Funter Bay History: An-Dis-Cla

June 15, 2018

While searching through the Alaska State Library’s collection, I found a portrait of an elderly Tlingit woman photographed in 1908 at Funter Bay. The photo is labeled “An-Dis-Cla”, presumably the woman’s name. I am assuming she worked at the cannery or was part of the seasonal Tlingit community nearby, as most of the photos from this collection are related to the cannery.

This photo is notable for a few reasons. The photographers Case and Draper took a number of photos at Funter Bay, but rarely if ever included the names of their subjects. They also photographed most of the cannery workers in groups rather than individually, the expense of glass negatives would make a personal portrait somewhat special. The other Tlingit women Case & Draper photographed also had a tendency to avoid eye contact with the camera, as mentioned here and in this book.

I have not been able to find anything about the woman shown in this photo. If any readers know more, I would be interested to hear it!

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Funter Bay History: Trolling in 1952

October 12, 2017

The Juneau Douglas City Museum provided this set of 1952 slides showing some commercial fishing at Funter Bay. Trolling doesn’t seem to have changed much since then! This set is from the Carl and Caroline Jensen collection, Accession # 2002.45. http://www.juneau.org/parkrec/museum/v_exhibit/exhibit4/e41293a.htm

Below we see Carl Jensen cleaning fish near the entrance of Funter Bay. A skein of salmon eggs is in his hand. The cannery and some other trollers are barely visible in the background:

These photos were taken near the end of the fish trap era. Traps competed with trollers such as the Jensens, catching fish on a much more destructive industrial scale. Below we see a cannery tender loading a scow from a floating trap:

And another view of a trap (possibly the same one) with a red watchman’s shack. A cannery employee would live at the trap to keep fish pirates from robbing it. Many commercial fishermen hated the traps and would steal fish from them if they got the chance!

Below we see the fishermen parked at the float at Funter Bay in the morning (based on the sun). Carl Jensen is seen picking herring from a net, likely set from the side of the boat overnight. These would be used as the day’s bait.

The herring threaded onto hooks can be seen a bucket below:

Whales, likely bubble-net feeding on small fish:

The lighthouse at Point Retreat, northern end of Admiralty Island:

Sunset at Funter Bay:

Thank you to the JDCM for helping me locate and scan these, and thanks to the Jensen family for donating this great documentation of fishing 60 years ago!


Funter Bay History: A Commemorative Plate

September 15, 2017

This somewhat mysterious artifact rests in the Juneau-Douglas City Museum’s collections. A fancy gold-edged plate or dish with a portrait of five Native Alaskan women from Funter Bay.

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The plate has no indication of when or why it was made, the only marks other than Museum collection numbers being a “Made in Germany” stamp on the bottom.

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The artwork is not attributed on the plate itself, but is clearly based on a 1907 Case & Draper photo from Funter Bay.

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plate5

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Case & Draper Photograph Collection, PCA 39

Whether the plate was commissioned by the Thlinket Packing Co, or by Case & Draper studios, or by someone else, I don’t know. I’m also not sure if it were a one-off product for a company executive or family member, or some mass-produced item sold as a souvenir or offered as advertising material. Such plates with Alaska scenes were sometimes commissioned by companies as advertising, but there is no company name on it.

The JDCM catalog notes that this was donated by Mamie and Marcus Jensen, and used by the Feusi family of Douglas.

I would love to find more information on this curious Funter Bay plate, if anyone knows more they are encouraged to contact me!

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Thanks again to the Juneau-Douglas City Museum for letting me see and photograph this artifact!

 

 


Funter Bay History: A 1919 Honeymoon Trip

July 20, 2017

One fascinating source of historic Alaska photos are the vacation albums created by past visitors. The Alaska State Library & Archives has several such albums donated by collectors and families of the original photographers. These provide a great cross section of historic Alaskan tourism, as well as a glimpse into the interests of the tourists (some photographed glaciers while others focused on wildlife and still others on industry).

An album from July of 1919 follows the journey of some newlyweds from Seattle to Southeast Alaska. Unfortunately the names of the couple is not known. They sailed on the steamship Admiral Evans, which made stops at the canneries in Funter Bay and nearby Hawk Inlet.

