History

of

Nome Census Area

Nome Census Area,

AKGenWeb

If you have any records to add or a correction, please send to Trish Elliott-Kashima

 

Early History of Alaska.

Paleolithic peoples came into Northwestern North American 16,000 to 10,000 BC across the Bering land bridge in Alaska.  Alasks was populated by the Inuit and some Native American peoples.  Early Alaskans are divided into the following main groups: Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Athabascans, Aleut and Inupiat and Yup'ik. **I would like more information on the early peoples of the Nome Census area. Please contact me**

The next settlers came many thousands of years later - The Russians - who came in the fourth quarter of the

1700's for the purpose of trading furs.  Some of the traders were peaceful but many were not and spread deadly

Old World diseases which killed many of the Native populations.  The Russians brought Missionaries of the

Russian Orthodox Church. Britain had a few scattered settlements on the coast but not many.  The Hudson's

Bay Company had settlements at Fort Yukon, Fort Durham and Fort Stikine.

 

Finally conditions improved for the Native Alaskans during the mid 1800's and their populations rebounded for most.

 

The Alaska Purchase

(aka Seward's Folly)

Russia wanted to sell its Alaskan territory, thinking that it might be seized if war broke out between Russia and the United Kingdom. America purchased the land, adding 586,412 square miles of new area to the United States.  The purchase price worked out to be about two cents per acre.

 The 7.2 million dollar check that was used to pay for Alaska, dated Aug 1, 1868 is shown at right. 

The "Three Lucky Swedes"

 

They were the Discoverers of the Nome Gold Fields 23 April 1898.  John Brynteson, Jafet Lindeberg and E O Lindblom.  They were actually two Swedes and Lindeberg was Norweigen. Their discovery was at Anvil Creek. Nome was originally called Anvil City for that reason. Nome's name was finally changed when it drew its name from Cape Nome which was shown on maps as early as the 1850s.

 

The men found themselves embroiled in a legal battle over their claims, because of their nationality.  A Corrupt Judge and illegal claim jumpers just added to the problem.  Brynteson, Lindeberg and Lindblom persevered and their Pioneer Mining Company took in over $20 million in gold.  Two Eskimo boys, Constantine Uparazuck and Gabriel Adams, are credited with showing them where the gold could be found.

 

The "Stampede to Nome" happened in the winter of 1899-1900 after word was printed in the Klondike Nugget June 1899 about the discovery in the Cape Nome area.  Thousands came to Nome by foot, dogsled and bicycle to search for gold.  By 1900 over 20,000 prospectors arrived which was 1/3 of the white population in Alaska at that time.

Women's Home Missionary Society in Alaska

The Hilah Seward Industrial Home was at Sinuk.  Sinuk was a small native village about 30 miles northwest of Nome.  The mission was founded in 1906.  A mission boat called the "New Jersey" was sent in 1910. The boat helped in the first walrus hunt for the Home bringing 14 walruses which gave the natives a good supply of meat for the winter.  The boat was lost in a storm in October 1915 and was replaced by the "Jewel Guard". 

The Lavinia Wallace Young Mission at Nome was founded in 1911 and includes a home for the missionary's family, a wooden church building which seats 300, a gymnasium, a carpenters shop and a social hall.  They keep fourteen dogs and sleds so they can attend to freighting and messenger service.

Source: The Women's Home Missionary Society in Alaska by Anabelle Kent, ca 1920

Spanish Flu Outbreak, 1918

In 1918 there was an outbreak of the Spanish flu which killed 72 out of 80 residents in a 5 day period at Brevig Mission alone.  The virus was brought to Nome when a passenger carried the virus there on the last steamship of the season.  Natives had no chance of immunity against this virus - nor did many others. This virus killed over 50 million people worldwide in about 15 months time.  The Alaskan territorial government hired gold miners from Nome to travel to the flu ravaged towns to bury the dead. More than 1,200 people died on the Seward Peninsula. 

With permission of Inupiat elders at Brevig Mission in 2005,  Pathologist Johan Hultin was able to successfully extract RNA of the virus by exhuming the body of a Inuit woman who had been buried and preserved in the permafrost in a gravesite.

Iditarod Trail and the Diptheria Outbreak, 1925

 

      

Balto and the team of dogs that brought the medicine on the last leg of the journey to Nome, 1925

 

In 1908 the Alaska Road Commission started to open an overland route called the Iditarod Trail

which was completed  in 1911 by crews working through the winter.  Nome is usually icebound from November to

July so this trail was very necessary.

 

The Iditarod Trail was important but became even more important in January 1925 when a Diptheria epidemic broke

out  in Nome.  They did not have enough medication on hand.  Dr Curtis Welch was Nome's only Dr then, and telegraphed  Fairbanks, Anchorage, Seward and Juneau to get more medication.  Anchorage had some - but

how to get it to Nome? They could not send by boat.  There were no railroads or conventional roads linking

Nome to the rest of Alaska.  There were a few airplanes in Alaska at the time, but they could not fly.  So, the

only method left was dog sleds.  Usually the dog teams could only travel 6 miles per hour.  Normally that distance would take a team a month to go that far.  They decided  to organize a relay of mushers to take the insulated

cylinder of medicine and the serum arrived about a week later  in Nome.  Now the Iditarod race which takes place

every year commemorates that 674 mile relay from Nenana to Nome.

 

More coming

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This page was last updated on -02/16/2018

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