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Baroumes, Jim and Mary and Valison, John and Mary

by Helen Baroumes Bussiere

Jim and Mary Baroumes were old time Douglas residents. They arrived in 1911, and left in 1944, after the mine and the Treadwell Foundry closed down. They were born in Evias, Greece, in 1887 and 1885. Coming on a boat through Ellis Island, they heard of the gold rush so they headed for Alaska.

Jim arrived first with his cousin John Valison. Mary (Jim’s fiance) came two years later with John’s wife, Helen and their young son, George Valison. Jim went to Seattle and met the ladies where Jim and Mary were married in 1911.

John Valison remained in Douglas and found a duplex house and got furniture for the house. However, when Jim arrived with the women they found the house and furniture all burned to the ground. Jim and John built houses side by side in Treadwell. They enjoyed living there for about ten years. They had one son, Alky, and three daughters. The son became sick and died in 1925.

Again, in 1926, a big fire wiped out all of Treadwell. The strong Taku wind made it impossible to stop the fire. Burning roofs were flying around and spreading. We all headed for the sandy beach, even though the tide was coming in. Boats from Juneau came over and rescued all the people on the beach. The Bavards of the popular California Grocery Store, put us up after the fire.

Jim and John lost their new houses they had just built including all the furnishings and personal clothing. The Valison family left Douglas and went to Cashmere, Washington, where he had two nephews in the restaurant business. Jim stayed and rebuilt once again in the same location in Treadwell. He worked in the Treadwell Foundry for almost 20 years as a steel melter. During this time, his three daughters attended and graduated from Douglas High School. I think this time was the happiest years for the Baroumes family.

The school house burned down in 1937, and that fire swept through the downtown area, grocery stores, hardware, City Hall, drug store and post office. Jim remodeled his big house and made four apartments out of it. It was popularly known as the Baroumes Apartments. He was a hard worker, as he built that house after regular work hours. When the mine in Juneau closed during WWII and then the Treadwell Foundry closed, Jim sold his apartment house and moved to Seattle. They bought a nice house in Ballard. The three daughters worked for the Government.

Jim and Mary both went to school in Greece and then in Douglas, attending evening school, so they could get their citizenship papers and become United States citizens.

When they lived in Douglas, there was no bridge to Juneau. People had to take the ferry—the old Teddy. The road beyond Douglas was just a gravel road and each side had Indian graves laden with fruit, cooking utensils, coffee pots and whatnot.

The Douglas and Treadwell pioneers in this time were Philip Bradley, Superintendent of Treadwell Mines, John Feusi and his daughters, Gallwas family, Albert Goetz and wife, Cashen and sons, Mike Pusich and Guy Smith.

Helen Baroumes is the only surviving daughter. She married Louis J. Bussiere 55 years ago. They have two sons and one daughter. Jim Baroumes died unexpectedly in 1947, his daughter Nina died in 1983, and Mary Baroumes died in 1994, and another daughter Agnes died in 1996. Jim was greatly missed and loved by his family and all who knew him. He was an honest and honorable man.

Jim and Mary Baroumes in front of the house they purchased in Seattle, 1944.

The Baroumes Apartments Jim built by himself, 1928. Still standing in Douglas above Sandy Beach.

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