Last of adult Matanuska Valley colonists dies at 101

Minnie Olson, the longest-surviving adult participant in the Depression-era Matanuska Colony project starting in 1935, died Monday in Kentucky at the age of 101, reports the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman. Olson and her husband were also among the first to quit the Colony, after only a few months.

“This is indeed the end of an era,” said filmmaker Joanie Juster, whose films include “Alaska Far Away” and “Where the River Matanuska Flows.” “As far we have been able to determine, these were the last two adults who took the chance to make a better life for themselves.”

Local history buff Jim Fox told Juster another of the original Colonists, Lila Ennes McClanahan, died Dec. 31, 2012, in Harbor Springs, Mich. She was 100.

“They are the last two that we know of,” he wrote in an email. “Probably the closing of an era.”

The Roosevelt administration created the Colony Project as a New Deal resettlement plan to relieve Depression suffering among people in the northern Midwest. Each of 203 families that traveled to the Valley received 40 acres to farm and live on at $5 per acre. But the life was difficult, and fewer than half of the original families became long-term residents of the Valley.

Read more at The Frontiersman: Last adult Colony member dies at 101