Located on the East side of Salmon River and North & East of the "Sunny Lee Farm" homestead (now Gustavus Inn) Gustavus, Alaska.
"Swanson's Place" was renamed the "Bear's Nest" when some of Bill & May White's children playing outside heard a threatening growl. As it turned out, there was reason to be concerned. There were bears a plenty, and the fence of chicken wire was put up by dad (Bill White) to be a perimeter of safety. So, when the growls turned into noises that suggested to the children that the fence was being broken in they ran as fast as they could to get inside.
Of course, the bear would be a really big bear, and they could not reach the door any too soon. Unfortunately, they had had their hands in soapy water (reportedly doing doll clothes laundry), and their slippery fingers could not open the doorknob. Mom, (May) who was on the inside with her hands in soapy water doing laundry also had a hard time rescuing the kids and could not open the door. Fortunately, mom grabbed a dry cloth, turned the knob in time for the near hysterical children to fall in.
The commotion was unbelievable, and May secured a large stick to pound out some noise of her own as much to get the children's attention as to scare the big, bad bear away. May gained the ears and imagination of the children when she proceeded to inform them that the house they lived in was really a "Bear's Nest" so that they would remember to be cautious at all times when playing outside.
From that day to this, "Swanson's Place" forever became fondly known and referred to as the "Bear's Nest". Was there really a bear that day? Well, yes, in fact there was. Bill White Sr. was plowing in the fields when he was distracted by the noise, and looked up to see the bear heading west towards Salmon River. In fact, it was reported that he had a job of his own calming the upset horse pulling his plow.
The bear fence was also the drying clothesline for the family. In the above photo, Anne (White) (Chase) Greggs' diapers will forever live on in infamy, as she had the good luck to be the infant in cloths at the time. In fact, she had just "arrived" in Juneau on November 6, 1927 and by mailboat to Gustavus, Alaska soon after. Then, being off-loaded from the boat, mom & baby arrived at the "Bear's Nest" through the snow by horse drawn toboggan.
Imagine the delight of her big brother and all of her sisters who could see them coming a long ways off. The ruckus of the children and dogs were probably remarkable, but there would have been only a few Gustavus residents scattered here and there to take notice.
GHAA Note: Three more White children were born after this story took place. None of Bill & May White's eventual 9 children were born at Strawberry Point or Gustavus, Alaska.