Role play is a big part of the environmental living program experience. To make the most of your program, here is a list of real people who were at Colony Ross, including short biographies of what we know about their lives. All officers and employees in the Artisan Role Group should choose one of the following people out of the history pages of Colony Ross to role-play while on site. Remember to have fun and ‘role’ with it!
Vasilii Ivanovich Grudinin (Va-seel’ee Ee-van’o-vich Gru-deen’in) – A Russian Carpenter and shipbuilder. He learned shipbuilding while employed as assistant to shipwright Lincoln who was in Sitka in 1805-1809. At the Ross settlement in 1816 he laid the keel for the Rumiantsev, which was launched in 1818. The Buldakov was launched in 1820. The brig Volga was launched in 1822. The brig Kiakhta was launched in 1824. The oak that Vasilli used was unseasoned or it may have been that the California oak was unsuitable. The vessels were soon deemed worthless. Shipbuilding was abandoned at Ross and in March 1825, Grudinin was sent back to Sitka on the Kiakhta. He received a raise to total 1,000 rubles a year plus 400 rubles food ration allowance. He continued repairing and working on ships. He was married while at Fort Ross; her name may have been Vera. He had a daughter, Agrafena, born January 11, 1825, a son Mikhail, who died in August 1825 (age unknown), and daughter Natalia who was born August 1826 in Sitka.
Ludwig Choris (Artist) – A German, born in 1795 in Germany. In 1814 he enrolled in the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. In 1815 he traveled on the round-the-world voyage of O.E. Kotzebue on the brig Rurik with Chamisso and Eschscholtz. He made hundreds of drawings and paintings depicting the life of indigenous peoples of America, Asia, Africa, and Polynesia. He returned to live in Paris and publish his works. In 1828 he was killed by bandits while on a trip to Mexico.
Leontii Ostrogin (Le-on’tee O-strog’in) – A Creole who worked as a blacksmith for the RAC. In 1832 he was sent to the Ross settlement on the brig Polifem. He made fittings for rowboats and other vessels, wheels, tools and other items. He also made iron items ordered from the missions. He went back to Alaska, married Anna Oskolkov. They had five children.
Mikhail Tikhanov (Mee-khai-el’ Teek- han-ov’) (Artist) – A Russian, in 1806 at age 17 he received a scholarship to the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg. He received a gold medal for the painting ‘The Shooting of Russian Patriots by the French in 1812.” Because he was a ‘serf’, he was not able to receive the medal. He finished schooling in 1815. In 1817 he traveled on the round-the-world voyage with Golovnin and the sloop Kamchatka. Forty-three paintings exist of this voyage in a museum in Russia, although there may be more. Five of these painting are of California Indian people. He did a full face and profile of each person. He was very careful in portraying the clothing, ornamentation, tools, and lifestyles of these people. Back in Sitka he became very sick. He lived another 40 years, although never painted again.
Vasilii Antipin (Va-seel’ee An-tee’pin) – A Russian carpenter and ploughman. He died at Ross in 1821. The Ross manager in 1822, Karl Schmidt is said to have “deeply regretted the sudden death last year of the best carpenter, Vasilii Antipin, as none of the other men had any shipbuilding skills except for Korenev, who wants to leave, and Permitin.” He has also been described as “the only Russian who knew how to farm.” He was married to a Coast Miwok, Katerina Ukkelya. They had two children: a son, Alexander, and a daughter, Matrena.
Vasilii Titov (Va-seel’ee Tee’tov) – A Creole blacksmith for the Company at Ross. He drowned in 1825.
Vasilii Vasilev (Va-seel’ee Va-seel’ev) A Russian, he was originally from Tobol’sk in Russia. He arrived at Ross on the Il’men in July 1820 with his wife, Anna, and three of his five children from the Fox Islands. He is listed as a Promyshlennik and a carpenter receiving 100 rubles for his work building the Volga in 1822. He is reported to have lived in a dwelling upstream of the fort where it was pleasant and quiet, and also near the Russians named Grudinin, Permitin, and Zyrianov. He died May 13, 1826. He left his house and field valued at 925 rubles to his wife. The Company recommended writing off his debt of 869 rubles as a loss.
Mikhailo Rastorguev (Mee-khail’o Ra- stor’gu-ev) – A Kodiak or Aleut or Creole, he arrived at Ross on the Il’men in 1820. Mikhailo worked at Ross as a carpenter, turner, and block pulley maker. He was married to Aprosinya (Kodiak) and had two children, Mariia and Nikolai. Another child was born, however the name is unknown. They owned a house valued at 500 rubles and a farm worth 200 rubles. He was given 100 rubles each as bonuses for his work on the Volga in 1822 and the Kiakhta in 1824. He received another raise in 1827. He died in 1829 owing the Company 766 rubles, 42 kopeks. His property was left to his wife and children upon his death.
Karl Flink – A Lutheran Finn who worked as a joiner at Ross. His wife Anna and son Stefan both came to Ross with him, all arriving in 1833. He built a threshing machine and was granted a bonus for doing so. He was 39 when he died at Ross.
Alexei Matveyevich Korenev (A-lex-say’ Maht-vey’e-vich Kor-en’ev) – A Russian who worked at Ross as a carpenter. His first wife, a Kashaya named Ichemen Anis’ya, returned to her village. He later married a Kodiak woman, Paraskeve, in 1824. He had a house, a garden, a bull, and two cows. No children appear in the Company records, although he may have adopted two children during his time at Ross. He was paid 200 rubles for building the Volga in 1822 and 220 rubles by Schmidt in 1824 for a plot of land. He received several bonuses and raises. He died in debt in 1832.
Matvei (Maht-vey’) – A Kodiak who was an axe and saw worker at Ross from 1815 to about 1833. He was married to a Coast Miwok woman, Kytypaliva, and had a daughter, Ashana Alimpiada. He was also noted to be an archer or marksman.
Sergei Trukhmanov (Ser-gay’ Trukh- man’ov) – He is either a Creole or a Kodiak who worked at Ross as a woodcutter, saw and axe man. He received a bonus for being a distinguished woodcutter in 1822. In 1824 he received another bonus of 50 rubles on his blacksmith work on the Kiakhta, and in 1827 he received a raise for his long-term commitment to the Company. He was living with a woman who may have been Kashaya. They had two children. They had a house worth 200 rubles and a field valued at 125 rubles. When he died he owed the Company 744 rubles, 44 kopeks. He had been at Ross nearly 12 years at this time. His property was given to the Indian woman and their children. The Company was willing to
write off his debt. Two boys, Nikolai Trukhmanov age 15 and Nikander Trukhmanov age 10, are listed in the 1836 confessional lists of Father Venianminov. They are most likely his sons.
Katerina Ukkelya – A Coast Miwok, she was living with but not married to Vasilii Antipin, Russian promyshlennik, a carpenter who died at Ross in the end of 1821 or 1822. They had a son, Alexander and daughter, Matrena.
Anna Vasil’eva (Ahn’na Va-seel’ev-a) – A Creole, she was married to Vasilii Vasil’ev. They had five children, three of which lived at Ross. She had a house, a field, a vegetable garden, and various livestock. When she died her dresses were given to her children. Her eldest daughter married, and other employees adopted the other minors.
Chaikku – A Coast Miwok, she was the wife of Chazhvahkak Nikita, a Kodiak of Razbitovskoe village. They had a daughter, Akki Arina.
Kunay – A Coast Miwok