Lepha Mae Mary Bennett Edgren


Lepha was the daughter of Captain James Bennett. In October of 1897 she threatened to shoot a man in Skagway who was abusing his dogs.

She married Jesse L. Edgren and moved to Dawson where she had a baby, Mae Eldorado Edgren in December 1898. Unfortunately Lepha died of typhoid January 6, 1899, leaving Jessie with newborn Mae. Jessie took the baby back to Wisconsin to the grandparents. He then died there in Hennepin, Wisconsin in 1915. There is a record in the Fairbanks newspaper that Mae Eldorado Edgren died in 1921 perhaps in Alaska, so it would seem the family suffered another Alaska tragedy.
This photo of Lepha’s funeral procession led by her faithful dog team was probably taken by Larss.

from: Mills p. 14; Larss photo at AK State Library; Andromeda Romano-Lax “Mothers of Gold” 1997.

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7 Replies to “Lepha Mae Mary Bennett Edgren”

  1. My husband, John Bladholm, is the son of Mae Eldorado Edgren’s stepsister, Florence Buck Bladholm. Florence’s mother married Jesse Ledgren in October 1909. We have original source material and photos of Jesse Lewis and Lepha Mae Edgren’s life and times in the Yukon. For the record, Jesse Edgren did not bring the baby home to her grandparents in Madison as he had planned because he was in too much debt to leave the area until later. The baby was brought out of the Yukon at age six months the help of an Indian lady and family friends to Seattle from where her aunt Ella Bennett Bresee brought her to Madison. Mae Eldorado Edgren was born December 22, 1898 and died August 28, 1921, in Wisconsin of tuberculosis and is buried with her father and stepmother Minnie Myrtle Shimer Buck Edgren in Forest Hills Cemetery in Madison, Wisconsin.

    1. Thanks Ann, I will do a new blog on that story, another sad chapter, I am sorry to hear. Today I am off to Yosemite for a couple of days, so will work on this when I get back! Thanks so much for writing!

      1. Thank you for your interest. Adding to the drama and loss, in addition to her mother dying on January 3, not 9, less than two weeks after her birth, Mae Eldorado’s father Jesse died June 1, 1915 of either lockjaw as his nephew wrote or lymphomeningitis as stated by Forest Hills Cemetery. Her stepsister Florence Buck Bladholm (June 13, 1897 – April 4, 1987) thus suffered the loss of her stepfather and stepsister and then her mother Minnie Myrtle Buck Edgren also of TB on Sept. 23, 1922, a year after Mae Eldorado’s death. Florence never talked about this with her children, but we found the information after her death half hidden in the attic rafters. We have a baby book kept by Mae Eldorado’s caretaker at first in Dawson City, Dr. Mary Mosher, and then by her aunt as a young child in Madison. If interested, I can scan and forward my transcription of this gripping tale and narrative when you’re back from Yosemite.

        Also, Jesse Lewis Edgren was from Monroe WI, and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison at the same time that Lepha Mae Bennett was studying pharmacology there for three years. Jesse became a lawyer in 1896. He died in Hennepin County, Wisconsin. He was born in 1875 and we believe Lepha Mae Bennett was born the same year. We’re still working on precise dates as the Edgren Collection at the Alaska State Library along with other source materials on the Internet have just come to our recent attention.

  2. Thank you for your email, Marlene. Please send me yours and I will forward my transcript of the Mae Eldorado Edgen Baby Book along with scans of some photos. One is a lovely large studio portrait of Lepha Mae in Seattle, undated, but presumably on their way to Alaska and the Yukon. Additional research has found an obituary for Jesse Lewis in the 1915 University of Wisconsin Alumni Magazine. He was born September 29, 1874 and died June 1, 1915 in Minneapolis. Lepha Mae was in the class of 1898 and must have dropped out after her third year to and marry and move with Jesse. Jesse’s sister, Dottie Josephine Edgen, also graduated from UW, as did a Carrie J. “Amanda” Edgren who married Otto A. Oestreich.

    The Alaska State Library has the Edgren Collection which was donated by Jesse’s nephew to the Wisconsin State Historical Society which in turn donated it to Alaska at:
    http://education.alaska.gov/temp_lam_pages/library/gold/browseaction.cfm?CID=Jesse%20L.%20and%20Mae%20Bennett%20Edgren%20papers%2C%201896-1921#

    Lepha Mae’s letters home to Dottie, the only person the couple told about her pregnancy and swore to secrecy, addressed her as ‘sister,’ like Jesse addressed her parents, Capt. James and Bertha Bennett, as ‘father and mother.’ Capt. Jack Crawford, the poet scout, and Capt. Bennett had served together in the Civil War. Capt. Jack was Mae Eldorado’s “first and most loyal friend.”

    1. We are preparing a series of biographical sketches of early individuals in Dawson City at the time of the Klondike Gold Rush.
      Of particular interest is Mae Eldorado Edgren. Upon completion this project will be donated to Yukon Archives in Whitehorse, and the Klondike History in Dawson City. If possible, we would very much appreciate a copy of the Mae Eldorado Edgren Baby Book. We will be pleased to reimburse you for any costs of copying and postage.

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