The Apostols of Poltava
Born into a noble Cossack family of Moldavian boyar origin, Yefremon Apostol settled in the Poltava Region
of the left bank Ukraine
area in the late 1500s. His forbearers included the Katardjis of Moldovia
and the Catarjis
both descendants of Jean Catarji, a Grandspator.
His son, Paul Yefremovich
Apostol, is mentioned in 1660 as representing the founder of the Ukraine,
Hetman Bogdan Khmelnitzki at the Court of Tsar Alexis Mikhailivich. He is listed
as Colonel in the Mirgorod Regiment.
Paul Yefremovich had a son on 14 December 1654 who
he named Danylo Pavlovich
Apostol. He too became a
prominent military leader, polkovnyk (colonel) of the
Mirgorod regiment, and a participant in the Russian
Empire campaigns against the Ottoman Empire
and Crimean Khanate. He fought in the Great Northern War between 1701 and 1705
against the Swedes in Livonia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth,
but in 1708 briefly joined Hetman Ivan Mazepa who sided with Charles XII of Sweden against Peter I of Russia. Later, Danylo Apostol again switched sides and fought on the Russian side,
distinguishing himself in the Battle of Poltava. In 1722, he led Cossack units
during the Russo-Persian War that led to the expansion of Russian power in the
Caspian region. Danylo Apostol lost his eye during the
capture of Persian Derbent fortress, this gave him a nickname:"The blind Hetman".
in about 1675 and in 1676 she gave birth to her first child, Ivan Danylovich.
He was not very healthy and died in 1690 at the age of only 14. Peter Danylovich
was born in 1682 and like his father was taller than most of his countrymen. He
went to St. Petersburg
at an early age to be educated. He spoke French, German and Italian as well as
Paul Danylovich was born a few years later in 1688.He would
become a Colonel in the Mirgorod Regiment while his
brother would hold the same rank in the nearby Lubenski
Danylo’s son, Peter, was extremely
well educated and caught the attention of Alexander Danylovich Menshikov (1673-1729) who was Tsar Peter I’s closest friend and
confidant. Since Menshikov’s only son was not
particularly intelligent, Peter was assigned the duties as his tutor in 1720.
Moving in the Court circles, Peter Danylovich was spotted by Elizabeth, Peter the Great’s daughter. Peter Danylovich’s
striking good looks and intelligence caused her to be very attracted to the
young man and she would find every excuse to summon Peter Danylovich and order him to kiss her hand. Apparently,
she was quite in love with the young Ukrainian.
At this time, Danylo
and other Cossacks of the Left Bank had been
accused of participating in the alleged revolt led by Hetman Paul Polubotok. In 1723, Danylo
travelled to St. Petersburg
with the older Polubotok and presented
the Kolomak Petition which demanded Ukrainian
Autonomy in return for the laying down of arms and joining the Russian Empire.
It is said that upon being received by Peter the Great, Danylo
did not kneel and kiss the hand of the Tsar as was customary for subjects of
the Emperor. In fact, as legend has it, Danylo,
being two centimeters taller than Tsar Peter who prided himself on his great
height, appeared to look down on the Tsar.
Both Polubotok and Danylo were detained for alleged treason and
confined in the Peter and Paul Fortress. The Tsar visited them on several
occasions in an attempt to have Danylo repent.
Polubotok being old and frail,
soon succumbed to the harsh conditions and died. In February of 1725, the Tsar
also died and Catherine assumed the throne.
Danylovich used his relationship with Menshikov and his closeness to Catherine’s daughter
Elizabeth to convince the Empress to have Danylo
released from prison in May of 1726. Danylo
hurried back to his home in Homutets just in time to
participate in the elections. In December 1727 Danylo
became the Hetman and remained as such until his death on 17 January 1734. he built his home on the “Apostolivchina”
estate which consisted of 560 dessiatines (one dessiatine is equivalent to 1.1 hectars
or 2.7 acres). 65 of them were the estate home, chapel, gardens,brick factory and gunpowder magazine. 410 of them
were fields for growing mainly wheat and some beets while 85 were comprised of
forests. There were also 705 dessiatines of
sharecropper lands of which 350 were sold to peasants for 420 Rubles.
Peter Danylovich had to remain in St.
Petersburg until 1728 when his mentor Menshikov was banished to Siberia for being complicit in many crimes and misdeeds.
He returned to the Ukraine
as Colonel of the Lubenski Regiment and following his
father’s death remained at Homutets until his own
death in 1758.
