THE WRANGEL ISLAND DOCUMENTS 369
woman’s courage and faithfulness, were based largely on state-
ments made by her and on parts of a crude diary she kept. Some
entries in this record, at first thought to be unreadable, have
recently been deciphered by Mr. Noice and his wife. These, the
explorer said, revealed that Ada refused to aid E. Lorne Knight,
actual leader of the party, as he lay dying on the island and that
she probably saved her own life on food that would have saved
Knight from starvation.
Went to Claim Island
Knight, Allan Crawford, of Canada, and Milton Galle and
Frederick Maurer, Americans, went to the island off the north
Siberian coast in the spring of 1921, partly to claim it for Great
Britain for possible use as a station on future trans-polar air
flights and partly to test the theory of Vilhjalmur Stefansson that
men could live off game in the Arctic without elaborate supplies or
Since the chief need was warm clothing, they took with them
Ada Blackjack, who was to be seamstress and cook. But Mrs.
Blackjack, whose husband, a great Eskimo hunter, had died, soon
revealed she had other ideas. She quickly proposed marriage to
Crawford, Mr. Noice said, and, when repulsed by him, remarked
that she had left Nome determined to marry one of the four white
men. Since young Crawford was not willing, any of the others
None could see Mrs. Blackjack as a mate, however, and from
that time her co-operation lessened. She often refused to work,
Mr. Noice said, and gave the little group no end of trouble. Even-
tually, however, the diaries of all in the party 8 spoke less and less
of the woman and it was presumed she was satisfied.
At first there was much game, particularly polar bears, but the
second winter brought real hardship. The bears failed to appear,
food grew more and more scarce. Knight was stricken with scurvy.
Despite his illness, however, he and Crawford started a dash toward
Siberia, only to be halted and driven back by bitter weather.
8 This language seems to indicate that Mr. Noice found on Wrangel the
diaries of Crawford, Galle and Maurer, as well as that of Knight. If so, he
must have them still, for he has acknowledged to the relatives only the diaries
of Knight and some fragmentary notes by Galle.
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