1919 Album 1

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

It’s not clear if the following photo of salmon on a cannery floor was taken at Funter or Hawk Inlet. Both canneries would have looked similar inside.

1919 Album 2

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

 

1919 Album 3

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

The next photo of the USS Marblehead is quite interesting. I mentioned the Marblehead’s anti-piracy visit and showed a postcard photo from a different angle in this post.

1919 Album 4

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

A newspaper article from Juneau mentioned the Marblehead that same month:

Marblehead article

Getting back to the photo album, a wider view shows the cannery with native worker village on the right, and a denuded small island in the foreground (probably Gauge Is.)

1919 Album 5

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

A pair of photos show the young couple taking turns posing in the woods at Funter Bay:

1919 Album 6

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

 

1919 Album 7

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

And finally, a shipboard photo as the steamer left Funter Bay:

1919 Album 8

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

If anyone happens to recognize these people, I would love to hear about it!


Funter Bay History: Annexation and Air Service

April 13, 2017

As with many small rural communities in Alaska, Funter Bay both benefits and suffers from the whims of government agencies. I recently became aware of some potential changes at the federal and local level that could soon affect residents and visitors.

Funter Bay lies in a curious administrative zone, the “Unorganized Borough”. Where most US states are fully divided into Counties, Alaska calls the equivalent division a Borough and is not fully subdivided. There are only 19 Boroughs in Alaska, holding most of the population. The rest is the Unorganized Borough, home to about 13% of the State’s residents. Wikipedia explains more here.

Legally, this means that small communities like Funter Bay do not have any county or city-level services, ordinances, or infrastructure. There is no sheriff, no road crew, no fire department, no ambulance, no schools, no zoning, no tax assessor. The state and Federal governments fill some of these roles on a minor scale. State surveyors can plat land, State Troopers enforce state laws, and the Coast Guard or Forest Service can respond to fires and rescues. It is worth noting that Alaska has no State-level personal income tax, the state’s services being theoretically funded by oil revenue. Alaskans pay Federal taxes and any municipal taxes that happen to be applicable.

Larger towns and cities occasionally expand their associated Boroughs in an effort to acquire more tax base, buildable land, hydropower sites, industries, and other resources. In some cases there have been competing claims and lawsuits by different cities over who gets choice parts of the unorganized borough.

Funter Bay has long been in the sights of planners at the City and Borough of Juneau, the closest major city. City planners proposed annexation of Funter Bay every few years with various seriousness, including 1994, 2006, and again in 2017. In the past, residents have successfully fought off these attempts, arguing that the city would collect taxes on their rural properties without providing any services in return.

 

The first Annexation attempt I remember was around 1994. Juneau was hungry for the nearby Greens Creek mine and its potential property tax. Haines and Skagway were also making noises about acquiring Greens Creek, and Funter Bay was close enough to be a natural inclusion in the boundary extension. The mine’s administration decided annexation was inevitable and not worth fighting, so they petitioned Juneau as preferable to Haines & Skagway. Funter Bay fought the process, and the mine was amazed and slightly chagrined that this turned out to be successful.

1994 CBJ Boundary certificate, after Greens Creek mine annexed

I can recall my parents discussing details with city administrators, one of whom mentioned that a “benefit” would be inclusion in the Juneau School district. My folks said something to the effect of “great, when will the school bus be here in the morning?” (Funter Bay has no roads and is at least an hour from Juneau by boat). Similar questions were raised about how we could call the fire department (cell phones were not yet available), and what utilities the city could provide to a remote island.

The 1994 Greens Creek annexation also upset the town of Angoon, farther South on Admiralty Island. Residents there felt that Juneau got the benefits of taxes and jobs, while Angoon got the chemical runoff from the mine into their traditional fishing grounds. (Article here).

Another major annexation study came in 2006. Several residents, including my sister Megan Emerson, wrote to the newspaper to express their opinions on the subject: http://juneauempire.com/stories/011006/let_20060110008.shtml

A number of other residents’ comments to the Study Commission can be found here. The full study file is below:

2007 CBJ Annexation Study Commission Final Report

One of the arguments repeated by Juneau planners was that outlying communities such as Funter Bay are “socially and economically dependent” on Juneau and should thus be part of the City and Borough of Juneau. My dad pointed out that Juneau is “socially and economically dependent” on Seattle, and by such logic Juneau should be part of King County Washington.

