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The History of Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya

Mikhail Alexandrovich Sholokhov lived in Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya during 1926–1984. The stanitsa is located on the left bank of the River Don. At present it is an administrative centre of the Sholokhov District the Rostov Region and of Vyoshensky settlement. There is the centre of the National M.A.Sholokhov Museum-Reserve and a number of its sites.

The name of the stanitsa, according to the local historians P.Losev, A.Gribanov, writer A.Suichmezov, came from the word “vekha”, “veshka” meaning landmarks put up here in old times to direct on the big way from north to south” (A.M.Суичмезов. Родная Донщина. Ростов-на-Дону, 1985. С. 42). V.N.Korolyov suggests another, a less common version. In his opinion, the name of the settlement originated from the word “vezha” meaning a “hut”, dwelling, lodge”. He writes: “In the pre-Mongolian time, East Slavs called semi-nomadic felt dwellings as “vezha”, which later were known in Russian as “кибитка” (“kibitka”) or “юрта” (“yurta”) (kinds of dwelling)… It is quite possible that in the locality of Vyoshki, more than 400 years ago, the first inhabitants lived in huts and lodges called “vezhi” (В.Н.Королёв. Старые Вёшки. Повествование о казаках. Ростов-на-Дону, 1991. С.18).

There is an assumption that Vyoshenskaya was founded in the middle of the XVI century by free Cossacks of Sary Azman, and later their camp was used by the Russian border guards for their settlement. The settlement of Vyoshki was first mentioned in 1571, when Tsar Ivan the Terrible signed “The Boyar Judgement of the Stanitsa and Guard Service” mentioning “the head in the field”, who was to be sent from the town of Shatsk and “to stand” in Vezhki, upper than the Medveditsa and the Khopyor rivers”. Eventually the guard locality Vezhki became a settlement of Vyoshki.

The Cossacks of Vyoshki settlement are known to participate in capturing Azov in 1637, in the Azov siege sitting of 1641, and in all the land and naval military campaigns of Cossacks to attack Turkish and Crimean towns of the Black Sea coast. In 1670, the people of Vyoshki were active fighters in the peasant war under the leadership of Stepan Razin, and during 1707–1708 – in Bulavin uprising.

In 1740, according to the Don Eparchial Records, frequent floods made the residents move the settlement Vyoshki to a new, higher terrace over the River Don, where it merged with Reshetov Village and got the status of stanitsa.

In the novel “And Quiet Flows the Don” M.A.Sholokhov gives a detailed description of Vyoshenskaya: “On the slope sandy left river bank, over the Don, there lies Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya, the oldest of the upriver Don stanitsas, which was moved from the place of Stanitsa Chigonaki ruined in the time of Peter I, and later renamed Vyoshenskaya…”

“Vyoshenskaya, covered all over with yellow sands. A stanitsa, cheerless, bald-pated, gardenless. In the square there is an old church grayed by time, six streets stretching along the River Don…” (M.A.Sholokhov. Collected works in 8 volumes. Moscow, 1985. Page 146).

When moving the settlement to a new place, the wooden church of Mikhail the Archisratig was moved there as well. In the same year, a construction of a new stone church with a belfry and a chapel of Holy Apostle Joan the Theologian was started. The chapel was sanctified on November 26, 1780, and the main throne was sanctified on December 28, 1786.

In 1853, in the eastern part of the stanitsa, a construction of another stone church in the name of Holy Trinity and a chapel of Assumption of the Mother of God was started. The temple was sanctified in 1858. In 1936, the local Communist Party authorities adopted a resolution of pulling down the Holy Trinity Church (Protocol No 8 of March 9, 1936 “On closing the church in Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya”). On February 9, 1937, the Holy Trinity Church was blown up. In 1993, a memorial cross was erected on this place.

The Parish of St. Michael the Archangel was closed in 1937, and the building was used for storing grain. The temple survived through the intercession of Sholokhov, who convinced the authorities not to blow it up. In 1946, the parish was opened and is still active.

In old times, all business and civic affairs of the Cossacks of Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya were tackled at the gatherings, which were supreme power. Each Cossack was given a right to speak on the subject discussed or to make propositions. The decision was made by simple vote.

The first stanitsa’s ataman was Ivan Fyodorovich Shchepotkin. In 1745, the Confessional Records of the Vyoshenskaya Church mentioned surnames of Cossacks who lived in Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya: Averkin, Dudarev, Zykov, Kolundayev, Kaledin, Soldatov, Likhovidov, Bolgarov, Popov.

In 1782, Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya almost completely burned down in a fire. Thereafter it was rebuilt anew.

