First "White" settlers to homestead at Strawberry Point, Alaska.
Intrigued by a chance encounter with an old sea captain in Seattle in 1913, these three sets of friends, all in their early 20's, put their heads together, got their finances lined up (John Davis provided the bank in exchange for first choice of land should they decide to stay) and in spring of 1914 sent off an "advance team" to confirm the validity of the old captain's tales.
Verne Henry and Bill Taggart were the first to arrive and evaluate the homesteading possibilities. They hiked the "flats" and liked what they saw. Their main concern was whether or not they would be able to grow the necessary produce to survive, and along with raising cattle, have enough meat and vegetables to sell. The nearby canneries were a plus and would provide a market for the bounty of their land. John Davis arrived to pronounce the final word. He agreed that the possibilities of success in this beautiful new land called Strawberry Point outweighed the risks. They would band together and follow the pursuit of homesteading the land.
But first, there were plans of a different sort to be carried out. There was some marrying to do, as the Taggarts were the only couple who already had "tied the knot". John had to travel to the midwest to marry Bernice while Verne waited for Janie to arrive in Juneau. Not a minute was lost. The day she arrived, June 26, 1914 they were married. And just in time for the entire group to depart Juneau with all their supplies aboard a hired fishing boat, for better or worse, on the way to their new home at Strawberry Point, Alaska.
Put off the ship in foul weather onto their small, gasoline-driven skiff, they motored up Salmon River to where the advance team had a lone tent waiting. Two more tents were hurriedly set up and the first settlement at Strawberry Point, Alaska was established. The location of this first settlement is approximately on the site of Lee & Linda Parker's cabin today (2007).
There was a certain amount of fear and uncertainty, particularly among the new wives. And there was a great deal of necessary adjustment to a life with only the most basic of amenities. In addition, there were wild animals, which meant that the ladies had to learn to handle guns. Native Indians that navigated Salmon River to access their fishing camp upriver were at first perceived as a threat and later accepted as friends. But the one thing they unanimously reported in later years was how exciting and fun their adventures turned out to be.
There was a "first" time for everything and steady cause for celebration. There was the great joy of achievement and at times the great disappointment of defeat. There were entire harvests of crops lost. And as careful as they had planned their adventure, unexpected pregnancies (all three) made the couples doubt the wisdom of raising small children in such a wild, untamed land. In the end, there would be the most devastating news of all. After years of hard and determined work---a rejected homestead application caused the Henrys to reconsider their commitment to living in such a remote and unpredictable place.
But before all this could happen, there was a log home to build---a communal structure that would provide the three couples with shelter for that very first winter of 1914. Ready or not, with no other human beings in the entire area, and no communications if they changed their minds, they were alone at Strawberry "Flats".......Click here for more details.