Katherine was one of the first native women to form a bridge between the Native culture and that of the "white man" who came to settle Alaska. Katherine was a 14 year old when she met Jack McQuesten. Jack was an American, and a miner. With his two partners (Al Mayo and Arthur Harper), he planned to establish several trading posts on the Yukon river. Kate was an Athabascan native. As a girl, she attended school at the Russian Mission school in Ikogmiut. This is where one summer she met Jack, her husband to be.
Jack's partners, Al Mayo and Arthur Harper married soon after their arrival in Alaska. Al Mayo married a Native woman named Margaret, and Arthur Harper married Margaret's cousin Jennie. When Jack met Katherine he still hadn't found a wife. When he met Kate he knew she was the girl for him. Four years after they met, they married. At that time Kate was only 18 and Jack was 42 years old.
In 1886 the McQuestens, Mayos, and Harpers established Fort Nelson in Yukon Territory. When the group moved to Forty Mile Kate became famous for her vegetable gardens. Knowing not only her Native tounge but Russian and English as well helped her make many friends. She organized many social events which were well attended.
Kate and Jack had a large family of eight children. In 1891 Kate gave birth to the first of her children, Crystal, in a tent outside her home. When Jack died in 1910, Kate began to manage her husbands considerable estate. She moved with two of her daughters to Berkeley where she lived until her death in 1918.
From Kathleen Dalton of Fairbanks|
"Cyrstal, whom I met and knew, was born in 1891 in the town of Fortymile which is located at junction of Fortymile River and Yukon River, about half way between Dawson, Yukon and Eagle, Alaska. Cyrstal told me that Jack McQuesten had sent her out of the region in 1897 to go to school in San Jose, CA where her auntie lived with her husband who was superintendent of schools. Crystal told me that a sister and a brother already were in the Pacific northwest where Jack had sent them to school. Crystal also told me that her father realized that there would be a serious shortage of food and supplies during the winter of 1897 (because of the influx of gold seekers). He then packed up his entire family and moved them out before the Yukon River froze up in the fall of '97. I visited Crystal several times in California. My meeting Crystal was an historic highlight for me. She provided a real tangible link with the days of early exploration and gold stampedes in the Yukon and Alaska."
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