“Yes, those were hard years,” agreed Pavel. “I was grateful that my son Pavelik was too young for service. I know our dear Tsar was threatened, and it looked bad for a time. Then things settled down.”
“I’m not sure everyone was satisfied. For some people that revolution in 1905 didn’t go far enough,” said Ivan. “But it definitely changed things for my family.”
“Well, because of it, I now have my own land!” Ivan said, proudly.
In 1906, a man determined to protect the monarchy of Tsar Nicholas II, Pyotr Stolypin, became Prime Minister of Russia. He implemented major reforms in an effort to appease the revolutionaries. The government evolved to a more repre- sentative one, with a legislative body called the Duma and a constitution. When land ownership laws were changed, Ivan quickly took advantage of the situation, and now had many acres of wheat.
“But doesn’t your community ultimately control what is grown? Isn’t it a family plot?” Pavel knew that the Cossacks had long held land under a complex form of communal ownership. But those land reforms had freed Ivan to move to independence from the community and acquire land outside the traditional communal holdings.
“No. It’s my land. It is mine!” Ivan punched his hand with his closed fist. “No one can tell me what to do with it.”
That sentence stayed with Pavel. Ivan, in his early thirties, was extending his reach beyond just planting and harvesting crops. He expanded from local small-time trade to milling his own grain and doing business with larger markets. Clearly a man with a future, he had his eyes on dealing directly with Moscow. Now Pavel, for the first time, was also working his own land. Ivan had helped him achieve this independence. Pavel’s portion wasn’t a big piece, but it would be enough, especially now that his four children were getting older, and, like Daria, would soon be moving away.
It had all evolved quickly. Pavel had mentioned that it was time for his daughter to consider marriage. Ivan told him about his cousin Mikhail Amochaev, who would soon be finishing his military service. One thought led to another, and they both realized there was a match to be made here. Ivan spoke to Mikhail’s father, who confirmed his son as a suitor for Daria. Ivan and Mikhail were here to finalize the agreement, and Pavel intended to ensure the success of their mission.