Whether, or when, Funter Bay becomes attached to a major municipality remains to be seen.

The second major issue that has recently popped up is the proposed defunding of Essential Air Service. This program was established in the 1970s to subsidize air travel to rural parts of the United States which would otherwise not be profitable. Currently 61 communities in Alaska use the program, with the state getting about $21 million out of $175 million nationally. Wikipedia has more details here and the US DOT has details here. Historical reports are here. An article about the possible end of federal funding is here.

Bush plane flights to Funter Bay are currently subsidized at $13,312/year under the EAS (contracted by Ward Air) per the DOT’s 2017 report. This not only helps travelers get cheaper “seat fare” on regularly scheduled planes, but ensures weekly delivery of mail to the community. Other benefits include mail-order groceries, medicine, hardware, parts, fuel, and anything else needed for off-grid life. Regular weekly air service was a hugely important part of life at Funter Bay, allowing residents such as my family to get fresh food all winter and keep in touch with the outside world. The weekly plane was a vital way to get back and forth to town when the weather prevented boat trips. Seat Fare on an mail flight might be under $100, while loss of the federal subsidy would require travelers to charter a plane at full price ($500 and up depending on plane size).

As a Federally-supported program, for which rural Alaskans do pay taxes towards, EAS is something that Funter Bay residents have fought to retain and improve in the past. There have been years where less reliable air carriers were contracted, or when funding and scheduling has fluctuated, but the program has remained a mainstay of rural life for this and many other Alaskan communities.


Funter Bay History: The Old Man’s Draft

December 8, 2015

During WWII, the government required all males age 18-64 to register for the draft. Registrations were conducted in several rounds, the fourth of which was for those age 45-64, often referred to  as  “The Old Man’s Draft”. Registrants of this age group were not expected to serve in the military, but to be on hand in case their labor or skills were needed for the war effort.

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Even small communities had a draft registrar, and in fact Funter Bay had two. Postmaster Harold Hargrave handled registrations for local fishermen and miners, while Pribilof Island internees were registered by Lee McMillan, a Fish & Wildlife Service employee. Registration for the 4th round was begun in April of 1942, Funter Bay registrations seem to have occurred between May and September. I have found records for 29 individuals registered at Funter (again, these were only men age 45-64).

I’ve typed up the records from these draft cards below. The name in parentheses is the person listed as “Person who will always know your address”, if there is no last name in parentheses it is the same as the man listed in that record. If the card is noted “Deceased” or similar, I have also noted that after the names. Spelling of some of the place names is taken from the cards and is not always correct or consistent. The date of birth listed on the cards may not be 100% accurate, as people did not always recall their exact age. The last line of each record is the employer or business listed on the card.

Draft registrants at Funter Bay for the 1942 Old Man’s Draft were:

Peter Bourdukofsky (Alexandra) -Deceased
Born 11/22/1879, Pribilof Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

John Fratis (Anfesa Galaktinonoff)
Born 6/18/1886, Pribilof Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Alexander Galanin (Mary) -Deceased
Born 9/11/1885, Pribilof Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

John Hanson (Frances Emanoff)
Born 4/7/1896, Pribilof Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Nekita Hapoff (Prascodia) -Deceased 9/6/43
Born 9/27/1888, Pribilof Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

John A Harold (Douglas Ainsworth)
Born Nov 29, 1877, “Calumete Michigan”
Fisherman – Funter Alaska

Ernest Samuel James (H.J. Hargrave)
Born May 3, 1896, Eureka California
Fisherman – Funter Alaska

John Irwin Lee (H.J. Hargrave)
Born March 7, 1880, Brown County So. Dakota
Fisherman – Funter Alaska

Walter Kashevarof (Helena)
Born 7/3/1887, Belkofsky Alaska
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Theodore Kochutin (Maria)
Born 11/1/1888, Pribilof Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Condrat Krukoff (Vassa)
Born 3/27/1890, Pribiliof Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Theodore Kulchitzky (Nicolai Merculieff)
Born 1/22/1885, Sevoroye, Russia
Priest of Russian Church, Funter (St. George Native Community)

