I was hoping that John Bidwell met Alexander Rotchev before the latter left California, but evidently not. Rotchev, having sold the assets of the Russian-American Company in California to John Sutter, departed for Sitka on January 1, 1842. Bidwell had arrived at Sutter’s New Helvetia settlement in November 1841. Sutter promptly hired him and he spent a few weeks learning Spanish and getting to know Sutter. Then Sutter assigned him to manage the dismantlement of Fort Ross.
Bidwell arrived at Bodega Bay, where the Russians also had holdings, in mid-January. He just missed meeting the Russians by a couple of weeks.
My first occupation in California was at Bodega and Fort Ross, taking charge with Robert T. Ridley, who preceded me there, of the Russian property still remaining at those points, and removing the same as fast as practicable to Sutter’s settlement in Sacramento, whither everything was eventually transferred.
Ridley was a former English sailor who also worked for Sutter, married into a Mexican family, acquired a land grant near Sonoma, and took part in the Bear Flag Revolt.
It’s too bad the Russians were all gone when Bidwell arrived; it would be interesting to have Bidwell’s impressions. I can’t find a picture of Rotchev, but the house he built at Fort Ross still stands. It is the only original Russian-built building there. (Other buildings are replicas.)
I like to imagine John Bidwell sitting in the Rotchev’s parlor, writing letters to Sutter and revising the journal of his overland trip to California.