Peter Danylovich had two children: Elena Petrovna born in 1736 and Danylo Petrovich born
also grew up in Homutets, married and had a son named
in about 1770 who produced no offspring and died in 1802.
grew up in Homutets and in 1761 married a Russian
officer from Poltava:
Major General Mathew Artamonvich
Muraviev. Their son, Ivan Matveivich was born on 1 October
1768 and received his primary schooling at a German boarding school. He was
enrolled at an early age in the Izmailovsky Regiment
and due to his grasp of languages soon attracted the attention of Catherine II
who made him a Knight in charge of her grandchildren in 1792. With the
ascension of Paul I, Ivan Matveivich was assigned as Resident Minister to the
Duke of Oldenburg in Euten,
Germany and in 1799 he was
sent to Denmark
as special envoi. In 1800, he was recalled to serve as Private Advisor to the College of Foreign Affairs. That same year, his
cousin, Michael Danylovich
Apostol being the last to hold the name Apostol, obtained special
permission for his name and property – including the Homutets
property - to be transferred to Ivan
who subsequently became known as Mouravieff-Apostol
and the first with that surname.
In 1802, Ivan Matveivich
was named Ambassador to Madrid, Spain
and was charged with the duty of following the exploits of Napoleon for
whom he had a particular dislike. After incurring the displeasure of the
Emperor, Ivan Matveivich
was retired in 1805 and moved to his home in Homutetz,
Poltava O'blatz, Ukraine.
He dedicated himself to the pursuit of science and literature. He was named
Senator and Member of the Board of Directors of the Board of Education where he
heartily defended the need for education to overcome illiteracy. While at Homutets, originally built by the Hetman Danylo Apostol around 1730, Ivan Matveivich
translated the classical works of Horace, Cicero and Aristophanes. Between 1813
and 1815, the Syn Otetchestva
published his Letters from Moscow to Nijny-Novgorod where he defended his idea that all of Russia's ills
were the result of a national social conscience which resulted in an attachment
to secular prejudgments and a blind following of whatever was in vogue. Despite
his dislike for and constant critique of Napoleon, Ivan Matveivich constantly spoke French
and sent his children to school in Paris.
In 1820, he made a trip to the Crimea. To
prepare, he studied at length both ancient and modern writings about the Crimea. Following his return, he published his findings
in Voyage in Tauride (1823) which still remains to
this day a valuable reference book. Ivan
Matveivich was a member of the Russian Academy,
the Free Society of Students of Literature, Science and the Arts. He had a good
relationship with such famous writers as Olenine, Karamzine, Gneditch, and above
all Batiuchkov who had given Ivan Matveivich
the nickname of Alcibiades. Ivan Matveivich was also an excellent musician and singer.
His first marriage was to Anna Tchernoevitch in 1790 and together they had seven
children - three boys and four girls. She was the daughter of a military
officer and spent most of the time in Paris
bringing up the children. The sons, Mathew,
Serge and Hyppolite would later cause
their father great pain after being convicted of being involved in a Rebellion
against the Tsar. The daughters, Anna,
Elizabeth, Katerina and Elena married successfully into society. Mathew Ivanovich had a son who died in
childhood while exiled in Siberia and later
adopted a daughter, Natalie Sazonov. Although never made public or officially
confirmed, there are documents and some evidence that a few years before his
execution in 1826, Serge Ivanovich had a daughter and a son. The daughter,
Alexandra, apparently died at 14 of a circulatory infirmity but the son, Peter,
grew up and had children of his own. Fearing possible repercussions arising
from his treasonous activities, Serge Ivanovich, sought to protect his children and their
mother. At the time it was not permitted that an officer in the Army under the
age of 30 be married and have children. He quietly
filed the required documents recognizing them as his children and they were
never told of their connection to their famous father, growing up instead under
a different name. Letters from the condemned man to both Mathew Ivanovich and Ivan Matveivich on the eve of his
execution referred to them “taking care of the children”. Apparently, Elizabeth Ivanova
who lived near Poltava
participated in looking after the “secret” children.
Following the death of Anna Tchernoevitch in 1810, Ivan Matveivich remarried in 1812 to Prascovie Grouchetzky.
She had been born in 1780. Together they produced another son, Basil (Vassily) Ivanovich born in 1817, and two daughters, Eudoxie Ivanova and Elizabeth Ivanova.
became the Princess Khovansky and died in 1850 while Elizabeth
married Baron Stalting of Widburg.
His three sons comprised the ill-fated Decembrist Movement nucleus which
culminated in a rebellion in December 1825. The involvement of his sons in this
uprising and their miserable end (Serge Ivanovich being executed, Hyppolite Ivanovich committing suicide and Mathew Ivanovich
being banished to exile in Siberia) was too much and Ivan Matveivich resigned from all his
posts and retired to Florence and San Remo in Italy where he spent the last 25
years of his life with his gravely ill wife. He returned to Russia from
time to time and Schnitzler, in his personal memoirs once wrote about
Mouravieff-Apostol during one of these visits that "alas, he still
lives". During his last trip, he finally died in St. Petersburg on 12 March 1851. He was buried
in the Okhta
Cemetery but the grave
has long since disappeared.
