At the age of 27, Fannie Sedlacek left her Bohemian homestead in Nebraska to join the gold rush to the Klondike. From the Klondike to the Tanana, Fannie continued north, finally settling in Kantishna near Mount McKinley. This woman, later known as Fannie Quigley, became a prospector who staked her own claims and a cook who ran a roadhouse. She hunted and trapped and thrived for nearly forty years in an environment that others found unbearable.
Her wilderness lifestyle inspired many of those who met her to record their impressions of this self-sufficient woman, who died in 1944. To many of the 700,000 annual visitors to Denali National Park she is a symbol of the enduring spirit of the original pioneers.
Searching for Fannie Quigley: A Wilderness Life in the Shadow of Mount McKinley goes beyond the mere biographical facts of this unique woman’s journey. It also tells historian Jane G. Haigh’s own story of tracking and tracing the many paths that Fannie Quigley’s intriguing life took. Uncovering remote clues, digging through archives, and listening to oral accounts from a wide array of sources, Haigh has fashioned this rich lode into a compelling narrative.
In Searching for Fannie Quigley, Haigh separates fact from fiction to reveal the true story of this highly mythologized pioneer woman.