by Angelene Hammer Bunde
Gustaf “Gus” E. Andersson was born in 1861, in Filipstad, Varmland, Sweden. He married Maria Isaks Fleming in 1885. They came to the United States in 1892, and lived in Michigan for several years until they came to Juneau in 1897.
Gus was a gold miner and an excellent carpenter. He built ten homes in the Juneau area. Gus sponsored his sister Emma Sophia Nordblad and her three children, Anna, Gustaf R. and Werner to come to Juneau in 1923 from Goteborg, Sweden. Originally, my mother, Anna, was supposed to stay in Sweden as an indentured servant on a farm near Goteborg. But, fortunately for her, the farmer and his wife decided they would rather have a male helper and I believe her Uncle Gus sent additional funds so she could be included in the voyage to America.
The Nordblad family left Goteborg and traveled first to England and then to Newfoundland. From there they traveled by train to Prince Rupert, British Columbia. My mother spoke of preparing meals over a small container of fire in the passenger car. They arrived in Juneau aboard a Canadian Steamship. The only English they knew when they arrived in Juneau was the phrase, “Where is the post office?”
In Juneau, Emma found employment at the Zynda Hotel as a chambermaid. One of her assignments was to care for Judge Wickersham’s room. Anna was 13 years old when the Nordblads arrived in Juneau. After she completed the eighth grade, she had to quit her education and go to work to help support the family. Gustaf and Werner worked at the Alaska-Juneau Mine. They resided in Juneau until approximately 1927, when the family moved to Seattle, Washington, seeking employment opportunities.
Maria Andersson died in 1924 and Gus died in 1928. They are buried at the Andersson family plot in Evergreen Cemetery in Juneau. His obituary in the Daily Alaska Empire stated, “The Andersons were well known in and about Juneau, having lived here for a number of years.”
My grandfather Peder “Pete” Malm (Ingebrigtsen) Hammer was born in 1881 in Nordfjeldmark, Norland, Norway. I believe he took the name “Hammer” before he left Norway. His mother Karen had worked on a farm by that name.
He married Lydia Henriette Andersen in Velford, Nordland, in 1902. In 1905 or 1906, when Lydia was pregnant with their third child, my father Arild Norman Hammer, she took a trip with their son Ingolf to visit relatives up north and while there, she received a letter from Pete indicating he had sold their furniture and was on his way to America. He promised to send tickets for her and Ingolf to join him in America. The tickets never
came and my father was born in 1906, and still no word from Pete. The years went by and unfortunately, Ingolf died and Lydia was sure that Pete was dead also. I will say, in my grandfather’s defense, that he insisted that he
didn’t know that Lydia was pregnant, but he did leave his wife and son Ingolf behind.
Around 1916, a friend of Lydia’s made a trip to America. When this friend returned to the small town of Hemnesberget, Norway (my grandmother’s home), she showed my grandmother some pictures of people she had met on her trip. Much to Lydia’s surprise, Pete was very much alive and shown in one of the pictures. Since this detail of Pete’s story seemed so incredible, I had a cousin in Norway confirm this account. She was unable
to obtain an address for Pete and understandably petitioned him for a divorce. Upon receiving the signed petition, Lydia then remarried. Pete had arrived in New York in 1906, from Rotterdam, Holland, on the vessel Nordfarer. He had married Mary Wiski in 1910. They resided in New York and then in the fall of 1916 moved to Portland, Oregon.
My father, Arild, unhappy living with his stepfather as a teenager, became a cadet on the sailing training ship the Statsraad Lehmkuhl. After his training, he continued working aboard ships until 1925, when he arrived in Juneau aboard the Princess Mary looking for the father he had never met. Pete had moved to Juneau with his wife Mary in 1920.
While in Juneau, Pete and Mary Hammer operated the Scandinavian Grocery for nine years and then opened the Ideal Curio Store on South Franklin (presently the Glory Hole) which he owned until his death in 1951. He was a member of the Pioneers of Alaska. He is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery, Pioneer Plot.
My parents Arild Norman Hammer and Anna Sophia Nordblad met in Juneau in 1925. In 1926, my father was an able-bodied seaman on the USS Explorer conducting geodetic surveys in Alaska. In 1926, my mother had the honor of being a member of the Resurrection Lutheran Church’s first confirmation class. She also was taught in the eighth grade by Judge Wickersham’s second wife, Grace, and attributed her love for poetry and learning to speak correct English to this fine teacher. Arild and Anna Hammer were married in Seattle in 1928. They moved to Ketchikan in the early thirties where my father was a commercial fisherman. They had two children, Arild R. Hammer, a dentist residing in Seattle, Washington, and myself, Angelene J. Hammer, retired teacher residing in Anchorage.
Pete and Mary Hammer in their New Ideal Shop in Juneau, 1950.