Anatoly Lekanof (Agnes)
Born 4/15/1890, Pribiloff Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Serge Lekanof (Sophia)
Born 10/6/1891, Pribiloff Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Nekifer Mandregan (Alexandra)
Born 2/18/1896, Pribilof Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Nicolai Merculief (Angelina)
Born 5/18/1880, Pribiloff Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Stefan Merculief (Agrippina)
Born 9/27/1890, Pribiloff Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

John Merculief (Mouza)
Born 1/19/1890, Pribiloff Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Paul Merculieff (Alexandra)
Born 3/11/1890, Pribilof Island
F&WS Evacuation Camp

John Misikin (Natalia)
Born 9/28/1889, Pribilof Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Isidor Nederazof (Alexandra)
Born 2/5/1891, Pribiloff Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Paul Nozekof (Mary)
Born 7/11/1896
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Neil Oustigoff (Mary)
Born 9/30/1890, Pribilof Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Vlass Pankoff (Moisey Shabolin) -Deceased
Born 2/22/1888, Pribilof Island
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Radoica Lazov Pekovich (W.S.)
Born ?/?/1881, Montenegro
W.S. Pekovich, Funter Alaska

Leonty Philemonof (Eoff)
Born 5/6/1894, Pribiloff Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Vasilii Stepetin (Marva)
Born 2/8/1893, Pribilof Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Paul Swetzof (Julia)
Born 6/8/1892, Pribiloff Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

Zachar Tetoff (Daria)
Born 5/21/1879, Pribilof Islands
F&WS Evacuation Camp

 


Funter Bay History: Helen Antonova, Mining Engineer

May 28, 2015

One of the first women to graduate with a degree in Mine Engineering, Helen Anatolievna Antonova arrived at Funter Bay in the fall of 1929. Born in Russia in 1904, Antonova traveled through China and Japan with her mother before moving to the United States. Her early life was spent in Siberian mining towns, and despite early work in theater, she always dreamed of becoming a mining engineer. She enrolled in the University of Washington’s College of Mines, the only woman to do so at the time (though not the first in the US).

Antonova3

University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, Tyee 1928, pg 57. Courtesy UW Digital Archives.

As a female student in a traditionally male field, Antonova encountered much skepticism from officials and unfriendliness from classmates. She would later experience mistrust from coworkers (and their wives). Despite being told by the dean that no one would hire a woman for mine work, she led a successful career as a mine engineer, working throughout the US. On several occasions she was offered roles in theater and in Hollywood, but preferred surveying and assay work over acting.

After finishing her thesis and graduating in 1928, Antonova found a job with a mining company in Funter Bay. She recalled that the owner initially assumed her to be male, writing that he was surprised an engineer would have a woman’s name. Helen described Funter Bay as a small mining town, but noted that nothing could be purchased there. Despite its small size and remote location, Funter was home to a fellow female UW alumni. May Sophia Otteson (Tubbs) was a graduate of the class of 1916 and daughter of Charles and Mary Otteson, who ran another mine close to the one which employed Helen.

Conditions at Funter were spartan, a house was provided for Helen and her mother but was poorly insulated and had almost no supplies. The mine owner’s wife suggested they bring their own wood-burning stove with them. Groceries and goods were brought out on the weekly steamer from Juneau. Some medical care was available from a nurse living at the nearby cannery. Running water and electricity came from a waterfall, and stopped working during the winter. Helen took these conditions in stride, sometimes standing in icy water while surveying. The mine was reportedly very happy with Antonova’s work, and begged her to return after she moved back to Washington state.

Helen eventually married a Russian miner from Juneau (She mentioned that many Russian miners worked in Alaska, some sneaking over from Siberia illegally in rowboats). Her new husband became jealous of Helen’s superior position and income, and demanded they move back to Washington so he could pursue a degree of his own. She divorced him after his attitude and anger grew worse.

After moving back to the Lower 48, Helen held various jobs at mining and refining companies. She later married Nicholas All from New York (Her last name is sometimes listed as Antonovall). Helen Antonova All was interviewd in 1978 by author Joan Dufault, whose book Vintage: The Bold Survivors! contains more details of her life and experiences.