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Bolyan, George A.

by Clyde E. Bolyan

George was born in 1886 in Yugoslavia. At the urging of a cousin in St. Louis, he immigrated to the United States and obtained work on the Union Pacific Railroad. He was not happy with this work and he heard that there was a gold rush in the Klondike, and proceeded to that area. He celebrated his 21st birthday on board the ship headed for Alaska. He traveled on to Dawson and the Mayo/Yukon Territory. He formed a partnership with a man named Toby, but they were too late to get in on the Klondike gold rush. George and Toby covered much territory in the Chisana, Snag, Cordova, Valdez, Whittier, Sunrise and Hope areas during this time. World War I was starting in Europe and the partners decided to return to the Seattle area. During the war period, George worked in the shipyards in Tacoma, Washington.

In 1920, he returned to Southeast Alaska with his partner Toby and found some promising property on the west coast of Chichagof Island. They met Frank and Ed Cox and formed a loosely knit partnership. A company was formed and five miles of narrow gauge railroad was built along with housing and a sawmill. The money they raised was spent, the company went broke, and the property reverted to the original owners. Toby and Ed Cox returned to the States, and the property was taken over by George Bolyan and Frank Cox. A five-ton Gibson elliptical mill was purchased and put into operation which lasted for two years with good results.

When the cost of mining proved to be higher than the profits, the operation was closed and all the machinery was moved to another property previously discovered by Bolyan and Cox, located on Slocum Arm about 20 miles further south. A great deal of work was accomplished there, but there wasn’t enough gold or other metals to be profitable. Cobol, as it was named, had a post office and a radio station for several years. At different times over the years, George did contract work for other mining companies.

He attended the Alaska School of Mines in Fairbanks in 1927, to take courses that assisted him in his work. He married Helen M. DeVol in Fairbanks in 1928, and adopted her son Clyde. In addition to his home in Cobol, he also lived in Thane where his wife Helen taught at the Thane School. He also purchased a home on Dixon Avenue in Juneau, where he was very active in the Masonic Lodge. In 1937, he adopted his nephew, Lawrence, and his niece, Dace, who were brought over from Yugoslavia. George Bolyan was a very hardworking person noted for his integrity. He died in 1958, in Seattle, Washington, and is buried in the Sitka National Cemetery.

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