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Bonnie Wartes

Bonnie Wartes was interviewed on May 24, 2004 by Bill Schneider at Elmer E. Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Bonnie and her husband, Bill, were Presbyterian missionaries on the North Slope in the 1950's. She spoke about their work in Barrow, and how her husband worked with people in Anaktuvuk Pass to build a church out of logs. There is a very good description with pictures (shown in the slideshow) of establishing the church in Anaktuvuk Pass, and how the men hauled the logs into the community. During the interview, Bonnie was accompanied by her daughter-in-law, Denise Wartes, and Donita Lawhead, a member of the Presbyterian church in Fairbanks.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2002-27-17

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: May 24, 2004
Narrator(s): Bonnie Wartes
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
People Present: Denise Wartes, Donita Lawhead
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.


1) Her personal background

2) Going to Barrow for missionary work

3) Starting the church in Anaktuvuk Pass

4) Talking about photographs of building the church at Anaktuvuk Pass

5) Naming of the chapel at Anaktuvuk Pass

6) The church newsletter and getting water in the villages

7) Her and her husband's ministry work after leaving Alaska

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


Section 1: birthdate\ birthplace\ Washington\ farming\ father -- job\ rural real estate\ Seattle\ Ballard High School\ First Presbyterian Church\ church -- youth group\ radio ministry\ Mission -- Point Barrow, Alaska\ supplies\ Barrow\ Christmas\ spring\ Wartes, Dell\ San Francisco Theological Seminary\ Air Force\ World War II\ R.O.T.C.\ airplane -- B24\ pilot\ South Pacific\ Atom Bomb\ Presbyterian ministry\ church -- building\ Barrow|

Section 2: Barrow -- arrival\ ship\ Seattle\ Seward\ Anchorage\ Fairbanks\ Barrow\ Inupiaq language\ children -- Native\ language -- issues\ language -- restrictions\ protest\ languages -- combined\ school\ husband -- job\ church pastor\ job -- secretary\ Kaktovik\ Wainwright\ Meade River -- coal mine\ Anaktuvuk Pass -- people\ Brower, Tommy\ Simmonds, Samuel\ Nunamiut\ travel -- North Slope\ missionary pastor\ job -- appointment\ mission board|

Section 3: homelife\ children -- raising\ flying -- stories\ Nunamiut\ John River\ sod house\ nomadic\ trading\ village -- permanent\ Ahgook, Jack\ meeting place\ logs\ painting -- watercolor\ mountains\ log cabin\ cabin -- plans\ elders\ Presbyterian committee\ church -- plans\ excitement\ chainsaw\ construction -- log\ construction -- no hunting\ caribou\ village|

Section 4: Anaktuvuk Pass\ photographs\ drawings\ paintings\ church\ mountains\ tools -- use of\ table saw\ power\ construction -- ridgepole log\ construction -- log cutting site\ chainsaw -- first use of \ construction -- loading logs\ sled\ church -- first service\ Easter|

Section 5: song\ piano\ song title -- "The Chapel in the Mountains"\ Anaktuvuk Pass\ church -- naming of|

Section 6: Barrow -- return to\ Presbyterian Centennial Celebration\ children -- number of\ grandchildren -- number of\ great-grandchildren -- number of\ pastor -- death of\ Wartes, Denise\ church -- newsletter\ Simmonds, Samuel\ water supply\ ice -- use of\ water -- summer\ power pump\ water drums\ water -- winter\ sod house\ ice -- storage|

Section 7: ministry\ life -- after Alaska\ Seattle\ Michigan\ Great Lakes\ parish\ Oregon\ Idaho\ Snake River\ husband -- retirement\ church -- active in\ Spokane, Washington\ country ministry\ life -- quality of|