Maine and Virginia Pioneers 400 years ago



Photo Credit; Wikimedia Creative Commons, Attribution Peter Isotalo


The Historical Diaries notes a 1622 letter from immigrant Sebastian Brandt from Jamestown Virginia. Almost in passing, he writes of his wife’s and brother’s earlier deaths. Illness kept him from “travel up and down the hills and dales for good mineralls of golde, silver, and copper. He seems to have died soon after sending his letter.

Maine, considered a part of Virginia at that time, was settled before Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 when Sir George Popham led a group of pioneer explorers to what is now midcoast Maine . But after just one winter spent on the gale buffeted ledges where the firs marched down the rocks to the  bitter Atlantic, the colonists decided this northernVirginia was too cold. They built a ship, called it “The Virginia,” and sailed back to England—thereby allowing the Jamestown colony to claim that they were the first permanent settlement on the East Coast.

Maine started a seafaring tradition on her coast that continues to this day. In the heyday of sail, the state boasted 250 shipbuilders. The wooden boats they build today still hold more cachet than their modern fiberglass replacements.

Immigrants, Diversity, and Medical History


Franz Eugen Kohler, kohler’s Medizin-Pflanzen Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

North America is filled with Immigrants

Although our pioneer forebears all came from somewhere else, we Americans  often consider ourselves to be the greatest in the world at everything. But as our population diversifies, we have learned that we are not.

I go in for complementary medicine. Massage. Meditation.  Acupuncture and Qi Gong. So I perked up when I read the following article. BIO-PIRACY: WHEN WESTERN FIRMS USURP EASTERN MEDICINE. Raj Choudhury and Tarun Khanna, Harvard Business school professors, examine the history of herbal patent applications, and challenge the stereotype that Western firms are innovators, while emerging markets are imitators.

Carmen Nobel, senior editor of Harvard’s Working Knowledge, begins her July, 2014 article: “In May 1995, two scientists at the University of Mississippi were granted an American patent for the use of turmeric to treat flesh wounds. Soon thereafter, an Indian research organization won a lawsuit challenging the novelty of the patent. As it turned out, Indians had been using turmeric as a wound ointment for thousands of years. The United States Patent and Trademark Office revoked the patent in 1997. Patents are supposed to be novel, but patent offices know little about the novelty of herbs.

I sprinkle turmeric and cinnamon on my family’s cereal. I take a daily turmeric capsule. Along with eating copious amounts of fruits and veggies, I swallow black elderberry syrup for coughs, and drink green tea.

I hope that these mysteries help my health. What are your favorite home remedies?

Seattle, Canada, and the Klondike Gold Rush


Prospectors ascending the Chilcoot Pass, 1898, courtesy Wikimedia Commons


100,000 prospectors joined the Klondike Gold Rush stampede between 1896 and 1899, most of them, embarking either from Seattle or San Francisco. They followed either the Chilcoot or White Pass trails to reach the Yukon River and wait for the ice to melt before they navigated the Klondike River to reach the gold fields.

Canadian authorities required the prospectors to bring a year’s supply of food, or they would have starved. Most of them spent the winter carrying their supplies, weighing close to a ton, in several trips over the passes themselves. Some, who fell, just careened back down the mountain.

My father, Hans Pederson, a pioneer Danish immigrant, was one of the 30,000 who actually reached the Yukon. After a bout of pneumonia, he did make it back to Seattle, although with empty pockets. He later bought stock in the Alaska Reindeer Company, and today I have several of his worthless stock certificates His partner, who was in more of a hurry to leave the Yukon,  abandoned Pederson and drowned when his ship sank on the way back to Seattle.

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