Odd People

Count Emile Janne de Lamare

Posted on Dec 12, 2012 in Explorers and naturalists, Odd People | 0 comments

The first automobile to drive in Skagway was in April 1900. That was when Count de Lamare came to Skagway with his three wheel automobile and another one. He was a Paris correspondent and brought his cars north to gain publicity for his writing. He was president of the Auto Club of Paris and an enthusiastic autoist. They presumbably took the train to Bennett where they set out on the lake. The three cylinder engine could go a remarkable 58 kilometers per hour but the other one with 5 horse power could only attain 26 kph. They were both gasoline engines and they carried along a sled with spare parts. Unbelievably they made it to Atlin in 5 days, gave rides there and then headed to Dawson!

The trip proved to be very difficult and they abandoned the vehicles somewhere in the Klondike. Still, their travel in the North where there were no roads was marvelous. The Count and his traveling companion Mary Hitchcock, traveled 1000 kilometers, in the late spring where they encountered icy and slushy conditions.

The little vehicle is seen above. No wonder the traveling party was so small….

from: Atlin – the story of British Columbia’s Last Gold Rush by Christine Frances Dickinson and Diane Solie Smith.

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The Order of the Midnight Sun

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 in Bars and Hotels, Merchants, Odd People | 0 comments

In 1901, the most secret society in Skagway was the Order of the Midnight Sun which sought to overthrow the Yukon government and make it part of Alaska. It was made up of members of the Arctic Brotherhood another secret society, but one which furthered the interests of its members through brotherhood. Although no lists of Order members is known, the leader was Fred J. Clark, seen above. He was a painter and managed the Burkhard Hotel. Born in February 1871 in Missouri, he died on August 7, 1905 at Soda Springs, near Yakima, Washington and was buried in the Tahoma cemetery. He died at the age of 34 from consumption or tuberculosis.

from Call in the Pinkerton’s by David Ricardo Williams, 1998.¬†

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Famous People

Posted on Aug 1, 2012 in Odd People | 0 comments

I have been correcting my database of people in Skagway during the Gold Rush by looking at the actual 1900 census which is now online at Family Search, the genealogy database maintained by the Mormons. I have found quite a few misspellings and in so doing have found some (now) famous names.

So, both Peter Jackson (born January 1865 in Delaware) and George Lucas (born November 1846 in England) were here in 1900. Peter Jackson worked as a clerk and George Lucas worked as a miner – or at least that is what he said he was when asked by the census taker. So, unless they used a time machine which looked like a Delorean we can only imagine that they led quiet lives here in Skagway.

1900 census

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Jonas Peter Hagstrom

Posted on Jul 26, 2012 in Odd People | 0 comments

Jonas Peter Hagstrom was born on April 11, 1871 in Sweden. Although happily married with a daughter, he decided to go to the Yukon to search for gold around 1906. Maria and Elsa stayed in Sweden but he wrote to them during the decades that he lived at Teslin in a little cabin. Here is part of one poem he wrote:

“…for you know tis constant dripping

wears away the hardest stone.

Never slack sublime endeavour,

nor midst cheerless toil despair;

If you’d rise above your fellows

Remember you must “Win and Wear”.

Jonas, or John as he adopted the local name, was found dead in 1941 in his cabin.

Every Trail has a story: Heritage Travel in Canada, by Bob Henderson and James Raffan.

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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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Allen Melville Carpenter

Posted on Nov 18, 2011 in Odd People | 0 comments


Dr. Carpenter was an honorary member at the very first organizing of the Arctic Brotherhood in Skagway. He was born in 1871 and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1891 with a doctorate in chemistry. He must have been a very good friend of one of the original members, but there is no evidence that he was actually here. The eminent Dr. Carpenter died on this day, November 18, 1943 in New York.
Seen above are some of the brethren in Seattle in 1908. Note their snappy hoods!

The Right Way On, Oliver p 322; journal A.M.A. 1943 online

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