The sourdough starter story continues.

After graduating from Ely High School, David attended MIT, graduating with a degree in engineering. His long-time friend, Sig Olson, Jr., insisted David and his wife visit him in Alaska. [Sig Jr.’s father is my favorite author and probably the person most responsible for creating the BWCA.] So, during the Alaska visit, David landed a job and they moved to live in Alaska.

Now to the sourdough starter. While in Alaska, they befriended the granddaughter of Judge Wickersham, who shared with them her family’s prized sourdough starter.

But, who is Judge Wickersham? After growing up in Illinois, President MicKinley appointed Wickersham in 1900 as the first federal official in what is now Alaska. As a federal judge, Wickersham traveled across the roadless northern frontier dispensing justice. Travel through the interior meant time dog sledding through the Alaskan wilderness. Judge Wickersham later served as a representative in Congress, is known as the first person to attempt to climb Mt. MicKinley for which Wickersham Wall is named after, and was instrumental in founding the Univ. of Alaska for which a residence hall bears his name.

When David and his wife returned to Ely for retirement, they brought their special Alaskan sourdough with them. They still eat sourdough pancakes once each week.


  1. Great story and so fitting for you. It doesn’t get much more serendipitous than a dogsledding lawyer! Well worth the wait.

  2. Not related to sourdough at all, but I’d love to see LynnAnne or Ellen comment on the Jan 26-Feb 1 Wintergreen trip! The snow! The cold! The technicolor yawns! The moose skeleton! Such times!;)

  3. Hey Jason
    I have sourdough starter and love the bread it makes but am looking for a good pancake recipe. Would you share?
    Remember me from the Wintergreen store?

  4. Hi Judy, yep, I remember you. My sourdough recipe for four people is as follows. The night before the griddle day I mix the starter and two cups of flour. Then I add lukewarm water to make a thick consistency. Let it sit overnight in a warm place. Just before the griddle, I first split the batter, then add two or three eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Then they go straight to the griddle. Yum!

  5. Jason,
    I have introduced that same sourdough starter from the Orient to Asia. You got the starter from my Dad. I've spent a good portion of my lifetime, 23 years, outside the USA, living for some time in Turkiye, in Abu-Dhabi, Egypt, Korea & Japan, with shorter stops on all continents including Africa & Antarctica (if you will allow King George Island as "close-enough") I have generally carried a starter, and enjoy making Sourdough Pancakes for my hosts. It's so easy, flour & baking soda being available anywhere. P.S. Mom always said the eggs can be added "if it's payday".

    The big deal internationally has always been the syrup. NO ONE EATS SWEET BREAKFASTS except Americans! No one.

  6. Hi m,
    Thanks for sharing more info about this historical and extraordinarily well traveled line of Judge Wickersham’s sourdough starter. I’ve also served the sourdough pancakes to some itnernational guests from Belgium and Switzerland, as well as most US time zones.

    Thus far, I’ve used eggs, but I’m going to try it without. Sounds like it’s okay to reserve the eggs for “payday.”

    Thanks again for sharing. Also, it might be fun to map where the sourdough starter has traveled. Maybe we could make a Google map?

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