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
Dr. Richard M. Allen was in Skagway in the winter of 1897 as seen in the photo above. He is in the dark outfit leaning on the post. His descendent, Natalie Gohrband kindly allowed me to post this previously unseen family photo. Family lore says he died on a shipwreck at the Kuskokwim River in 1899, but it could have been on the Jessie which sank there in 1898. It was described in a book by Gordon Newell titled the Shipwrecks of 1899, so that may be the source of the confusion.
The Jessie swamped in turbulent water at the mouth of the Kuskokwim River on June 28, 1898. Rev. Welsh and 18 miners from the Columbia Exploration Company were believed to have been massacred by the Yupik Natives or lost in the wreck. One person, a trader called Ling survived and sent word to St. Michael of the shipwreck.
Hjalmer Melachton Berge was born on November 22, 1896 in Ohio, one of 10 children born to Norwegian immigrants Olaf and Thilda. Somehow H.M. managed to attend college and graduate from medical school. He came to Skagway in 1923 and worked for White Pass as a surgeon. He later went back to Snohomish where he married Jeannette and had a child. In 1928 he was appointed the Snohomish County Health Officer but on April 10, 1933 he died of tuberculosis in the Laurel Sanatorium in Seattle. An occupational hazard for doctors I suppose back then. Washington records.Read More
Dr. S.D. Cameron was famous for attending the autopsy on Soapy here in 1898. He was fairly young at the time, 24, having come from Ontario where he was born in 1874. He came from a big Scottish family, his parents were from Scotland. He worked at Log Cabin in 1901. After the Skagway bank robbery in 1902, he examined the body of the dead bank robber and chaired the coroners inquest here. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1902 and applied for his physicians license in Washington state also in that year.
In 1917 he married Laura Bouillard in Yakima, she was 26 then and Dr. Cameron was 43. He died on August 19, 1922 in Yakima and is buried there.
In the picture above, I believe that the young bloke to the far right is Dr. Samuel D. Cameron.
Howard Clifford p 142; yukon genealogy; 1920 Yakima census; Washington marriage, licensing, emigration and census records.Read More