Arthur O’Leary’s traveling companion, Ben Olcott has quite a story of his own, which I will summarize here.
Also born in Keithsburg, Illinois, Ben left earlier on his adventures west and in 1891 at the age of 19 moved to Salem, Oregon. He seemed to find Oregon his new home base from which he forayed to parts north to search for adventure and gold. After his 1898 trip with Arthur, he returned to Illinois to bank briefly and then headed back to Alaska in 1904. His journey ended notably when he drove a dog sled team to Nome, a trip of over 1,000 miles up theYukon and Tanna Rivers in the height of winter. Settling in Fairbanks, Olcott found work as a gold dust teller, and later a bank branch manager. He managed to make a sizeable profit from gold prospecting, allowing him to move back to Oregon.
Olcott became involved in Oregon politics because of his brother-in-law Oswald West and so found himself succeeding Governor Withycombe in 1919 who abruptly died of a heart attack only two months after being elected. Olcott served as governor until 1923 until he was defeated by the Ku Klux Klan candidate, Walter Pierce. Olcott went back to banking, first to Long Beach, California and then back to Portland. He died in Portland on July 21, 1952, and was interred in Mount Crest Abbey Mausoleum in Salem, Marion County, Oregon. He may have been pictured in the photos of Arthur O’Leary below, but here are his portrait and gravestone.Read More
I recently received some original photos of Mr. O’Leary’s cabin and compadres on the trail. It is near Mirror Lake, which I don’t immediately have access to the exact location. I will post these here along with a photo of Mr. Arthur O’Leary in 1898 as he prepared to come to the Klondike. He was only 24 years old and full of the Irish heritage of adventure and hard work – don’t I know about that from my own family!
Anyway, here is his story as told by his great grand-daughter, Jeanie Decker:
The interesting thing about this photo of 2 native women and child packing stuff in 1897 at Dyea is the shape of the canoe which is very traditional, yet this one is not that decorative. It one of the few photos of Tlingit children and women at work.
I have never heard of Rock Point Bridge on the Chilkoot Trail, it may be up near Finnegans.Read More
During the winter of 1897 these goldrushers were using sleds to transport their stuff up the Chilkoot Trail. The photo is dated December 10, 1897.Read More
This picture taken in the winter of 1897 and processed on December 10, 1897 shows some goldrushers with their dog on the Chilkoot Trail. It looks like a rather large dog, perhaps a lab or cross. I wonder if he made it to Dawson!