Monday, November 1, 2010

November 1-2 in AB history... part one.

Last month i introduced Arctic Brotherhood camp #11, Council City, on the Seward Peninsula near Nome (western Alaska for the cheechako). Camp #11 was organized in October of 1900 and became, according to the 1909 book the AB put out, an important part of Council City's social culture. The town had no kind of meeting place or recreational facilities, so the AB was poised to give a lift to the population. At the time of its inception, Council City was the "most northernly camp" in the AB's ranks.

BY November 2 of 1900 it was a serious question as to whether or not the campw ould survive because of the exodus that occurs in Alaska in the fall. As a result, five "faithful and energetic men" met to decide the camp's future. It was a close vote-- but majority ruled that day as 3 of the 5 voted in favor of continuing the camp. They quickly added eight more members and within a month the camp's numbers had doubled.

Unlike so many other camps, #11 survived past its infancy. In November of 1902 the Arctic Brothers decided to put together a library-- "for the hours of reading are long in the winter time, as Council is but one degree below the Arctic Circle, and is isolated from the rest of the world from October to June, except by transportation by dog sled." See, even though Council was right up the river from Nome, on the coast, ships at the time didn't head that far north in the winter.

The library was a success. From November of 1902 to March of 1903, 1090 books were checked out of the stacks to 116 customers. According to the Ab's, "brooding and gloomy despondency lessedned by 25,000 hours!"

The brothers pointed out that the Council area of the Seward Peninsula hadn't yet been mined. Most of its inhabitants, according to wikipedia (oh-so-reliable, sarcasm) migrated to Nome when the gold fever moved that way in 1900. Today there is one B&B in Council (also according to wikipedia), making it, along with a handful of others, an AB town that is no more.

Because there was a HUGE controversy in the Arctics on November second of 1909--the most divisive of its kind, which pitted camp against camp-- this will have to be continued tomorrow for a Tuesday edition of This Week in AB History.