Hazelet's Journal: A Riveting Alaska Gold Rush Saga
by John H. Clark
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Pub Date 26 Nov 2012 | Archive Date 26 Oct 2018
"This is no staid diary. There are forest fires, floods, gunplay and many other death-defying episodes." Reviewer, Mark McLaughlin
Hazelet's Journal is a true story that gives us insight into the character of those who went before us, a sense of passion, loyalty, and resilience that was so much a part of the great American spirit that our country was founded upon. It's told in the journalist's original voice, captured for generations to come.
George Cheever Hazelet was inspired by the great tycoons at the dawn of the Industrial Age and became one himself in the chicory-coffee market. But then the markets crashed and coffee became as cheap as the dirt the farmers were trying to cultivate. In this calamitous financial crisis of the 1890s, he turned to the one opportunity that played no favorites--the Klondike Gold Rush.
Hazelet was one of those adventurous souls who went to Alaska in 1898 to seek his fortune. He carved his own path across frozen tundra and snow-covered glaciers to a valley in Alaska scarcely seen by a white man. Here he found not only gold, but coal and oil and rich shafts of copper, the size of which promised breathtaking fortunes. It would also be a valley that would become a symbol of hope for some, despair for others, and lost opportunity for powerful men who did not like to lose. This last frontier was known as the Copper River Country, and it was here that Hazelet set his sights on a new beginning in Alaska. He carried with him the hopes of his family and friends back home in Nebraska as he set out to stake his claim to the gold that seemed to be as plentiful as rain. He remained in Alaska to become one of the most prominent figures of this last frontier.
With his close friend and partner Andrew Jackson Meals, he would figure prominently in the development of both Valdez and Cordova. He would meet the titans of industry and two sitting U.S. Presidents, and he would later become the first mayor of Cordova in 1909.
Hazelet's Journal, in this wonderfully illustrated edition, is essential reading for anyone interested in the opening up of the West and the evolution of the American spirit. Hazelet's career traces an epic trajectory from aspiring dreamer to battered adventurer, and his own vivid writing mirrors the way stations of his quest for riches in the Alaska wilderness.
Dr. John R. Hale, archaeologist, distinguished scholar, master storyteller and author of Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy & Birth of Democracy, Viking Press, winner of the Panhellenic Teacher of the Year Award and the Delphi Center Award.
Average rating from 11 members
I never tire of reading stories of Alaskan history. After living in Alaska for 30years and traveling the state many times, I can picture the places Hazelet traveled and appreciate the adventures he lived. This was one of the better books I've read centered in Alaska.
The author’s great-grandfather, George Cheever Hazelet joined thousands of other hardy men would who ventured to the Alaskan frontier to seek gold. He kept a journal and recorded his thoughts and adventures. I suppose he did it for himself and his family. I wonder if he ever thought that people in the year 2018 would read his words from 1898-1902?
Thanks to the author, we can see what daily life was like for his intrepid ancestor. George Hazelet had a successful life as an educator, businessman and man of influence in Nebraska and Iowa. He had a family he dearly loved. But when the economy faltered, he joined the rush to find gold in the Klondike.
He wrote that his goal was to provide the best in life for his family. But part of his decision seem to be fueled by the times- the feeling that a man would want to take on challenges and adventures. Going to Alaska was a test for the rugged and the strong, in both mind and body.
Reading about his struggles against rivers, glaciers, weather, and long distances was epic. Hazelet was a good writer and shared many details of the actual work of prospecting as well as he thoughts, goals and guiding principles. He had a sense of humor, too. “Since we have had to lay off, I’m just about insane, in fact I guess I’m entirely so and always have been, but have just reached a point where I have found it out.”
In addition to the actual journal, the author added a prologue and epilogue. These were so well written that I wish the author had not just published the journals word for word. The author could have created a full and vibrant portrait of the life and times of his heroic ancestor using his own words. If you are interested in history, and especially exciting history like the Alaskan Gold Rush, this book is a great resource.
A straightforward memoir of the hard work put in during the Alaskan Gold Rush. George Hazelet left Omaha after a depression turned one business venture into failure. He became a prospector with thousands of other people headed to Alaska. This book is truly his journal, his thoughts and feelings as he retells the struggle of his days as a prospector. The homesickness and guilt of leaving his family behind to attempt a better lifestyle for them. The work of getting the everyday essentials to his prospecting site and struggling with the land and the weather in frontier Alaska. You feel that you are walking with him, struggling along side. It doesn't exactly turn out the way you expect, but his tenacity and hard work pay off in unexpected ways.
He's been a successful businessman but then the economy turns and he loses everything. He's heard of gold in Alaska and decides to go get a stake so he can start another business. The first thing he learns is that the weather doesn't always cooperate and it's hard work!
