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Colonist Letters from Evelyn Emberg


Letter #10

1                                                                                                                                                                              May 19, 1935.

Dear Mother, Florence, Dorothy, Clara, Loretta, James, Tommy, Kay, Joyce and all my Brother-in-Laws.

                Just a line to let you you [sic] all know I am still alive and well. We are in alaska and we had a great time coming. I suppose you’ve read most of it in the papers. Have you seen any of our pictures in newspapers or newsreels. We had them taken about 50 times. Once on the boat they took a close up of Dixie crying as hard as she could cried with a movie camera and Our big black Police dog with a life preserver on with Sonny, and Sonny has his picture taken with the mayor of Frisco.

                We’ve had bands meet us at every depot and reporters and newspaper men bother us to death. There was so much that I could write about that I could make a book on the subject But I won’t.

                This country has no igloos or Eskimos.

                It’s the same as Minnesota where we are of course that’s nothing to brag about.

                We are expect [sic] 136 families pretty soon and then we will draw for our land.

                We have been real comfortable and have plenty to eat although prices are sky high. Milk is 26₵  a gt. and eggs 40₵ a dozen. Potatoes $3.00 a bushel. 1 pig is worth $100 a piece. The shows are 50₵ a piece for the cheapest one in Alaska. a 10₵ tablet is 25₵ here clothes are way up: but every one here is well dressed and well fed and has money to spend when we were in Seward Alaska we had all the beer we could drink and never spent one cent.

                Old prospectors and farmers treated us and did they ever have rolls of money. You should see it. They don’t know what relief is here.

                We get mail once a week. A boat comes in a least once a week and believe me we like to get mail. It makes me so lonesome to see other folks getting letters and not me. I daren’t think of you all to much because I’d get to [sic] lonesome, up to now I’ve been to [sic] busy. I’ve made a lot of friends since I came and of [sic] met a lot of nice people. We give dance’s [sic] every week and believe me I go to. If George don’t feel like it he has to stay home: Because he promised I could go when he came.

                We live in tents all on one piece of ground and they call it Valley City: We have a Nurse in Doctor and small Hospital also recreation of all sorts, a baseball team and gossip club.

                We have no garden yet. They say there are 3 men to every woman here and most of the women [cutoff]


Letter #11

1                                                                                                                                                                              Palmer Alaska

Aug 27, 1935

Dear Mother.

                Just a few lines to let you know I am still O.K.

                We are getting along swell. Our house is built and it is a cute 5 room bungalow. We have sent for $325 worth of furniture and will get a radio washing machine heatrola [sic] and sewing machine if nesseccary [sic]. I wish I hadn’t brought mine I should have left [sic] Hatty had it. I mean the sewing machine. We have been selling milk at 15₵ a gt. about 20 qts a day or more as George has two cows. We have no expenses so we sav every cent almost and we now have $45 saved and it grows everyday. Boy its swell to just save money. George says he will go home as soon as we can save enough which will be in at least 3 yrs I hope but at the rate we are going it wont [sic] take ling we may even may it next spring. If the winter is to [sic] long and lonesome.


                George don’t like it and he says we will live here in our house and use our furniture until the payments comes due and then we will pocket what ever we make if any and go back to the states.

                They haven’t really treated us fair here. They take all they can away from us and every time the colonist [sic] want any thing we have to get together and demand it. Such as the [illegible] and washing machines. We’ve been promised them since before we started and they’ve put us off so many times and finally said we couldn’t have them at all so the colonists held meetings and hollered so much they finally sent for them and every little thing we get we have to holler almost at least two months ahead for it. I am sending you some snaps of us and our house I’ve had these for some time but neglected to send them. We could come home now with the rest but we are making a little money so we may as well stick at least this winter George entends [sic] cut pulp wood this winter and trap. Also Tru will be here we think and he will prospects and you can never tell what he’ll find We were up to the Lucky Shot Gold Mine and I seen Gold and more gold. I seen more gold than I’ll ever see again. If Jimmy was here he could make $100 a month and board easy and he might have had chance to work in his art a little. I wish I had some way I could get him here. But still this a long way to come and he is so young yet. Besides no one knows how long it will last. The colonist [sic] sometimes think this thing is a going to break up some time and not far off.

                But I don’t think so. They’ve sunk too much money in it.

                Some good friends of ours are going back tomorrow and they are going to take our letters as far as Seattle, and mail them there They will get to you quicker.

There names are Cook from Cass County Minn. They have seven children. We know most of them that’s gone back already

I got a Card from Florence and a letter from Hatty and Dorothy no one ever answers any questions I ever ask. I am a going to send you some money for Xmas. I don’t know how much But enough to buy yourself a nice present. That’s something I’ve wanted to do since I’ve been married but I’ve always had to give you a dollar or 50₵ present.

