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Juneau-Douglas City Museum


Zenger, Sabastian

by Alfred Zenger Jr.
UID=771


Sebastian B. Zenger was born March 18, 1862, in Kallmuenz, Bavaria. He immigrated to the U.S. when he was 19 years old. He first came to Alaska in 1896, going to the Cook Inlet district. When the stampede to the Klondike from the states began in 1897, he went to Dyea. He packed for wages on the Dyea Trail in 1897 and 1898. He left Seattle in 1897, by steamship for Juneau in search of work. The following year, October 1898, Sebastian moved his wife Carrie, and children Bertha, Alfred Sr., Theresa and Hilda to Juneau where he was employed as a carpenter.

Through family friends, a romance blossomed between Sebastianís eldest daughter, Bertha, and Joseph Trudgeon, a young merchant and coowner of a dairy farm in Douglas. Joseph was born in 1879 in Quebec (Durham), England, to Joseph Trudgeon and Josepiah Ruth Haydon. Joseph & Bertha were
married in 1906 in Douglas.

In Juneau, the family resided for nearly a decade from about 1910 on the second floor of a two-story wooden frame building on the southwest corner of Third and Main Streets. The first floor was occupied with the manufacture of cigars. This structure had a colorful history: dance hall to church. It housed the Resurrection Lutheran Church from the 1930ís to the mid-1950ís, when a new church building was constructed at Glacier Avenue and 10th Street. In the 1960ís, the building was razed to widen Main Street. The basswood molds used by Sebastian and his son in manufacturing a variety of cigars were burnt as firewood sometime in 1932. On the 1996 antique market, these cigar molds were very much in demand. The tobacco for the manufacture of handmade cigars arrived in hogs heads (large casks) by steamboat. A ship usually made a monthly (later biweekly) run through Southeast Alaska before returning to Seattle. These ships were the lifelines of the communities for every need. Livestock arrived alive and then were slaughtered on the dock, as needed. During this era, ships were not equipped with refrigeration. Butter was shipped in kegs in salt brine.

In the early summer of 1910, Sebastian sent his son, Alfred, to check on a mining venture he had invested in at Sutton in the Matanuska Valley. Alfred departed Juneau aboard the steamer Star of Seattle. While aboard the steamer on the Gulf of Alaska, a storm raged so severely that he saw the same point of land for three consecutive days. Upon arrival at Portage on the Kenai Peninsula, he hiked over the portage onto the head of Cook Inlet where Anchorage is today. There was one cabin on the beach. Throughout their lives, Sebastian and Alfred continued to become involved in various ventures in hopes of hitting it rich. They either grubstaked or put up venture capital. Some operations were successful but there were always other operations requiring financing. Some say ďOld prospectors live to take the wealth from one hole only to put it into another hole.Ē How true!

About 1914, a romance flourished between Theresa Zenger, the second daughter of the Zenger family and Hubert C. Huehn, a Linotype operator for the Daily Dispatch, a newspaper. The groom was the son of John Esch Huehn and Amelia Lundy and was born in 1890, in Morden (Manitoba), Canada. The couple were married in 1914, in Douglas. This family subsequently moved to California.

In 1916, Sebastianís youngest daughter, Hilda, married Eugene Allen Rowe, the son of Richard Valentine Rowe and Maria Z. Miller, born in 1894 in Madison (Dane), Wisconsin. In 1919, the couple moved to Seattle.

World War I raged since 1914. Alfred enlisted in the Navy Reserve in Seattle in 1917, and attended the first U.S. Navy class on radio telephone at Cambridge, Massachusetts. On graduation he was assigned to the Naval Training Center at Seattle to teach the radio telephone. He was released from active duty 1918, and discharged from the Naval Reserve in 1921.

While on active duty with the Navy in Seattle, Alfred met Silva Ann Redman through relatives. She was the ninth of ten children of John David and Emilia Redman of Seattle, born in 1898, in Seattle (King), Washington. The ensuing romance resulted in the couple being married in 1919 in Seattle. Shortly following the wedding they left for Juneau, honeymooning at Tenakee and Sitka.

According to the 1920 census, no Zengers were residing in Juneau. Apparently a division existed in the family between those who desired to reside stateside in Seattle and those who wished to remain in Juneau. In early 1920, Sebastian took up residence again in Juneau at 121 West Fourth Street at the corner of Calhoun Ave. Alfred and Silva resided in a small apartment upstairs. During the early 1920ís, Sebastian opened and operated a curio shop on South Franklin Street. He operated the store until his death in 1932. After spending the summer of 1932 at the Zengerís summer cabin near Point Louisa, approximately 16 miles from Juneau, the family took up residence in grandfatherís home on Calhoun Ave.

The government of the territory grew and put a considerable strain on available office space in Juneau. The City of Juneau gave to the territory for an office building the land on which the city hall and the old Arctic Brotherhood Building were situated. The new structure would face Main Street between Third and Fourth Streets. Alfred and wife Silva were not thrilled by the prospects of a four or five story office building being erected next to their home. During excavation for the office building, the powder man for the contractor was not too experienced in blasting and the first charges set off damaged the Zenger residence as well as the Cooper Building and automobiles across Main Street! Damages were repaired and the house remained in the possession of the Zenger family until 1965.

Alfred & Silva remained in Juneau where their children were born; Alfred Jr. in 1920, Harold in 1922, Ned in 1925, and Chester in 1927. Alfred Sr. was a cigar maker at various times in Seattle and Juneau. He found employment at the Alaska Juneau Gold Mine as a flume keeper. Took correspondence course to become an accountant and found employment with the Sanitary Grocery on Front Street, Connors Motor on South Franklin Street, and then with the Empire Printing Co. on Main and Second. Traveled to Germany to visit family in 1950, and upon return to Juneau obtained temporary employment with Veterans Administration and later with Dept. of Alaska American Legion. These positions were held by him at the time of his death in 1954, in Juneau. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in the American Legion Plot.

After Alfred Srs. death, Silva married Robert H. Hanson in 1962 in Fall City, Washington, and resided there. She passed away in Kirkland, Washington, in 1992.

Alfred Jr. resides in Florida, Ned lives in Idaho, Chester passed away in 1999 and Harold passed away in May, 2001.


Zenger family, 1941.




Sebastian Zenger, about 1900.




Carrie Zenger