Gold Rush & FDL on Feb 18

The discovery of gold in the Klondike in the 1890’s drew thousands to Alaska to seek their fortunes. Fond du Lac was not immune to gold fever. Local historians Theresa Mayer and the Rev. Edward Sippel will share stories of these local prospectors men at The Alaska Gold Rush and Fond du Lac at 2 p.m. and repeated at 6 p.m. Thursday, February 18, at the Fond du Lac Public Library. The programs are free; no registration required.

Mayer and Sippel will recount the experiences of several area men who went north, with a primary focus on the story of Sippel’s grandfather, John L. Beau of Calvary Station.

After his wife died giving birth to their second child, Beau left his children and his Calvary Station mercantile business in in his sister's hands to seek out gold. His northern adventures included mining, founding a mercantile in Nome, trading furs with Russians and much more. Included in the presentation will be a display of items Beau brought home from Alaska, preserved by grandson Sippel.

Mayer and Sippel also will share stories about others from the area who made the trip, including Phillip J. Abler of Mount Calvary, Charles Haag of Calumetville, Joseph Reinhardt of Dotyville, George Ernst of St. Cloud, Joseph Brost and John Lefeber of Johnsburg, Frank Schmidolkofer of Malone, Thomas Cale of Fond du Lac and John Lefeber and Michael Roehrig of Marytown.

The program is a part of the library’s monthly History at Home series, which focuses on stories of local and state history on the third Thursday of the month. Most History at Home programs are offered twice, at 2 p.m. and at 6 p.m., to help ease congestion and overcrowding at the popular presentations. Upcoming programs include:

  • March 17: The Irish of Fond du Lac
  • April 21: To be announced
  • May 19: Lakeside Park Through Langdon's Eyes
  • June 16: Bootlegging and Moonshining in the Holyland

In the photo: Phillip J. Abler of Mount Calvary stands near the Alaskan grave of fellow area prospector, Frank Schmidolkofer of Malone, in this photo from 1899.

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