Clark Fair

Robert C. Lewis photo courtesy of the Alaska Digital Archives 
Ready to go fishing, a pair of guests pose in front of the Russian River Rendezvous in the early 1940s.

The Disappearing Lodge, Part 1

By the spring of 1931, a new two-story log building — the lodge’s third iteration — stood on the old site, ready for business

 

Alaska Digital Archives
George W. Palmer (left), the namesake for the city in the Matanuska Valley and the creek near Hope, poses here with his family in 1898 in the Knik area. Palmer became a business partner of Bill Dawson in Kenai in the last years of Dawson’s life.

Bill Dawson: The Price of Success, Part 5

Thus ended the sometimes tumultuous Alaska tenure of William N. Dawson.

 

This is the only known photo of Peter F. (“Frenchy”) Vian and William N. (“Bill”) Dawson together. They were photographed standing on the porch of their Kenai store in about 1911-12. (Photo courtesy of the Kenai Historical Society)

Bill Dawson: The Price of Success, Part 4

One man who never seemed to get on Dawson’s bad side was Peter F. (“Frenchy”) Vian

 

Sisters Alice M. Brooks and Willietta E. Kuppler (both nee Dolan), seen here (center of photo) in a 1943 Los Angeles newspaper article, taught in Kenai from 1911 to 1914 and came to despise Bill Dawson, whom they referred to as “Old Bible Bill.” (Photo courtesy of Newspapers.com archive)

Bill Dawson: The Price of Success, Part 3

“… If I were to designate the meanest character I ever met, I should name ‘Old Bible Bill,’ an Ozarkian.”

Sisters Alice M. Brooks and Willietta E. Kuppler (both nee Dolan), seen here (center of photo) in a 1943 Los Angeles newspaper article, taught in Kenai from 1911 to 1914 and came to despise Bill Dawson, whom they referred to as “Old Bible Bill.” (Photo courtesy of Newspapers.com archive)
This is how Kenai appeared in about 1919, when Bill Dawson was running a general store in the village. (Photo courtesy of the Kenai Historical Society)

Bill Dawson: The Price of Success, Part 2

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Part One introduced William N. “Bill” Dawson as a spinner of yarns who came to the Kenai Peninsula in the 1890s and became… Continue reading

This is how Kenai appeared in about 1919, when Bill Dawson was running a general store in the village. (Photo courtesy of the Kenai Historical Society)
William N. (“Bill”) Dawson poses in either Kenai or Kasilof in 1898 with a collection of moose antlers and sheep horns — trophies from kills he had made in the Skilak Lake area. (Photo from J.T. Studley’s 1912 hunting memoir)

Bill Dawson: The Price of Success, Part 1

Toeing the Line Bill Dawson, a well-known Kenai trading post manager in the early 1900s, loved to tell stories. Some of them were even true.… Continue reading

William N. (“Bill”) Dawson poses in either Kenai or Kasilof in 1898 with a collection of moose antlers and sheep horns — trophies from kills he had made in the Skilak Lake area. (Photo from J.T. Studley’s 1912 hunting memoir)
P.F. “Frenchy” Vian poses with a cigar and some reading material, probably circa 1920, in an unspecified location. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)

Unraveling the story of Frenchy, Part 6

The many vital chapters in the story of Frenchy fell into place

P.F. “Frenchy” Vian poses with a cigar and some reading material, probably circa 1920, in an unspecified location. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)
Eventually, all but one of Frenchy’s siblings would live for a time in the United States. Carlo Viani, pictured here in the early 1900s, also spent some time in Alaska. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)

Unraveling the story of Frenchy, Part 5

By many accounts, P.F. “Frenchy” Vian appears to have been at least an adequate game warden for Kenai

Eventually, all but one of Frenchy’s siblings would live for a time in the United States. Carlo Viani, pictured here in the early 1900s, also spent some time in Alaska. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)
Frenchy posed with this heap of hunting and trapping trophies in Kenai in 1899. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)

Unraveling the story of Frenchy, Part 4

Frenchy was not satisfied and not even close to being finished with big achievements

Frenchy posed with this heap of hunting and trapping trophies in Kenai in 1899. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)
Frenchy wrote many letters and postcards to family members. This 1906 postcard was addressed to his sister Bianca in Villa Viani, Italy. (Image courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)

Unraveling the Story of Frenchy, Part 3

On Aug. 4, 1892, the Associated Press reported that the revenue cutter Bear had, on June 4, rescued only Peter Viani from the island

