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Delmar H. Traphagen

An interesting story could be told of a Michigan farmer's son who, unaided, except by his own industry and zeal to obtain an education, set out when he was a small boy to get away from the drudgery and environment of farm life. It would be a history of a dutiful son whose father believed that too much education was baleful instead of helpful and that the only road to success lay along the way of work and drudging toil to which he and his ancestors had been subjected. The boy's burning desire for an education made him plead his case so effectively that the father's consent was obtained, upon the condition that the boy should do his share of the farm work and the education should be obtained without any expense to the father. The high school which the child wanted to attend was in the village three miles and a half from the farm, and the education it could furnish was secured by the boy without violating the contract with his father. After graduating from the high school the boy had the temerity to attend the examination for teachers which he successfully passed. He succeeded in obtaining a country school, and after teaching one year attended the University of Michigan, paying for the tuition with the money he had earned. By teaching and selling school supplies he earned the money with which he obtained a university education and fitted himself for the profession of teaching. This boy was D. H. Traphagen, now principal of the Nome public schools.

He was born near Fenton, Michigan, October 14, 1876. The foregoing is but a glimpse of his early life. He was principal in the Owaso public schools in his native state in 1900 when he resigned to go to Nome.

Arriving in Nome he undertook the work of mining on the beach. He had built an amalgamator to be operated by a gasoline engine, but he soon discovered that the sluice-box method was the best way of mining. He made some money operating on the beach, and later in the season went to Teller. In 1901 he was interested in the mines of the Kougarok District. But these ventures not being so successful as he anticipated, he returned to Seattle in the fall of 1901 with the intention of taking a post graduate course. In Seattle he organized the night school under Superintendent Cooper, and taught mathematics in the high school during the winter. In the spring he resigned and returned to Nome, where he spent the summer season, returning to Seattle in the fall of 1902. During the winter of 1902-'03 he was principal of the Interbay School, and was re-engaged to teach this school the succeeding term when he secured the principalship of the Nome School. Thorough in his work, of which he possesses a comprehensive knowledge, attentive to his duties, and having splendid executive ability, D. H. Traphagen is a successful teacher. Education has developed talent and made him a man of marked ability.  

Source: Nome and Seward Peninsula by R. S. Harrison. Seattle: The Metropolitan Press, 1905.




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