Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nome Diary - Alfaretta and George Bunker

A young girls adventures during the Alaskan gold stampede A tribute to a very strong minded woman -- my Grandmother

I scanned these pictures out of a magazine article my grandmother wrote for a retirement magazine back in the early 1980's. Sorry they won't get better

Alfaretta with her father George Bunker on the deck of the steamer taking them to Nome Alaska.

It was exciting getting into a big boat. I was told we were going near the top of the world where there were only snow. On the ship men played cards but my mother remained in the cabin most of the time suffering mal de mer. My father was supposed to watch me but he too played cards so I roamed about by myself.

I loved the olives they had at meals. One day I went to the kitchen to see if I could get a handful. I found a barrel of them but they were covered with so many cockroaches that I've never been able to eat an olive since.

The steamer Fortune Hunter traveling up the Fish River bound for Council City from Nome.

Reservations on the Fortune Hunter were hard to come by -- there were so many people waiting to go to the gold fields. I roamed around Nome. All there seemed to be were bars. There wasn't any underground sewage. We had to buy a ticket to use a toilet or take a bath.

Interior of the Bunker cabin at Ophir Creek.

We had a lovely cabin and mother made it very comfortable and pretty. However I loved the outdoors and spent most of my time roaming the countryside. The miners gave me a small white mule that I called 'Chiquita'. She just roamed loose around the camp and to catch her I had to coax her with grain.; but it was worth it once we went riding in the hills and visited the various claims along the river. My only rule was to be home by noon since that was the scheduled time to dynamite in the mines.

George Bunker and his crew working the Ophir Creek Claim number 3.

I felt sorry for my father and the men who worked the claim with him. It was a hard grueling life. They worked all season in those pits with their often cracked and festered hands. When winter set in most of the men would return to Nome with their hard-earned money and squander it saying 'goodbye' to all their hard work.

A reindeer herder, his family and the tent they called home.

I was fascinated by the Eskimos. They were happy and gentle. They lived in tents or small cabins made of driftwood. Their windows were made of seal gut. The Eskimos always had salmon drying on the racks outside. I would watch them shred the fish and dip it in seal oil and gulp it down. They would beckon me to join them for a feast. Ugh ... I could not swallow the concoction but tried to be polite.
Sparks Genealogy


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