Matanuska Project Index
Research Center


  Matanuska Valley Colony


March 1935


March 19, 1935  page 1

Families in Northern Counties Will Begin Migration to Alaska in April

Madison, March 19--(AP)--Modern pioneers, in the person of 67 northern Wisconsin families now on relief, will begin their exodus to a "new frontier" and a "new life" in Alaska late in April.

Arlie Mucks, president of the Wisconsin Rural Rehabilitation corporation, announced that Wisconsin's quota of the 200 families which will seek to rehabilitate themselves under federal direction in the fertile Matanuska valley, will sail from Seattle, Wash., in May together will similar groups from northern Michigan and Minnesota.

Relief offices in 16 northern Wisconsin counties will make recommendations of families for the journey to their new homes, but the final selection will be left to the Rehabilitation corporation, a division of the Wisconsin Emergency Relief Administration.  The FERA is sponsoring the project.

All qualifications have not been determined, Mucks said, but the eligible families must have been on relief for some time, their members must be healthy and they must have an agricultural background.  The husband and wife must be between 35 and 40, and willing to settle in the new Utopia.

The new frontier is located near the village of Palmer in the Matanuska valley, 175 miles north of Seward, on the southern coast of Alaska, and 35 miles northeast of Anchorage.

Four hundred CCC men and members of transient camps on the Pacific coast are being sent to Palmer this month to clear the land, build roads and houses, as well as a creamery, school building and community hall.

When the settlers arrive, each will be assigned 40 acres of land.  In rehabilitating the families, the government intends to spend $3,000 on each group, and the "pioneers" must agree to liquidate the government advance over 30 years.

The climate is similar to that in Wisconsin, Mucks said he was told in Washington.  The valley is ideal for agricultural purposes, he said, and the only grain common to Wisconsin which will not grow is corn.

Mucks said the first colony will be a model one, and if successful the government hopes to establish others on suitable land in Alaska.

Sixty-seven Minnesota families now living on unproductive northern Minnesota lands have been chosen for the government's experiment in Alaskan migration, Charles St. Denis, secretary of the Minnesota State Rural Rehabilitation corporation, announced.

The selections have not yet been confirmed, however, St. Denis explained, adding that final approval rests with the Alaska Rural Rehabilitation corporation.  The group is to be set up on farm lands in Alaska.

All Minnesota families have been selected from the relief rolls in a cut-over area including Pine, Carlton, Itasca, Koochiching, Beltrami, Lake of the Woods, Cass, Mille Lacs and Kanabec counties.  No single men will be chosen in Minnesota, St. Denis said, the quota of these having already been filled from Civilian Conservation Corps and transient camps in Washington and Oregon.

Preliminary plans call for the "migrators" to leave Seattle about May 1, with others in the group to be chosen from northern Wisconsin and Michigan.




March 25, 1935  page 2

Pick Families for Migration April 5

400 Unmarried Men to be Selected to Aid in Building Homes.

Washington, March 25--(AP)--The first step in the migration of 200 drought stricken farm families from northern Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin into Alaska will be taken April 5 when the federal relief administration makes final selection of those to make the trek.

The families are to be set up on a 40 acre tract in Matanuska Valley near Anchorage.

Four hundred unmarried men, accustomed to similar conditions from life in wooded areas on the west coast, are to be selected from relief transient camps to aid the families in building homes and clearing land.

They will receive civilian conservation corps wages and will remain until October.  The first group of bachelors will sail from Seattle April 20 and the remainder will accompany the families, which are scheduled to depart May 1 and May 15.




March 28, 1935  page 9

Three Families Chosen

Iron River--Three families from Iron county and 33 others from 11 counties in the western part of the Upper Peninsula will leave about May 1 for Alaska, under the government colonization program, Walter M. Berry, field representative for the state emergency welfare relief commission, stated here.

They will go to the Matanuska valley as part of an "experimental migration."

The families will be a part of 67 from Michigan who will work on homesteads.  They are being chosen on a selective basis by the ERA and applications are not solicited, Berry stated.  No family will be forced to make the change, having the privilege of acceptance or rejection.