 
leading probably to Baffin Bay ; yet it would be mad- 
ness to attempt the passage during the short time the 
route might be free from ice. Hardly less hopeful 
appeared^the prospect for sailing westward along the 
northern coast of Siberia. The sea nearer the pole 
would probably be less obstructed by ice. Clarke 

Is^^ Cape 




East Ca 

f'Cape Lisburn 


r - ^— .4rcHc Circle 

Cook's Voyagk— Northern Section. 

died August 22d, as the vessels approached Petro- 
pavlovsk, and here he was buried. Captain Gore 
took the expedition home by way of Japan, China, 
and Cape of Good Hope. While in China several 
small lots of sea-otter skins were disposed of by men 
and officers at prices which seemed fabulous, and the 


excitement created by this success resulted in quite a 
rush of vessels to the Northwest Coast, and a brisk 
competition sprang up with Russians in the purchase 
of furs there and in their sale in China. ^^ 

In 1776 orders were issued in Spain to fit out 
another expedition to the north, to continue and com- 
plete the discoveries of Cuadra made the previous 
year, but the execution of the plan was delayed, and 
not until February 11, 1779, did two vessels, the 
Princesa and the Favorita, sail from San Bias, with 
Lieutenant Ignacio Arteaga in conmiand, and Cuadra 
as second.*^ 

On the 28th of April the expedition, which had 
orders to attain a latitude of 70°, found itself in lati- 
tude 54° 45', and on the 2d of May the vessels entered 
Bucareli Sound, Arteaga anchoring in a sheltered 
bay on the south side, which he named Santa Cruz, 
and Cuadra exploring the north side of the sound, 
but finally joining his commander in the Puerto de 
Santa Cruz on the 5th. As soon as Cuadra had re- 
ported to Arteaga for orders, it was resolved to fit 
out an expedition of two boats for a thorough explora- 
tion of the interior of the sound. The crews of both 
vessels were constantly employed in preparing the 
boats, supplying wood and water, and assisting the 
ofificers in their astronomical observations. On the 
13th a solemn mass was celebrated on shore, with 
accompaniment of music and artillery, a cross was 

■•'^ Captain King, who wrote the last volume of Cooh^s Voyage, pointed out 
the advantages of this trade, and suggested methods to be observed therein. 
Cooh's Voy., iii. 430-8. 

*^See FJist. Northwest Coast, passim, this series. Also, Arteaga, Tercera 
exploracion hecha el ano 1779 con las Fragatas del rey, ' la Princesa,^ mandada 
por el teniente de navio don Ignacio Arteaga, y la ' Favorita ' par el de la misma 
clase don Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Cuadra, desde el puerto de San Bias 
hasta los sesnita y un grados de latitud, in Viages cd Norte de Cal., MS., No. 4; 
Maurelle, Navegacion hecha por el Alfcrez de Fragata de la Real Armada Don 
Francwco Antonio Maurelle deslinado de segundo capitan de la Fragata ' Favo- 
rita,^ Id., MS., No. 5. Bodega y Cuadra, Segunda salida hasta los 61 grados 
en la Fragata ' Nuestra Seiiora de los Remedios,'' alias la 'Favorita,^ Aiio de 
1779, MS., id.. No. 6^; Bodi^ga y Cuadra, Navegacion y descubrimientos hechos 
de ordcn de S. M. en la Costa septejiirional de California, 1779, in Mayer, 
MSS.,No. 13. 


erected in a prominent place, and under waving of 
flags and salvos of musketry the country was taken 
possession of in the name of the king, the savages 
gazing stolidly at this insanity of civilization. 

On the 18th the two boats sailed from the bahia 
de la Santisima Cruz, with a complement of five offi- 
cers, four soldiers, and twenty-four sailors. They 
were provisioned for eighteen days. The result of 
the expedition was the earliest and best survey ever 
made of the most important harbor of Prince of Wales 

During the absence of the boats on this errand 
the natives gathered in numbers about the ships in 
the bahia de la Santisima Cruz. The strict orders of 
the commander to avoid a conflict, and to ignore small 
thefts, soon worked its evil effect upon these children 
of nature, who could not understand leniency or un- 
willingness to punish robbery and to recover losses, 
unless it was based upon weakness or lack of courage. 
Working parties on the shore were molested to such 
an extent that it became necessary to surround them 
with a cordon of sentries only five paces apart, and 
sailors were robbed of their clothes while washing 
them. Under these circumstances the return of the 
lanclias with their crews was hailed with joy; but by 
by this time over eighty canoes manned by a thousand 
savages w^ere in the bay and great caution was neces- 
sary to avoid hostilities. Even the firing of cannon 
did not seem to frighten the Indians, and when a 

**The officers were Francisco JSIaurelle, Jos6 Camacho, Juan Bantista 
Aguirre, Juan Pantojo, and Juan Garcia. The armament consisted of 8 fal- 
conets and 20 muskets, with 25 rounds of ammunition for each. They pro- 
ceeded first to the south-western point, San Bartolomt^, of the entrance to the 
sound, and then around the western shore, carefully sounding and locating 
bays, islets, and points. The names applied were very numerous, the most 
important being as follows: puerto de San Antonio, puerto de la Asuncion; 
the islands San Ignacio and Santa Rita; puerto de la Real Marina; canal de 
Portillo; bahia de Esquivcl; canal de San Cristobal; the islands of San Fer- 
nando and San Juan Bautistt^ boca del Almirante; bahia de San Alberto; 
puerto del Bagial; puerto de San NicoUs; the canos del Trocadero; the 
island of INIadrc de Dios; puerto de la Caldera; i^uerto de la Estrella; puerto 
del Refugio — which was subsequently found to be a passage — and the puerto 
de los Dolores. 

NEW NAJillNGS. 219 

canoe was struck by a ball and the inmates fell, the 
effect was only temporary. Arteaga seized a chief in 
order to obtain the return of two sailors who had been 
reported as held captive in the native village, but it 
was found that the Spaniards had voluntarily joined 
the savages with the intention to desert.*^ 

During the last days of June the two ships were 
moved across the sound to the bay of San Antonio, 
and thence they finally sailed the 1st of July, taking 
a north-westerly course along the coast. Mount St 
Elias was sighted on the Qth,"*^ and a few days later 
Kaye, or Kyak, Island was named Cdrmen. The 
next anchorage, probably Nuchek Bay, was named 
Puerto de Santiago, and a boat expedition went to 
ascertain whether the land was connected with the 
continent. The officer in charge reported that he had 
convinced himself that it was an island.^^ The usual 
forms of taking possession were observed, being the 
third ceremony of the kind performed upon nearly 
the same ground within a year — by Cook in 1778, by 
a party of Zaikof's men, who had been despatched in 
a bidar from Cook Inlet, in June 1779, and again by 
Arteaga. Cuadra, in his journal, expressed the con- 
viction that a large river must enter the sea between 
Carmen Island and the harbor of Santiago, thus cor- 
rectly locating Copper River, which both Cook and 
Vancouver failed to observe.*^ 

^^With the avowed object of 'gaining a better knowledge of the people 
and their customs,' Arteaga sanctioned the purchase of five children. Two 
girls, aged respectively seven and eight years, were taken on board the 
Princesa, and the boys, between five and ten, on the Favorita. Tercera Explo- 
radon, in Viarjes al Norte, MS., etc., 111. 

*s Alluded to as Cape St Elias in the journal, 'Ygualmente tenian d la 
vista el elevado promontorio de San Elias sobre las nxibes, presentandose en 
forma de un pan de aziicar ;' but it is doubtful what point or mountain this 
was, for the ships were at a great distance from the shore. Tercera Expl., in 
Viarjes al Norte, MS., etc. 113. 

*' If this was really Nuchek, or Hinchinbrook Island, the Spaniards antici- 
pated Vancouver's discovery of the fact bj' 14 years. Tercera Expl, in Viages 
al Norte, MS. , 1 16-17. During this boat expedition many canoes of the natives 
were seen, and on one of them a flag was displayed showing the colors red, 
white, and blue. 

*^ Arteaga, while at this anchorage, convened a junta of officers for the pur- 
pose of considering the advisability of returning at once to San Bias. His 


On the 28tli the ships put to sea once more, taking 
a south-westerly course, without attempting to find a 
passage at the head of Prince Wilham Sound as Cook 
had done in the preceding year, and on the 1st of 
August they found an anchorage formed by several 
islands in latitude 59° 8'. Formal possession was 
again taken and the largest island of the group named 
Isla de la Regla. This was the Cape Elizabeth of 
Cook, who had failed to notice its separation from the 
continent. The Iliamna volcano on the west shore 
of Cook Inlet was sighted from this point and named 

After a short stay at this anchorage, Arteaga 
concluded to give up further explorations and to 
sail direct for Cape Mendocino. The departure took 
place on the 7th of August, and thus ended, so far as 
relates to Alaska, an expedition which w^ould have 
been of the greatest importance had it not been for 
the English explorations of the year preceding. Ar- 
teaga and his officers could know nothing of Cook's 
investigations and believed themselves the first to ex- 
plore the region already visited by the Resolution and 
Discovei^y between Cross Sound and Cape Elizabeth, 
but even after deducting from the result of their work 

own timidity conld not prevail against the ambitious courage of Maurelle and 
Cuadra, who insisted that some further discoveries must be attempted before 
relinquishing so costly an expedition. TerceraExpl. , in Viagesal Norte, MS. ,117. 
■•"In the journals this mountain was described as bearing a striking x-esem- 
blance to the Orizaba of Mexico and the peak of Teneriffe. Viacjes al Norte, 
MS., 120. A map of the anchorage is still in existence, pasted in at the end 
of the manuscript entitled Azanza, Ynntruccion, etc. This map represents 
the islands of the Cape Elizabeth group — Tzukli of the Russians — and the 
adjoining coast of the Kenai peninsula, but, though correct in its contours, 
with the exception of representing the mainland as islands — Ysla de Mau- 
relle in the north and Ysla de San Bruno in the east— it does not correspond 
in its details with the narrative contained in Viages al Norte. There is a dis- 
crepancy even between the map and the legend, the latter stating that 'ha- 
viendose tomado segdo posesion en la Ysla de San Antonio,' but no such 
island is on the chart. The projecting points of the mainland are named as 
stated above; the island containing Capp Elizabeth was named Ysla de San 
Aniceto, and the smaller islands and rocks el Sombrero, de Ayala, de San 
Angel, de Arriaga, la Monja, los Frailes. The point where possession was 
taken is marked with a cross on the n. w. point of San Aniceto. The open- 
ing between the latter and the mainland is named ensenada de Nuestra 
Sefiora de la Regla. The latitude is correctly given as 59° 8', the long. -49° 11' 
w. of San Bias. Azanza, Ynstruccion, etc. 


all that may be affected by Cook's prior discovery, 
the careful survey of Bucareli Sound, in connection 
with Heceta's and Cuadra's prior explorations, presents 
a basis for Spain's claims to the coast region to lati- 
tude 58° so far as relative right of discovery is con- 
cerned, attended by the ceremony of taking possession. 
A little more energy or ambition on Arteaga's part 
would have led to a meeting with the Russians and 
liiade the subsequent expedition of Martinez and Haro 
unnecessary. ^'^ 

The viceroy of Mexico declared himself highly 
pleased with the results of the voyage, and advanced 
one step the rank of all the officers on both vessels. 
At the same time he stated that no further discoveries 
in a northerly direction would be undertaken for the 
present. ^^ 

^° The sloop Kliment, belonging to the Panof Company, was cruising about 
Kadiak at the very time of Arteaga's presence at La Regla. Berg, Khronol. 1st., 

^1 Cartas de los Excelentmmos Sres Vireyes don Antonio Bucareli, don Mar- 
tin de Mayorga, etc., in Viagesal Norte, MS., etc., 126-7. 




FiBST Attempted Settlement of the Russians in America— Voyage op 
Geigor Shelikof — Permanent Establishment of the Russians at 
Kadiak — Return of Shelikof — His Instructions to Samoilof, Col- 
onial Commander — The Historic Sable and Otter — Skins as Cur- 
rency — Trapping and Tribute-collecting — Method of Conducting 
THE Hunt — Regulations of the Peredovchiki — God's Sables and 
Man's — Review of the Fur-trade on the Coasts of Asia and Amer- 
ica — Pernicious System Introduced by the Promyshleniki — The 
China Market — Foreign Rivals and their Method — Abuse of 
Natives — Cook's and Vancouver's Opinions of Competition with 
the Russians — Extirpation of Animals. 

We enter here a new epoch of Alaska history. 
Hitherto all has been discovery, exploration, and the 
hunting of fur-bearing animals, with little thought of 
permanent settlement. But now Grigor Ivanovich 
Shelikof comes to the front as the father and founder 
of Russian colonies in America.^ 

' One of the chief authorities for this period of Alaska history, and indeed 
the only full account of Shelikof 's visit to America, is a work written by him- 
self and published after his death. It is entitled Orirjoria Shelikhova Stran- 
slvoranie, etc., or Gririor Shel/kof's Journeys from 17S3 to 17S7, from Okhotsk 
to the Eastern Ocean and the Coast of America, with a prodolshenie, or contin- 
uation. Printed at St Petersburg in 1792-3, 12mo, with maps. In 1793 
both of these books were translated by one J. J. Logan into English and pub- 
lished in one 8vo volume at St Petersburg. Pallas printed a German trans- 
lation, chiefly remarkable for inaccuracies, in his Nord. Beitr., vi. 165-249. 
And still another German translation appeared in Basse's Journal fiir Buss- 
land, 17'J4f i- Shelikof s fii'st volume contains voluminous descriptions of the 
Aleutian Islands, with whole passages, and even pages, identical in every 
respect with corresponding passages in, the anonymous German Neue Nach- 
richten, the authorship of which I ascribe to J. L. Schlozer. It is safe to 
assume that Shelikof had access to this work published some 20 years before 
his own, and used it in writing his own volume. Slielikof's book was repub- 
lished in one volume, without maps, in 1812, under title of Puteshestvie G. 
Shelikhova 1783-1790. It seems that the directors of the Russian American 



In 1 783 the company of Siberian merchants of which 
Shehkof and Ivan GoHkof were the principal share- 
holders, finished three ships at Okhotsk for operating 
on a larger scale in the region then designated as the 
ostrova, or the islands. The ships were the Trekh 
SviatiteU, Three Saints, the Sv Simeon, and the Sv 
Mikhail. On the IGth of August they sailed with one 
hundred and ninety-two men in all, the largest force 
which had hitherto left the Siberian coast at one time. 
Shelikof and his wife/ who accompanied her husband 
in all his travels, were on the Trekh SviatiteU, com- 
manded by Ismailof. The first part of the voyage 
was stormy, the wind contrary, and the ships were 
unable to leave the sea of Okhotsk, but on the 2d of 
September the squadron anchored near the second 
Kurile island, for the purpose of watering, and then 
passed safely into the Pacific. On the 12th a gale 
separated the vessels, and after prolonged and futile 
efforts to find the Sv Mikha/il, Shelikof concluded to 
pass the winter on Bering Island with the two other 
vessels. Thanks to the enforcement of wise regula- 
tions framed by Shelikof, the crews suffered but little 
from scurvy, and in June of the following year the 
expedition steered once more to the eastward. A few 
stoppages were made on Copper, Atkha, and other 
islands, with a longer stay at Unalaska, where the two 
ships were repaired, and refitted with water and pro- 
Company resented the publication of the book. In the 'Secret Instructions' 
forwarded to Baranof in 1802 occurs the following reference to this subject: 
'You must send your communications to the chief administration direct, and 
not to Okhotsk, since the company has very little to do with provincial 
authorities, and also because the government at present has many views con- 
cerning America that must be kept a profound secret, being confided only to 
you as chief manager. Therefore it is not proper to forward such information 
through the government authorities at Irkutsk, where no secret could be 
preserved. As a proof of this may serve you the endorsed book of Grigor 
jShelikof's Travela. It is nothing but his journals transmitted to governor 
general Jacobi, on whose retirement it was stolen from the chancellery by 
Mr Piel, and printed against the will of the deceased. Consequently secrets 
of state were exposed. I refer to the location of tablets claiming possession 
of the country for Russia.' Sitka Archives, MS., Con. I., 1-21. 

^Shelikof, Putesh., i. 2. Natalia Shelikof was possessed of great energy 
and business capacity. After lier husband's death she managed fo^- many 
years not only her own but the company's business. Tikhmenef, Istor. Obos., 
ii., app. 108-13. 


visions. The Sinwon had been separated from her 
consort during the voyage along the Aleutian chain, 
but she made her appearance in the harbor a few days 
after the arrival of the Sviatiteli. Shelikof obtained 
two interpreters and ten Aleutian hunters, and leaving 
instructions for the guidance of the Sv Mihhall he 
shaped his course for the island of Kikhtak, subse- 
quently named Kadiak.^ The voyage was devoid of 
incident, and on the 3d of August 1784 the two ships 
entered a capacious bay on the south-east coast of the 
island, between cape Barnabas and the two-headed 
cape of Cook, and anchored in its westernmost branch, 
naming it after the ship TrekJi Sviatiteli, Three Saints.* 
Armed parties of promyshleniki were sent out in 
boats and bidars to search for natives, but only one 
succeeded, and brought news that a large body of 
aboriginals had been found. They had avoided a 
meeting, however, and it was not until the following 
day that another exploring party returned with one 
of the natives. Shelikof treated the captive kindly, 
loaded him with presents, and allowed him to return 
to his people. On the 5th there was an eclipse of the 
sun which lasted an hour and a half, and caused much 
uneasiness among the natives, who naturally con- 
nected the phenomenon with the appearance of the 

3 Shelikof, Putesh. , i. 36. Kikhtak, or Kikhtowik, is the Innuit word for 
island. At the present day the natives of the peninsula speak of the Kadiak 
people simply as Kikhtagamuteft, islanders. The tribal name appears to have 
been Kaniag and the Russian appellation now in use was probably derived 
from both. Glottof first landed and wintered on the island in 1763, after 
which it was several times visited. 

* The shores of Three Saints Harbor are generally steep and rocky, but 
about a mile from its entrance a gravelly bar or spit from the southern side 
forms a horseshoe, opening into the interior of the bay. Such locations 
were peculiarly adapted to the requirements of the Russians at that time. 
The small land-locked basin formed by the spit was deep enough for such 
vessels as they had ; the shelving shore enabled them to beach their vessels 
during winter and to utilize them as dwellings or fortifications, while the 
level sandbar afforded convenient building sites. The adjoining hills and 
mountains being devoid of timber, there was no danger of surprise from the 
landj and water enclosed three sides of the settlement. 

^Shelikof, Putesh., i. 51. It has been hinted that Shelikof used this little 
incident in imitation of the Sppnish discoverer of America, to impress the 
savages with his occult powers. The one who had been so kindly received 


Another exploring party was sent out on the 7th 
with instructions to select hunting-grounds, and if 
possible to circumnavigate the island and observe its 
coasts. After two da^^s, when about ten leagues from 
the anchorage, this expedition fell in with a large party 
of savages who had taken up a position on a Jcehour,^ 
or detached cliff, near the shore, surrounded by water. 
An interpreter was at once sent forward to open 
friendly intercourse, but the islanders told the mes- 
senger to inform the Russians that if they wished to 
escape with their lives they should leave the island at 
once. The natives could not be persuaded to abandon 
this hostile attitude, and the exploring party returned 
to the harbor to report. 

Shelikof at once proceeded to the spot with all the 
men that could be spared from the encampment, but 
when he reached the scene he found the savages in 
formidable numbers and full of courage. Peaceful 
overtures were still continued, '^ but were wholly lost 
on the savages. Arrows began to fly, and the Rus- 
sians retired to the ships to prepare for defence. Not 
long afterward the Koniagas stole upon the Russian 
camp one dark night, and began a desperate fight 
which lasted till daylight, when the savages took to 
flight.^ But this was by no means the end of it. 
From his Koniaga friend Shelikof learned that his 
people were only awaiting reenforcements to renew 
the attack. He accordingly determined to anticipate 
them by possessing himself at once of their strong- 
returned voluntarily in a few days and did not leave Shelikof again as long 
as the latter remained on the island. 

*Such places, to which the Russians applied the Kamchatka name of 
Jcekour, were often used by the natives as natural fortifications and places 
of refuge. War parties or hunting expeditions would leave their women and 
children upon such cliffs for safe-keeping till their return. 

^ In Shelikof 's journal, which was published after his death, the number 
of natives was given at 4,000, but one tenth would be nearer the truth. In 
his official report to the governor of eastern Siberia no figures are given. 
Tikhmenef, Istor. Obos., i. 8; Shelikof, Putesh., i. 10, 11. Lissianski was in- 
formed in 1804 by a native eye-witness that only 400 men, women, and chil- 
dren were on the kekour. Liss. Voy., ISO. 

_ « Tikhmenef, Istor. Obos., i. 9; Shelikof, Putesh., i. 113-16. Shelikof reports 
this affair as having occui-red on the 12th of August. 
Hist. Alaska. 15 


hold on the rocky islet. A small force of picked pro- 
myshleniki approached the enemy in boats. A heavy 
shower of spears fell on them; but the havoc made 
by a few discharges of grape from the falconet aimed 
at the huts caused great consternation, and a general 
stampede followed, during which many were killed, 
while a large number lost their lives by jumping over 
the precipice, and as Shelikof claims, over one thou- 
sand were taken prisoners.^ The casualties on the 
side of the Russians were confined to a few severe 
and many trifling wounds. Shelikof claims that he 
retained four hundred of the prisoners, allowing the 
remainder to go to their homes, and they were held 
not as regular captives, but in a kind of temporary 
subjection. "At their own desire," as Shelikof puts 
it, "they were located fifty versts away from the har- 
bor without any Russian guards, simply furnishing 
hostages as a guarantee of good faith and good be- 
havior." The hostages consisted of children who were 
to be educated by the Russians.^'' 

Nor was this second battle the end of native efforts 
for life and liberty. Attacks still occurred from time 
to time, generally upon detached hunting or explora- 
tion parties, but in each case the savages were re- 
pulsed with loss. The promptness with which they 
were met evidently destroyed their confidence in 
themselves, arising from their easy victory over the 
first Russian visitors. 

Meanwhile no time was lost in pushing prepara- 

^ Shelikof , Putesh., i. 18. Says Shelikof in his journal: 'I do not boast 
of the shedding of blood, but I am sure that Ave killed some of our assailants. 
I endeavored to find out the number, but failed because they carried their 
dead with them and thi-ew them into the sea.' Compare Tchitchino/'s Ad- 
ventures, MS., 36-7; Sololofs Markofs Voy., MS., 7-9. 

^° Tikhmenef, Istor. Obox., i. 10. Shelikof writes: 'I retained 400 pris- 
oners, furnished them with provisions and all necessary appliances for trap- 
ping and hunting, and placed .them in charge of a native named Kaskak.' 
Puiexh., i. 18, 19. The same name of Kaskak occurs in the narrative of a 
native of Kadiak collected by Holmberg, relating to the first landing of Rus- 
sians on Kadiak Island, 20 years prior to Shelikof's arrival. Sauer writes 
eight years later that 200 young females were then kept as hostages. A 
party of women had once been captui'ed and retained, though wives were 
exchanged for daughters. He places the population of the island at 3,500. 
Billings' Voy., 171. 


tions for permanent occupancy of the island. In a 
few weeks dwelling-houses and fortifications were 
erected by the expert Russian axemen, and Shelikof 
took care to furnish his own residence with all the 
comforts and a few of the luxuries of civilization, such 
as he could collect from the two vessels, in order to 
inspire the savage breast with respect for superior 
culture. And, indeed, as time passed by, the chasm 
dividing savage and civilized was filled, the Koniagas 
ascending in some respects and the Russians descend- 
ing. The natives watched with the greatest curiosity 
the construction of houses and fortifications after 
the Russian fashion, until they voluntarily offered 
to assist. A school was conducted by Shelikof in 
person; he endeavored to teach both children and 
adults the Russian lano^uas^e and arithmetic, and to 
sow the seeds of Christianity. According to his 
account he turned forty heathens into Christians dur- 
ing his sojourn on Kadiak ; but we may presume that 
their knowledge of the faith did not extend beyond 
the sign of the cross, and perhaps repeating a few 
words of the creed without the slightest understand- 
ing of its meaning. So that when the pious colonist 
asserts that the converts began at once to spread the 
new religion among their countrymen we may con- 
clude that he is exaggerating.^^ 

As soon as possible Shelikof turned his attention 
once more to the exploration of the island. A party 
of fifty-two promyshleniki and eleven Aleuts from 
the Fox Islands went to the north and north-east in 
four large bidars, accompanied b}^ one hundred and ten 
Koniagas in their own bidarkas. This was in May 
1785. The object of the expedition was to make 
the acquaintance of the inhabitants of the adjoining 

" Shelikof dwells at length upon his efforts to induce the Koniagas to 
become subjects of Riissia, and claims to have met with success. He also 
planted vegetables, but could not j^revail upon the Kadiak people to eat or 
cultivate them. Train-oil and fish pleased them better. Fiitesh, i. 30-2; 
Tclhmenef, Istor. Obos., i. 11; Ch-ewingk, Beitr., 323; Pallas, Nord. Beitr., 
1. 170. 


islands and the mainland. After a cruise in Prince 
William Sound and Cook Inlet, the party returned 
in August with a small quantity of furs, yet report- 
ing a not unfriendly reception, and bringing twenty 
hostages from the latter place. If we consider the 
hostile attitude assumed by the same people two ^^ears 
before toward Zaikof, we must credit Shelikof with 
good management. On their return all proceeded 
for the winter to Karluk, where salmon abounded.^^ 
From this point and from the original encampment 
on Three Saints Bay, detachments of promyshleniki 
explored the coast in all directions during the winter, 
notably along the Alaska peninsula, learning of Ili- 
amna Lake and of the different portage routes to the 
west side. 

Despite all precautions the scurvy broke out in the 
Russian camps and carried off numbers, but instead 
of taking advantage of the weakened condition of the 
Russians, the natives willingly assisted in obtaining 
fresh provisions. One exception to this good under- 
standing occurred on the island of Shuiak, situated 
north of Afognak. A quantity of goods had been in- 
trusted by one of Shelikof's agents to the chief of 
Shuiak, to purchase furs during the winter. When 
asked for a settlement he not only refused but killed 
the messengers. An exjDedition was sent in the spring 
which succeeded in bringing the recreant chief to 
terms, and in establishing fortified stations on Cook 
Inlet and Afognak. ^^ 

On the 25th of February 1786 Shelikof received a 
letter from Eustrate Delarof, who was then at Una- 
laska, stating that the ship Sv Mikhail, which had 
been separated from Shelikof's squadron in a gale, 
had arrived at that place the previous May. She 

'2 Karluk, situated on the west coast of Kadiak, is a settlement upon the 
river of the same name, which furnishes a larger quantity of salmon than any 
other stream of its size in Alaska. See CartO(j. Pac. States, MS., iii. passim. 

^^ A war party of 1,000 men of the Chugatsches and Kenais which had been 
summoned by the Shuiak chief, to attempt the destruction of Shelikof's set- 
tlement, also dispersed before it was fully organized. Tikhmencf, Istor. Ohos., 
i. 12, 13; Shelikof, Putesh., i. 51-3; Pallas, Nord. Beitr., vi. 185-6. 


reached the port minus one mast and otherwise dam- 
aged, and repairs to the vessel occupied nearly the 
whole summer. When at last ready for sea she was 
cast upon the rocks and injured to such an extent as 
to require additional repairs. Despairing of getting 
off the Sv Mihhcdl that season, Delarof despatched 
thirteen men divided into several detachments as 
messengers to Kadiak in search of assistance. Six of 
them succumbed to cold and hunger during a deten- 
tion of many weeks on the Alaska peninsula, and five 
more died after reaching Kadiak. Soon after this 
the craft arrived at Three Saints, and the commander, 
Assistant Master Olessof, who had been three years 
making the voyage from Okhotsk to Kadiak, was de- 
posed and the peredovchik Samoilof invested with the 
control of both vessels, one of which was to cruise 
northward and eastward from Kadiak and the other 
westward and northward, if possible as far as Bering 

Early in March Shelikof despatched an exploring 
party eastward with orders to proceed to Bering's 
Cape St Elias, and to erect a fort as the beginning 
of a settlement. He resolved to abandon the fort on 
Cook Inlet as too far removed from his base of opera- 
tion, and to enlarge the fortified station on Afognak 
Island, besides establishing several others. ^^ These 
and other arrangements made, Shelikof prepared to 
return to Okhotsk, and the peredovchik, Samoilof, 
formerly a merchant in Siberia, was appointed to the 
command of the infant colony. His instructions de- 
manded above all the extension of Russian control 
and establishments eastward and south, and the ex- 
clusion of rival traders.^^ 

^* Shelikof, PutesJi., i. 57; Pallas, Nord. Beitr., vi. 186. See Juvenal's 
Jour., MS., 27-8. 

15 These instructions dated May 4, 1786, were printed in the original crude 
form, in the appendix to Tikhmeucf, Istoricheskaia Obosranie, ii. The docu- 
ment contains much that is highly interesting. The small number of Russians 
assignetl to each isolated station makes it evident that Shelikof was not appre- 
hensive of renewed hostilities on the part of the natives, and confirms the suspi- 
cion that his previous reports of their number, bravery, and fierce disposition 


Shelikof took his departure in May, accompanied 
by a number of native adults and children, some to 
be retained and educated, others to be merely im- 
pressed with a view of Russian life and power. He 
landed at Bolsheretsk on the 8th of August, and 
thence proceeded to Petropavlovsk,^^ and overland to 

were exaggerated. Of 113 Russians then in the new colony, and 50 others ex- 
pected from Unalaska, he ordered the following disposition to be made: 40 men 
at the harbor of Three Saints; 11 at the bay of Ugak (Orlova); 30 on the islands 
of Shuiak and Afoguak; 10 or 11 at either Uganak, Chiniak, or Aiakhtalsk; 30 
at Karliik; 20 at Katmak (Katmai), and 11 at a station between Katmala and 
Kamuishak Bay. These trading-posts were separated from each other by long 
distances of land and water, and extended over hundreds of miles. The 
instructions further specify that ' immediately upon tlie arrival of reenforce- 
ments from Okhotsk, stations should be established in the Kenai and Chu- 
gatsch countries,' and 'with all possible despatch farther and fai'ther along 
the coast of the American continent, and in a southerly direction to Califor- 
aia, establishing eveiy where marks of Russian possession.' If expected reen- 
forcements failed to arrive, only three stations were to be maintained — at the 
harbor, Afognak, and Kai-luk. Paragraph 7 of the instructions announced 
that Shelikof would take with him to Okhotsk forty natives — adults and chil- 
dren of botli sexes — 'some in satisfaction of their own desire,' and others, 
' prisoners from various settlements. ' One third of these natives were to be 
returned by tlie same ship, after 'seeing the fatherland and observing our 
domestic life ; ' another third were to be forwarded to the court of her imperial 
Majesty; while the remainder, consisting chiefly of children, were to be edu- 
cated in Okhotsk or Irkutsk ' to enable them in the future to exercise a civil- 
izing influence among their countrymen.' Other paragraphs relate to the 
maintenance of the stiictest discipline among the Russians ; the employment 
of spies among the natives; to explorations and voyages of discovery south- 
ward to latitude 40°; the construction of buildings and fortified block-houses^ 
the purchase of articles of native manufacture — garments, utensils, etc. ; the 
collection of minerals, ores, and shells for transmission to St Petersburg; san- 
itary i-egulations to prevent scurvy; the collection of boys from 'latitude 50° 
in California, northward to Aliaska,'to be educated in the Russian language; 
the exclusion of other trading firms in this the country then occupied, ' by 
peaceable means, if possible;' the expulsion of worlhless and vicious men from 
the company; the maintenance of a school at Three Saints, and other business- 
details. The document furnishes strong evidence of Shelikof 's far-sightedness, 
energy, ambition, and executive ability. After liolding Samoilof responsible 
for the strict observance of these instructions, the writer signed himself: 
' Grigor Shelikof, member of the company of Sea-voyagers in the Noi-thern 
Ocean.' Three supplementary paragraphs contain directions for a 'minute 
survey ' by Eocharof of the island Kuiktak, the American coast from Katmak 
to the gulfs of Kcnai and Chugachuik, and ' if possible ' around Kadiek [prob- 
ably Kyak, or Kayes, Island]. This is the first mention of the term Kadiek 
or Kadiak, subscfpiently applied to the island Kuiktak, and to this mistake 
of Shelikof the origin of the present name may be traced. 

'" When Shelikof was on the point of leaving Bolsheretsk for Okhotsk he 
was informed that an English vessel had arrived at Petropavlovsk. The vessel 
proved to Ijc tlic Lark, and belonged to the East India Company. From 
Peters, the captain, Shelikof purchased a large amount of goods, reselling 
them to merchants of Totma and to agents of the Panof company at a profit 
of 50 per cent. Capt. Peters brought a letter from the directors of his com- 
jiany to the commander of Kamchatka asking permission to exchange the 
products of their respective territories. A Baron Stungel or Stangel, prol> 


Okhotsk and Irkutsk, where he arrived in April 1787, 
after suffering great hardships on his journey. There 
he lost no time in taking initiatory steps with the 
view of obtaining for his company the exclusive right 
to trade in the new colony and other privileges, the 
results of which belong to another chapter. 

We have seen how the Cossacks were enticed from' 
the Caspian and Black seas, drawn over the Ural 
Mountains, and lured onward in their century-march 
through Siberia to Kamchatka, and all for the skin 
of the little sable. And when they had reached the 
Pacific they were ready as ever to brave new dangers 
on the treacherous northern waters, for the coveted 
Siberian quadruped was here supplanted by the still 
more valuable amphibious otter. As furs were the 
currency of the empire, the occupation of the trapper, 
in the national economy, was equivalent to that in 
other quarters of the gold-miner, assayer, and coiner 
combined. In those times all the valuable skins ob- 
tained by the advancing Cossacks were immediately 
transported to Russia over the routes just opened. 

The custom was to exact tribute from all natives 
who were conquered en j^assoM by the Cossacks, as a 
diversion from the tamer pursuit of sable-hunting. 
As early as 1598 the tribute collected in the district 
of Pelymsk, just east of the Ural Mountains, amounted 
to sixty-eight bundles of sables of forty skins cach.^^ 
In 1609 this tribute was reduced from ten to seven 

ably an exile, who was in command at that time, consented under certain 
conditions. Shelikof , who was well received on board of tlio Lark and ' treated 
to various liquors,' describes the vessel as two-masted, with 12 cannon, and 
carrying a large crew consistiiig of Englishmen, Hindoos, Arabs, and China- 
men. Of the four officers one was a Portuguese. Pute^h., i. 60-4. The Lark 
was subsequently wrecked on Copper Island with the loss of all on board but 
two. The survivors were forwarded to St Petersburg overland. Viuijcs al 
Norte, MS., 316. Upon finishing his business with Capt. Peters, Shelikof at 
once set out for Irkutsk. 

" Istoria Sib., vi. 23. In the same year Botcha Murza, a Tunguse chief who 
had been made a prince by the Russians, presented forty sables to the gov- 
ernment, and forty additional skins on the occasion of his marriage, promising 
to repeat the gift every year. An oukaz issued the same year exempted the 
aged, the feeble, and the sick from paying tribute. 


sables per adult male, but there seemed to be no de- 
crease in the number collected/^ Nine years later, 
however, the animal seems to have been nearly exter- 
minated, as the hoyar Ivan Semenovich Kurakin 
was instructed to settle free peasant families in the 
district. After this the principal Cossack advance 
was into the Tunguse country. In the tribute-books 
of 1620-1 the latter tribe is entered as tributary at 
the rate of forty-five sables for every six adult males. 
In 1622 nine Tunguse paid as high as ninety-four 
sables. ^^ Whenever a breach occurred in the flow of 
sable-skins into Moscow the Cossacks were instructed 
to move on, though the deficiency was not always 
owing to exhaustion of the supply.^^ 

Thus the authorized fur-gatherers advanced from 
one region to another across the whole north of Asia, 
followed, and in some instances even preceded, by 
the promyshleniki or professional hunters. The lat- 
ter formed themselves into organized companies, hunt- 
ing on shares, like the sea-faring promyshleniki of 
later times, and like them they allowed the business 
to fall gradually into the hands of a few wealthy mer- 
chants. The customs adoj^ted by these hunters go far 
toward elucidating much that seems strange in the 
proceedings of the promyshleniki on gaining a foot- 
hold upon the islands of the Pacific. A brief descrip- 
tion will therefore not be amiss. 

The hunting-grounds were generally about the head*- 
waters and tributaries of the large rivers, and the 
journey thence was made in boats. Three or four 
hunters combined in building the boat, which was 
covered, and so served as shelter. Provisions, arms, 

'^In that year the total tribute amounted to 66 bundles, of 40 skins each, 
and 39 sables. In 1610 it increased to 75 bundles and 12 sables. 1st. Sib., vi. 

^* 1st. Sib., vi. 218. A force of 40 Cossacks was sufficient to collect tribute 
and preserve order among the Tunguse. 

''''In 1607 complaints reached the tsar that traders from Pustozersk would 
go among the natives of the lierezof district before tribute had been collected, 
making it difficult to obtain tlie government's quota. /*<. Sib., vi. 35. 


bedding, and a few articles of winter clothing made up 
the cargo. A jar of yeast or sour dough for the 
manufacture of hvass, to keep down the scurvy, "was 
considered of the highest importance. Material for 
the construction of sleds and a few dogs were also 
essential, and when all these had been collected and 
duly stowed, each party of three or four set out upon 
their journey to a place previously appointed. As 
soon as the whole force had assembled at the rendez- 
vous election was made of a peredovchik, or foreman, 
a man of experience, and commanding respect, to 
whom all promised implicit obedience. The peredov- 
chik then divided his men into chunitzi, or parties, 
appointing a leader for each, and assigning them their 
respective hunting-grounds. This division was always 
made; even if the artel, or station, consisted of only 
six men they must not all hunt together on the same 
ground."^ Until settled in winter-quarters all their 
belongings were carried in leather bags. Before the 
first snow fell a general hunt was ordered by the pe- 
redovchik to kill deer, elks, and bears for a winter's 
supply of meat, after which the first traps were set 
for foxes, wolves, and lynx. With the first snow fall, 
before the rivers were frozen, the whole party hunted 
sables in the immediate vicinity of the general winter- 
quarters, with dogs and nets. The peredovchik and 
the leaders were in the mean time engaged in making 
sleds and snow-shoes for their respective chunitzis. 
When the snow was on the ground the whole artel 
was assembled at the winter-quarters and prayers were 
held, after which the peredovchik despatched the 
small parties to the sable grounds with final instruc- 
tions to the leaders. The latter preceded their men 
by a day in order to prepare the station selected; the 
same practice prevailed in moving stations during the 
winter. The first station was named after some church 
in Russia, and subsequent stations after patron saints 
of individual hunters. The first sables caught were 

*' Sobolnuie Promyssla, 29-42. 



always donated to some church or saint, and were 
called God's sables. The instructions of leaders were 
mainly to the effect that they should look well after 
their men, watch carefully their method of setting 
traps, and see that they did not gorge themselves in 
secret from the common store of provisions.^^ 

During the height of the season stations were fre- 
quently changed every day, for it was thought that 
prolonged camping at any one place would drive away 
the sables. When the season closed the small parties 
returned to head-quarters, where the leaders rendered 
their accounts to the peredovchik, and at the same 
time reported all infractions of rules by the men. 
The accused were then heard, and punished by the 
peredovchik if found guilty.^^ When all arrange- 
ments for returning to the settlement were completed 
the peredovchik would make the rounds of all the sta- 
tions to see that every trap was closed or removed, so 
that no sable could get into them during the summer. 

In Alaska the methods of the hunters underwent 
many changes, owing to the different physical features 
of the field and the peculiarities of the natives. The 
men engaged for these expeditions were of a very 
mixed class; few had ever seen the ocean, and many 
were wholly untrained for their vocation. They were 
engaged for a certain time and paid in shares taken 
from one half of the proceeds of the hunt, the other 

^^ The instructions contained also an admonition to observe certain super- 
stitious customs, traces of Avhich could be found nearly a century later among 
the servants of the Russian American Coinpany. For instance, certain ani- 
mals must not be spoken of by their right names at the stations, for fear of 
frightening the sables away. The raven, the snake, and the wild-cat were 
tabooed. They were called i-espectively the ' upper,' or ' high one,' the ' bad 
one, 'and the 'jumper.' In the early times this rule extended to quite a number 
of persons, animals, and even inanimate objects, but the three I have men- 
tioned survived till modern times. Sobolnuie Promift^ala, 29-42. 

^^ The promyshleniki were treated much like children by their leaders. 
Some offenders were made to stand on stumps for a time, and fast while their 
comrades were feasting, while others were fined for the benefit of the church. 
Thieves were cruelly beaten, and forfeited a portion of their uchina, or divi- 
dend (literally supper), as it was held that their crime must have brought 
bad luck and decreased the total catch. O Sobolnuie Promyssla, 56-7. 


half of the cargo going to the outfitter or owner. If 
the crew consisted of forty men, including navigator 
and peredovchik, their share of the cargo was usually 
divided into about forty-six shares, of which each 
member received one, the navigator three, the fore- 
man two, and the church one or two. In case of 
success the hunters realized quite a small fortune, as 
we have seen, but often the yield was so small as to 
keep the men in servitude from indebtedness to their 
employer. The vesseP^was provided with but a small 
stock of provisions, consisting of a few hams, a little 
rancid butter, a few bags of rye and wheat flour for 
holidays, and a quantity of dried and salted salmon. 
The main stock had to be obtained by fishing and 
hunting, and to this end were provided fire-arms and 
other implements serving also for defence. Since furs 
in this new region were obtained chiefly through the 
natives, articles of trade formed the important part of 
the cargo, such as tobacco, glass beads, hatchets and 
knives of very bad quality, tin and copper vessels, and 
cloth. A large number of kleptsi, or traps, were also 
carried. Thus provided the vessel sets sail with hozlie 
pomoshtch — God's help. 

Mere trade soon gave way to a more efifective 
method of obtaining furs. Natives were impressed 
to hunt for the Russians, who, as a rule, found it both 
needless and dangerous for themselves to disperse in 
small parties to catch furs. Either by force or by 
agreement with chiefs the Aleuts and others were 
obliged to give hostages, generally women and children, 
to ensure the safety of their visitors, or performance 
of contract. They were thereupon given traps and 
sent forth to hunt for the season, while the Russians 
lived in indolent repose at the village, basking in the 

^* ' Their galliots are constructed at Okhotsk or Nishnekamehatsk, and 
government, with a view of encouraging trade, has ordered the commandants 
of those places to afford as much assistance as possible to the adventurers, 
besides which, the materials of the vei-y frequently wrecked transport vessels, 
though lost to government, are found the chief means of fitting out such an 
enterprise, and greatly lessen the expense.' Sauer's Geog. and Adron. Exped., 


smiles of the wives and daughters, and using them 
also as purveyors and servants. When the hunters 
returned they surrendered traps and furs in exchange 
for goods, and the task-masters departed for another 
island to repeat their operation. 

The custom of interchanging hostages while engaged 
in traffic was carried eastward by the Russians and 
forced upon the English, Americans, and Spaniards 
long after the entire submission of Aleuts, Kenai, 
and Chugatsches had obviated the necessity of such 
a course in the west. Portlock was compelled to con- 
form to the custom at various places before he could 
obtain any trade, but as a rule four or five natives 
were demanded for one or two sailors from the ship.^^ 
On Cross Sound, Sitka Bay, and Prince of Wales 
Island the hostages were not always given in good 
faith; they would suddenly disappear and hostilities 
begin. As soon as they ascertained, however, that 
their visitors were watchful and strong enough to re- 
sist, they would resume business. 

Meares observes, among other things relating to 
Russian management, that wherever the latter settled 
the natives were forbidden to keep canoes of a larger 
size than would carry two persons. This applied, of 
course, only to the bidarka region, Kadiak, Cook 
Inlet, and portions of Prince William Sound. The 
bidars, or large canoes, were then as now very scarce, 
being made of the largest sea-lion skins, and used 
only for war or the removal of whole families or 
villages. The Russians found them superior to their 
own clumsy boats for trading purposes, and acquired 
them, by purchase and probably often by seizure under 
some pretext, as fast as the natives could build them. 
In their opinion the savages had no business to devote 
themselves to anything but hunting. 

