Two weeks after Kennicott died, Frank Ketchum who was appointed by Kennicott to carry on the exploration, left Nulato with LeBarge and continued up the Yukon. Ketchum was from St. Johns, New Brunswick, Canada and was one of the few original white explorers of the Yukon. He served on the expedition with Kennicott who we met yesterday and is pictured above with Michael LeBarge and the English artist Frederick Whymper (middle). Some records say that Ketchum came to Dyea in 1865 with George R. Adams, it is quite possible as these guys seemed to be everywhere in Alaska and the Yukon. They were made of tougher stuff, methinks.
Adams: Life on the Yukon; Buckley: “Journal of the U.S. Russo-American Telegraph Expedition 1865-67, microfilm at UAF;
The first Postmaster (then called Postmistress) was appointed in 1897 in Dyea by President McKinley. That, curiously was a 51 year old woman who came up to Alaska from Boise, Idaho. Clara and her brothers Daniel and Arthur Allen Richards were from a large family. The 8 kids were all born in Middleburg, Ohio to their farmer father and mother, but they had moved to Idaho sometime in the late 1800’s. When the three siblings got to Dyea, Arthur Allen was appointed Deputy Marshal and Daniel was involved in some business.
The real story here was the scandal involving the Dyea post office. While Clara no doubt was working as hard as she could, the post office was a 14X20 cabin that by all accounts was deplorable. On most days the line stretched far and away with 300-400 men hoping to send and receive mail. Clara’s rule was that no man could ask for mail for any more that 2 people. So if a guy came down to get mail for his 8 companions, it would take him all day to get mail. The amount of mail going North from Seattle was stupendous: 8 steamers full per month docked in Dyea. One steamer alone carried 4000 pieces of mail.
Some men wrote to the Postmaster General in Washington that her volunteers were charging 10 cents a letter to patrons. Clara was accused of slackness and inefficiency as well as graft. It was charged that Clara knew about this, but she countered that it was impossible to do the job without additional funds and assistance from government officials in Washington. So the line stretched for hundreds of feet every day. Seen above is the Dyea post office, but I could not find a photo of Clara.
Clara Richards never married and died on December 28, 1928 at the age of 81 in Boise. She is buried in the Morris Hill Cemetery.
Jackson Family website; familysearch; a Marcuse letter of July 6, 1901 called the “Weekly Philatelic Era”; Klondike Saga: The Chronicle of a Minnesota Gold Mining Company By Carl Ludwig Lokke
Coulson was born in 1839 in Indiana. He was the Captain of the McCulloch which was built in 1897 and was Admiral Dewey’s dispatch boat at Manila. On the night of April 30, 1898 Dewey was sneaking into Manila Harbor under cover of darkness. The Spanish garrison at Corregidor caught sight of them and the shots fired at the McCulloch were the first of the Spanish American war. The McCulloch was in the Revenue Cutter Service founded in 1789 by Alexander Hamilton to collect revenue, aid in the customs revenue laws, render assistance to vessels in distress, guard the seals and fisheries, prevent sales of arms and liquor to Indians, supervise lighthouse service, aid in the coast survey and do scientific research. The McCulloch had two rapid fire guns and two magazine guns (taken in Manila from the Reina Cristina a Spanish warship). Anyway, Coulson, seen above on the McCulloch was responsible for all of this and more, on the west coast and would stop at Skagway occasionally. He was made an honorary member of the Arctic Brotherhood here. He died on September 24, 1918 in Berkeley, California.
Erastus Brainerd was an American journalist and art museum curator. During the Yukon Gold Rush, he was the publicist who “sold the idea that Seattle was the Gateway to Alaska and the only such portal”. He was born on February 25, 1855 in Middletown, Connecticut and attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard University, from which he graduated at the age of 19. He served as curator of engravings at the Boston Museum of Arts, then traveled to Europe, where he promoted a tour for “lecturing showman” W. Irving Bishop. He was a social success in Europe, and became a Knight of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, a Knight of the Red Cross of Rome, a Knight Templar, and a Freemason.
