Place Published: Nenana
Date Published: 1917
Binding: No binding
A RARE & IMPORTANT LETTER FROM AN ISOLATED ALASKA MISSION
8 pages. Folded size: 4 x 6 inches, flat size: 6 x 8 inches. middle foldmarks. Not written in traditional page sequence. Dated: St. Mark's School Nenana, Alaska, Jan 15, 1917. Envelope, 6 x 4-1/8 inches with post-mark Nenana, Alaska, and a postal stamp with 4 bars dated 1917. No transit markings. In very good condition.
An important and interesting historical manuscript letter from an early missionary teacher in St. Mark's School in Nenana, Alaska to Miss Stella (calls her Francis) Lavallée, 1517 Portland Ave, St. Paul, Min. She was a friend known to the writer's mother and Jane both probably in St. Paul MN.
The writer "Tommy" was one of a number of missionaries / teachers, and he is currently stationed at the mission (Indian [Indigenous] School) to later leave to another mission in July/. He would be one of two or maybe three staff. The Residential School was the only one in the Alaskan interior. Nenana was a village and Athabaskan native settlement (population of 172 in 1910) located on the opposite side of the River.
This 8pp. letter describes to Francis a wonderful description of the incredible route to the mission from the Southern world. Starting in Seattle via steamer to Skagway, via the White Pass and Yukon Railroads (RR) and steamer to Dawson, by boat to Ft. (Fort) Selkirk and then on the church's steam launch for the final leg to the mission. Each segment was a major voyage unto itself. The writer describes "I respectfully said farewell to Walter and the really great man the conquer of this North's greatest mountain : Denali [Mount McKinley]." Also, the writer plans for a permanent posting from July 1917 in the most remote Arctic mission, "on the shores of the Arctic far away, the farthest north mission (Point Tigara). The land of whale blubber and seal oil".
St. Mark's mission was established by the Episcopal Church in 1905 as the Episcopal mission and Indian boarding school, by the legendary explorer (first to ascend Mt. Denali), Archideacon Hudson Stuck, near the confluence of the Tanana and Yukon rivers (15 minutes from the village of Nenana) to serve the native Athabaskan community and consisted of a log chapel, school, dormitory (accommodating 40 children) and small hospital. The discovery of gold in Fairbanks in 1902 brought intense activity to the region. In 1905, Rev. Charles E. Betticher, Jr joined Archideacon Hudson Stuck in Alaska as a missionary. They founded numerous missions in the Tanana Valley over the next decade: at Nenana (St. Mark's Mission and Tortella School at Nenana, the school in 1907), St. Barnabas at Chena Native Village, St. Luke's at Salcha, and St. Timothy's at Tanacross (near Tok, formerly known as the Tanana Crossing). All served the Alaska natives [Indigenous peoples] of the region. Tortella School was the only boarding school to serve native children [Indigenous children] the Church's only boarding school for native boys and girls [Indigenous children] in the Interior of Alaska. It was established and is maintained to educate and train native boys and girls [Indigenous children] in the fundamentals of the Christian faith. They are then returned to their own homes and communities to become teachers and leaders of their people. Parents are expected to pay something toward the support of the children. Sometimes this is paid in money, but more often in meat or firewood or work It was supported by scholarships and offerings raised by the Episcopal Church. It was staffed on a yearly basis (July-July) by an assortment of Church Deacons / Deaconnesses.
Very Good. Item #8723