Cover image for Staking her claim : the life of Belinda Mulrooney, Klondike and Alaska entrepreneur
Staking her claim : the life of Belinda Mulrooney, Klondike and Alaska entrepreneur
Mayer, Melanie J., 1945-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Athens : Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xxii, 415 pages : illustrations, maps ; 26 cm
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F1095.K5 M295 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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If Horatio Alger had imagined a female heroine in the same mold as one of the young male heroes in his rags-to-riches stories, she would have looked like Belinda Mulrooney. Smart, ambitious, competitive, and courageous, Belinda Mulrooney was destined through her legendary pioneering in the wilds of the Yukon basin to found towns and many businesses. She built two fortunes, supported her family, was an ally to other working women, and triumphed in what was considered a man's world.

In Staking Her Claim, Melanie Mayer and Robert N. DeArmond provide a faithful and comprehensive portrait of this unique character in North American frontier history. Their exhaustive research has resulted in a sweeping saga of determination and will, tempered by disaster and opportunity.

Like any good Horatio Alger hero, Belinda overcame the challenges that confronted her, including poverty, prejudice, a lack of schooling, and the early loss of parents. Her travels took her from her native Ireland as a young girl to a coal town in Pennsylvania to Chicago, San Francisco, and finally, in 1897, to the Yukon.

Staking Her Claim is a testament to the human spirit and to the idea of the frontier. It is a biography of a woman who made her own way in the world and in doing so left an indelible mark.

Author Notes

Melanie J. Mayer is Professor Emerita of the University of California
Robert N. DeArmond, who writes a weekly column for the Sitka Sentinal, is a journalist, a former publisher, and an awardwinning Alaska historian

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Mayer and DeArmond have chronicled the amazing exploits of Belinda Mulrooney, arguably the most successful female pioneer and entrepreneur in the Pacific Northwest. Boldly defying societal strictures regarding proper behavior and occupations for single women, Belinda traveled to Alaska in 1895, establishing a flourishing retail operation. When gold was discovered in the Yukon River basin, she set off for the Klondike to make her fortune. Over the next few decades, Mulrooney helped establish several thriving towns and became a successful restaurateur, real estate developer, general contractor, merchant, and banker. Overcoming gender, class, and ethnic discrimination, this ambitious, shrewd, and primarily self-educated Irish immigrant prospered in a man's world. A turn-of-the-century success story that will appeal to women's history buffs. --Margaret Flanagan

Table of Contents

Illustrationsp. ix
Prefacep. xv
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Concerning Sourcesp. xix
Abbreviationsp. xxi
1 Ireland: Fostering Self-Reliancep. 1
2 Pennsylvania: Unhappiness, Deceptions, and New Opportunitiesp. 9
3 A Young Entrepreneur Exploits Chicago and the World's Fair of 1893p. 21
4 Launching into the Pacific Northwestp. 35
5 Chilkoot: Going In in 1897p. 45
6 Building Dawsonp. 56
7 Grand Forks, the Heart of Gold Countryp. 75
8 Mining in the Winter of 1897-98p. 95
9 Winds of Changep. 109
10 A Fair View in Dawsonp. 120
11 The Skagway Caperp. 132
12 Racing with Winterp. 141
13 Charles Eugene Carbonneaup. 150
14 Belinda at Her Peakp. 160
15 Spring 1899 and Carbonneau A-Courtingp. 178
16 The Klondike Rush Is Overp. 197
17 Belinda's Triumphal Tourp. 210
18 A Weddingp. 220
19 Carbonneau and Carbonneaup. 233
20 Mining Gold Runp. 246
21 Starting Over in Fairbanksp. 271
22 The Dome City Bank: Business and Funny Businessp. 282
23 Retrenching in Yakima, Washingtonp. 300
24 The Notorious Charles E. Carbonneaup. 317
25 Belinda Maturesp. 325
Notesp. 345
Photographic Sourcesp. 391
Referencesp. 393
Indexp. 407