Koslosky, Isaac "Ike"

1872-1940 | Merchant

Isaac Koslosky became widely known as the most prominent fur buyer and trader in the Territory of Alaska in his day. He was instrumental in establishing the fur trade in Anchorage and he assisted in making the city the fur trading hub of Alaska. His expertise in the business brought fur buyers from all over the United States to purchase furs. He established a fur buying business in Anchorage in 1915-1916, which evolved into a chain of men’s clothing and department stores in Anchorage and Palmer, Alaska.[1] 

Isaac "Ike" Koslosky was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1872, the son of Rachmiel Koslosky.[2] He arrived in the United States in 1887 at the age of fifteen. In 1898, he first arrived in Alaska and went over Chilkoot Pass and was part of the stampede to the Klondike, where he spent two years prospecting for gold at Bonanza Creek. After gold was found in the beach sands along the coast of Nome, he was one of thousands of people who traveled there in 1900.[3] 

Koslosky returned to the Lower 48 states to marry Lena Schindleman, who had immigrated with her parents from Russia in 1898.[4] On June 23, 1901, they were married in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri.[5] The couple had four sons, Harold, born in 1902; Leo, born in 1905; and Janus "Jan," born in 1909; Ralph "Bud," born in 1921; and a daughter, Gladys, born in 1910.

Koslosky was operating a clothing store in Kansas City in 1915 when he heard that more than two thousand persons had arrived on upper Cook Inlet, spurred by a public announcement on April 10 that the area would be the field headquarters for construction of the Alaska Railroad.   He and his wife, Lena, traveled to Alaska and arrived at the temporary squatter’s settlement of “Tent City,” as it is often called, on the north side of Ship Creek in spring 1915. Koslosky, with his wife at his side, opened a clothing store in a tent.[6]

The Kosloskys established their first store, the Anchorage Trading Post, which sold clothing and dry goods, on Fourth Avenue. Two years later they sold their thriving business and returned to Kansas City. In 1921, they returned to Anchorage and established a trading and a fur-buying business on Fourth Avenue. The family also operated the Hub clothing store at 432 Fourth Avenue.[7]

Harold Koslosky oversaw the operations of the Koslosky & Sons men’s clothing store (331 Fourth Avenue), Hub clothing store, and Harold's Shoe Store (415 Fourth Avenue), all in Anchorage. Daughter Gladys left Alaska soon after high school, lived in southern California for many years, and finally returned to Anchorage in 1977.[8]

In connection with his clothing business, Isaac Koslosky’s fur buying activities brought him to remote parts of Alaska. He became widely known to many trappers who looked forward to his visits each year to sell their furs. Sons Leo and Ralph assisted him in the fur buying business by relieving him of many of the hardships of travel in the more remote areas of Alaska.[9] Later, they followed their father in the fur business.

Jan Koslosky drummed up extra business by driving to the gold and coal mining camps scattered across the Matanuska Valley, taking orders from the workers, and then delivering the goods the following week. In 1935, he saw opportunity and opened the first general store in Palmer when two hundred farm families from economically depressed parts of the north-central Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin arrived as part of the Matanuska Colony project, a New Deal resettlement project.

In 1945, Jan Koslosky opened Koslosky & Sons department store on South Alaska Street in Palmer. Louis Odsather, a Wasilla resident who assisted Jan Koslosky on his runs to the mining camps, remarked: “It was the shopping center of the Valley. Anything you could name, they had in there.” In 1978, Jan Koslosky was in failing health and specialty stores were springing up around him; he sold his store and retired. The new owners, Northern Pioneer Corporation, phased out the groceries and hardware, leaving only clothing and liquor. In 1985, the store changed hand again, and the new owners, Sally and Larry Weiland, closed Koslosky’s for good.[10]

The Koslosky businesses were always family affairs, and Lena would proudly say that they operated a business for over fifty years without any setbacks that they could not overcome. She often stated, "I have seen the time when the poorest day in business involved only the sale of a twenty-five-cent pair of gloves."

