by Ruth Posey Saviers
Paternal grandfather, Parham Thornton “PT” was born in Sparkman, Arkansas, in 1876. He was a machinist by trade and worked his way across the United States from Arkansas to California and on to Seattle plying that trade. His wife, Molly Crown, over had died from typhoid fever leaving him with two children, Ruth and Bill. He came to Alaska traveling with son Sebern Lee “Bill” around 1929-30 because the area he lived in was, like most of the nation, caught in the Great Depression and he had heard of Alaska being a place where one could survive off the land. The first year they wintered on Entrance Island outside Swanson Harbor and lived totally off the land in a makeshift shack from logs and driftwood.
Fishing and his machinist trade were based in the Icy Straits area where he carried his tools in the boat and traveled between Juneau and Hoonah. Getting rich was not important to him and he dearly loved to see new places and to tell his many stories to new people. He was not one to settle in one place or one harbor. He had very little formal education but loved to read. In the outlying areas in those days, books and magazines were greatly coveted and he would collect and pass along books with each trip. There were a few winters when he took a watchman job on floating fish canneries and just holed up and read. It was a life that suited him.
When he could no longer comfortably operate his boat because of his arthritis and poor eyesight, he moved to Juneau and lived several years on his boat moored in Harris Harbor. He took a job as caretaker for the assembly of God property at Lena Point area and lived there until he died in 1949.
PT’s son Bill married Rose Carter in 1932, and they had one daughter, Ruth. Bill was killed in a logging accident at a CCC camp in Icy Straits in 1934. PT’s daughter, Ruth Scott, had six children and most of them remained in California.
Maternal grandmother, Myrtle Evelyna Fletcher, was born in Everett, Washington, and was orphaned early. She was raised in a Catholic convent. Myrtle married Samuel Carter and had three children: Rose, Samuel and Sarah. They separated and the children were sent to live with different aunts. Around 1928, Myrtle answered a mail order ad for a bride and came to Alaska where she married Fred Fletcher, a fisherman from Missouri. They pioneered Game Creek farm area near Hoonah and during WWII, supplied fresh vegetables to the surrounding area. She was an outdoors person who loved berry picking, making jelly, and fishing.
Myrtle was reunited with her daughter Rose in 1931, in Alaska. In Myrtle’s latter years, she was an amputee and confined to a wheelchair after having lost a leg to diabetes. She was in her eighties when she died.
My mother, Rose Belle Carter, was born in 1916, in Yoncalla, Oregon, to Myrtle and Sam Carter. She came to Alaska in 1931, on the SS Zapora to reunite with her mother, Myrtle Fletcher, and step-father, Fred Fletcher, at Game Creek near Hoonah. The trip was a miserable seasick one for her. The Zapora was a steamer and was what is called a “roller.” Rose was plagued with seasickness all her life and blamed it on the Zapora!
In 1932, Rose married Sebern Lee “Bill” Posey and lived on Halibut Island a few nautical miles from her 422 mother’s farm. Rose and Bill had one child, Ruth. They built a small log cabin on the outskirts of the Game Creek property. Rose was widowed in 1934, when Bill was killed in a logging accident at a CCC camp near Hoonah. She was left with her six-week old daughter, Ruth. She leased Halibut Island in Icy Strait and became one of the early pioneers in the blue fox farming industry.
In late 1935, she married John Makinen, who was a fisherman and also a fox farmer on a nearby island. They had three children: Jack, Nancy, and Myrtle. The family moved to Juneau in 1944, after John had suffered a stroke. This move enabled the children to attend public schools. Up until that time, Rose taught her children with the Calvert correspondence course.
This was war time and money was extremely scarce. The fox market fell as fox coats and scarves were a luxury item, so in order to finance the move to Juneau, Rose dug clams. A floating clam cannery had been established in the Hoonah area and she and the children dug clams in a bay across from the island. Then after digging a small skiff load of clams, she would transport them to Hoonah for sale. It was back breaking work and had to be planned around the tides. But it served the purpose and the move was made to Juneau. John died after the move and was buried in Hoonah.
In 1945, Rose married Dave Simonson. He had one son, Arron, and they had a son David. They lived one year at Eagle River Landing and then bought a house at Sunny Point. Dave worked construction and Rose worked as maid at the Gastineau Hotel. The first year at Sunny Point, Dave went to work in Haines on the construction of the Haines Highway. Rose wanted running water because water was carried quite a distance from a creek. She took on the project of digging a ditch from the creek to the house and at least got running cold water to the house. She was again widowed in 1966.
Rose married Jim Phillips in 1971, and they resided at their waterfront home at Tee Harbor. She enjoyed fishing, crocheting, embroidery and her flower garden. She was preceded in death by sons, Jack and Arron and she died in 1999, leaving four children, 14 grandchildren and 25 great grandchildren.
PT Posey on bow of Ace, 1932.
Rose Posey and mother Myrtle Fletcher, log cabin at Game Creek.