The History of the Alaska Commercial Company


15,000 -
11,000 BCE

People migrate from Asia to North America

Unangan, Yu’pik, Inuit and Athabaskan tribes evolve in Alaska


Hudson’s Bay Company Chartered on May 2, 1670

The "Governor and Company of Adventurers" were granted a royal charter to pursue commercial fur trading as a joint-stock corporation in Canada.


Voyages made to Alaskan waters by Western European explorers begin

Dutch East India Company sails northeast to Aleutian Islands. Russian explorer Vitus Bering goes to Alaska. English Captain Cook charts the Northwest coast. Spanish sail to southeast coast of Alaska.


Russian Empress Catherine the Great granted trading rights to the Russian American Company

The Russian American Company is organized by a group of Siberian fur traders and granted the right to trade in 1776.


Seal Islands found

Russian navigator Pribylov finds major fur seal rookeries on islands in central Bering Sea.


Russian American Company Chartered (RAC)

Czar Paul I of Russia chartered Russia’s first joint-stock company to engage in the fur trade of the North Pacific and to colonize Russian America (Alaska).

1776 -

The Russian American Company (RAC) attempts to settle Alaska

Trading stations and small redoubts were established from St. Michael in the Northwest to Fort Ross in California.


Tlingit-Russo War

Tlingit natives destroy the Russian fort at Sitka in the final battle to control the fur trade in southeast Alaska.


The RAC is taken over by the Russian Government

Alexander I, Emperor of Russia, takes over the operations of the RAC from the merchants.


American whalers enter Arctic Sea

Fleets of Nantucket whaling ships hunt sperm whales for oil and trade with the Inuit.


The Crimean War

Russian activity declines in Alaska as war in Europe takes precedence, draining the Treasury. Czar Alexander contemplates selling Alaska to America to block British influence in the region.


The RAC overlaps with American interests  

Several San Francisco companies contract with the RAC to harvest ice and furs and provide transportation to the failing Russian colonies. 1849 Gold Rush expands northward. California Senator Gwin advocates for Pacific Expansion in 1855.

1861 -

U.S. Civil War

U.S. expansion plans on hold during the war years. Sec’y of State Seward renews interest in acquiring Alaska, Hawaii, and Philippines.


Prince Dmitri Petrovich Maksutov arrives in Sitka

The last governor of Russian America and General Manager of the RAC arrives in Sitka on December 2, 1863. The Hudson Bay Company fur trade agreement not renewed.


Seward and Stoeckl craft treaty to cede Russian America to the United States

On March 3, 1867, negotiations begin between the U.S. and Russian minister Eduard de Stoeckl; Congress approves $7.2 for the purchase of Alaska; on July 18, 1867, the U.S. Army assumes control of district.

Russian America ceded to the United States of America

General Lovell Rousseau formally takes possession of the Alaska territory for the U.S. on October 18, 1867. Travelling with him from Washington, D.C. by ship to San Francisco is Baltimore entrepreneur H. H. Hutchinson.

Hutchinson meets with financiers and fur traders

Hutchinson meets Abraham Hirsch aboard the Sacramento en route from Panama to San Francisco. On September 22, 1867, Hutchinson arrives in San Francisco, where he discusses business with Louis Sloss and Louis Gerstle who encourage him to meet with fur trader Leopold Boscowitz.

Hutchinson goes to Portland, OR

Hutchinson and Boscowitz talk about the potential for purchasing assets of the RAC as Boscowitz had done business with the company previously.

Boscowitz & Kohl

The shipbuilder William Kohl and Boscowitz sail to Sitka from Victoria, B.C. to do business with the RAC in the wake of the cession.  

Hutchinson goes to Sitka

In November Hutchinson sails from San Francisco to Victoria, then on to Sitka intending to make a major purchase of RAC assets in partnership with Hirsch.

Hutchinson and Hirsch purchase assets of RAC

Prince Maksutov, in a private arrangement, sells all the assets of the RAC not included in the formal transfer of government property to the U.S. to Hutchinson and Hirsch, presumably with financing provided by Sloss and Gerstle.


Merging of Kohl and Hutchinson business interests

Between January and March, Hutchinson, Kohl and Company is formed. Hirsch leaves the business. Boscowitz and August Wasserman, another San Francisco fur trader, join the new business.

Niebaum arrives in San Francisco

On March 2, Gustave Niebaum arrives with a shipment of fur seal pelts on the Constantine and joins the business concern.

Hutchinson & Maksutov

On April 24, Hutchinson and and Maksutov leave Sitka and arrive at Kodiak on May 4.

Hutchinson & Maksutov Travel

On May 9 Hutchinson arrives in the Pribilof Islands.

Alaska Commercial Company created

Hutchinson, Kohl and Co. merges with the Louis Sloss Co. and five other West Coast merchants to incorporate as the Alaska Commercial Company in October of 1868.

USRCS Wayanda arrives in the Pribilof Islands

Wayanda sails under US flag to Bering Sea under orders to protect fur seals from pelagic predation


ACC leased Pribilof Islands

The US Dept. of the Treasury awards to the ACC an exclusive 20-year lease of the fur seal operation in the Pribilof Islands

ACC lease, cont’d

To prevent the extermination of the fur seals by leasing to a single company. This includes the right to take 100,000 seals/yr and a ban on killing females and pups under one year old


ACC lease on Pribilof Islands ends

Congress awarded the second 20 yr lease to another company, the NACC


North American Commercial Company (NACC) acquires 2nd Pribilof sealing lease

I.Liebes, owner


ACC develops shipping trade

Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta


Klondike Gold Rush

The ACC moves into Dawson supplying miners throughout Alaska and Yukon Territory


ACC Merges and Divests

The ACC merge with the International Mercantile Marine Company and Alaska Goldfields, Ltd., to form two new companies, the Northern Navigation Company, and the Northern Commercial Company.


NACC Pribilof Lease ends

Ownership of the Pribylovs reverts to the U.S. Government.


International Fur Seal Treaty

In 1912, killing of the Pribylov seals comes to a halt.

ACC Sells Kodiak District

ACC Employee W. J. Erskine purchases the stores in Kodiak District and Cook Inlet.


H. C. Bennett, Manager Anchorage

Bennett is manager of the NCC, the first large department store in Alaska.


ACC closes last store in the Aleutians

The Unalaska ACC store closes as WWII ramps up.


ACC ceases as legal entity

NCC is sole successor to ACC, operating all Alaskan stores.


Alaska Earthquake

NAC Store on 4th Ave is destroyed in the 1964 9.2 earthquake.


NCC rebuilds

New NCC opens on 5th Ave and D St. in Anchorage


NCC Sells

NCC three stores (Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Kenai) were purchased by Nordstrom in 1975.


NCC village stores sold to CEDC first run by Allant Galant and then Sam Salkin as President and CEO

The 11 still operating village stores were sold to the Alaska Community Enterprise Development Corporation which reverted to the original name Alaska Commercial Company.


CEDC sells ACC stores to the Northwest Company

The company assets of 16 rural stores were purchased by the Canadian retailer the Northwest Company and renamed AC Value Centers.


NWC expands

Under the management of the NorthWest Co. the ACC in Alaska expanded to 30 stores in 21 communities.


ACC Celebrates 150th Anniversary

Martin Buser, dog musher, highlights the program.


The ACC currently has 37 stores in Alaska

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