Quilt Block Collections - 2
|QBC-1: Book One | QBC-2: Book Two | QBC-3: Book Three | QBC-4: Other Collections
| QBC-1: Book One
Two Quilters Havin' Lotsa Fun Collections
Elspeth's Journeys Book Two
Elspeth's later life
Being stories (outlined) about her life in Alaska
Quilt 2. Life in Fairbanks & gold mining in the Creeks
Quilt blocks featuring: Paddlewheel boats lined up on the Chena, gold trains, early mail planes, dog mushing, 5th Avenue, gold camps, mammoth tusks, stump farming, wooden sidewalks, log cabin gardens, steam points, gold dredges, little Alaskan babies log cabin life
While in Fairbanks, William worked in the creeks during the winter suing steam points to thaw the much.
Quilt 3. Gold mining on the Goodpasture
Quilt blocks featuring: Gold mining hand tools, mine scene, sourdough, canoe, Icelandic miners, Alaska babies, really grungy log cabin, hunting moose & caribou, trapping, pack mule& horse string, Atlas paddleboat, Rika's roadhouse
Eventually, among other adventures, Elspeth and William spent some time up on the west fork of the Goodpasture.
See Elspeth's letter below, written in February 1928 from their cliam on the Goodpasture.
Idea: Elspeth and William's travels up the Tanana from Fairbanks on the paddlewheel steamer Atlas to Big Delta
Where they met with Milo's brother John Hajdukovich. Then going upriver on his flat-bottomed boat the Healy Lake, Dot Lake and ultimately to Mansfield where John and Milo had established a trading post.
Quilt 4. Icelandic Christmas in Alaska
Quilt blocks of these themes:
|Icelandic Jól — Christmas in Alaska (Working)|
For a time they worked with a set of three young men, tall, Scandinavian men, actually from Iceland. Brother, Ingie, and "Jake" Johannsson. They worked on number 2 below Discovery, while Elspeth and William worked number 4 below.
During the summer of '29, dear William was walking with a box of blasting caps and tripped and went to meet his maker. This devastated Elspeth and her young family.
But Dear Jake, was a great comfort in her trials. Of course, eventually Elspeth became Jake's new wife and they had another three children. Dear Jake died of influenza in the winter of '36.
NOTE: Elspeth's 1928 recipe is updated for modern cooks
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/3 c sugar
1/3 c canola oil
1 c fresh yams (sweet potatoes) cooked and mashed or 1 (15 oz.) can yams drained and mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp baking soda
1 c chopped cranberries
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Heat oven to 350. Coat 9x5x3” loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray & dust with flour.
In large bowl, mix eggs, sugar, oil, yams & vanilla.
In separate bowl, mix flour, allspice, cinnamon & baking soda. Make a well in center. Pour yam mix in well. Mix till moist. Stir in cranberries.
In small bowl, mix brown sugar & cinnamon.
Spoon batter in loaf pan. Sprinkle topping mix over batter. Bake 1 hr or till a toothpick in center is clean.
Makes 16 slices.
Febry 1st 1928, – Alaska. Weather mild – cloudy, gentle fall of snow, beautiful winter morning. It has snowed more than 3 feet on the level since before Jany 20th.
As I have written last fall, our family is now mining on the west fork of the Goodpasture river. Two years last, William and his friend had come here in late Jul. to do a bit of panning after hearing there was some good “color” on this beautiful stream. They found some and returned in the summer of ’26 to build this cabin.
Since reaching here on May 15th last, William, the children and I have been industriously engaged in the preparation of our cabin and garden and working this claim.
Sweet William is the very picture of health, strength and courage. He is my pride, my love, and the hope of my future. The four children are growing strong and so much enjoyment. We are both so very proud of our young helpers. They are such a big help as we make our new life here in the wilds of this far northern land beneath the northern lights.
Jon, 7, and Mikel, almost 6 and a half, try to work right along side of their father in almost all of his tasks. They do cores with our nanny goat and small flock of chickens. Of course they are always bringing in firewood – the Alaska spruce and birch that William has stacked out back, does not burn as hot or as long as the good old Kentucky hardwoods.
