Ernest J. Matthews

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The other day I was at an estate sale in Skagway and picked up this old postcard. After doing a little research I found that the author was indeed related to Bud Matthews who recently passed away here in Skagway.

Ernest J. Matthews was born about 1893 in Idaho. He married Catherine A. Lowe from Utah and they moved to Skagway around 1924 when their first son was born, James, known to everyone here as Bud.

Before they moved to Skagway however, they went to St. Michael’s, Alaska and apparently opened a Bakery Store there. Pictured above in the postcard is Ernest and Catherine. Ernest wrote this little card to Catherine’s brother, Lynn Hardy Lowe who lived in Salt Lake City. At the time it was written, 1920, he was about 7. Sadly Little Lynn died in 1925 from appendicitis. (My own son had a ruptured appendix at age 7 and how lucky we are today that surgery and an excellent hospital in Albuquerque saved his life.)

The card is signed E.M. and was written on December 7, 1920.

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Marion D. K. Weimer

Mr. Weimer was born in August 1853 in Ohio. He married Ella J. Tribby in 1879 in Trenton, Iowa and had a son named Howard L.

M.D. K. as he preferred to be called, and Ella were both teachers. In 1897 with so many other goldrushers, M.D.K. came to Alaska and settled in Eagle where he was the editor of the Eagle Reporter in 1898. He returned to Ohio by 1900 and then the family moved to Nebraska and then on to Los Angeles. Their son worked as a linotype printer in Alhambra and married there.

In 1903 he wrote a book called “The True Story of the Alaska Gold Fields” which can be found online for sale.  He died on February 2, 1931 in Los Angeles.

In May 2009 ice and floodwaters swept away more than 100 years of history with the destruction of Eagle Village. The small log cabins that had once populated the long-established community known as Ninak’ay to the Han people lay strewn along the banks of the Yukon River. The homes, which had been handed down from one generation to the next, were demolished. But now, three years later, a new village stands three miles away on higher ground, safe from floods. Seen above was one of the destroyed cabins from the gold rush.

familysearch; Yukon the Last Frontier by Melody Webb p. 137; 1900-1940 censuses; Rootsweb database of Iowa cemeteries; Alaska Gold Rush History of Alaska Newspapers; Fairbanks Daily News.

A Skagway kid in France 1918

Loring and Mary Wilkes came to Skagway from Nebraska  in the gold rush with their little son Mark Edward. Loring worked as a cook but in 1948  wrote: “Packers on the Dyea Trail” in the Alaska Sportsman (June).  His son Mark went to World War One and listed Skagway as his home town.

Mark Edward Wilkes disappeared on this day, November 13, 1918 in France, perhaps near Exermont or Nantillois. Many  officers – Majors Murray Davis and Fred A. Cook, Captains Joseph G. Duncan, Edgar Hayden Dale,  James C. Kenady all died as well as many Lieutanants, Sergeants, Corporals and privates.  Sadly, the Great War in Europe ended on November 11, two days prior to the announcement of the many deaths.

In September and October 1918, the 35th Division was attempting to reach the village of Exermont.  The church and town were nearly destroyed near the Chaudron Farm Road by a counter attack of the German Army on September 29, 1918. Seen above are some of the American soldiers in the church there.  There is a memorial in the town to the fallen soldiers which is perhaps the only marker that Private Wilkes has since he was listed as MIA. Below is the marker in Skagway which does not bear his name.

http://www.genealogybuff.com/misc/ww1/il-ww1-ago-casualties46.htm

Blind faith

I call this blind faith, but really, would you cross this crevasse on this snow bridge? This was taken in 1947 at Mt. McKinley.

The Tutshi and the Duchess at Carcross

Here are three alternative White Pass & Yukon Route modes of travel.  The paddlewheel steamer Tutshi is seen here whole before it burned many years ago. On the left is an old White Pass horse drawn wagon. The little Duchess engine which was used over on Lake Atlin is looking alot spiffier here too. These days you are not allowed to climb on top of it and try to pry the pieces off. Kids.

The Duchess was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1878 and John Irving purchased her from the Collieries on Vancouver Island in 1899. She was shipped north on the S.S. Danube and hauled by train to Carcross and then barged to Taku Landing. In 1900 White Pass acquired the interests of the John Irving Navigation Company and the Atlin Short Line Railway. On July 18, 1900 the Duchess pulled the first load across the portage. At $2 fo 4 kilometers it was the most expensive trip in the world. Passengers rode amidst packages and cargo, stamping out cinders and sometimes asked to help push the train the last part over the hill where the grade was 7%. For many years White Pass owned the transportation route from Vancouver all the way to Atlin. The Duchess ran until 1919 when she was replaced by engine no. 51 (one of the two original  Baldwin engines built for White Pass.) In 1932 the other engine, no. 52 was brought there.

 

Edwin L. Pillman

Mr. Pillman was born in January 1862 in Canada. He and his wife Elizabeth and daughter Ethel lived in Skagway from 1898 until about 1901 and ran a grocery store and was also an undertaker.  When he moved to Atlin he also had a grocery store and a hearse which he would use to transport both fruits, vegetables and corpses. Some people objected to that though.

We photographed this little sign on a building there which says he had the first steam peanut roaster in Skagway in 1898. Who knew?!!! Wouldn’t one of these really add to the ambiance of Skagway in the summer?

 

Thomas Frederic Harper Reed 1878-1965

Last weekend we went to Atlin, it was beautiful. Stayed at the Brewer’s Bay Chalet which, although clean and plain has a million dollar view of the lake and snow covered mountains. After walking around town in the rain, we visited the Atlin Cemetery and photographed this curious monument to Harper Reed, gentleman adventurer. Have not been able to find out anything more, if anyone knows, please leave a comment.

White Pass City saloons

 

Skagway had many saloons but it did not have the record of number of saloons per capita.
The most saloons per buildings was claimed by White Pass City, where it was said there were 17 saloons in a town that had only 16 buildings (one was “at large”). White Pass City was a community of sorts that was half way up the Trail of ’98, (the railroad path to the summit from Skagway).  Although now owned by the National Park Service, access is extremely difficult and must be done from the road. In the past 15 years it has been done only rarely and those being rangers sent there several years ago. They descended a steep cliff of about 2000 feet, crossed a treacherous raging river – bushwacking the entire way. They just don’t make rangers like those anymore……(Seth, Liz, Jim)!

from Alaska Hootch, the history of alcohol in early Alaska, by Thayne I. Anderson, online quoting Scott Dial “The Gold Rush Saloon”.