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.
Certainly all of Goyne family members deserve their own posting, but I will start with the most famous – Walter James Goyne. Born on May 29, 1897 in Pendleton Oregon, as a baby, he was taken to Skagway in 1898. His father, Francis (Frank) took his whole family to Skagway – wife Hattie, his son Hillary born 1895 Oregon, Ida Evaline born 1888 in Tillamook Oregon, Mabel Florence born 1893 in Tillamook Oregon, Stella Grace born 1896 in Tillamook Oregon, not to mention his Dad, William, born 1838 in Ontario. So, with all the kids, wife and dad in tow, they made it to Skagway to find that Hattie was pregnant again. She bore son Lynn on August 28, 1899 in Skagway. Hattie and the kids moved to Dawson to be with dad in 1900. Another sister, Nugget was born in Dawson in 1901. Dad Frank had been delivering the Dawson Daily News on a 300-mile run in 1904. Although Lynn and his dad Frank stayed in Alaska, Hattie and the kids moved back to Oregon where she divorced Frank and remarried in 1909.
Walter caught the dog mushing bug from his dad and participated in dog sled races elsewhere. He won the Hudon Bay dog sled race in Manitoba due in large part to the harness he was using for his dog team. After the race, the 1920 census has him listed in Fall Lake, Minnesota. Walter was a guest celebrity in Luverne, Minnesota in 1920 when the Palace Theater was showing the movie “Carmen of the Klondike”. Walter drowned when he and dogs went through thin ice on Moose Lake in Manitoba. Below is the grisly obituary from the local newspaper:
|FAMOUS DOG RACER FROZEN IN ICE
DOG TEAM STILL HITCHED TO SLED AND THE MAN STILL SITTING UPRIGHTSearching parties have found the body of Walter Goyne, famous American dog derby racer, who was drowned, Nov. 15 when he went through the ice on Moose lake with his dog team.
Through the transparent ice the body could be seen in eight feet of water sitting bolt upright on the sled, partly covered by an eiderdown robe. stretched out in front in perfect alignment were the nine racing dogs.
The provincial police who investigated the accident, said they believed Goyne was traveling at racing speed toward shore in an effort to escape thin ice, when he plunged through and under heavier ice, where escape was impossible.
Of eleven loose dogs that were following Goyne and his racing team, two perished with their master and their bodies were found close to the team. Goyne’s dogs were considered among the best in the north country. and much was expected of the in the 1922 derby.Goyne, Walter (15 Nov 1922)Star Valley Independent
| Here is a further story about the race history:
The first annual race, in 1916 was formulated by Grant Rice, editor of The Pas Herald of the era. In the race of 1920, Walter Goyne, who was born in Ruby, Alaska, made history when he came out of the frozen hinterland of Alaska to compete in the early Le Pas Dog Derby. When Mr. Goyne arrived in The Pas that day many years ago, he discovered that all the local mushers were using an old style toboggan for racing, with their dogs hitched in tandem style. Goyne brought with him the famous Alaskan dog sled with his dogs hitched in the now famous Alaskan hitch, that is, dogs are two abreast with the leader centering the team in front. Northern Manitobans of that era were quite skeptical of Goyne’s sled and “new” hitch and in fact gave him little chance of winning that race of 1920. But when the race was over, and Goyne had won by an easy margin, the skeptics were forced to eat humble pie. Today Goyne’s Alaskan hitch and sled is being used by all famous mushers in Northern Manitoba, the East and the St. Paul Winter Carnival whose dog races date back to 1889.
The race of 1920 which Goyne won with ease, will always be remembered as one the Northland’s greatest. Consider the fact that Goyne had a crippled foot which forced him to ride on the sleigh more than his rivals thought best in a long grueling non stop race. You see unlike today’s race, which is broken up into three daily laps, in Goyne’s time it was 140 miles to Cranberry Portage or Flin Flon and back non-stop.
Another item Goyne introduced to the North was the parka. Before he came to The Pas, the parka was unheard of. It was while visiting at the home of Mrs. E. W. Bridges that the parka was first introduced as the only type of winter clothing to adequately protect the upper part of the body from the freezing winds of the Northland. Mrs. Bridges took Goyne’s parka and using it as a model she made smaller replicas for her own children, one of whom later made a great name for himself in dog racing in The Pas derbies and those staged in the east. His name, Earl Bridges. Today the parka is a standard part of every northerner’s winter wardrobe.
After Goyne’s first big win in 1920, he had one ambition, namely to win the race three times thus receiving the Derby Cup. In 1921, he entered again but was forced out when his 13 year old lead dog failed him. Ironically that was his last race locally. In the fall of 1922 Walter Goyne drowned in Moose Lake. The man who found Goyne’s body was another well know Northern figure, the late Tom Lamb of The Pas. When Goyne’s body arrived at The Pas, The Pas Herald records the incident as follows: “It was a silent procession up Fischer Avenue..and many town dogs fell in with Goyne’s pups. Not a bark or growl was heard, it seemed as if the four footed animals understood the meaning of procession.”
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.
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:
Wortham was born on August 12, 1873 in Paris, Texas and was the manager of the Clifford Sifton steamer boat on Lake Bennett in 1900. He was a latecomer to the Yukon, arriving in 1900 but was still able to run a business on Lake Bennett then. The Clifford Sifton was built on Lake Bennett during the Gold Rush. Somehow it was later run on the Yukon River, how it got there must have been quite a feat!
Major James Matthew took the above photo of the Clifford Sifton running the Miles Canyon rapids around 1900. This was an extremely dangerous thing to do and only a daredevil would attempt it. The photo below shows it in 1902 on the Yukon River. That photo was taken by M.W. Goetzman.
Wortham died on this day, May 21, 1941 and is buried in Juneau at the Evergreen Cemetery.
Digby Courier June 1900 online; ancestry message board
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!