Seattle Sparked the Yukon Gold Rush

 

 

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SS Excelsior leaves for the Yukon, 1897 Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

 

After the 1893 world-wide depression brought commerce to a halt, Seattle took off in 1897 when the steamer Portland struggled into port, her decks filled with prospectors guarding their sacks of gold. Soon headlines and flyers proclaimed the news around the globe that Yukon gold was there for the taking along the Klondike River.  The mad dash to claim the nuggets really  lasted not much more than a year.

The headlong rush to the Yukon came shortly after a depression where many who had found work again felt trapped in office, factory, or low-paying retail jobs. Eager hordes grabbed the chance to set off for the real frontier, the  vast Canadian wilderness that offered the bold an opportunity to earn their fortunes.

My father, Hans Pederson, a risk taking Danish immigrant, joined the exodus. “He was among the first to answer the call of the North when the manhood of the world stampeded toward the arctic and the sparkle of gold,” notes his obituary. He and a partner soon crammed themselves aboard a ship and joined the throng of prospectors who washed up on Alaskan shores like flotsam on the tides.

He didn’t stay long enough to make his fortune. He returned to Seattle, became a builder, and grew along with the city until the next depression in 1929 ended contracting along with everything else.

Immigrant Ukrainians keep the Easter Customs

 

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Orthodox Cross Courtesy Wikimedia Commons Withgol the Webmaster

 

 

 

In 1898 my great grandparents,Stephan and Sanxira Tokaruk, along with my grandparents, Wasyl and Anna Huchulak, left the estate in Ukraine  where Stephan attended the horses when their landlord offered them passage to the new world. They crossed Canada on the Canadian Pacific Railroad and became Alberta homesteaders.

In 2009 I went to a family reunion near Edmonton where we gathered at the now derelict 1910 family homestead and I met fifty first cousins. The clan helped me understand my grandparents’ early challenges and my mother’s childhood. I wish there had been time to watch my cousin Judy design her intricately patterned Ukrainian eggs.

We stopped at the onion-domed Orthodox Church filled with the religious icons that became my grandmother’s passion during her life as a struggling homesteader. The little cemetery is filled with pioneer graves. Every headstone bears the characteristic Ukrainian cross with its slanted crosspiece below the arms of the conventional cross. After the long winter, descendants of these pioneers still gather at the cemetery for picnics on Orthodox Easter.

It was a privilege to meet my mother’s family at last. While today’s shifting lifestyles often create a sense of impermanence, my trip “home” showed me that fragments of the Huchulak DNA had seeped through earlier generations to my own in ongoing customs and habits.

 

 

 

Northwest Immigrant Ancestors

A Danish couple that I met blogging have become good friends—in fact, my Danish  family. All you blogging travelers could learn much about Danish life, history, and European art, from mariaholm.com (Maria is also an expert on baby care). Her husband, henryhogh22.com describes a wealth of family history. I wish I had the treasure trove of old photos that both of them have preserved.

My father, Hans Pederson, emigrated from Denmark to Seattle in 1860. Many unanswered questions remain from the research I’ve done on his life. At least until Henry joined me in the search. A genealogist, Henry found several articles about my pioneer father, well known in Denmark, and also my mother, in Danish newspapers. Next he looked into Ancestry.com

Two pages are posted above from Henry’s recent 42-page blog documenting Hans Pederson’s family history from 1840 to 1949 in both Danish and English. I’m technically challenged and have problems with translation. But you can see from these pages what detailed histories you can find if you develop an interest in ancestry and genealogy.

 

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