Early arguello history1

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Early arguello history1 - When Russia Reached for California By . George...
When Russia Reached for California By . George Wycherley s Fort Boss, the Russian Kirk man fort in California about the year 1830. From an old print IT WAS a mere whim of the Czar and a chance of fate that possibly prevented prevented all of California north of San Francisco Bay from being Russian territory territory now, as it practically was, so recently recently as the year of 1839. And the only reason why the Russian flag does not fly over that huge part of California today is merely because the Czar did not deem that vast region worth waging a war with Mexico about, over the Russian Russian demands for greater domains there beyond the confines of its stronghold,-Fort stronghold,-Fort stronghold,-Fort Ross the Increasing expense of maintaining which also influenced the Czar to finally abandon this fortified foothold of the Russian Bear in California. California. Russia's advance to the Pacific is one of the most picturesque and romantic events of all history. In the course of a century, she had subdued all Northern Northern Asia, and reached the Pacific Ocean the temporary eastern boundary of the most enormous empire that the world had ever seen since the days of Tamerlane, Inasmuch as its western border border was in part washed by the waves of an arm of the Atlantic Ocean'. Not content content with tijis vast domain that touched both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, Russia's bold adventurers still fared on toward the east. Along the gloomy girdle of the Aleutian Islands came her dauntless fur-hunters fur-hunters fur-hunters over the northern northern seas, landing at last upon Alaska, and thus finally reaching America. In Alaska these pioneer Russians found vast wealth in furs In that virgin territory; and Russia decided to explore and exploit .that region , in its usual fashion. The famous Danish explorer, Bering, in command of an official Russian Russian exploring expedition, discovered and charted the sea. and straits that bear his name; and presently a huge and very profitable fur trade began in Alaska. In 1798 the Russian Fur Company Company was formed, with its American headquarters at Sitka; and an official Russian colony was thus started upon American soil, albeit said soil was soon found to be so sterile and the climate so ferocious that the settlers were often on the brink of perishing from starvation, starvation, plus the sickness caused by their ignorance, lack of proper diet and unsanitary unsanitary habits. Moved by the harrowing reports about the desperate state of this farthest outpost outpost of his far-flung far-flung far-flung empire, thte Czar in 1805 sent out one of his favorite courtiers. courtiers. Count Rezanoff, to ascertain the truth about the settlers in this Russian colony in Alaska, and especially as to its lack of food. On his arrival there, Rezanoff In truth found these pioneers at almost the last extremity half-starved, half-starved, half-starved, down with disease, and in need of supplies of all kinds. There was dire n.e.ed of haste, if all these men were not to perish speedily; so, after doing what he could for the settlers, he sailed for the nearest port where supplies could be had and thus came to San Francisco in 1806 with a cargo of trading goods with which to purchase provisions for the Alaskan colonists. Spain's flag then flew over California, and her jealous and exclusive colonial policy prevailed here, prohibiting the friendly reception or supplying of ships other than Spanish ones. Comandante Arguello of the Presidio of San Francisco was. away just then, at California's capi-. capi-. capi-. tal, Monterey, where he was presiding as acting Governor of California. The acting comandante of the San Francisco Francisco Presidio was his son, Lieutenant Luis A. Arguello, who mistook Count Rezanoff and his ship for a Russian scientific scientific expedition shortly expected in California, in accordance with word that had come from the Spanish court, along with instructions for its hospitable treatment" by the California officials. Lieutenant Arguello, therefore, sent notice notice of Rezanoff's arrival to his father, the Governor of California, and. meanwhile meanwhile he entertained the Count in friendly fashion at San Francisco. .Governor .Governor Arguello hastened thither to meet the distinguished stranger, and heartily heartily welcomed him to California; after' which he entertained him at his house, assisted by his family and especially his beautiful and fascinating daughter, Concepcion Arguello, the heroine of this most famous romance of California concerning concerning herselr and this handsome young Russian Count. After these social amenities were over, Rezanoff got down to business, and asked permission to exchange his trade goods for provisions which request the Governor had to refuse, as Spain's orders orders strictly forbade any traffic whatsoever whatsoever with strangers. Struck with consternation, the Russian Count was at an impasse but, proverbially, love Will find a way, over even the opposition opposition of