Frenchy wrote many letters and postcards to family members. This 1906 postcard was addressed to his sister Bianca in Villa Viani, Italy. (Image courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)
Frenchy Vian, who posed for many photographs of himself, was acknowledged as a skilled hunter. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)

Unraveling the story of Frenchy, Part 2

In fact, Frenchy’s last name wasn’t even Vian; it was Viani, and he and the rest of his immediate family were pure Italian

Frenchy Vian, who posed for many photographs of himself, was acknowledged as a skilled hunter. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)
This photo of Frenchy with a freshly killed black bear was taken on the Kenai Peninsula in the early 1900s. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)

Unraveling the story of Frenchy, Part 1

The stories were full of high adventure — whaling, mining, polar bear hunting, extensive travel, and the accumulation of wealth

This photo of Frenchy with a freshly killed black bear was taken on the Kenai Peninsula in the early 1900s. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)
Marcia and Mary Alice Grainge pose in 1980 with a pair of caribou antlers they found in 1972. The sisters dug the antlers from deep snow and detached them from a dead caribou. (Photo provided by Marcia Grainge King)

Fortune and misfortune on the Kenai — Part 2

In Kasilof, and on Kachemak Bay, in Seldovia and later in Unga, Petersen worked various jobs before being appointed deputy marshal in 1934

Marcia and Mary Alice Grainge pose in 1980 with a pair of caribou antlers they found in 1972. The sisters dug the antlers from deep snow and detached them from a dead caribou. (Photo provided by Marcia Grainge King)
Photo provided by the KPC archive of historical photographs 
Ed Back, left, and Bill Gross chat with Ridgeway homeowner Betty Karsten as they install a natural gas hookup to her home in 1961. Betty and Emmett Karsten became Alaska’s first civilian consumers of natural gas.
Photo provided by the KPC archive of historical photographs 
Ed Back, left, and Bill Gross chat with Ridgeway homeowner Betty Karsten as they install a natural gas hookup to her home in 1961. Betty and Emmett Karsten became Alaska’s first civilian consumers of natural gas.
A headstone for J.E. Hill is photographhed in Anchorage, Alaska. (Findagrave.com)

Night falls on the Daylight Kid — Part 2

“Bob,” he said, “that crazy fool is shooting at us.”

A headstone for J.E. Hill is photographhed in Anchorage, Alaska. (Findagrave.com)
Page from Seward daily gateway. (Alaska State Library, Archives and Museum, Juneau, A.K.)

Night falls on the Daylight Kid — Part 1

Night Falls on the Daylight Kid—Part One By Clark Fair

Page from Seward daily gateway. (Alaska State Library, Archives and Museum, Juneau, A.K.)
On Oct. 3, 1945, the Spokane Chronicle published this A.P. photo of Miriam Mathers and her goats as she prepared to board a Seattle steamship bound for Seward.

Tragedy and triumph of the Goat Woman — Part 4

Mathers had only three cents in her purse when she arrived in Kenai

On Oct. 3, 1945, the Spokane Chronicle published this A.P. photo of Miriam Mathers and her goats as she prepared to board a Seattle steamship bound for Seward.
The Associated Press caught up to Miriam Mathers in 1943 and took this photo when she was trying to move overland to Alaska with her goats and other animals.

Tragedy and triumph of the Goat Woman — Part 3

Her quest for Alaska had begun, but another date with tragedy lay just around the corner

The Associated Press caught up to Miriam Mathers in 1943 and took this photo when she was trying to move overland to Alaska with her goats and other animals.
In about 1904, the full family of Arthur and Ellen Davidson (front row) posed for this family portrait. Miriam Davidson, the third born, is in the dark blouse on the right end of the back row; she is standing next to her older siblings, Cora and William. (Photo courtesy of the David Family Collection)
In about 1904, the full family of Arthur and Ellen Davidson (front row) posed for this family portrait. Miriam Davidson, the third born, is in the dark blouse on the right end of the back row; she is standing next to her older siblings, Cora and William. (Photo courtesy of the David Family Collection)
Better Homes & Gardens article photo, 1955 
Rusty Lancashire, who befriended her neighbor, Miriam Mathers, climbs into her vehicle in front of the Kenai Commercial Company store in Kenai.

Tragedy and triumph of the Goat Woman — Part 1

Florence Lorraine “Rusty” Lancashire first met her neighbor, the old Goat Woman, in the fall of 1948

Better Homes & Gardens article photo, 1955 
Rusty Lancashire, who befriended her neighbor, Miriam Mathers, climbs into her vehicle in front of the Kenai Commercial Company store in Kenai.