Orpha Loraine Stockard

Orpha Stockard was born in 1897 in Bois D’Arc, Missouri. She was somehow related to Virginia Alice Cottey who founded in 1884, the Cottey College for women in Nevada, Missouri. The College is currently owned and supported by the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a philanthropic women’s organization. Orpha followed in the footsteps of Virginia and became a teacher and taught here in Skagway in 1920 through at least 1929.
Orpha later acquired her doctorate and was president of Cottey College and wrote several books on education.
Seen above in 1940, she looks very prim. Orpha died on July 7, 1985 in Nevada, Missouri.

1920 and 1929 census; Social Security death index; cotter college site; wikipedia

New quilt top

Here you see them with a pretty peach border. Very Easter! If anyone knows the pattern name let me know!

Another Skagway quilt project

Here are the 16 little blocks I bought two weeks ago.

They were in pretty good shape, the only thing missing is the name of the block, but I’m still working on that.


So this is as far as I have gotten with those sorry blocks (called Seven Sisters) but I still have a border to do on this, but here it is. From the calico patterns I believe they date from the mid to late 19th Century. The blocks in the corners predate the center ones, the cotton feels crinkly as it may have some linen in it.

My other secret passion

Having written over 600 posts to this blog, dear readers, you may think I do nothing but historical research. But no, in fact I also have another hobby which I will now reveal: Quilting.
Although there is an excellent quilt store here in Skagway, open year round, Quilt Alaska, which is about 300 feet from my office, I actually specialize in antique quilts. Specifically, I do quilt rescue. I acquire old, barely recognizable antique quilt blocks and tops, and I tear them down to basic designs then I repair, clean and re-construct them.
I recently invited 10 ladies to stay with us for the Buckwheat Ski race and suddenly wondered if I had enough bedding for them all. So I counted my completed quilts. Would you believe 50? And another 15 completed quilt tops, not counting the infamous “unfinished objects” in storage. After I finish the top, I put it together with natural cotton batting and back and then handquilt it, which takes up to 6 months. If it is not an antique quilt top, I sometimes machine quilt it, but I hate to do that.
Anyway, I may photograph one someday and post it if anyone is interested.
Some ladies who only buy new fabric must think I’m mad to use 100-150 year old fabric to make a quilt, but as I am fixing and finishing the project I think of the poor woman who started the quilt but for whatever reason never finished it. Did she run out of fabric, move and lose it, or die before she finished? We will never know, but the pattern and the tiny stitches often tell a story in themselves.
I will enter one or two in the art show in April here in Skagway, with a story.
Ok, that’s all for now…. – Seen above is my latest acquisition in its sorry state, which I have already redone, I will post the transition tomorrow.

“Mother of the Klondike Missionaries”

Emilie Fortin was born on January 4, 1872 in Saint-Joseph-d’Alma, Quebec. When she was fifteen, her family emigrated to Cohoes, New York where she met Nolasque Tremblay whom she married on December 11, 1893. In 1894 she claimed to be the first white woman to have crossed the Chilkoot Pass, but was actually the fourth after Bell Healy, “Dutch Kate” Wilson, and Bridget Mannion who we met yesterday.
The couple spent the winter in Miller Creek in a little log cabin. That year, Émilie decided to invite the miners to share their Christmas dinner. On the menu was stuffed rabbit, roast caribou, boiled brown beans, King Oscar sardines, dried potatoes, butter and sourdough bread and prune pudding. Her reputation quickly spread throughout the Yukon. In the spring, Émilie and her husband made a garden on the roof of their cabin and harvested an abundance of radishes and lettuce. After a trip south, they came back by the Chilkoot pass in the middle of the Gold Rush. In 1906, they travelled in Europe for four months. Until 1913, Mr. and Mrs. Tremblay walked from one mining claim to another in the Klondike. Later, they settled in Dawson. She opened a women’s clothes store that is now an historic building.

Émilie Tremblay was a very courageous woman who distinguished herself by her social involvement and her devotion to others. She was the founder of the Ladies of the Golden North, President of the Yukon Women Pioneers and a life member of the Daughters of the Empire. The numerous medals that she received and some of her souvenirs were placed in the Saguenay Museum in Quebec. She was godmother to 25 children in addition to raising the daughter of her sister who was a widow with 9 children to feed. Émilie kept open house for travellers, missionaries and widows. Msgr Bunoz called Émilie the “mother of the Klondike missionnairies”. During the war, Émilie knitted 263 pairs of socks for soldiers, in addition to the ones she gave as gifts.
Her husband Jack died in 1935 so she visited her family and friends in Quebec and the United States.
She spent the last years of her life in a retirement home in Victoria, B.C.
Émilie Tremblay died on April 22, 1949, at the age of 77. In 1985, to commemorate her exceptional devotion to others, the authorities named the first francophone school in the Yukon École Émilie-Tremblay.
She is seen above.