In July 1890, after recovering from three severe bouts of influenza, he headed west to become editor of the Seattle Press and the Press-Times, a role he held until September 1893. He left to focus on the office of State Land Commissioner, to which he had been appointed March 15, 1893. He joined the Rainier Club and organized a local Harvard Club. In 1897, as secretary and executive officer of the newly founded Bureau of Information of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, he became the most prominent figure in the publicity campaign that established Seattle’s preeminence as a mercantile and outfitting center for the miners headed to the Yukon. He also convinced the federal government to open an assay office in Seattle. He briefly and unsuccessfully attempted to make a living as a “mining consultant” before becoming editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He may never have come to Skagway, but he certainly influenced the thousands that did. And so, we dub him a Skagway hero.
Brainerd died on December 25, 1922 in Tacoma, Washington.
Wikipedia; Library of Congress; National Park Service.
P.C.H. Primrose was born on October 23, 1864 in Nova Scotia. He applied to the newly formed NWMP in 1885 and was commissioned then.
In 1898, at the outbreak of the Klondike Gold Rush, Primrose was assigned to the Yukon, where he was stationed at the H Division in Tagish. He became superintendent of that division in October 1899, then was transferred to become superintendent of the B Division one month later. In 1901, he was posted to Dawson, where he assumed responsibility for 43 Mounted Policemen and 4 other men at the Whitehorse station. During his time in the Yukon, the main role of the police was guarding people awaiting trials and prisoners serving sentences.
Primrose supervised the 1900 Yukon census, reporting to the Commissioner that the territory’s population was 16,463. On May 13, 1900, he fined 31 “members of the sporting fraternity” $55 each, boosting the territorial treasury. Other activities included more community-oriented tasks, such as firefighting when permitted. He returned to Regina in 1914 and worked in many different capacities including being the 5th Lt. Governor of Alberta. He married and had 4 children and died in Edmonton on March 17, 1937.
He is seen above as a young North West Mounted Officer.
Royal Arch Gunnison was born on June 24, 1873 in Binghampton, New York. That evening his father, Christopher B. Gunnison, attended a meeting of his Masonic chapter, Binghamton No. 139, and returning home, found that he was the father of a boy whom he promptly named “Royal Arch” which is a Masonic term, I guess. Royal became a lawyer and was appointed by Teddy Roosevelt to be a district judge in Skagway Alaska in 1904 before going into private practice in Juneau five years later. He drove the last spike of the Valdez-Yukon Railway. He was a member of the Arctic Brotherhood and a 33° member of the Scottish Rite Masons in Seattle in 1916. He was also a member of the Knights Templar and, yes, a Royal Arch Mason. A DeMolay Chapter in Juneau was named for him in 1932.
In Juneau, in 1910, Royal had a son who he also named Royal Arch Gunnison. Royal Jr. became famous in World War 2 as a Mutual Network war-caster in Manilla. He had stayed on the air until U.S. Army engineers blew up the transmitting station and equipment a jump ahead of the Japanese. As a result, 34-year-old Gunnison and his wife spent 17 months in Japanese concentration camps outside Manila and Shanghai. Gunnison and his wife Marjorie were later repatriated from China with 1,438 other internees.
Royal Arch Gunnison Jr. made the rounds to be interviewed in the press and on the radio. His story appeared in Life Magazine and in Billboard, where he outlined what entertainment was like in prison camps. He wrote a book on his experiences called “So Sorry, No Peace” published in October 1944. Though he survived the ordeals of a war prisoner, he didn’t survive an accident that took his life. Gunnison headed back to Asia in June 1946. Three months later, he died in a plane crash in Hong Kong.
Judge Royal Arch Gunnison Sr. died in Juneau of apoplexy at the age of 45, on this day, June 18, 1918 and is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery. He is seen above at the height of his career.
findagrave; justamason; ancestry.
Today is Seward’s Day and the state and local offices are closed to honor the man who fought, and nearly died to acquire the great land of Alaska. During the Civil War, when funds were scarce and Russia, too, was nearly broke from funding their wars, a great real estate deal presented itself. Although the negotiations took years to complete, the man who had the vision was U.S. Secretary of State, Wiliam H. Seward. Working for President Lincoln, he nearly suffered assasination on the same night that Booth shot Lincoln. Another member of the successionist movement pushed his way into Seward’s home, attacking his family and stabbing Seward several times in the face and neck. Miraculously surviving, Seward was not deterred from his task, and in 1867 not only saw the purchase of Alaska, but he also decided to go see the property.