A portion of the catch was claimed as tribute, 
although the crown received a very small share, often 
none. Tribute-gathering was a convenient mantle to 

^ Portlock'' s Voy., 269. 


cover all kinds of demands on the natives, and there 
can be no doubt that in early times at least half the 
trade was collected in the form of tribute, by means 
of force or threats, while at the same time the author- 
ities at home were being petitioned to relinquish its 
collection, "because it created discontent" among the 

The tribute collected by the earlier traders was 
never correctly recorded. The merchants frequently 
obtained permission from the Kamchatka authorities 
to dispense with the services of Cossack tribute- 
gatherers, and gradually, as the abuses perpetrated 
under pretext of its collection came to the ears of the 
home government, the custom was abandoned alto- 
gether. Subsequently the Russian American Com- 
pany obtained a right to the services of the Aleuts on 
the plea that it should be in lieu of tribute formerly 
paid to the government. At the same time it was 
ordained that those natives who rendered no regular 
services to the company should pay a tribute. The 
latter portion of the programme was, however, never 
carried out. The Chugatsches and the more northerly 
villages of Kenai never furnished any hunters for the 
company unless with some private end in view, and 
no tribute paid by them ever reached the imperial 

Another method of obtaining furs, outside of the 
regular channels of trade, was in furnishing supplies in 
times of periodical famine caused by the improvidence 
of the simple Aleuts. A little assistance of this kind 
was always considered as a lien upon whatever furs 
the person might collect during the following season. 
This pernicious system, unauthorized as it was by 
the management, survived all through the regime of 
the Russian American Company, and one encounters 
traces of it here and there to the present day. 

At the time of the first advance of Russians along 
the coast in a south-easterly direction native auxili- 


aries, usuall}^ Aleuts, were taken for protection as 
well as for the purpose of killing sea-otters. Soon 
the plan was extended to taking Aleut hunters to 
regions where trade had been made unprofitable by 
unlimited competition. This was first adopted on a 
larger scale by Sbelikof and brought to perfection 
under the management of Delarof and Baranof From 
a business point of view alone it was a wise measure, 
since it obviated the ruinous raising of prices by sav- 
ages made impudent by sudden prosperity, and at the 
same time placed a partial check on the indiscriminate 
slaughter of fur-bearing animals. Yet it opened the 
door to abuse and oppression of the natives at the 
hands of unscrupulous individuals, and in the case of 
the docile and long since thoroughly subdued Aleuts it 
led to something akin to slaver}^ It was also attended 
with much loss of life, owing to ignorance, careless- 
ness, and foolhardiness of the leaders of parties. It 
certainly must have been exceedingly annoying to 
the natives of the coast thus visited to see the ani- 
mals exterminated which brought to them the ships of 
foreigners loaded with untold treasures. The Kaljush 
hunters could not fail to perceive that the unwelcome 
rivals from the west, though inferior in strength, stat- 
ure, and courage, were infinitely superior in skill, 
and indefatigable in pursuit of the much coveted sea- 

It was but natural that in a brief period the very 
name of Aleut became hateful to the Kaljush and Chu- 
gatsches, who allowed no opportunity to escape them 
for revenge on the despised race, not thinking that 
the poor fellows were but helpless tools of the Rus- 
sians. Numerous massacres attested the strong feel- 
ing, but this by no means prevented the Russians 
from pursuing a policy which, to a certain extent, has 
been justified by the result. As the minds at the head 
of affairs became more enlightened, measures for the 
protection of valuable animals were adopted, the ex- 
ecution of which was possible with the docile Aleut 


hunters, while it would have been out of the question 
with the stubborn and ungovernable Kaljush. 

As long as operations were confined to Prince Will- 
iam Sound, with the inhabitants of which the Aleuts, 
and especially the Kadiak people, had previously meas- 
ured their strength in hostile encounters, the plan 
worked well enough. Subsequently, however, contact 
with the fierce Thlinkeets of Comptroller Bay, Yaku- 
tat, and Ltua inspired the western intruders with dis- 
may, rendering them unfit even to follow their peaceful 
pursuits without an escort of four or five armed Rus- 
sians to several hundred hunters. On several occa- 
sions a panic occurred in hunting parties, caused merely 
by fright, but seriously interfering with trading opera- 
tions. Vancouver mentions instances of that kind, 
when Lieutenant Puget and Captain Brown at Yak- 
utat Bay successively assisted Purtof, who commanded 
a large party of Aleuts sent out by Baranof.^^ 

The reports of these occurrences by Purtof and his 
companions corroborate the statements of Puget and 
Brown, but naturally the former do not dwell as much 
upon the assistance received as upon services rendered. 
With regard to Captain Brown's action, however, the 
Russian report differs somewhat.^'^ 

Previous to the arrival of the Russians a consider- 
able interchange of products was carried on by certain 
of the more enterprising tribes; the furs of one section 
being sold to the inhabitants of another. The long- 
haired skins of the wolverene were valued highly for 
trimming by tribes of the north who hunted the rein- 
deer- and the parkas or shirts made from the skins of the 
diminutive speckled ground-squirrel (Spermophilus) of 
Alaska, which occurs only on a few islands of the coast, 
were much sought by the inhabitants of nearly all re- 
gions where the little animal does not exist. The new- 
comers were not slow to recognize the advantages to 

^Vancouver'.i Voi/., iii. 233-5. 

"For Purtof 's report, see TiJchmenef, Isto7: Obos., ii. app. 66-7. 


be gained by absorbing the traffic. Within a few 
years it was taken from the natives along the coast as 
far north as Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound, 
but beyond that and in the interior a far-reaching 
commerce, including the coasts of Arctic Asia in its 
ramifications, has existed for ages and has never been 
greatly interfered with by the Russians, who fre- 
C|uently found articles of home manufacture, originally 
sold by traders in Siberia, in the hands of the tribes 
who had the least intercourse with themselves. 

Captain Cook indulged in profound speculations 
with regard to the channels through which some of 
the natives he met with on the Northwest Coast had 
acquired their evident acquaintance with iron knives 
and other implements, but this, the most probable 
source, was unknown to him. Later navigators found 
evidence of the coast tribes assuming the role of mid- 
dlemen between the inhabitants of the interior and 
the visitors from unknown parts. In August 1786 
Dixon was informed by natives on Cook Inlet that 
they had sold out every marketable skin, but that 
they would soon obtain additional supplies from tribes 
living away from the sea-shore. 

A century of intercourse with the Caucasian races 
has failed to eradicate the custom of roaming from 
one continent to another for the sake of exchanging a 
few articles of trifling value. The astuteness dis- 
played by these natives in trade and barter was cer- 
tainly one of the reasons whicli caused the Russians 
to devise means of getting at the furs without being 
obliged to cope with their equals in bartering. 

As far as the region contained within the present 
boundaries of Alaska is concerned, the fur-trade to- 
ward the end of the last century was beginning to fall 
into regular grooves, which have never been essentially 
departed from except in the case of the Kaljush, who, 
relying on their constant intercourse with English and 
American traders, persistently refused to be reduced 


to routine and system, and maintained an independent 
and frequently a defiant attitude toward the Russians. 
Under the rule of the Russian American Company 
the prices paid to natives for furs were equal in all 
parts of the colonies with the exception of Sitka and 
the so-called Kaljush sounds, where a special and 
much higher tariff was in force. ^^ 

A more gradual change began also to affect the 
share S3^stem of the Russians, embracing two kinds 
of share-holders, those who with invested capital had 
a voice in the management and their half of the gross 
receipts, and another class, laboring in various capaci- 
ties for such compensation as fell to their lot when 
the settlements were made at stated times and after 
every other claim had been satisfied. The disadvan- 
tages of this system were obvious. On one hand the 
laborer was entirely dependent upon the agents or 
managers of his immediate station or district, who 
were sometimes honest, but far oftener rascals, while 
on the other hand the hunters and trappers and those 
in charge of native hunting-parties had every induce- 
ment to indulge in indiscriminate slaughter of fur- 
bearing animals without regard to consequences. 

By the time Kamchatka was discovered and con- 
quered the number of private traders had greatly 
increased, and another market for costly furs had been 
opened on the borders of China, a market of such im- 

^^ The introduction of a well-defined business system as well as regula- 
tions to check the threatened extermination of fur-bearing animals came only 
with the establisliment of a monopoly, and this "involved both time and in- 
trigue. The founder of the so-called colonies as well as his successors in the 
management had biit one object in view, to control the fur-trade of Russia in 
Europe and Asia. Shelikof was shrewd enough to understand that in order 
to obtain special privileges or jprotection from the government, it was neces- 
sary to make a display of some moi-e permanent business than the fur-trade; 
and with the sole view of furthering this end projects of colonization and 
ship-building were launched in rapid succession, but there can be no doubt 
that Shelikof himself had no faith in these undertakings, for with his sanc- 
tion the convicts, mechanics, and farmers sent from Siberia by the authorities 
were at once distributed among the trading posts and vessels of the Shelikof 
and Golikof Company. Petrof, Russ. Am. Co., MS., 2-4. 
Hist. Alaska. 10 


portance that not only the carrying of skins to Hussia 
was curtailed, but large shipments of furs were made 
from Russia to the Chinese frontier, principally beavers 
and land-otters from Canada, these skins being carried 
almost around the world at a profit.^^ 

No attempt was made by Russians during the 
eighteenth century to send furs to China b}^ water. 
That route was opened by English traders to the 
Northwest Coast as soon as it became generally known 
that furs had been disposed of in China to great ad- 
vantage by the ships of Captain Cook's last two expe- 
ditions. The sea-otter and sable shipments from the 
Aleutian Isles and Kamchatka were still consigned 
to Irkutsk, where a careful assortment was made. 
The inferior and light-colored sables, the foxes of the 
Aleutian Isles, the second grade of sea and land 
otter, etc., were set aside for the Chinese market. 
Defective skins were sent to the annual fair at Irbit, 
for sale among the Tartars, and only the very best 
quality was forwarded to Moscow and Makaria, where 
Armenians and Greeks figured among the ready pur- 

The first large shipment of sea-otters was brought 
to China by Captain Hanna, who with a brig of sixty 
tons collected in six weeks, on King George Sound, 
five hundred whole sea-otter skins, and a number of 
pieces amounting to about sixty more. He sailed 
from China in April 1785 and returned in December, 
making the vo3'age exceedingly profitable.^^ Hanna 

^ The following shipments of this kind are recorded by Coxe, from the 
Hudson Bay territory to London and St Petersburg and thence overland to 
Kiakhta: in 1775, 46,460 beavers and 7,143 otters; in 1776, 27,700 beavers 
and 12,080 otters; in 1777, 27,316 beavers and 10,703 otters. The skins 
brought at St Petersburg from 7 to 9 rubles for beavers, and from 6 to 10 
rubles for otters; while at Kiakhta the beaver sold at from 7 to 20 rubles, and 
the otter from 6 to 35 rubles. Coxe's Bu'^s. Disc, 337-8. 

^"The Chinese at that time understood the art of coloring sables and other 
furs so perfectly that the deception was not observable. Consequently they 
preferred to purchase a low-priced and inferior article. Sawr's Geog. and 
Astron. Ea-peiL, 15. 

^^ Skins of the first grade brought .$60 each. Hanna had 140 of these, 175 
of the second grade, wortli §40: SO of the third, worth Sr,0; 55 of the fourth 
at §15, and 50 of the fifth at 810. The pieces were also sold at the rate of $10 


sailed again on the same venture in 1786, but though 
he remained absent until the following jea.Y, his cargo 
did not bring over $8,000. Two other vessels, the 
Captain Cook and the Experiment, left Bombay in 
January 1786, and after visiting in both King George 
and Prince William sounds returned with 604 sea- 
otters, which sold for $24,000, an average of $40 a 

La Perouse, who visited the coast in the same year, 
forwarded an extensive report to his government con- 
cerning the fur-trade of the Northwest Coast. He 
states that during a period not exceeding ten days he 
purchased a thousand skins of sea-otters at Port des 
Francais, or Ltua Bay; but only few of them were 
entire, the greater part consisting of made-up gar- 
ments, robes, and pieces more or less ragged and 
filthy. He thought, however, that perfect skins could 
easily be obtained if the French government should 
conclude to favor a regular traffic of its subjects with 
that region. La Perouse entertained some doubts as 
to whether the French would be able to compete prof- 
itably with the Russians and Spaniards already in the 
field, though he declared that there was an interval 
of coast between the southern limits of the Russian 
and the northern line of Spanish operations which 
would not be closed for several centuries, and was conse- 
quently open to the enterprise of any nation. ^^ Among 
other suggestions he recommended that only vessels 
of 500 or 600 tons should be employed, and that the 
principal article of trade should be bar-iron, cut into 
lengths of three or four inches. The value of the 
3,231 pieces of sea-otter skin collected at Port des 
Frangais is estimated in the report at 41,063 Spanish 

per whole skin. Hanna realized $20,000 out of this short cruise. Dixon's 
Voy., 315-22. 

^'^La Perouse, Voy., iv. 162-72. 

"A peculiarly French idea is advanced by La Perouse in a note tu Ids 
report on the fur-trade of the north-west. He and his officers refusctl to 
derive any profit from the experimental mercantile transactions durin -■ the 
expedition. It was settled that such sums as were realized from tlif s.^:<! of 


After duly weighing the question in all its aspects 
the French commander came to the conclusion that 
it would not be advisable to establish at once a French 
factory at Port des Frangais, but to encourage and 
subsidize three private expeditions from some French 
seaport, to sail at intervals of two years. 

From Dixon we learn that La Perouse's expecta- 
tions, as far as the value of his skins was concerned, 
were not realized. He reports that the French ships 
Astrolabe and Boussole brought to Canton about 600 
sea-otters of poor quality, which they disposed of for 

In January 1788 the furs collected by Dixon and 
Portlock in the King George and Queen Charlotte were 
sold as follows : The bulk of the cargo, consisting of 
2,552 sea-otters, 434 pups, and 34 foxes, sold for 
$50,000, and at private sale 1,080 sea-otter tails 
brought $2,160, and 110 fur-seals $550. According 
to Berg the number of sea-otters shipped from the 
Northwest Coast to Canton previous to January 1, 
1788, was 6,643, which sold at something over $200,000 
in the aggregate. 

After this shipments increased rapidly with the 
larger number of vessels engaging in this trade, as I 
have shown in m}^ History of the Northwest Coast. ^^ 
A large proportion of them were English, though they 
labored under many disadvantages, and as the Eng- 
lish captains who came to Canton were not allowed 

the skins in China should be distributed among the crew. The commander 
ingeniously reasons that the share of each sailor will be sufficient to enable 
the whole crew to get married on their return and to raise families in com- 
fortable circumstances, who, 'in course of time, will be of the greatest benefit 
to the navy.' LaPirouse, Voy., iv. 167. 

^* Dixon's Voy., 315-22. In the same place the result of the Bengal Fur 
Society's experiment with the Nootka, Capt. Meares, is given as follows: 267 
sea-otters, 97 pieces and tails, 48 land-otters, and 41 beavers and martens were 
sold at Macao for $9,692. Fifty prime sea-otters sold at Canton for $91 
each, bringing $4,550. Nearly the whole cargo had been obtained at Prince 
William Sound. About the same time the cargo of the Imperial Eagle, Capt. 
Barclay, obtained chiefly from Vancouver Island, sold for $30,000. See Hist. 
Northwest Coast, vol. i. 353, this series. 

3* In 1792 there were at least 28 vessels on the coast, more than half of 
them engaged in fur-trade. Hist. Northwest Coast, i. 258 et seq., this series. 


to trade in their own or their owners' name, but were 
obhged to transact their business through the agents 
of the EngHsh East India Company, they did not take 
very kindly to the trade. The merchants of other 
nations held the advantage to the extent that, even if 
forced to dispose of their furs at low prices, they could 
realize one hundred per cent profit on the Chinese 
goods they brought home, while the English, on ac- 
count of the privileges granted the East India Com- 
pany, could not carry such goods to England. The 
British merchants, however, knew how to evade these 
regulations by sending to Canton, where the ships of 
all nations were free to come, vessels under the flags 
of Austria, Hamburg, Bremen, and others. Thus 
Captain Barclay, or Berkeley, who sailed from Ostend 
in the Imperial Eagle under the Austrian flag, was an 

On the other hand, Russian influence was contin- 
ually at work on the Chinese frontier and even at 
Peking, to counteract the influx of furs by water into 
the Celestial empire. When Marchand arrived at 
Macao from the Northwest Coast he found a tempo- 
rary interdict on the traffic.^^ This benefited the 
Kussian only to a certain extent, for new hunting- 
grounds were discovered by the now roused traders, 
and the immense influx of fur-seal skins from the 
Falkland Islands, Terra del Fuego, New Georgia, 
South Shetland, and the coast of Chile to China 
caused a general depreciation in this article toward 
the end of the last century.^'' 

The, jealousy of foreign visitors on the part of 
Russians was but natural in view of the mischief they 
created. Along the whole coast from Cook Inlet 

'^ When the Solide arrived at Macao, Marchand was much disappointed on 
learning that strict orders had been issued from Peking to purchase no more 
furs from the north-west coast of America. This compelled him to take what 
furs he had to Europe. Marchand, Voy., ii. 368-9. 

*' Three and a half millions of skins were taken from Masa Fuero to Can- 
ton between 1793 and 1807. DalVs Alaska, 492. 


down to Sitka and Queen Charlotte Sound, when- 
ever Enghsh and subsequently Avierican competition 
entered the field, the prices of sea-otter skins experi- 
enced a steady rise till the temptation to kill the ani- 
mal indiscriminately became so great as to overcome 
what little idea the natives had of husbanding their 
resources. On the other hand the most prolific sea- 
otter grounds, the southern end of the Alaska penin- 
sula and the Aleutian Islands, exempt from the visits 
of mercantile rovers, have continued to yield their 
precious furs to the present day. 

These foreigners had an additional variety of goods 
with which to tempt the untutored son of the wilder- 
ness, and were not scrupulous about selling even de- 
structive weapons. The demand for certain articles 
of trade by the natives, especially among the Thlin- 
keets, was subject to continuous changes. When 
Marchand arrived in Norfolk Sound he found the 
savages disposed to drive hard bargains, and skins 
could not be obtained for trifles. Tin and copper ves- 
sels and cooking utensils were in request, as well as 
lances and sabres, but prime sea-otters could be pur- 
chased only with European clothing of good quality, 
and Marchand was obliged to sacrifice all his extra 
supplies of clothing for the crew. The natives seemed 
at that time, 1791, to have plenty of European goods, 
mostly of English manufacture. Favorite articles 
were toes of iron, three or four inches in length, and 
light-blue beads. Two Massachusetts coins were 
worn by a young Indian as ear-rings. They were 
nearly all dressed in European clothing and familiar 
with fire-arms. Hammers, saws, and axes they valued 
but little.=^' 

The rules with regard to traffic on individual account 
on board of these independent traders were quite as 

'"In 10 days Marchand obtained in trade 100 sea-otters of prime -quality, 
mostly fresh; 250 young sea-otters, Tght colored; 36 whole bear-skins, and 
13 half skins; 37 fur-seals; 00 beavers; a sack of squirrel-skins and sea-otter 
tails; a marmot robe, and a robe of marmot and bear. Marchand, Voy., ii. 


stringent as those subsequently enforced by the Rus- 
sian American company. Among the instructions 
furnished Captain Meares by the merchant proprie- 
tors we find the following: "As every person on board 
you is bound by the articles of agreement not to trade 
even for the most trifling articles, we expect the full- 
est compliance with this condition, and we shall most 
assuredly avail ourselves of the penalty a breach of 
it will incur. But as notwithstanding, the seamen 
may have laid in iron and other articles for trade, 
thinking to escape your notice and vigilance, we direct 
that, at a proper time, before you make the land of 
America, you search the vessel carefully, and take 
into your possession every article that can serve for 
trade, allowing the owner its full value. "^^ 

A few years suflficed to transform the naturally 
shrewd and overbearing Thlinkleets into the most 
exacting and unscrupulous traders. Prices rose to 
such an extent that no profit could be made except 
by deceiving them as to the value of the goods given 
in barter. Some of the less scrupulous captains en- 
gaged in this traflftc even resorted to violence and 
downright robbery in order to make a showing. 
Guns, of course, brought high prices, but in many 
instances, where the trader intended to make but a 
brief stay, a worthless article was palmed off upon 
the native, who, in his turn, sought to retaliate by 
imposing upon or stealing from the next trader.^*' 

Nor did the foreigners hesitate to commit brutali- 
ties when it suited their interest or passion, not- 
withstanding Meares' prating about "humane British 
commerce." The English captain certainly had noth- 
ing to boast of so far as his own conduct was concerned 
in the way of morality, honesty, and humanity. Cer- 
tain subjects of Spain and Russia were exceedingly 

^* Meares, Voy., app. 

*" One of the natives of Tchinkitan^ (Sitka) complained to Marchand of a 
gnn he had purchased of an English captain and broken in anger because it 
would 'only go crick, but never poohoo!' Marchand' n Voy., ii. 69. Mar- 
chand and Rocquefeuille both claim that the natives of the Northwest Coast 
prefer French guns to any other. 


cruel to the natives of America, but for innate wick- 
edness and cold-blooded barbarities in the treatment 
of savage or half-civilized nations no people on earth 
during the past century have excelled men of Anglo- 
Saxon origin. Such was the conduct of the critical 
Meares toward the Chugatsches that they would prob- 
ably have killed him but for the timely warning of 
a young woman whom he had "purchased for the 

Instances of difficulties arising between English 
traders and natives of Prince William Sound are too 
numerous to uiention in detail in this place, but it is 
certain that as soon as the former withdrew and the 
Russians were enabled to manage affairs in their own 
way, a peaceful and regular traffic was carried on. 
These captains were too ready to attribute cruelty to 
their rivals, and at times on mistaken grounds. 

Captain Douglas, who visited Cook Inlet in the 
Iphigenia, observed what he called "tickets or pass- 
ports for good usage" in the hands of the natives. 
Meares offers an explanation of this incident, saying 
that "these tickets are purchased by the Indians from 
the Russian traders at very dear rates, under a pre- 
tence that they will secure them from ill-treatment 
of any strangers who may visit the coast ; and as they 
take care to exercise great cruelty upon such of the 
natives as are not provided with these instruments of 
safety, the poor people are only too happy to purchase 
them on any terms." Meares then adds with charm- 
ing self-complacency: "Such is the degrading system 
of the Russian trade in these parts; and forms a 
striking contrast to the liberal and humane spirit of 
British commerce."*^ It is scarcely necessary to say 
that these papers were receipts for tribute paid by 
these natives, who had for several years been consid- 
sidered and declared subjects of the ruler of all the 

*^Meares' Voy., ii. 129, ed. 1791. 

*^An explanation of the bitterness displayed in Captain Meanes' utterance 


The cause for these insinuations must be looked for 
m the greater success of the Muscovites, who could 
be met with everywhere, and as they did not pur- 
chase the skins, but had the animals killed by natives 
in their service, competition w^as out of the question. 
At Prince William Sound Portlock discovered that 
the natives did not like the goods he had to offer; 
only when he obtained others from Captain Meares 
did trade improve. The English traders frequently 
complained in their journals of the Russians as having 
absorbed the whole traffic, j^et Portlock himself ac- 
knowledges that during the summer of 1787 he sent 
his long-boat repeatedly to Cook Inlet, and that each 
time the party met with moderate success and friendly 
treatment on the part of Russians and natives in their 

Vancouver, who as far as the Russians are con- 
cerned may be accepted as an impartial observer, 
expresses the opinion that "the Russians were more 
likely than any other nation to succeed in procur- 
ing furs and other valuable commodities from those 
shores." He based his opinion partly upon informa- 
tion received from Ismailof at Unalaska, but prin- 
cipally upon his own observations on the general 
conduct of the Russians toward the natives in the 
several localties where he found the latter under Rus- 
sian control and direction. The English explorer 
reasons as follows: "■ Had the natives about the Rus- 
sian establishments in Cook's Inlet and Prince Will- 
iam's sound been oppressed, dealt hardly by, or treated 
by the Russians as a conquered people, some uneasi- 
ness among them would have been perceived, some 
desire for emancipation would have been discovered; 
but no such disposition appeared — they seemed to be 

on the subject of Russian traders can be found in a passage of his journal in 
which he complains that wherever he went in the Nootka, from Unalaska to 
the head of Cook Inlet, he found that the Russians already monopolized the 
trade, and the natives had nothing left to ofi'er in exchange for English goods. 
A boat sent up the Inlet was constantly watched by two Russian bidai's. 
Meares' Voi/., xi. 

« PortlocFs Voy., 242-3. 


held in no restraint, nor did they seem to wish, on 
any occasion whatever, to elude the vigilance of their 
directors." The Indians beyond Cross Sound were 
less tractable and the Russians evidently became sat- 
isfied to remain to the westward of that region.** 

Notwithstanding all the abuses to which the Aleuts 
had to submit at the hands of the early traders and 
the Russian company, it is safe to assume that a peo- 
ple which has absolutely no other resource to fall back 
upon would have long since been blotted out of exist- 
ence with the extermination of the sea-otter, had they 
been exposed to the effects of reckless and unscrupu- 
lous competition like their more savage and powerful 
brethren in the east. As it is, they are indebted to 
former oppression for their very existence at the pres- 
ent day. 

There can be no doubt that in their hands alone 
would the wealth of the coast region be husbanded, 
for their interests now began to demand an economic 
management, and their influence by far exceeded that 
of any other nation with whom the natives had come 
in contact. Long before the universal sway of the 
Russian American Company had been introduced we 
find unmistakable signs of this predilection in favor of 
those among all their visitors who apparently treated 
them with the greatest harshness while driving the 
hardest bargains. The explanation lies in the fact 
that the Russians were not in reality as cruel as 
the others, and, above all, that they assimilated more 
closely with the aborigines than did other traders. 
At all outlying stations they lived together with and 
in the manner of the natives, taking quite naturally 
to filth, privations, and hardships, and on the other 
hand dividing with their savage friends all the little 

** Vancojiver's Voy., iii. 500. Portlock, some years earlier, claimed that 
the natives informed him they had recently had a fight with the Russians in 
•which the latter were beaten ; and also that he was requested to assist the 
natives against the Russians, but refused. Portlock's Voy., 115-22. Juvenal'a 
Jour., MS., 30 et seq. 


comforts of rude civilization which by chance fell to 
their lot. 

Cook and Vancouver expressed their astonishment 
at the miserable circumstances in which they found 
the Russian promyshleniki, and both navigators agree 
as to the amicable and even affectionate relations ex- 
isting between the natives of the far north-west of this 
continent and their first Caucasian visitors from the 
eastern north. Captains Portlock and Dixon even 
complained of this good understanding as an injury 
to the interests of others with equal rights to the 
advantages of traffic with the savages. The traffic 
then carried on throughout that region is scarcely 
worthy of the name of trade; it was a struggle to 
seize upon the largest quantity of the most valuable 
furs in the shortest time and at the least expense, 
without regard for consequences. 

When Portlock and Dixon visited Cook Inlet and 
Prince William Sound in 1786 the trade in those 
localities seemed to be already on the decline. In the 
former place a few days were sufficient to drain the 
country of marketable furs. 

How much the fur-trade had deteriorated on Cook 
Inlet at the beginning of the last decade of the eigh- 
teenth century is made evident by such reports of 
managers as have been preserved. The total catch 
for several years, during which time two ships well 
manned and hundreds of natives were employed, did 
not exceed 500 sea-otters and a comparatively small 
number of other furs. This was certainly a great 
falling-off, but it may be partly ascribed to the wran- 
gling of rival companies whose retainers used every 
means to interfere with each other. Large quantities 
of furs were destroyed, houses and boats were broken 
up, and blood was sometimes shed. The decline of 
trade during this period was not arrested till the 
country had been for years subjected to the arbitrary 
rule of the Russian American Company, though of 


course the fur business never recovered its former 

Traces of populous settlements abound on the shores 
of the inlet, and it is evident that the numerous viL 
lages were abandoned to desolation at about the same 
time. The age of trees now growing over former 
dwellings enables the observer to fix the date of de- 
population within a few yesLYS, long before any of the 
epidemics which subsequently swept the country. 

With the unrestrained introduction of fire-arms 
along the coast southward from Prince William Sound 
the sea-otters were doomed to gradual extermination 
throughout that region, though the country suffered 
no less from imported Aleuts, who far surpassed the 
native sea-otter hunters in skill, and had no interest 
in husbanding production. Long before American 
traders took a prominent part in these operations the 
golden days of the sea-otter traffic had passed away. 

In 1792 Martin Sauer predicted that in fifteen 
years from that time the sea-otter would no longer 
exist in the waters of north-western America, and he 
had not seen the devastation on the coast south of 
Yakutat. The organization of the Russian American 
Company alone prevented the fulfilment of his proph- 
ecy as" far as concerns the section which came under 
his observation. 

This state of affairs the traders had not failed to 
reveal to the government long before this, coupled 
with no little complaint and exaggeration. Officials 
in Siberia aided in the outcry, and the empress was 
actually moved to order war vessels to the coast, 
but various circumstances interfered with their de- 
parture.*^ Nevertheless, from the rivalry of English 

^^Shelikof complained that 'the advantages which rightfully belong to 
the subjects of Russia alone are converted to the benefit of other nations who 
have no claim upon the country and no right to the products of its waters.' 
Lieutenant-general Ivan Bartholomcievich Jacobi, who then filled the office 
of governor general of Irkutsk and Kolivansk, reported to the empress 
that it was necessary to protect without delay the Russian possessions on the 
coast of America with armed vessels, in order to prevent foreigners from 
interfering with the Russian fur-trade. In reply Catherine ordered five war- 


and American traders, the Shelikof and Golikof Com- 
pany does not appear to have suffered to any great 
extent, if we may judge from a hst of cargoes im- 
ported by that firm during a term of nine years. 
Their vessels during the time numbered six; one, the 
Trehh Sviatiteli, making two trips. The total value 
of these shipments between the years 1788 and 1797 
was 1,500,000 roubles — equal then to three times the 
amount at the present day.^^ 

This result was due partly to more wide-spread 
and thorough operations than hitherto practised, and 
partly to the compensation offered by a varied assort- 
ment of furs. Thus, while the most valuable fur- 
bearing animal, the sea-otters, were becoming scarce 
in the gulf of Kenai, large quantities of beavers, 
martens, and foxes were obtained there. 

The distribution of fur-bearing animals during the 
last century was of course very much the same as 
now, with the exception that foxes of all kinds came 
almost exclusively from the islands. The stone foxes 
— blue, white, and gray — were most numerous on the 
western islands of the Aleutian chain and on the Pri- 
bylof group. Black and silver-gray foxes, then very 
valuable, were first obtained from Unalaska by the 
Shilof and Lapin Company and at once brought into 
fashion at St Petersburg by means of a judicious pres- 
entation to the empress. Shipments of martens and 
minks from a few localities on the mainland were in- 
significant, and the same may be said of bears and 
wolverenes. The sea-otter's range was not much 
more extended than at present; but on the south- 
eastern coast they were ten times more numerous 
than now. They were never found north of the 

vessels to be fitted out to sail in 1788, under command of Captain Mulovskoi, 
■with the rank of brigadier. The war with Sweden probably interfered with 
this expedition. Berg, Khronol. 1st., 158. It must be remembered, however, 
that the Billings expedition was under way at that time. 

^^The details are given by Bergh as follows : In 1786 the Sviatiteli brought 
furs valued at 56,U0O rubles; in 1789 the Sviatiteli, 300,000; in 1792 the 
Mikhail, 376,000; in 1793 the Sv Simeon, 128,000; in 1795 the Phoenix, 
321,138; in 1795 the Alexandr, 276,550; in 1796 the Orel, 21,912; total rbls., 
1,479,600. Khronol. ht., 169. 


Aleutian isles and the southern extremity of the 
Alaska peninsula. 

The fur-seal frequented the same breeding-grounds 
as now and many were killed on the Aleutian and Com- 
mander islands while on their annual migration to and 
from the rookeries. The value of the skins was small 
and the market easily overstocked, often necessitating 
the destruction of those on hand. Beavers and land- 
otters were obtained only in Cook Inlet, as the vast 
basin of the Yukon had not then been tapped. The 
skins of this class for the overland trade with China, 
as has been stated, were purchased in England of the 
Hudson's Bay Company, and carried nearly around 
the globe. Black bears were occasionally purchased, 
but rarely appeared in the market, being considered 
as most suitable presents to officials and persons of 
high rank whose good-will might serve the interest 
of individual traders or companies. Lynx and marmot 
skins found only a local demand in the form of gar- 
ments and trimmings. 




Feench Interest in the North-west — La P:ierouse's Examination — 
Discovery of Port des Fran^ais— A Disastrous Survey — English 
Visitors— Meares is Caught in Prince William Sound — Terrible 
Struggles with the Scurvy — Portlock and Dixon Come to the 
Rescue — Their Two Years of Trading and Exploring — IsmaTlof 


OROUS Chief— Yakutat Bay Explored— Traces of Foreign Visitors 
Jealously Suppressed — Spain Resolves to Assert Herself — Mar- 
tinez AND Haro's Tour of Investigation — Fidalgo, Marchand, and 
CaamaSo— Vancouver's Expedition. 

The activity displaj^ed by different nationalities in 
the exploration of the Northwest Coast, together 
with allurements of trade and of the interoceanic 
problem, called to this region also the attention of the 
French government; and when in August 1785 La 
P^rouse was despatched from Brest with two frigates, 
the Astrolabe and Boussole, the latter commanded by 
De Langle, on a scientific exploring tour round the 
world, he received instructions to extend it to the 
farthest north-west, and report also on trade pros- 
pects. After a tedious voyage round Cape Horn, the 
coast of Alaska was sighted on the 23d of June 1786 
near latitude 60°, where the gigantic outline of Mount 
St Elias rose above the clouds. The impression made 
upon the natives of sunny France by the gloomy 
aspect of this coast was not more favorable than that 
conceived by the earlier Spanish and English visitors. 
The contrast was too great between the palm-groves 
and taro-fields of Hawaii so lately witnessed, and 



these snowy mountains of this northern mainland 
with their thin blackish fringe of sombre spruce- 
forest. At any rate, contrary to his instructions, 
which were to explore the Aleutian Islands, La Pe- 
rouse with wisdom shaped his course south-eastward 
along the coast.^ 

For some time no landing could be effected, the 
vessels not approaching near enough to the shore 
to distinguish bays and headlands. In two instances 
boats were lowered to reconnoitre, but the reports of 
officers in charge were not favorable. The wide open- 
ing of Yakutat or Bering Bay was thus passed un- 
awares, but a little to the southward La Perouse 
observed what he considered certain indications of the 
discharge of a large river into the sea."^ 

On the 2d of August an inlet was sighted a short 
distance below Cape Fairweather, and on the following 
day the two frigates succeeded in gaining an anchor- 
age. The navigator felt exultant over this discovery 
of a new harbor, and expressed himself in his journal 
to the effect "that if the French government had en- 
tertained ideas of establishing factories in this part 
of the American coast, no other nation could pretend 
to the smallest right of opposing the project."^ The 

^Indeed the illustrious French navigator had deviated from his instruc- 
tions ever since leaving Madeira. He made the northern coast in the month 
designated, but a year earlier than had been contemplated, having deferred 
his explorations in the south Pacific. The instructions prescribed, that he 
should 'particularly endeavor to explore those parts which have not been 
examined by Captain Cook, and of which the relations of Russian and Spanish 
navigators have given no idea. He will observe whether in those parts not 
yet known some river may not be found, some confined gulf, which may, by 
means of the interior lakes, open a communication with some part of Hudson 
Bay. He will push his inquiries to Behring's Bay and to Mount St Elias 
and will inspect the ports Bucarelli and Los Remedios. Prince William Land 
and Cook river having been sufficiently explored, he will, after making Mount 
St Elias, steer a course for the Shumagiu Islands, near the peninsula of Alaska. 
He will afterward examine the Aleutian Islands, ' etc. La Pirouse, Voy. , i. 

^ One indentation of the coast was named De Monti Bay; and La P^rouse'a 
French edition asserts that this was Bering Bay with the anchorage of Port 
Mulgrave named by Dixon in the following year. Dixon's position of Port 
Mulgrave was lat. 59° 33' and long. 140° w. of Greenwich, while La Perouse 
located the bay De Monti at 59° 43' and 140° 20'. Both longitudes were in- 
correct in regard to Port Mulgrave. 

' The editor of the journal of La Perouse, in his effort to establish the 


newly discovered port, called Ltua by the natives, was 
named rightly and modestly Port des Fran9ais, which 
gave no undue personal prominence to any one. Ex- 
ploring and surveying parties in boats were sent out 
at once, while the remainder of the crews were em- 
ployed in watering the ships and re-stowing cargo in 
order to mount six cannons that had thus far been 
carried in the hold.* 

The bay of Ltua represents in its contours the let- 
ter T, the foot forming its outlet into the sea. The 
cross-bar consists of a deep basin terminating in 
glaciers. La Perouse alludes to it as '' perhaps the 
most extraordinary place in the world," and describes 
the upper part as " a basin of water of a depth in the 
middle that could not be fathomed, bordered by peaked 
mountains of an excessive height covered with snow . . . 
I never saw a breath of air ruffle the surface of this 
water; it is never troubled but by the fall of immense 
blocks of ice, which continually detach themselves from 
fine glaciers, and which in falling make a noise that 
resounds far through the mountains. The air is so 
calm that the voice may be heard half a league away, 
as well as the noise of the sea birds that lay their eggs 
in the cavities of these rocks." Though charmed with 
the weird grandeur of the scenery, the explorers were 
disappointed in their expectation of finding a river or 
channel offering a passage to the Canadian lakes or 
Hudson Bay. 

Tntercourse with the natives began with the first 

French discoverer's claim to priority on this part of the coast, ignores Cook 
as having been ' too far from the shore, ' but carefully traces the movements 
of Dixon whom he seems to have looked upon as the commander of the ex- 
pedition, consisting of the Kivfi George and Qxieen Charlotte, and shows that 
La Perouse sighted Moi;nt St Elias and other points far earlier. The editor 
seems to make a fine distinction between Prince VTilham Sound and the 
'northwest coast' of America. La Perouse himself gives so careful and un- 
biassed a description of what he saw on the Alaskan coast as to impress the 
reader with a feeling of confidence not generally derived from a perusal of 
the narratives of his English and other predecessors and successors in the 
field of exploration. 

* This was done, according to the editor of the journal, not from fear of 
Indians on the spot, but with a view of defence against pu'ates in the China 
seas they were so soon to visit. 
Hist. Alaska. 17 


day, and soon they came in large numbers, allured 
from a distance it was supposed. Contrary to his 
expectations La Perouse found the savages in posses- 
sion of knives, hatchets, iron, and beads, from which, 
with clearer discrimination than Cook, he concluded 
these natives to have indirect communication with the 
Russians, while the latter navigator ascribed such 
indications to inter-tribal traffic originating with Hud- 
son Bay posts. ^ It was convenient for the English- 
man thus to ignore the presence of any rival in these 
parts. Traffic was carried on with moderate success, 
the chief article of barter being iron, and some six 
hundred sea-otter skins and a number of other furs 
were obtained. To so inexperienced a trader the 
business transacted appeared immense, leading the 
commander to the opinion that a trading-post could 
easily collect twenty thousand skins per annum, yet 
he leaned rather to occasional private trading expedi- 
tions than to the fixed establishment. The thieving 
propensities of the natives annoyed the French very 
much, and in the hope of keeping the robbers away 
La Perouse purchased of the chief an island in the 
bay, where he had established his astronomical sta- 
tion ; but though a high price was paid for the worth- 
less ground there was no abatement of thefts. The 
savages would glide through the dense spruce thicket 
at night and steal articles from under the very heads 
of sleepers without alarming the guards. 

On July 13th a terrible misfortune befell the ex- 
pedition. Three boats had been sent out to make 
final soundings for a chart, including the passage lead- 
ing out to sea. As the undertaking was looked upon 
in the light of a pleasure excursion, affording an oppor- 
tunity for hunting, the number of officers accompany- 
ing the party was larger than the duty required, seven 

5 We have no evidence of the advance of Ismailof 's boats to the point pre- 
viona to the arrival of the French frigates. The seal-skin covering of a large 
canoe or bidar discovered here M'oiild point to visits of Aglegmutes or Chu- 
gatsches. The natives stated that of seven similar boats, six had been lost 
in the attempt to stem the fearful tide-rip at the entrance to the bay. 


in all, while the crews consisted of eighteen of the best 
men from both vessels. On approaching the narrow 
€hannel at the entrance of the bay, two of the boats 
were drawn into the resistless current and engulfed in 
the breakers almost before their inmates were aware of 
their danger. The third boat, the smallest, narrowly 
escaped a like fate. Not a man of the first two was 
saved, not even a single body was washed ashore.^ A 
monument to the drowned party was erected on the 
point of island purchased of the chief, and it was 
named L'Isle du Cenotaphe.^ Weighing anchor July 
30th the squadron sailed along the coast without mak- 
ing any observations, but on the 6th of August the 
weather cleared, enabling La Perouse to determine his 
position in the vicinity of Norfolk Sound. ^ Puerto cle 
Bucareli and Cape Kaigan were passed by, and unfav- 
orable weather foiled the attempt to run into Dixon 
Entrance, whereupon the expedition passed beyond 
Alaska limits.^ Superficial as were his observations, 
La Perouse came to the conclusion that the whole 
coast from Cross Sound to Cape Hector, the south 
point of Queen Charlotte Island, was one archipelago.^^ 

During the year 1786 much progress was made in 
the exploration of the Alaskan coast between Dixon 

^The victims were: from the Boussole, d'Esciires, cle Pierrevert, de Mon- 
tarnal (officers), and 8 men; from the Astrolabe, de la Borde Marchainville, de 
la Borde Boutervilliers, Flassan (officers), and 7 men. The two de la Borde 
were brothers. 

' The monument bore an inscription, and at its foot a bottle was buried 
containing a brief narrative of the melancholy occurrence. 

^ He recognized the Cabo de Engafio and Mount San Jacinto of the Span- 
iards without alluding to Cook's nomenclature of Mount and Cape Edgecombe. 
He looked into Norfolk Sound from the group of islands at its southern en- 
trance, and named two bays to the southward, of which he saw only the mouths, 
Port Neiker and Poi't Guibert (probably Port Banks and Whale Bay). On the 
following day he named Cape Ommaney (Cape Chirikof ) and Christian Sound 
(Chirikof Bay). The Hazy Islands he renamed Isles de la Croyfere. La P6- 
Touse, Voy., ii. 165-7. 

" The details of La Pt$rouse's explorations and observations south of this 
point can be found in Hht. Northivest Coast, i., and Hist. Cal., i., this series. 

^°In the following year the Astrolabe and Boussole reached the coast of 
Kamchatka; but though the French officers met a number of individuals 
identified with the historjj of Alaska, the circumstances of their sojourn in 
the harbor of Petropavlovsk have no immediate connection with this naiTa- 


Entrance and the Alaska Peninsula. The Captain 
Cook and the Experiment, under captains Lowry and 
Guise, sailed in June from Nootka for Prince Will- 
iam Land, where they obtained a small lot of furs. 
More extensive are the experiences recorded of John 
Meares.^^ He sailed from Malacca in the Nootka May 
29, 1786. A companion ship, the Sea Otter, also 
fitted out in Bengal, had sailed before him with the 
intention of meeting in Prince William Sound, but 
was never heard of. Amlia and Atkha, of the Aleu- 
tian group, were sighted the 1st of August, and after 
passing unawares to the northward of the islands 
during a fog he was on the 5th piloted into Beaver 
Bay by a Russian. While taking in water, Meares 
and his officers were hospitably entertained by the 
Russians on Unalaska under Delarof, yet the English- 
man delights none the less to sneer at their poverty 
while extolling the 'generous' and 'magnanimous' con- 
duct of the British trader, as represented in himself. 
On arriving at the mouth of Cook Inlet soon after, 
he heard that two vessels had already visited that 
part of the coast that summer, and seeing indications 
of Russians everywhere he passed on to Prince Will- 
iam Sound, imagining himself first on the ground. 
On his way he gave the name of Petrie to Shelikof 
Strait. In his eagerness to gather all the sea-otter 
skins possible, Meares allowed the season to slip by 
till too late for a passage to China and no choice 
remained but to winter in the sound. He first tried 
the anchorage of Snug Corner Cove, discovered by 
Cook, but subsequently moved his vessel to a sheltered 
nook nearer the mainland, in the vicinity of the pres- 
ent village of Tatikhlek. 