Yukon Government website celebrating women in the Yukon; franco.ca; Gates; Acadian roots.com

The Queen of Alaska

Bridget Mannion was born on February 1, 1865 in Rosmuc, County Galway, Ireland. She emigrated in 1885 to St. Paul, Minnesota. Bridget worked as housekeeper for Seattle Pioneer Henry Yesler, before settling in Chicago, where she became cook to the wealthy family of Portus B. Weare, head of the North American Trading and Transportation Company which operated merchandise and transportation facilities in the Yukon. In 1892 her employer held a dinner party for Captain John J. Healy, another Irish born adventurer and his wife Bella. Whether it was the prospect of becoming wealthy or her innate sense of adventure, Bridget became determined to go to Alaska and persuaded the Healy’s to offer her a job as Mrs Healy’s maid. From the Healy trading post in Dyea, she moved up to the Yukon. By the winter of 1894-95 there were only twenty eight white women living in the Yukon amongst one thousand men. Unsurprisingly, Bridget received 150 proposals of marriage before she had got fifty miles up the Yukon, but it was Edward Aylward who would capture Bridget’s heart.

Edward Alyward was born in County Kilkenny, Ireland in November 1849 and emigrated to the US in 1867. He went mining for gold in Alaska in 1884 and in 1894 he met Bridget at a Yukon River Trading Post and convinced her to marry him. Their wedding was the first ever held in Fortymile, about 150 miles southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska.
Around 1900, Bridget and Edward left Alaska with their fortune and moved to live on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. A Seattle newspaper dated 3rd September 1896 carried an article about Bridget calling her the ‘Queen of Alaska’.
Edward died on 29th March 1914. He is buried in Seattle’s Calvary Cemetery. Following the deaths of her sister and a friend, Bridget longed for home. She acquired property in Rosmuc and eventually returned home to Ireland in 1948.
Bridget died at her beloved Turlough, Rosmuc, County Galway in January 1958, just weeks short of her 94th birthday. She is buried with her mother in Cill Eoin graveyard . Even in death her generous spirit lived on, and apart from bequests to family, neighbours and the local church, she set up a trust fund for the education of local children.


First woman over White Pass trail

On July 24, 1897 the Juneau Searchlight reported that a Mrs. Ed Lord claimed to be the first woman to climb the White Pass as she got off the Steamship Rustler. I believe that she was not married to Edward Eldridge Lord (born July 9, 1874) who traveled with his brother Joseph Lord (born July 31, 1864) of Hornitas, Mariposa County, California and maybe David S. Lord another brother. I think there was a mixup in the reporting and she was actually Clara Latchaw who was married to Joseph. They were part of a large family in Hornitas. Their father Samuel had come to California in the gold rush from England. So, despite the fact that they had two small children, they may have left them with family in California while they went to the Yukon.
Joseph’s obituary stated that he spent a year and a half in Alaska during the 1898 gold rush.

Edward died in 1957, Joseph in 1939, David in 1949 and Clara in 1960 – all in Fresno, California. Joseph and Clara are seen above.

Rootsweb; Yukon genealogy; familysearch; California death records; Juneau Searchlight

Doll of Dawson

Mae Field was born in Ramsey County Minnesota in 1873. Her birth name may have been Mary Lavinia Sullivan born June 20, 1873 in Ramsey but I can’t be sure. In any event, she was quite famous in the north. When she married Arthur Daniel Field in Hot Springs, South Dakota in 1897 she had already been married and divorced. Arthur was ten years older and had some wealth derived from bootlegging and brothels. The couple decided to go to Dawson to mine. They were able to get their mining equipment over the Chilkoot Trail, but lost most of it in Lake Lebarge in a storm. Arthur staked claims and got a liquor license, just in case the mining did not work out. Mae decided to return to balmy Minnesota for the winter. When she got to Skagway the only boat available was the somewhat dubious “Georgia” which she decided to take, despite no one else taking the chance. Her luck held, but on returning to Minnesota, her mother told her to go back to her husband. So she did. After many adventures and working as a nurse, a babysitter, and a dancer. She later had a rooming house, but she always seemed to live well and have money. She moved to Vancouver in 1911 after her husband left her and the Mounties found her in bed with an unmarried man. (Hmmm) Although they were never able to prove she was a prostitute, the Canadians imprisoned her for six months and told her to leave the country. She eventually settled in Ketchikan where she was living in the 1940’s helping the Sisters of Mercy, orphanages, friends and the poor.
Seen above, Mae Field during her Dawson days.

Good Time Girls of the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush by Morgan; Rebel Women of the Gold Rush by Mole; familysearch.