YAKUTAT HISTORICAL TIMELINE

(This timeline was created using correspondence between  Yakutat missionaries with the headquarters of the Swedish Evangelical Covenant Church, which is now just called the Evangelical Covenant Church.  While I lived in Chicago for two years, I visited the archives at North Park University more than a dozen times)

1877

The first known attempt to climb Mt. St. Elias was made by Professor Charles H. Taylor, of Chicago. He was accompanied by Lieutenant C. E. S. Wood of the United States Army.

1886

The unfortunate New York Times expedition, led by Lieutenant Schwatka did not succeed in reaching even the base mountain.

1887

Adolf Lydell and Exel E. Karlsson Arrive. Karlsson goes to Unalakleet. Lydell goes to Yakutat but returns to San Francisco that summer.

1888

(July 4th) Lydell returns with Karl Johan Hendrickson. Lydell returns to states at the end of summer due to health problems. Hendrickson stays.

(July) The Topham expedition, led by Messrs Topham of the Royal Geographic Society and Mr. William Williams of the National Geographic Society reached the height of 11, 460 feet.

1889

(May 11th) Rev. Albin Johnson arrives.

The Mission Covenant of Sweden hands over the Alaska Missions to the Swedish Mission Covenant of America.

1890

Professor Israel C. Russell with National Geographic Society attempts Mt. St. Elias; made it to 9,500 feet.

1891

Miss Agnes Wallin arrives, marries Johnson. Miss Selma Peterson arrives, stays until 1899? Agnes Carlson arrives but returns the same year because of illness.

Mission receives Steam-Saw in fall.

Hendrickson is given permission by Chicago to build a new mission “a place about 60 miles from Yakutat”. (The settlement at Dry Bay)

Yakutat Mission gladly accepts the government annual subsidy of 90 dollars for each child in children’s home and 30 dollars for children enrolled in day school.

Professor Russell makes a second attempt at Mt. St. Elias; this time reaching an altitude of 14,500 feet.

1893
January 8th. Children’s home burns-everything is lost. Hendrickson starts rebuilding with the help of the Saw.

New Mission is completed. New houses are built for village built with Missionary Saw Mill.

1896

Hilda Peterson arrives, but returns the next summer because her mother wanted her home.

1900

Mr. August Berggren arrives to be a school teacher, leaves in 1904. Hilda Anderson
arrives. Anderson leaves in 1902. Died January 27, 1903.

Influenza epidemic hits Alaska

1903

Miss Jennie Olson arrives as a school teacher.

1904

(Fall) Edward Anton Rasmuson (E. A. Rasmuson) arrives to be a teacher.

1905

(April 28) Edward Rasmuson marries Jennie Olson.

1906

Alaska Native Allotment Act passed

-This act, passed by Congress, gave Alaska Natives the right to choose up to 160 acres of land, which they occupied or used. Many of the allotments chosen during these years are rural, undeveloped fishing, hunting, and gathering sites.

1908

A temperance Society is organized with 40 members. It stipulated fines in case of violation of its rules.

1909

The Rasmuson’s give birth to a son named Elmer, the first non-native born in Yakutat. Elmer Rasmuson goes on to inherit his Dad’s banking business and builds up the Bank of Alaska from a struggling bank in to the largest bank in Alaska. Elmer died in 2000 at the age of 91.

Mrs. Rebekah B. Young arrives to be a teacher from San Rafael, CA.

1911

(July 1) Reverend E. M. Axelson arrives with his wife Nellie to be teachers.

1922
Dr. Hall Young’s first visit to Yakutat. He offers to take over Yakutat Mission.

E. B. Larson stays for almost a year in Yakutat before going to Unalakleet.

1912

Alaska becomes a territory with its own legislature

1917

The first boarding schools established by Catholic, Moravian, and Lutheran Churches.

1923

Miss Elsa Johnson makes a short visit.

1924

Alaska Natives become US citizens

-The first Native legislator, Tlingit lawyer William Paul, was voted into the Alaska Territorial Legislature, largely as a result of a drive for voter registration among Alaska Natives.

1925

Alaska Voter’s literacy act

-This act made it a requirement that all voters in the state of Alaska must be literate. This act served to prevent many Alaska Natives from participating in Alaska elections.

1926

K. J. Hendrickson visits Yakutat.

Alaska Native Townsite Act

-The Alaska Native Townsite Act permitted homesteading in lands in the immediate vicinity of Native Villages. The federal government also began to create reservations within the state of Alaska. Many of these reservations remained until the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

1929

10 people have died and 9 born. 2 adults and 7 children baptized. 1 Marriage and 2 divorces.

1930

The New England Fish Company starts business in Yakutat? Fishing is good. Salmon prices are 32 cents a pound.

Mission adopted the official name of “Covenant Thlinket Church”.

