HENRY BRATNOBER is one of the sturdy and distinguished characters of the western mining world. He possesses an evenly-balanced temperament, the placidity of which is not easily ruffled, and his judgment of business opportunities
is illustrated by the success he has achieved. By his force of character he has overcome
obstacles, subdued difficulties and blazed a trail from the obscurity of poverty and an
humble life to the eminence of affluence; and is engaged in gigantic undertakings in the
field of industry and endeavor where vast capital is required as the initiatory expense
of the undertaking. Mr. Bratnober is now devoting much of his time, energy and
capital to the development of the mineral resources of Alaska. He is associated with
two big enterprises in Seward Peninsula and has interests in other parts of this great
northern territory. The Seward Peninsula enterprises with which he is associated are
the Topkuk Ditch and Seward Ditch.
Mr. Bratnober was born in Castrine, Prussia, in 1849, and immigrated with
his parents to America in 1854. The family located in Galena, Illinois, and a year
later moved to Wisconsin. In 1864 Mr. Bratnober joined the army. He was a
private in the Thirty-sixth Wisconsin, Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac. In
1866 he journeyed across the plains to Montana, and began his career as a miner.
He struggled along a great many years before he did any good for himself. But he
possessed pluck and persistence, the two most essential qualities to success in any field
of work. During the years when he failed to win the smiles of the fickle goddess he
was acquiring valuable experience and a knowledge of practical mining work, which
he has subsequently made useful and has turned to the account of profit.
In 1894 he visited Australia, where he remained a year and a half engaged in
quartz mining. He began his life work as a miner in the placer camps of Montana,
but has had a varied experience, which includes every kind of mining for the precious
metals. In 1 897 he went to the Klondike country, and has been identified with the
northern gold fields ever since. The trip in '97 was an historic journey in the annals
of Alaska, as he accompanied Jack Dalton, the man who blazed the trail from Haines
Mission to Dawson. The following year Mr. Bratnober took another journey across
country through an untraveled and unknown region in Alaska. This trip was from
Haines Mission to the head-waters of White River. In 1903 his explorations of
Alaskan territory extended in another direction. In this year a journey was made from
Valdez to Eagle City or, the Yukon. In 1904 he went from Skagway to Tanana,
and thence to St. Michael and this season, 1905, he is taking the same trip. A part
of his travels in Alaska this year will consist of little journeys from the main trail to
regions in Central Alaska, where prospecting parties sent out by Mr. Bratnober are
exploring the country and hunting for the yellow metal. Three of these prospecting parties
are in the Tanana region, one at Delta, one at Good Pasture, and one in the
vicinity of the head-waters of the Tanana.
Mr. Bratnober has a great deal of faith in the mineral resources of Alaska. He
has traveled over a very large area of this frozen country. He is familiar with the
geological conditions that are inseparably associated with gold. He knows
mineral ground when he sees it, and he believes that the mineral resources of
the Northland contains immense possibilities. He has not seen any part of Alaska that impressed
him as an agricultural country, nor does he believe that the timber of Alaska will
contribute ,n any great degree to the lumber industry of the world. The best evidence of
his faith in the mineral resources of this country is the time, energy and money he has
used to explore and develop these resources.
Mr. Bratnober is a man of action rather than of words; he does more thinking
than talking. He has the courage of his convictions, and the faculty of successfully
executing the plans that he formulates. Most of his life has been spent on the frontier.
He is a pioneer-- one of the men who have blazed trails and assisted in the development
of the wilderness, so as to make it not only inhabitable but attractive.
He has been associated with the world's greatest and most successful financiers,
and his reputation for quick and decisive grasp of conditions, for unswerving honesty and
integrity has made his advice and opinion eagerly sought after by all those with whom
he has come in contact. He is loved by all men who know his worth, and is always ready
to extend a helping hand to his old-time friends.
Mr. Bratnober was married in Greenville, Illinois, in early life, and with his wife
resides in Piedmont, California, where they have one of the most beautiful homes in
that part of the country.
Source: Nome and Seward Peninsula by R. S. Harrison. Seattle:
The Metropolitan Press, 1905.