11 Voyages made in the years 17S8 and 1789 from China to the North-ioest 
Coast, of America, to which is prefixed an Introductory Narrative of a Voyage 
•perfffrmed in 17S6, from Bemjal in the ship Nootka, by John Meares, Esq., 
London, 1790. Of this work several editions have been published. The im- 
pression created by a perusal of Meares' narrative, especially in the light of 
his later transactions at Nootka, is that he was an insincere and unscrupulous 
man, and that he was so regarded by Portlock is evident from the maimer in 
which the latter bound him to the fulfihnent of his promises. 


The vessel was but ill-supplied with the provisions 
necessary for a long winter in the far north, but the 
best arrangements possible under the circumstances 
were made. The ship was covered. Spruce beer 
was brewed; but the crew preferring the spirituous 
liquor which was served out too freely for men on 
short allowance of food, and the supply of fresh fish 
n>eanwhile being stopped, scurvy broke out. Among 
the first victims was the surgeon. Funerals became 
frequent. At first, attempts were made to dig a shal- 
low grave under the snow; but as the survivors be- 
came few and lost their strength, the bodies were 
dropped through cracks in the ice, to become food for 
fishes long before returning spring opened their crys- 
tal vault. At last the strength of the decimated crew 
was barely sufiicient to drag the daily supply of fuel 
from the forest a few hundred yards away. The sav- 
ages, who kept themselves well informed, grew inso- 
lent as they waited impatiently for the last man to 

In April some natives from a distant part of the 
sound visited the vessel. A girl purchased by Meares 
at the beginning of the winter for an axe and some 
beads, and who had served as interpreter, declared 
them to be her own people and went away with them — 
a rat leaving a doomed ship. 

The depth of despondency had been reached when 
Meares heard of the arrival of two ships in the sound. 
Without a seaworthy boat or a crew he was obliged 
to await a chance visit from the new-comers. A let- 
ter intrusted to some natives failed to reach its des- 
tination. In the evening of the 8th of Ma}^, however. 
Captain Dixon of the Queen Charlotte arrived in a 
whaleboat and boarded the Nootka, which was still fast 
in the ice. Learning of Meares' distress he promised 
all necessary assistance. ^^ 

'^ Meares complained that Dixon would make no promise until the matter 
had been submitted to Portlock, and that he would hold out no hope for sup- 
plies; but Dixon writes: ' I had. . .satisfaction in assuring him that he should 
be furnished with every necessary we could possibly spare. As Captaia 


Meares now had one of his boats repaired, and pro- 
ceeded to Portloek's vessels, on the north side of 
Montague Island, where relief was obtained. Port- 
lock insisted, however, that Meares should cease at 
once to trade with the natives and leave the field to 
him, and the latter yielded, though he complained 
bitterly.^^ A month after the departure of the Queen 
Charlotte in search of furs the Nootka left the scene 
of so much misery and disaster, her commander bid- 
ding a reluctant farewell to the coast of Alaska in 
conformance with his promise to Captain Portlock. 

This was the second visit to Alaska of Portlock and 
Dixon. They had sailed from England in August 1785 
in the ship King George and Queen Charlotte, and first 
approached the vicinity of Cook Inlet on the 16th of 
July 1786. Less dismayed than Meares at the presence 
of Russians, they moved past them up to the head of 
Cook Inlet, and there met with considerable success 
in trading.^* 

After a sojourn of nearly a month the King George 

Meares' people were now getting better, he desired me not to take the trouble 
of sending any refreshments to him, as he would come on board of us very 
shortly in his own boat.' Dixon's Voy., 155. 

^^ Meares gives his readers the impression of a strong bias in this matter, 
and one inclines to credit the two naval officers, whose narratives bear the 
stamp of truth. Further than this the wild statements, if not deliberate false- 
hoods, of Meares in connection wit'j the Nootka controversy are well known. 
Dixon states the case as follows: ' In the forenoon of the 11th Captain Meares 
and Mr Ross left us. They were supi)lied with what flour, sugar, molasses, 
brandy, etc., we could possibly spare; and in order to render them every 
assistance in our power. Captain Portlock spared Captain Meares two seamen 
to assist in carrying his vessel to the Sandwich Islands, where he proposed 
going as soon as the weather permitted.' Id., 15S. 

"On the 10th of July the ships had stood into a capacious opening on the 
east side near the entrance of the inlet. The place was named Graham Bay, 
and a cove on the north side near the entrance was called Coal Harbor, sev- 
eral seams of that mineral being visible along the blufl's. A party of Russians 
with a number of native hunters were encamped near a lagoon, the site of the 
later trading-post of Alexandrovsk. Seeing no prospect of trade here, Portlock 
concluded to proceed up the inlet or river as he presumed it to be. The 
highest point reached by him was Trading Bay, in the vicinity of the present 
village of Toyonok, just east of North S'orcland. Here some trading was 
done, evidently with Kadiak or Chugatsch hunting parties; for they all used 
the kyak, or skin canoe, and had no permanent villages ou the shore. Port- 
lock assumed from the signs of these natives that they asked his assistance 
against the Rus.sians, but in this he was probably mistaken. Dixon's Voy., GO- 
C9; Portloek's Voy., 102-17 


and Queen Charlotte left the inlet on the 13th of Au- 
gust, with the intention to examine Prince William 
Sound. A succession of contrary winds and thick 
weather interfered with this plan. For over a month 
the vessels kept near the coast, sighting many points 
previously determined by Spanish and English ex- 
plorers, but finding it impossible to make a landing, 
until finally, on the 28th of September, when in the 
vicinity of Nootka Sound, Captain Portlock gave up 
all hopes of further trade that season and headed for 
the Hawaiian Islands. 

After wintering there Portlock sailed once more 
for the Alaskan coast, and sighted Montague Island 
on the 23d of April. Natives who visited the ships 
on the west side of the island were without furs, but 
pointed to the head of the sound, repeating the word 
'Nootka,' which puzzled Captains Portlock and -Dixon 
not a little, until the latter finally fell in with Meares 
as before stated. The Queen Charlotte stood down 
the coast, while Portlock moved to Nuchek Harbor 
to await the long-boat of the King George which had 
been despatched for Cook Inlet on the 12th of May, 
with orders to return by the 20th of June.^^ The 
boat returned on the 11th, reporting such success that 
she was fitted out anew and despatched upon a second 
trip with positive orders to return by the 20th of 

Portlock's prolonged stay at Nuchek enabled him 
to form a very good chart of the bay, which he named 
Port Etches, while a cove on the west side was 
called Brook Cove.^^ Trade was not very active, 
and boats sent to various parts of the sound did not 

^^The boat was commanded by Hay ward, third mate. 

'^A smoke-house was erected for the purpose of curing salmon; an abun- 
dance of spruce beer was brewed and a number of spars were secured from 
the virgin forest lining the shores of the bay. At the head of one of the 
coves an inscription was discovered upon a tree, which Portlock believed to 
be Greek, made by a man living among the natives, but which of course was 
Russian. Portlock left a wooden vane and inscription on Garden Island to 
the south side of Nuchek Harbor. Garden strawberries are now found on 
this and other points of Niichek Island — probably the result of Portlock's 
experiment. Voy., 232, 243. 


meet with mudi success, some of them being robbed 
not only of trading goods and provisions, but of 
clothes and arms belonging to the men. The whale- 
boat and yawl were left high ashore by the ebb-tide 
to the eastward of Nuchek Island, and in that help- 
less condition the crews were surrounded by two hun- 
dred natives and completely stripped, the only result 
of the expedition being the discovery that Nuchek 
was an island, a fact already ascertained by the 

On the 22d of July the long-boat returned from 
her second and less remunerative voyage to Cook 
Inlet, and three days later the King George sailed out 
of Port Etches, passing round the west side of Mon- 
tague Island. Portlock sighted Mount Fairweather, 
but failed to find Cross Sound, which he had looked 
for in vain the preceding season. On the 5 th of 
August he found a harbor, which was named' after 
himself, about twelve leagues to the southward of 
Cape Cross as located by Cook.^^ Here the King 
George anchored once more and the boats were sent 
out in search of inhabitants and trade. Only a few 
natives visited the ships, for no permanent settlement 
existed thereabout. The long-boat, however, under 
Hayward, made a quite successful trip to Norfolk 
Sound, passing on the return voyage through Klokat- 
chef Sound Cook Bay of Islands.'' On the 23d of 
August the King George set sail; left the coast of 
Alaska for the Hawaiian Islands, the next rendezvous 
appointed with Dixon. 

" The latitude of the ship's position in this hai'bor is given as 57° 46', but 
while Portlock's sketch seems plain enough, no latei- navigator has confirmed 
the contours of the bay. On the latest chart issued by the United States 
Hydrographic Office a simple break in the coast line under the latitude given 
is indicated as Portlock Harbor. It must exist somewhere on the west coast 
of Chichagof Island. 

'8 The inhabitants of Norfolk Sound had shown some disposition to hos- 
tility toward the crew of the long-boat, but about the ship they confined 
themselves merely to stealing. Dixon, in his narrative, spoke of having seen 
here a white linen shirt worn by an Indian, which he believed to be of Span- 
ish make, but it is much more probable that the garment had found its way 
there from some point of the coast where the Astrolabe and Boutssole had 


Dixon had in the mean time sailed eastward along 
the coast, and more fortunate than Portlock he did not 
overlook the wide entrance of Yakutat Bay, which 
he entered the 23d of May. He discovered and sur- 
veyed a fine harbor on the south side, which he named 
Port Mulgrave. Here the Queen Charlotte remained 
nearly two weeks, meeting at first with some success 
in trading, though the natives were in possession of 
Russian beads and ironware. An exploration of the 
neighborhood in boats convinced Dixon that the shores 
of the bay were thinly peopled. ^^ 

On the 4th of June he proceeded eastward in search 
of some port where better trade might be found. 
Owing to his distance from the coast he failed to 
observe Cross Sound, but on the 11th he sighted 
Mount Edgecombe, and the following day entered and 
named Norfolk Sound."*' A survey was made which 
resulted in a very fair chart. Natives made their 
appearance as the ship was passing into the bay and 
for three days trade was brisk. 

On the 24th of June the Queen Charlotte left Nor- 
folk Sound, and on the following day another harbor 
was observed and named Port Banks, probably the 
present Whale Bay, in latitude 56° 35'. The wind 
not being favorable no attempt w^as made to enter, 
and about the 1st of July Dixon left the coast of 
Alaska to meet with his first marked success in trading 
at Clark Bay on the north-western extremity of 
Queen Charlotte Islands. The events of his voyage 
below this point are told in another volume. ^^ 

'* Dixon estimated a population of only 70, including women and children, 
which is much too low. His description of the natives is not very accurate. 
See Native Jlaces, i. passim, this series. 

^^ The natives seemed to Dixon more easy to deal with than those at Port 
Mulgrave. During an exploration of the bay in boats some inconvenience 
was experienced from their thieving propensities. The astronomical position 
of his anchorage on the east shore of Kruzoi Island -was lat. 70° 3', long. 135° 
38'. He applied the name of White Point to the Beach Cape of the Russians. 
The whole estuary was named after the duke of Norfolk. 

'^^Hist. Northwest Coast, i., this series. All our information concerning the 
visits of the Khig George and Qiieni Charlotte to the Alaskan coast is derived 
from the narratives of Dixon and Portlock, and to a limited extent from that 
of Meares. Portlock's narrative was published in London in 1799 under the 


The next exploration of Prince William Sound and 
the coast east of it took place during the second voy- 
age of the Trekh Sviatiteli, in connection with Sheli- 
kof's plans for the development and extension of his 
colony. This vessel had arrived at Kadiak from 
Okhotsk in April 1788 and was at once desj)atched 
upon a trading and exploring voyage to the eastward, 
under Ismailof and Bocharof, both holding the rank of 
masters in the imperial navy with special instructions 
furnished by Jacobi, then governor general of Siberia, 
and supplemented by orders of Eustrate Delarof who 
had succeeded Samoilof in the command of the colony. 
The crew consisted of forty Russians and four natives 
of Kadiak who were to serve as interpreters. In ad- 
dition to as full an armament and equipment as cir- 
cumstances would allow the expedition was supplied 
with a number of painted posts and boards, copper 

title of ^ Voyage round the World, but more particularly to the North- West Coast 
of America: j^erformed in 17S5, 17S6, 1787, and 1788, 4to. The volume bears 
eNddence of the honest and careful investigations by a strict disciplinarian 
who left the commercial part of his enterprise to others. It is profusely 
illustrated with maps and sketches of scenery, etc. The latter, made chiefly 
by an apprentice named Woodcock, have evidently suffered at the hand of 
the engraver, for it is scarcely probable that the young man should have 
originally represented Alaska with groves of palms and other tropical trees, 
to say nothing of three-story houses. Another remarkable feature is that, 
though the special charts and sketches are generally correct, the general chart 
of the coast from Norfolk Sound to Kadiak is full of glaring inaccuracies. 
Beginning in the east, Portlock Harbor in dimensions is represented out of 
all proportion to those of the special chart and the text. The next discrep- 
ancy occurs at Nuchek Island, called Rose Island on the chart, which is drawn 
at least four times too large, and its contours as well as those of Port Etches 
are not in conformity with the special chart and the text. IMontague Island 
is also represented too large, three very deep and conspicuous bays on its 
north-eastern end are omitted, though the vessel's track is laid down within 
a mile of the shore, and the harbors on the west coast are not laid in to agree 
with special charts and text. In Cook Inlet, Graham Harbor is made at 
least six times too large, but Cape Elizabeth is depicted for the first time 
correctly as an island. Shelikof Strait, though known to the Russians for 
several years, and named Petrie by Meares, is still closed on this chart and 
its upper portion, just south of Cape Douglas, retains the name of Smoky Bay, 
given by Cook. The strait between Kadiak and Afognak is duly indicated, 
but the former island is rexjresented as part of the continent, while Afognak 
and Shuiak are made one island and named Kodiac. The coast of the Kenai 
peninsula between Cape Elizabeth and Prince William Sound was evidently 
laid down from Vancouver's chart, but its corrections in Piince William 
Sound have been entirely ignored. The compilation of the general chart must 
have been entrusted to incompetent hands, without being revised by any one 
familiar with Portlock's notes and sui-veys. 


plates and medals, "to mark the extent of Russia's 
domain." ^^ 

On the 2d of May the ship put to sea, and three 
days later made Cape Clear, the southernmost point 
of Montague Island. ^^ No safe anchorage was found 
until the 10th, when the Trekh Sviatiteli entered the 
capacious harbor of Nuchek or Hinchinbrook Island. 
On the same day an exploring party was sent out in 
boats, and on the northern side of the island a wooden 
cross was erected with an inscription claiming the 
country as Russian territory.^^ 

The events of 1787-8 must have been puzzling to the 
natives of Prince William Sound. Englishmen under 
the English flag, Englishmen under the Portuguese 
flag, Spaniards and Russians, were cruising about, 
often within a few miles of each other, taking posses- 
sion, for one nation or the other, of all the land in 
sight. The Princesa from Mexico appears to have 
left Nuchek two days before the Russians arrived 
there; the Prince of Wales, Captain Hutchins, must 
have been at anchor in Spring Corner Cove about 
the same time, and shortly after the Iphigenia, Cap- 
tain Douglas, entered the same cove,^^ while Portlock 
left traces near by two months later. Douglas touched 
the southern part of Alaska also in the following 
year, and sought to acquire fame by renaming Dixon 
Entrance after himself 

Bocharof carefully surveyed the inner harbor, the 
Brook Cove of Portlock, and named it St Constantino 
and St Helena, after the day of arrival. On the 27th 
of May the TreJch Sviatiteli returned to the coast of 
Montague Island. Some trading was done here de- 

^^ Shelikof, Putesh., ii. 2, 3. 

^^ The two navigators declared that this was the Cape St Elias of Bering, 
without any apparent basis for their opinion and without considering that in 
such a case the Russian discoverer could never have been within thirty miles 
of the American continent, 

^* At its fort a copper plate was buried, proclaiming the same. Id. , ii. 7. 

'■'^ The latter found the following inscriptions cut into the bark of two 
trees: 'Z. Etches of the Prince of Wales, May 9, 1788,' and 'John Hutchins.' 
Meares' Voy., 316. 


spite the presence of the Enghsh who paid such prices 
as the Russians never dreamed of.^^ 

By advice of a native Ismailof proceeded to Achakoo 
Island,^^ some distance to the southward, which was 
dascribed as abounding in sea-otters. Not finding a 
harbor he landed in a boat with seventeen men and a 
Chugatsch pilot. After trading amicably for some 
time the commander sent off a party of eight men to 
gather eggs on the cliffs, but they soon came back 
reporting that several bidars filled with Chugatsches 
were approaching. This aroused susjoicion among the 
promyshleniki, and their alarm was increased by the 
discovery that the Chugatsch guide had disappeared. 
The chief in command of the native hunting party 
professed to have no knowledge of the deserter, and 
offered to go in search of him with five Russians in a 
bidar. Four of these men the cunning savage sent 
into the interior upon a false trail, and then drawing 
a spear from under his parka he attacked the remain- 
ing Russian with great fury. One of the other men 
returned to assist his comrade, but both had a severe 
struggle with the savage, who was at last despatched 
with a musket ball.^*^ As soon as the others returned 
the party hurried on board, the anchor was raised, 
and all speed was made to depart. 

On the 1st of June the Trekh Sviatiteli arrived at 
the island of Kyak,^^ which was uninhabited, though 
the natives from the mainland came at times to hunt 
sea-otters and foxes. The adjoining coast was thor- 
oughly explored, but the inhabitants fled in alarm, 
abandoning their huts and canoes whenever the clumsy 
boats of the Russians came in sight. After a slow 
advance easterly, the large bay of Yakutat was reached 
on the 11th of June. Here the chief of the Thlin-' 

■^* They found the chiefs rather diffident in accepting one of the Russian 
medals sent out by Governor Jacobi. The presence of a Spanish /ra^ato on 
the other side of the Island may have had something to do with it. 

''■'' Ochek of Russian charts and Middleton Island of Vancouver. 

^^Shdlkof, Pittcsh., ii. 29-31. 

2' Koriak in Ismailof 's Jounved; Kaye of Cook. Pallas, Neue Nordische 
Beltruyc, v. 211. 


keet nation made his appearance, having travelled up 
the coast from his winter residence at Chilkaht with a 
retinue of over two hundred warriors including two 
of his sons. Intercourse was carried on with great 
caution, but in trading Isma'ilof was much more suc- 
cessful than Dixon. In addition to his purchases he 
obtained a large number of skins from his Kadiak 
hunters, who in their bidarkas could go far out to sea, 
where the open wooden canoes of the Thlinkeets did 
not dare to follow. In order to draw attention from 
this rivalry ceremonious visits and exchange of pres- 
ents were kept up. The Russian commander could 
not have failed to hear of Dixon's visit, but not a 
word about it can be found in his journal. In this 
he probabl}^ obeyed instructions, for even business 
letters from the islands to Siberia were in those 
days frequently tampered with by the authorities of 
Okhotsk and Kamchatka, and it was the interest of 
Shelikof and his partners to have I^nglish claims to 
prior occupation ignored. 

Isma'ilof dwells much upon his efforts to induce the 
Thlinkeet chiefs to place themselves under the pro- 
tection of Russia, and before leaving he presented to 
Chief Ilkhak the portrait of Tsarovich Paul "■ at his 
earnest request," and decorated him with one of the 
medals sent out by the governor general of Siberia. 
Copper plates inscribed ^' Possession of the Russian 
Empire" were also buried on two points on the bay.^*^ 
Two enslaved boys of the Chugatsch and Chilkaht 
tribes were purchased, who proved of great service 
as interpreters, and in giving information concerning 
the coast southward and eastward. 

From Yakutat the Trekh Sviatiteli proceeded east- 
ward in search of another harbor. The Chugatsch boy 
acted as pilot and pointed out the mouths of several 
rivers, but no landing-place was discovered until the 

^^ Two years latei' not a trace could be found of portraits, medal, or cop- 
per plates, which makes it appear that Ilkhak's respect for the Russian impe- 
rial family was not as great as represented. Ismctilofs Journal, 14-15. 


third day, M^ien the vessel entered Ltua Bay or Port 
des Frangais. Trade was quite active here for some 
days, and in the mean time Ismailof carried out his 
secret instructions by estabhshing marks of Russian 
occupation at various points, and perhaps destroying 
the monument left by La Perouse.^^ 

The results of Ismailof's explorations during the 
summer of 1788 were of sufficient importance to stimu- 
late Delarof to further attempts in the same direc- 
tion, but before following these it is necessary to turn 
our attention to a visit of the Spaniards in the same 

Housed by the reports of La Perouse and others 
concerning the spread of Russian settlements in the 
far north, and the influx of English and other trad- 
ing vessels, the Spanish government in 1787 or- 
dered the viceroy of Mexico to despatch at once an 
expedition to verify these accounts and examine the 
north-western coast for places that might be desirable 
of occupation in anticipation of foreign designs. On 
March 8, 1788, accordingly the fragata Princesa and 
the paquebot San Carlos, under Alferez Estevan Jose 
Martinez and the pilot Gonzalo Lopez de Haro, set 
sail from San Bias, with the additional instructions to 
ascend to latitude 61° and examine the coast down to 
Monterey ; to avoid all trouble with the Russians, and 
to conciliate native chiefs with gifts and promises.^^ 

'^ No reference is made in his journal to the tablets and monument placed 
by the French, though he was informed by the natives of the visit of two large 
ships to the harbor and saw many tools and implements marked with the 
royal fleur de U-:. A small anchor similarly marked was secured. The re- 
ports of Ismailof and Bocharof have been preserved in their original bad 
spelling and grammar, not easy to imitate, and we must therefore presume 
that they were written in the unsatisfactory and fragmentary shape in which 
we find them. 

^^ A man should, if possible, be obtained from each tribe speaking a dis- 
tinct tongue, as interpreter; frequent landings must be made for explora- 
ting and taking possession; Russian establishments must be closely inspected 
to ascertain their strength, object, etc. ' No deberdn empenar lance alguno 
con los buques rusos 6 de otra nacion.' Provisions were taken for 15 months. 
It was at first proposed to send the fragatas Conccpcion and Farorita, under 
Teniente Camacho and Alf6rez Maurelle, but sickness and delays caused the 
change to be made. For details of instructions, etc., see Cuarta cxploracion de 


"Without touching any intermediate point they ar- 
rived before Prince WiUiam Sound May 17th, anchor- 
ing eleven days later on the north side of Montague 
Island in a good harbor, which was named Puerto de 
Floras. Here they took possession and remained till 
"the 15th of June in friendly intercourse with the 
natives, while the boats were sent out to explore in 
the vicinity.^^^ Without further effort to examine the 
sound, Martinez turned south-eastward, sighting the 
Miranda volcano on the 24th of June, and anchoring 
at the east point of Trinity Island three days later. 
Shelikof Strait was named Canal de Flores.^* Mean- 
while Haro, who had lost sight of the consort vessel, 
sailed close along the east coast of Kadiak, and noti- 
fied by a native of the Russian colony at Three Saints 
he visited it, and entertained the officers in return. 

Delarof, the chief of the colony, understood the 
object of the Spaniards, and took the opportunity to 
impress upon them that the tsar had firmly established 
his domain in this quarter as far as latitude 52° by 
means of six settlements with over four hundred men, 
who controlled six coast vessels and were regularly 
supplied and visited by three others. It was also pro- 
posed to found a station at Nootka in the following 
year.^^ In the interest of ruler and employers this 

descubrimientos de la costa setentrional de California hasta los 61 grados... 
por. . .Jos6 Martinez. . .1788, in V'iagefi al Norte, MS., No. vii. 

^3 No Russians were met; yet a log-house was found in a bay near the 
north end of the island, probably a relic of Zai'kof's wintering four years 
before. Martinez long persisted in declaring that the entrance here did not 
lead to Prince William Sound. 

^^ The east point of Trinity was called Florida Blanca. A taciturn Russian 
who had lived there for nine years, came on board and offered to care for the 
cross erected by the Spaniards. 

^^ Delarof had 60 Russians and 2 galeotas at his place; at Cabo de Rada 
were 37 men; at Cape Elizabeth, 40 men; on a small island in Canal de Flores, 
latitude 58°, 40 men; a reenforcement of 70 men had sailed for Cook Inlet to 
.sustain the establishment there; in latitude 52° 20' on the continent were 55 
men and one galeota; at Unalaska, 120 men with two galeotas. Total, six 
establishments with six galeotas and 422 men, besides a galeota with 40 men, 
which annually sailed on the coast as far as Nootka, gathering furs and stor- 
ing them in two magazines at Prince William Sound. Every other year two 
fragatas came from Siberia with men and supplies, going as far as Nootka and 
.replacing the men whose term of service had exph-ed. C'uarta Explor., in 
-Viajes al Norte, MS., pt. vii, 309-10. Delarof 's stories were readily beUeved 


exaggeration of facts seemed perfectly proper, and it 
assisted no doubt to reconcile the Spanish government 
to Russian occupation in the extreme north, but the 
hint about a projected establishment at Nootka assisted 
greatly to precipitate active measures by Spain, which 
resulted only in a humiliating withdrawal on her part 
in favor of a stronger and more determined power, 
which effectually checked the advance of Russia. The 
w^ily Greek overreached himself 

Haro now rejoined his leader, and both vessels left 
on July 5th for Unalaska.^^ While anchoring off its 
northern point, Martinez on July 21st took possession 
in the name of Spain, and w^as shortly after visited by 
Russians from the station on the eastern side of the 
island, to which the vessels now proceeded.^^ Here 
they remained till August 18th, caring for the sick 
and taking in supplies, with the kind assistance of 
Potap Zaikof, the commandant. Martinez considered 
the season too far advanced to explore the coast east- 
ward, or even to seek Nootka, and all speed was there- 
upon made for the south, the Princesa stopping at 
Monterey, in California, to recruit, while Haro lin- 
gered for a time round the islands with half an inten- 
tion to do something more toward the fulfilment of 
the orders from Mexico, and then hurried straight to 
San Bias to cover faintheartedness and neglect under 
the plea probably that the knowledge obtained from 
Russians of their doings and intentions, and of the 
frequency of foreign visits, made coast exploration less 
needful under the circumstances, while it was above 
all urgent to impart the news to the governor.^ 

by Haro, whose liking for the commandant was greatly influenced by the 
similarity of his name, in its original Greek form, to his own. 

^^ Lighting a group called del Fuegos, the Shumagin Islands, and ' el cabo 
donde dijeron los rusos de Kodiac que habia vn establecimiento de 55 indivi- 
duos y una galeota sobre la costa firme en 52° 20'.' /(/., 312; but this must be 
a misunderstanding. On the 11th they anchored off an island recorded as 
Kodiac, and on the 16th they sight the active volcano on Unimak. 

2' The Princesa entered on July 28th; the San Carlos, again separated, 
rejoined her a week later. There were 120 men at this place. 

^^On reporting the despatch of the present expedition, Viceroy Flores 
expressed himself to the king as if he expected that Russians would have to 


The indiscreet hint of Delarof was not lost at 
Mexico, for Viceroy Flores resolved at once to send 
back Martinez and Haro to secure Nootka, at least, 
from Russian and other intruders, and thence to ex- 
tend Spanish settlement if the king should so direct. 
This expedition, and the momentous question to which 
it gave rise, have been fully considered in my History 
of the Northwest Coast. 

While in occupation of Nootka the Spaniards made 
several exploring tours, and one of these, under Lieu- 
tenant Salvador Fidalgo, was directed to complete 
what Martinez had left undone by examining the 
coast from latitude 60° southward. He was pro- 
vided with Russian and English interpreters. He 
set sail from Nootka on May 4, 1790, in the paque- 
bot Filipino, and entered Prince WilHam Sound on 
the 23d, taking the vessel into the nearest large bay 
on the eastern side, which was named Menendez. 
After exploring its shores till June 9th he proceeded 
northward, naming successively the bays of Gravina, 
Rivella Gigedo,^" Mazarredo, and Valdes. After more 
than one detention from fogs and gales Fidalgo passed 
round to Cook Inlet in the begining of July, and 
was piloted into Coal Harbor which he chose to name 
Puerto de Revilla Gigedo.**' 

Learning of the arrival of Billings' expedition at 
Kadiak the Spanish commander hastened forth on 
August 8th to meet it, but came too late. After a 
short interview with Delarof he turned eastward with 
a view to reach the continental coast and explore it a& 

be ousted by force. Id., 291. Bustamante assumes that the strength of the 
Russians alone kept the Spaniards back. Cavo, TresSir/los, iii. 148-9. 

^' At the head of this bay the movements of glaciers was attributed to an 
active volcano which received the name of Fidalgo; the isle at the entrance to 
the bay was called del Conde. On the western side Port Santiago was entered. 
The north end of the sound is placed in 61° 10'. The Indians proved very 
friendly, assisting both with provisions and labor. 

*" Without paying attention to the reports of previous Spanish explorers 
Fidalgo caused the Cape Elizabeth of Cook to be explored anew, and finding 
it an isle, with a harbor to the northeast, he applied fresh names. Two points 
to the west and north in the inlet were called Gaston and Cuadra. Below 
Cape Elizabeth was observed Camacho Island. 
Hist. Alaska. 18 


far as Nootka, but the wind proved unfavorable and 
Fidalgo became fainthearted. No less eager than 
he to return home, the council of officers came to re- 
lieve his conscience by declaring that the coast in this 
latitude could not be followed after the middle of 
August, owing to gales and dark weather. The course 
was thereupon changed for Nootka, but a storm com- 
ing upon them off this place they passed on to Mon- 
terey and thence to San Blas.^^ 

At this time M. Buache of Paris had undertaken 
to defend the existence of the interoceanic passage of 
Maldonado,*^ and impressed by so eminent authority 
the Spanish government resolved to investigate the 
matter. The commission was entrusted to Alejandro 
Malaspina, who about the time of Fidalgo 's return 
happened to arrive at Acapulco in command of the 
corvettes Desciibierta and Atrevida, on a scientific ex- 
ploring tour round the world. He accordingly set sail 
on May 1, 1791, and on June 23d sighted land near 
Cape Edgecumbe, entering shortly after Port Mul- 
grave, thence to explore in boats for Maldonado's pas- 
sage, and to take possession. The search proved 
fruitless,^^ and on July 5th he proceeded northward 
past Kyak Island to Prince William Sound. After 
a few observations in this quarter he turned southward 
again; contented himself with a mere glance at Cross 
Sound and the inlets below, and entered Nootka to 
expend his main efforts on a recalculation of its lati- 

*^ The report of this expedition, including descriptions of country, natives, 
and settlers, is given in Viajes al Norte, MS., No. 8, under the title of Viage 
del x)aquehot ' Filipino ' mandado par el teniente de navio D. Salvador Fidalgo del 
puerto de Nootha. . .para los reconocimientos del Principe Guillermoy rio de 
Cook, 343-82. Also Tabla que manifesta, in the same collection, No. 10; 
Bevilla Gigedo, In/orme, 140-1; Navarrete, Viages Apdc, 64-6; Id., in Sutil y 
Mexicana, Viage, cix.-xii.; Cavo, Tres Siglos, iii. 140. 

*^For a consideration of this extraordinary topic, see Hist. Northwest 
Coast, i., this series. 

^^ The bay was named las Bancas, the port Desengaiio, and the interior 
island Haenke. A very alluring description is given of the scenery and also 
of natives, despite the inconvenience suffered from their thieving propensi- 


tude and longitude, whereupon he turned toward New 

Malaspina's report, together with those obtained 
from Russian and other navigators, was deemed suffi- 
cient to dissipate the behef in a passage north of Port 
Bucareh ; but from this point down a careful examina- 
tion appeared to be advisable, particularly with a view 
to test the claim for Admiral Fonte's discovery, 
which was now eclipsing that of Maldonado. A new 
expedition accordingly departed in 1792 from San 
Bias, under Lieutenant Jacinto Caamano, command- 
ing the fragata Aranzazu. After leaving at Nootka 
certain supplies he proceeded on June 13th to Port 
Bucareli, exploring in that vicinity for nearly a month 
without arriving at any solution of his problem, and 
then turning southward to examine with no better 
result Dixon Strait and the eastern coast of the 
channel dividing Queen Charlotte Island from the 
main. The strait he sought very properly to name 
after its discoverer, Perez.*^ 

Before this, in 1791, the French were again repre- 
sented on the Northwest Coast in the person of 
Etienne Marchand, captain of the Solide, who had 
left Marseilles at the close of the previous year on a 
voyage for trade and circumnavigation. He first 
sighted the coast at Cape Edgecumbe on August 7th, 
and shortly after entered Norfolk Sound. ^"^ He found 
the natives abundantly supplied with European goods, 
and inclined to drive hard bargains for the small stock 
of furs left in their hands, so that bartering was not 
very successful. On the 21st he proceeded to Queen 

*^Malaspina, Viage 1791, in Navarrete, Viages Apdc, 96-S, 268-320; 
Navarrete, \n. Sutily Mex., Viage, cxii.-xxiii. 

*'" The main features of this exploration have been considered in Hist. 
Northivest Coast, i., this sei'ies. Navarrete and others are at fault concern- 
ing the dates of Caamauo's movements. The exploration of Bucareli oc- 
cupied him from June 25th. On July 20th he anchored at the entrance to 
Dixon Strait. A short distance north of this he had exammed and named the 
harbor of Baylio Bazan. Caamano, Exped., Aranzazu, in Col. Doc. hied., xv. 
323-63; Navarrete, in Sutil y Mex., Viage, cxxiu.-xxxi.; Revilla Gigedo, In- 
forme, 12 de Abril, 1793, 144; Cavo, Tres Siglos, iii. 144. 

*^ For these places the Spanish names are used. The Indians called the 
sound Tchinkltan6. 


Charlotte Island, where his most valuable explora- 
tions were made during a vain effort to find better 
trade/^ Several other traders visited the southern 
shores of Alaska during these and following years, 
but the few records left of their movements concern 
chiefly my History of the Northwest Coast, to which I 
refer the reader for text as well as maps. 

The result of the Nootka controversy, brought 
about by hast}^ action of the Spaniards, as well as the 
belief in an interoceanic passage, revived by Buache 
and others, and supported by the revelation of numer- 
ous channels all along the Northwest Coast, deter- 
mined the English government to send an expedition 
to this region. The explorations of Cook west and 
north of latitude 60° were deemed conclusive, but be- 
low this point they required to be completed and veri- 
fied. This commission was entrusted to George 
Vancouver, who departed from England in April 
1791 in the sloop Discovery of twenty guns, accom- 
panied by the tender Chatham of ten guns, under 
Lieutenant W. R. Broughton. The year 1792 was 
spent in explorations south of the Alaska line, but in 
July 1793 the expedition reached the entrance of Port- 
land Inlet and sent boats to examine its two branches. 
The dawning hope of here finding Fonte's passage was 
quickly dissipated, and the boats proceeded north- 
ward through Behm Canal. On descending its south- 
western turn along Revilla Gigedo Island, as it was 
now shown to be, Vancouver had a narrow escape 
from a party of natives who attacked his boat with 
muskets and other weapons. The prompt appearance 
of the second boat changed the turn of afifairs. The 
party now passed into Duke of Clarence Strait — named 
by Caamano after Admiral Fonte — and returned to 
the ships.^^ 

" As related in Hist. Northu-est Coast, i., this series. Marchand, Voyage au- 
tour du Monde, i. 288-92; ii. 1 et scq. The natives of Norfolk Sound are spoken 
of as extremely immoral. 

**The names applied on the map along this tour are Portland Inlet and its 


These proceeded August l7th up the last named 
strait to Port Protection on the north end of Prince 
of Wales Island, which was reached Septeniber 8th, 
after an intermediate stay at Port Stewart. The 
boats meanwhile explored past Cape Caamano, the 
highest point reached by the Spanish explorer of this 
name, and up Prince Ernest Sound round Duke of 
York Island, which later discoveries dissolved into a 
group. The mouth of the Stikeen was observed, but 
not as the outlet of a large stream.*" The season 
now well advanced, it was resolved to terminate the 
extensive surveys for the season and seek a well earned 
rest in sunnier latitudes. 

Vancouver congratulated himself that " there would 
no longer remain a doubt as to the extent or the fal- 
lacy of the pretended discoveries said to have been 
made by De Fuca and De Fonte." He had demon- 
strated that the continent, with a range of mountains 
broken by rivers alone, extended from Columbia Piver 
to beyond the northern extreme of Prince of Wales 
Island. To the part of the main below Pitt Archi- 
pelago he applied the names of New Hanover and 
New Georgia; thence to the northern line of the 
present survey, New Cornwall. 

On the 21st of September the vessels left Port 
Protection, and passed Port Bucareli, southward by 
way of Nootka and California to the Hawaiian Islands, 
there to winter. On March 15, 1794, sails were again 

two branches, Portland Canal and Observatory Inlet, the latter examined 
shortly before by Mr Brown of the Butterworth; Bocas de Quadra; Behm 
Canal, m honor of the Kamchatkan governor who showed attention to Cook's 
expedition in 1779; the points at its entrance were called Sykes and Alava, 
the latter after the commandant at Nootka. Along this canal: New Eddy- 
stone rock — resembling a lighthouse — Walker Cove, Burrough Bay, Traitor 
Cove — to commemorate the attack by natives — Port Stewart and Beaton 
Island; Point Vallenar, the north end of Gravlna Island, and Cape Northum- 
berland, its south point, besides a number of intermediate promontories. 

*^ Along the east side of Prince of Wales Island and its adjoining parts 
are marked Moira Sound, Wedge Island, Cholmondeley Sound, Port Grin- 
dall. The entrance to Prince Ernest Sound is marked by points Onslow and 
Le Mesurier, and along its course are Bradfield Canal, and Duncan Canal. 
Along the western extension of Duke of Clarence Strait, Point Baker forming 
the north end of Prince of Wales Island, Conclusion Island, and Affleck 
■Canal; below lie Coronation and Warren Islands, the latter facing Cape Pole. 


set for the north, and on April 5th Trinity Island was 
sighted.^" Seven days later the Discovery entered 
Cook Inlet and proceeded northward to its very head. 
Finding that it was not the mouth of a large river as 
Cook had supposed, a fact well known to the Russians, 
Vancouver changed the name to its present form. 
The Chatham having arrived, both vessels visited the 
factory half way up the inlet in charge of Zaikof,^^ 
and rounded Cape Elizabeth May 14th, en route for 
Prince William Sound, where anchor was cast in Port 
Chalmers on the west side of Montague Island. Boats 
were now sent out to examine the sonnd and adjoining 
lands, and the Chatham proceeded to survey the main 
coast to Yakutat Bay, there to await the Discovery. 
The survey of the sound resulted in a number of 
corrections, notably on the maps of Cook, yet Spanish 
and other existing nomenclature was as a rule main- 
tained. Aid was also obtained from Russian material 
from which source the configuration of Kadiak Island 
and the region westward had to be adopted.^' The 
Russians under Baranof, who resided on Kadiak and 
controlled chiefly establishments along the sea border, 
observed greater reticence, as noticed in connection 
with Ismailof's exploration; but those of the other 
company, occupying Cook Inlet and Hinchinbrook 
Island, were more communicative. They admitted 
that the easternmost factory was on this island, 
though trading expeditions roamed beyond toward 
Nootka. The total force employed was about four 
hundred, independent of native employes. The abo- 

^° On the 3d Akamok Island was sighted and named after Chirikof. 

" A smaller factory existed higher up on the opposite western side. Alex- 
androvsk escaped observation. Names weie applied to several points along 
the coasts and at the head, and the harbor at Cape Elizabeth was renamed 
Port Chatham. The portage from Turn-again Arm to Prince William Sound 
was noticed. 

^2 Among the names added to the Sound chart, were Port Bainbridge, 
Passage Canal, and Port Wells, where the supposed volcano of the Spanish 
expedition is referred to merely as a moving glacier. One of the inlets re- 
ceived tlie name of Fidalgo, to commemorate his exploration. The island 
north-east of Hinchuibrook was called Hawkins. Copper River received no 
place on the chart. The w aters of the sound were found to have encroached 
rapidly on tlie shore line during the past decade. 


riginal population appeared exceedingly scanty, espe- 
cially on the sound. Vancouver "clearly understood 
that the Russian government had little to. do with 
these settlements; that they were solely under the 
direction and support of independent mercantile com- 
panies," whose members appeared to live highly con- 
tented among the natives, exercising over them an 
influence due not to fear but to affection, and fostered 
by training the children in the Russian language and 
customs. ^^ 

The Discovery left the sound June 20th to join the 
consort vessel,^* which was observed in Yakutat Bay 
and instructed to follow. This bay was named after 
Bering '4rom a conviction of its being the place that 
Beering had visited." ^^ A Russian party under Pur- 
tof, with nearly a thousand natives from Kadiak and 
Cook Inlet, hunted here at the time, though amidst 
many apprehensions, owing to the rather unfriendly 
attitude of the inhabitants. Near by appeared the 
Jackall, Captain Brown, cruising along this coast for 
the third consecutive season. ^^ 

Cross Sound was entered on July 7th, and anchor 
cast in Port Althorp, on the north end of Chichagof 
Island, called after King George by Vancouver. From 
here a boat explored Lynn CanaP' which almost 
touches the headwaters of the mighty Yukon, and 

*^ Vancouver's Voy., iii. 199-201. The natives of the sound were not so 
docile, yet hardly less trusted by the Russians. This assimilation of the two 
peoples must give the Russians a decided 'advantage over all other civilized 
nations ' for controlling trade. 

^* Cape St Elias of Kyak Island was renamed Cape Hamond; and lower 
on the coast names were applied to several points. 

5^ The Bering Bay as located by Cook was voted a mistake. While apply- 
ing this name to Yakutat, Mulgrave was retained for the harbor on its south 
shore. The points at the entrance to the bay received the names Mauby and 
Phipps. Port des Franpais was missed. As the Chatham was leaving Kyak 
Island a letter came from Shields, the English shipbuilder employed by Sheli- 
kof, offering his services. It was too late to turn back for an interview with 

5^ Brown had sent the Butterivorfh, his leading vessel, to England in 1793, 
coming to this coast in the tenders Jackall and Prince le Boo. He now turned 
for Cross Sound, with whose inlets he was well acquainted. Id., 207. 

^~' So named after Vancouver's birth-place in Norfolk. Berners Bay, Hood 
Bay, Port Frederick, and a number of capes were named, notably capes Spen- 
cer and Cross at the entrance of Cross Sound. 


thence Chatham Strait for a distance, but the large 
Glacier Bay escaped observation, although it almost 
faces the anchorage. The Arthur, Captain Barber, 
from Bengal, appeared here at the time, and out of 
consideration for the trader Vancouver stopped all 
dealing in furs by his own men. On August 1st 
the vessels anchored in Port Conclusion, inside Cape 
Ommandy at the south end of Baranof Island,^ thence 
to complete the survey to the line of the preceding 
season. Lieutenant Whidbey passed up Stephens 
Passage, which encloses Admiralty Island, and then 
down into the southern arm of Prince Frederick 
Sound, where he met Master Johnstone, the other 
boat explorer, who had examined Koo and Kuprianof 
Island. Amid rousing cheers the combined crews cele- 
brated the conclusion of their task, the exploration of 
the Northwest Coast for a passage. ^^ 

Vancouver had achieved a veritable triumph. He 
h:ad left England on the 1st of April, as he observes, 
on a fool's errand, to search for an interoceanic passage 
south of latitude 60°. The explorations and inter- 
course of the Russians with the natives had long since 
made them regard the passage as a myth, and the 
expedition ^vas by them invested almost wholly with 
political aims.^'' 

Failing in his quest, Vancouver at any rate was 
able to "remove every doubt, and set aside every 
opinion of a north-west passage, or any water com- 
munication navigable for shipping, existing within the 
north Pacific, and the interior of the American conti- 

5* Comprised by Vancouver in King George III. Archipelago, the shore 
line of which was not closely marked. 

