Mt. McKinley from the National Park Service
In keeping with celebrating my second Switchboard Sisterhood book, Morgana, I thought I’d share some history of Alaska this month.
While the area was likely settled thousand of years ago by emigrants from Asia and Eastern Europe who perhaps crossed a land passage, few details are available about these early settlers. They eventually established themselves and spread out over the area, becoming unique in their language and culture.
In 1728. Vitus Bering from Denmark traveled into the area and discovered the strait now named after him. He returned again in 1741 and explored the North American coastline.
In 1776, the year the United States became a nation, Captain James Cook landed in Alaska and made contact with the natives. Imagine their surprise as perhaps they’d thought they were the only people in the world. And imagine Captain Cook’s thoughts at the notion of a people living in what might have appeared to be an inhospitable place at the end of the world.
Alaska in 1895 (Rand McNally). The boundary of southeastern Alaska shown is that claimed by the United States prior to the conclusion of the Alaska boundary dispute. From Wikipedia
A few years later, in 1784, Russian explorers landed on Kodiak Island and built the first known permanent settlement. Explorers from Spain and Britain soon followed, probably lured by the reports of easy otter hunting for furs, eager to claim the land for their countries. However, the Russians persevered and remained, spreading up and down the Pacific coast, building more settlements, and spreading their influence.
St. Michael's Cathedral in Sitka. The original structure, built in 1848, burned down in a fire on January 2, 1966. The cathedral was rebuilt from plans of the original structure and contains artifacts rescued from the fire. From Wikipedia
The area remained largely unnoticed for the next eighty years, until the United States purchased the land formerly claimed by Russia for $7.2 million dollars, or roughly two cents an acre in 1867. Supported by US Secretary of State Seward, the land was nicknamed “Seward’s Folly” because most people saw no value in it. However, the rich timber resources, fishing, hunting, and then gold proved Seward correct.
The Russian-American Company's capital at New Archangel(present-day Sitka, Alaska) in 1837. From Wikipedia
In 1896, large deposits of gold were found in Klondike Territory, which brought an estimated 100,000 people into the area over the next three years. Over a million pounds of gold have been mined from that area. As the population grew, the United States realized the strategic importance of the land, and in 1912, it became a territory, finally gaining statehood in 1959.
My story, Morgana, is set in Anchorage in 1925. At that time, the telephone has been there for about six years, and communication with the outside world—or at least some of it—is now available. Imagine the thrill of sitting in an office in downtown Anchorage, and being able to connect to a business in San Francisco, Denver, Detroit, Chicago, or New York within minutes.
About Morgana A shattered heart, an unplanned pregnancy, a ruined reputation. Can God—and love—repair what was so deceitfully stolen?
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Enter giveaway for ebook copy of Morgana: Leave a comment with your cleverly disguised email address (so the ‘bots don’t get you). For example: donna AT livebytheword DOT com I will draw randomly for one lucky winner.
A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 60 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter. She is taking all the information she’s learned along the way about the writing and publishing process, and is coaching writers at any stage of their manuscript.
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