1931

The ANB holds its annual Convention in Yakutat for the first time.

An addition was built on the church (22 feet by 18 feet). This is a platform for the choir, organ and orchestra. The new addition was dedicated on Easter Sunday. A light plant was obtained with the help of the missionaries. A 50-horse power diesel engine. 35 KW generator that can provide power for the entire community.

The Forest Service builds a road from the old village to the new village, approximately 1 1/2 miles long. Estimated cost of $35,000.

Mission obtains a Maxwell Car.

Alaska School services builds a small hospital???

Native Education transferred from Bureau of Education to Bureau of Indian Affairs

A School convention with representatives from Christian groups in southern Alaska met and Axelson was a delegate.

1932

Salmon prices are very low, only 4 1/2 cents a pound for Salmon. The Civil Works Administration provides relief work during the winter in the amount of 10 thousand dollars.

1933

Fishing is poor. Few fish are caught and prices are low.

The Civil Works Administration spent nearly 10,000 dollars in “relief work” at Yakutat. The money was spent on “building streets, and beautifying the school and hospital grounds (we have an emergency hospital at Yakutat), the village as a whole benefited greatly through this work.

“Common deer” was planted under the CWA program.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs sent a shipment of reindeer meet which was distributed nearly free of charge.

Rev. H. Carlson visited from Rockford, Illinois.

1934

E. M. Axelson reports that that “The health of the Alaska natives is very poor, largely through the fearful ravages of tuberculosis.”
d
An economically difficult year for Yakutat.

Axelsons celebrate their 25-year Wedding anniversary. (Sept. 25th)

1935

85 enrolled in Sunday school, from “wee tots” to twenty years old.

“The fur catch was unusually light and the prices rather low, and there was very little of other work to be had.”

1936

Extension of Indian Reorganization act to the state of Alaska

-Six reservations were created through this act. Sixty-six Alaska Native villages and tow regional native entities were organized under this act.

The Alaskan Act

The secretary of the Interior intended to limit governmental powers to Native Councils on established Reservations.

1937

50 year Anniversary of Alaska Missions. Axelson writes article in the Covenant Weekly.

A good price was paid for the salmon this summer.

C.C.C. work was done through the winter.

About 20 young people left to attend school around Alaska.

Union Salmon works strike in Seattle.

1938

Commisioner Trefzger resigned after being taken to court.

A dry law for Indians only was introduced but was not passed.

Young people have left Yakutat to attend schools. 6 to Sitka Presbyterian School. 6 to Haines (Presbyterian?) school and 15 divided between the Government School in Wrangell and the Catholic School in Skagway.

The choir and string band is led by Wm. Benson.

8 children baptized. 8 died. 2 from “drinking poisonous liquor and one was shot and killed during a drunken brawl.”

1939

“During the fishing season several of the leaders in the Alaska Native Brotherhood…” came to Yakutat to fish. Two of them Presbyterian and one was Greek Catholic. Their presence had a positive effect on the townspeople.

Seven births, 8 deaths, 7 baptized. 4 marriages, 3 in the church.

E. M. Axelson was issued a license by the judge of the District Court in Juneau to marry people. This saved people money in having to go to Juneau. Axelson’s service was free, plus he gave a wedding gift of 5 dollars.

A good year from a “material standpoint”. Construction of a radio beacon here during the winter brought employment and good pay to many. Besides, the C. C. C. kept everyone busy all winter doing odd jobs around the village.

Axelson hoped for a water and sanitary system, but it was not built. “…the insanitary and health conditions of the people are largely due to lack of adequate water system.”

“The Native people of Yakutat have applied to the Secretary of Interior for a reservation.”

1940

Native majority displaced by non-natives in Alaska.

-Natives were the majority population prior to 1940. During World War II, they became a minority and today represent only 16% of the population.

T. M. Italio dies. “…he was singularly fitted as interpreter and always on had at the meetings. As interpreter he served since way back during the days of Johnson and Henrickson, a truly great Indian pioneer in the Christian work at Yakutat”

Mrs. Mary Shakokwan Jackson dies. “She has been with us from the beginning; one of the first converts, she kept the faith in season and out of season until the Lord took her home. Except in time of illness she never missed a meeting. She was always ready with prayers and testimony to glorify her Savior.

11 people died. 9 children baptized. 3 couples married.

Mail service is now from Seattle twice a month by commercial steamer.

Government transports are arriving every week with men and supplies. Construction on the landing field is in full swing. 250 enlisted army men have arrived.

The work on the radio beam station is finished.

1941

Stanley and Edla arrive to replace the Axelsons.

1946

Maynard Londborgs arrive to replace the Bensons.

1948

August – The Hedge Hamiltons arrive. Later, the Edward Johnsons fill in.

1954

The Yakutat Station is traded to the Presbyterians for one of their stations up north.