^' Much valuable inforaiation was obtained from Captain Brown of the 
Jaclxdl, who had navigated these inlets for some time. He reported the sea- 
otter skins of this quarter to be exceedingly fine. Among the places named 
on this route are Seymor Canal, Douglas Island, ports Snettisham and Hough- 
ton, Holkham Bay, ports Camden and Malmesbury. Kuprianof Island was 
classed as a peninsula owing to certain shallows which seemed to connect it 
with the main. 

*"The exploration being a pretext for taking possession, as Zaikof expresses 
it. Journal, in Sitka Archives, MS., vi. See also Tikhmenef, Istor., ii., and 
Nordische Beitrdye. 


nent, within the hmits of our researches. "^^ In taking 
possession for England he stretched the hne only, to 
Cape Spencer, in Cross Sound, a moderation which 
the Russians could scarcely have expected.*^^ This 
additional territory, north of New Cornwall, was called 
New Norfolk, after his native county. It is to be 
observed that he generally respected the names ap- 
plied by traders or foreign officials, while adding a 
mass of new ones, and the nomenclature in his charts 
has even in Alaska met with considerable attention. 
On August 24, 1794, the expedition left Christian 
Sound for Nootka, and thence by way of California 
and Cape Horn for England, where it arrived in Sep- 
tember the following year.^^ 

*i To this end he had made surveys far more thorough than were demanded 
in his instructions, yet he felt confident that they would be approved. Van- 
converts Voy., joassim. 

^^ For the officers at the factories left him the impression that ' the Amer- 
ican continent and adjacent islands, as far to the eastward at the meridian of 
Kayes Island, belonged exclusively to the Russian empire.' Id., iii. 115, 285. 
He evidently believed that they claimed beyond tliat, however, and the gov- 
ernment certainly did, as will be seen. Vancouver foimd that the cross 
erected by Fidalgo on Hinchinbrook Island when taking possession had been 
respected, notwithstanding the royal name inscribed. Id., 171. The marks 
left by King in Cook Inlet could not be found. 

*^ During the five years' voyage the Discovery lost only 5 men by accidents 
and one from disease, out of 100 men, while the consort lost not a single man. 
a result for which the commanders cannot be too highly praised. For bibli- 
ography and other features in connection with this expedition, see Hist. 
Northwest Coast, i. this ; 




Flattering Prospects — Costly Outfit — The Usual Years of Prepara- 
tion — An Expectant World to be Enlightened — Gathering of 
the Expedition at Kamchatka^Divers Winterings and Ship-build- 
ing— Preliminary Surveys North and South — At Unalaska and 
ELadiak — Russian Rewards — Periodic Promotion of Billings — At 
St Lawrence Island — Billings' Land Journey — Wretched Condi- 
tion OF Russian Hunters — End of the Tribute System — Result 
OF the Expedition — Sarychef's Surveys — Shelikof's Duplicity — 
Priestly Performance. 

The most promising of all scientific exploring expe- 
ditions undertaken by the Russian government for 
the acquisition of a more perfect knowledge of its 
new possessions in Asia and America was that com- 
manded by Captain Joseph Billings, an Englishman 
who had served under Cook. The enterprise was 
stimulated by the report of La Perouse's departure 
upon a similar errand. The empress issued an oukaz 
on the 8th of August 1785, appointing Billings to 
the command of "A Secret Astronomical and Geo- 
graphical Expedition for navigating the Frozen Sea, 
describing its Coasts, and ascertaining the Situation 
of the Islands in the Seas between the two Continents 
of Asia and America."^ 

The senate and admiralty college confirmed and 
supplemented the appointments, and in September 
Lieutenant Sarychef of the navy was despatched to 
the port of Okhotsk with a party of ship-builders, 
under orders to construct two vessels in accordance 

^Sauer^a Oeog. and Astron. Exped., 1, 


with plans furnished by another Englishman, Mr 
Lamb Yeames. The governor general of Irkutsk 
and Kolivansk had received instructions to furnish 
the necessary material. 

Captain Billings set out upon his journey a few 
weeks later, accompanied by Lieutenant Hall, Sur- 
geon Robeck, Master Batakof of the navy, and Mar- 
tin Sauer, secretary of the expedition.^ 

The party did not leave Irkutsk until the 9th of 
May 1786. Two medical oflScers and naturalists 
were added at the last moment — a German, Dr. 
Merck, with an English assistant, John Main, 

On the 29th the expedition arrived at Yakutsk, 
where the necessary arrangements had been made for 
supplies of provisions and stores and the required 
means of transportation for the different divisions to 
the mouth of the Kovima or Kolima river and to 
Okhotsk. Lieutenant Hall was in command of the 
latter and Lieutenant Bering of the former. Lieuten- 
ant Hall's division arrived at Okhotsk soon after Bil- 
lings and a few attendants had reached that seaport 
on the 3d of July. As it was found that more time 
would be consumed in building the ships than had 
been expected, Billings took some steps with a view 
of visiting the Chukchi country first, and to that 
end placed himself in communication with Captain 
Shmalef who was much respected by both Kamchat- 
kans and Chukchi. On the 3d of August all the 
officers, with the exception of Lieutenant Hall, set 

"^ Sauer gives the personnel of the expedition, as it departed from St Peters- 
burg, as follows: Joseph Billings, commander; lieutenants, Robert Hall, Ga\Til 
Sarychef, and Christian Bering, a nephew of Vitus Bering; Master Afanassia 
Bakof, rigger and store-keeper; masters Anton Batkhof and Sergei Bronnikof ; 
surgeons, Michael Robeck and Peter Allegretti; draughtsman, Luka Varonin; 
one mechanician, two ship-builders, two surgeon's mates, one master's mate; 
one boatswain; three 'court hunters' for stufl&ng birds, etc. ; eight petty officers, 
seven soldiers, riflemen, and Martin Sauer as private secretary and journalist. 
At Irkutsk the following additions were made: two Russian book-keepers and 
accountants, Vassily Diakonof and Feodor Karpof ; Lieutenant Polossof of the 
army, who was acquainted with the Chukchi language; six petty officers from 
the school of navigation at Irkutsk; three men who understood the construc- 
tion of skin boats; one turner, one locksmith; fifty Cossacks commanded by 
a sotnik; two drummers — in all 69 men in addition to the 36 from St Peters- 
burg. Id., 12, 13. 


out for the Kovima River, the last named taking the 
place of Lieutenant Sarychef in superintending the 
construction of the ships. Toward the end of Sep- 
tember Billings and his party arrived at Verkhnoi 
Kovima, but only to find that winter had alread}^ set 
in with great severity, and to meet with almost insur- 
mountable difficulties in obtaining shelter and sup- 
plies. The sufferings during the winter were very 
great on account of the extreme cold as well as the 
scarcity of provisions; but better times came with 

The work of preparing for the northward trip was 
never relaxed, and on the 25th of Ma}^ 1787 the main 
body of the expedition set out on two vessels which 
had been constructed during the winter, the Pallas 
and the YasatchnoL Near the mouth of the river 
Captain Shmalef was found awaiting them with some 
guides and interpreters and a large quantity of dried 
reindeer meat. The ostrog Nishnekovima was reached 
on the l7th of June. There more deer-meat was pro- 
cured and then the expedition passed on into the 

They steered eastward and on the 21st of June 
reached the place where Shalanrof had perished in 
1762. A cross marked the spot, and another was 
found near the remains of huts erected by Laptief 
and his party in 1739. Their progress was continued 
with many interruptions until the 25th of July, when 
an observation showed latitude 69° 35' 56", longitude, 
168° 54', and Billings concluded to give up all further 
attempts and i^eturn to Nishnekovima.* 

When the party arrived at Yakutsk it was found 

* In accordance with the imperial oukaz Billings here assumed the rank of 
a fleet captain of the second class, the necessary oath being administered by 
a priest brought for that purpose. Id. , G9-70. 

* Sauer and many of the officers were of the opinion that everything looked 
favorable for a passage into the Pacitic. Captain Sarychef even offered to 
undertake the enterprise in an open bidar, with six men, intending to camp 
on the beach every night, Imt Billings was deaf to all entreaties and con- 
tented himself with inducing a majority of his officers to sign a statement 
that it would be wiser to return to the Kovima. Id., 77-8. 


that a large quantity of the most important stores 
was still awaiting transportation at Irkutsk, necessi- 
tating a journey to that city on the part of Billings 
and several of his officers. This little excursion 
delayed the expedition till September 1788, when the 
greater part of the command was once more assembled 
at Okhotsk. The first and largest of the two vessels 
destined for the voyage was not launched until the 
following July. She was named the Slava Rossie, 
Glory of Kussia. The second ship, the D,ohraia Na- 
merenia, Good Intent, was launched in August, but 
was wrecked while attempting to cross the bar at 
Okhotsk. In order to get quickly at the iron work 
with which to build a new vessel the hull of the 
Namerenia was burned.^ On the 19th of September 
the Slava Rossie sailed at last and arrived at Petro- 
pavlovsk on the 1st of October. Here the ship was 
unrigged and the whole party went into winter- 
quarters to await the arrival of a store-ship with 
supplies in the spring. 

Early in March 1790 additional news arrived, 
warning Billings of the presence of a Swedish cruiser, 
the Mercury, Captain Coxe, with sixteen guns, in the 
waters he was about to navigate.*^ The Slava Rossie 
mounted sixteen brass guns, but they were only 
three-pounders. Despite the apprehension created, 
no change was made in the plans. 

On the 1st of May the whole expedition embarked 
and stood out to sea on an easterly course. The voy- 
age was tedious, no land being sighted till the 2 2d, 
when the island of Amchitka appeared in the north. 
On the 1st of June the island of Unalaska was 

^ On the 14th of September a courier arrived from Russia with intelligence 
which almost put an end to further progress of the expedition. War had 
broken out with Sweden, and the Russian government was much in want of 
money and naval officers. Id., 143. 

^ Pribylof reported that the Swedish cruiser mentioned in Billings' instruc- 
tions had actually visited the Aleutian Islands during the summer, but in view 
of the abject misery and privations in which he found the Russian traders living, 
the humane Captain Coxe abstained from hostilities and even made Pribylof, 
whom he had questioned concerning the Russian establishments, very accept- 
able presents of bread, brandy, some clothing, and a quadrant. Id., 212. 


made, and on the 3d some natives came on board, 
followed in the afternoon by a Russian in an eight- 
oar bidar. The latter conducted the vessel into Bob- 
rovoi (Beaver) Bay. Here a supply of water and 
ballast was procured and on the 13th of June the 
expedition sailed again to the north-east and north/ 

In a few days Sannakh and the Shumagin Island 
were reached/ where the Slava Rossie was visited by 
a large party of Aleuts who were hunting for the 
Panof company under superintendence of a Bussian. 
On the 26th of June a Bussian boarded the ship; he 
was accompanied by two hundred natives and came 
from Shelikof s establishment on Kadiak Island. On 
the 29th the expedition arrived in Trekh Sviatiteli, or 
Three Saints Harbor, the site of the first permanent 
settlement on the island. Eustrate Ivanovich Delarof 
was then in command of the colony. He told Sauer 
that he had despatched that year six hundred double 
bidarkas, each manned by two or three natives, to 
hunt sea-otters, sea-lions, and fur-seal; they were 
divided into six parties, each in charge of a Bussian 

The establishment at that time consisted of about 
fifty Bussians, including officers of the company and 
Master Ismailof, the same whom Cook met at Una- 
laska in 1778. He was stationed at Three Saints 
to look after the interests of the government. The 
buildings numbered five of Bussian construction, the 
barracks, offices, and counting-house, besides store- 
houses, blacksmith, carpenter, and cooper shops, and 
a ropewalk. Two vessels of about eighty tons each 

' Sauer states that the Russians then on that part of the island belonged 
to Cherepanof s company, who had resided there eight years and expected to 
be relieved that season by a party from Okhotsk. The author dwells upon 
the cruel treatment of the Aleuts at the hands of the ignorant and overbear- 
ing promyshleniki. /cZ., 150-GI. 

'' Though writing soon after Bering's and Steller's reports were published, 
Sauer states that these islands received their name from the ' discoverer, a 
Russian sailor of Bering's expedition.' The poor fellow did nothing beyond 
dying of scurvy in that neighborhood. 

' JuvenaVs Jour. , MS. , 1 et seq. Sauer bestows the highest praise upon the 
strict justice and humanity with which Delarof managed the affairs of the 
colony. Sauer' s Oeog. and Astron. Exped,, 170-1. 


stood upon the beach, armed and well guarded, serv- 
ing as a place of refuge in case of attack. Several 
gardens planted with cabbage and potatoes, and some 
cows and goats, added to the comfort of the settlers.^*' 

In the report of Billings' visit to Kadiak mention 
is made of the water-route across the Alaska peninsula 
by way of Iliamna Lake. The natives persisted in 
calling the peninsula an island, kikhtak, because they 
could pass in their canoes, without portage, from She- 
likof Strait into Bristol Bay, their main source for 
supplies of walrus ivory for spear-heads, fish-hooks, 
and various implements. 

The astronomical tent, and another constituting a 
portable church, had been pitched as soon as the ex- 
pedition arrived, and remained standing till the 6th 
of July, when the Slava Rossie once more set sail. 
Delarof accompanied Billings for the purpose of visit- 
ing a Spanish frigate reported by the natives to be 
cruising at the mouth of Cook Inlet." The com- 
mander of the expedition also intended to visit the 
Spanish ship, but the wind was unfavorable, and by 
the 8th of July they had only reached the island of 
Afognak where a settlement had already existed. On 
the 12th of July, in the neighborhood of Barren 
Islands, Delarof left the Slava Rossie in a canoe, 
giving up all hope of reaching Cook's Inlet with the 
ship. He was intrusted with messages for the Span- 
iards and the vessel was headed for Prince William 

On the 19th of July the Slava Rossie was anchored 

^° During the stay of the Slava Rossie at Three Saints Bay one of the officers 
of the company applied to the priest accompanying the expedition to baptize a 
native woman with whom he had been living several years and had children; 
they were then formally married, and Sauer speaks with much satisfaction of 
the excellent manner in which their household affairs were managed. From 
the promyshleniki and sailors in employ of the company much complaint 
was heard of the high prices they were obliged to pay the company for the 
very necessaries of life, making it almost impossible to live without becoming 
indebted to their employers. Id., 1/3. 

^^ On this occasion Sauer makes an evidently erroneous statement to the 
effect that he was informed the Spaniards were in the habit of visiting the 
Russian settlements annually, exchanging provisions and sea-otter skins for 
hardware and linen. Id., 184j Juvenal's Jour., MS., 50 et seq. 


in the same bay of Montague or Tzaklie Island where 
Cook passed some time in 1778. The astronomical 
tent was at once erected on shore under a sufficient 
guard, while boat parties set out to explore. The 
natives were quite peaceable in view of the formidable 
armament of the Slava Rossie, but they made bitter 
complaints against Russian traders who had formerly 
visited them, especially the party under Polutof in 
1783. They were assured that they need not appre- 
hend any ill-treatment from government vessels car- 
ryino' the same flag^ as the Slava Rossie. It was found 
necessary, however, to exercise the greatest vigilance 
to prevent them from stealing.^^ 

While at this anchorage, Captain Billings, who 
thought he had reached the Cape St Elias discovered 
by Bering, assumed, in accordance with his instruc- 
tions, an additional rank, the customary, oath being 
administered by the priest attached to the expedition. 
Sauer ridiculed this theory and located Cape St Elias 
to his own satisfaction on Kaye Island. 

Lieutenant Sarychef went out with a boat's crew, 
and during an absence of three days he met several 
parties of natives and saw the cross erected by Zaikof 
under Shelikof's order. On one occasion the crafty 
natives endeavored to entice him into a shallow chan- 
nel where his boat would be left grounded by the tide 
and his party exposed to attack. The device did not 
succeed, however, and Sarychef heard of the danger 
he had escaped only after his return to Okhotsk, from 
the Aleut interpreter. After Sarychef's return to 
the ship a very old native came on board and stated 
that his home was on Kaye Island which he plainly 
described. With regard to the number and nation- 

^^ Sauer states that on one occasion, when Billings entertained some of the 
natives in his tent on shore, the servant set down a tray in such a manner 
that a comer of it, containing some spoons, protruded from under the canvas. 
One of the natives attempted to appropriate the spoons, but a water-spaniel 
lying in the tent sprang at him, seized the hand holding the plunder, and held 
the thief until ordered to relinquish his hold — a circumstance which, in Sauer's 
opinion, thereafter 'kept them (the natives) honest afterwards in the dog's, 
presence.' Sauer's Geog. and Aslron. Ezped., 188. 


ality of ships that had visited his people, he was not 
positive, but remembered well that when he was a 
boy a ship had approached Kaye Island for the first 
time. When a boat was sent ashore the natives fled 
into the interior, returning only after their visitors 
had departed. They found their domiciles despoiled 
of many articles and some provisions, while some 
beads, tobacco, and iron kettles had been deposited in 
their place. As this account corresponds altogether 
with Steller's report of Khitrof's landing in 1741, 
Sauer and Sarychef came at once to the conclusion 
that Kaye Island must be the locality of Bering's 

Sauer conceived a wild plan of remaining alone 
among the natives of Prince William Sound to carry 
on explorations, with a faint hope of discovering the 
long sought for passage into the northern Atlantic. 
Billings very properly refused to sanction the plan, 
much to the chagrin of his Quixotic secretary. 

A few good spars were secured for the ship and a 
small supply of fresh fish, and on the 1st of August a 
council of officers came to the conclusion that it was 
best to return to Kamchatka. The stock of provi- 
sions was not sufficient to maintain the whole com- 
pany during the winter in a country apparently with- 
out any reliable natural resources ; the season was far 
advanced and it appeared scarcely safe to continue 
the work of surveying in an almost unknown region 
with a single vessel. A south-westerly course was 
adopted, but the winds were adverse, and by the 
beginning of September the Slava Rossie was still 
tossing about in unknown seas, unable to obtain any 
correct observations. A squall carried away the fore- 
mast and other spars and it was found impossible to 
touch at Unalaska to replenish the water-casks and 
land the Aleut interpreters. On the 24th of Sep- 
tember one of the latter attempted suicide by cut- 
ting his throat, despairing of ever seeing his country 
again. The supply of water and provisions was almost 

Hist. Alaska. 19 


exhausted and they had reasons to believe themselves 
still many hundred miles from the coast of Kam- 
chatka; but in spite of the many evils threatening 
him on every side Billings continued upon his course, 
and at last, on the 14th of October, the Slava Rossie 
entered the Bay of Avatcha, with a large part of her 
crew suffering from scurvy. 

The remainder of the expedition had arrived from 
Okhotsk during the summer, bringing the iron and 
other material saved from the wrecked Dohraia Na- 
merenia, and the first thing to be done was to build 
another ship. The ship-carpenters and a force of men 
were at once despatched to Nishnekamchatsk, where 
suitable timber was more abundant, and the work 
progressed vigorously under superintendence of Cap- 
tain Hall. The other officers passed most of their 
time at Bolsheretsk in the enjo3^ment of social inter- 
course with the families of government officers and 

One of the navigators attached to the expedition, 
named Bronnikof, having died during the summer, 
Billings engaged in his stead Gerassim Pribylof, who 
in the service of the Lebedef-Lastochkin company had 
recently discovered the islands of St George and St 
Paul, the annual retreat of the fur-seals. 

Early in April 1791 the members of the expedition 
once more assembled at Petropavlovsk, and orders 
were forwarded to Captain Hall, who was to command 
the new vessel, to meet the Slava Rossie at Bering 
Island between the 25th and 30th of May. In case 
of failure to meet, a second rendezvous was appointed 
at Unalaska. 

On the 1 9th of May the ships sailed out of Avatcha 
Bay after a long detention by baffling winds. On the 
28th Bering Island was made, but the weather being 
boisterous it was concluded not to wait for the con- 
sort, but to go on to Unalaska. The first landing was 
made on the island of Tanaga, where they found a 
village inhabited by women and a few old men, who 


explained that all the able-bodied hunters had been 
carried off to the eastward by Lukanin and his com- 
pany. The people complained that this party had 
also taken with them many women. The Aleuts car- 
ried to Kamchatka against their will, during the last 
voyage, were here set ashore with no other compensa- 
tion than a few articles of clothing, a little tobacco, 
and a brief document exempting them from compul- 
sory services with the trading companies. 

On the 25th of June the harbor of Illiuliuk on 
Unalaska Island was reached, but nothing had been 
heard of Hall and his vessel. Billings at once de- 
clared that he would give up his former intention to 
make a thorough exploration of Cook Inlet and vicin- 
ity, ^nd proceed at once to St Lawrence Bay, in the 
Chukchi country, after depositing at Unalaska some 
provisions for Captain Hall with a few men to guard 
them.^^ Instructions were also left for the consort to 
immediately follow the Slava Rossie to St Lawrence 
Bay. The officers, especially Sarychef and Sauer, 
were greatly disappointed at this change of plans, 
and the latter in his journal expressed the opinion 
that too rapid promotion had an evil effect on Captain 
Billings, who seemed to have lost all ambition to make 
discoveries, and haughtily refused advice from the 
most experienced of his companions." 

After landing the men and provisions for Hall, the 

" The men left there were Surgeon AUegretti, Ensign Ivan Alexei'ef atd 
one sailor. Id., 229. Juvenal, Jour., MS., 27 et seq., refers to the doings of 
the Lebedef-Lastochkin Company. 

"Sauer uses the following strong language: 'Nothing in the world could 
have afforded me less satisfaction than this resolution, which I regarded as 
the conclusion of an expedition that was set on foot with unbounded liber- 
alitj'- by the most magnanimous sovereign in the world; which had raised the 
expectation of all nations to the highest pitch, and induced mankind to an- 
ticipate the satisfaction of obtaining the most complete knowledge of the 
geography of this unknown part of the globe, together with a conviction of 
the existence or non-existence of a north-west passage. But, alas! after so 
many years of danger and fatigue; after putting the government to such an 
extraordinary expense; after having advanced so far in the attempt, even at 
the very time when we were in hourly expectation of our comfort, and, as 
appeared to me, being just entering upon the grand part of the imdertak- 
ing, thus to abandon it was the most unaccountable and unjustifiable of ac- 
tions.' Sauer' s Geog. and Astron. Exped., 230. 


Slava Rossie put to sea on the 8th of July. Passing^ 
through the Pribylof and St Matthew islands, they 
made land on the 20th of July, which turned out to 
be Gierke Island (St Lawrence). Billings landed in 
person; the natives who had be^^n discerned walking 
on the beach disappeared as soon as the boat ap- 
proached the shore. The party returned in the 
evening, having visited some abandoned habitations 
and met some domesticated dogs. A party of natives 
crossing a lake in the direction of the ocean beach 
was frightened back by a musket-shot fired to warn 
Billings, who had strayed some distance by himself 

On the 27th of July the explorers at last caught 
sight of the American continent, in the vicinity of 
Cape Bodney. Billings, with the naturalist, draughts- 
man, and two other officers were landed in boats. 
The party made a fire of drift-wood on the beach and 
then dispersed in search of inhabitants. A few were 
found, and friendly intercourse was established b}^ 
means of an Anadir Cossack who spoke the Chuk- 
chi language. The natives conducted their visitors 
to a temporary dwelling and treated them hospitably. 
The following day some trading was carried on and 
the explorers returned to the ship with considerable 
difficulty owing to stormy weather. ^^ 

On the 2d of August the expedition reached its 
highest latitude, 65° 23' 50", sighting the islands in 
mid-channel of Bering Strait, and the following day 
the Slava Rossie anchored in St Lawrence Bay. From 
this point Billings proposed to set out overland, with 
a small party, in the direction of the Kovima, while 
Sarychef was to take the vessel back to Unalaska. 
Two guides and interpreters, Kobelef and Dauerkin, 
had been on the coast ever since 1787, awaiting the 

^* A bidar, purchased from the natives, with four sailors, did not reach 
the ship till the 31st. The men reported that they had been cast ashore, and 
at daylight found themselves surrounded by a number of natives, with whom 
they traded, though giving them a bad character. Sauer remarks on this 
occasion: ' I cannot guess what articles of trade they had ; but they obtained 
several skins of black and red foxes, martens, etc. I hope that the natives 
had not the greater reason to complain.' Id., 247. 



expedition, and Billings lost no time in perfecting 
preparations for his dangerous journey, taking his final 
departure on the 13th of August. ^^ 

The commander appeared confident of his purpose, 
but those he left on the ship by no means shared that 
feeling. They considered the large quantity of goods 
carried as presents an additional danger, which proved 
true according to the report of the journey. As soon 
as they left the coast they found themselves com- 
pletely in the power of the Chukchi who were to 
accompany them across the country. They were led 
over a roundabout route and systematically robbed at 
every opportunity. As their store of goods decreased 
the insolence of the natives increased and on more 
than one occasion they narrowly escaped slaughter. 

On the day after Billings' departure Sarychef sailed 
for Unalaska. The Slava Rossie was now but ill pro- 
vided with food, water, and firewood, but anxiety on 
account of Hall with the consort made it necessary 
to steer for the Aleutian isles instead of proceeding 
to Petropavlovsk for supplies. The passage was com- 
paratively short, however, and on the 28 th of August 
they anchored once more in Illiuliuk harbor. Captain 
Hall had arrived there a few days after Billings' 
departure and sailed for St Lawrence Bay in accord- 
ance with instructions: thence he returned, arriving 
three days later. 

The anchorag© chosen for the two vessels during 
the winter was a longitudinal cove on the west side 
of Illiuliuk Bay, protected by a low island, now con- 
nected with the adjoining shore by a narrow neck. 
Some shops and huts for officers were erected, but the 
greater part of the crews remained on board of the 
Slava Rossie and the Chernui Orel, or Black Eagle, 
as Captain Hall's vessel had been named. Sauer 
intimates that the principal reason of the sailors for 

J8 The compaiiy numbered 12— Capt. Billings, Dr Merck the naturalist and 
his assistant Mr Main, Masters Batakof and Gileief of the navy; Varonin, 
the draughtsman, and Leman, surgeon's mate; the two interpreters, Kobelef 
and Dauerkin, and two soldiers and a boj' attending on the captain. Id. , 255. 


remaining on board was, that while on the ships they 
were entitled to a daily allowance of brandy which 
could not have been issued to them on shore. The 
officers doomed to pass a wretched winter in this 
desolate place were captains Robert Hall and Gavril 
Sarychef, Lieutenant Christian Bering, Surgeon- 
major Robeck, Surgeon Allegretti, and Bakof, Baku- 
lin, Erling, Pribylof, and Sauer. Billings' orders had 
been to collect tribute from the Aleutian isles, and 
Hall took the necessary steps to notify the natives of 
his purpose. The Aleuts came voluntarily with con- 
tributions of fox and sea-otter skins, especially after 
it became known that the government officers gen- 
erally returned the full value of the skins in trinkets. 
In the expectation that at least one of his ships 
would winter at Unalaska, Billings had given orders 
that stores of dried fish should be prepared, and this 
order had been generally obeyed by the natives; but 
with all that the crews of the two vessels were but 
poorly provided for the long, cold winter. The knowl- 
edge of the dreadful sufferings of their predecessors 
in that harbor, Captain Levashef and his crew, of 
the Krenitzin expedition, in 1768, may have hastened 
the coming of the scurvy; at all events, a month 
had not passed before several men were attacked with 
it, and before the end of the year one victim was 
buried. With the new year the disease became more 
violent, and toward the end of February 1792 they 
buried as many as three in one day. In March a 
change for the better set in, after seventeen of the 
best men had found their graves. With the greatest 
difficulty the two ships were brought into condition 
to undertake the return voyage to Petropavlovsk, but 
the task was at last accomplished on the IGth of May. 
During the winter tribute had been collected from 
about five hundred natives, amounting to a dozen sea- 
otter skins and six hundred foxes of different kinds, 
and in return for these all the trinkets and tobacco, 
quite a large quantity, had been distributed. A party 


consisting of some Russians from Shelikof s establish- 
ment at Kadiak and some natives had paid a visit to 
the winter-quarters of the expedition in search of 
syphihtic remedies, brandy, and tobacco. The former 
they obtained from the surgeons together with proper 
directions for using them. The natives with this 
party made many complaints of ill-treatment at the 
hands of Russian promyshleniki, which Sauer con- 
sidered well founded.^'' 

The return from Unalaska was accomplished with 
better despatch than might have been expected from 
the miserable condition of the vessels. On the 7th 
of June the Slava Rossie lost sight of the Chernui 
Orel, and on the 16 th the former vessel entered 
Avatcha Bay. An English ship, the Halcyon, Cap- 
tain Barclay, was in the harbor, with a cargo of iron- 
ware and ship-chandlery much needed on the coast, 
but the stupid port authorities would not allow the 
cajDtain to dispose of any of his goods. 

The explorers were anxious to proceed to Okhotsk, 
but deeming it impracticable to enter that port with 
the Slava Rossie it was concluded to despatch the 
Chernui Orel, with as many members of the expedi- 
tion as she could carry, while the remainder awaited 
the arrival of the annual transport vessel from 
Okhotsk. Shortly after the sailing of the first de- 
tachment news was received from Captain Billings and 
his party. They had undergone the greatest suffer- 
ings, but were then, in February 1792, on the river 
Angarka within a few days' march of the Kovima. 
The object of the dangerous journey had to a great 
extent been frustrated by the restrictions imposed 
upon the helpless explorers by the impudent Chukchi. 

^'He also says: 'Shelikhof has formed a project to obtain the sole priv- 
ilege of carrying on this trade without a rival, and he will probably, one day 
or other, succeed; but not before the scarcity of furs lessens the value of this 
trade and renders fresh capital necessary for making new excursions to dis- 
cover other sources of commerce, or rather of wealth; then tine dii-ectoi's of 
the present concern will explore the regions of Amercia, and if nothing 
advantageous occurs, they will doubtless retire from the conceni, secure in 
their possessions, and leave the new members to pursue the undertaking.' 
Id., 275-6. 


They had destroyed the surveying outfit and would 
not allow any notes to be taken or calculations to be 
made. Captain Billings communicated his intention 
of proceeding to Yakutsk with all possible speed and 
desired Sauer to join him there as soon as practi- 

Letters from St Petersburg were received about the 
same time, announcing that a French vessel, under 
the flag of the republic, had sailed for Petropavlovsk, 
and ordering that every facility of trade should be 
afforded to the supercargo, a M. Torckler. A few 
days later the ship arrived and was found to be the 
La Flavia — also heard of on the American coast — 
with a crew of sixty men besides the officers. Her 
cargo consisted chiefly of brandy. One cannot but 
note the difference in official action with regard to 
the useful cargo of iron-ware brought by Barclay the 
same year, and that of the La Flavia, consisting of 
the chief element of destruction and ruin among the 
half-savage inhabitants of that region. The French 
ship remained during the whole winter, retailing the 
cargo, for nobody in Petropavlovsk had the means to 
buy it in bulk. She sailed June 1.. 1793, for Canton. 

Thus came to an end, as far as concerns the Russian 
possessions in America, an expedition inaugurated on 
a truly magnificent scale after long years of prepara- 
tion. The geographical results may be set down at 
next to nothing, with the exception of the thorough 
surveys of Captain Bay in Illiuliuk Harbor on Una- 
laska Island. Every other part of the work had 
already been done by Cook. The knowledge obtained 
by Billings during his march from St Lawrence Bay 
to the Kovima proved of no great importance, based 
as it was to a great extent on hearsay from the 
treacherous Chukchi, who would not allow any meni- 

"The members of the expedition still at Petropavlovsk were Capt. Bering, 
Masters Bakof and Bakulin, ^Ir Sauer, and Surgeon-general Robeck. Major 
bhmalef was in command of the province. Id., 285. 


ber of the band to make personal observations. An 
important feature, however, was the prehminary ex- 
perience gained by Sarychef, who subsequently pub- 
lished the most complete and reliable charts of the 
Aleutian Islands, a work upon which, as far as the 
territory included in Sarychefs own observations is 
concerned, even Tebenkof could make few if any im- 
provements. Their reliability stands acknowledged 
to the present day. But few corrections have been 
made in his special charts of harbors by modern sur- 
veys. As far as it is possible to judge now, it seems 
that Martin Sauer's estimate of his commander was 
nearly correct, and we may concur in his opinion that 
the failure of the expedition in its chief objects was 
due to the leader's incapacity and false pride, which 
prevented him from accepting the advice of others 
w^ell qualified and willing to give it; but there were 
also other reasons, as we shall see. It was almost a 
miracle that he did not furnish a tragic finale to a 
series of blunders by losing his life during his fool- 
hardy journey through the country of the Chukchi. 

The principal benefit derived from this costly 
undertaking was the ventilation of abuses practised 
by unscrupulous traders upon helpless natives. The 
authorities in Siberia and St Petersburg became at 
last convinced that an end must be put to the bar- 
barous rule of the promyshleniki. The cheapest and 
easiest way to accomplish this was to grant control of 
the wdiole business with American coasts and islands 
to one strong company that might be held responsible 
to the government for its conduct. Those members 
of the Billings expedition who revealed the unsatis- 
factory state of affairs in these outlying possessions 
of Russia did not intend to aid Shelikof and his part- 
ners in their ambitious schemes, but such was the 
effect of their reports. Another result was to abolish 
the custom of collecting tribute from the Aleuts ; the 
method introduced by Sarj^chef — to return the full 
value in tobacco and trinkets for skins tendered as 


tribute — would have effectually prevented the govern- 
ment from deriving any benefit from that source. 

If the expedition revealed abuses it also gave rise 
to others. Many private individuals enriched them- 
selves by contracts for supplying the expedition at the 
different stages of its progress, especially at Irkutsk, 
Yakutsk, and Okhotsk. Sauer mentions in his jour- 
nal that on his return voyage he found the officials at 
Yakutsk, whom he had left in comparative poverty, 
in much improved circumstances, bordering upon 
affluence, and he ascribes the change to the fact that 
these people had been engaged in furnishing horses 
for the transportation of stores to the Kovima and to 

The experience gained in the way of navigation and 
management of similar expeditions was of some value; 
and in this connection it is rather a significant fact that 
during the first voyage of the Slava Rossie, under the 
immediate command of Billings, the scurvy was suc- 
cessfully combated,^^ yet in the following year the 
two ships had been anchored in Illiuliuk harbor but 
a few weeks when the dreaded disease broke out with 
such violence that the combined efforts of Sarychef 
and Hall, two medical men, and Martin Sauer failed 
to arrest its ravages. 

With regard to the supplementary instructions rel- 
ative to the Swedish cruiser Mercury, nothing was done 
by Billings, though the vessel did visit the Aleutian 
Islands according to the report of Pribylof The ap- 
prehensions on this account seem to have been great. 
A set of minute instructions was furnished to traders 
on the islands, to regulate their conduct in case the 
privateer appeared, but in Pribylof's intercourse with 

"Billings, formerly of Cook's expedition, had evidently learned something 
of that navigator's effective method of combating the scurvy. The surgeon's 
journal contains the following remarks: 'It was only toward the end of the 
voyage, when our bread was out and we were reduced to a short allowance of 
water, that the scurvy made its appearance. At this time pease and grits, 
boiled to a thick consistency in a small quantity of water, and buttered, 
were substituted for salted provisions. The primary symptoms of scurvy 
then appeared, but on arriving at Petropavlovsk a treatment of bleeding, thin 
drink, and fresh fish restored all hands in a very short time. ' Id. , 208-9. 


Captain Coxe, the former did not use any of the pre- 
cautions enjoined.^" 

The hand of the future monopolists can be dis- 
cerned, shaping events, from a period preceding that 
of Bilhngs' expedition, though perhaps Martin Sauer 
was not able to see it. Notwithstanding his belief to 
the contrary, the members of the Shelikof Company, 
already in virtual possession of their exclusive privi- 
leges of trade, were then making strenuous efforts 
to extend operations instead of drawing out of the 
business. Shelikof, Baranof, and Delarof knew far 
better than Billings' sanguine secretary what wealth 
was in the country. Where he saw nothing but indi- 
cations of quick decline, energetic preparations were 
in progress for a healthy revival of business. For 
many years after the period set by Sauer even the 
vessels of small opposition companies continued to 
visit the islands and portions of the mainland. 

One proof of the confidence of Shelikof in the 
stability of the business for many years to come is 
furnished by his efforts to establish a settlement in 

*" The instructions issued in 1790 to the Shelikof-Golikof Company con- 
tained the following: 'Necessary measures will be taken in accordance with 
secret instructions, by order of the empress, to protect the establishments of 
the company and its stores of goods and furS against the attacks of pirates, 
which have been sent out for that purpose by the Swedish government, under 
the command of English captains, and all possible means will be employed to 
avert this danger, threatening the hunters as well as the company's property. 
If, in spite of all precautions, these privateers enter any Russian harbor or 
land parties of men, efforts must be made to repulse them, and, if possible, to 
capture and detain them. In such a case a party of natives will be formed, in 
bidarkas, decorated with beads and paint; they will approach the vessel with 
signs of admiration and friendship, beckoning to the people on board to land, 
displaying sea-otter skins, and presenting them with a few. Having in this 
way induced as many as possible of the crew to land, the natives will meet 
them with their customary dances and all signs of satisfaction, in the mean 
time endeavoring to decoy the vessel into some dangerous place. During all 
this time not one Russian must show himself, but they must all be hidden in 
convenient places prepared for that purpose, and when the deluded party 
approaches some defile or ambush, the hidden Russians will emerge at a given 
signal to attack both the vessel and the men on shore, endeavoring to capture 
the leaders, etc. ' In case of fortune favoring the hostile visitors the instiaic- 
tions direct that, 'if possible, the most important among the Russians or 
natives must endeavor to escape in bidars or bidarkas by passages where the 
ship cannot follow, while others may approach the vessel at night and attempt 
to scuttle it or cause it to leak. ' Tikhmenef, Istor. Obosr. , i. 33-4. 


the vicinity of Cape St Elias and to begin ship-build- 
ing there. "I have made representations to the 
government," he wrote to Baranof, ''with regard to 
ship-building and agriculture at Cape St Elias. Dur- 
ing my sojourn at Kadiak it was known to me that 
the mainland of America from Unga Island to the 
regions inhabited by the Kenai enjoys better climatic 
conditions than the island of Kadiak. The soil is fit 
for cultivation, timber is plentiful," etc. Baranof 
wrote in reply that he entertained no hope of suc- 
ceeding in agricultural experiments at Yakutat, espe- 
cially near the coast, as the place was situated between 
59° and 60° north latitude. He also stated that the 
shores of the gulf of Chugachuik and portions round 
Kenai' were composed of very hi^h and rugged moun- 

The peculiar search for agricultural lands outside of 
Kadiak shows plainly that the wily traders were not 
in earnest in their search. Kadiak is the spot most 
favored by nature as far as climate and soil are con- 
cerned. No other place in all that vast region can 
furnish feed for cattle or boast of rich fisheries, useful 
timber, and fertile vegetable-gardens in close prox- 
imity to each other. But all this was carefully hidden 
from the knowledge of the government and attention 
was drawn toward a region wdiere failure was a cer- 
tainty, in order to obtain the services of such laborers 
and mechanics as might be forwarded from Siberia 
in conformity with Shelikof's representations to the 
imperial court. It was a wily scheme and proved 
successful with regard to the introduction of skilled 
labor into the colonies without much expense to the 
company, who obtained the privilege of selecting useful 
men among Siberian exiles and convicts. The best of 
these picked men, as we shall see in a succeeding chap- 
ter, never reached the proposed settlement at Yakutat, 
and the few who did perished or were captured during 
the sacking of the place by the Thlinkeets. 

It is safe to presume, also, that Billings had reasons 


for not doing anything against the men who were 
preparing to assume supreme control over the Kussian 
possessions in America, despite a httje episode with 
his Russian secretary at Petropavlovsk, who was sent 
back to Okhotsk in irons, because he had revealed 
some of the secret instructions of his commander to 
members of the Shelikof Company.^^ His strange 
apathy in the matter of making new discoveries or 
surveys in the vicinity of Cook Inlet and Prince Will- 
iam Sound may have been due to influence brought 
to bear from that direction, and not, as Sauer inti- 
mates, to mere superciliousness and pride engendered 
by rapid promotion. 

In the case of subsequent government expeditions 
and inspectors visiting the colonies the same influence 
became more perceptible and undeniable, a circum- 
stance which justifies us, to a certain extent, in view- 
ing in a similar light the results of this expedition 
and the events recorded in this chapter. 

An enterprise that objected to general competition, 
and especially one with unscrupulous men at its head, 
was sure to bring about the employment of question- 
able means in its furtherance. Bribery was the easiest 
and perhaps the most innocent means employed to 
secure immunity from interference by either govern- 
ment or rival traders, and there is ground for suspicion 
that it was brought into play during the cruise of the 
Slava Rossie. 

The subordinate members of the expedition, cap- 
tains Sarychef and Hall, the medical men and Sauer, 
appear to have taken the side of the suffering natives 
against the grasping traders, but in the official reports 
to the government these men had no voice. Billings' 
report has never been published, and we can only 
conjecture its tenor. The journal and notes of Martin 
Sauer were published nearly ten years later, and could 
in no way have influenced the Russian government. 



That the traders did not hke the presence of gov- 
ernment officers among them was but natural. The 
officers belonged to a class far above any of the trad- 
ers in social standing as well as rank, and they took 
no pains to conceal their contempt for the semi-bar- 
barous plebeians. Individuals of some education, like 
Delarof, met with a certain degree of consideration, 
but all others were treated like dogs. Even Baranof, 
after he had been in supreme command of the colonies 
for many years, was snubbed by lieutenants and mid- 
shipmen of the navy, and it was found necessary to 
obtain for him a civil rank in order to insure even 
common respect from government officials. Under 
such circumstances the merchants considered them- 
selves justified in resorting to any means by which 
officers might be disgusted with the country and ex- 
ploring expeditions made to appear unnecessary to the 

In the case of Sarychef, Hall, and Sauer, who 
passed a winter on Unalaska Island, this plan seems 
to have worked satisfactorily, as not one of them had 
anything good to say of a country where they suffered 
intensely from scurvy and lack of provisions. The fact 
that a party of Russians and natives from Kadiak 
visited the expedition in its winter-quarters demon- 
strates the possibility of carrying on the work of 
exploration and surveying on Unalaska and neigh- 
boring islands during the winter, but no such attempt 
was made, though the whole company suffered from 
the effects of inactivity. With the example before 
them of the Kadiak party, already referred to in the 
earlier pages of this chapter, strengthened by that 
of Martin Sauer, who almost alone retained compara- 
tively good health by constantly moving about, it is 
diffi(?ult to find any valid reason for the apathy shown 
by the officials in command. The work actually ac- 
complished by Sarychef must have been completed 
before the appearance of the scurvy. Sauer's original 
ambition, which caused him to make the foolhardy 


proposition of remaining alone among theChugatsches, 
seems to have cooled, and after returning to Kamt- 
chatka he confined his visionary plans to the explor- 
ation of the Kurile Islands and perhaps Japan or 
China. We have no record, however, that any of his 
plans reached the stage of execution. 

In support of his schemes Shelikof had been the 
prime mover in the request to have a missionary 
establishment appointed for the colonies, and in his 
reports he claimed to have converted large numbers 
of natives to Christianity. It is safe to presume, how- 
ever, that his success as a religious teacher was not 
sufficient to prepare the field for the priest attached 
to Billings' expeditions, who evidently considered that 
his whole duty consisted in holding services for his 
companions once a week, and in administering the 
customary oath to Captain Billings whenever the 
latter assumed an additional rank in accordance with 
the imperial oukaz containing his instructions. On the 
second voyage from Petropavlovsk the commander did 
not expect further promotion, and we find no mention 
of the priest. He was probably left behind as one 
whose earthly work was done. Sauer gave him a bad 
character and called him half-savage. 

