Danila Efremov served as an elected Ataman of the Don Army from 1738 to 1753.
He was born in 1690 on the Don into the family of a Moscow merchant, Efrem Petrov.
When he was only 17 years old, the Cossack Danila, along with a Don Cossacks detachment, took part in Russia’s war against Sweden.
By 1727, he was already serving in the army as a colonel, and by 1734, due to his courage, wisdom and diplomatic talent, Danila Efremov managed to distinguish himself from other senior-ranking officers on the Don. On May 17, 1738, according to an edict issued by the Russian Empress, Anna Ioanovna, he was appointed Ataman of the Don Cossacks Army. While Ataman, he had to mobilize a lot of effort to repel numerous raids by the Crimean and Kuban Tatars, who brought death and destruction to the Don steppes. Under Danila Efremov’s guidance old Cossack townships were fortified and new ones built all along the southern fortified frontier.
In the late 1740s, Danila Efremov donated a lot of his personal money to the construction of new churches on the Don, and to the Kiev Cave Monastery.
In 1753, Danila Efremov's took ill, and his son, Stepan, was made the Don Ataman. However, Empress Elizabeth of Russia officially underlined Danila Efremov’s role as the most influential person on the Don, making him the first Don Ataman in history to receive the rank of major-general of the Russian Army.
In the same year, the Empress approved Danila Efremov’s request to open the Temernitskaya customs house and fortification of the southern borders of Russia.
In 1758, already in his 60s and commanding several Cossack regiments, Danila Efremov took part in the Pomeranian military campaign, for which he became the first person on the Don to receive the high civil title of a privy councilor.
The Don Ataman Danila Efremov earned everlasting glory and is honored by people on the Don. Today, the former Ataman’s family estate with a palace and church in the village Starocherkasskaya houses the well-known museum of the Don Cossacks.