Sears Gazetteer – Alaska

The Sears Gazetteer contains a list of locations in the USA with the name Sears, compiled by Ray Sears over the years. Also see Sears Gazetteer – Maine and Sears Gazetteer – Mississippi.

Sears Creek is a stream in Dry Creek, Southeast Fairbanks Census Area (CA) Alaska. Sears Creek runs under a bridge of the Alaska Highway 2.

Sears Creek Pumping Station
Christine McClain papers, Archives and Special Collections,
Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage

Colorized 2020 DeOldify

It’s about 2 1/2 hours by car from Fairbanks, 15 minutes to Dot Lake Village.

The Alaska Gazetteer has 0 Popular Places near Dot Lake Village. This might be a dull post.

Or maybe not!

In 1942, Fort Greely was established near Fairbanks. The Alaska Highway was built in WWII to connect Dawson Creek, BC to the Richardson Highway in Alaska. The Public Roads Administration (PRA) divided the highway into six-lettered sections of several hundred miles each south from Alaska for administrative purposes.

Fort Greely was named after Adolphus Washington Greely, polar explorer and Civil War veteran.

Adolphus Greely, 1895, Wikipedia

In 1861, First Lieutenant Greely was given command of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition on the ship Proteus, for an ill-fated expedition to Alaska. Of the 25-man crew who left with him, only 6 survived.

Greely Arctic Expedition, 1861, Wikipedia
Colorized 2020 DeOldify

Searching for a photo of Greely, I came across Francis Vinton Greene and his father, American Civil War hero and Union General from Apponaug, Rhode Island, Major General George Sears Greene (1801-1899).

Major George Sears Greene, public domain photo
Colorized 2020 DeOldify

Dot Lake used to be called Sears City, according to the Village history. Sears City isn’t in the Sears Gazetteer. During construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942-43, a work camp occupied Dot Lake’s present location. Upon completion of this section of the highway the camp was abandoned and the structures left in place.

Perhaps the Sears City work camp was run by the Sears Construction Company, who had a contract to build there from 1942-1944. The William Herbert Newlove photographs and postcards at UAA/APU Consortium Library may tell a story. The Sears Construction company was a subcontractor of Lytle & Green Construction Co. Group, of Des Moines Iowa, and mentioned frequently with Duesenberg, both out of Clear Lake, Iowa.

Clear Lake, Iowa is about 52 hours and 3000 miles from Sears Creek, Alaska. It probably took twice as long to get there in 1942.

Here’s a video I DeOldif’ied of the building of the Highway of Alaska.

According to the ALCAN Highway web site, Dot Lake is Mile 1361 of the Alaska Highway. Mile 1938 and parts of the highway were constructed by Sears Construction Co., who were paid at least $560k in 1945 US dollars for their work.

The ALCAN, or Alaska-Canadian Highway and it’s construction is surprisingly well documented and has quite a few historical collections online. SLED, the Statewide Library Electronic Doorway (and awesome acronym) contains links to the Alaska State Archives, Alaska State Library, Anchorage Museum, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the UAA/APU Consortium Library in Anchorage, Alaska. Tim Bell’s site has lots of facts and history about the highway.

There’s even a few songs written about it.

Also see:
The Alaska Highway, An Interim Report from the Committee On Roads, Yukon Archives
Bell’s Travel Guides Alaska Border to Delta Junction
Bookinistika’s Guide to the Alaska Highway
Yukon Archives
Alaska Highway, DoD
NARA Strategic Alaska Highway
Alaska Highway by Frank McDonald

What Sears family members pop up in Alaska?

William W. Sears was born 25 Dec 1857 in Cascade, Michigan. According to Samuel P. May, “he is an extensive farmer, and stock-raiser in Alaska, Michigan, and had no children” when Samuel was writing his book. Since this post is about Alaska the state and unlike Kansas City, Alaska the city isn’t in Alaska the state, Farmer Bill will have to wait another day and perhaps another Superbowl for further research.

Benjamin Robinson Sears was born 25 Nov 1870 in Bennington, Vermont. Ben R. Sears Jr. drowned in the Yukon river during the Alaska Gold Rush. Ed. S. Sears had a Mineral Claim in Yukon Territory from 1898-1907. There isn’t any mention of Yukon in the Sears Gazetteer, though there is a Hard-rock occurrence called Sears there, staked by another E. Sears in 1985.

The Alaska Yukon Gold Book, 1930, mentions the passing of Frank Sears in its records, at the Pioneer’s Home in Sitka, Alaska.

James Hamilton Sears (1855-1915) was born in Binghamton, NY and had some “interesting and adventurous experiences in Alaska” mentioned in Samuel P. May’s handwritten notes below.

Lieutenant James Hamilton Sears, was born and educated in Binghamton, NY; entered Annapolis Naval School, 20 Sep 1871, and graduated with the rank of Ensign, 20 Jun 1876. For three years he was a “Middy” or as now called, Ensign on the Tennessee, which guarded American interests at China, Japan and Siam. Returning from the three years cruise he entered the Naval Observatory at Washington, where he spent a year or more. He was subsequently attached to the Kearsarge as Ensign.

His next detachment was at the navy yard at Charleston, from where he secured an appointment under Captain Schley at that time in command of the Baltimore. This latter detachment brought Lt Sears into the midst of events that have a place in the history of the United States. The Baltimore conveyed the remains of Ericson, the famous inventor, to his birthplace, Sweden. This service performed, the Baltimore sailed to the Mediterranean where after a short stay, the cruiser was ordered to Chili, where hostilities had broken out. The attack made on a party of sailors from the Baltimore, and the tragic death of a number of American naval men is a matter of history. Some of the sailors from the Baltimore were taken prisoners and Lt Sears was sent on shore to secure their release. This dangerous errand was successfully performed, by him and his men, although he was compelled to spend several days in jial. The Chilian incident closed, the Baltimore returned to the United States.

Lt Sears was ordered to Alaska to make a government survey. After interesting and adventurous experiences in Alaska, he was placed in command of the survey boat McArthur, which patrolled the Pacific coast in the vicinity of the bay of San Francisco. Lt Sears prepared a complete history of the Chilian incident which was published by the government.

His thorough knowledge of naval matters as well as his intelligence and ability to express himself, brought him in to demand by the government, as a lecturer on naval craft defense in the Naval College at Newport. From there he went to the Naval Home at Philadelphia, where his stay was abruptly terminated by the trouble with Spain. While at Philadelphia Lt Sears was honored by Capt Schley, who had been given command of the Flying Squadron. In selecting his officers, Capt Schley did not forget his associates on the Baltimore, men he knew to be brave, fearless and trustworthy. Lt Sears was one of these, and to him fell the position of Flag lieutenant. It has been proven an important position, but Lt Sears has been equal to it, and has brought honor to himself and his country.

James career timeline was captured in the book “The Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, 1894” and this may be him, at around 55 years old, as Captain of the U.S.S. Concord just before its decommissioning.

NavSource Online: Gunboat Photo Archive, Concord (PG-3)

Leave a Reply