The stay of the Slava Rossie was besides too short 
at any one place during the first voyage to allow of 
missionary work on the part of the priest, though a 
portable church — a large tent — was set up at every 
anchorage. Shelikof had not hesitated to perform a 
primitive rite of baptism, but he could not legally 
marry people, and the ceremony performed on Kadiak 
Island, as before mentioned, was consequently the first 
that ever took place in the country. The wife of 
Shelikof had accompanied him on his visit to America, 
but from that solitary example the natives could not 
have acquired much knowledge of the institution of 
Christian marriage. 

Shelikof's application for missionaries had great 


weight with the commission intrusted to consider the 
demand of his company for exclusive privileges, but 
the first members of the clergy who landed upon the 
islands of the American coast in response to the call 
did not meet with the hearty cooperation the}^ may 
have expected at the hands of the traders. Taking 
time and circumstances into consideration, this was 
but natural. All the Russians, from the chief trader 
down, were laboring 'on shares,' and shared alike in 
the scanty provisions furnished at very irregular inter- 
vals, while every man was expected to eke out addi- 
tional supplies by hunting and fishing whenever he 
could obtain a few days from other pursuits. The 
clergymen, who had certainly every reason to look for 
supplies of food to the traders who had desired their 
presence, were, therefore, considered as an undesirable 
element by lawless individuals, long removed from all 
association with even the forms of civilization. Idlers 
were not wanted in the camps of the promyshleniki, 
where scant fare was the rule, and for some years after 
their arrival among the race with whose language they 
were unacquainted, the missionaries could do little. 
Complaints of shortcomings and even ill-treatment 
were at first quite numerous, and by some priests it 
was alleged that the commanders of stations, where 
they had taken up their residence, made them work 
for their living. This may well have been the case 
in instances where agents were compelled to give way 
to popular demand; the semi-barbarous hunters per- 
haps had another ground for harboring ill-feeling 
to\vard their clerical guests — the latter interfered to 
a certain extent with the more than free use made of 
native women by the promyshleniki. Still, the arh- 
hcmandrit, or prior, loassaf, sent out to superintend 
the missions, was treated with respect, as the man- 
agers of the companies recognized the necessity of . 
restraining their subordinates in his case. A man in 
his position could and did do good service in settling 
difficulties between rival firms and individuals. 




Shelikof's Grand Conception— Goveknok-genekal Jacobi Won to the 
Scheme — Shelikof's Modest Request — Alaska Laid under Monop- 
oly — Stipulations of the Empress — Humane Orders of Kozlof- 
Ugrenin — Public Instructions and Secret Injunctions — Delarof's 
Administration — Shelikop Induces Baranof to Enter the Ser- 
vice of his Company — Career and Traits of the New Manager — 
Shipwreck of Baranof on Unalaska — Condition of the Colony — ■ 
Rivalry and Other Troubles — Plans and Recommendations — En- 
gagement with the Kaljushes — Ship-building— The Englishman 
Shields — Launch and Tribulations of the 'Phoenix.' 

The idea of a subsidized monopoly of trade and 
industry, to embrace all Russian discoveries and col- 
onies on the shores of the north Pacific, first arose in 
the fertile brain of Grigor Shelikof, whose original 
establishment on Kadiak Island has been the subject 
of a preceding chapter. Once seized with this con- 
ception, Shelikof hastened forward the execution of 
it with all the ardor of his nature. He hurried from 
Kamchatka to Okhotsk and Irkutsk, travelling with- 
out intermission in the dead of winter until he reached 
the capital of eastern Siberia and delivered to Gen- 
eral Jacobi, the governor general, a detailed account,, 
with maps, of the countries he had visited, and plans, 
of the fortifications erected. He then asked of the 
governor general instructions for the management of 
the people thus added to the Russian empire, and 
aid toward obtaining from the empress a recognition 
of his labors.^ 

^ I will quote here a few coucluding lines of the lengthy document pre- 
sented to Jacobi by Shelikof: 'Without the approval of our monarch my 
Hist. Alaska. 20 (305) 


Unlike his predecessors, Shelikof was not satisfied 
with a single hunting season on the island of Kadiak, 
but, as we have seen, proceeded at once to the estab- 
lishment of permanent settlements. After the pre- 
sentation of his report to General Jacobi, the clever 
trader asked permission to send a few ships to Chinese 
ports, in case of an interruption to the overland trade 
with Kiakhta. The permission was not granted at 
that time. Meanwhile Golikof, Shelikofs partner, 
had profited by a temporary sojourn of the empress 

labors would be altogether unsatisfactory to me and of but little account to 
the world, since the principal object of all my undertakings has been to incor- 
porate the newly discovered seas, countries, and islands into our empire 
before other powers could occupy and claim them, and to inaugurate enter- 
prises which will add to the glory of our wise empress and secure profits to 
her and to our countrymen. I trust that my hopes of seeing wise measures 
adopted for the government and protection of the distant regions discovered 
by me are not without foundation, and that we shall be enabled to establish 
these discoveries to the best possible general advantage.' Tihhmenef, I.stor. 
Obos., i. 15. Captain Golovnin, who inspected the colonies in 1818, in a letter 
to the imperial navy differs from Shelikof as to the merits of the colo- 
nizer. He states that 'Shelikofs Voyarje was printed at St Petersburg in 
1791. Aside from the barbarous style of the book and the stupidity exhibited 
on every page, we cannot fail to notice some intentional falsehoods, showing 
how crafty and far-seeing this man was. In the first place he appropriates to 
himself without any conscientious scruples the discovery of Kadiak and 
Afognak, when it is well known that Bering sighted those islands and named 
a point Cape Hermogen, and Cook, five years before Shelikofs voyage, ascer- 
tained that the cape was only a small island. Cape Goviatskoi on Kadiak 
Island was named Cape Greville by Cook, and furthermore, a Russian galiot 
wintered at Kadiak as early as 1763, its commander being a certain Glottof, 
while Shelikof arrived there only in 1784, but what is more stupid than anj^- 
thiug else is, that on the title-page of his book he claims to be the discoverer 
of the island he calls Kuikhtak, forgetting that on page 20 of his book he 
acknowledges that in 1761 a Russian vessel stopped at that island. Where 
was the discovery? What i)lace did he find that Cook did not see? Later 
Shelikof asserts that he found 50,000 inhabitants on the island, and that in 
a fight he with a force of 130 attacked 4,000 men, fortified upon a high rock, 
taking 1,000 prisoners. According to Captam Lissianski's inquiries Shelikof 
fell upon 400 people, including women and children ; but 50,000 inhabitants 
never existed upon the island — the number now being 3,000, and even if we 
suppose that the company succeeded in destroying four fifths, the original 
population could have been only 15,000. Now, the question is, What induced 
Shelikof to lie thus boldly and impudently? He answers this question him- 
self, in his book, when he asserts that, without knowing the language of the 
inhabitants, he succeeded in one winter in converting a large number of them 
to the sacred doctrines of our religion, and that by simply telling them of the 
wisdom, humanity, and kindness of the empress of Russia, he made such an 
impression upon their minds that the natives were filled with love and 
admiration for her Majesty, and at once voluntarily submitted to her sceptre. 
Now, it is clear that Shelikof wished to make the government believe that he 
had discovered a new country and added 50,000 bona fide subjects to Russia. 
He did not fail in his calculations, as he received very flattering rewards.' 
Golovnin, Zapiski, in Mater ialui, i. 52-3. 


at Kursk, and had presented to her a chart of Sheli- 
kof's voyage. Her Majesty inquired into the com- 
pany's achievements, and finally granted Shelikof 
permission to come to St Petersburg and present 
himself at court with Golikof 

Shortly after this the empress asked Jacobi his 
opinion as to the best means of establishing the Rus- 
sian dominion on the islands of the eastern ocean, and 
on the coast of America, and also as to the best mode 
of governing the savage tribes and ameliorating their 
condition. In answer Jacobi forwarded a lengthy 
report in which he approved the proposed despatch 
of a fleet from the Baltic '^ to protect navigation in 
the Pacific, and mentioned that he had forwarded to 
the regions in question thirty copper shields, bearing 
the imperial coat of arms and the inscription, ''Country 
in possession of Russia," intended, as he says, ''for 
the better assertion of Russia's rights, founded upon 
discovery." The shields were intrusted to navigators 
of the Shelikof and Golikof Company. Jacobi also 
recommended that the collection of tribute from the 
natives should be abolished and replaced by a volun- 
tary tax. He pointed out the disadvantages to both 
traders and natives resulting from the tribute system, 
and suggested that by impressing the savages with a 
sense of the power of the empress and her tender care 
for all, even her most distant subjects, and by allow- 
ing them to deliver to government agents a voluntary 
contribution or tax, much good might be accomplished. 
According to Jacobi's opinion, the collection of tribute 
hastened the extermination of fur-bearing animals. 

With regard to the proposed amelioration Jacobi 
said that there could be no doubt of the truth of 

"^ The empress intended to afford safer navigation and traffic by sending 
■war- vessels from the Baltic under command of Captain Mulovski. Mulovski's 
vessels were to separate upon arrival in the northern Pacific, one division to 
go to the American coast, under his own command, and the other to proceed 
to the Kurile Islands, but on account of the war with Sweden the squadron 
did not sail. Lieutenant Trevenen, who had sailed under Cook, was engaged 
to join for discovery purposes. Tikhmenef, Istor. Obos., i. 16; Burney's Chron. 
Hist. Voy. 


Shelikof's report, and that it would be but a just 
recognition of what the Shehkof Company had done 
for the commerce of Russia, and for the country at 
large, to grant them the exclusive right of hunting 
and trading in the islands and territories discovered 
by their vessels.^ He even added that it would be 
unfair to allow new-comers to enjoy the present peace 
to which Shelikof had reduced Kadiak. Without 
regard for the claims of any who had preceded them, 
they alone should be rewarded, because they had a 
larger force and conquered without exterminating.* 

He further argued that unless the Shelikof Com- 
pany was afforded special privileges the successes 
gained by the founders of the first settlement on the 
islands would be neutralized by the unrestrained ac- 
tions of lawless adventurers. Cruelty would increase, 
and the natives would submit to no such infliction after 
the enjoyment of peaceful intercourse with Shelikof 
In conclusion Jacobi implored his imperial mistress 
to intrust the management of the latest additions to 
her domain to a man who "was known to have many 
times set aside his love of gain in the interest of 
humanity." What Jacobi himself was to receive in 
case of Shelikof's success the governor general does 
not say. The hundreds who had done more and suf- 
fered more than these who would now have it all to 
themselves, to them he denied every right or reward. 

The empress ordered the imperial college of com- 
merce, through its president. Count Chernyshef, to 
examine in detail all questions connected with the 
fur-trade in those parts, and the means of advancing 
the interests of Russia in the eastern ocean. The 

3 The limits of these 'discoveries' Jacobi, with reckless liberality, placed 
at from latitude 49° to 60° and from eastern longitude 53° to 63° from Okhotsk. 
Tikhmenef, Istor. Obos., i. 20. 

* Jacobi advanced the idea that so far 'as known nobody else was then 
engaged in business where Shelikof had succeeded in establishing the do- 
minion of Russia, though some vessels had been in the neighborhood in 
1761, 1767, and 1780, but they reached only a promontory of Kadiak named 
Aiekhtatik, and the hunters of those vessels were held in check by the natives 
and prevented from hunting, though their number was large enough to resist 
attack.' Tikhmenef, Istor. Obos., i. 22. 


committee appointed in pursuance of this order pre- 
sented a long report in March 1788,^ which seemed to 
have been wholly impressed with the ideas of Jacobi. 
After reviewing the apparent merits of the case and 
the policy of the proposed measure, the committee 
finally recommended that the request of Shelikof and 
Gohkof for exclusive privileges be granted, and that 
the enterprise be subsidized with a loan of two hun- 
dred thousand rubles from the public treasury, with- 
out interest, for a period of twenty years, the capital 
to be returned in instalments. The outlay, it was 
added, would likewise be repaid tenfold in the form 
of taxes and import and export duties. 

In pursuance of this report an imperial oukaz was 
issued September 28, 1788, granting the company 
exclusive control over the region actually occupied by 
them, but no further, thus leaving rival traders free 
sway in adjoining parts. Assistance from the public 
treasury was refused because of foreign wars. The 
empress was made to say: "As a reward for services 
rendered to the country by the merchants Shelikof 
and Golikof by discovering unknown countries and 
nations, and establishing commerce and industries 
there, we most graciously confer upon them both 
swords and gold medals, the latter to be worn around 
the neck, with our portrait on one side, and on the 
reverse an explanatory inscription that they have 
been conferred by order of the governing senate for 
services rendered to humanity by their noble and bold 
deeds." ^ By the same oukaz all former laws for the 
collection of tribute from the Aleuts were revoked. 

^Report of committee on commerce, March 1788. Tihhmenef, Istor. Obos., 
i. 237. It dwelt at length upon the sacrifices of Shelikof, and pointed to 
the fact that owing to the failure of a regular supply of valuable furs from 
Siberia and the islands the overland trade with China was interrupted, to the 
great loss of Russian merchants who had large sums invested in goods salable 
only in the Chinese market; while the articles previously imported from 
China directly into Russia and Poland, such as teas, silks, and nankeens, 
could be obtained only through foreign maritime nations at a great increase 
of cost. 

^A special letter of acknowledgement was issued by the sovereign on 
October 11th, which is printed in Tikhmenef, Istor. Obos., i., app., 1. 


While this was but a half-way measure toward his 
ambitious schemes Shelikof had to content himself 
for a time. He returned to Irtkutsk, there to fit out 
two vessels, one for the Aleutian isles, and one for 
the Kuriles, and to plan for a more complete victory, 
by which to become master of all Alaska. 

Two important documents were issued in 1787 by 
the commander of Okhotsk, which indicate that the 
authorities by no means placed implicit faith in the 
humanity of the Shelikof Company or its servants. 
Both papers bear the same date, June 15th; and one 
is directed to navigators and traders, while the other 
is intended as a reassuring proclamation to the native 
chiefs as representatives of their people. The first 
sets forth that in view of many complaints of ill-treat- 
ment of Aleuts having reached Okhotsk, traders and 
navigators are enjoined to treat with the utmost kind- 
ness all Aleuts who have acknowledged themselves 
Russian subjects, and not to carry them away from 
home without their free consent. The document 
concludes as follows: "The highest authorities have 
already been informed of all your former outrages 
committed upon the islanders, but they must cease 
henceforth, and you must endeavor to act in conform- 
ity with the wishes of our most gracious empress, 
who is anxious to give protection to every inhabitant 
of her dominions. Do not believe or flatter your- 
selves that your former deeds will escape punishment, 
but be convinced that sooner or later every transgres- 
sion of the laws of God or our monarch will meet 
with its due reward. I trust that these prescriptions 
will be observed at once, and you must not forget that 
it is the first duty of every faithful Russian subject 
to report any transgression of the laws which comes 
under his observation. To this I append my own 
signature and the seals of the province of Okhotsk 
and of the district of Nishekanichatsk, this 15th day 
of June 1787. Grioror Kozlof-Usfrenin, colonel and 
commander of the province of Okhotsk." 


The second document is at once characteristic of 
the empress and important in itself. I reproduce it 
in full in a note.^ 

' ' To the Chiefs and People inhabiting the Aleutian Islands in the North- 
eastern Ocean, subjects of the Russian Empire: The Mother of her countrj^, 
the great and wise Empress of the Imperial throne of All the Russias, Eka- 
terina Alexeievna, having always at heart the welfare of her faithful subjects, 
extends her especial protection and attention to those nations who have but 
lately become subjects of the Russian Empire, and has deigned to instruct 
the present Governor-general of Irkutsk, Major-general and Cavalier Klichke, 
to send to our islands, by way of Kamchatka, and to the Kurile Islands, 
Russian medals, whicii have been forwarded to you. They were sent to you 
as proof of the motherly care of the Empress; and it was ordered that these 
medals should be given to those islanders who are already under control of 
the Russian crown, while at the same time it was intended to issue them also 
to such as wished to enter the Russian Empire hereafter. These medals will 
be distributed at every place where the Russian trading-vessels can land in 
safety, and thus they will protect you against ill-treatment not only by Rus- 
sian hunters, but at the hand of our allied powers who may visit your sliores. 
From the latter you may feel entirely safe, for even if any foreign vessel 
should attempt to appropriate your islands to its own country, the sight of 
these medals of the Russian Empire would disperse all such thoughts, and if 
any disputes should arise they will be settled by friendly negotiations with 
these powers. As far as the Russian vessels are concerned that visit your 
islands for the purpose of trade and hunting the fur-bearing animals, I have 
already received through the hands of my officials at Kamchatka and Okhotsk 
several complaints, the first through Sergeant Alexei Buynof, the second from 
the son of the chief of the Andreianof Islands, Izossim Polutof, and the 
third from the Aleut of the Lissievski Islands, Toukoutan Ayougnin; from 
which complaints I have learned to my sorrow of the inhumanities inflicted 
upon you by our Russian trading-ships, of which the government up to this 
time had received no information; it was thought that no actual violation 
of the laws had taken place m those distant regions. But now your peti- 
tions have been forwarded by me to the highest authorities and I trust that 
you will before long receive full satisfaction. In the mean time I ask you to 
be content and not to doubt the kindness and justice of the great Empress 
of All the Russias who is sure to defend and protect you, knowing your sin- 
cere submission to her sceptre. You must show this order to all Russian ves- 
sels that visit you and it will protect you in so far that every inhabitant of 
your islands may remain in his village, and cannot be compelled to go to any 
other island unknown to him. But if one of you goes abroad with his free 
consent, he will be provided with food and clothing until the time of his re- 
turn, and the food shall be such as he has been accustomed to. If you believe 
that you have been ill-treated by any people belonging to the Russian Em- 
pire, or if you have suffered compulsion or injury at their hands, I advise you 
to take notice of their name and that of their ship, and what company of 
merchants they belong to, and in due time you can forward your complaints 
upon the matter, and upon satisfactory proof such men will be punished 
according to their offences and you will get satisfaction. Information has also 
reached me to the effect that the hunters receive from you furs of good qual- 
ity as tribute, but change them and forward poor skins to the Empress; 
therefore I advise you to mark such skins with special signs and tokens, mak- 
ing cuts or brands which cannot be easily changed, and if it is done in spite 
of these precautions the offenders will be punished very severely. Further- 
more I assure you of the continued protection and care of all the inhabitants 
of your islands by her most gracious Imperial Majesty and her supreme gov- 
ernment, as well as of the best wishes of the Commander of the Province of 


The new order of things estabhshed by Kozlof did 
not cause any immediate change in the demeanor of 
the Russian promyshleniki, and it is doubtful whether 
the humane document addressed to the natives was 
ever read or translated to one of them. Accord- 
ing to the testimony of Sarychef and Sauer, matters 
had not improved much when they visited the country 
several years later. Yet upon the few individuals 
who were then planning for a monopoly of the fur- 
trade in the Russian possessions on the American 
coast, the hints contained in the documents quoted 
were not lost. They recognized the fact that such 
boons as they craved from the government could 
be obtained only by the adoption of a policy of hu- 
manity and obedience to the laws, wholly different 
from the ruthless transactions of private traders. 
Shelikof, the shrewdest of all the plotters, had, as we 
have shown, originated this policy, and he lived long 
enough to see that so far as his plans were concerned 
it worked to perfection. His instructions to Samoilof, 
to whom he left the command of his colony on return- 
ing to Okhotsk, were admirably calculated to impress 
the reader with a sense of the wisdom, humanity, and 

Okhotsk and the district and township of Nishnekamtchatsk. Signed the 
loth day of June 17S7, by Grigor Kozlof- Ugrenin.' 

Three copies still extant of the original document bear the following sig- 
natures: 'Have read the original. Master Gavril Pribylof. ' 'Have read the 
copy. Master Potap Zaikof.' 'Have read the copy. Foreman Leontiy Na- 
gaief . ' 

When Kozlof- Ugrenin issued his two manifestoes he had not met La Pe- 
rouse and the other officers of the French north-western expedition, for the 
Botissole and Adrolaho did not reach the bay of Avatcha until September, 
1787. La Perouse and M. dc Lesseps, his Eussian interpreter, testify to the 
excellent character of Ugrenin, who appears to have been actuated by a 
sincere desire to improve the condition of all the inhabitants, Russians and 
savages, of the vast province under his command. At that time the govern- 
ment of that region was organized as follows: Since Cook's visit to Kamchatka 
the country had been attached to the province of Okhotsk, undei one gov- 
ernor, Colonel Kozlof- Ugrenin; under him Captain Shmalef was superintend- 
ent of the native Kamchatkans; Lieutenant Kaborof commanded at Petro- 
pavlovsk, with one sergeant and 40 Cossacks; at Nishnekamtchatsk there 
was a Major Eleonof, while at Bolsheretzk and Verkhneikamchatsk only ser- 
geants were in command. The income derived from Kamchatka by the gov- 
ernment was out of all pi'oportion to the expenditure involved. In 1787 the 
tribute collected from the natives amounted to 300 sable-skins, 200 gray and 
red foxes, and a few sea-otters, while nearly 400 soldiers and many officers 
were maintained in the country. La Perouse, Voy. , iii. 167-9, 202. 


disinterestedness of the writer,^ ordering as they did 
the good treatment of the natives, their instruction 
in Russian laws, customs, and rehgion, the estabHsh- 
ment of schools for the young, and the promotion 
of discipline and morality among the Russians as an 
example to the aborigines. Much of this was in- 
tended chiefly for the sake of effect, since the com- 
pany by no means intended to expend any particular 
efforts for the advancement of the natives. The 
secret instructions to the same agent, though mainly 
verbal, contained clauses which indicated how far 
philanthropy was supposed to further the predomi- 
nant aim, the advancement of the company. For a 

^ This remarkable document, of which I have given specimens, was dated 
the 14th of May 1786, and has been printed in full by Tikhmenef in the 
appendix to his second volume. Speaking of the natives of Kadiak and the 
Chugatsches, Shelikof says: 'In pacifying the inhabitants you should explain 
to them the benetits resulting from our laws and institutions, and tell them 
that peojile who become faithful and permanent subjects of the empress will be 
protected, while evil-disposed people shall feel the strength of her arm. When 
visiting the different stations you must investigate complaints against your 
subordinates by first hearing each party separately and then together . . . You 
will instruct them in building good houses, and in habits of economy and 
industry. . .The school I have established for the instruction of native children 
in reading and writing Paissian must be enlarged ... As soon as possible the 
sacred books and doctrines of our church should be translated into their 
language by capable translators ... I take with me to Siberia 40 natives, males 
and females, old and young. Some of these I will send back on the same 
ship, after slio\\'ing them some of our villages, and the way we live at home, 
while a small number will be forwarded to the court of her imperial Majesty; 
the remaining children I will take with me to be instructed in the schools of 
Okhotsk and Irkutsk, and through them their families and tribes will acquu-e 
a better knowledge of our country and the laws and good order reigning 
there . . . With regard to the officers and men connected with the three vessels 
left in your care you will main tarn good order and discipline among all classes, 
and sti'ictly enforce obedience, as we cannot expect the natives to accept rules 
which we do not obey ourselves. . .TratSc with the Aleuts must be carried on 
in an honest manner, and cheating must be punished. Quarrels and disputes 
must be settled by ai'bitration . . . Hostages and native employes must be well 
treated, but should not be taken into our houses without your special permis- 
sion; serving-women must not be taken into our houses, unless for the purpose 
of sewing and similar work . . . Stores of provisions for at least two years must 
be kept at every station to enable you to assist tlie natives in times of famine. 
... At all the forts warm and comfortable quarters must be erected for the 
Aleuts, and also stables for the cattle I have ordered to be shipped from 
Okhotsk... My godson Nikolai, who has always faithfully served the com- 
pany and whom I have fed and clothed at my own expense, I recommend to 
your special care, and hope that he will have no cause to complain of the 
company's treatment in return for his faithful services, and also that this god- 
son of mine may receive further instruction and be taught to respect God and 
the emperor, and the laws of God and of the country.' Tikhmenef, Istor. Obos., 
ii., app., 8-19. 


time rival traders must be tolerated, but as soon as 
sufficient strength was acquired they should be ex- 
cluded from the districts occupied by the Shelikof 

Limited as were the plans with regard to actual 
execution, Samoilof lacked the qualifications to carry 
them out, or to grasp the real object of their framer, 
and Shelikof knew it. As soon as he returned from 
Kadiak, therefore, he began to look about for a proper 
person, and his choice fell on Alexander Baranof, a 
merchant then engaged in trade on the Anadir River. 
Shelikof's first proposals to Baranof were declined 
principally because his own business was moderately 
prosperous and he preferred independence. One of 
the partners of the company, Eustrate Delarof, a 
Greek,^° was then selected to manage afikirs in the 
colony, but his powers were more local and confined 

'Article 24. 'If any other company sends out one or two ships and 
people to engage in the same trade with us, you must treat them in a friendly 
manner and assist them to do their business quickly and to leave again, giving 
them to understand at the same time at M^hat an immense sacrifice we have 
established our stations and what risks we have run in pacifying the Ameri- 
cans, cautioning them not excite the natives by ill-treatment or cheating, 
which would cause little danger to them who are here only temporarily, but 
might easily cause the destruction of our establishments, extended all over 
this region at great risk and expense and to the greatest benefit of the 
country in general. But when I have sent out two more vessels well manned, 
in addition to the three now at your disposal, you must take a more resolute 
stand, drive off all intruders, and declare the Ptussian sovereignty over all the 
country on the American continent and California, down to the 40th degree 
of north latitude.' Tikhmenef, Istor. Obos., ii., app., 16. Sbelikof himself 
acted up to his ideas on the subject. In 1786 the ship Sv Pavel, belonging to 
the Lebedef-Lastochkia Company, came to Kadiak with 35 men, commanded 
by Peredovchik Kolomin. They were advised to move on, and told that 
there was an abundance of sea-otters in Cook Inlet. Kolomin followed the 
advice, and establislied the first pemianent station on the mainland, a fact 
to which Shelikof took good care never to give any prominence before the 
government or the public. Tikhmenef, Istor. Obos., i. 30. Sauer writes in 
reference to this policy: ' Ever since Shelikof formed his establishment at 
Kadiak no other companies have dared to venture to the eastward of the 
Shumagin Islands. I am inclined to think that Lukhanin's vessel will be 
the last that will attempt to visit these islands for furs, and probably he will 
obtain hardly any other than foxes.' Geo'j. and Astron. Exped., 276. 

'° Eustrate Ivanovich Delarof, a native of the Peloponese, established him- 
self as a merchant in Moscow and subsequently became a partner in firms 
trading with America. He was in command of many vessels, stations, and 
expeditions. He finally became a director of the Russian American company, 
and was honored by the government with the rank of commercial councillor. 
Khlebnikflf, Shizn. Baranova, 14. 


than those Shelikof had intended to confer upon 
Baranof. Delarof's administration at Kadiak won 
him the good-will of all under his command, both 
Russians and natives, and he received well merited 
praise from all visitors, Spanish, English, and Rus- 
sian. In all reports concerning Delarof, prominence 
is given to his justice to all, and his kindness to the 
natives; but just and amiable men are not usually 
of the kind chosen to manage a monopoly. In this 
instance Delarof was too lenient to suit his avaricious 
and unscrupulous partners. Shelikof never lost sight 
of Baranof, and when the treacherous Chukchi with 
whom he was trading robbed him of his goods and 
reduced him to poverty, it did not require much per- 
suasion to induce him to enter the service of the 
Shelikof Company at a compensation of ten shares, 
equivalent to about one sixth of the net proceeds. 
A mutual agreement was drawn up between the com- 
pany and Baranof on the 18th of August 1790,^^ and 
the instructions already issued to Samoilof and De- 
larof were in the main confirmed. Operations must 
be extended also along the coast southward, and steps 
might be taken to obtain supplies from other quarters 
besides Siberia 

Alexandr Andreievich Baranof was born in Kar- 
gopol, eastern Russia, in 1747. At an early age he 
went to Moscow, and was engaged as clerk in retail 
shops until he established himself in business in 1771. 

^^ The contract, in addition to instructions with regard to the treatment of 
natives, contained some outlines of what the company expected to accomplish 
under Baranof's management. He was to seek a harbor on the left (north) 
side of the Alaska peninsula and thence a communication with Cook Inlet 
by means of a short portage, reported by the natives. Of this he was to 
make use in case of attack by hostile cruisers. In addition he was furnished 
with ample instructions how to act in case of such attacks upon the diffei^ent 
stations. A ship accompanied by a fleet of canoes was to go to Cape St Elias 
and thence to Nootka, to ascertain whether any foreign nations had estab- 
lished themselves on the coast between the Eussians and Spaniards. Baranof 
was also to enter into communication with the English )nerchant Mcintosh, 
engaged in the East India and China trade, in oi'der to make arrangements 
for supplying the Russian settlements with goods and provisions. Tikhmenef, 
Istor. Obos., i. 32-4. 


Not meeting with success he emigrated to Siberia in 
1780, and undertook the management of a glass 
factory at Irkutsk. He also interested himself in 
other industries, and on account of several commu- 
nications to the Civil Economical Society on the 
subject of manufactures he was in 1789 elected a 
member of the society. It was a humdrum life of 
which he soon tired, and after acquainting himself with 
the resources and possibilities of the country, he set 
out eastward with an assortment of goods and liquors 
which he sold to the savages of Kamchatka and the 
adjoining country. At first his operations were suc- 
cessful,^^ but when in 1789 two of his caravans were 
captured by Chukchi he found himself bankrupt, and 
yielded to Shelikof's importunate offers to go to 
America. He had a wife and children at his home in 
Kargopol, Russia, but during his subsequent residence 
of almost thirty years in the colonies he never saw his 
family again though he provided amply for them. 

Alexander Baranof was no ordinary man, and never 
throughout his whole career did Shelikof display 
clearer discrimination and foresight than in the selec- 
tion of this agent. He was a man of broad experience, 
liberal-minded and energetic, politic enough to please 
at once the government and the company, not suffi- 
ciently just or humane to interfere with the interests 
of the company, yet having care enough, at what he 
decreed the projDer time, for the conventionalities of 
the world to avoid bringing discredit on himself or 
his office. Notwithstanding what certain Russian 
priests and English navigators have said, he was not 
the lazy, licentious sot they would have us believe. 
That he was not burdened with religion, was loose in 
morals, sometimes drunk, and would lie officially 
M^thout scruple, there is no doubt; yet in all this he 
was conspicuous over his accusers in that his indul- 

^^ He established trading posts in Kamchatka and on the Anadir. Khleh- 
nikof, Shizn. Baranova, 3-5. See also Golovnin, in Materlalul, i. 9-10; Petrqf, 
Russ. Am. Co., MS., 10; Irviiir/'s Astoria, 465; Hid. Northwest Coast, i\. 222, 
this series; and the rather inimical version of Juvenal, Jour., MS., 18-19. 


gences were periodical rather than continuous, and not 
carried on under veil of that conventional grace and 
gravity which cover a multitude of sins. 

He was frequently seized with fits of melancholy, 
due partly to uncongenial surroundings/^ and would 
at other times break out in passionate rage, during 
which even women were not safe from his blows. 
This exhibition, however, was invariably followed by 
contrite generosity, displayed in presents to the suf- 
ferers and in a banquet or convivial drinking bout 
with singing and merriment, so that his fits came to 
be welcomed as forerunners to good things. His hos- 
pitality was also extended to foreigners, though with 
them he observed prudent reticence. The poor could 
always rely upon his aid, and this benevolence was 
coupled with an integrity and disinterestedness at 
least far above the usual standard among his associ- 

Compare him with Grigor Shelikof, who certainly 
did not lack broad vision and activity, and Baranof 
was the abler man. Both belonged to the shrewd 
yet uncultured and somewhat coarse class which then 
formed the main element even among the rich men 
in Siberia. In vital deeds Baranof the agent rises 
superior to Shelikof the principal, belongs more to 
history, as one who in executing difficult plans shows 
himself often a greater man than he who conceived 
them. Indeed, if for the next two or three decades 
Baranof, his acts and his influence, were absent, Rus- 
sian American history for that period would be but a 
blank. Among all those who came from Russia, he 
alone was able to stem the tide of encroachment by 
roving traders from the United States and Great 
Britain. He was any day, drunk or sober, a match 
for the navigator who came to spy out his secrets. 

^^ To disgust at his low companions, says Davidof, but he was not much 
more refined himself. Dvukr. Putesh., i. 192. 

^* Of this Davidof has no doubt, for ' he is not accumulating wealth though 
having every opportunity to do so.' Id., Juvenal, Jour., MS., 19-20. 


As for the natives his influence over them was un- 
boimclecl, chiefly through the respect with which his 
indomitable courage and constant presence of mind 
impressed them.^° And yet the savage who came 
perhaps from afar expressly to behold the famed 
leader, was not a little disappointed in his insignifi- 
cant appearance as compared with his fierce and bushy 
bearded associates. Below the medium height, thin 
and sallow of complexion, with scanty red-tinged 
flaxen hair fringing a bald crown, he seemed but an 
imp among giants. The later habit of wearing a short 
black wig tied to his head with a black handkerchief, 
added to his grotesque appearance. ^^ 

On the 10th of August 1790, Baranof sailed from 
Okhotsk on the ship Trekh Sviatiteli, commanded by 
Master Bocharof, who was then considered the most 
skilful navigator in those waters. ^^ When only a few 
days from port it was discovered that the water-casks 
were leaking. The ship's company was placed on short 
allowance, but disease made its appearance, and it was 
thought impossible to sail direct to the settlement at 
Kadiak as had been the intention. On the 28th of 
September the vessel was turned into the bay of Kos- 
higin, Unalaska, to obtain a supply of fresh water, but 
on the 30th, when about to leave again, a storm threw 
the ship upon the rocky shore. The men escaped 
with belongings, but only a small part of the cargo 
was saved. Within five days the wreck broke in 
pieces, and a messenger was sent to Kadiak to report 
the loss, but failed to reach that place. ^^ 

'^Davidof was deeply impressed with this leader of men who controlled not 
only the hostile savage but the vicious and unruly Russian, and rose supreme 
to every hardship and danger in advancing affairs in this remote corner. 

i«/d., 194; Trhitchimf, Adv., 2-4; Markof, L'uskie no Vostotchnom, 52. 

" Bocharof was at Okhotsk in 1771, at the time of the insurrection headed 
by the Polish exile, Count Benyvovski. The latter compelled Bocharof to go 
with him, and finally took him to France. Thence he was returned to St 
Petersburg by the Russian embassador at Paris, and the empress ordered him 
to resume his duties at Okhotsk. To this involuntary circumnavigation of the 
world Bocharof was indebted for much of his proficiency in nautical science. 
Khhhnikof, Hhizn. Baranova, 5. 

"A man named Alexander Molef was sent upon this errand with a nam- 


Thrown upon his own resources, Baranof distributed 
his men, fifty-two in number, over the island to shoot 
seals and sea-lions and dig edible roots, the only food 
the island afforded during the winter. The leader 
labored with the men and lived with them in the un- 
derground huts which they constructed. The dried 
salmon and halibut obtained occasionally from the 
Aleuts were a luxury, and on holidays a soup was 
made of rye flour of which a small quantity had been 
saved. The winter was not wholly lost to Baranof, 
who seized this opportunity to study the people, both 
Russians and natives, with whom he had thrown his 
lot for so many years to come, and whom he was to 
rule without a shadow of actual or apparent support 
from the government. It was here that he formed 
plans which were afterward of great service to the 
company. ^^ 

Spring coming, three large bidars were made in 
which to push on to Kadiak, with two of which 
Bocharof was to explore and hunt along the northern 
coast of the Alaska peninsula. Twenty-six men were 
assigned to this expedition while Baranof took a crew 
of sixteen in the third boat, leaving five at Unalaska 
to guard what had been saved from the cargo and 
rigging of the wrecked ship. Toward the end of 
April 1791 the three bidars put to sea, and on the 

ber of Aleuts. When only a hundred miles from Kadiak the party was 
attacked by the natives of the Alaska peninsula, on which occasion five of the 
Aleuts were killed. Molef, though severely wounded, managed to launch 
his bidarka and make his way to Unga, where he remained imtil picked up 
by Baranof the following year. Id. , 7. 

^' Baranof 's letter written at this time presents a vivid picture of life there. 
' I passed the Avinter in great hardships,' he says, 'especially when the weather 
was bad. Sometimes two months passed by without a possibility of going 
any distance, but I made use of every clear day to go out with my gun in 
search of some addition to our larder. On one of these excursions I fell into 
one of the traps set for foxes and was slightly wounded. . .1 boiled salt of very 
good quality, as white as snow, and used it for salting fish, and seal, and sea- 
lion meat. As far as cooking with oil is concerned we were fasting all the 
time, and the week before Easter we were compelled to fast altogether, but 
on Easter Monday a dead whale was cast ashore and furnished us a feast. In 
the same week we killed three sea-lions, and the famine was at an end. I 
had become accustomed to think no more of flour or bread. ' Khlebnikqf, Shizn. 
Baranova, 8. Only three men died of scui'vy. 


1 0th of May they separated in Issanakh Strait, at the 
southern end of the peninsula. After an absence of 
five months Bocharof rejoined his comrades at Ka- 
diak by a portage route across the peninsula, bringing 
not only furs but a number of good charts.^° During 
his whole journey Baranof was prostrate with fever; 
nevertheless he insisted that the party should not 
only advance but explore, being unwilling to lose the 
calm weather so essential for a safe passage from island 
to island or from cape to cape along the coast of the 
mainland. He arrived at Three Saints, Kadiak, the 
27th of June. 

Baranof at once assumed command of all the estab- 
lishments of the Shelikof-Golikof Company, relieving 
Eustrate Delarof ^^ At this time the company was 
in actual possession of Kadiak and a few of the 
smaller adjacent isles; the principal settlement being 
still at the bay of Three Saints. The superficial 
pacification of the natives by Shelikof had been com- 
pleted by Delarof so far as Kadiak and vicinity were 
concerned, though they remained in their primitive 
condition. The opinion of all but Delarof was that 
they could be held in subjection only by force of arms 
or fear, and that upon the first sign of weakness or 
relaxation of vigilance on the part of the Russians 
they would rise and destroy them. As much system 
had been secured as lay in the power of one right- 
minded, intelligent man, surrounded by an unruly 
band of individuals but little if any above the crim- 
inal class. I have said of Delarof that he was strict 
in his sense of justice and of fair administrative 
ability. The contemplation of this amiable Greek's 

-"Bocharof intended to extend his explorations to the coast of the 
Aglegmutes, but his skin boats were found to be waterlogged from incessant 
use, and it was concluded to make a portage across a narrow part of the 
peninsula. This was accomplished in three days. The bidars were then 
repaired and the party crossed to Kadiak, reaching Three Saints on the 12th 
of September. 

*' Delarof remained manager of the company until July 1791. Tikhmenefy 
Istor. Obos., i. 27, 28. 


character affords a pleasant relief from the ordinary 
conduct of the Russians in America. Had there been 
more such men, I should have less to record of out- 
rage, cruelty, and criminal neglect; had Delarof been 
bad enough to please his directors Baranof might have 
remained at home. 

From his head-quarters at Kadiak, Delarof had de- 
spatched expeditions to the mainland, at the entrance 
of Cook Inlet, or the gulf of Kenai, as the Russians 
always persisted in calling it, and there he had estab- 
lished a permanent station which he named Alexan- 
drovsk. Otherwise the whole of this inlet was occu- 
pied by Lebedef-Lastochkin, who also held the islands 
discovered by Pribylof The people of the Alaska 
peninsula had not yet permitted any Russians to settle 
among them, and were held to be hostile. The ad- 
joining Prince William Sound was also occupied, and 
on the Aleutian isles three private trading companies 
were still doing business, under the management of 
Orekof, Panof, and Kisselef respectively. 

Thus on every side rival establishments and traders 
were draining the country of the valuable staple upon 
which rested the very existence of the scheme of 
colonization. To the east and north there were Rus- 
sains, but to the south-east the ships of Englishmen, 
Americans, and Frenchmen were already traversing 
the tortuous channels of the Alexander archipelago, 
reaping rich harvests of sea-otter skins, in the very 
region where Baranof had decided to extend Russian 
dominion in connection with company sway. Al- 
though they could not expect to succeed so well 
further north, here these traders had every advantage. 
They enjoyed comparatively easy communication with 
home points; they were skilled navigators, and came 
in large well equipped vessels laden with goods far 
superior to anything the Russians could afford to 
bring by sled or on the backs of horses across Siberia. 
They could also be more lavish with their low-priced 
articles since they were under no expense in main- 

HiST. Alaska. 21 


taining permanent forts or establishments or a large 
retinue of servants. As occasional visitors only, with- 
out permanent interests in the land, they could deal 
out fire-water, risk occasional cheatings and open acts 
of violence, while Baranof, witii his few men of per- 
manent residence, among warlike tribes, must be con- 
stantly on his guard against acts provocative of 

It was necessary that he should bestir himself to 
widen the operations of the company ere the field 
w^as exhausted, and this had been his determination, 
but he did not as yet possess the necessary vessels, 
men, and supplies to do much. The loss of the Trehli 
Sviatiteli w^as indeed a formidable hindrance; skin 
boats alone could well be used, and to these the men 
had more than one objection, the risks of sea voyages, 
and the disadvantages in point of defence, carrying 
capacity, and convenience. These objections were 
the more serious in view of the greater stubbornness 
and hostilit}^ of the mainland tribes as compared 
with the docile Aleuts. Another trouble was that 
for several years no supply-ships had arrived from 
Siberia, and the Russian hunters and laborers were 
reduced to the necessity of sharing the scanty sub- 
sistence of the natives. Dissatisfaction was there- 
fore general among the employes, including the na- 
tives, and this together with the sight of want among 
the conquering race served to rouse the insolence and 
hostility of tribes around. 

Some of these troubles Baranof managed to over- 
come by his own energy and strength of will; for 
others he must obtain the cooperation of the com- 
pany. Among other measures he urged Shelikof 
most eloquently to labor for a consolidation of the 
various trading companies, and thereby to secure to 
the new corporation the large number of valuable sea- 
otter skins then scattered throughout the small rival 
establishments of the mainland. At the same time 
he approved of a suggestion made before his departure 


to build ships in America, and urged that no delay 
be allowed in forwarding material to him from Kam- 
chatka. He saw the advantage to the company of 
exhibiting vessels built in their colony and the neces- 
sity of making himself independent of the vessels for- 
warded at long and irregular intervals from the 
Asiatic ports. This would ensure not only supplies 
but the means of cruising down the coast. 

Without having seen or met any of the English or 
American traders then operating in the Sitka region 
he conceived the plan of obtaining from them not 
only provisions but trading goods, and asked Shelikof 
for authority to do so; he knew that in the Pribylof 
Islands, then recently discovered, he had a treasury 
from which he might draw the means to purchase 
whatever he wanted of the foreign traders, and that 
he would thus be enabled to buy from them with one 
class of furs the means of battling with them on their 
own ground for the purchase of sea-otter skins, then 
the most valuable fur in the market. This plan of 
operation, though temporarily delayed, was finally 
adopted and successfully carried out under Baranof's 

Knowing that his letters in some form would fall 
under the eye of the government, Baranof worded his 
communications with great care, and with respect to 
the well seeming plan to introduce missionaries he 
wrote to the directors of the company: " Send me a 
well informed priest, one who is of a peaceable dis- 
position, not superstitious, and no hypocrite." With 
the same view of impressing upon the authorities the 
humane disposition of the company's traders, he re- 
quested Shelikof to send him numerous articles not 
included in the invoices of the firm, but suitable as 
gifts to the natives, at the same time explaining that 
he wished to conquer the savages with kindness. He 
asked to have the articles purchased and forwarded 
at his own expense so that " should he give them all 
away, the company would suffer no loss, while, on 


the other hand, any profit made on the consignment, 
should be transferred to the firm." ^^ 

During the autumn and winter of 1791 Baranof 
made himself thoroughly acquainted with the wants 
and capabilities of his new domain under the intelli- 
gent guidance and instruction of Delarof, who returned 
to Okhotsk in 1792, and at the same time severed his 
connection with colonial matters. The latter took 
passage in the ship Sv Mikhail, which had been in the 
colonies ever since Shelikof's first arrival, taking with 
him Bocharof as navigator, many of the promyshleniki 
whose term of contract had expired, and all the furs 
collected by him during his administration. 