In 1955, the family's enterprises, known as Koslosky & Sons, consisted of these businesses:  Hub Clothing Company, Koslosky's Men's Wear, and Western Liquor Store in Anchorage; and Koslosky's Department Store in Palmer.  Jan Koslosky was a partner in the firm.  Members of the family continued to operate the stores until 1985.[11]

Isaac Koslosky died on November 5, 1940 at Providence Hospital after suffering a lingering illness. His widow, Lena, died on August 12, 1962, at Providence Hospital while she was recovering from a broken hip.

Isaac and Lena Koslosky are buried in Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery, as is son Ralph (1921-1977). Their son, Harold, died in 1975 and is buried in Angelus Memorial Park in Anchorage. Jan died in 1991 and is buried in the Palmer Pioneer Cemetery, and Leo, who died in 1952, is buried in Seattle, Washington. Their daughter, Gladys, died in 2001.




[1] “Honored Alaskans: Ike Koslosky,” Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery, Municipality of Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, http://www.muni.org/Departments/health/cemetery/Pages/honored.aspx (accessed August 7, 2016); and Obituary, “Gladys Koslosky Kravetz.” Anchorage Daily News, October 17, 2001, B-7.

[2] This source did not give the name of Isaac Koslosky’s mother. Isaac Koslosky, in JewishGen, compilers, JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed August 7, 2016).

[3] Obituary, “Gladys Koslosky Kravetz.” Anchorage Daily News, October 17, 2001, B-7.

[4] Lena Koslosky [Lena Kosbockey], U.S. 1920 Census, Kansas City, War 10, Jackson County, Missouri, ED 161, page 11B, National Archives Microfilm Publication T625, Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Roll 926, 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed August 7, 2016); and John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2001), 64-65.

[5] Marriage record, Ike Koslosky and Lena Schindeman, Jackson County, Missouri, June 20, 1901, Marriage Records, Jackson County Clerk, Kansas City, Missouri, Missouri, Jackson County Marriage Records, 1840-1985 [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed August 7, 2016).

[6] Michael Carberry and Donna Lane, Patterns of the Past: An Inventory of Anchorage’s Historic Resources (Anchorage: Community Planning Department, Municipality of Anchorage, 1986), 1-3; Alfred Mongin, An Evaluation of ‘Anchorage Cultural Historic District: a Proposal’ to Determine Eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places (Anchorage: Office of History and Archaeology, Alaska Division of Parks, 1976), item no. 8, page 7; and entry for Harold Koslosky, “End of the Trail,” Alaska magazine, v. 41, no. 9, September 1975, 56.

[7] “Koslosky Services 2 P.M. Wednesday,” Anchorage Daily Times, August 14, 1962, 2; and R.L. Polk & Company, Polk’s Anchorage City Directory, 1963 (Seattle, WA: R.L. Polk & Company, 1964), 194.

[8] Kriss Kross City Directory of Anchorage (Anchorage: Directory Company, 1948), 57; and Obituary, “Gladys Koslosky Kravetz.” Anchorage Daily News, October 17, 2001, B-7.

[9] “I. Koslosky Taken by Death,” Anchorage Daily Times, November 6, 1940, 1.

[10] “Palmer Shoppers will Lose Link to Valley’s Pioneer Past,” Anchorage Daily News, October 18, 1985, C-1.

[11] John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2001), 64-65; and Edmund C. Jeffery, editor, Alaska, Who's Here, What's Doing, [and] Who's Doing It (Anchorage:  Jeffery Publishing Company, 1955), 112-113.






This biographical sketch of Isaac Koslosky is based on an essay which originally appeared in John Bagoy’s Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage, AK: Publications Consultants, 2001), 64-65. See also the Isaac Koslosky file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 4, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage, AK.  Photographs courtesy of the Koslosky family.  Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012.  Note:  edited, revised, and expanded by Bruce Parham, August 7, 2016.

Preferred citation: Bruce Parham, “Koslosky, Isaac ‘Ike’,” Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, http://www.alaskahistory.org.

Major support for Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, provided by: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Atwood Foundation, Cook Inlet Historical Society, and the Rasmuson Foundation. This educational resource is provided by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt association. Contact us at the Cook Inlet Historical Society, by mail at Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 or through the Cook Inlet Historical Society website, www.cookinlethistory.org.