“This is one of the best, if not the best, biographies ever published on the gold rush era.”
The Bloomsbury Review
If Horatio Alger had imagined a female heroine in the same mold as one of the young male heroes in his rags-to-riches stories, she would have looked like Belinda Mulrooney. Smart, ambitious, competitive, and courageous, Belinda Mulrooney was destined through her legendary pioneering in the wilds of the Yukon basin to found towns and many businesses. She built two fortunes, supported her family, was an ally to other working women, and triumphed in what was considered a man's world.
In Staking Her Claim, Melanie Mayer and Robert N. DeArmond provide a faithful and comprehensive portrait of this unique character in North American frontier history. Their exhaustive research has resulted in a sweeping saga of determination and will, tempered by disaster and opportunity.
Like any good Horatio Alger hero, Belinda overcame the challenges that confronted her, including poverty, prejudice, a lack of schooling, and the early loss of parents. Her travels took her from her native Ireland as a young girl to a coal town in Pennsylvania to Chicago, San Francisco, and finally, in 1897, to the Yukon.
Staking Her Claim is a testament to the human spirit and to the idea of the frontier. It is a biography of a woman who made her own way in the world and in doing so left an indelible mark.
Melanie J. Mayer is a professor of psychology and psychobiology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. More info →
Robert N. DeArmond is the author of numerous books on Alaska history. He lives in Sitka, Alaska. More info →
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Lenore McComas Coberly has woven together a bittersweet community of strong Appalachian women and men in this remarkable collection. Moving and joyful, these stories are made from the stuff of life.
In 1898 men and women from all over the world converged on Alaska. Gold had been discovered. In the Yukon Territory, all winter long eager gold seekers struggled over the mountain passes connecting Canada with the United States. A small group of photographers chronicled this epic, creating images of men and women laboring through blinding snowstorms over the windswept, ice-covered mountains. One of that group was a young Swedish immigrant by the name of P. E. Larson.
At the age of 27, Fannie Sedlacek left her Bohemian homestead in Nebraska to join the gold rush to the Klondike. From the Klondike to the Tanana, Fannie continued north, finally settling in Katishna near Mount McKinley. This woman, later known as Fannie Quigley, became a prospector who staked her own claims and a cook who ran a roadhouse. She hunted and trapped and thrived for nearly forty years in an environment that others found unbearable.