Posts made in December, 2010

Fusao or Furas Toyozumi or Tayozumi

Posted on Dec 17, 2010 in Goldrushers, Merchants, Military | 0 comments


Fusao, known as Joseph, was a cook at the Pullen House restaurant and Inn between 1910 and 1915 perhaps longer. In 1915 he registered for the draft for World War One. There is no record for him after that.
He was born on this day, December 17, 1887 in Kumamoto, Kyushu, Japan. This city is famous for Kawagoe Castle where 21 lords from various clans, all closely allied with the Tokugawa Shogun, resided during the Edo Period. The fuedal age ended in 1868 (remember Tom Cruise in The Last Shogun?). The shrine above is the Toyozumi Shrine in Japan built over a thousand years ago.
So Fusao was born twenty years after that, but emigrated to the U.S. in 1906. There were a number of other Japanese immigrants in Skagway in 1910, some worked in the jewelery trade.

1910 census, WW1 registration for Skagway, Alaska.
This is my last blog for 2010, I will return in January. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas Meli Kalikimaka

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Della Murray Banks

Posted on Dec 16, 2010 in Goldrushers, Heroines, Women | 0 comments


In January 1945 Della Murray Banks wrote an article in the Alaska Sportsman Magazine about her work on the Dalton Trail. She and her husband Austin Banks had made previous trips to the Chilkat area – in 1896 she was burned at Cook Inlet and lost two fingers on her left hand.
Back in Seattle, in 1898, they were hired by Denison Tucker and the infamous Homer Pennock to lead them to the Klondike on the Dalton Trail. Early on Mrs. Tucker and her sister Mrs. Hutchins decided to stay behind in Seattle so that they would not get their feet wet. (They also could not cook or eat off of tin plates).
In July 1898 the party of about 10 people arrived in Skagway to see the town under martial law following Soapy’s death and subsequent goings-on. Della and her husband went over to Pyramid Harbor to stay instead. They found the English proprietor of the hotel celebrating the Santiago victory. Tucker hired two packers, Jack Noon and Tom McAvoy (who died on today’s date, December 16, 1918).
They used a couple of horses, Polly and “Swift”. They found a mule bit for the horse along the way, and near the summit of the Chilkat Pass, they traded that for a regular bridle found hanging in a tree. By the time they arrived at Dalton Post, Della was riding on a fine saddle and with good bridle, both acquired from the dead animals they passed along the way!
Della cooked on the trip and they paid her $50 a month. In the photo above she is cooking supper, as she puts it, “for our famished outfit. Each meal required ninety biscuits, which I could bake fifteen at a time in our sheet-iron stove. My knees became calloused from kneeling on the rough ground, kneading dough and making biscuits. Conveniences? There were none.”
Would you do this for $50 a month?

Apparently she did not even get that, as the consummate con man, Homer Pennock swindled Mr. & Mrs. Banks. The town of Homer was named by Della Murray Banks, (the first white woman in Homer) before she realized that she and her husband had been swindled. The name stuck, but Della and Austin did not stick around.

collection of her letters are at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley; The Homer Spit, Coal, Gold and Con Men, was
written by Janet Klein, and published in 1996

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Winter Shipwreck

Posted on Dec 15, 2010 in Goldrushers, Shipwrecks | 0 comments


“On December 8th [1900] the Str. “City of Topeka” struck on the rocks at the south end of Sullivan Island, Lynn Canal, and her passengers and crew were fortunate enough to reach the shore with enough equipment to make a camp in the midst of the storm that was howling down the Chilcat Inlet.” (about 25 miles south of Skagway)

In 1890 the Steamer “City of Topeka” brought 3655 tons of coal to Alaska from Nanaimo BC. It is seen above, on the right, at Muir Glacier in 1895 when it was bringing tourists to Alaska on cruises. I wonder if they got their towels folded into little animals in their staterooms?

There is another rock down near Wrangell call “City of Topeka Rock” which might have been another spot that this poor ship went aground, but I cannot find information on that.

First quote is “Marine Disasters of the Alaska Route” – excerpt regarding wrecks in Lynn Canal, written by C.L. Andrews as a plea for the government to install safeguards in the Lynn Canal. published by the Washington Historical Quarterly 1916.

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Fred and Clara Patten

Posted on Dec 14, 2010 in Merchants, Skagway streets, Tragedy | 0 comments


Fred Patten was born in Nebraska in 1873 and Clara was from Wisconsin. They met and married in Auburn, Washington and had a daughter there in 1900. They had moved here to Skagway around that time. Sadly, Clara died on this day, December 14, 1905 of blood poisoning and is buried in the Gold Rush Cemetery.
Fred stayed on and made a partnership with Chris Shea as carpenter and contractor. Together they wrote a book called “The Soapy Smith Tragedy” in 1907. (If you can find this book, it is worth quite a bit now.)
By 1907-1908, Skagway’s glory days as a gold rush boomtown had passed. Vacant buildings, derelict shacks and debris were visible everywhere. One visitor described Skagway as “the scrap-heap of creation.”
In an attempt to revitalize the town, Fred and Chris led a drive to centralize the town’s business district on Broadway. In 1908, Shea and Patten purchased two barracks, sawed the longer one in half, and moved all three to their present location on Broadway. The two halves were remodeled with a new false front to make up the Pack Train Inn and the Trail Saloon. By 1910 they had both moved on.
The building currently houses a fur store and a diamond store in the summer and says “U-Ah-to-no” on the side.

Washington records online; 1880 and 1900 census; Skagway death record

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Allen Wayne Dennis

Posted on Dec 13, 2010 in Tragedy, White Pass & Yukon Route | 0 comments


Allen was born in 1949 probably in this area and worked for White Pass. On this day, December 13, 1969, he was hit by a Casey Car on the railroad and killed. He is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.

Pictured above is a Casey Car in Carcross. These small cars are used by the Maintenance of the Railroad workers every day. The workers take these cars up the tracks early each morning in the summer to check the tracks to make sure there has not been a rock fall or other damage to the tracks.

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