Children of the Gold Rush
Children were few and precious in the Gold Rush settlements. Author Edith Tyrell, in her memoirs of Dawson, tells of a miner who became angry with her husband for some unknown reason, and when pressed to explain, replied, "You walked by my cabin today: you had a little child by the hand, and you didn't come in. It's years since I've heard a child speak or felt a little hand in mine." When the man grasped their daughter's hand, tears rolled down his cheeks, he left her a prize nugget as a gift. The child was overwhelmed with gifts during their short stay in the Yukon. Even more rare were the births of children. One of the main attractions of the 1900 Fourth of July parade in Nome was the decorated carriage that held the first white children born there. Tyrell also related the story of the three Klondike miners who discovered a dying woman with a new born baby in a deserted cabin on Christmas Eve. The young father returned shortly with a doctor but collapsed when he found his wife had died. The miners were charged with bringing the baby to the safety of their settlement on Eldorado Creek, and finding an experienced woman to tend the little tyke, whom they christened Edna Eldorado. Any settlement that had more than a few children somehow managed to provide a school. There were often more children than expected. In 1900 the school in Nome had nearly 50 students even though residents of the community only expected eight or ten; in 1896 Circle City had an enrollment of 36 when hardly a dozen were anticipated. There were no textbooks available in Circle so the children used stray pages from novels, scraps of newspaper, bibles and anything that had words on it.
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