I don’t want anyone to plan on sending us anything because we get new things every single day and we have plenty more then any of you got. I tell you so far a head so you’ll know I mean it.

                The postage is so high it will eat any thing you have up so you won’t know how you could send t.

Ain’t this a terrible letter I am hurring [sic] so much.

                Mother write and tell me wether [sic] you get this letter or not. You could write this once or make the kids. I may send you something and if I do I want to know if you get it or I won’t bother to send any more things. I sent one package and no one wrote and said you got it and they’ve had plenty chance to. It should have got there about the 8th of Aug.

                We have kerosene mantle lamps now and we have every convenience possible. I’m well off and I don’t want anyone to worry about me. I don’t hate it at all but of course I get lonesome. I do worry about you a lot so you ought to at least write one letter I haven’t had one line from you since I seen you in Milwaukee.

                Good by and love to all of you from all of us         Evelyn & Geo.


Letter #12

Palmer Alaska

Sept  Sept, 8, 1935

Dear Mother.

                I will write a few lines and tell you how glad I was to hear from you. I had given up hopes: I hope you write again even if you make one of the kids write for you. I was sorry to hear you had some trouble with Hank. He is a dam [sic] fool and should be made to see it. I wouldn’t worry about him. If he can’t treat you decent its better if he stays away. She needs her pants kicked too.

                It makes my blood boil. You do to [sic] much for other people mother. That’s why you’re so hard up. I am going to help you a little now and then as much as I can. I sent five dollars to you. I suppose you’ve got it and I want to send more as often as I can. I hope it cheered you up a little I have a little money but I am trying to get enough to put away as I won’t feel bound to stay here. Then I will come back when I feel like it. If we come before May they pay our transportation but after that we pay our own. We have been selling milk to earn the cash as we have two cows. I haven’t learned to milk yet and have no intentions to [sic] but I do everything else to help with it.

                We have also 2 calves and a pig and are going to get a horse. We sent for a saddle and I am going to learn to ride.

                Sonny is crazy about it. Boy he’s in heaven but sis gets lonesome. She talks of all of you. She remembers every one. I am as fat as ever and getting to be so darn farmerish. I wear pants most of the time. If it ain’t britches its overalls and if not over alls its slacks. I have more clothes than I know what to do with except dresses. I am going to send for a couple soon.

                I get more darn things. Every day I get new kitchen ware or new house hold equipment. You don’t realize how much we are getting.

                My furniture will be here in 2 weeks. It cost $325 with but freight and besides I got a gas washers, a gas iron, battery radio and brand new sewing machine.

                We would be crazy to go back this year but don’t worry. I don’t intend to stay for very long.

                If some of you were here it would be O.K. I’d never dream of going. I’m sure I can help you a lot after awhile and maybe I could manage to get Jim up here and he’d get a good steady job as easy as pie with good pay.

                George’s brothers both plan on coming.

                I’m sending a picture of our house. It’s just been finished and there are no trimmings on it yet but its well built and close to town. I’ve walked in every day since I’ve came out here which was the 1st of Sept. I know all my neighbors but they [sic] only trouble is they all go to bed to [sic] early and I like to sit up.

                There Alaskan women are so tough. Boy, they drink smoke and swear just like men. They get so they even look like men.

                Beer costs 25₵ a bottle here and I don’t see much of it but I do get hungry for it. I have to write to Dorothy yet so I better save a little of this for her. I suppose you both read it any way. I scribble so fast that I doubt wether [sic] its readable.

                I hop you feel well. I don’t want any thing to happen before I get back so take care of yourself and don’t work to [sic] hard. I hope you don’t have some one else come that will cost you dough. How is Carl any way. Did he hate to go back. Its terrible to have your family all broke up like that. Does Mary take good care of that baby. Well good by Mother and love to all the kids   Evelyn


Letter #13

Palmer Alaska

Oct 2, 1935

Dear Mother,

                I received a letter from Flo dated the tenth and she didn’t mention the five dollars I sent you so I’ve been wondering if you received it. I had it registered it should of been there about the 14th. I’m sending another little bit in this letter. I want to help you a little while I can. We are doing pretty good now. We have saved up about [illegible] dollars but George loaned his brother $35 dollars today to get up here with so its down again but I expect to get that back as I know we can get him a job here.

                We are all well and I am receiving the things I ordered. I’m sending a few pictures of the things I got. I also got the swellest washing machine boy its dandy and we have a 10 tube silvertone radio. We also have a heatrola coming. I have two sets of dishes a set of silverware, a set of glassware, a dinette, a living room set a desk, a studio couch 2 rugs 3 linoleums. I have more things than I know what to do with. At Christmas time I’m going to send a box of things I have that I can’t use I don’t want to send it before because I may get in trouble here.

