The Russians on Kauai

The journals of various Russians on Kauai in the early 1800s give a taste of life then:



Waimea, Kaua’i

Eleele,Hanapepe, Makaweli, Waimea


May 17

The bottom of the harbor is of sand mixed with clay, reaching to a depth of about twenty sazhens [140 feet].  This port has no wharf for rowboats and presents difficulties in obtaining water and fuel.” 

(Pierce, 1965,p. 68. Journal kept by Lietenant Podushkin, March 8-June 2,).



May 19 [20?]-June 1

According to my conditions with the king we prepared al documents in detail, a contract between him and the Russian-American Company by which he should give the Company the cargo of the ship or pay for it in money, confirm a monopoly trade in sandalwood on Kauai, and permit the establishment of a Russian factory on Kauai.  King Kaumualii also cedes to the Russian-American Company a province on Kauai for a plantation, freeing it from all taxes in perpetuity.

(Pierce, 1965, p.174. Schaffer Journal,).


“The king himself took the flag from the ship to the shore, and it was raised there on a mast... After the contracts were concluded with the Russian-American Company, they constructed, as a sign of gratitude, a new “Morea” or temple and made sacrifices of various kinds-fruits, and, if reports are correct, two men.” 

(Pierce, 1965.p.102.  Report. Timofei Tarakanov, et al., to Main Office, July 7, 1817, On Events up to Departure of Scaffer,).

In parting, the king asked for the flag of the Russian-American Company with the two-headed eagle in the center.  Mr. Scheffer gave it to him and the king raised it above his dwelling.

(Pierce. 1965.p.121. Memorandum, V.N. Berkh, on the Sandwich Islands, written about August 1817).


May 21 

Lietenant Podushkin dressed him [Kaumualii] in his uniform with epaulets, hats and cutlass.  In this solemn dress he went ashore with the flag, and accompanied by all the people went to his house and raised the flag there, while a salute was fired from the ship.

(Pierce, 1965,p.126.  Report, Filip Osipov to Main Office, about September 1818, Reviewing Operations in the Islands,p. 126).


“He [Schaffer] went ashore and to the Company house and ordered me to unload the schooner.  He obtained a storehouse from the king.”

(Pierce.  1965.p. 98 Report, Timofei Tarakanov to Lietenant-Captain Hagemeister, at Sitka, Feb. 12, 1818, Reviewing Departure of the Il’mena from California, and Proceedings on Oahu and Kauai.).

May 25/26

I selected a place in the Waimea valley for building houses for the factory [Russian word for factory translates “trading post” and for setting out gardens.  The king gave us a stone building for a store.  I placed the promyshlennik [hunter] Aleksei Odnoriadkin in charge, over several Russians and six Aleuts.” 

(Pierce., 1965. p. 176. Schaffer Journal,).

June 24

“Taboo.  The Russian flags flew over Kauai just as on Russian holidays.  The kings assigned three houses on the shore as dwellings for our Russians. I lived and slept at the king’s until the factory was built.”

(Pierce 1965,p.177)

June 30

“I moved to the house built for me and began to plant.” 

(Pierce 1965,p. 178)

July 1.

“...he [Kaumualii] will also give aid for constructing a Russian fort on every island.  These forts are to be placed in charge of Russian commanders, as has been done in the case of the fort    in the port of Honolulu on the island of Oahu.” 

(Pierce, 1965,p. 72.  Secret Treaty between King Kaumualii and Schaffer, July 1, 1816).

July 8

The king visited me with all of his court and raised the Russian flag.  I drank to the health of the king and had a seven-gun salute given when he left.” 

(Pierce 1965.p. 178. Schaffer Journal).

July 16

“Early in the morning a ship was seen on the south side of the island.  The king ordered the Russian flag raised, and I did the same in front of the factory.” 

(Pierce 1965,p. 178.  Schaffer Journal)

“As an evidence of my friendship, I am making to Dr. von Sheffer for the Company’s factory a present of two strips of land, one in this harbor on the right bank of the river Waimea, which is called Guramaia, for a building and vegetable gardens, and another strip on the left bank of the Waimea, with twenty peasants, at a place called Vaikari.” 

(Pierce 1965.p. 79, declaration of Friendship and Deed of land, chief Kamahalolani to Schaffer, October 1, 1816).

