March 16, 2016–Lucille Hunter, Klondike Gold Miner
Lucille Hunter followed the lure of the gold to the Klondike in 1897-98, at the height of the Gold Rush. Hunter who was 19 and pregnant at the time, but that didn’t hold her back. She and her husband Charles took the Telegraph Creek route to Dawson and soon struck out for parts unknown to seek their fortune.
Hunter was born in 1879 in the deep south. She said she had worked in the fields since she was 13 years old. She met her husband and the two decided to head north and north and north again.
On their way to the gold fields, Hunter said they paused only long enough for her to give birth to their daughter whom they named Teslin, in honor of the village of the same name on Teslin Lake.
In those days, Hunter told interviewers, the Native people had never seen a black person before and referred to the Hunters as “another kind of white person.”
Most gold rushers stayed camped by the lakes waiting for break-up before heading into the wilds to stake their claim. The Hunters decided to push on, through mid-winter sub-zero temperatures. Traveling by dog team they reached some of the richest areas for for gold at Bonanza Creek in early spring and staked a claim.
Throughout the years, the Hunters continued to stake claims and mine around the Mayo area. Charles Hunter died in the 1930s and Lucille continued to work her claims on her own, even after she went blind. To keep up the required assessment reports on her claims, each summer she would walk over 150 miles from Dawson to Mayo and back again. In her later years she had a dog for her companion on her epic treks. She died in Whitehorse in 1972 at the age of 97.