Parks and Recreation Image

Juneau-Douglas City Museum

Wibblesman, Mary

by Harry, Mary, David & Bill Sperling


The future Mrs. Halm was born in Gelsenkirchen, Westphalia, Germany, in 1874, and with her parents arrived in the United States in 1881. She was seven years old. Mary was 23 when she married Matt in Illinois. Three years later she was en route to Alaska where she lived until her death in Juneau at the age of 53. She was active in church and lodge circles. She was a member of the Rebekah Lodge and of the local Pioneers Auxiliary.

Shortly after their marriage, the Halms traveled west to California and lived in San Francisco for three years. During that time, their daughter Mary was born in 1900 (Goldie and John were born in Alaska). Once again they pulled up stakes and sailed to Douglas, Alaska, arriving in 1903. Matt got a job at the Treadwell Mine. He was paid in gold coin. While Matt worked for the mine, his wife ran a boarding house at Douglas for the miners. This ended in 1917, when the Treadwell Mine caved in. The family moved back to Seattle for two years but returned in 1920 to Juneau. Matt then worked at the Alaska-Juneau Gold Mine. His wife died seven years later.

In 1930, Matt made a trip to Germany and met and married Charlotte Feist. To her friends she was known as Lotty or Lotta and to her family as Grandma Halm. They lost their home during the Big Slide in the 1930’s, and bought a little place at the small boat harbor which they occupied until Grandma left in 1960, for Chico, California. Matt had passed away in 1953.

The Halms also had a place 12 miles “out-the-road” off the fork of the Loop Road near Montana Creek where they lived during the summer and grew vegetables for market. Since there was no plumbing, electricity or phone, life seemed simple and the big wood stove in the kitchen fed everyone. The goats provided the milk and the chickens the meat. Charley Rudy’s mink farm was their closest neighbor.