Seattle based photographer caught many cool images of people coming and going to the Klondike from the docks. Here in this picture from the Elmer A. Rasmuson Library collection at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is a picture taken in July 1899 of nearly $4 Million in gold dust packed into crates. Labeled as the Royal Canadian Force Collection, note the Mountie on the left. Everyone looks sooooo serious!
I took this photo last year when I visited the Carcross Visitor Center. It is interesting that it shows 4 Sikh workers there in 1906. They were part of a White Pass & Yukon Route Section Crew. I do not have any more information on them, but if anyone has more to add, please add a comment.
George G. Shaw was born in Long Lake, New York on July 15, 1872. At the age of 15 he started working as a guide to sportsmen in the Adirondacks. In 1894 he went to Seattle and was thus poised to head to the Klondike in the Gold Rush of 1897 with two fellow goldrushers, Clem Frazier and Alvin Cook. They arrived in Skagway and headed up the Chilkoot trail with thousands of others. They made it to Dawson and made a claim but when he arrived back home, he had little to show monetarily, but a wealth of stories for his family. He traveled across Alaska by himself and took a whaling schooner to Siberia. He married in 1920 and passed away in 1958 back in Vermont.
Herein is a fascinating and tragic family story of one of the foremost Historians of Skagway and the Gold Rush written and posted online in 2006 by Heidi Gurcke Donald.
In the midst of the 1918 Influenza epidemic and World War One, another big marine disaster occurred in the cold waters of the Lynn Canal.
Capt. Charles John Bloomquist was a passenger on the night of the grounding of the Sophia. The story of the Princess Sophia loss on October 24, 1918 in a blinding snowstorm, has been well documented, with a number of White Pass employees onboard heading back to Victoria for the end of the season. One report in the Daily Colonist on November 3, 1918, stated that only 2 of the victims drowned, the rest suffocated in the crude oil spilling from the ship.
I was curious to know a bit more about the Swedish Captain Bloomquist. He was born in 1867 in Stockholm, Sweden and came to Canada in 1883. He lived with his wife, Catherine at Shawnigan Lake, a small farming community 28 miles north of Victoria. He was listed there in the 1909 directory of Vancouver Island, also he kept a room at the Dominion Hotel in Victoria. He left behind 4 sisters but no children.
He had worked for 20 years on the boats in the Yukon. He was the master of the White Pass Steamboat Dawson. Before that he had worked for the Canadian Government on the Quadra and the Sir James Douglas.
The Princess Alice brought many of the bodies back to Victoria on the 12 of November 1918. On November 15 he was buried in Victoria with the Victoria Columbia Masonic Lodge as pallbearers. Rev. F.A.B. Chadwick gave the service. Catherine is buried with him at the Ross Bay Cemetery, she died November 27, 1969 at the age of 92! Here is a picture that Anne Scott made of the grave in Victoria! Posted on Find A Grave for this story – Thank you so Much Anne!!!
from the Daily Colonist October 29, 1918
I have received enquiries about Thomas Marshall Word Jr. or Tom Word from a woman who purchased historic photos of the Word family at an estate many years ago. She contacted me because she intends to put them up for sale on Ebay, which is great, so that everyone who is interested can have a chance to acquire them. It was several years ago that I was doing some research on him, but apparently I never wrote up the story. I quote here from Jeff Smith on his Soapy Website:
“For a few years now I have been exchanging interesting e-mails with Fred Wood, a great-grandson of Skagway’s Thomas Marshall Word. If Fred and I are correct Word is the man who acted as the go-between for Soapy and the vigilante’s after John Fay shot and killed Deputy U.S. Marshal Rowan and Andy McGrath. Word was involved in the hunt for the gang after Soapy had been killed and came real close to becoming famous as the man who captured the three top gangsters, Bowers, Foster, and Wilder. Hours later he was one of the guards protecting those same three bunco steerers locked away on the third floor of the Burkhard Hotel. Tom Word twice aided in keeping a blood thirsty vigilante mob from orchestrating a wholesale slaughter and that’s something his g-grandson can be proud of.”
Jeff has an excellent write up of the information that he has gathered here:
The other day I was at an estate sale in Skagway and picked up this old postcard. After doing a little research I found that the author was indeed related to Bud Matthews who recently passed away here in Skagway.
Ernest J. Matthews was born about 1893 in Idaho. He married Catherine A. Lowe from Utah and they moved to Skagway around 1924 when their first son was born, James, known to everyone here as Bud.
Before they moved to Skagway however, they went to St. Michael’s, Alaska and apparently opened a Bakery Store there. Pictured above in the postcard is Ernest and Catherine. Ernest wrote this little card to Catherine’s brother, Lynn Hardy Lowe who lived in Salt Lake City. At the time it was written, 1920, he was about 7. Sadly Little Lynn died in 1925 from appendicitis. (My own son had a ruptured appendix at age 7 and how lucky we are today that surgery and an excellent hospital in Albuquerque saved his life.)
Harry Phillips came to Skagway in 1898 and opened the Peerless Saloon on 4th Avenue mid block, south side, between Broadway and State which is now a small residence off of the alley. The Peerless only was in business for about a year and then Harry moved to Dawson and opened the Office Bar and Saloon with his wife Annie. By 1901 he was 34 and she was 27 but they had no kids. Perhaps he met her in Skagway or Dawson. After that, I can find no trace of them, perhaps they moved back down south (they were both born in the U.S.) In the photo above he would be the proud owner, but which one is he? any guesses?
1901 Dawson census; Catherine Spude, The Mascot Saloon, NPS; Alaska Digital Archives;
Vernette Allis was born on July 6, 1867 in Elyria, Ohio. Her father, Spencer Franklin Allis was a farmer. He and his wife Elizabeth Kales, had two sons and two daughters. She moved out west to Washinton and on June 28, 1892 she married Maxine L. Longuet in Seattle, King County, Washington. They had a son, Louis Leonard Longuet born 1 Sep 1893 in Seattle, Washington who registered for the draft in both WW1 and WW2 and died January 12, 1958 in Portland, Oregon.
In 1898 the little family came to Skagway and Vernette was the first teacher in a little cabin against the hill according to a photo in the Edith Feero collection of photos in Washington. Her Husband, Max, entered the Yukon in May 1898, and presumably she stayed here in Skagway with little Louis to teach. They returned to Oregon after the gold rush and Mr. Longuet died in 1950 and Vernette died on June 1, 1955 in Marion, Oregon. Above is a picture of her as a baby in 1867, hope to find a later pic sometime.
She wrote a book called “My trip to Alaska in ’98” which I have not seen, but would be very interesting.
Puget Sound Regional Archives; Edith Feero photo collection Washington Digital Library; Family Search for 1875 NY census; Rootsweb contribution by Kathy Gies;
Joseph McCann was born on May 3, 1879 in Quebec and came to Skagway in 1898 and like so many others, he worked for the railroad. He worked as a carpenter, brakeman and conductor. (He gave the photo of Jerry Quinlan to the family as we saw in yesterday’s post.)
Mary Kerwin came to Skagway from Ottawa, around 1904 and was in the Tuberculosis Sanitarium for awhile, recovered and then married Joseph. They had at least 5 children, one became a priest, one a nun and one a nurse at the hospital. They lived in Skagway until after 1930. Joseph died in Vancouver, B.C. in 1936 and Mary in Beaverton, Oregon in 1969. They all lived in a little yellow house which sits right behind our house, on 13th, as seen above. When we moved to Skagway in 1998, Wanda Warner lived in that house and she brought over an entire dinner for us as a housewarming present. I will never forget her kindness to us, she was a wonderful lady.
1910 1920 and 1929 census; Alaska Yukon Pioneer Roster;