If you lose your ancestor in the 1890s, usually a man, and he never resurfaces, then this blog is may be for you. Always check Alaska and the Yukon, even if you have no reason to do so.
The Gold Rush Era (1896-99), also dubbed the Klondike Gold Rush, Yukon Gold Rush and the Alaska Gold Rush saw some 100,000 people descend into the wilderness prospecting. Miners overlapped between the Yukon and Alaska. There were gold rushes previous and afterwards, but 1896-99 was the core period of activity.
It was common for men to go to this last frontier for any number of reasons – including mining. There were dreamers, schemers, drop outs or those abandoning their families. Many dreamers found themselves busted and embarrassed to return home. So they stayed leaving everybody back home to wonder.
So how do you document these people? When approaching them, you must think in terms of the type of men we are talking about. They were the wild branches of your family tree, and they are on the move. There has been an effort to collect, inventory and index records documenting them.
On the Yukon side, diverse records in various databases would include newspaper accounts, church records, and steamship passenger’s list from Alaska. The two largest record collections can be found in the Yukon Archives and the Dawson City Museum & Historical Society. Each has different collections and databases. However, you can access the databases for both on a joint website: www.yukongenealogy.com
The Internet is an excellent place to learn about Alaska genealogy. The Alaska GenWeb Project has addresses, links, and databases: www.akgenweb.org The Fairbanks Genealogical Society has an incredible links section: www.fairbanksgenealogicalsociety.com The Alaska State Library has a “Finding Your Gold Rush Relative” which includes both Alaska and the Yukon: http://library.alaska.gov/hist/parham.html and the state archives has “Alaska’s Gold”: www.eed.state.ak.us/temp_lam_pages/library/goldrush/index.htm The Anchorage Genealogical Society also has a helpful website: www.anchoragegenealogy.org
Remember, finding these untrimmed branches of your family tree, may not be as difficult as you think. Look for compiled databases first online; then move to records still on deposit.