In June of 1869, after retiring, Seward began his vacation to Alaska with a railroad trip across the country on the – then barely one-month-old – transcontinental railroad. He saw buffalo and Indian camps and visited Brigham Young in Salt Lake City. He then visited Sacramento and San Francisco.
Seward boarded the steamship “Active” as a guest of Ben Holladay (a California businessman) to visit the Chilkats up Lynn Canal. The ship visited Seattle and Victoria B.C. and then arrived in Sitka near the end of July. When they got to Klukwan or the port we now know as Haines, by coincidence, there was a U.S. government survey team also in the area to view a rare total eclipse of the sun. The party had timed its visit with the Chilkats to coincide with the eclipse. The Chilkats referred to tourists as “Boston Men” and assumed that Seward was the “Great Tyee” of the Boston Men. Obviously there had been men from Boston who had visited earlier but they were doing business presumably and were not casual tourists as the Seward party was in 1869.
When Seward returned to Washington D.C. he praised Alaska and said it was impossible to exaggerate Alaska’s physical treasures such as its rivers and its wildlife and noted that its untapped mineral and forest resources will make Alaska a “shipyard for the supply of all nations.” How prophetic!
“Swiftwater Bill” Gates, or Charles H. Gates was born in 1855 in Minerva New York. He was working as a boatman in Idaho in 1896 when he decided to go to Alaska. He and some partners leased “Thirteen El Dorado” which later paid out and made him a millionaire. Enjoying his new wealth, he would walk the streets of Dawson in top hat, white shirt and jacket (and said to bathe in champagne). He apparently loved women and gambling. He had the hots for Miss Gussie Lamore in Dawson and offered her her weight in gold to marry him. She however spurned him, and was seen in the restaurant with a new boyfriend ordering fried eggs – the most expensive item on the menu. So, to get even, Bill bought up all the eggs in Dawson and fed them to dogs, in another version fed them to the other dance hall girls. Miss Gussie loved eggs and so he hoped to get her attention. Apparently it worked as she offered to meet him in San Francisco and marry him (despite already being married). He married her younger sister, Grace, then divorced her and remarried and divorced several times in the next few years.
Swiftwater Bill was known to be at the gold fields of Nome, Alaska at the same time as William H. Gates I, grandfather of the Microsoft founder. However, despite the similarity in name and coincidences of geography, there is no apparent family relationship between “Swiftwater Bill” and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
In any event, some versions say that in 1933 he went to Peru and was mining silver there, when on this date, February 13, 1933 he died in mysterious circumstances, perhaps murder…..another account says he was murdered on February 21, 1937 and still another that he died of pneumonia following surgery back in Neillsville, Clark County, Wisconsin on February 13, 1933.
In any event, he certainly lived an exciting life.
Seen above with Joe Boyle-left, “Swiftwater Bill” on the right.
Source: Neillsville Press (Neillsville, Clark County, Wis.) 16 Feb. 1933 obituary of “Swiftwater Bill” Gates.
From July to September 1890 John Muir and his friends toured Glacier Bay. Dr. Henry Platt Cushing did the meteorological, geologic and botanical studies on the trip. He was a prominent geologist who taught at Western Reserve University . He was joined by his collegue Dr. Henry Fielding Reid of the Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland, Ohio. (Today these two universities are combined to be Case Western Reserve University).
Their students were:
Comfort Avery Adams, who had just graduated from Western University with a degree in mechanical engineering and later taught at Harvard for 45 years in electrical engineering.
R.L. Casement of Plainesville, Ohio.
Mr. James H. McBride later physician at CalTech.
John F. Morse (presumably taking the photo) who later was a physician in San Francisco, but died at the age of 40 in 1898 there.
In 1890 Muir’s health was poor and he suffered from snow blindness. He expressed irritation with the “stream of tourists habitually snapping their Kodaks and asking naive questions, and with the haste at which they ceased gazing at glaciers whenever a dinner bell sounded.” However, like many tourists today, Muir returned to Glacier Bay in 1899. All of his friends later had glaciers named for them.
Here’s that photo that I posted before, it was mislabeled to be Heney in the middle, but actually that charming mug is the governor, Wilford Bacon Hoggatt! This is a scan from the same book, Grit, Grief and Gold by Whiting.