Prior to his death, however, Ivan Matveivich had bequeathed his properties and especially
his beloved Homutets mansion to his eldest son, Mathew Ivanovich
who was still exiled in Siberia. Not knowing
whether or not Mathew Ivanovich would ever return, Ivan Matveivich entrusted the Homutets property to his younger son by his second
marriage, Basil (Vassily)
Ivanovich, born on the 21st of August
1817. Just before leaving the Estate for the last time, Ivan Matveivich planted an oak tree in
memory of his three dear sons. The tree grew tall over the next century and in
the process split into three trunks. Today the tree with three branches joined
at the base stands as a reminder of the three beloved sons of Ivan Matveivich and
the family motto: Tria in uno.
Apparently, the young Basil (Vassily) Ivanovich had been
involved in a number of dishonest undertakings and had even been incarcerated
for various frauds he had perpetrated during his father’s lengthy absence.
According to Katerina Muraviev-Apostol,
Ivanovich had borrowed large sums of money and
placed the Homutets Estate as guarantee. He then
absconded with the funds without his father’s knowledge. When Mathew Ivanovich
was eventually released from his Siberia exile and returned to Russia, he was
not given all his rights back including his properties, rights of inheritance,
civil and military decorations or pensions. Nevertheless, Mathew Ivanovich tried to return to Homutets but was rebuffed by Basil (Vassily) Ivanovich
who gave him some small
properties in Russia near Ryazan but retained the Homutets Estate for himself. Legally, there was little Mathew Ivanovich could do to force the
issue. Not until after 1856 did Mathew Ivanovich regain all his civil rights and liberties and
thereby reinstate his rights to his inheritance and properties including the Homutets property.
Ivanovich died on 18 February 1866 and was buried
alongside the Pokrovski church in the village of Homutets. The
whereabouts of his grave was lost until being rediscovered in 2007. The illegal
placing of the Estate as guarantee for a loan amounted to an illegal
appropriation by Basil (Vassily) Ivanovich and his
wife, Marianna Vladimirovna
nee Gourko and born on 17 November 1823. She
survived her husband and sold off part of the Estate but retained the other part.When Marianna Vladimirovna died on 5 December 1884,
their adopted daughter took it over.
She married Colonel Stanislav Constantinovich Harting in 1895 who
first visited Homutets in 1882. Just three years
later in 1898, they divorced. She married Councillor
of State Jankhoulio while Garting
married the daughter of General Klebnikov and
remained with the Homitets Estate. He had by that
marriage a son in 1899 and a daughter in 1901.Upon her death,
he buried her on a small island in the lake on the Homutets
property where a memorial stone exists to this day. He continued to live there
until 1910 occupying the property which had been acquired through an illegal
passed his name and properties, including the Homutets
Estate, to Vladimir Vladimirovich
Korobyine, his nephew, who by decree of Tsar
Alexander II became the first of the Muraviev-Apostol-Korobyines. In 1910, Stanislav Constantinovich Harting was informed of the intention of Vladimir Vladimirovich
to reclaim ownership of the Estate. By then, Vladimir Vladimirovich had married Nadhezda Fedorovna Tereschenko, the wealthy daughter of the Ukrainian
sugar magnate, Fedor Artemivich Tereschenko. Apparently, through her wealth and
influence, a financial settlement was made to overcome the previous mortgaging
debt incurred by Basil (Vassily) Ivanovich. The
legitimization of rightful ownership took place in 1912 and prior to leaving
for the last time in 1914 Vladimir Vladimirovich was in full control of the Estate. The
ensuing chaos caused by the Bolshevik intervention may have disrupted the
documentary process as many records were lost during these turbulent times. In
any case, ownership of private property ceased and Homutets
Estate became another State owned property by 1920.
The Gunpowder magazine had been destroyed on orders of Tsar
Peter I. The brick factory ceased to exist after Danylo Apostol’s
death but was restarted during the Ivan Matveivich period and each brick, oversized by today’s
standards, was stamped with the M A initials. The
factory operated well into the 20th century. The chapel was destroyed
in the 1920s and the Estate fell into considerable disrepair since government
ministries had little in the way of funds to keep up the property much less
undertake renovations. By the late 20th century, the property was
operated as part of a State
A museum established there under the Communist Regime was looted following the
collapse of the Soviet Union in the early
1990s. The Ukrainian State Ministry of Agriculture last appraised the property
at a value of $600,000.