The new manager soon recognized the desirability 
of removing the principal settlement of the company 
from Three Saints to Pavlovsk harbor, on the north 
side of Kadiak, in latitude 57° 36' according to Cap- 
tain Lissianski's observations. The reasons lay partly 
in the better harbor, and chiefly in the abundance of 
forests at the latter place, facilitating the erection of 
necessary buildings and fortifications.^^ 

In the spring of 1792, however, Baranof was grati- 
fied by the appearance of a chief from the northern 
side of the peninsula, whom Bocharof, during his 
voyage of exploration the preceding year, had pre- 
sented with a medal bearing the Russian coat of arms. 
The savage dignitary, who was at the head of one of 
the most populous tribes of the peninsula, brought 
with him quite a large following, including six host- 

''^ ' Such are my plans,' he wrote, ' but their execution depends upon prov- 
idence. My first steps into these regions were attended with misfortune, but 
perhaps I shall be permitted to conquer in the end. I will either vanquish a 
cruel fate or fall under its repeated blows. Want and hardships I can bear 
with patience and trust in providence, especially when the sacrifice is made 
for the sake of true friendship.' Khlebnikqf, SMzn. Baranova, 10. 

2' In 1880 only one dilapidated log-house and one native semi-subterranean 
hut marked the site of the earliest permanent location of the Russians, and 
these buildings are perched upon the hillside, overlooking the sand spit, from 
which floods and tidal waves have long since eradicated all traces of former 
occupancy. A representation of the settlement as it appeared in 1790 has 
been preserved in Sauer^s Geog. and Astro)i. Exped., and in Sarychef's de- 
scription of the same expedition. 


ages. He assured Baranof that his people desired to 
Hve in friendship with the Russians. In return he 
asked the latter to protect him against certain tribes 
living farther north in the interior of the country. 
As a proof of his sincerity, the chief offered to locate 
himself and all his family in the immediate vicinity 
of one of the companj^'s establishments. The proposi- 
tion was evidently the result of fear of his neighbors 
rather than good feeling toward the Russians, never- 
theless it was cheerfully accepted as the first indica- 
tion of the possibility of a better understanding with 
the independent natives of the peninsula. An alli- 
ance of this kind was especially desirable on account 
of the importance at that time placed on the posses- 
sion of the portage across the narrow neck of land 
separating the waters of Iliamna Lake from the 
Koiychak River, and with Russians so few in num- 
ber and scattered over so broad a region, peaceable 
relations were essential. 

Advantage was at once taken of the proposal to 
extend operations in this quarter, and other expedi- 
tions were also despatched, one under Ismailof in the 
only large vessel left to them, the Sv Simeon, chiefly for 
seeking new fields.^* Baranof himself proceeded to the 
gulf of Chugatschuik, Prince William Sound, with 
two well manned bidars in order to become acquainted 
with the inhabitants of that region. Dreading the 
Russians and a possible state of dependence, the for- 
bidding Chugatsches concealed themselves from Bar- 
anof at every point. At last he succeeded in meeting 
a few of the tribes and obtained from them seven 
hostages. Hereabout he fell in with the ship Phcenix, 
Captain Moore, from the East Indies, and obtained 
information on foreign traffic in the Alexander archi- 
pelago, which served him greatly in forming plans for 
future operations. He conceived quite a friendship 

^* Baranof wrote concerning Ismailof s achievements that ' he went out to 
make discoveries, but discovered nothing beyond doubtful indications of land.' 
Tikhmenef, Istor. Ohosr., ii. app., 36. 


for the comraander, from whom he received as a 'pres- 
ent' a native of Bengal. '■^^ 

Soon after his meeting with Moore, Baranof pro- 
ceeded to Nuchek Island, near the mouth of Copper 
River, and encamped within a short distance of the 
cove where subsequently the Konstantinovsk redoubt 
was built. Finding the supply of fish limited, he 
concluded to send a bidar manned by Russians and a 
part of the Aleut hunters to Sukli (Montagu) Island 
in search of better fishing-grounds, capable of furnish- 
ing a winter's supply for his party. On the 20th of 
June this expedition set out, and Baranof remained 
on Nuchek Island with only sixteen Russians. He 
had heard rumors of hostile intentions on the part of 
the savages, but placed little faith in them. To avoid 
unnecessary risks, however, he intended to remove his 
little force to a small island in the bay, on the day fol- 
lowing the departure of his exploring party. In the 
middle of the night, which was very dark and stormy, 
the sentries gave the alarm. Five of the sixteen 
men had been placed on guard, but the darkness was 
so dense that a numerous body of armed natives had 
advanced to within ten paces of the encampment with- 
out being seen. In a moment the Russians had seized 

^^ Baranof gives an interesting account of this meeting in one of liis letters 
to Shelikof: 'Being about to establish a station for the winter, I fell in with 
an English vessel, which had come from the East Indies, by way of Canton 
and Manila to America in the vicinity of Nootka, and from there he had fol- 
lowed the coast to Chugatsch, trading with many tribes and collecting a large 
quantity of furs. He had lost a mast in a gale and replaced it at Chugatsch 
and for that reason he liad concluded to return direct to Canton. The ship, 
named the Phteiiix, was 75 feet long and had two masts. The captain is an 
Englishman, of Irish extraction, named Moore. He met first with my bidarka 
fleet, and then came to my anchorage, where he lay five days during stress 
of weather. I was on board nearly all the time and was entertained at the 
captain's table. We conversed a great deal on various subjects, and though 
we did not understand each other very well, we managed to make use of the 
German language which I had imperfectly learned as a boy, but almost for- 
gotten since. The captain made me a present of one [East] Indian, who is 
my private attendant during tlie winter, but in the summer he serves in the 
capacity of an able seaman. He understands English well and I have taught 
him considerable Russian. I did not make any present in return beyond a 
few fox -skins and some kamtakas of Aleut workmanship and some other trifles. 
I also heard news of Capt. Coxe from him. He died at Canton. We were on 
A-ery friendly terms and Capt. Moore visited me several times on shore in my 
tent.' Tikhmtnef, 1st. Oboar., ii., app., 36. 


their arms and were firing on the savages. Accord- 
ing to Baranof their fire was for a long time without 
any visible effect, owing to the wooden armor and 
shields and helmets of the savages, which were of 
sufficient thickness to stop a bullet fired at some dis- 
tance. The movements of the enemy seemed to be 
guided by one commander, and by shouting to each 
other they preserved unity of action in the darkness. 
Their flint and copper-headed arrows and spears fell 
thick and fast, wounding several of the Russians and 
many of the Aleuts, several of them fatally. The 
latter did not even make a show of resistance, but 
seemed possessed of the one idea of escaping by water 
in their bidarkas. As the assailants had several large 
war-canoes not many of these attempts were success- 
ful. One small cannon, a one-and-a-half-pounder fal- 
conet, was at last brought into position, and did some 
execution, at the same time encouraging the Aleuts 
to rally around the Russians in their encampment. 
Fortunately Isma'ilof 's vessel happened to be at anchor 
not far off, and a few of those who fled in their canoes 
at the beginning of the aff'ray, had in the mean time 
reached it, and obtained a bidar full of armed men for 
the relief of Baranof. The appearance of this boat 
caused six large wooden war-canoes to beat a hasty 
retreat. One explanation, though not very plausible, 
of this unexpected attack was that the Yakutat tribe 
of Kaljushes had combined with the Aglegmutes to 
avenge themselves for injuries received at the hands 
of the Chugatsches during the preceding year. Know- 
ing that the Sv Simeon was anchored four versts away, 
and ignorant of Baranof 's presence, they had mistaken 
the Russian encampment for a Chugatsch village and 
attacked it in the dark. When the mistake was dis- 
covered, the savages were induced to persevere in their 
efforts by hopes of rich booty, only to pay dearly for 
the attempt and to retreat deeply demoralized. -'' 

^^ Baranof wrote to Shelikof as follows: 'We found 12 killed on the spot; 
the wounded had been carried off, but a wake of blood was visible a verst 


This affair caused Baranof to change his plans. 
Instead of wintering in Prince Wilham Sound as 
had been his intention, he turned to the gulf of Kena'i 
by the shortest route. He strengthened his outlying 
stations there and hastened the work of fortification 
and then proceeded to Kadiak. On his arrival at 
Pavlovsk harbor, he found that the ship Orel, that is 
Eagle, had arrived from Okhotsk, commanded by the 
Englishman Shields, and laden partly with material 
for new ships, though by no means of the descrip- 
tion most essential for opening operations. Although 
despatched in the autumn of 1791, vessels had been 
compelled to winter in Kamchatka. Shields had 
learned the art of ship-building in England, but had 
subsequently entered the Russian military service and 
obtained the rank of sub-lieutenant.^^ 

At the same time came orders to proceed at once 
with ship-building. This placed Baranof in an em- 

or two behind their canoes. At the very first onset they killed on our 
side a man named Kotovchikof from Bamai'd, and Paspelof from Tumensk 
died two weeks later. Of the heathen — the Aleuts — 9 were killed and 15 
wounded. As for myself, God protected me, though my shirt was torn by a 
spear and the arrows fell thickly around me. Being aroused from a deep 
sleep I had no time to dress, but rushed out as I w;^ to encourage the men 
and to see that our only cannon was moved to wherever the danger was 
greatest. Great praise is due to the fearless demeanor of my men, many of 
whom were new recruits. I mention among them Feodor Ostrogin and Zakh- 
milin. One of the Chugatsch hostages brought us four men who had been cap- 
tured by the Chugatsch people. From these we learned that our assailants 
had expected 10 canoes full of warriors from the Copper River and that they 
intended to proceed to the gulf of Kenai' after annihilating the Chugatsch 
tribe.' Tikhmenef, Istor. Obosr., ii. app. 37-8. Khlebnikof, in his life of Bar- 
anof, relates this incident in a somewhat diifereut manner as to details, and, 
strange to say, he quotes as his authority a letter from Baranof to Shelikof. 
They retreated in 5 canoes while they had arrived in 6. Shizn. Baranova, 16-17. 
Yet they carried off 4 captives. Tikhmenef, Istor. Ohos., i. 38-9, 04-5. 

'■^'Shelikof wrote to Baranof on this occasion: 'We send you now iron, 
rope, and sail-cloth for one ship which, with the assistance of Shields, you 
will be able to fit out, and if you succeed you may lay the keel for two or 
three other vessels of various dimensions. You should endeavor to push their 
construction far enougli ahead to enable you to complete them without further 
assistance of a shipwright. Everything you need for this shall be sent by 
the next opportunity. You should teach the Americans to pick oakum, make 
ropes, sew at the sails, and help the blacksmiths.' Id., i. 39-40. The iron 
appears to have been forgotten. Shields had formerly served as lieutenant 
in a Yekaterinburg regiment, but as he was both ship-builder and navigator by 
profession, Shelikof engaged him for service in the new colonies. The first 
proof of his proficiency in his business was the packet-boat Orel, which lie 
constructed at Okhotsk. Khlebnikof, Shizn. Baranova, 18. 


barrassing position, for he had not yet completed the 
transfer of the principal settlement from Three Saints 
to Pavlovsk harbor and there was urgent necessity to 
erect at once a number of buildings at the latter place, 
to shelter both men and stores during the winter. He 
was, however, determined to obey, and while pushing 
the work at Pavlovsk as much as possible, he lost no 
time in selecting a suitable place for ship-building. 
On Kadiak and Afognak islands the trees were neither 
abundant nor large enough, and it was found neces- 
sary to look to some more distant region. During his 
recent stay in Prince William Sound he had observed 
to the west of it a well protected bay, which seemed 
in every way suitable for his undertaking. The place 
w^as called Voskressenski, or Sunday harbor, also 
known as Blying Sound, and not only furnished ex- 
cellent timber, but a considerable rise and fall of the 
tide afforded exceptional facilities for building, launch- 
ing, and repairing vessels. Shelikof 's orders had been 
to send Shields back to Okhotsk after consulting him 
concerning the work on hand, but Baranof found it 
necessary to detain him in order to obtain serviceable 
plans for his vessel. He wrote to Shelikof that his 
complement of men capable of doing any work on the 
vessel was so exceedingly small that he could not 
afford to send away his most valuable assistant, but 
would retain him during that and the following season, 
hoping in the mean time to receive further shipments 
of stores and material.'® 

The necessary buildings, quarters for the men, and 
storehouses were at once erected at Voskressenski 
harbor, and all that winter the mountains of Kena'i 
peninsula echoed the vigorous blows of axemen and 
the crash of falling trees. Nearly all the planks were 
hewn out of the whole log, a waste of time and ma- 

•28 cy^g have,' wrote Baranof, 'only half a keg of tar, three kegs of pitch, 
not a pound of oakum, not a single nail, and very little iron for so large a 
vessel. What little canvas you sent us we have been compelled to use for 
bidarka sails and tents, for those we had were entirely worn out by long 
usage.' Tikhmenef, Istor. Obos., ii., app. 39. 


terial made necessary by the absence of large saws. 
The iron needed in the construction had been collected 
from pieces of wreck in all parts of the colonies, and 
though rust-eaten and of poor quality, it was made to 
serve. Steel for axes had to be prepared from the 
same material. In his anxiety to push the work Bar- 
anof even attempted to extract iron from some ore 
his men had picked up. He had seen iron-furnaces 
during his life in Siberia, but found himself unable to 
obtain the coveted metal by any such rude processes 
as he could devise. ^^ For tar he devised a poor mix- 
ture of spruce gum and oil. The English ship-builder 
regarded with wonder and contempt the primitive 
dock-yard, and without a purveyor possessed of the 
indomitable determination and activity of Baranof, he 
could never have earned the reputation of construct- 
ing the first ship on the north-westernmost coast of 

To obtain provisions was difficult. The men could 
not be allowed to hunt or fish, and no other station 
was prepared to furnish supplies. Heavy requisitions 
were made upon the yukola, or dried fish, of the na- 
tives, entailing want and hardships upon them, while 
the ship-builders were reduced to the scantiest allow- 
ance to sustain them in their arduous task. 

The lack of canvas was another serious incon- 
venience. Without a proper suit of sails the first 
American ship could never reach the coast of Siberia 
or Kamchatka and impress the authorities with the 
reality of all the Shelikof Company claimed to have 
done in the way of improvements and industrial en- 
terprise in the colonies. It is astonishing to what 
expense and infinite trouble the company was willing 
to go for the sole purpose of effect. A far better 
ship could have been built without any serious diffi- 
culty and at much less cost either in Kamchatka or at 
Okhotsk. The problem of supplying the necessary 

^^ Madame Shelikof indicates that the smelting of iron ore promised well 
enough to warrant the engagement of an experienced man. Letter, in Id. 


canvas was made more difficult by the circumstance 
that the native hunters, who had until then been paid 
for their season's work with a few beads and glass 
corals, refused to accept that currency any longer, and 
almost unanimously demanded to be paid in garments 
made of canvas. 

April 1793 saw the new craft far enough advanced 
to make Shields' constant superintendence unneces- 
sary. Baranof, who had no great liking for the for- 
eigner, seized the opportunity of giving him additional 
work by ordering him upon a voyage of discovery in 
the Orel. Rumors of the existence of unknown isl- 
ands, rich in seals and sea-otters, in various parts of 
the new possessions had been afloat for some time. 
Baranof never expressed any belief in these reports, but 
in order to get Shields and his four English sailors out 
of the way for the summer, he promised the former two 
shares of the furs obtained from any island discovered 
by him, for two years, and to the sailors twenty sea- 
otters each. With grim satisfaction the crafty old 
manager noted the fact that the premiums offered 
were never earned, and that the Orel was tossed 
about by storms and finally reached Voskressenski 
harbor in a much damaged condition. In the mean 
time the Sv Simeon had arrived with more laborers, 
provisions, and tools, and work was resumed with 
renewed vigor. 

At last in August 1794 the great work was achieved 
as the first vessel built in north-western America glided 
from the stocks into the waters of the Pacific, under 
the name of Plicenix}'^ While not so important or dif- 
ficult a performance as those of Vasco Nunez and 
Cortes, it was one of which Baranof might justly feel 
proud. He had made the first practical use of the 
timber of what was then termed *'the vast deserts of 

^"No explanation is given by my authorities why Baranof selected this 
name, but we may conclude that it was suggested to him by the English 
vessel which visited those waters in 1792. 


America/' and had used it for a puq^ose that might 
be expected to benefit not only his employers, but his 

Most of the men who assisted Shields had seen only 
the nondescript vessels of Siberian traders, many of 
them half decked, and built usually without an iron 
bolt or brace, the planks being lashed together with 
raw-hide thongs. The present result was therefore 
all the more gratifying, crude as it was. The vessel 
was built of spruce timber, and measured 73 feet in 
length, the upper deck being 79 feet, with a beam of 
23 feet and a depth of 13 J feet. Notwithstanding the 
size, the capacity being only about one hundred tons, 
it was provided with two decks and three masts, in 
order to present an imposing appearance and do credit 
to its projectors. ^^ The calking above the water-line 
was done with moss; and for paint, tar and whale-oil 
were used.^^ The sails consisted of pieces and scraps 
of canvas for which the warehouses and magazines of 
the company in Kamchatka and in the colonies had 
been ransacked. The result was a number of sheets 
of different qualities and color, presenting the most 
grotesque appearance.^^ 

By the 4th of September the PhcBnix was despatched 
upon her first voyage to Kadiak, where Baranof hoped 
to improve upon the outfit. On the way the flimsy 
rigging snapped before the first breeze, and the vessel 
entered Pavlovsk not with swelling sails, but towed 
by boats. She was also badly ballasted, and presented 
on the whole an appearance far from imposing. Nev- 

«iTikhmenef calls it ISO tons. Istor. Obos., i. 57-8. 

'^Boiled at various times in small quantities the paint was unequal in 
color, giving the hull a strange, spotted appearance. This, however, ex- 
tended only a little above the water-line, as they did not have enough even of 
such paint to color the whole. 

3-' These sails, some spars, and a quantity of iron work for the new vessel 
prepared by mechanics in Kadiak were transported to the ship-yard early in 
April, before the sea-going vessels had completed their necessary repairs, so 
that the conveyance had to be made in large skin boats or bidars, which 
crept cautiously to Cook Inlet. From here tlie material was can-ied over 
dangerous glaciers and mountains to Voskressenski harbor. Baranof, Shizji., 


ertheless joy reigned in the settlement, and the event 
was celebrated by solemn mass and merry feasting.'^* 

A few weeks were spent in refitting and rigging 
the Phcenix, and on the 20th day of April this first- 
born of the Alaskan forests set out upon the voyage 
to the shores of Asia, commanded by Shields, the 
builder. The voyage was made in about a month, a 
speed unprecedented in the annals of Russian navi- 
gation in the north Pacific. At Okhotsk the Phcenix 
was received with volleys of artillery, the ringing of 
bells, and the celebration of mass. The ghost of the 
great Peter is gratified; for in the flesh the monarch 
never dreamed of so early and so significant an 
achievement resulting from the royal pupilage. 

All the servants of the Shelikof Company then 
awaiting transportation from this port, and the soldiers 
stationed at the ostrog were at once called into requi- 
sition to assist in finishing Baranof's wonderful three- 
master. She had made her first voyage without cabin 
or deck houses, and these were now added, together 
with the necessary polishing and painting, and new 
sails and rigging. From this time forth until her loss 
during a dark stormy November night, in the gulf 
of Alaska, the Phcenix made regular trips between 
Okhotsk and the colonies. Shelikof and his partners 
did not fail to dwell forcibly and pointedly in their 
petitions and reports upon the fact that their com- 
pany maintained communication between the colonies 
and the mother country by means of a ''frigate" of 
their own construction, built with American timber 
and launched in American waters. 

This success Baranof followed up by laying the 
keels of two other vessels, of smaller size, forty and 
thirty-five feet in length respectively, which were 
launched in 1795, and nsuned Deljohin and Olga}^ 

^* The leaders tried their teeth on the only ram left of the sheep consign- 
ment, and tlien sought relief from the struggle in copious draughts of cheering 
liquor. Baranof, Shizn., 155-6. Baranof attended the launching, but came 
back in a bidarka, as if distrusting Shields and his work. 

^5 Tifchmenef, Istor. Ohos., i. 40. 




Thu Lebedef Company Occupies Cook Inlet — Quarrels between the 
Lebedef and Shelikof Companies — Hostilities in Cook Inlet — 
Complaints of Kolomin against Konovalof — War upon Russians 
AND Indians Alike — Life of the Marauders — Pacific Attitude of 
Baranof — His Patience Exhausted — Playing the Autocrat — Ar- 
rest OF THE Ringleaders — Effect on the Natives — Baranof's 
Speech to his Hunters— Expedition to Yakutat — Meeting with 
Vancouver — The Lebedef Company Circumvented— Troubles with 
Kaljushes — Purtof's Resolute Conduct — Zaikof's Expedition. 

Like the Spaniards in Central America and Mex- 
ico, no sooner had the Russians possession of their 
part of America than tiiey fell to fighting among 
themselves. In 1786 the Sv Pavl, of the Lebedef- 
Lastochkin Company, had come to Kadiak with 
thirty-eight men, commanded by Peredovchik Kolo- 
min. Jealous of intrusion on their recently acquired 
hunting-ground, the Shelikof party gave the new- 
comers a hint to move on, and incautiously pointed to 
Cook Inlet or the gulf of Kenai as a profitable region. 
The result was a permanent establishment in Alaska, 
on Kassilof River in that inlet. It consisted of two 
log buildings protected by a stockade, and bore the 
name of St George.^ 

The Shelikof Company already possessed, near the 
entrance of the inlet, a fort named Alexandrovsk, 
which had a more pretentious appearance. It formed 

* It was situated on a bluflf, and presented to the wondering savages quite 
a formidable aspect. Juvenal, Jour., MS., 36. 



a square with poorly built bastions at two corners, 
and displayed the imperial arms over the entrance, 
which was protected by two guns. Within were 
dwelling and store houses, one of them provided with 
a sentry-box on the roof." The situation of the other 
fort higher up the inlet, near the richer fur region, 
gave it the advantage in hunting; yet, for a time, 
friendly relations continued to exist between the rivals 
as well as with the natives. 

In August 1791 the ship St George, also belong- 
ing to the Lebedef-Lastochkin Company, arrived in 
the inlet. The commander of this second expedition 
was one Grigor Konovalof, and his advent seems to 
have been the signal for strife and disorder. His pro- 
ceedings were strange from the beginning; he did not 
land at the mouth of the Kassilof River, where Kolo- 
min was already established, but went about twenty 
miles farther, to the Kaknu, landed his crew of sixty- 
two Russians, discharo^ed his carcjo, beached his ves- 
sel, and began to erect winter quarters and fortifications 
surrounded with a stockade and defended by guns. 
This fort was named St Nicholas.^ All this time he 
neglected to communicate in any manner with the 
other party of the same company. Kolomin at last 

^ Smithy, room for boiling oil, and other conveniences existed. Fidalgo, 
ill Viajes at Norte, MS. , 35S-9. See also Humboldt, Essai Pol. , ii. 348. 

'^ Tikhmenef, in speaking of this episode, commits some errors from insulfi- 
cient acquaintance with the various localities. He writes of Kassilof and St 
Nicholas as thesame place, while in reality the latter isthirtymiles to the north- 
ward of the former. In claiming that Konovalof, by erecting fortifications at 
Kassilof, or St Nicholas, seized upon settlements founded by Shelikof in 1785, 
Tikhmenef makes another mistake. The only lodgment made by Shelikof on 
Cook Inlet was near its mouth, and was subsequently named Alexandrovsk. 
Furthermore, Shelikof was a partner in Lebedef-Lastochkin's enterprise, as 
as well as in the company formed under special protection of the government. 
Tikhmenef, Istor. Obos., 1. 30; Juvenal, Jour., MS , 6 et seq. When Vancouver 
anchored off the mouth of the Kenai or Kaknu river in 1794 he was saluted by 
two guns from a building on the high bank, from which also floated the Russian 
flag. A miserable path led up the steep ascent through masses of filth and 
ofFal. The establishment occupied a space of about 120 yards square, en- 
closed with a stout paling of pine logs, 12 feet high. The largest building, 
35 yards long, served as barracks, consisting of one large room with sleeping- 
benches on the sides, divided into stalls. The commander, at that time 
Stepan Zaikof, lived in a smaller house by himself. There were over twenty 
other small buildings. The 70-ton sloop belonging to the station, armed 
with two guns, was in a dilapidated condition. Vaiicoiiver's Voy., iii. 140-1. 


ventured to inquire to what company they belonged. 
The answer was brief and insolent, Konovalof claim- 
ing that he had been invested with supreme command, 
and instructed to seize everything in the hands of 
Kolomin, who must henceforth report to him. While 
ready to believe that such authority had been con- 
ferred/ the latter did not choose to surrender either 
his men or his furs; but as his term was about ended, 
he prepared to close his affairs and transfer the com- 
pany's business to his successor after the winter, in 
the expectation of sailing for Okhotsk in the spring. 
While thus engaged, Kolomin's party was surprised 
by the arrival of a large bidar sent by Konovalof, and 
commanded by Amos Balushin. Without making 
any excuse or explanation, Balushin proceeded a short 
distance up the Kassilof River, to where Kolomin's 
winter supply of dried fish was stored, and carried 
all away.^ 

Shortly afterward a party of natives, en route to 
St George, were intercepted on the Kaknu by Ko- 
novalof's men and robbed of all their effects. This 
outrage was repeated on a party from Toyunok, a 
village on the upper part of the inlet, no compensa- 
tion whatever being tendered for the furs taken. 
Being anxious to come to some understanding, Kolo- 
min went out to meet his rival, but the interview 
was brought to an end by Konovalof firing off his 
pistol, without injury, however, to any one. After 
this Kolomin considered the country in a state of 
war, kept constant watch, and- posted sentries. More- 
over, there was fear that the savages, who could not 
fail to notice the quarrels between the Russians, 
might attack the weaker with a view to capturing 
the furs gathered by Kolomin during his residence of 

* ' I had only twenty-seven men left of my crew, and as we were waiting to 
be called back we thought that Konovalof spoke the truth, and congratulated 
ourselves on liaving a new commander.' Tlkhmenef, Istor. Obos., ii. app. part 
ii. 51. The So Pavl had been sent home in 1789 with a cargo of his furs, and 
since then nearly 2,000 more skins had been collected. 

=" A demand tor explanation elicited only threats. Id. 


four years among them. Konovalof aggravated the 
situation by sending men to press some of Kolomin's 
kayurs, or native servants, into his own service, and 
the former on meeting with objections threatened to 
fire on the other party.^ The ease with which this out- 
rage was perpetrated encouraged another attack with 
a larger force, during which the remaining servants 
and the hostages were carried off, so that Kolomin 
had to send both for fresh recruits and for provisions. 
Even in this effort he met with trouble, for Lossef, 
the faithful lieutenant of Konovalof, dogged his foot- 
steps, intercepted most of the levy, and maltreated 
the messengers.^ 

Kolomin had already complained to the Shelikof 
Company of this persecution, and as soon as the ice 
broke up on the inlet he proceeded to Kadiak, to con- 
firm his previous report and urge Baranof to occupy 
the whole gulf. He advanced the opinion that, unless 
some responsible power interfered at once, all which he 
and his men had accomplished toward pacifying the 
natives and building up a profitable trade would be 
lost. Baranof by no means felt inclined to interfere 
between rival agents, particularly since the aggressive 
party would evidently not hesitate at shedding the 
blood even of their own countrymen; not that he 
lacked the courage, but he feared to risk his company's 
interests and men in fratricidal war, which might also 
arouse the natives. Moreover, his patron Shelikof 
possessed shares in the other company, and he pre- 
ferred to report to him so that the matter might be 
settled by the principals. At the same time, how- 
ever, he sent a warning to the St Nicholas people that 

^ The men were actually ordered to fire, but hesitated. Lossef, their 
leader, upbraided them, saying: 'It is not your business; we have already 
killed four Eussians.' 'Wait until spring,' he exclaimed to Kolomin's party, 
'and we will come to your station with fifty men and take away all the host- 
ages you have.' Tikhmenef, Istor. Obos., ii. app. part ii. 52-3. A converted 
native of Kadiak was robbed of his young wife and unmercifully beaten. 

' Three men were deprived of their weapons and placed in the stocks for 
two days. Drushinin, an elder among the hunters, who came to expostulate, 
was put in irons. 

Hist. Alaeea. 22 


he, as representative of one of the partners in the Le- 
bedef Company, could not allow any aggressive meas- 
ures that might be prejudicial to trade. This had the 
effect of greatly tempering the feeling of the St Nich- 
olas party against Kolomin's men as of their own com- 
pany, but directed their hostility against the rival 
company. They declared that the whole territory 
bordering upon the gulf of Kenai belonged exclusively 
to the Lebedef Company, ignoring all previous arrange- 
ments between their acknowledged head and Shelikof 
They certainly controlled nearly all the trade, and to 
this end they had erected another station higher up 
the inlet, on the western shore, and placed there a 
score of Russians.^ 

Kobbery and brutal outrages continued to be the 
order of the day, though now committed chiefly for 
the purpose of obtaining sole control of the inlet, to 
the neglect of legitimate pursuits. Meanwhile Kolo- 
min's men managed to hold their own, and, as the per- 
secution of the Konovalof party gradually relaxed, 
their sympathies actually turned toward the latter in 
their effort to oust the Shelikof men from the field. 

Thus the history of Cook Inlet during the last dec- 
ade of the eighteenth century is replete with romantic 
incidents — midnight raids, ambuscades, and open war- 
fare — resembling the doings of mediaeval rauhritters, 
rather than the exploits of peaceable traders. The 
leaders lived in rude comfort at the fortified stations, 
surrounded by a dusky harem containing contributions 
from the various native villages within the peredovt- 
chik's jurisdiction. Offences against the dignity of 
the latter were punished quickly and effectually with 
the lash or confinement in irons or the stocks, if the 
offender had not too many friends among the Russian 
promyshleniki, and with extreme severity, verging 
upon cruelty, in cases where the culprit belonged to the 

* It consisted of one large house about 50 feet long and 24 feet wide. Van- 
converts Voy., iii. 122. 


unfortunate class of kayurs. The Russians did little 
work beyond the regular guard duty, and even that 
was sometimes left to trusted individuals among the 
native workmen and hangers-on of the station. 

All manual labor was performed by natives, espe- 
cially by the female 'hostages,' and children of chiefs 
from distant villages left at the stations by their 
parents to be instructed in Russian life and manners. 
The training which they were forced to undergo, far 
from exercising any civilizing influence, resulted only 
in making them deceitful, cunning, and more vicious 
than they had been before. Every Russian there was 
a monarch, who if he wanted ease took it, or if spoils, 
the word was given to prepare for an expedition. Then 
food was prepared by the servants, and the boats made 
ready, while the masters attended to their arms and 
equipments. The women and children were intrusted 
to the care of a few superannuated hunters left to guard 
the station, and the brave little band would set out 
upon its depredations, caring little whether thqy were 
Indians or Russians who should become their victims. 
The strangest part of it all was, that the booty secured 
was duly accounted for among the earnings of the 

Aifairs were assuming a serious aspect. Not only 
were the Shelikof men excluded from the greater part 
of the inlet, but they were opposed in their advance 
round Prince William Sound, which was also claimed 
by the Lebedef faction, though the Orekhof and other 
companies were hunting there. The station which 
the Lebedef men made their base of operations was 
situated on Nuchek Island, at Port Etches, and con- 
sisted of the usual stockade, enclosing dwelling and 
store houses.^" In support of his claims, Konovalof 

' Shelikof, who held shares in both his own and the Lebedef Company, 
had the advantage of not only recovering what he lost by these plundering 
enterprises, but receiving his proportionate share of the losses in the Shelikof 

^"Vancouver, Voy., iii. 172, found one side of it fonned by an armed 
vessel of 70 tons, hauled on shore. 


declared that he possessed government credentials 
granting to his company exclusive right to all the 
mainland region. Yet he refused to exhibit even 
copies of such documents. Finding the Shelikof 
men disposed to yield, the others began to en- 
croach also on the limited district round the SheHkof 
settlement, near the entrance to Cook Inlet, by erect- 
ing a post on Kuchekmak Bay, and the natives M'ere 
forbidden, under pain of death, from trading with 
their rivals. From this post they watched the move- 
ments of the Shelikof men with a view to circumvent 
them. Forty bidarkas under Kotelnikof were inter- 
cepted, and although a number escaped, a portion of 
the crew, including the leader, was ca^Dtured. An- 
other party under Galaktianof, on the way from Prince 
William Sound, was chased by a large force, and efforts 
were made to attack Baranof himself It was not 
proposed to keep the Russians prisoners, but merely 
to seize the furs and enslave all natives employed by 
Shelikof in the interdicted region. Fortunately Bar- 
anof had left the sound before the raiders arrived, 
and they passed on to the eastern shore, there to en- 
croach on the trade established with the Yakutat 
Kaljushes by the Shelikof men, who held hostages 
from three of the villages, Not long after came Ba- 
lushin with a stronger force; and one day, when the 
chief of one of the villages had set out upon a hunt 
with nearly all the grown males, the Russians entered 
it and carried off the women and children to a neigh- 
boring island. ^^ They also made inroads on the north- 
ern part of the Alaskan peninsula which had been 
brought into friendly relations through Bocharof 
Out of four friendly villages in Ilyamna and Nusha- 
gak, they plundered two and carried the people into 

Their success was due partly to the personal bravery 

^^ Balnshin had destroyed the coat-of-arms bestowed upon the chief by 
order of the governor-general of Irkutsk, telling him that it was but a child 'a 
toy. Tihhmenef, If^tor. Obos., ii. app. part ii. 43. 


and superior dash of the men. Baranof freely ac- 
knowledged in later years that, individually, the pro- 
myshleniki of the Lebedef Company were superior 
to those under his command at the beginning of his 
administration; and according to Berg, he ventured to 
£issert that, had he commanded such men as Lebe- 
def's vessels brought to the shores of Cook Inlet and 
Prince William Sound, he would have conquered the 
whole north-western coast of America. 

Toward the end of 1793 Baranof had received a 
small reenforcement with the Orel, so that after 
deducting the loss by drowning and other casualties, 
one hundred and fifty-two men were left to him. The 
number of the Lebedef men is not recorded, but it 
cannot have been much inferior, for reenforcements 
had come in the Sv Ivan. The latter occupied an 
admirable strategic position, with control of two great 
navigable estuaries and other places offering easy 
communication and access to suppHes. They were 
also better provided with goods and ship-stores than 
Shelikof 's company.^- 

It was not so much these advantages of his assail- 
ants, however, that kept Baranof from energetic 
measures against them, but rather a consideration for 
the different interests of his patron, and for the lives 
of his countrymen. He was awaiting an answer to his 
reports from Siberia. This forbearance served only 
to encourage the other party, as we have seen, till at 
last Baranof's patience was exhausted. With the 
report of a fray between the rival posts on the inlet 
came the rumor that the ship-yard at Voskressenski 
Harbor was to be taken, and this appeared probable 
from the special animosity shown to the Enghshmen 
there engaged. When not absolutely needed at the 
yard, they were sent to explore; and on several of 

^2 Baranof reported, late in 1793, that he owed many bales of rope and four 
pouds of tobacco to the Lebedef Company, but, in view of the depredations 
committed by men belonging to the latter, he ' did not intend to return the 
roods until some action was taken upon his complaints to the authorities at 


these occasions they had been set upon, robbed, and 
ill-treated, sometimes narrowly escaping with their 

Baranof now^ hastened to the spot, and observing 
the need for interference, assumed the peremptory 
tone of one invested with authority. He sent a let- 
ter to Konovalof, then at his stockade at St Nicholas 
on the Kaknu Kiver, with a summons to appear at 
once before him, stating that he had been authorized 
by the governor of Siberia to settle all disputes be- 
tween rival traders. He expected soon to be invested 
with such powers, in answer to the urgent petitions 
of Shelikof and his partners, and thought that he 
might exercise the privilege in advance. This had 
its effect. Without suspecting that the order had 
no more foundation than his own boasted rights to 
possession, the conscience-stricken man hastened to 
obey what was supposed to be an official summons. 
He appeared before Baranof and offered apologies for 
his conduct, but the latter would listen to no expla- 
nation; he placed him in irons, and kept him under 
close guard until Ismailof arrived with his vessels, 
when not only the ringleader but seven of his com- 
panions who had also tendered their submission were 
taken to Kadiak and placed in confinement. 

Finally Konovalof was made to answer at Okhotsk, 
but before a lenient committee, so that he readily 
managed to clear himself, and was restored to a com- 
mand in Alaska. Meanwhile Stepan Zaikof had 
succeeded him as chief at St Nicholas. Kolomin still 
held his command and Balushin controlled the estab- 
lishment on Nuchek.^'* 

^* The prevailing starvation at the ship-yard was chiefly due to the inter- 
ference of the Lebedef men with supplies. 

^* One reason for this clemency appears in a letter addressed by Lebedef 
and Shelikof jointly, to the archimandrite loassof, requesting him to investigate 
the charges against Konovalof and others, j'ct expressing the hope that the 
accused will not he found ' too guilty to be allowed to work off, in one com- 
pany or the other, their indebtedness to tlieir employers, and thus save 
the shareholders from loss.' If, however, Konovalof should bo found too 
deeply involved to admit of his further employment, he was ' to be set at 


While Baranof's firmness served to check the per- 
petration of extreme abuses, a certain hostihty contin- 
ued to be exhibited for some time. The evil was too 
deeply rooted to be eradicated all at once, but har- 
mony was gradually restored, partly through the in- 
fluential mediation of Archimandrite loassof, who ar- 
rived soon after as leader of a missionary party. At 
the same time came a large reenforcement for Baranof, 
with authority to form settlements in any part of 
Alaska, and right to claim the country for five hun- 
dred versts round such settlements, within which 
limits no other company could set foot. Against such 
power the Lebedef faction could not possibly prevail, 
particularly since Shelikof positively instructed Bar- 
anof to use both force and cunning to remove the ri- 
vals. Reverses also overtook them, and a few years 
later they abandoned the field.^^ 

It was indeed time that Baranof should assert him- 
self, for the insolence and outrages of the aggressors 
had created general discontent among the tribes. 
Those of Lake Skilakh were actually plotting the de- 
struction of all Russians on the Kenai peninsula, and 
to this end they endeavored to bridge over the old 
feud between them and the Chugatsches of Prince 
William Sound; receiving also encouragement from 
the treacherous tribes on the other side of the inlet, 
from Katmai northward, who had successfully op- 
posed all attempts to form Russian settlements in 
their midst. The measures now taken by Baranof 
to maintain better order and reassure the natives, as 
well as the coup de main with Konovalof, which added 

liberty to shift for himself.' Id., ii. app. part ii. 57-8. loassof, indeed, did 
not report him to be so bad as Baranof desired. Among the accused was Ste- 
pan Kosmovich Zaikof, a brother of Potap Zaikof , a man of considerable abil- 
ity and knowledge. Ivan Koch, commander of Okhotsk, in a letter up- 
braids his dear friend Stepan Kuzmitch, and threatens him with the severest 
punishment if found guilty. 

^5 ' You must declare in your reports,' wrote Shelikof, ' that the outrages 
upon the Kenaitze were of the most disgraceful character, but that it is in 
your power to plant your settlements wherever you please, even on the gulf 
of Kenai.' Id., 69. 


not a little to advance his influence, served to check 
the threatened uprising. His assertion of authority 
was equally necessary among his own subordinates, 
whose loyalty had been corrupted by the insinuations 
of emissaries from the other camp, and whose re- 
spect for their chief had begun to wane under his 
forbearance toward the rivals, whereby numerous 
hardships were entailed upon them through loss of 
trade and curtailment of rations.^® He assembled 
the men, represented to them the obligations to 
which they had voluntarily subscribed when engaged, 
and showed the evil they were inflicting also on them- 
selves by discontent, want of harmony, and refusal to 
do the required work. He had full power to arrest 
those who refused implicit obedience, and he would 
use that power. Those who had complaints should 
present them, and he would seek to redress their 
wrongs." This firm speech, together with a liberal 
distribution of liquor, had a wonderful efl'ect, and thus 
by means of a little determined self-assertion Baranof 
established for himself an undisputed authority, with 
a reputation as a leader of men.^'^ 

The party war ended, Baranof breathed freely once 
more, and 1794 witnessed a decided impulse to his dif- 
ferent enterprises. The most notable of these was the 
one intrusted to Purtof and Kulikatof for operating 
in Yakutat Bay, of which a preceding visit had brought 
most encouraging reports. ^^ Preparations were made 

^^ They appear to have received less compensation than the other com- 
pany employees. Of the latter, Fidalgo reports; 'Sus sueldos llegaban los 
may ores a cuatro pesos: que los jefes subalteriios gozaban 500 alafio.' But 
he evidently ignores the share system. For each employee the company paid 
a tribute of two dollars a year. Salida, etc., in Viajes al Norte, MS., 369. 

^' This characteristic address is given in full in Tikhmenef, Istor. Oboa. , ii. 
app. part ii. 47-9. It contains several allusions to historic anecdotes on 
the value of unity, and dwells on the absiard pretensions to better comforts 
by men who at home in Siberia were content to live as pigs. 

18 Some time before this he had interfered between rival traders of the 
companies Orekhof, Panof, and Kisselef, located on Prince William Sound, 
and after patching up a temporary peace between them he had seized the 
greater part of their furs, under the pretext of taking them to Kadiak for safe 

i^Tikhmenef refers confusedly to an expedition in 1793 of 170 bidarkas, 


on a large scale. The station on Cook Inlet had 
been appointed as a rendezvous, and on the 7th of 
May a fleet of five hundred bidarkas assembled there, 
bringing natives from Kadiak, Kenai, the Alaskan 
peninsula, and the nearest Chugatsch villages. More 
boats and men were to be collected at Prince William 
Sound, where Baranof had gone in person to \evj 
forces. All these were arranged in subdivisions, 
each in charge of a Russian. 

At Voskressenski Bay the Yakutat expedition was 
furnished with additional trading goods and some guns 
and ammunition. After being delayed at Grekof 
Island till the 2 2d of May,Purtof set out with his whole 
fleet for the mouth of Copper River, intending to pass 
by Nuchek Island, where the Lebedef Company was 
then established. At the eastern point of Montague 
Island they were intercepted by some Lebedef hunt- 
ers in bidarkas, who presented a letter from Balu- 
shin and Kolomin, This document warned Purtof 
not to encroach upon any territory already occupied 
by the other company. The messengers were in- 
structed to add, that they had established an artel of 
twenty Russians at Tatitliatzk village on the gulf of 
Chugatsch, and also at the mouth of Copper River, and 
that the Shelikof hunters must not advance in that 
direction. Without allowing himself to be intimidated, 
Purtof informed the messengers that he was on his 
way to the American continent in pursuance of secret 
orders from the government. In hunting sea-otters 
he would not touch upon any ground occupied by 

The following evening, while preparing to camp for 
the night on a small island adjoining Nuchek, he dis- 
covered a party of eight Lebedef hunters near by and 
invited them to supper, after which the time passed 
in friendly exchange of news. Early in the morning, 
however, before the Lebedef men were stirring, Pur- 
escorted by Shields, which brought back 2,000 sea-otter skins. Istoj: Obos., 
i. 40-1. 


tof moved silently away with his force and made a 
quick passage to the second mouth of Copper River, 
and there fell in with Chugatsches who had been trad- 
ing with the Lebedef men at Nuchek. Finding that 
no station or regular hunting party of the Lebedef 
Company existed here, he took his party to Kaniak 
Island, near the river, purposing to lay in a supply of 
halibut as provisions, and to hunt sea-otters. Over a 
hundred skins were obtained the first day, but the 
second day's hunt proved entirely futile and the expedi- 
tion moved northward along the coast of the mainland."* 
On the 31st of May the whole party encamped on 
the beach, and within a short distance of a large Agleg- 
mute village, though without being aware of the fact. 
During the night some of the hunters became alarmed 
at the sound of numerous voices proceeding from the 
woods. An armed detachment composed of the most 
courageous ventured to penetrate into the forest, and, 
guided by the smell of smoke and the cries of children, 
made their way to the village, which was situated on 
the opposite side of a river. During the confusion 
occasioned by their unexpected arrival, they succeeded 
in capturing the chief and his brother, and then made 
good their retreat to the camp. One of their number, 
however, a Kadiak interpreter, w^as intercepted and 
killed by the natives. The chief and his brother were 
taken to the camp, treated to food and drink, and piled 
with presents, until they promised to call together 
their people the following day to negotiate with the 
Russians. The brother was commissioned to arrange 
the matter, and by the 3d of June all of the Aglegmute 
tribe dwelling in that vicinity came to the camp. 
With the help of a judicious distribution of presents, 
Purtof succeeded in prevailing upon the savages to 
give seven hostages, including two natives of Yakutat 

2° During a brief halt on the beach a native hut was discovered, but the 
inhabitants had fled, leaving all their effects. A little food was taken by the 
Aleuts, in return for which Purtof deposited some coral beads. 