My babies, Dane and Jeanne Marie are just now a little more than four years old. They still mostly help me around the cabin. I do so love to see their dear sweet baby faces as they climb from their little bed. This past summer, they helped me greatly in our small garden.
As an old “sourdough” in Chena, once told us, “Alaska is a land of great challenges, but the challenges of Alaska are the greatness we live for.” One of these “great challenges of Alaska” for our small family was growing a garden here on the west fork.
When we arrived last May, here amidst the birch, spruce and cottonwood, we cleared a small garden with a few mining tools and our bear hands. We used wood ashes, horse droppings, bear “scat” and the humus of the forest to fertilize our little garden of lettuce, radishes, turnips, carrots, cabbage, and of course, flowers. We also have some “garden” on the sod roof of the cabin. That part is safe from the hungry snowshoe hares and field mice.
We were amazed at the prodigious growth. It must be because of the almost 20 hours of daylight at that time of year. The long days make sleeping soundly very hard, but it helps the garden to grow so well. We even grew a few potatoes.
In addition to my family, my passions are quilting and gardening. Here on the west fork gardening is one of my pleasures. I believe it was that Englishman Francis Bacon who said, “God almighty first planted a garden: and, indeed, it is the purest of human pleasure.” I agree.
Our Alaskan larder has more than succulent vegetables from our garden... it is also filled with wild berries – blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, and “Indian” berries. We even found some small strawberries which are delicious.
We have learned from the natives at Healy Lake to harvest other wild plants like black and red currants, "Indian potatoes," wild rhubarb, Labrador tea, rosehips, chamomile, and even fireweed.
William and I have found it an interesting time to teach our children about where we came from in middle America. We try to prepare some of the meals we ate back home. Since the children are all Alaskan-born and have never been “outside,” it is a problem. Also many of the foods we had back home do not grow well here in this cold, northern land.
Yams, okra, grits, corn, apples, cherries, and pumpkins are some of the foods from Kentucky that they do not know. There are so many meals they have not tasted – hominy and hoe cake, red-eye gravy, mutton barbecue and burgoo, and so much more.
While out on a moose hunt in early July, William and two of the Johanson brothers, Inggie” and Halldór, found wild mushrooms growing in a part of the forest which had been burned by fire a year or two past.
When we lived in Fairbanks, the professors at the University of Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station had written an article in the Daily News Miner saying normally, the wildfire mushrooms were morels. The article mentioned two other kinds of wild mushrooms which grow in the forest that can be poisonous. It would appear that our morels were the good variety!
This has been such a long letter, Dear Friend, but so much seems to happen here in this great northland and I want to tell you all the tales.
I have not been doing as much quilting these past months – the boys and William are so hard on their clothes that I am spending most of my sewing time on them.
Then there is sweet Jeanne Marie – her clothes take so much more time to make. Plus I am starting to teach her to sew and even at her young years, she is doing well.
Still, quilting is my passion and I am now working on a quilt that has pictures of this beautiful county and our life here nowadays.
Although the sun remains high in the sky, William and the older boys will soon be coming down from the claim, a fine caribou stew is cooking – no it’s not burgoo – but it will be a fine meal for our Alaskan family.
Since William has been working so hard, I am going to make him a treat – we have one can of yams from his last trip downriver to Rika’s Roadhouse at Big Delta. I will bake his favorite highbush cranberry yam bread. The “Indian berries” or highbush cranberries are much more tart than the lowbush, but those we collected after the first hard frost are much better. Still, William seems to like those better than the sweeter lowbush. Of course, we add much more sugar!
Sarah John, an older Indian woman from the Healy Lake village, told us when to harvest the sweetest highbush berries. Through signing and a bit of English and my few words of Tanana talk, she has told us so much about collecting the berries, rosehips and other wild plants. She has even tried to teach me how to cook “moosehead stew” but that is not a dish we are ready for yet!
Goodbye for now dear friend. One of the Johansen brothers will take this letter to the post office at Big Delta next week. They are mushing across the frozen Tanana river and through the Clearwater county. That is if the temperature stays mild.
Take care…. Elspeth
P.S. You will find my recipe for William’s favorite highbush cranberry yam bread enclosed. El….
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