Born about  1887 in Alaska

By Coleen Mielke

McNeil Island Prison Booking Photo  1911


This beautiful Eskimo girl was born about 1891. She grew  up in Nome, Alaska but some documents say she was born in Siberia.

There are many phonetic spellings for Carrie's last name. Prison records say her Eskimo name was Emoota Apalruk. Her social security record shows her as Carrie Apalaruk, daughter of John Apalruk of Nome. At a very early age (before she was 17) records show she was married to a Chinese man named Sang Sing (some records say it was Fong Sing).

Carrie had a rough childhood; her father and stepmother spent time at McNeil Island Prison for “selling alcohol to Natives”; her step-mother (Assairuk) died at McNeil Island Prison (of tuberculosis) and was buried there.

On 1911, at the age of 17 prison records show that Carrie was arrested and charged with adultery for “voluntarily having sexual intercourse with a soldier named Joseph Dietz”. At court, she pleaded not guilty and was assigned an “Indian interpreter” (Ablekok), and an interpreter of “Native dialect” (Fredrick Larson) and a lawyer (F. E. Fuller). The Judge gave Carrie a chance to make a statement, but she refused, so the case was submitted without argument and she was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Five months later, Carrie was arrested and charged with “assault with intent to kill” when she attacked a soldier with a knife (at Nome River) after “he broke a promise”. Again, she was given a lawyer, two interpreters and a chance to make a statement to the courts (which she again refused). She was sentenced to 2 years in prison at McNeil Island and was released from prison on 4/27/1913. She was ill with tuberculosis when she returned to Nome.

Three months after being released from McNeil Island, Carrie was arrested for “intentionally pointing a firearm at Thomas C. Griffin” a soldier. The court records show that the soldier was shot in the altercation and sustained a non-life-threatening wound. However, before the trial began, the soldier, developed blood poisoning from the shotgun wound and died. The charges against Carrie were changed to manslaughter.

Carrie was represented by a lawyer (Hugh O’Neil) and two interpreters. The judge gave her a chance to make a statement about the charges, but she, once again, waived that opportunity. There were 6 witnesses (4 Native and 2 non-Native) who testified at the trial which lasted 2 days (one of the witnesses was Carrie’s father Apalaruk). The judge sentenced her to 6 years at Leavenworth Prison.

When Carrie got to Leavenworth, the doctor said her tuberculosis was progressing at a rapid rate and he was doubtful that she would live long enough to serve her full sentence, so they transferred her to a Colorado Penitentiary where the arid climate improved Carries health.

In Colorado, Carrie worked in the prison laundry and went to school where she learned to speak English. After serving her six year sentence, Carrie went back to Nome where she married Philip Ahsaruk (many different spellings), a reindeer herder. They had two children (Grace born in 1920 and William born in 1925); they also raised several other orphans.

The 1920 U.S.Census for Nome, show the family like this:
Ayaruk, Philip age 40 Reindeer Herder
Ayaruk, Carrie age 21 (wife)
Ayaruk, Cecil age 14 (adopted)
Ayaruk, Mildred age 10 (adopted)
Ayaruk, Toolos age 3 (daughter)
Ayaruk, Grace age 1 (daughter)

The 1930 U.S. Census for Nome show the family like this:
Asiruk, Philip age 50 Reindeer Herder
Asiruk, Carrie age 35 (2nd wife)
Asiruk, Edith age 25 (daughter)
Asiruk, Leonard age 17 (son)
Asiruk, Benjamin age 15 (son)
Asiruk, Tillie age 13 (daughter)
Asiruk, Grace age 10 (daughter)
Asiruk, William age 4 (son)
Brown, John age 24 (son-in-law)

The 1940 B.I.A. Census for Nome show the family like this:
Ahsuruk, Phillip born 11/14/1866  (Head)
Ahsuruk, Carrie  born winter of 1887 (wife)
Ahsuruk, *William born 4/15/1925 (adopted)
Berganaschi, Pauline born 2/23/1928 (adopted)
Elingnak, Cecil born 6/26/1933 (grandson)
Eviyanna, Frankie born winter of 1903 (Step-brother-in-law)
Kungesuk, John born 5/13/1913 (Son-in-law)
Kungesuk, *Grace born 3/19/1919 (daughter)
Kungesuk, Edith Caroline born 6/20/1938 (Granddaughter - Adopted)

When Carrie’s husband (Phillip) died, she moved to Washington and lived to the ripe old age of 94.