BooksGoSocial and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you). It will be published November 26th.
This is written in journal form and is from the man who dared this dangerous journey. He misses his family, gets depressed at how little gold they find, and works hard at recovering from lack of food and traveling conditions. They are almost always wet. Their claims get jumped and they have to fight legally to get them back. The animals they use for packing goods die from accidents or starvation. Alaska is a tough country and especially back in the early 1900's.
I don't read a lot of non-fiction but my grandfather was part of the gold rush and I thought I'd learn more about what he'd been through. This book is very insightful. And once again Hazelet loses his venture. The good news is that he and his partner still have some land there. They've lost the gold claims to the bank but gold doesn't last forever. Land still has value and it gets more valuable later.
Hazelet does find a calling that fits him, rejoins with his family and he stays in Alaska. They made 'em tough in those days...
Interesting story of early Alaskan Gold Rush,that is solely based on Hazelet's journal from 1800's to about 1902.
Even with all his ambition and laborious work,he never struck it richminibg for gold,but did very well in getting the early Railroads to come to his area.
He moved his family to Cordova and became the mayor of the town and was able to provide nicely for his family and further future generations profited as well.
Not my type of book,although I do love History.This just had too many descriptions of the types of things needed for early mining,that I really wasn't that interested in.I would have enjoyed reading more about the family & close relationships with the men he worked with.
Anyone interested in the early Gold Rush period would find it very interesting especially with all the pictures that are shown.
I do appreciate Netgalley and Publisher for giving me the opportunity to Read and review "Hazelton's Journal:A Riveting Alaska Gold Rush Saga"
This book based on Hazelet's journal from 1800's to about 1902. This was an amazing book in Hazelets life. I will definitely recommend this book.
This book gives an excellent insight into the early Alaskan pioneers. It is written by the author's great grandfather in the form of a journal documenting his adventures in the Copper River country. I would recommend it to lovers of history. An inspiring tale. Thanks to Net Galley for my copy. I reviewed on Amazon and Goodreads.
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This is a true-to-life Gold Rush adventure story. It is the reproduced original journal of G C Hazelet, who struggled in the Klondike for four years.
George Cheever Hazelet: A successful businessman who fell on hard times in 1896, he takes a second chance to rebuild his fortunes in the Alaskan fields. This is his story.
Andrew Meals: Hazelet’s partner on the trip, and financial stakeholder in the enterprise.
These are the kind of stories that illustrate just how hard and tough our ancestors were. Men like Tom Crean who crossed the Antarctic in effectively a jumper and trousers, and men like G C Hazelet, who braved and bested the cutting icy weather of northern Alaska.
Hazelet was a businessman, a school principal, and a banker amongst other things, but the Panic of 1896 caused his business to fail.
He had a young wife and two sons, but necessity made him turn his face to the cold North, to see if he could strike it lucky. He and his partner Andrew Meals got a grubstake together, and set off on the dangerous journey. This is in the late 19th century – no smartphones, no satnav, no traveller insurance. His family did not know if they would ever see him again, or he them.
Hazelet tells his story in the first person, which brings a stark and personal immediacy to the narrative. Over four years, 1898 to 1902, his diary documents his struggle, his loneliness, his successes and failures. The land he faces is hard and unforgiving, and he struggles with it as much as he does internally, with his guilt over leaving behind his young family.
He describes trudging through the immense snowbanks, the sheer physical effort of setting up his stake, cantankerous animals, churlish men and women, the lethal potential of claim-jumpers, and the back-breaking manual labour underpinning it all. Unlike most of the prospectors, Hazelet’s group turned towards the Valdez Glacier, crossing near-impassable mountains to reach the Copper River. Pulling a 200lb sled for hundreds of miles in Arctic conditions – mute respect is the only possible response.
The reader can step back, and multiply this story by the tens of thousands who rushed north, to get an idea of the relative squalor and human misery these camps came to represent. In spite of everything though, G C did not give up, give out or give in.
Spoiler alert – Hazelet, like so many, did not strike it big, but his story had a happier outcome relative to most of the prospectors. He left a legacy in Valdez, Alaska that resonates still today.
What I Liked:
The straight-forward style made for compelling reading, and the retention of G C’s own voice.
The descriptions of a long-gone world, supplemented by excellent photos.
What I Didn’t Like:
Some editing around the detail of equipment needed etc. – I think there was a little too much in that.
A fascinating read, a real bit of time travel, to a long-vanished world. This book brings the Klondike to life. I would thoroughly recommend this for anyone interested in this period of history, and generally in adventure stories. It is beautifully illustrated, even in .pdf form. The author has done a great service to his great-grandfather.
Thanks to NetGalley and the author for sending me a free copy of the book, in return for an honest and objective review.