^^lu accordance with orders from the government, the savages were ques- 


As soon as the weather permitted, Purtof pro- 
ceeded to Icy Bay, called JSTatchik by the natives, 
and by the 10th of June his hunters had secured 
four hundred sea-otter skins, all that could be ob- 
tained. The party then moved on to Yakutat Bay, 
accompanied by the Aglegmute chief of the tribe, 
and a Kadiak native who spoke the Kaljush lan- 
guage. These two were sent in advance to assure 
the people of the peaceful character of the expedi- 
tion.^^ The chief soon returned from the Yakutat 
village with the son of the Kaljush chieftain and 
three others as hostages, profusely ornamented with 
beads, furs, and feathers. The interpreter had been 
detained as hostage on the other side, but it was 
found necessary to surrender also a Russian ere con- 
fidence could be established. Accompanied by fif- 
teen of his best warriors, the Kaljush chief then pro- 
ceeded in state to the camp, and after the usual 
ceremonies negotiations began in earnest. Purtof 
declared that the Russians desired to live in friend- 
ship with them, and the chief, who probably had 
been plied with strong drink, made a formal present 
to his new allies of the southern portion of the bay 
and the small islands situated therein. The feelings of 
the latter underwent a change, however, when he 
came to reflect on the advantage gained by his visitors, 
and found that they also hunted on their own account, 
venturing far out to sea where the clumsier canoes of 
the Kaljush dared not follow. He and his followers 
were ready to trade, but they objected to see their 
stock of fur seals exhausted by strangers without any 
benefit to themselves. ^^ 

tioned whether they or any of the neighboring tribes held in their j)ossession 
any European prisoners, but this they positively denied. It was thought that 
some of La P^rouse's men might have escaped drowning only to fall into the 
hands of the savage inhabitants of the vicinity. 

^2 At the southern point of Yakutat Bay a hunt was organized, but only 
ten sea-otters could be found. In making a landing through the surf, two 
natives of Kadiak Avere drowned. 

^3 The chief made a long speech before Lieutenant Puget, which he under- 
stood to convey this meaning. Vancouver'' s Voy., ii. 234. 


Trouble appeared, indeed, to be brewing, but the 
arrival of the Chatham of Vancouver's expedition, 
under Lieutenant Puget, served to prevent any dis- 
turbance. Purtof maintained a most friendly inter- 
course with the English, to w^iom he also tendered 
provisions, and received in acknowledgment letters 
of commendation. Through some of the sailors it 
was understood that English war-vessels might appear 
within two years to take possession of Cook Inlet and 
other places, and, unworthy of credit as this report 
was, it failed not to be transmitted to the government 
by the somewhat agitated fur traders. Vancouver 
himself held a much higher opinion, both of their 
territorial rights and control of trade, than a clearer 
view of affairs might have conveyed, for he was 
ignorant of their dissensions, and regarded all as 
united in one common interest; while the sight of 
the large native fleets controlled by Purtof must 
have exalted the idea of their influence and of their 
ability to distance competitors. The departure of 
Vancouver's expedition was no doubt a great relief to 
Baranof at least,' w4io appears to have been afraid of 
his coming across the English shipwrights, and luring 
them away^* ere he could dispense with their ser- 

While the Chatham remained, Purtof 's command 
occupied a position near the anchorage. Other par- 
ties of natives arrived from the interior of the bay 
and from Ltua, giving occasion for further feasting, 
presents, and exchange of hostages. The large num- 
ber of guns, and the abundance of lead and powder in 
the possession of these new arrivals, pointed to visits 
from European trading vessels, and at this very time 
the Jachall, Captain Brown, entered the bay in quest 
of furs, to the deep chagrin of Purtof 

^* The letters given to Purtof were even suspected for a while to be docu- 
ments intended to support English claims. See letter of Mme Shelikof, in 
Tikhmenpf, Intor. Obos., ii. app. part ii. 108 et seq. 

^^ Of this fear Vancouver knew nothing, for the Russians leaders were 
profuse in offers of services, even to the use of the ship-yard. 


As soon as the war- vessel departed, the treacherous 
Kaljushes assumed a threatening attitude, and delayed 
from day to day the promised delivery of additional 
hostages under various pretexts. At the same time 
the interpreters left with the savages at the beginning 
of the negotiations were held under strict surveill- 
ance, and not allowed to communicate with their 
countrymen. At last Purtof decided upon a display 
of force to support his demands for the surrender of 
his own men at least, and approached the village in 
bidarkas with all the armed men at his command. 
The squadron was reenforced by a boat with six armed 
men from the Jackall}^ 

The presence of the Englishmen had no doubt an 
effect, for the interview resulted in the surrender of a 
chief from Afognak Island, with a promise to deliver 
up the remaining hostages. 

On the following day came eight men in a large 
bidar, bringing three more natives of Kadiak, but two 
were still detained. Fearing that foul play was 
intended, Purtof detained some relatives of the Yaku- 
tat chief, and carried the hostages whom he held from 
the Aglegmutes on board the Jachcdl for safe keep- 
ing. This reprisal proved effectual; the necessary 
exchange of hostages was made, and, after expressing 
his thanks to Captain Brown, Purtof took his party 
out of the bay of Yakutat with five hundred and fif- 
teen sea-otter skins obtained in a little over two 

On the return voyage, while the expeditionary force 
was encamped on an island near Nuchek,^^ Purtof 
despatched a letter to Pepin, of the Lebedef Com- 
pany, informing him that he had explored the coast 
of the continent and pacified the natives of several 
villages by exchanging hostages. He offered to verify 

^^ Captain Brown's statement, as given by Vancouver, would make it 
appear that Purtof asked for assistance, but the latter states that the English 
joined of their own accord, ' though we tried to dissuade them from doing 
this, and did not require their assistance. ' This was on July 1st. 

^^ Purtof persisted in calling this island Aglitzkoi, that is to say, English. 


this statement, and on the appearance of Samoilof, the 
navigator of the Lebedef Company, allowed him to talk 
freely with the interpreters, and to copy a list of the 
villages and chiefs from whom he had obtained host- 
ages. This would seem to be a strange proceeding 
in view of the hostility between the two parties, but 
it was of the greatest importance for the Shelikof 
Company, at that juncture, to make good their claim of 
precedence on the continent, in view of the impending 
grant of exclusive imperial privileges. 

The success of Purtof, who brought with him a 
promise from the Thlinkeet chief of a large supply of 
sea-otter skins for the next visit, resulted in the de- 
spatch of another expedition the following year, under 
Zaikof, who commanded a sea-going vessel,^® The 
chief failed to fulfil his promise, and the Russians had 
to content themselves with the sea-otters captured by 
their native hunters on the bay. Four hundred skins 
were secured, and the hunters prepared to follow up 
their success, regardless of the manifest ill-feeling of the 
bay people, which threatened to become more bitter 
than during the former visit. What the result may 
have been is difficult to say, for just then two Aleuts 
were seized with small-pox, and panic-stricken the 
party hastened away.^^ Zaikof now steered in search 
of islands reported to exist between Kadiak and the 
continent to the east. He ranged for over a month 
to the southward and again to the north, until, sight- 
ing the snow-clad peaks of the Chugatsch alps and the 
Kenai mountains, he was forced to admit the futility 
of his quest. 

'^^ Seventeen Russians, besides natives, accompanied him. 

^*La P^rouse noticed signs of the disease among the coast tribes, and 
Portlock assumes that they must have caught it from some vessel which had 
touched near Cape Edgecumbe. No person younger than 14 years bore the 
marks. Portlock's Voy., 272; Marchajid, Voy., ii. 62-3. 




Mechanics and Missionaries Arrive at Pavlovsk — Ambitious Schemes 
OF Colonization — Agricultural Settlement Founded on Yakutat 
Bay — Shipwreck, Famine, and Sickness — Golovnin's Report on the 
■ Affairs of the Shelikof Company— Discontent of the Mission- 
aries — Complaints of the Archimandrite — Father Makar in Una- 
LASKA— Father Juvenal in Kadiak— Divine Service at Three 
Saints— Juvenal's Voyage to Ilyamna — His Reception and Mission- 
ary Labors — He Attempts to Abolish Polygamy — And Falls a 
Victim to an Ilyamna Damsel— He is Butchered by the Natives. 

Notwithstanding the quarrels between rival trad- 
ing companies and occasional emeutes among the na- 
tives, caused in almost every instance by the greed of 
the Russians, colonization in Alaska had thus far been 
attended with fair success. The Russian seal-hunters 
had suffered no such hardships as did the Spanish 
settlers in Central America, the early colonists of 
New England, or the convict band that ten years after 
Captain Cook sailed from Nootka in quest of a north- 
east passage to Hudson's Bay founded on Port Jack- 
son the first city in Australasia. Apart from the seal 
fisheries, however, the resources of the country were as 
yet undeveloped. On the island of Kadiak was raised 
a, scant crop of vegetables; at Voskressenski, as we 
have seen, was built the first vessel ever launched into 
the waters of the North Pacific; but throughout the 
settlements w^as felt a sore need of skilled labor, and 
in some of them, as Shelikof would have us believe, 
of missionaries to educate the natives and instruct 



them in the true faith. AppHcation was therefore 
made foi* clergymen and for exiles trained to handi- 
craft.^ The request was granted, and in August 1794 
the Irekh Sviatifeli and the Ekaterina, two of the 
Shelikof Company's vessels,^ arrived at Pavlovsk with 
provisions, stores, implements, seeds, cattle, and a hun- 
dred and ninety-two persons on board, among whom 
were fifty-two craftsmen and agriculturists, and eigh- 
teen clergymen and lay servitors in charge of the 
archimandrite loassaf ^ " I present you," writes Sheli- 
kof to Baranof, "with some guests who have been se- 
lected by order of the empress to spread the word 
of God in America. I know that you will feel as 
great a satisfaction as I do that the country where I 
labored before you, and where you. are laboring now 
for the glory of our country, sees in the arrival of 
these guests a hopeful prophecy of future prosperity." 
Shelikof's merits as teacher and pastor have already 
been related;* the treatment which the missionaries 
received from his dram-drinking colleague will be 
mentioned later. Priests were not wanted among the 
promyshleniki, and if they sojourned in their midst 
must earn their daily bread as did the rest of the 
community. They might serve, however, to bring 
into more thorough subjection the docile Aleuts. 

By the Ekaterina, Baranof received a lengthy com- 
munication from Shelikof and from Polevoi Golikof s 
representative, relating to the establishment of an ag- 
ricultural colony near Cape St Elias on Yakutat Bay. 
The instructions on this matter were to take the place 

^ Shelikof and Golikof requested that clergymen be appointed for mis- 
sionary work in the Aleutian Islands and oS'ered to defray all expenses. 
By oukaz of June 30, 1793, Catherine II. ordered the petition granted. At 
the same time Shelikof asked the governor of Irkutsk to use his influence 
with the crown to procure the despatch of a certain number of exiles, skilled 
as blacksmiths, locksmiths, and foundrymen, and of ten families trained to 
agriculture. The request was granted by oukaz of December 31, 1793. 
Tikhmenef, Istor. Obos., i. 42-3. 

2 Both built at Okhotsk. The former, though only 63 feet in length, had 
on board 260 tons of cargo, besides 120 casks of water. 

'There were also 121 hunters, 4 clerks, and 5 Aleuts. 

*Thisvol.,p. 227. 


of all that had previously been sent.^ Accompanying 
them was a document touching only on the private 
affairs of the company. Thanking Baranof for his 
exhaustive reports, Shelikof concludes: "And now it 
only remains for us to hope that, having selected on 
the mainland a suitable place, you will lay out the set- 
tlement with some taste, and with due regard for 
beauty of construction, in order that when visits are 
made by foreign ships, as can not fail to happen, it 
may appear more like a town than a village, and that 
the Russians in America may live in a neat and or- 
derly way, and not, as in Okhotsk, in squalor and misery 
caused by the absence of nearly everything necessary 
to civilization. Use taste as w^ell as practical judg- 
ment in locating the settlement. Look to beauty as 
well as to convenience of material and supplies. On 
the plans as well as in reality leave room for spacious 
squares for public assemblies. Make the streets not 
too long, but wide, and let them radiate from the 
squares. If the site is wooded, let trees enough stand 
to line the streets and to fill the gardens, in order 
to beautify the place and preserve a healthy atmos- 
phere. Build the houses along the streets, but at 
some distance from each other, in order to increase the 
extent of the town. The roofs should be of equal 
height, and the architecture as uniform as possible. 
The gardens should be of equal size, and provided with 
good fences along the streets. Thanks be to God 
that you will at least have no lack of timber. Make 
the plan as full as possible, and add view^s of the sur- 

^The letter was dated from Okhotsk on the 9th of August, 1794. Order* 
had been received from the governor of Irkutsk that the agriculturists, in- 
cluding ten families, should be forwarded to the spot near Cape St Elias 
where Shelikof had promised to establish the first agricultural settlement on 
the north-west coast of America; but it was claimed that a clause in the in- 
structions permitted the site of this colony to be changed, if a more suitable 
location could be found, and finally the exiled agriculturists were scattered 
throughout the settlement and employed in various kinds of labor. Most of 
the exiles of whatever occupation arrived in the Catherine after much delay, 
caused by a stay at Unalaska, and by a violent gale in Akutan Pass, during 
which several head of cattle were lost. Khlebnikof, Shitn. Baranova, 24-5, 
states that the remainder of the live-stock reached Kadiak in safety. 
Hist. Alaska. 23 


roundings. Your work will be viewed and discussed 
at the imperial court." In another part of this letter 
Baranof is reproached for exchanging visits with cap- 
tains of English vessels, and warned that he might be 
carried off to Nootka or California, or some other des- 
olate place. 

The latter portion of this epistle appears to have 
been written for the purpose of deceiving the empress, 
to whom the plans of the proposed settlement were to 
be shown, though we cannot but admire the compre- 
hensive scope of Shelikof's imagination when he thus 
conceives the idea of building a well ordered city in 
the American wilderness. Although such an under- 
taking would require all the means and men at the dis- 
posal of the Shelikof-Golikof Company, he was engaged, 
besides other ventures, in forming a second association 
under the name of the North American Compan}^, for 
the purpose of making permanent settlements on the 
mainland, and in building ships for yet a third enterprise 
of which he was the leading man — the Predtecha 
Company, then holding temporary possession of the 
Pribylof Islands, but left without means of carrying 
away their seal-skins by the loss of their only vessel. 
The estimated complement for the North American 
Company was a hundred and twenty men, of whom 
seventy were despatched in July 1794, and about 
thirty in 1795. Its main object was to aid in sup- 
planting foreigners in the trade with the natives, to 
extend this traffic from Unalaska to the Arctic Ocean, 
and to enter into commercial intercourse with the 
people living on the American coast, opposite Cape 
Tehcukotsk. Moreover, Shelikof cherished in secret 
the hope of making some new discovery on the Amer- 
ican continent, leading to the long-sought-for jDassage 
into Baffin's Bay. 

As soon as Shelikof had despatched his vessels from 
Okhotsk, he returned in 1794 to Irkutsk for the pur- 
pose of organizing there a central office for the man- 
agement of his many enterprises, thus preparing for the 


future consolidation of all the Russian companies in 
America. This was the inception of the great Russian 
American Company, which was to be fully organized 
only after its originator's death. Meanwhile Baranof 
could do, and knew that he was expected to do, but 
little toward carrying out his superior's brilliant 
schemes of colonization. On all the principal islands 
of the Aleutian group, and at some points on the main- 
land, the best locations for agriculture and cattle-rais- 
ing had been selected and fortified several years before ; 
additional hunting grounds and a few harbors had also 
been chosen, and sites marked out at the mouths of 
rivers for trading posts with the natives. But the 
time w^as not yet ripe for establishing new settlements, 
and meanwhile in accordance with private instructions 
Shelikof kept the exiles busily employed, some of them 
at Kadiak, and the mechanics probably at Voskres- 
senski, where, it will be remembered, the Delphin and 
Olga were launched in 1795.^ 

The Trekli Sviatitelei had arrived a few weeks before 
these vessels were completed, after a two years' voy- 
age from Kamchatka, with her cargo of stores and 
provisions in good order and intact — a rare occurrence 
in the early history of the Russian colonies. Several 
days were now devoted to feasting and rejoicing, in 
which traders, priests, and servants alike participated. 
The colonists were, however, no longer in fear of want, 
for experiments made in the planting of several kinds 
of vegetables and occasionally of cereals had been 
fairly successful, and, though they possessed few im- 
plements, they had seed in abundance for either pur- 
pose.^ Thus, with a never failing supply of fish, an 
abundance of food was, as they thought, assured. 

® Four of the exiled families selected for the company were detained by 
Shelikof at Okhotsk, to serve as a nucleus for a proposed settlement on one 
of the Kurile Islands. 

' Father Simeon and one of the lay brothers of the mission, named Philip, 
made some experiments in sowing turnips and potatoes which succeeded well. 
The archimandrite mentions a man named Saposhuikof, who planted a pound 
of barley in a sheltered nook and harvested 60 pounds. Tikhmenef, Istor. 
Obos., ii. app. part ii. 102. With this exception, nothing appears to have 


In December of this year Baranof set forth on a 
journey round Kadiak, his purpose being to make 
arrangements for the hunting season, and to ascertain 
the population of the island, which was found to con- 
sist of 6,206 persons, the sexes being about equally 
divided.^ About seven hundred bidarkas, each hold- 
ing two men, could be assembled at the different sta- 

Though the archimandrite had previously described 
Baranof as a man who " continually sat in his house 
hatching mischief," and, in a letter to Shelikof, had 
declared that he could see no sign that any of his 
schemes of colonization were likely to be carried out, 
the chief manager certainly took some steps toward 
establishing the much-talked-of settlement near Cape 
St Elias. Intrusting the management of affairs at 
Kadiak to his assistant Kuskof,^ he sailed for Yakutat 
in the transport Olga^^ and arrived at the village near 
Cape St Elias on the 15th of July, 1796, finding there 
the Trekh Sviatitelei, which had reached the new settle- 
ment on the 25th of June. The few men left at the 
place the previous autumn were found in good health, 
but complained of having been frequently in want of 
food during the winter. Baranof himself remained 
here two months, superintending the erection of build- 
ings; and after taking hostages from the natives and 
leaving a garrison of fifty men, returned to Kadiak. 

Meanwhile the Ekaterina, with a portion of the 
exiles on board, and the transport Orel, under com- 
mand of Shields, had sailed for Cape St Elias, the latter 
convoying four hundred and fifty bidarkas bound for 

been done with the imported seed of rye and oats, as the only implements for 
breaking up the ground were forked sticks. 

•* There were 3,221 males and 2,985 females. 

^Ivan Alexandrovich Kuskof, a merchant of Totma, came to America 
^vith Baranof, in the capacity of clerk. He was soon appointed assistant, and 
as we shall see intrusted with important commands. He left the service of 
the company in 1821, returned to Russia by way of Okhotsk in 1822, and 
died at Totna in 1823. Khlehnilcof, Shizn. Baranova, passim. 

^"It was intended that Pribylof, the discoverer of the fur-seal islands, 
should take command, but his decease occurred before the departure of the 


Ltua Bay," where in a few days 1,800 sea otter skins 
were secured. 

Thus, at length, the settlement on Yakutat Bay 
was fairly started with every prospect of success; but 
this, the first convict colony estabhshed in the far 
north, Hke the one sent forth two years later to people 
the desert wastes of Australia, was doomed to suffer 
many disasters. During the very first winter news 
reached Kadiak that the village was in danger of 
being abandoned for want of provisions.^^ The Trekh 
Sviatitelei, which left the settlement on her return 
voyage a few days before Baranof's departure, was 
driven by heavy gales into Kamuishatzk Bay. There 
a large force of men was sent early in the following 
spring to repair the vessel, but she was found to 
be so badly damaged that her hull was set on fire, and 
only her iron-work was saved. At Voskressenski Bay 
Baranof was met by a messenger from Yakutat, who 
reported that twenty laborers and several women had 
perished of scurvy at the settlement during the past 

While hastening to the relief of the distressed set- 
tlers, the chief manager found time to visit Fort 
Konstantine on Nuchek Island, where the Lebedef- 
Lastochkin Company had hitherto maintained their 
principal depot. For several years no supplies had 
been forwarded to this place, and in consequence great 
dissatisfaction existed among the employees of the 
firm. Baranof found no great difficulty in inducing a 
majority of the Lebedef men to enter the service of the 
Shelikof Company, and the remainder were promised 
a passage to Okhotsk. At the same time the Chu- 
gatsches formally submitted to Baranof and furnished 

" Two other bidarka fleets mustermg 257 boats assembled during the 
same year at the village of Karluk, and after obtaining supplies of dried fish 
were despatched in the same direction. Each bidarka carried from 100 to 
125 fish, but this food was used only in case of actual necessity. As a rule, 
fresh fish were caught and birds killed at every halting place. Khlebnikof, 
Shizn. Baranova, 34-5. 

1- The news was brought by one Radionof, who arrived at Kadiak from Cape 
St Elias in a bidar. 


an additional quota of a hundred bidarkas to reenforce 
his hunting parties, thus reheving him of all apprehen- 
sions of a native uprising west of Yakutat, and enabling 
him to turn his undivided attention to the wants of 
the new colony. 

After relieving the existing distress and establish- 
ing order among the settlers, Baranof returned to Ka- 
diak, arriving there on the first of October. Shields, 
who commanded the Orel, had in the mean time pro- 
ceeded south-west from Ltua Bay with his fleet of 
four hundred and fifty bidarkas, and succeeded in 
reaching Norfolk Sound, where he soon collected two 
thousand sea-otter skins. 

We shall have occasion to refer later to the prog- 
ress of the convict colony at Yakutat. Shelikof 
and his colleagues, when petitioning the empress that 
a band of exiles should be sent to Alaska to aid in 
developing the resources of Russian America, and a 
party of clergymen to convert and educate the natives, 
assured the government "that their wishes tended only 
to add new possessions to Russia and new parishes to 
the church." "But," says Golovnin, who was in- 
structed by the government to investigate the affairs 
of the colony, "the clergy and the poor mechanics 
had hardly arrived at Kadiak, when the former were 
set to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow, 
and the latter were distributed over different locali- 
ties, wherever furs could be got to swell the profits 
of the Shelikof Company. Between 1794 and 1818 
the missions received from the company neither bibles 
nor new testaments, nor any other religious books, 
not even spelling-books to teach the children, while 
wax candles, wine, etc., necessary for the performance 
of sacred ceremonies, could not be obtained from them. 
But of the thirty-five families of mechanics only three 
men and one woman remained in 1818.^^ The re- 

" About the year 1870 Ivan Petrof states that there are at Niniltchik, 
on Cook Inlet, six families, including some forty souls, claiming to be de- 
scendants of these exiles. 


mainder were killed or died from want and hardship, 
while hunting for the company. For all this I am 
in possession of written proofs. And thus Shelikof 
showed to the world that between traders on a large 
or small scale there is no difference. As the shopman 
in the market makes the sign of the cross and calls 
God to witness in order to sell his goods a few copeks 
dearer, so Shelikof used the name of Christ and this 
sacred faith to deceive the government and entice 
thirty-five unfortunate families to the savage shores 
of America, where they fell victims to his avarice and 
that of his successors."" 

All this is sufficiently bitter, and if any further 
proof be wanted that Golovnin was somewhat biased, 
his mention of Baranof, whom he describes as "a 
man who became famous on account of his long resi- 
dence among the savages, and still more so because 
he, while enlightening them, grew wild himself and 
sunk to a degree below the savage," is further evi- 
denced^ It is but due to the memory of Shelikof, 
whose decease occurred in July 1795, to quote a few 
lines from the letter of his widow, addressed on 
November 2 2d of that year to the governor of 
Tauris: ''The administration of the colony has made 
arrangements that these settlers shall not be ham- 
pered in their work of constructing the new village 
by anxiety with regard to producing the necessary 
provisions during the first year, and has provided 
ample supplies of food to last them until they can 
provide for themselves, as well as tools, etc., all of 
which have been purchased at Okhotsk by my late 
husband at his own expense. At the same time an 
agent was appointed to attend to the issue of these 
supplies, according to the wants of the people. But 
finally they got up a conspiracy, and threatened to 
take the agent's life unless he gave them guns and 
ammunition to protect themselves against the sav- 

^*' Materialui Istor. Buss., i. 54. 
15 Id., 53. 


ages when they would reach the mainland, and that 
they would take possession of the ship and sail for 
the Kurile Islands, selecting one of their men as 
navigator. They had three great guns with ammuni- 
tion, all ready for use, but the chief agent of the com- 
pany discovered their conspiracy, and three of the 
ringleaders were, in accordance with the instructions 
of the commanding officer at Okhotsk, punished by 
flogging, and separated among the hunters at various 
stations." ^^ 

Knowing how he had compromised himself in his 
dealings with the turbulent traders on Cook Inlet by 
assuming official authority which did not belong to 
him, Baranof had to exert all his ingenuity, and prob- 
ably resorted to threats and violence, in order to keep 
the knowledge of his proceedings from the priests, who 
were only too ready to meddle with the concerns of the 
Shelikof Company.^^ Though outwardly professing 
the veneration of an orthodox member of the Russian 
church for its ordained representatives, Baranof con- 
sidered them as enemies and acted accordingly. He 
knew that in the pursuit of his business the full con- 
trol of the natives was essential to his success, and he 
believed that every one of the missionaries would 
strive to obtain such control for himself in the name 
of the holy synod. In order to lessen the number of 
his enemies, he urged upon loassaf the necessity of 
sending out missionaries to the savage tribes of the 
mainland, from whom the light of Christianity was still 
entirely hidden. The chief of the mission expressed 
his full understanding of this necessit}', but winter 

>6 Tikhmencf, Jstor. Obos., ii. app. part ii. 109. 

'^ The following is a list of members of this first mission: Archimandrite 
lodssaf, (IrowTied on the Feniks in 1799; leromonakh Juvenal, killed by the 
savages in northern America, as will be afterward related; leromonakh Makar, 
returned voluntarily to Okhotsk; Aflfanassic, returned to Irkutsk in 1825; 
lerodiakon Stefan, drowned in the suite of the bishop; Xektar, sent to Irkutsk 
by Father Gideon in 1807; Monk German, still among the living in IS.So; 
Monk loassaf, who died at Kadiak in 1823; and ten church servitors not be- 
longing to tlie priesthood. 


Vv' as then approaching fast and the journey to the con- 
tinent was becoming dangerous. Thus Baranof was 
obhofed to face his adversaries durino- the whole of a 
long arctic winter, and to counteract their intrigues 
as best he might. 

The attitude assumed by the first apostles of Chris- 
tianity in Alaska from the very beginning of their res- 
idence in America was decidedly hostile to all who 
managed and carried on business enterprises in the 
colonies. Previous to reaching their destination the 
members of this mission were detained for a whole 
winter in the wretched sea-port towns of eastern 
Siberia and Kamchatka, where they met with numbers 
of the former servants of the various trading com- 
panies, who were full of discontent and resentment, 
and painted to them in the blackest colors the condi- 
tion of the country and the people inhabiting it. The 
result was that the priests finally sailed for the Amer- 
ican coast imbued with a prejudice against everything 
and everybody belonging to the colonies. Being thus 
prepared to see nothing but evil, priestly ingenuity 
and craft succeeded in finding much more than had 
been discovered by their ignorant informers. In the 
correspondence transmitted by members of the mission 
to Shelikof, and to dignitaries of the synod, during 
this first period of their missionary work, they make 
the worst of everything. 

The archimandrite was especially bitter in his de- 
nunciations of the chief manager, but there is little 
doubt that many of his accusations were unfounded.^^ 

'^ Though the tone of his letters and reports is decidedly hostile to Baranof, 
the latter seems to have succeeded in concealing from the inquisitive clergy 
his wrongful assumption of authority in Cook Inlet, which would have exposed 
him to the most severe punishment by the authorities. I make the following 
extract from the letter of the archimandrite to Shelikof, written in May 1795: 
'We have no proper church as yet, and though I personally urged' Alex- 
ander Andreievitch [Baranof] to build a small church at this place as soon 
as possible, and offered a plan for a chapel only four fathoms long by a 
fathom and a half in width, the timber for it still remains uncut. Smce 
my arrival at this harbor I have seen nothing but what seems to be in 
direct opposition to your kind intentions. The only thing which gives 
me satisfaction is the fact that the natives flock in from everywhere to 
become christianized, but the Russians not only make no effort to help 


It must be admitted, however, that the ecclesiastics 
suffered many privations through the neglect of Bar- 
anof and the traders, who regarded them simply as 
intermeddlers, of whom they must rid themselves as 
speedily as possible. During their first winter the 
missionaries were without sufficient food and shelter; ^^ 
no encouragement was afforded them in their work, 
and it was not until July 1796 that the first church 
was built in Kadiak, at Three Saints, though before 
that time it was claimed that twelve thousand natives 
had been baptized. 

While making his report to Shelikof, the archiman- 

in the work of enlightenment, but use every means to discourage them, 
and the cause of this is the vicious lives they have been leading from the first 
with American [native] women. I have barely succeeded in persuading a few 
hunters to get married, but the others will not even listen to such a proposal. 
Thus far I have not been enabled to discover whether it is Mr Baranof or his 
assistants who are endeavoring to cause ill-feeling against us and you. All 
I can say is that the hunters ai'e incensed against you. All do their best to 
evade compliance with the written clauses of their contracts with you. Ships 
and other property of the company are neglected, and many say that the 
company's interests are opposed to those of the settlers, and try to persuade 
others to think the same.' Tikhmenef, Ixtor. Obos., ii. app. part ii. 101-2. 

^^ 'About the domestic arrangements,' continues loassaf, 'nothing good 
can be said. Since our arrival there has been a famine during the whole win- 
ter. Yukola [dried salmon] three years old is all that is offered us, and 
though we do not like dried fish, we ai'e compelled to eat it. The laborers 
do nothing toward jjroviding food. The nets were left on the ground near 
the beach all winter, being thoroughly spoiled. The dogs have eaten up two 
of the calves which we brought with us, and of the two sheep which remained 
to us on our arrival, one was devoured by dogs. The goats all perished. In 
accordance with your instructions, I was to accustom my clergymen to the 
food of the country, and to employ them at various kinds of labor, but this 
would have been done without your instructions. We are not troubled with 
an abundance of provisions, keeping our table upon the beach, picking up mus- 
sels, clams, and crabs. In addition to this, we have a little bread, and that will 
soon be exhausted. Baranof and his favorites do not suffer; for him they shoot 
birds, sea-lions, and seals. From the Alaskan peninsula they bring him reindeer 
meat. Milk he has always, even in the winter, two cows being reserved for his 
use alone. They used to give us milk enough for our tea, but at the present 
time, when ten cows have calved, we get only one tea-cupful a day, exclusive 
of fast-days. Our light is miserable, as we get nothing but wlialc-oil for that 
purpose. Then the winter was very cold, the roofs leaky, and the windows 
very bad ; thus we passed the whole winter. I have never felt comfortable . 
since my arrival here. I bore with our miserable accommodations as long as 
I could, and sent the brothers to the barracks where the working people live; 
but it would not do for me to go there in the position of dignity I hold here ; 
and the barracks were full and even crowded. They had frequent assemblies 
and games there, and often whole nights were passed in singing and dancing. 
They kept it up every Sunday and holiday, and sometimes even on work- 
days. On Ash Wednesday they came to me and asked me to postpone the 
confession until evening, when they would have finished their games.' Id., 
102-4. o J s . 


drite states that he could fill a book with the evil 
doings and atrocities that came under his observation, 
but that out of consideration for him he would not 
lodge a formal complaint with the supreme church 
authorities. He felt that even if Baranof knew that 
he was writing the truth to the head of the company, 
he would be prevented from making any further 
progress in his work, and perhaps even endanger his 
life. He expressed his firm belief that no admonition 
of the managers by his superiors could do any good, 
and that removal alone could remedy the evil. Should 
that be considered impracticable, he would suffer in 
silence, doing all the good that was possible under 
such unfavorable circumstances, and patiently await- 
ing the time when providence would carry him and 
his much-abused brethren back to Russia, beyond the 
control of their 'untiring persecutor.' The reverend 
correspondent likewise throws out hints of misman- 
agement and peculation in business affairs.^'' 

On the other hand, the letters of Baranof and his 
chief assistants, written during the same period, dis- 
play a marked forbearance in sjDeaking of the mis- 
sionaries and their doings.-^ The difficulties of Bar- 
anof's position during this winter of close companion- 
ship with inquisitive, suspicious priests, rebellious 
servants, and discontented natives cannot well be 

^"loassaf wrote: He (Baranof) has sold his tobacco at 400 roubles per 
poud (40 lbs. ) and more, though he had on hand over 20 pouds belonging to 
the company. /(/., 105. 

^1 This must of course be partly ascribed to policy on their part, but a 
perusal of these documents impresses upon the reader the conviction that the 
part which the traders were obliged to play in this controversy was more 
difficult than that of the priests, and that the former were perfectly honest in 
attempting to avoid all complications. The charges advanced by mission- 
aries, of being starved and forced to pick up their food on the beach wliile 
Baranof and his favorites feasted upon the fat of the land, is not sustained by 
such credible witnesses as lieutenants Khvostof and Davidof and other naval 
officers then entering the employ of the Russian- American Company, who 
all testified to the fact that Baranof and his favored leaders shared all priva- 
tions with their subordinates. At the very time when loassaf complained 
in his letter of Baranof 's delay in erecting a church or chapel, the latter, 
though lacking time, men, and means to employ in church building just then, 
donated 1,500 roubles from his own salary for the purpose. Id., i. 59, and ii. 
app. 150-1. 


exaggerated. No supplies of provisions had arrived 
with the mis.sionaries, who, to a certain extent, were 
responsible for their own privations, having feasted 
and lived in too great abundance during their deten- 
tion on the coast of Siberia and on the sea voyage. 

In the spring of 1795 the missionaries, with one 
exception, proceeded to the mainland, there to labor 
with but indifferent success among the native tribes 
not previously approached by the pioneers of Mus- 
covite civilization. 

At Unalaska and the neighboring islands Father 
Makar, though meeting with little opposition from the 
few promyshleniki remaining there, labored with appar- 
ent success. ^^ The natives were now thoroughly sub- 
dued, and hundreds of them, had been carried away to 
join the hunting parties of Baranof Their territory 
no longer afforded sites for profitable stations, and they 
were left almost to themselves. An indifference bor- 
dering on apathy had succeeded to the former warlike 
spirit of the Aleuts, who in earlier days had wreaked 
dire vengeance upon their Russian oppressors when- 
ever opportunity offered. It is impossible to ascer- 
tain whether Makar was really an eloquent preacher 
of the gospel, or whether his success was solety due to 
circumstances ; but success he certainly had. In a few 
years nearly all the inhabitants of the Aleutian Isles 
were baptized and duly reported to the holy synod as 
voluntary converts and good Christians. The circum- 
stance that no attempt was made to translate the con- 
fession of faith, or any portion of the scripture or 
ritual, into the native language at that early time, sug- 
gests serious doubts as to the agency of eloquence 
and argument in this wholesale conversion. When 
Veniaminof entered upon his missionary career on the 

^'^ The father appears to have been a somewhat meddlesome ecclesiastic. 
In a copy of an imperial rescript issued a few years later, we read : ' The monk 
Makar, who has exceeded the Iwiinds of his duties and meddled with affairs 
that did not concern him, is herehy informed that though we pardon him tliia 
time for absenting himself wilfully from his appointed post of duty, he must 
not repeat the offence, and must allow complaints made by the Aleutian* to 
go through their proper channel.' Id., 173. 


islands twenty years later, he found the people Chris- 
tians by name, but was compelled to begin from the 
foundation the work of enlightenment and explanation 
of the creed in which they had been baptized by 

With the death of Shelikof the missionaries lost 
their principal support, and no further attempt was 
made to extend their operations until the archiman- 
drite loassaf was recalled to Irkutsk by order of the 
synod, in order to be consecrated as bishop. He 
started upon his journey full of ambitious plans, and 
with the determination to make use of his new dig- 
nity in overcoming all opposition, real or imaginary, on 
the part of his persecutors. Visions of building up 
an ecclesiastical empire in Russian America may have 
gladdened his soul after years of suffering and humil- 
iation; but whatever his ambitious dreams may have 
been, they must have lost much in scope and vivid- 
ness long before he embarked in the Feniks a second 
time, not to return in splendor to the scene of former 
misery, but to find a watery grave at some unknown 
point within a few days' sail of his destination. 

Prominent among the missionaries who accompa- 
nied the archimandrite was Father Juvenal, who iu 
1795 was sent to Yakutat Bay, probably to draw 
plans for Baranof, and on his return commenced to 
labor at Kadiak as a priest and teacher. "With the 
help of God," he writes from Three Saints Har- 
bor on June 19, 1796, "a school was opened to-day 
at this place, the first since the attempt of the late 
Mr Shelikof to instruct the natives of this neighbor- 
hood. Eleven boys and several grown men were in 
attendance. When I read prayers they seemed very 
attentive, and were evidently deeply impressed, though 
they did not understand the language." On the fol- 
lowing day two more youths were placed under his 
charge, and "when school was closed," continues the 
father, "I went to the river with my boys, and with 


the help of God we caught one hundred and three sal- 
mon of large size, which some of the women assisted 
us in cutting up ready for drying." ^^ Other scholars 
were quickly enrolled, and though the pupils had an 
unpleasant trick of running off without ceremony to 
trade furs whenever opportunity offered, all went well 
until the 12th of July, when Baranof arrived at the 
settlement, with instructions from the bishop of 
Irkutsk that Juvenal should proceed to Ilyamna sta- 

On the following sabbath the priest celebrated 
divine service for the last time at Three Saints. A 
brief description of the ceremony may not be without 
interest: " We had a very solemn and impressive 
service this morning. Mr Baranof and officers and 
sailors from the ship attended, and also a large num- 
ber of natives. We had fine singing, and a congrega- 
tion with great outward appearance of devotion. I 
could not help but marvel at Alexander Alexandre- 
ievitch [Baranof], who stood there and listened and 
crossed himself, gave the responses at the proper time, 
and joined in the singing with the same hoarse voice 
with which he was shouting obscene songs the night 
before, when I saw him in the midst of a drunken 
carousal with a woman seated in his lap. I dispensed 
with services in the afternoon, because the traders 
were drunk again, and might have disturbed us and 
disgusted the natives." 

The next day Juvenal repaired to Baranof 's tent to 
inquire what disposition was to be made of the pupils 
under his charge. The reply was that they were to 
be removed to Pavlovsk, w^here Father German had 
arrived and opened a school for girls; he would doubt- 
less be wilHng to take the boys also. 

^^Jour., MS., 1-2. Of the visit of some strangers who came from Tugi- 
dak Island to trade, he relates the following: ' They asked me if I could cure 
a man when he was very sick, and I answered that with the help of God I 
might. At this they shrugged their shoulders, and one man said: " We have 
a shaman at home who once brought a dead man back to life; and he did it 
all alone."' Id., 9. 


After blessing his flock and taking leave of them 
one by one, the priest embarked for Pavlovsk on the 
16th of July on board the brigantine Catherine, where, 
he tells us, the cabin being taken up by Baranof and 
his party, he was shown a small space in the hold 
between some bales of goods and a pile of dried fish. 
In this dark and noisome berth, by the light of a 
wretched lantern, he wrote a portion of his journal, 
often disturbed by the ribald songs which the chief 
manager's attendants sang for his amusement. On 
the second day of the voyage a strong head wind set 
in, accompanied with a heavy chopping sea. Baranof, 
being out of humor, sent for the father and asked him 
whether he had blessed the ship. On being told that 
he had done so, he was ordered w^ith many curses to 
light a taper before an image of Nikolai Ugodnik, 
which hung in the cabin. Juvenal complied without 
a word, and then retired to his berth, which, foul as it 
was, he preferred to the company of the chief man- 
ager. The gale continued over night, and at daybreak 
the vessel was out of sight of land, whereupon in pres- 
ence of the sailors and passengers Baranof spoke of 
the priest as a second Jonah, and observed that there 
were plenty of whales about. All this time the lat- 
ter was unable to partake of food, and, as he says, 
was buried under a heap of dried fish whenever the 
vessel rolled heavily. 

At JPavlovsk, Juvenal noticed the great activity in 
building, which w^as not even interrupted on the sab- 
bath. On the fourth day after his arrival he took 
his leave of Baranof, who promised him a passage in 
his fleet of bidarkas as far as St George on the gulf 
of Kenai, but told him that afterward he must depend 
on the Lebedef Company, whose traders, he added 
with a malicious grin, "were little better than robbers 
and murderers."-* 

2* During his stay at Pavlovsk Juvenal was lodged in a half-finished hut 
intended for a salt-house, where swarms of mosquitoes deprived him of I'est. 
Before his departure he had an interview with Father German, who, he says, 
was on the best tei-ms with Baranof. When asked whether he had any ma- 


After a tedious passage from island to island, some- 
times meeting with long delays, the priest reached 
the Kaknu or Kenai River, where was the nearest 
station of the Lebedef Company, on the 11th of 
August. Here, notwithstanding Baranof's warning, 
he 'met with the first signs of religious observance 
by promyshleniki during his travels in the colonies.^^ 
During his stay of about a fortnight he married sev- 
eral couples, baptized a number of infants and adults, 
and at intervals held divine service, which was well 
attended. '■^^ 

Soon, however, the religious ardor cooled, and so 
little interest did the natives take in the missionary 
that, when ready to depart, he found it difficult to ob- 
tain men and bidarkas to take him across the inlet to 
his destination. At last one morning after service he 
appealed to the natives for men to assist him across 
the water, telling them that he must go to the Ily- 
amna country to preach the new word to the people,, 
who had never yet heard it. Thereupon an old man 
arose and remarked that he ought not to go; that the 
Kenaitze people had been the friends of the Russians 
for long years, and had a better right to have a priest 
among them than the Ilyamnas, who were very bad. 
The missionary, in his journal, confessed that he was 
puzzled for a fitting reply to this argument. On the 
25th, however, he set out from the station, accom- 
panied by two men from Chekituk village. 

A delay was again occasioned by his guides indulg- 
ing in a seal-hunt on Kalgin Island, situated midway 

tron in charge of his school for girls, German laughed and said there was no 
need of one. 'I intended,' writes Juvenal, 'to recommend my boys at Three 
Saints Harbor to the special attention of Father German, but his repulsive 
manner caused me to change my intention, and now I pray that the poor little 
fellows may never be intrusted to his care. ' Id. , 24-5. 

'^'^ Juvenal writes: 'Stepan Laduiguin is the trader for the Lebedef-Las- 
tochkia Company, and he has with him four other Russians and nearly a hun- 
dred Kenaitze, who are all Christians. Ignatiy Terentief, one of the Russians, 
reads prayers on the sabbath, but no priest has visited the place since the 
archimandrite's arbitration.' Id., 40. 

