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Tag: Alaska

Striking Gold in the Records

People often refer to the National Archives as a “treasure trove” of history. Usually they’re referring to the wealth of knowledge documented in our billions of pieces of paper. But occasionally you come across something that would not be out of place in a real treasure chest.

At the end of the 19th century, thousands of gold-seekers headed to Alaska. Few found even enough gold to pay for the voyage north, but a little bit of the precious ore found its way into federal records at the National Archives in Anchorage.

The 1904 case of Heine v. Roth concerned waterfront property rights. George Roth had purchased land on the banks of the Chena River near Fairbanks and prospected for gold there. C. H. Heine also occupied land near the Chena and had filed a homestead claim on May 6, 1904, for 35 acres.

On July 15, 1904, Heine asked Roth to leave the property and had him arrested for trespassing when Roth refused. In court they argued over who had claim to the waterfront property, which was accessible only during low tide. Heine argued that Roth’s camp denied him access to the river. Roth argued that the land he occupied was public land because it was a part of the Chena River, which was accessible to all. He also argued that Heine’s homestead border … [ Read all ]

Thursday Photo Caption Contest

What can you say about a man, his accordion, a clock, and a bottle? We went to guest judge and social media coordinator Jeannie Chen, who once featured a infant President Ford holding a tiny accordion on the Presidential Libraries tumblr blog.

Congratulations to Mickey! Your caption won Jeannie’s heart and got that Croce tune stuck in her head. Check your email for a code for 15% off in our eStore.

The man in the photograph has been featured before on Pieces of History in this Facial Hair Friday post. William Duncan was the  founder of  Metlakahtla, a Utopian community in Alaska. The original caption reads: “William Duncan late in life, exhibiting to friends for photographing the canvas, hammock, clock, water bottle, and accordian [sic] used by him on his voyage to Victoria, B.C., in 1856-57., 1916 – 1917″ (ARC 297897)

Last week featured an accordion, and this week we are featuring another strange device. Give us your wittest caption in the comments below![ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Utopia above the Lower 48

These might look like two gentlemen out for a stroll in the early twentieth century, but the well-bearded gentlemen on the right is William Duncan, founder of  Metlakahtla, a Utopian community. The man on the left with the mustache is Sir Henry S. Wellcome, who founded the pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome & Company, which later became part of GlaxoSmithKline.

Why would you form a Utopian community of Anglicans from the native peoples in Alaska? And why would a pharmaceutical businessman have any interest in it?

Duncan was born in Yorkshire, England, but after joining a missionary society, he was sent to Canada. He actually started a community in British Columbia, but after a dispute with Anglican Church authorities in Canada, he persuaded the U.S. Government to allow his group of 800 native Tsimshians  to settle on Annette Island. Duncan lived in Metlakahtla until his death in 1918. (Metlakahtla today has Alaska’s only Indian reservation and 1,400 residents.)

The little town had a church, a sawmill, a brass band and a baseball team. The National Archives has many images of life in of Metlakahtla in the National Archives at Anchorage, Alaska.

Wellcome’s experience with Native Americans was very different from Duncan’s. He was born in Wisconsin to a deeply religious family, and later moved with his family to Garden City, Minnesota. Wellcome witnessed an attack on Garden City … [ Read all ]