*Age 8 – Homesteading – On the Edge of Madness

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I was eight years old and in the 3rd grade this winter my mother pulled us out of school to teach us at home on our Alaskan homestead during the worst of the winter 1959-1960 as we were putting in our time for the ‘proving up’ requirements to get title to the land.  I will add photographs soon.

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December 23, 1959

To The “People” of Chugiak and Eagle River, c/o Mrs. Tuck:

I am writing this letter to you now because my son just informed me that you told Bill several weeks ago at the Market that “people were saying I wasn’t living on our homestead.”  Perhaps you can inform these “people” of the truth.  (These “people” are probably the ones who never would homestead on their own and just can’t believe that ‘a city gal’ like me has the nerve to live up here in the mountains in mid-winter with 4 children – well, how wrong they are!!)

We have been living here again since December 1st.  We had hoped to ‘set up residence’ weeks before then and had even moved back here but had to leave.  We did not notify the land office that we were living here until December 1st.

After I took the children out of school I taught the children and remained at the log house – we were still trying to get back up here.  We were not able to because our mile of mountain. road had glacial ice on it – deep ridges of ice had formed – making it impassable, even for a tractor.  We didn’t have enough food or oil at our homestead or we would have walked up the mountain road to get here.

Bill put bolts on the tractor treads and we were finally able to get back here.  The nite you saw John at the Market (a week ago Tuesday) we were barely able to get back.  (I like to ‘go out’ once a week to shop, wash, etc.) but we have not been out since even to Xmas shop.  We were stuck ½ way up our mile of mountain road in the middle of the nite for 3 hours!  It was 1:30 A.M. [before] we got home and we left the Market at 6:30 P.M.

Bill came up Sunday with supplies etc.  He arrived at the foot of the mountain at 7:30 A.M. and got home at 2:30 P.M.

The snow in places is up to my shoulders now.  The wind has blown for 48 hours and it’s a real experience to live in a canvas Jamesway in high winds – the sides flap and you feel as if it’s about to take off.  The snow has piled up in drifts – blowing across our fields like a desert.  Now the wind has ceased and it’s snowed all day again.  Bill hasn’t been up since Sunday and we expect him Thursday – but we never know!

Bill sleeps in the log house [in Eagle River] most of the time – as he’s working over-time.  The land office only requires the wife and family to live on the land.

We will have been here 6 months on January 1st and will remain here until total on February 1st.  (If I had my way I’d never leave!)

But there are hazards – if the children got sick I don’t know how we’d get out!  These last 2 days the snow has really piled up and it’s a long walk!

My mother sent us a transistor radio for Xmas and it’s our only contact with civilization.  Bill can now send a message to me over the ‘Mukluk Telegraph’ but I can’t contact anyone.

We have no desire to ever live elsewhere – than here – in the home we’ve created in the wilderness and will only because its location necessitates us to – but our hearts are here!

Strange for ‘a city gal’ like me to like living here?  Yes, but true.

And I now extend a personal invitation to all the “people” who say we’re not living here – (and everyone) to come and visit us – if they can!!!!!  We’re located 8 miles beyond the end of Eagle River [Homestead] Road – and 1 mile up – at 1500 feet elevation.  Any time will be fine, we’re always here!!

Come and see for yourself

Signed – A Homesteader

Mildred Lloyd

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These letters can be found in:

*December 1959 Mother’s Letters

contained in:

PRESENTING THE HOMESTEADING

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