Mail – Postal

Walter Goyne the “Going Kid of Alaska”

Posted on Feb 17, 2015 in Animals, Dawson, Dogs, Goldrushers, Mail - Postal, Tragedy | 0 comments

 

 


dog sled

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.”

 fro trapersfestival.com

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Christmas Mail

Posted on Dec 9, 2011 in Dogs, Mail - Postal, Other Communities, RCMP | 0 comments


It has always been and still is a challenge to get mail to Skagway. Today we rely on small planes to fly our mail in from Juneau and if they can’t fly for three days, they put it on the ferry. Numerous times I have had retailers tell me they either don’t deliver to Skagway or they send it the dreaded FedEx way: which is, they send it to Anchorage and then hand it over to the post office there which puts it on the barge as parcel post. Recently I had a computer delivered this way that arrived with a big hole punched in the side of the box. Fortunately it hit only packaging material. There is no direct mail delivery on the road to Whitehorse, so if you send a letter there, it goes to Seattle, maybe to Ottawa and then back to Vancouver and then to Whitehorse. And takes 3 weeks. So here is what they did in 1898:

“The amount of mail stacked up on the Skagway dock that Christmas of 1898 was too much for one man to carry, however. The North-West Mounted Police took over the job of delivering the backlog of mail to the Klondikers. They formed relay teams of men and dogs to carry the mail in 30-mile stretches. Traveling day and night, the Mountie teams could complete the one-way 600-mile trip in an average of seven days. The use of dog teams on the Dawson-Skagway route ended in 1901 when the White Pass and Yukon Railway was completed. But dog teams were responsible for mail delivery in most parts of the Alaska Interior for another 30 years.”

Alaska History Course.org

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Sylvestor Scovel

Posted on Dec 7, 2011 in Dogs, Mail - Postal, Odd People, Reporters and Photographers, Women | 0 comments


Of the many schemes to get rich, Sylvester Scovel’s was unique.
Scovel was a reporter for the New York World, but he also brought two tons of blasting powder to Skagway in Sept 1897 for White Pass Trail construction. He arrived in Skagway with his wife, Frances Cabanne and went over the Chilkoot Pass with their provisions. When he and Frances reached Lake Bennett, they had intended to float up to Dawson, but when he heard that only three mail deliveries would make it to Dawson that winter, Scovel came up with an idea. Why not organize a regular dog team mail delivery service from Skagway to Dawson and thus deliver the “New York World” to miners who would happily pay for news? He told Frances that they would certainly get rich.
Skeptics pointed out that the 600 miles of snow covered trails, frozen lakes and sub-zero conditions would take 25-30 days.
Still, Scovel told his wife that it would be like an extended honeymoon with nothing to do but “hunt, fish, prospect for gold and write correspondence…”
He left Frances in a tent at Lake Bennett while he hiked back to Skagway and took a boat down to Seattle to wire his employers for support in this venture. The World took three days to respond and then turned him down flatly and ordered him back to New York immediately. He wrote to Frances to return to Skagway and take the first boat down to Seattle as he was returning to New York. He also wrote to William Saportas, an acquaintance and fellow reporter in Skagway (also friend of Soapy) to please go find the “madame” in Lake Bennett and take her down south. Meanwhile poor Frances had not heard from her husband yet and so related in a letter to her mother that Bennett was “awful, awful without him and in this hole – it is death.”
Sylvester’s relatives in Chicago were amazed and told him he should not have left Frances. His Aunt Belle even boxed his ears! To make matters worse, the World was not happy and accused him of “gross extravagance” having wasted too much money. Oddly, the only reason he was not fired was because Hearst was courting him to come work for the New York Journal. Scovel went on to be the World’s “man in Havana”, but died there in 1905 following an operation to his liver.
In the end the only one who came out ahead was William Saportas. He married the lovely widow Frances in 1917 and they presumably lived happily ever after.

Seen above are Scovel and his wife Frances in Skagway promoting his newspaper!

The Year that defined American Journalism: 1897 and the clash of paradigms by W. Joseph Campbell; Edmond Hazard Wells, Magnificence and Misery, page 32.

NY Times Sept 6, 1897

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Charles Christiansen

Posted on May 5, 2011 in Mail - Postal, RCMP | 0 comments


Constable Christiansen of the Northwest Mounted Police worked at Tagish in 1898 where he and Special Constable Loucks and Corporal Spreadbury took off on a little adventure on December 4th 1898. They left Tagish for Bennett to deliver the mail and pickup supplies for the division mess:
“After an arduous four-day trip, Spreadbury and Christiansen collapsed on the lake ice within sight of the lights of Bennett. Loucks pushed on to get help for his exhausted comrades. Fortunately, they soon revived under the medical care of police surgeon, Dr. Louis Pare.”
Christiansen later worked at the Customs Station at White Pass Summit in 1902.

Report of the RCMP 1898 and 1902; Helene Dobrowolsky “Law of the Yukon”;

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John Philip Clum

Posted on May 2, 2011 in Heroes, Mail - Postal, Other Communities | 1 comment


We know of John Clum by his title, Postmaster of Skagway, but he had quite a life of adventure both before and after living here. He was a friend of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday in Tombstone, Arizona where Clum married Belle Atwood in 1881. His daughter Caro was also born there on Christmas Eve, 1883.

From Tombstone, he arrived in Skagway on March 26, 1898 and immediately set up the Post Office with himself as Postmaster and Postal Inspector. As mentioned before (March 17, 2010), he did away with the mail service from Dyea to Skagway, McGreely’s Express.
Belle passed away in 1912 in Alaska and John died in Los Angeles in 1932, on this day, May 2 at the age of 81.
Gary Ledoux has written two books on John Clum and his life.

“The men who made the west are fast going and no one that I know of did more to make the West than John P. Clum.” Harry Carr, Reporter – Los Angeles Times, May 1932

Yesterwest.com – an entire website dedicated to the history of John Clum and his influence in Tombstone, Arizona by Gary Ledoux; Pennington p 334; familysearch; postalmuseum.si.edu/gold/clum.html; Alaska marriage records.

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Gone Postal 1898

Posted on Mar 16, 2011 in Dyea, Mail - Postal, Women | 0 comments

William Steele was the postmaster in Dyea and had quite alot to deal with in 1898. Not least of which was Mrs. Sarah Rowley who attempted to shoot him because she thought he had stolen their goods.

Although she was arrested for the attempted murder of postmaster Steele in Dyea on June 12, 1898, she was later released on insanity. She and her husband, H. Campbell Rowley worked as packers on the Chilkoot Trail. They had lost their outfit when the SS Corona went down, and then their replacement outfit was also lost.
No wonder she went crazy!

When I worked at the Skagway Post Office in 1998 I encountered a number of irate and irrational people at the window who also thought I was hiding their mail. I remember one man who could not believe that his package, sent from Florida the day before, was not in Skagway since it had been sent priority! Another local man would scream at us if his Wall Street Journal was not in his box at 8 am, despite the fact that mail arrives by small airplane, and in huge bags, and weather permitting. So we would upend all the mail, look for his paper and make a special delivery to his box to avoid the commotion. Well all those postal workers that I worked with are retired now and the screaming man – well he died shortly thereafter of hypertension as I recall…..

New York Times 6/17/1898; Skagway Museum Record

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