kings and governors, and here it had its way right speedily, thanks to the mutual love that had sprung up, at first sight, between lovely Concepcion Arguello and the handsome stranger from the court -of -of the Czar. So the Count lingered on, and presently these young lovers became duly engaged to each other, although her parents and the Roman Catholic padre opposed the match, inasmuch as Rezanoff belonged to the Greek Catholic Church and hence was a heretic in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Californians. However, lovely Concepcion nearly cried her beautiful eyes out and what man- man- can stand a woman's tears? So the Governor, padre and madre relented; relented; solemnly these two famous lovers plighted their sworn troth to each other; other; and so great was the joyous good feeling aroused that Arguello, Senior, presently allowed Count Rezanoff to obtain obtain the badly needed provisions for the Alaskan colonists. Alleging that he must return to Russia, in order to obtain the Czar's permission for him to marry, and also so as to formulate a treaty between between Russia and Spain concerning trade -with -with California, Count Rezanoff then sailed away to Alaska, swearing that he would return and wed Concepcion Concepcion as speedily as possible. Arrived at Alaska, Rezanoff unloaded his shipload of food for the famished Russians there, and probably Informed the officials that they might either obtain obtain further supplies from. California; or, if it was refused them, they might found a settlement there and' raise their own food, quite safely, as doubtless such a keen eye as the Count's could not have failed to note that California was then practically defenseless against the armed intrusion of strangers in force. After which he sailed for Asia, and set out across Siberia for Russia; only to soon fall ill, and one day lose his life by a fall from his horse. Long did 'the lovely and ever-faithful ever-faithful ever-faithful Concepcion wait for her lover, who never returned to her, and concerning whose tragic fate she heard never a word until many years afterward, when a British explorer accidentally mentioned mentioned how the Count met his death. Stricken to the heart, she became a nun -and -and died later on at' Benicia the hero- hero- :. ine of California's most pathetic ro-mance. ro-mance. ro-mance. Meanwhile, profiting by the information information and probable orders concerning California given them by Rezanoff, the Russians sailed southward from Alaska and explored the coast of California, especially especially in the year 1808. Evidently they found a site to suit them, for next year (1809) they had the colossal cheek to land at Bodega Bay, fifty miles north of :' Ban Francisco, and actually found a Russian settlement there in California, although it was part of the domains of . Spain. Apparently this location did not suit the Russians very well, for in 1811 ' they carefully explored the adjoining region, and presently found a better site " for their chief stronghold, some twenty miles farther north.' At this latter site they, purchased from, the local Indian tribe an extensive area: for the paltry price of three blankets, blankets, three hoes, two axes, three pairs of pants, and some beads! And here, in the fall of 1812 the Russian officials built a stout, strongly armed fort, which they named Fort Stawianski called Fort Ross by the Americans when they came to California: The commander of this Russian fort, Alexander Kuskoff, had- had- brought with him some ninety-five ninety-five ninety-five Russians, eighty Alaskan Indians (Aleuts,) forty sealskin bidarkas or native canoes for these Aleut fur-hunters,, fur-hunters,, fur-hunters,, and also ten cannon as prepotent protection against the Spaniards of California and all other armed opponents. For the Russians were not. certain as to what reception they would, meet with from the astounded astounded .and angry California officials; so these impudent intruders upon Spanish Spanish territory lost no time in constructing constructing a fortress so strong that never at any time ' did the wrathy and resentful . governors of California attempt to capture capture it with the few men and munitions munitions . at their command, and the fact that there was not then a single piece of field artillery in California during the regime of both Spain and Mexico. As this Russian stronghold could, not be captured without artillery, this largely accounts for the reluctance of the impotent impotent governors of California to attack It, although often ordered by Spain and then by Mexico to expel these impudent Intruders out of California. This Russian outpost, Fort Stawianski, Stawianski, was the chief stronghold of Russia in California. It soon became the official official residence of the Russian Governor; and over it and Bodega Bay and other Russian settlements In California floated the imperial banner of mighty Russia, (Continued on Page Ttstnly-thr) Ttstnly-thr) Ttstnly-thr)

Clipped from The Los Angeles Times28 Oct 1928, SunPage 145

The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California)28 Oct 1928, SunPage 145
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