Fit for a King
Fred Bahovec was born in Austria-Hungary in 1889 and traveled to the United States in 1900. At 18, Fred enlisted in the Army where he was a sharpshooter, won a gymnastics pennant for his company, and met Teddy Roosevelt’s son, Kermit. After his discharge, a friendly neighbor said “If I were you, young man, I’d head for Alaska, where you can shovel gold like dirt.” So in 1912, Fred came to Alaska on the steamship Humboldt. Right away, Fred learned that to thrive in Alaska, one must be a master of all trades. Fred made a living by hunting, trapping, and fishing. He raised mink and blue fox and prospected for gold. He also enjoyed geology and natural history, and today the Smithsonian holds natural history specimens that Fred discovered and donated to their permanent collection.
Fred loved to travel and in his older years enjoyed designing and making intricate jewelry. These two passions came together in 1965 with breath-taking results. While visiting Egypt, Fred saw a bracelet recovered from King Tutankhamen’s tomb and decided to hand-craft a replica. His masterpiece is this 18-karat gold bracelet set with lapis, jade, jasper, and amethyst.
Fred Bahovec lived to be a hundred years old and celebrated his birthday by writing a book about his life experiences titled, The First 100 Years.
By: Kristy Kay Griffin, Curator of Collections & Exhibits
Date: June 2016