'-'® During this time several shocks of earthc(uake occuiTcd, and a stabbing 
afifray between two natives, which was punished by flogging both ofFendera 


in the inlet, and the western shore was not reached 
till the 29th. On the 30th he writes: ''This morning 
two natives came out of the forest and shouted to my 
companions. Two of the latter went out to meet 
them. There was a great deal of talking before the 
strangers concluded to come to our tents. When they 
came at last, and I was pointed out to them as the 
man who was to live among them, they wished to see 
my goods. I encountered some difficulty in making 
them understand that I am not here to trade and bar- 
ter, and have nothing for sale. Finally, when they 
were told that I had come among them to make better 
men of them, one of them, named Katlewah, the 
brother of a chief, said he was glad of that, as they 
had many bad men among the Ilyamna people, espe- 
cially his brother. The two savages have agreed to 
carry my chattels for me to their village, but, to sat- 
isfy Katlewah, I was compelled to open every bundle 
and show him the contents. I did not like the greedy 
glitter in his eye when he saw and felt of my vest-' 

On the 3d of September the party reached Il- 
yamna village, after a fatiguing journey over the 
mountains and a canoe voyage on the lake. Shakmut^ 
the chief, received the missionary with friendly words, 
interpreted by a boy named Nikita, who had been a 
hostage with the Russians. He invited him to his 
own house, and on the priest's expressing a wish for 
a separate residence, promised to have one built for 
him, and allowed him to retain Nikita in his service. 
Finding that the latter, though living with the Rus- 
sians for years, had not been baptized, Juvenal per- 
formed that ceremony at the first op]3ortunity, before 
the astonished natives, who regarded it as sorcery, 
and one asked whether Nikita would live many days. ^^ 

^^ Under date of September 5th, Juvenal writes: ' It will be a relief to get 
away from the crowded house of the chief, where persons of all ages and sexes 
mingle without any regard to decency or morals. To my utter astonishment 
Shakmut asked me last night to share the couch of one of his wives. He 
has three or four. I suppose such abomination is the custom of the coun- 
HisT. Alaska. 24 


Juvenal's success was not remarkable, to judge 
from his diary. One young woman asked to be bap- 
tized like the boy Nikita, expressing the hope that 
then she could also live in the new house with the 
missionary. An old woman brought two boys, stat- 
ing that they were orphans who had nobody to care 
for them, and that she would like to see them baptized, 
"to change their luck." The chief Shakmut also 
j^romised to consider the question of embracing Chris- 
tianity, and for some reason he did so promise in the 
presence of the whole tribe, and amidst great feasting 
and rejoicing. Two servants and one of his wives 
were included in the ceremony, the priest not daring 
to refuse them on the ground that they had received 
no instructions, for fear of losino^ the advantaoje which 
the chief's example might give him in his future 

The conversion of the chief had not, however, the 
desired effect; it only led to dissensions among the 
"people, and when the priest began to tell the converts 

try, and he intended no insult. God gave me grace to overcome my indigna- 
tion, and decline the offer in a friendly and dignified manner. My tirst duty, 
when I have somewhat mastered the language, shall be to preach against such 
wicked practices, but I could not touch upon such subjects through a boy in- 
terpreter. ' Id. , 55-6. 

^ Ju-i-enal evidently had no faith in his convert, as evinced in the follow- 
ing extracts from his journal, p. 64-7: ' Shakmut comes regularly for instruc- 
tion, but I have my doubts of his sincerity. In order to give more solemnity 
to the occasion, he has concluded to have two of his servants or slaves baptized 
also. They only come at his command, of course, but I must bear with a 
great deal until this conversion has become an accomplished fact. Katlewah, 
the chief 's brother, called upon me to-day, and repeated -that he was glad 
that Shakmut was to be baptized, for he was very bad, and if I made him a 
good man, he and all the Ilyamna people would rejoice and be baptized also. 
I do not like this way of testing the efficacy of Christianity; only a miracle 
of God could effect such a sudden change in Shakmut's heart.' It was mak- 
ing altogether too practical and literal a matter of conversion to suit the good 
Juvenal. On September 21st he MTites: 'The great step which is to lay the 
foundation of future success iu my labors has been taken. The chief of the 
Ilyamnas has been baptized, with two of his slaves and one of his wives. The 
latter came forward at the last moment, but I dared not refuse her for fear of 
stopping the whole ceremony. Shakmut was gorgeously arrayed in deer- 
skin robes nearly covered with costly beads. Katlewah asked me if his 
brother would be allowed to wear such clothes as a Russian, and when I re- 
plied in the affirmative the fellow seemed disappointed. I do not like either 
of the brothei-s; it is difficult to say whether the new Christian or the pagan 
is the worse. I gave the name of Alexander to the chief, telling him that it 
was the name of his majesty, the emperor, at which he seemed to feel flattered ' 


that they must put away their secondary wives, the 
chief and others began to plot his downfall. It had 
been a marvel to the savages that a man should put 
a bridle upon his passions and live in celibacy, but 
their wonder was mingled with feelings of respect. 
To overcome the influence which the missionary was 
gaining over some of his people, Shakmut, or Alex- 
ander as he was now christened, plotted to throw 
temptation in his way, and alas for Juvenal! whose 
priestly wrath had been so lately roused by the im- 
morality of Baranof and his godless crew of proni}^- 
shleniki, it must be related that he fell. In the dead 
of night, according to his own confession, an Ilyamna 
damsel captured him by storm. ^'^ 

On the day after this incident, the outraged ecclesi- 
astic received a visit from Katlewah, who expressed 
a wish to be baptized on the following sabbath. "I 
can tell by his manner," writes the priest on Septem- 
ber 26th, "that he knows of my disgrace, though he 
did not say anything. When I walked to the forest 
to-day to cut some wood, I heard two girls laughing 
at me, behind my back; and in the morning, when I 
was making a wooden bolt for the door of my sleep- 
ing-room, a woman looked in and laughed right into 
my face. She may be the one who caused my fall, 
for it was dark and I never saw her countenance. 
Alexander visited me, also, and insisted upon having 

'■'' I quote from the journal, p. 69-70, the father's own account of the 
matter: 'September 25th. With a trembling hand I write the sad occur- 
rences of the past day and night. Much rather I would leave the disgraceful 
story untold, but I must overcome my own shame and mortification, and 
write it down as a warning to other missionaries who may come after me. Last 
night I retired at my usual hour, after prayer with the boys who sleep in 
another room. In the middle of the night I awoke to find myself in the 
arms of a woman whose fiery embraces excited me to such an extent that 
I fell a victim to lust, and a grievous sin was committed before I could extri- 
cate myself. As soon as I regained my senses I drove the woman out, but I 
felt too guilty to be very harsh with her. What a terrible blow this is to all 
my recent hopes ! How can I bold jip my head among the people, who, of 
course, will hear of this affair ? I am not sure, even, that the boys in the 
adjoining room were not awakened by the noise. God is my witness that I 
have set down the truth here in the face of anything that may be said about 
it hereafter. I have kept myself secluded to-day from everybody. I have 
not yet the strength to face the world.' 


his wives baptized next Sunday. I had no spirit left 
to contest the matter with him, and consented; but I 
shall not shrink from my duty to make him relinquish 
all but one wife when the proper time arrives. If I 
wink at polygamy now, I shall be forever unable to 
combat it. Perhaps it is only imagination, but I 
think I can discover a lack of respect in Nikita's be- 
havior toward me since yesterday." Continuing his 
journal on the 27th, he adds: "My disgrace has be- 
come public already, and I am laughed at wherever I 
go, especially by the women. Of course they do not 
understand the sin^ but rather look upon it as a good 
joke. It will require great firmness on my part to 
regain what respect I have lost for myself as well as 
on behalf of the church. I have vowed to burn no 
fuel in my bedroom during the whole winter, in order 
to chastise my body — a mild punishment, indeed, 
compared to the blackness of my sin." 

The next day was Sunday. ''With a heavy 
heart," says Juvenal, '' but with a firm purpose, I bap- 
tized Katie wall and his family, the three wives of 
the chief, seven children, and one aged couple. Un- 
der any other circumstances such a rich harvest would 
have filled me with joy, but I am filled with gloom." 
In the evening he called on Alexander and found him 
and his wives carousing together. Notwithstanding 
his recent downfall, the priest's wrath was kindled, and 
through Nikita he informed the chief that he must 
marry one of his wives according to the rites of the 
church, and put away the rest, or be forever damned. 
Alexander now became angry in his turn and bade him 
leave the house. On his way home he met Katlewah,^'' 
who rated him soundly, declaring that he had lied to 
them all, for ''his brother was as bad as ever, and no 
good had come of any of his baptisms." 

The career of Father Juvenal was now ended, and 
the little that remains to be feaid is best told in his own 

'" Baptized under the name of Gregor. 


words : '' September 29th. The chief and his brother 
have both been here this morning and abused me 
shamefully. Their language I could not understand, 
but they spat in my face, and what was worse, upon 
the sacred images on the walls. Katlewah seized my 
vestments and carried them off, and I was left bleed- 
ing from a blow struck with an ivory club ^^ by the 
•chief. Nikita has bandaged and washed my wounds ; 
but from his anxious manner I can see that I am still 
in danger. The other boys have run away. ^My 
wound pains me so that I can scarcely — " Here the 
manuscript journal breaks off, and probably the mo- 
ment after the last line was penned his assassins en- 
tered and completed their work by stabbing him to 
the heart. ^^ This at least was his fate, as represented 

'^ Such as are used to kill salmon and seals. 

^^ Khlebnikof, the biographer of Bai'anof, simply states that Juvenal went 
among the Aglegmutes alone, and that it is not definitely known when or 
where he was killed by the savages. Veniaminof says: 'The cause of his 
death w-as not so much that he prohibited polygamy, as the fact that the 
chiefs and prominent natives, having given him their children to be ediicated 
at Kadiak, repented of their action, and failing to recover them, turned 
against him and finally slew him as a deceiver. They declare that, during 
the attack of the savages, Juvenal never thought of flight or self-defence, but 
surrendered himself into their hands without resistance, asking only for mercy 
for his companions. The natives relate that the missionary, after being killed, 
rose up and followed his murderers, asking, Why do you do this? Thereupon 
the savages, thinking he was still alive, fell upon and beat him; but he again 
arose and approached them. This happened several times. Finally they cut 
him in pieces, in order to get rid of him, and then the preacher of the word 
of God, who may be called a martyr, was silent. But the same natives tell 
us that, from the place where his remains lay, a column of smoke arose, reach- 
ing to heaven. How long this apparition lasted is not known.' Zapiski, 
Oonalashk, 155-6. Other Russian wiiters, as Berg and Davidof, afHrm that 
he was killed near Lake Ilyamna, because he i^reached too vigorously against 
polygamy. Dall, Alaska, 317, whose work, so far as the historical part of it 
is concerned, is but a brief compendium carelessly compiled, says that he was 
killed while in the act of preaching to the natives. I have Ijefore me a trans- 
lation of Juvenal's own journal, from June 19, 1796, to the time of his death, 
as handed by the boy Nikita to Veniaminof, and by him to Innokentius Shas- 
nikof, the priest at Unalaska. The tenor of this document, the authenticity 
of which I have no reason to doubt, is such as to impress on the reader the 
conviction that Juvenal, with all his failings, was a man of higher character 
than his companions. He appears, however, to have been of weak intellect, 
and his blind trust in providence and the saints sometimes stands out in 
ludicrous contrast with his pitiful lack of success and self-command. When 
visiting Baranof to inquire as to the disposition of the scholars whom he must 
leave behind at Three Saints, he finds him seated in front of his tent while his 
ser^'ant was preparing tea. ' He did not ask me to be seated or to partake of 
tea,' writes the priest, 'though it was nearly a year since I had tasted any. 
He only asked me gruffly what I wanted so early in the morning. ' After 


by the boy Nikita, who escaped with the diary and 
other papers to a Russian settlement, and dehvered 
them into the hands of Father Veniaminof on his first 
visit to th^ Nushegak villages. 

stating that the boys were to be intrusted to the charge of Father German.who 
had opened a girls' school at Pavlovsk, Baranof indulged in some obscene 
jokes, 'winch put him into such good humor that he finally offered me some 
tea. I felt that I ought to refuse under the circumstances, but my longing 
for the beverage was too strong. I degraded myself before God and man for 
the sake of a drink of tea. Eefreshed, but ashamed of myself, I left the 
wicked man to pray in my humble retreat for strength and pride in the sanc- 
tity of my calling.' p. 18-20. Nevertheless Juvenal's expressions are far 
more elevated in tone, temper, and diction than those of the archimandrite, 
a few of whose letters are still extant. 




Theeatened Exhaustion of the Seal-fisheries — Special Privileges 
Given to Siberian Merchants — Shelikof Petitions for a Grant of 
THE Entire North-west — He is Supported by Rezanof — Muilni- 
kof's Enterprise — The United American Company — Its Act of Con- 
solidation Confirmed by Imperial Oukaz — And its Name Changed 
to the Russian American Company — Text of the Oukaz— Obliga- 
tions of the Company. 

It will be remembered that after Bering and Chi- 
rikof had discovered the Aleutian Islands and the 
adjacent coast in 1741, their wealth in fur-bearing 
animals was soon made known to Europe and north- 
ern Asia. Trading, or, as they were termed, 'contri- 
bution' companies were quickly formed; some of the 
first vessels despatched from Okhotsk returned with 
cargoes that enriched their owners by a single voyage; 
and it was believed that in the far north a never-fail- 
ing source of riches had been discovered, greater and 
more certain than the mines of Espanola, which yielded 
their millions in the time of Bobadilla, or those of 
Castilla del Oro, where lay, as the great navigator 
believed, the veritable Ophir of the days of Solomon. 
Of course many of the fur-hunters found only a grave 
where they had gone in quest of wealth; but, like the 
Spaniards who followed Cortes and Pedro de Alva- 
rado, they set little value on their lives or on those 
of others. Moreover, the faint-hearted Aleuts offered 
no such resistance as was encountered b}^ the con- 
querors of Mexico and Guatemala. The promyshleniki 


could easil}'- take by force what they had not the 
money to buy, or what the natives did not care to 
sell. They had no fear of punishment. Robbery, 
rape, and even murder could be committed with im- 
punity, for, to use their own phrase, "God was high 
above, and the tzar was far away." 

Thus for many years matters were allowed to take 
their course; but toward the end of the eighteenth 
centur}^ the threatened exhaustion of the known 
sources of supply caused much uneasiness among the 
Siberian merchants enQ^aofed in the fur trade, and 
some of them endeavored to remedy the evil by solic- 
iting special privileges from the government for the 
exclusive right to certain islands, with the uuder- 
standing that a fixed percentage of the gross yield — 
usually one tenth — was to be paid into the public 
treasury. Such privileges were granted freely enough, 
but it was another matter to make the numerous 
half-piratical traders, who roamed Bering Sea and 
the North Pacific, respect or even pay the least atten- 
tion to them. 

The encounters which took place between rival com- 
panies have already been related, and now only two 
remained — the Shelikof-Golikof and the Lebedef- 
Lastochkin. The former had established itself in 
Kadiak by force of arms, and Shelikof, by greatly 
exaggerating the importance of his conquest, and rep- 
resenting that he had added fifty thousand subjects 
to the Russian empire^ and as many converts to the 
Greek church, had so worked upon the authorities at 
St Petersburg that his petition for exclusive privileges 
for his company was favorably received. These priv- 
ileges amounted in fact to a grant of all the Russian 
discoveries in north-western America, and of the 
islands that lay between them and the coast of Asia, 

^ There never were 50,000 natives at Kadiak at any period subsequent to 
its conquest. Golovnin estimates the number at the time of Shelikof 's land- 
ing at 15,000. See p. .306, note, this vol. While the census taken by Baran- 
of's order, in the winter of 1795-6, showed only 6,206 natives. Tikhmenef, 
Istor. Obos., i. 61. 


including also the Kurile Islands and the coast of 

Nikolai Rezanof, of whom mention has already 
been made, and who later becomes a prominent fig- 
ure in the history of the colonies, making Shelikof s 
acquaintance at St Petersburg, was somewhat im- 
pressed with the scope of his plans. A man of parts 
and ambition, of noble birth but scant patrimony, he 
solicited the hand of Shelikof 's daughter and was 
accepted. But the plans of Shelikof, bold as they 
seemed to many, were thrown into the shade by 
those of his son-in-law, wdio purposed to obtain for 
himself and his partners in America rights similar 
to those granted by the English government to the 
East India Company. Matters prospered for a time. 
Shares in the association were taken by members of 
the nobility, and after much astute intrigue had been 
brought to bear, Catherine 11. was on the point of 
granting a charter, when her decease occurred in 

Meanwhile Shelikof had returned to Irkutsk, 
where he died, as will be remembered, in 1795. 
After this event, his wife Natalia, who had accom- 
panied her husband in all his travels in the wilds of 
Siberia and even to Kadiak, and had always success- 
fully conducted her husband's business during his ab- 
sence, at once undertook the managemenb of affairs, 
with Kezanof as chief adviser. 

During the year 1797 an Irkutsk merchant named 
Muilnikof organized a company, with a capital of 
129,000 roubles, for the purpose of engaging in the 
fur trade ; but fearing that his capital was inadequate, 
and that complications might ensue from the fact that 
Shelikof 's widow, who was to share in the enterprise, 
was interested in other associations already perma- 
nently established, Muilnikof proposed to join himself 
with the Shelikof Company. The offer was accepted, 
an agreement made which included all the partners, 
and on the 3d of August, 1798, an association, includ- 


ing two smaller concerns, and known as the United 
American Company, w^as organized at Irkutsk,^ with 
a capital of 724,000 roubles, divided into 724 shares 
of 1,000 roubles each. All hunters, or 'small traders' 
as they were more frequently called, in Russian 
America were invited to become partners in the 
company, on the same conditions as had been granted 
to other members, and were forbidden to hunt or 
trade in the territory claimed by the company with- 
out their permission. 

If we can believe the report of the committee on 
the organization of the Russian American colonies, 
made by royal permission and extending back to the 
time of the earliest discoveries, the need of such an 
institution as the United American Company was 
greatly felt by the government. "Having received 
information from all sides," says this report, "of dis- 
orders, outrages, and oppressions of the natives, caused 
in the colonies by parties of Russian hunters, as well 
as of groundless claims advanced by foreign naviga- 
tors to lands discovered by Russians, it had some rea- 
son to hope that placing the business of that distant 
region in the hands of one strong comjDany would 
serve on the one hand to perpetuate Russian suprem- 
acy there, and on the other would prevent many dis- 
orders and preserve the fur trade, the principal wealth 
of the country, affording protection to the natives 
against violence and abuse, and tending toward a gen- 
eral improvement of their condition." 

Nevertheless it was at first feared that the decease 
of Catherine II. would be a death-blow to the ambi- 
tious schemes of the Shelikof party, for it was known 
that her successor, Paul I., was opposed to them. But 
Rezanof never for a moment lost heart, and with the 
versatility of a true courtier, quickly adapted himself 
to the change of circumstances. He had been a 

'The association included, besides the Shelikof, Golikof, and Muilnikof 
companies, the American and North-eastern and the Northern and Kuriks 
companies. Report on Buss. Amer. Colonie.% MS., vi. 13. The full text of 
the act of consolidation is given in Golovnin, Materialui, i. 55-63. 


faithful servant to the pleasure-loving empress, and 
he now became a constant companion and attendant 
upon the feeble-minded man who wore the crown. 
So successful were his efforts, that on the 11th of 
August, 1799, the act of consolidation of the United 
American Company was confirmed by imperial oukaz, 
and the association then received the name of the 
Russian American Company. "By the same oukaz," ^ 
continues the report above quoted, "the company 

^ The following is a literal translation of the oukaz granted by Paul I. to the 
Russian American Company, taken from Golovnin, in Materialui, i. 77-80: 

'By the grace of a merciful God, we, Paul the First, emperor and autocrat 
of all the Russias, etc. To the Russian American Company under our highest 
protection. The benefits and advantages resulting to our empire from the 
hunting and trading carried on by our loyal subjects in the north -eastei'n seas 
and along the coasts of America have attracted our royal attention and con- 
sideration; therefore, having taken under our immediate protection a company 
organised for the above-named purpose of carrying on hunting and trading, 
we allow it to assume the appellation of " Russian American Company under 
our highest ijrotection;" and for the purpose of aiding the company in its en- 
terprises, we allow the commanders of our land and sea forces to employ said 
forces in the company's aid if occasion requires it, while for further relief and 
assistance of said company, and having examined their rules and regulations, 
we hereby declare it to be our highest imperial will to grant to this company 
for a period of 20 years the following rights and privileges: 

'I. By the right of discovery in past times, by Russian navigators of the 
north-eastern part of America, beginning from the 55th degree of north lati- 
tude and of the chain of islands extending from Kamchatka to the north to 
America, and southward to Japan, aud by right of possession of the same by 
Russia, we most graciously permit the company to have the use of all himting- 
grounds and establishments now existing on the north-eastern [sic, this blun- 
der is made all through the document] coast of America, from the above 
mentioned 55th degree to Bering Strait, and on the S9,me also on the Aleu- 
tian, Kurile, and other islands situated in the north-eastern ocean. 

' II. To make new discoveries not only north of the 55th degree of north 
latitude, but farther to the south, and to occupy the new lands discovered, 
as Russian possessions, according to prescribed rules, if they have not been 
previously occupied by any other nation, qp been dependent on another nation. 

'III. To use and proht by everything which has been or shall be dis- 
covered in those localities, on the surface and in the bosom of the earth, with- 
out any competition by others. 

' IV. We most graciously permit this company to establish settlements in 
future times, wherever they are wanted, according to their best knowledge 
and belief, and fortify them to insure the safety of the inhabitants, and to 
send ships to those shores with goods and hunters, without any obstacles on 
the part of the government. 

* V. To extend their navigation to all adjoining nations and hold business 
intercourse witli all surrounding powers, upon obtaining their free consent for 
the purpose, aud under our highest protection, to enable them to prosecute 
their enterprises with greater force and advantage. 

' VI. To employ for navigation, hunting, and all other business, free and 
tfnsuspected people, having no illegal views or intentions. In consideration 
of the distance of the localities where they will be sent, the provincial author- 
ities will grant to all persons sent out as settlers, hunters, and in other ca- 


was granted full privileges, for a period of twenty 
years, on the coast of north-western America, be- 
ginning from latitude 55° north, and including the 

pacities, passports foi' seven years. Serfs and house-servants will only be 
employed by the company with the consent of their landholders, and govern- 
ment taxes will be paid for all serfs thiis employed. 

' VII. Though it is forbidden by our highest order to cut government 
timber anywhere without the permission of the college of admiralty, this com- 
pany is hereby permitted, on account of the distance of the admiralty from 
Okhotsk, when it needs timber for repairs, and occasionally for the construc- 
tion of new ships, to iise freely such timber as is required. 

' VIII. For shooting animals, for marine signals, and on all unexpected 
emergencies on the mainland of America and on the islands, the company is 
permitted to buy for cash, at cost price, from the government artillery mag- 
azine at Irkutsk yearly 40 or 50 pouds of powder, and from the Nertchinsk 
mine 200 pouds of lead. 

' IX. If one of the partners of the company becomes indebted to the gov- 
ernment or to private persons, and is not in a condition to pay them from any 
other property except what he holds in the company, such property cannot 
be seized for the satisfaction of such debts, but the debtor shall not be per- 
mitted to use anything but the interest or dividends of such property until 
the term of the company's privileges expires, when it will be at his or his 
creditors' disposal. 

'X. The exclusive right most graciously granted to the company for a 
period of 20 years, to use and enjoy, in the above-described extent of country 
and islands, all prolits and advantages derived from hunting, trade, indus- 
tries, and discovery of new lands, prohibiting the enjoyment of these profits 
and advantages not only to those who would wish to sail to those countries 
on their own account, but to all former hunters and trappers who have been 
engaged in this trade, and have their vessels and furs at those places; and 
other companies which may have been formed will not be allowed to con- 
tinue their business unless they unite with the present company with their 
free consent; but such private companies or traders as have their vessels in 
those regions can either sell their property, or, with the company's consent, 
remain until they have obtained a cargo, but no longer than is required for 
the loading and return of their vessel; and after that nobody will have any 
privileges but this one company, which will be protected in the enjoyment of 
all the advantages mentioned. 

' XL Under our highest protection, the Russian American Company will 
have full control over all above-mentioned localities, and exercise judicial 
powers in minor cases. The company will also be permitted to use all local 
facilities for fortifications in the defence of the country under their control 
against foreign attacks. Only partners of the company shall be employed in 
the administration of the ncM' possessions in charge of the company. 

'In conclusion of tliis our most gracious order for the benefit of the Rus- 
sian American Company under highest protection, we enjoin all our mili- 
tary and civil authoritcs in the above-mentioned localities not only not to 
prevent them from enjoying to the fullest extent the privileges granted by 
us, but in case of need to protect them with all their power from loss or 
injury, and to render them, upon api^lication of the company's authorities, all 
ncccssaiy aid, assistance, and protection. To give effect to this our most 
gracious order, we subscribe it with our own hand and give orders to confirm 
it with our imperial seal. Given at St Petersburg, in the year after the birth 
of Ch.-ist 1799, the 27th day of December, in the fourth year of our reign. 

' Pa VI,.' 

Then follows a copy of the company's rules and regulations, for which the 
emperor's approval was solicited before the oukaz was granted. At the 
beginning of them is written in the emperor's own handwriting, 'Be it thus.' 


chain of islands extending from Kamchatka north- 
ward to America and southward to Japan ; the exclu- 
sive right to all enterprises, whether hunting, trading, 
or building, and to new discoveries, with strict prohi- 
bition from jDrofiting by any of these pursuits, not 
only to all parties who might engage in them on their 
own responsibility, but also to those who formerly 
had ships and establishments there, except those who 
have united with the new company." All who refused 
to join the company, and had capital invested in fur 
adventures, were allowed to carry on their business 
only until their vessels returned to port.^ 

In addition to the original capital, a further issue of 
one thousand shares was authorized; but it was for- 
bidden that foreigners should be allowed to invest in 
the enterprise. Subscriptions flowed in rapidly, and 
the entire amount was quickly absorbed, most of it 
probably in St Petersburg; for by oukaz of October 
19, 1800, it was ordered that the headquarters of the 
company, which had formerly been at Irkutsk, should 
be transferred to that city. Two years later, the em- 
peror, empress, and Grand Duke Constantine each sub- 
scribed for twenty shares, giving directions that the 

* All the private trading and hunting parties in existence at the end of the 
eighteenth century were merged into the Russian American Company, and 
so far as is known, with little difficulty. Politoffsky differs materially in hia 
description of the privileges granted by Paul I. to the Rirssian American 
Company. First of all, he says they were conferred on the 8th of July, 1799, 
while Dall, who follows Tikhmenef closely, though with frequent blunders, 
gives June 8, 1 799, as the date. According to the former authority, ' the 
company was empowered to make discoveries not only above latitude 55" 
north, but also south of that parallel, and to incorporate the lands thus dis- 
covered with the Russian possessions, provided that no other power had pre- 
viously seized them or established a claim to them. It was empowered to 
establish settlements wherever it was most convenient for its business, or 
most advantageous to the country at large, and also to erect fortifications for 
the protection of the inhabitants, and to make voyages to all neighboring 
lands and nations, and maintain commercial intercourse with all surrounding 
powers, with their free consent and imder permission of the emperor. All 
the locations selected as sites for settlements by the general administration 
for business x^urposes were to be respected as such. In conclusion, all mili- 
tary or civil authorities stationed at those places were enjoined, not only to 
throw no obstacle in the way of enjoyment of all the rights and privileges 
granted, but also to endeavor, as far as was in their power, to protect the 
company against loss or injury, and to offer in this intercourse with the com- 
pany's officers every assistance, protection, and means of defence. ' Istor. Obos., 
Boss. Amerih Kom., 4-8. 


dividends be devoted to charity. The company was 
allowed to engage all classes of free labor, and to em- 
ploy serfs with the consent of their masters ;° but 
nothing was mentioned in the text of the oukaz of 
1799 as to the obligations of the company in relation 
to the native inhabitants. The only regulations on 
this subject are contained in the first paragraph of the 
act of consolidation, in which "the company binds 
itself," to quote the words of the report once more, 
"to maintain a mission of the Grseco-Catholic church 
in America, members of which were to accompany all 
trading and hunting expeditions, and voyages of dis- 
covery which were likely to bring them in contact 
with known or unknown tribes, and to use every en- 
deavor to christianize them and encourage their alle- 
giance to Russia. They were to use efforts to promote 
ship-building and domestic industries on the part of 
Russian settlers who might take possession of unin- 
habited lands, as well as to encourage the introduc- 
tion of agriculture and cattle-breeding^ on the American 
islands and continent. They were also to keep con- 
stantl}^ in view the maintenance of friendly relations 
with the Americans and islanders, employing them at 
their establishments and engaging in trade with them." 
Thus was the famous Russian American Company 
established on a firm basis, and little did Shelikof 
dream, when representing an obscure company of Si- 
berian merchants he founded on the island of Kadiak 
the village of Three Saints, that he was laying the basis 
of a monopoly which was destined, as we shall see later, 
to hold sway over a territory almost as vast as was 
then the European domain of the tzar.® As yet, how- 

^ After Shelikof's decease, his widow, being possessed of a small estate in 
Russia, petitioned Count Zubof, one of the emperor's ministers, for permission 
to transfer the serfs upon her estate to Alaska, to form there the nucleus of 
an agricultural settlement. At the same time she entered into correspond- 
ence with the metropolitans of Moscow and Novgorod, and other church dig- 
nitaries, on the subject of missionary enterprise in the new colonies, and thus 
secured their assistance in furthering the plans of the company. Count Zu- 
bof not only granted the request, but offered to send an additional force of a 
hundred serfs from crown lands in Siberia for the same purpose. 

' In 1821, when the charter of the company was renewed, as will be men- 


ever, the boundaries of this territory were not clearly 
defined, and its inhabitants were for the most part un- 
subdued. The Aleuts were indeed held in subjection, 
but none of the warlike tribes that peopled the penin- 
sula and the adjoining continent had yet been con- 
quered. The Russian colonies at Yakutat and else- 
where on the mainland were constantly threatened, 
and, as will presently be described, a settlement that 
was founded about this time near the site where now 
stands the capital of Alaska was attacked and de- 
stroyed by savages. 

tioned in its place, the emperor issued a oukaz, in which the whole north west 
coast of America north of 51° was declared Russian territory. 




Baranof's Difficulties and Despondency — Sick and Hopeless — Abbival 
OF THE ' Elizaveta' — An Expedition Sails for Norfolk Sound — 
Loss of Canoes— The Party Attacked by Kolosh— Treaty with the 
SiTKANS — Yankee Visitors — A Fort Erected — The Yakutat Bay 
Settlement— Baranof Desires to be Relieved— His Official Tour 
of the Colonies — The Chief Manager's Piety — His Complaints of 
Foreign Encroachments — British Aggressiveness. 

The news of the final organization of the Russian 
American Company, the granting of its privileges 
by the emperor, and of his own appointment as chief 
manager, reached Baranof at a time when he was 
plunged in despondency. Nearly every undertaking 
of the preceding seasons had failed. He had lost 
numbers of men, both Russians and natives, during 
the long voyages to distant hunting-grounds. A 
spirit of revolt was still alive, especially among those 
who had transferred their allegiance from former op- 
pressors. At every point eastward of Kadiak where 
he had endeavored to open trade he had found liim- 
self forestalled by English and American ships, which 
had raised the prices of skins almost beyond his lim- 
ited means. In his attempts to hunt with his Aleuts, 
he had also been unfortunate, whole parties having 
been surprised and slaughtered by the warlike Thlin- 
keets. One of his sloops built at Voskressenski Bay 
foundered during her first voyage, while others had 
been injured on the shoals lining the mouth of Copper 
River, and he had just returned to Pavlovsk, in the 


damaged sloop Olga, intending to repair the vessels 
as best he might, in order to carry out during the fol- 
lowing spring his cherished plan of locathig a perma- 
ent settlement in the vicinity of Norfolk Sound. ^ 

He landed, suffering the agonies of inflammatory 
rheumatism and depressed in spirit, onh^ to meet with 
upbraidings and complaints on the part of his subor- 
dinates, who were on short rations, owing to the non- 
arrival of the supply-ship. Certain leaders of the 
malecontents openly refused obedience unless provis- 
ions were first given them. Sick and dejected, he 
was unable to address them as he was wont to do, 
and retired to Jiis wretched little cabin and to bed, 
when a little later the cry was heard, "A ship in 
the offing!" Once more inspired with life and hope, 
the sick man rose from his couch and climbed the 
mountain overlooking the settlement of St Paul. It 
was true; a large vessel, the brigantine Elizaveta, 
commanded by Bocharof, was standing in under full 
sail, and soon w^as lying at anchor in the roadstead, 
with Baranof on board. She had sailed from Okhotsk 
the preceding autumn, and had wintered on one of 
the westernmost Aleutian Isles, where the passen- 
gers and crew had lived on what they could gather; 
so that the cargo remained intact, and plenty reigned 
once more in the half-famished settlement. Fifty- 
two laborers and mechanics were now added to Bar- 
anof 's force ; and though the season w^as far advanced, 
a small party was at once despatched to Prince Will- 
iam Sound to complete another sloop. 

The winter of 1798-9 was passed by the colonists 
at Kadiak in cheerful content, for they were busy in 
preparing for the great movement to the eastward in 
the following spring, and the letters written by Bar- 

' The immediate causes for the founding of this settlement were tlie de- 
crease in fur-bearing animals on the islands to the west, and the discovery of 
large numbers of sea-otter on the straits and sounds adjoining the mainland. 
Moreover, to incorporate with Russia the whole of north-western America, 
and to prevent other nations from establishing a trade with the natives, was 
the unvarying policy of Baranof. Lii'ke, in Materialui, iv. 149. 
Hist. Alaska. 15 


anof at this juncture bear evidence of his confidence. 
Early in March the new sloop Konstantin arrived 
at Kadiak from Prince William Sound, and was sup- 
plied with sails and rigging from the stores brought 
by Bocharof On the 10th of April, Baranof set sail 
with the two vessels, manned by twenty-two Russians 
and accompanied b};^ a fleet of nearly two hundred 
canoes. The course was along the coast of the Kenai 
peninsula to Prince William Sound, where the expe- 
dition was joined by Baranof 's most trusted assistant, 
Kuskof, with one hundred and fifty additional canoes 
which had wintered on ISTuchek Island. 

Misfortune attended Baranof's enterprise from its 
inception. On the 2d of May, while weathering Cape 
Suckling on the coast opposite Kayak, thirty of the 
canoes, containing two men each, were swallowed by 
the heavy seas into which even a moderate breeze 
raises these shallow waters. In a letter to his friend 
Delarof, Baranof tells of his further troubles : " While 
we were still mourning the loss of our hunters, night 
came on, and as I saw further indications of storm, I 
ordered all the canoes to make for the shore, accom- 
panying them in person in my own bidarka. In the 
darkness we underestimated the distance, and when 
at last we reached the sanely beach, exhausted from 
continued paddling, we threw ourselves upon the sand 
overshadowed by dense forests. No sooner had we 
closed our eyes, than the dreaded war-cry of the Ko- 
losh brought us again to our feet. The greatest con- 
sternation prevailed among the naturally timid Aleuts, 
who were filled with such dread of the well-known 
enemy as to think it useless to make any resistance. 
Many of them rushed into the forest, into the very 
hands of their assailants, instead of launching their 
canoes and putting to sea. I had only two Russians 
with me, and we fired our guns into the darkness 
wherever the cries of the Kolosh were loudest; but 
when our ammunition was expended, we did not know 
what execution we had done. A few of the native 


hunters who liacl been presented with fowling-pieces 
also made a feeble sliow of resistance; but what saved 
us from total destruction was the intervening darkness, 
which prevented our assailants from distinguishing 
friends from enemies. After an unequal contest, last- 
ing over an hour, the Kolosh retired to the woods, 
while I and my assistants endeavored to rally our 
scattered men. By shouting to them in the Aleutian 
tongue, we succeeded in gathering the survivors, still 
hidden in the woods and among the driftwood lining 
the shore, and before morning departed from the in- 
hospitable beach, leaving thirteen canoes, the owners 
of which had been killed or carried into captivity. 
The rising sun showed us the sloops in the offing, and 
we lost no time in seeking their welcome protection." 

This attack by the natives, added to the loss at sea, 
had so reduced the force, that Kuskof advised a return 
to Prince William Sound; but Baranof was not to be 
thus thwarted. He pressed forward, travelling along 
the coast, chiefly by night, and daring to camp only 
on prominent points, where there was least danger of 
surprise. At last, on the 25th, the expedition en- 
tered the sheltered basin of Norfolk, or Sitka Sound. 
The towerins^ heio^hts were still covered with snow, 
almost to the water's edge, and the weather was 
stormy ; rain, snow, and sleet alternating with furious 
gusts of wind. The landing was accomplished at a 
point still known as Old Sitka, about six miles north 
of the present town of that name. A large crowd of 
natives had assembled to watch the movements of the 
new-comers. A Sitkan chief, Katleut, or Katlean, 
whom Kuskof had met during his hunting expedition 
of the preceding summer, approached Baranof and 
demanded to know his intentions, telling him at the 
same time that a Boston ship was anchored a short 
distance to the southward, and that her captain had 
purchased many skins. 

Baranof replied in a lengthy harangue, reciting the 
long-stereotyped European falsehood, that the em- 


peror of all the Russias, who was the lord of that 
country, had sent him to establish a settlement for 
trade, and to assure his new subjects of his fatherly 
care and protection. At the same time he asked for 
the grant of a small piece of ground for the erection 
of buildings, and for which he offered to pay in beads 
and other trading goods. The barter was concluded, 
and Katleut even asserted that he could force the 
other chiefs into the agreement. A few hours after- 
ward the sound of Russian axes was heard in the 
virgin forest, the crash of falling timber was echoed 
from the sides of Verstovoi, and all was bustle and 
high determination. The site bordered a shallow 
stream alive with salmon. One half of the company 
were employed in building, while the remainder were 
sent to hunt sea-otter in the vicinity. On the follow- 
ing day the chief manager received a visit from the 
Boston ship, which proved to be the Caroline, in 
charge of Captain Cleveland, who stated that he had 
only ten men before the mast, and that on account of 
the fierce character of the natives he had found it 
necessary to take great precautions. He had placed 
a screen of hides round the ship with the exception of 
the stern, whence trade was carried on with the na- 
tives,^ who could not see the deck, or know how few 
men he had. Two pieces of cannon were placed in 
position, and on the tafFrail was a pair of blunderbusses 
on swivels. 

The savages who then inhabited the neighborhood 
of Norfolk Sound were among the most treacherous 
and repulsive of all the Alaskan tribes. *'A more 
hideous set of beings in the form of men and women," 

^ Cleveland states that on the first day he bought 100 skins at the cheap 
rate of two yards of broadcloth per skin. On the second day he purchased 
200. During his stay at Norfolk Sound the natives made several attempts to 
capture the vessel. Voy., \. 92-5 (Boston ed., 1850). On one occasion a na- 
tive dressed in a bear-skin came down to the beach, on all fours, imitating 
the movements of the animal, in order to decoy the crew on shore, while an 
armed party lay in ambush close by. A boat was lowered to take some of 
the men in pursuit of the bear, but one of the ambushed party exposed himself, 
and that gave the alarm. Id., i. 105. 


Avrites the captain, ''I had never before seen. The 
fantastic manner in which many of the faces of the 
men were painted was probably intended to give 
them a ferocious appearance; and some groups looked 
really as if they had escaped from the dominions 
of Satan himself One had a perpendicular line 
dividing the two sides of the face, one side of 
which was painted red, the other black; with the hair 
daubed with grease and red ochre, and filled with the 
down of birds. Another had the face divided with a 
horizontal line in the middle, and painted black and 
white. The visage of a third was painted in checkers, 
etc. Most of them had little mirrors ; before the ac- 
quisition of which they must have been dependent 
on each other for those correct touches of the pencil 
which are so much in vogue, and which daily require 
more time than the toilet of a Parisian belle." 

From the ship Enterprise, wdiich arrived at Kadiak 
from New York^ on the 24th of April, 1800, the chief 
manager heard that hostilities had broken out in 
Europe, that Spain had formed an alliance with 
France, and that a Spanish frigate was to be sent to 
Russian America. The news was received with no 
little anxiety. At this time all the storehouses at 
Three Saints were full of choice furs, which Baranof 
now caused to be concealed in the adjacent islands. 
*' Truly," he writes, "if the terrible emergency should 
arise, and the enemy come upon us, they cannot take 
much more than our lives, and these are in God's 
hands. It would take more than mortal eyes to dis- 
cover where our precious skins are concealed,"* 

Several other American vessels, among them the 
brig Eliza, under Captain Rowan, visited the bay dur- 
ing the summer, and absorbed the trade, while the 

^ Baranof purchased from her captain a quantity of goods, partly with a 
"view to prevent him from trading with the natives, and partly because the 
Feniks being now given up for lost, no supplies could be expected for that 
kson. Khlebnihof, Shizn. Baranova, 63-4. 

*/c/., 68. 


Russians were preparing to occupy the field in the 
future. During the preceding winter the relations 
between the colonists and the natives had been peace- 
able, but there was much suffering on account of 
insufficient food and shelter. A fort was erected, and 
named after the archangel Michael/ in "the hope that 
the great champion of the Lord would protect the 
promyshleniki;" nevertheless, soon after the estab- 
lishment of the settlement misfortune again reduced 
Baranof's force. On the 18th of July, he received 
news from an Aleutian party which had camped for 
the night on the tortuous passage connecting Norfolk 
Sound with Chatham Strait, that a number of the 
men had died from eating poisonous mussels. The 
passage was thereafter named Pogibshie, or Destruc- 
tion Strait, which name has subsequently been changed 
by Americans to Peril Strait. 

While Baranof was thus engaged in establishing his 
new colony, a block-house and stockade had been 
built by Polomoshnoi at Yakutat, or Bering Bay, for 
the reception of the Siberian convicts, or agricultural 
settlers, as they were called. The site for this settle- 
ment had been chosen by mistake. After his first 
visit to Prince William Sound, Baranof had recom- 
mended the country bordering on Comptroller Bay as 
probably adapted to agricultural pursuits. Cape Suck- 
ling, the western point of this bay, had been erroneously 
called Cape St Elias, the name applied to the south 

^ In a letter to Rodianof, agent at Nnchek, dated May 14, ISOO, Baranof 
writes: ' We enjoyed good health and fair success during our winter there, 
and though we had some difficulties with the people, we finally established 
friendly intercourse with them. I resolved to establish a permanent settle- 
ment, and at once set to work to erect the necessary buildings, one of which 
was a two-story structure, 8 fathoms long and 4 wide, protected on all 
sides by palisades and two strong block-houses or towers. Another building 
I had ])ut up for myself and future commanders, with the necess.iry accom- 
modation for servants and officers, and there I have lived from the middle of 
February to the present date. A small temporary bath-house had been 
erected, wherein I passed the first part of the winter, a shed and sleeping- 
rooms for the members of the party, a blacksmith's shop, and temporary 
kitchen. One fortified block-house is not quite finished, while two others 
have been only just begun. The men hero number 25 Russians and 55 Aleu- 
tian hunters.' Tikhmenef, Istor. Obos., ii. app. part ii. 131. 


point of Kayak Island by Bering, and in his recom- 
mendation Baranof spoke of the country about Cape 
St Ehas. Subsequently the bay of Yakutat had 
been visited by Purtof and Kuskof ; and as this affords 
the only good harbor on that part of the coast, and 
is overshadowed by the peak of St Elias, the pro- 
posed settlement had been located there in a deso- 
late region of ice and rock, entirely unfit for occupation 
by man. Polomoshnoi only obeyed orders in locating 
the block-house there, but as soon as the buildings 
were completed, he returned to Kadiak to remonstrate 
against any attempts at founding an agricultural 
colony in such a place. He was ordered back, how- 





iTi" ' 

KA>AK, % 


"^^ ' 

Cap Faint ith , * " 

Yakutat Bay Settlement. 

ever, by Baranof's representative, and sailed for his 
destination on the brig Orel, laden with provisions for 
the new settlement, in charge of Talin, a naval officer 
in the service of the company, but one who, like all of 
his profession, was litt