[Various places in Alaska, California, and Maine, as described below. ca. 1917-1959]. 133 items, including sixty-nine photographs ranging in size from 3 1/4 x 2 1/4 to 8 x 10 inches, thirty-eight negatives, one patent, five pieces of correspondence (two with envelopes), sixteen pieces of ephemera, and four newspaper clippings. Mild wear to a few photographs, some tanning and rumpling to clippings and ephemera. Overall very good. Item #WRCAM56193
A fascinating collection of photographs and additional material from a true frontiersman, gold miner, trapper, and fox enthusiast. Frederick Forrest Berry (1871-ca.1960) was a New Hampshire native who went to Alaska for the 1898 gold rush and stayed on to build a successful fox ranch in Homer. He relocated the ranch to Bangor, Maine in 1925, and then to Hayfork, California, before retiring to Plymouth, New Hampshire. Frederick Berry traveled to Alaska in 1898, at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush. Most of the Alaska photos date from 1917-25, and many are captioned by Berry on the verso. Although he does not seem to have struck it rich, he includes a few photos where he mined, without naming the exact location. One shot portrays a mountain landscape, about which he writes, "From this gulch in the far land of the midnight sun I mined gold, high above timberline." Another photo shows a glacier with a rifle in the foreground, with the caption: "From under this fragment of an ancient and dying glacier I extracted gold dust and nuggets." Berry stayed in Alaska after the gold rush died down; he was a trapper for a time and then developed a successful fox ranch in Homer, which is well-documented in these photos. A particularly charming photo shows Berry with a thick beard, laughing outside a log cabin, with the caption: "Made in Alaska, about the time of the breaking out of the world war. Note the swollen ankles - result of freezing from running four miles after going to the bottom of a river through the ice at 40 below zero." There are a few other photos of his cabin (and other cabins), about which he notes, "One of my old trappline cabins in the interior of Alaska, 1917." And then, about another photo, "This cabin, and also the 'big house,' were built entirely by my own hands in Alaska, even to the 'shingles' on the roof...moose meat drying on cabin wall." One intriguing photo shows Berry officiating at a burial; on the verso of the image he writes, "F.F. Berry saying the last rights over the grave of a deceased Alaska Eskimo woman, Homer, Alaska, 1921." Also included is a carbon copy of a typescript of Berry's sermon given on this occasion. Unfortunately, we don't know the name of the woman memorialized here, nor do we have information about why Berry was chosen for this ceremony, or what his relationship was to the indigenous community in Homer. There are several photos of Berry sitting with his pet foxes (including one named "Silver-belle") as well as shots of them playing in the snow. He also includes a series of photos of his "Berry Ideal" kennels in use at the ranch. Berry applied for and received a patent for his kennel design in 1927; the patent design and certificate are included here. Around 1925, he and his foxes moved to Bangor, Maine, and included is an image of him holding two foxes, standing in a field of flowers, with the caption: "On my fox ranch, with a thousand dollars in each hand...daisies everywhere - Maine." A few years later, he moved the ranch again, to Hayfork, California (just west of Redding), where he also resumed gold mining. Also included are clippings and other items that illuminate Berry's unusual career and personality: letters from a man (and his brother) to whom Berry loaned $100 to return home to South Carolina from Alaska; elaborate illustrated letterhead for two of his later businesses - Alaska-Eastern Fox and Fur Reservation Company, and the Museum of Natural Science (a taxidermy service); several of Berry's articles for BLACK FOX MAGAZINE; and his 1959 poem "Song of Alaska" (published in PULP, SULPHITE AND PAPER MILL WORKERS' JOURNAL), which the governor of Alaska considered for the state song. There is also a folded promotional map of the proposed Pacific Yukon Highway (ca.1932) and a U.S.G.S. map of mineral deposits in Alaska (1916). An interesting look into the life of a colorful miner and entrepreneur in early 20th- century Alaska.