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Fleek, George Arthur and Elizabeth (Berg)

by Patricia (Fleek) Varness, Robert Fleek & Ann Fleek

George Arthur Fleek, the son of Wilson and Eva (Strickland) Fleek, was born in Richmond Township, Pennsylvania on September 17, 1887. In 1908, he left the farm at the age of 21 and headed for Alaska. On the ay to Alaska he was pressed into service fighting a large forest fire in Montana.

Upon George’s arrival in Douglas, Alaska Territory in 1908, he went to work for the Treadwell Mining Company. At Juneau, Alaska, on February 10, 1909, he married Elizabeth Berg, the daughter of Andrew and Sarah Cashel Berg. Elizabeth was born on November 18, 1882 at Unga, Alaska, where her father worked for the Apollo Gold Mining Company. The Berg family had moved to Douglas in 1900, and Andrew worked for the Ready Bullion Mine at Treadwell. The school house that Elizabeth and her sister Sarah Berg attended was later used as a cow barn by Douglas dairyman Joe Kendler.

George Fleek was a member of the I.O.O.F. Alaska Lodge No.1 and the Auke Tribe No. 7 where he was the collector of Wampum. Elizabeth Fleek was a member of the Rebekah organization.

In October, 1913, George Arthur Fleek went to Chichagof, Alaska to take charge of a 10-stamp mill. The family as living there when Marjorie Lucille was born in August, 1915, at the St. Ann’s Hospital in Douglas. She oined a sister, Leona Elizabeth and brother, George Elroy, who went by the name of “Sonny.”

In July, 1917, the Fleek family moved to Miami, Arizona, and George obtained employment with the nearby Inspiration Copper Company mine. They moved to the mine site where Robert Drew and Patricia Ruth were born, Robert in Incubator Row and Patricia in Cactus Garden. While at the Inspiration Copper Company, George worked in the hoist/compressor house and as an outside electrician checking power lines. Next door neighbors were members of the Arthur Osterberg family who were also neighbors in Douglas, Alaska. In 1934, when the Inspiration Copper Company closed, the Fleek family returned to Douglas without Leona and Sonny who were both married. Later, Sonny and his family did return to Douglas in June, 1936. Prior to leaving for Alaska, a group including George prospected the Gila River of Arizona but found nothing but “flour” gold.

After arriving in Douglas, George Fleek worked with Howard Hayes at the Perseverance Mine recovering the gold that was lost during the use of older mining methods. The most difficult area to work was the “tunnel.” While working for the Alaska Juneau Gold Mining Company as a powerhouse operator at the Nugget Creek, Salmon Creek and Alaska Juneau powerhouse sites, George continued his search for gold.

In 1946, he applied for a Territorial mining license and received License No. 46-051. He worked at the old Thane Mill using equipment Howard Hayes had left there when he was “cleaning up.” One story is that Howard Hayes took out 2,000 in gold from a large iron pipe. In addition to the Thane Mill, George Fleek worked the Thane beach. After work at the power plant, George would go to the beach at low tide and set up his 50-gallon drums that held the sluice box, connect his water source and shovel sand into the sluice box until the tide ran him off the beach. A percentage of the money received from the gold was paid to the Alaska Gold Mining Company.

In 1955, George and Elizabeth Fleek moved to Phoenix where their son Robert and his family, daughter Leona and her husband George, and Elizabeth’s sister, Sara Morf and her husband Emil all lived. George Arthur Fleek died November 6, 1960, and Elizabeth Fleek died December 26, 1961, both in Phoenix, Arizona.

George Fleek, 1945-46, clean-up at Thane Mill.

George and Elizabeth (Berg) Fleek.

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