October 1

“To His Honor, Doctor, Collegiate Assessor, Commissioner of the Russian-American Company, as a token of friendship and appreciation of various presents received from him, I am granting him a strip of land, called Gamalea, on the river Mattaveri in the gubernia of   Waimea, together with thirteen peasants and everything else pertaining to it.”

“He received the whole Bat [ ? ] Mainauri at a distance of 8 versts [ 5.28 miles] from Waimea.” 

(Pierce, 1965.p.80. 

Grant of land by Princess Naoa of Kauai to Schaffer, October 1, 1916).

 “I received for the Company from chief Kamahalolani a village on the right bank of the river Waimea, with twenty families.”

“...I received from the king’s sister Tairinoa a village on the left bank of the river Waimea with eleven families.” 

(Pierce 1965.p.185. Schaffer Journal).

October 14

I spent two days in Hanapepe, where I received for the Company from the chief Obana Platov a village with eleven families.  It lies in the province of Hanapepe on the right bank of the river Don and is called Tuiloa Platov.” 

(Pierce,1965 p. 185, Schaffer Journal).

November 30.

I set out for Hanapepe, inspected the estate of platov on the river Don, and found it extremely rich in taro fields.  I ordered the dry land planted into cotton, tobacco, maize, and also transplanted here sufficient orange, lemon, and olive trees.  I delivered there a number of brood sows and assigned two old Aleuts as watchmen.”

(Pierce 1965,p. 187. Schafer Journal)

December 2.

“ was the schooner “Traveller”’ with Mr. Wilcocks, the American consul in Canton aboard.  Mr. Wilcocks was informed on the island of Oahu of my presence on Kauai, came immediately to the factory, and he and his friend Gaal moved into my apartment.  He was not well and asked me for medicaments.” 

(Pierce 1965.p.187-188, Schaffer Journal)

December 11/12.

“A hurricane blew so strongly that it leveled many houses and trees, and the river Waimea rose seven feet above its normal level.” 

(Pierce 1965,p. 192, Schaffer Journal).

December 17.

“I planted four hundred grape vines in the garden of the factory at Waimea.” 

(Pierce, 1965 p. 192, Schaffer Journal).

December 22.

“King Kaumualii gave Timofei Tarakanov a village with thirteen families, on the left bank of the river Don, in the province of Hanapepe.”

(Pierce 1965 p. 192. Schaffer Journal)

December 23

Taboo.  The wives of all the chiefs visited me today.  The Queen’s sister Tairinoa, who previously gave me the Company land, today transferred also the valley of Mainauri, while Queen Monolau, whom I cured of illness, presented me with land in the Georg  (Kainakhil’) Valley of Hanapepe province.  I gave her a piece of silk material.” 

(Pierce 1965 p. 192. Schaffer Journal)


January 1

Upon my arrival on this island I planted in the garden of the Russian-American Company factory ten square sazhens [ 70 square feet] of land in cotton. That was at the end of December, 1816 [ ?], and in the first picking of this January I obtained 272 pounds of fine and best quality cotton fiber cleaned of seeds.  The second picking will be in June of this year, when just as much or even more is to be expected, and so one can assume an annual yield of ten pounds of clean fiber per square sazhen.  The main work lies in the transplanting, for the land must be well cleaned beforehand.

(Pierce 1965 p. 194. Schaffer Journal).

January 1

Long discussion of the planting of cotton, maize, tobacco, grapes and the potential crops in taro, sandalwood, salt, sugar cane, oil nuts, etc. and what they would mean to Russian trade at Canton. 

(Pierce 1965p. 194-197. Schaffer Journal).

February 9

I have learned from the toen [chief] Hanalei, who together with his wife and servants, is to travel on the ship to the island of Kauai, that from his possessions in Hanalei , ...2,400 logs of sandalwood were shipped for Dr. Scheffer on board the Il'mena, by order of the king.  According to him, this wood was left on Kauai.  ...When he started on theN to discover the islands, which were already known, Scheffer ordered that this wood be unloaded from the brig and taken to the shore, which was done in two barks and one small boat, and deposited in the storehouse where the property of the Company was kept.  When this storehouse collapsed, other property was taken elsewhere but the wood remained in a corner of the collapsed building.”

(Pierce 1965.p. 151. Instructions, Hagemeister to Podushkin, Feb. 9,1818).


May 8

I gave them my hand as usual, they replied by pressing it, and I returned along the road leading to the factory.”

Pierce 1965.p. 200.  Schaffer Journal).