‘Alaska: The Last Frontier’ began with the central premise to document the daily lives of Ruth and Yule Kilcher, who were Alaskan pioneers and descendants of Swiss immigrants. Both drew their last breath before the turn of the century. Since its inception on December 29, 2011, the hit American cable series has been showcasing their extended family’s survival skills and subsistence lifestyle. Currently, in its tenth season, the Emmy-nominated show has garnered millions of fans by an honest depiction of their hardships but strong family values.
Ruth and Yule took care of their children among the wilderness and severe cold conditions. In addition to being reality TV stars, Yule and his wife also carried out their independent careers. He had provided his services to the state’s constitutional convention as a delegate and worked as a senator for a short period. Along with bringing up eight children, Ruth succeeded as a poet, writer, and active member of the Homer community. Here is everything we have found out about their inspiring story and its many aspects!
Yule and Ruth Kilcher: Age and Where are They From?
Born on March 9, 1913, Yule F. Kilcher uprooted his life in Switzerland during the mid-1930s to escape Europe’s escalating restlessness due to the Nazi empowerment. He briefly settled in America to build for himself and his family a peaceful home. Eventually, his free-spirited excursions took him to Alaska, where he could finally make his childhood dream come true. The shores of Kachemak Bay gave him the perfect opportunity to set a homestead and a life on an unspoiled piece of wilderness.
Ruth Weber’s story of leaving her hometown in Switzerland is as dramatic as it can get. In 1941, she narrowly caught the last civilian ship to leave Europe just as the devastating World War II broke out in her home country. The brave and free-spirited woman left everyone and everything familiar behind and journeyed across waters to America on the Excalibur. At the age of 21, her audacity brought her to Alaska, and destiny crossed her path with Yule. The two tied the knot right off the boat and began their off-grid life, away from the civilization.
Yule and Ruth Kilcher’s Children
The trailblazer couple hardly knew each other but successfully built their envisioned life during the 28 years of their marriage. Yule and Ruth became proud parents to eight children and brought them up without basic amenities like plumbing and heating. While building the 600-acre homestead, located 11 miles outside Homer, they welcomed six children, namely, Wurtilla Hepp, Fay Graham, Otto Kilcher, Stellavera Kilcher, Mossy Kilcher, and Sunrise Sjoeberg. The family made extended trips to Switzerland between 1947 and 1956, during which their babies, Atz and Catkin Kilcher Burton, were born. The Alaskan residents experienced an entirely different world from modern Homer life.
The offsprings were homeschooled until early teens. Through the adolescent years, their education heavily depended on a public school that provided them with a correspondence program called the “Calver Course.” Their simple living was sprinkled with bits and parts of cosmopolitan magazines and multiple languages spoken by their European parents. They became an exemplary workforce to assist their parents through the tough labor performed by them.
Some of the Kilcher children have risen to prominence more than the others on the show. For instance, the oldest of their children, Atz, is seen as the protector of his clan, and his younger brother, Otto, serves as the handyman on the homestead. Atz’s daughter, Jewel Kilcher, is a Grammy-award winner musician, singer, and songwriter and has made a few appearances on the Discovery Channel’s series.
Yule and Ruth Kilcher’s Alaska: The Last Frontier Journey
Clearly, Ruth’s musical upbringing mixed with Yule’s driven and stern demeanor infused a sense of independence and strength in all their children. ‘Alaska: The Last Frontier’ dominantly has a patriarchal focal point, and the Discovery Channel primarily exhibits the tasks performed by the Kilcher men. However, Catkin revealed that her mother and sisters also carried out the same chores. The audience witnessed that time drew a wedge between the original Homer homestead as their children and grandchildren gradually traveled away from the rustic lifestyle.
Yule tried his best to preserve what had been constructed from the ground up in almost 50 years. In the early 1990s, he set up a conservation easement and founded the Kilcher Family Trust that safeguarded their 600-acre property from the subdivision. The family has also been subject to a few difficulties outside Alaska, like being charged for illegal hunting. Unfortunately, they have landed up on the bad side of PETA, an animal welfare organization that has harshly accused the Kilchers of a bear-killing incident.
While it did not become a part of the show, the legendary patriarch continued to live at one of the most beautiful places on the planet overlooking Kachemak Bay before he died of severe pneumonia in 1998, among his kith and kin. His wife was a tough woman who raised her kids to be strong-minded, but the two called it quits in 1969. After moving out of Alaska, she married Charles Rodney Marriott and was lucky enough to be surrounded by her loving family when she passed away in 1997. (Featured Image: The Kilcher Family)
Read More: Where Was Alaska: The Last Frontier Filmed?