In the XVIII century, in the Don riverside, there was located a board of directors and a warehouse of the manufacturing company “Singer”, which was engaged in trading in sewing machines, mowers and agricultural equipment. Besides, there was a grain collecting site of the well-known Paramonov merchants. Industrial and food products were sold in the shops of merchants Khrennikov, Mokhov, Konev, Serghichev. In the first half of the XIX century, Mikhail Mikhailovich Sholokhov, the writer’s grandfather, settled in Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya, started a family and went into trade business.

In Vyoshenskaya there was a stanitsa emergency room and two village ones, and a post and telegraph office. In 1861, the first educational institution – a one-form male parish school was opened, in 1863, a one-form female third grade school was opened (later both the schools were made two-form ones).

In 1915, a female gymnasium was opened, and in 1917, there were two gymnasiums: an eight-form and four-form ones. In 1918, based on the decision of the stanitsa meeting both the gymnasiums were placed in the two-story stanitsa’s administration building and were merged into a mixed gymnasium named “Vyoshenskaya Gymnasium named after Died Fighters for the Liberation of the Native Country”. M.A.Sholokhov studied there during autumn 1918–spring 1919.

According to V.N.Korolyov, in 1867, Vyoshenskaya was populated by 715 people (345 men and 370 women); in 1915, – by 1863 people (732 households). At present, the population of Vyoshenskaya is 9704 people.

In the first half of the XIX century, Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya belonged to the Ust-Medveditsa District of the Don Army Region and was the centre of the Vyoshensky Yurt; late in the XIX century the Vyoshensky Yurt entered the Donetsk District.

In 1918, the Don Army Region was renamed Great Don Army Region, and a new district – Verkhne-Donskoy (Upper Don) with the centre in Vyoshenskaya was formed.

In 1923, the Verkhne-Donskoy District was eliminated, Vyoshenskaya became the centre of the parish and was assigned to the Donetsk district. In 1924, the parish was abolished and the Vyoshensky District with the centre in Vyoshenskaya was formed. In 1984, the Vyoshensky District was renamed the Sholokhov District.

During the Civil War, Vyoshenskaya was a place of fierce fighting. On April 23, 1918, the Soviet Power was set up in the Verkhne-Donskoy District. On the

night of March 10, to March 11, 1919, Cossacks raised a revolt against “Bolsheviks and executions” to challenge the policy of decossackization pursued by the Central Committee of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Party (of Bolsheviks). The centre of the rebellion, which swept the whole district, was Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya. The events of the Upper Don (Vyoshenskaya) rebellion are described in the third book of the novel “And Quiet Flows the Don” by M.A.Sholokhov.

During the Great Patriotic War the front came close to Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya, but the enemy failed to cross the River Don. In the stanitsa, there were located the headquarters of the 197th rifle division of General M.I.Zaporozhchenko, frontline hospitals, bodies of troops supply. The stanitsa was subjected to shelling and bombing. In 1942, the house, where the Sholokhovs lived, was destroyed by a fascist bomb, and the writer’s mother was killed.

After the war Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya was built anew. M.A.Sholokhov, a deputy of the USSR Supreme Soviet, made a great contribution in improving the stanitsa and the life of its residents. On the writer’s initiative and under his support, a water pipe, a power station, a television repeater, schools were built, Children's Art House, School of Arts, Teacher Training College with a complex of buildings were opened. The Don Research Forestry Station started its work on growing pines for sand reinforcement and on establishing a forest protection zone on the banks of the River Don.

M.A.Sholokhov initiated the creation of the Folk Cossack Youth Chorus and Theatre, he supported the construction of the sanatorium “Vyoshensky”, Palace of Culture, airport, an asphalt road to Millerovo, a bridge over the River Don, which was completed after his death.

Already in the 1930s, Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya became a pilgrimage site for the admirers of Sholokhov’s work. Many famous people – Soviet and foreign writers, actors, politicians and public figures – visited Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya.

Today, Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya is a leading centre of culture and education, a key object of cultural tourism. The sites of the Museum-Reserve of M.A.Sholokhov, the only federal museum in the Rostov Region, are annually visited by over 100 thousand tourists.

At the embankment of the stanitsa there is a bronze bust of the writer and a sculptural composition “Grigory and Aksinya”. In the park you can see a sculptural composition “Ded Shchukar”, in the centre of the stanitsa there is a bas-relief to remember about the meeting of the residents with the first cosmonaut Yury

Gagarin in 1967, near the Palace of Culture there is a monument “The Oath” dedicated to the liberation of the district from the German fascist invaders.

Annually, an All-Russian literary folklore holiday “Sholokhov Spring” is held in Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya. Dedicated to the writer’s birthday it gathers thousands of admirers of his work.

 

Prepared by Olga Bakhtiyarova