                We are getting along pretty good and I have 12 cases of canned fruits and vegetables 3 cases of canned meat besides loads of staples put away as we won’t get hungry. They told us to buy all we would need on account of the strike that is going on. My house ain’t finished on the inside so I haven’t put my things up yet and I can hardly wait . I just want you to know I’m all right so you wont worry you know I must be pretty well off or I wouldn’t be able to send you money. I never could before [illegible] I hope I can send more later. I like to save as much as I can so I can feel like I am not stuck here all though they will send us back any time until our year is up but a person hates to leave all the nice thing right away.

                I was going to save all these five dollars and send you the whole sum for christmas but I think you can use it now as well as then.

                I got a letter from Hatty yesterday the second since I’ve been here. I was overjoyed to hear from Dorothy so often and also very glad. You don’t know how much these letters are to me. It is just like the picture Florence sent me we wait in line for an hour and some wait for hours [illegible] letters from home. I am in the picture and so are some very good friends of mine. Well mother I got so many letters to write I have to cut this one short so I’ll close here with all my love to you and the rest  Evelyn


Letter #14

Palmer Alaska

Oct 3, 1935

Dear Dorothy

                I was glad to hear from you again I’ve gotten all your letters I guess only it takes an awful long time for letters to get here and back on less [sic] you hit the boat just right with the letter it takes about 2 weeks each way. Well Im glad to here that things aren’t as bad as they were. Wonder if Mary came back yet. I suppose Hank will run after her. I feel sorry for him though I guess he deserves it. Does he still drink. And Earl sure is the berries. I’ve been wondering if those kids wouldn’t be better off if he didn’t let them go seeing as how he acts. The poor kids. I suppose he leaves them alone a lot and of course they would be scared and lonesome and that’s a terrible life. I feel so sorry for them kids. I wish I could take one up here. Earl certainly don’t deserve to have them. Is he mean to them at all. What did he do with the babie [sic]. I don’t think any of you should take any more kids you sure are doing more than your share. Well theres not much to say about myself except that I’m fatter than ever and I’m ashamed of myself cause I eat to [sic] much. Sonny only gets to school once a week now as the school here hasn’t been built yet Sis won’t get to go at all as they don’t have any kindergarten this year and that hurts her.

                She wants to go so bad.

                You sure made an impression on her. She remembers you so well and the other day I was talking about you to her and she said “Gee I like Aunt Dorothy, she’s so nice to me.” She said she’s going come back pretty soon. Sonny likes it here but he’s afraid of the bears and everybody claims they’ve seen them at some time or another, but I never had seen one so far. My very good friend Mrs. Rossiter had twin girls the other day. Hank is a nephew of Uncle Jim.

We were all surprised –

Truman will be here soon and I am glad too. Any one from home seems good to me.

I could send for Jim but if he did come he maybe wouldn’t like it and he would have a hard time to get back again.

But he could get a pretty good job. We are having more darkness every day. Now it turns dark about 5:30 and gets light about 6 o’clock in the morning later on it will be dark for all but about 3 hours but that only last about 2 weeks thank the Lord. We see the Northern lights here and there so pretty. We don’t know yet how long we’ll be here but it will be until spring any way. Well I get 8 letters to write tonite so I must cut this short but I’ll write again soon and more too. So with my love I say goodby [sic]



Letter #15


Oct 6

Dear Dot I got your second letter yesterday so I will add these few lines. I’ve been sick in bed but I’m up today and feel better. I’m sending for myself a dress and and shoes today as I have been invited to so many parties I can’t wear the same dress every time. Say I have some nice material here to make a suit with if some one would trade me for a dress. I’d sure trade as I can’t sew good and I [illegible] spoil the goods [illegible] it will send a [illegible]! Well I’m going to quit again as I have to start dinner and George will kick my pants.

                With lots of love

                                From Evelyn


Letter #16

Oct 6, 1935

Dear Mother,

                I recieved [sic] your letter a couple days ago so I will add a few lines to the letter I had already wrote. I was sure glad to hear that you got the money I was a little bit worried.

                I hope you do get your gloves but I bet you won’t.

                I hope Tommy is better by now. I can’t write much because I have so many letters.

                I got Clara’s letter and will answer that I also got Dorothy’s letter again.

                I was so darn sick yesterday I had some kind of flu and boy did I feel rotten.

                Well I guess I’ll say good by again and I’ll write in a couple of weeks.

                                So long, mother, and

                                                Love from Evelyn


Letter #17

Some one ask me about this picture and I want to answer who ever it was.

                There’s me in the foreground with the X and also Sonny sister and Dixie. I have to make an excuse for looking so fat. There seems to be another person mixed up with me. I look funny, my hat is on so crazy. (note the three legs)

                There are also some friends in the picture with the O marks. Geo. wasn’t there.

                If you don’t want to keep this send it back.


                P.S. I’m also X on the other picture.