Valley author writes book on Alaska pioneer women

The only reason Carson Valley resident Cherry Jones didn't write a book about pioneer Nevada women is that the job was already taken.

So she did her next favorite state, Alaska.

"More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Alaska Women" is part of a series produced by Globe Pequot Press for each state in the union.

The book is on sale at The Book Den in Gardnerville. Jones will be there noon to 2 p.m. April 18.

The author of "More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Nevada Women," Arizona resident Jan Cleere was responsible for prompting Jones' interest in writing the book.

While Jones had a copy of the series entry from Texas, she was unaware it was a series until she was contacted by Cleere, who was working on the Nevada book.

"I portray Dr. Eliza Cook and Jan contacted me for information about her," Jones said. "She and I became friends."

The 68-year-old author spends her summers in Alaska, where her children and grandchild live, so she contacted the publisher to find out if anyone had done Alaska yet.

The challenge to writing the book was that all the women had to be born in the 19th century.

"In Alaska every thing is so new," she said. "They consider pioneers to be people who arrived in the 1940s. Our house is in Homer and all the women were born after 1900. Homer didn't even have a road until after the turn of the century. You had to get there by boat."

Jones' book runs 134 pages and contains biographies of a dozen Alaskan women.

She spent a year and a half researching the book, using sources from the state archives, libraries of the universities in Fairbanks and Anchorage and information from several small museums in the state.

"I obviously couldn't drive all over Alaska," she said. "While here last winter, I got a lot of information thanks to interlibrary loans. Mona Reno at the State Library and Archives was very persistent in tracking things down. Interlibrary loans are a wonderful invention."

Jones tells the tale of Alaska Nellie who when the mail was late, took her dogsled out and rescued the postman.

The pioneer then went back out into the cold to retrieve the mail and made sure it was delivered.

"Some of these stories have me feeling a little wimpish," she said. "I remember reading it and thinking 'it's a little cool in here, think I'll turn up the heater.'"

Nellie worked for a season feeding railroaders in Carlin on her way to Alaska, just one of several connections she found between the two states.

"You used to know everybody in Nevada, same as in Alaska," she said. "Everybody who went up there was doing the same thing and they had to travel immense distances to get anywhere."

Jones has lived in Carson Valley for more than nine years. A Texan who spent most of her life in California, she was a parent education pre-school teacher and children's book store owner in Palo Alto for many years.

She and her husband Fred celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary late last summer.

Jones has written short biographies in other books. She wrote a small picture book for children in a textbook series.

If you go

What: Cherry Jones signs copies of her book "More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Alaska Women."

Where: Book Den in Gardnerville

When: Noon to 2 p.m. April 18


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment