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.)Read More
I love to get photos of historic things from followers! Here are three photos of matches which were sold as fundraisers for boys in the inner city to help fund their trip to Alaska with George Buchanan back in the 1930’s. They funded their trip by selling kitchen items to earn 1/3 of the money, 1/3 was given by Mr. Buchanan and 1/3 was contributed by the parents. Buchanan loved Alaska and presumably felt that exposing the boys to the great state would expand their view of the world. I wonder if it worked! There are also some items on display in the White Pass Depot.
When riding the train to the summit, the train agents will point out across the valley the words “On to Alaska with Buchanan” painted on the rock wall.
Thanks to Scott Cummings for the photos!Read More
Arthur was the eighth child born to the Richards family in 1859 in Ohio. His older sister, Clara ran the post office in Dyea, a story which I wrote about earlier here. Apparently her two brothers were also here, Arthur and Daniel.
Arthur was appointed by the U.S. Commissioner to be U.S. Marshal for the Dyea District. In a letter he wrote:
“I have been over the trail to the headwaters of the Yukon several times, to arrest men for getting into rows – generally for using guns…The wonder to me is not so much that men die but that any can survive the hardships. So much packing in mud and wading waist deep in ice-cold water, right from the glaciers above. A good many give up their outfits here for what they can get, and return home. ”
One descendent said that family lore has it that Arthur was responsible for laying the first telephone line from Dyea to the top of the Chilcoot Pass. That would have been during the 1897-98 time as there were several tramways built at that time also. They had better communication then than now, even cell phones don’t always work on the trail today.
He also said ” It is a pleasant trip up here from San Francisco except that accommodations are limited, and while the excitement keeps up the ships will be overcrowded. The steamer I came on, the Mexico, sank on her return trip in 200 fathoms of water and everything lost but the passengers.” this would have been in August 1897 because I found the following article:
The Alaska Searchlight of August 14, 1897 reported on the wreck of the Steamer Mexico: “near the end of Dixon Entrance. The steamer was southbound when it ran upon some hidden rocks at 4 o’clock on the morning of the 6 th . The rocks stove a big hole in the bottom of the boat, but luckily there was not freight on board and the bulkhead compartments of the boat kept it afloat for about two hours, when it finally sank in 100 fathoms of water. The shock caused confusion on board and passengers were thrown from their berths. In a few minutes, however the officers quieted down the passengers while the crew quickly launched the boats and every passenger was transferred from the sinking ship. The hand baggage belonging to passengers was taken from the ship and it is reported that the mail was taken off, although it is not definitely known. There were one hundred persons on board….”
1900 census; Daily Alaskan 3/13/1900 (in 2001 Skagway News); Skagway Museum record; CA death rec; Photo and letter courtesy of Diane Richards Design. Information and updates courtesy of Glenn McKinney – many thanks!
When Alaska was purchased in 1867 the prohibition of alcohol was extended from the lower 48 where liquor was prohibited from areas inhabited by Native Americans. In the Spring of 1898 however, a bill was introduced to Governor Brady to suspend the law since it was, by and large ignored anyway. Certainly the dozens of bars in Skagway attested to that. I have already blogged on the alcohol issue which is quite extensive, but I was more interested in the use of drugs in Skagway during the gold rush.
I just went through my database and counted about 30 druggists and owners of drug stores here in the gold rush. I never really thought about that until an article in the New Yorker described the use of opium, cocaine and marijuana at the turn of the century as legal. We’ve all heard the story of how Coca-cola actually had real cocaine in it which gave a real high. Morphine was commonly prescribed for all kind of ailments and apparently so was marijuana. In some cities, such as San Francisco, the many opium dens became such a problem that citizen vigilantes attempted to drive them out, or at least underground. Seen above is such a group in San Francisco.
Certainly there was opium here, or at least morphine, as I have a note that Syd Dixon, an accomplice of Soapy was an opium addict. Did the druggists in town regularly prescribe these? Here is a photo of an opium container and an advertisement from New York from that time.
Intoxicants & opium in all lands and times, p. 163, By Wilbur Fisk Crafts;
Klondike Chest by Grainger; Mission Klondike, Sinclair; historynet.com
Alfred Hulse Brooks was born on July 18, 1871 in Ann Arbor, Michigan and graduated from Harvard in 1894. He loved geology and exploring and so, in the gold rush, came to Alaska. He photographed many communities including Skagway – all of the photos are at the Yale Library Collection (which is odd considering he went to rival University, Harvard).
In 1898, the federal government announced a systematic topographic and geologic survey of Alaska that would include renewed exploration of the Brooks Range. Brooks, as new head of the Alaskan branch of the USGS, called the project “far more important than any previously done,” due in large part because it “furnished the first clue to the geography and geology of the part of Alaska north of the Yukon Basin.” Between 1899 and 1911, six major reconnaissance expeditions traversed the mountain range, mapping its topography and geology and defining the patterns of economic geology so important to prospectors and miners. He is credited with discovering that the biggest mountain range in Arctic Alaska was separate from the Rocky Mts. The range was named for him – The Brooks Range.
He served as chief geologist for Alaska for the United States Geological Survey until his death in 1924. Every year from 1904 to 1916 and from 1919 to 1923, Brooks wrote summaries of Alaska’s mineral industries. The missed years, during World War 1 were those that he spent in France as chief geologist for the American Expeditionary Force in France. He died on November 22, 1924 and is buried in Washington D.C. at the Oak Hill Cemetery. I love the inscription on his grave:
Wikipedia; findagrave; Hunt, “NPS Golden Places,” page 56.Read More
Anne Cripps, granddaughter of former Alaskan Governor Wilford Bacon Hoggatt has graciously sent us these three new family photos all taken in 1905 at the Jualin Mine. Hoggatt was part owner in this mine. In one, he is standing in front of his cabin. In another it looks as though he’s wearing his Navy uniform; the man with him is someone named Alfred Nadeau. In the third photo, he is in the center, but no identification for the other two gentlemen.
Many thanks for these great family photos, previously unseen by the public!