Mr. Rasmuson was born on this day, April 5, 1882 in Denmark. He came to Alaska as a missionary around 1904 and was married to Jenny Olson in 1905 in Sitka. His son Elmer described his father, Edward Rasmuson, as a learned, disciplined man who kept his personal diary in Greek, who learned law and banking through correspondence courses.
After 10 years in Alaska, Edward and Jenny Rasmuson moved their family to Minneapolis, where several of his relatives from Sweden had settled. He passed the bar there, but his wife, Jenny, wanted to return to Alaska, so the family moved to Juneau in 1915.
E.A. soon discovered there were too many lawyers in Juneau to make a good living, so he took a magistrate’s job in Skagway.
It was 1916 when they arrived and Skagway had fallen into the doldrums of a post-Gold Rush bust. The originals of the western-style buildings that tourists now visit were boarded up, and the economy was dependent on the vagaries of the railroad business. The memory of Soapy Smith was still fresh, and Elmer remembered “Ma Pullin” riding Soapy’s white horse in parades. The family remained deeply religious, and much of life revolved around the Presbyterian Church.
Because E.A. was the only lawyer in town, it was natural for him to become the attorney for the new Bank of Alaska, founded in 1916 by a group of New York financiers. It wasn’t much of an edifice — four walls and usually two employees. Edward became a Commissioner in 1917-18 and the President of the Bank of Alaska in 1923. He lived in Skagway from 1916 to 1943. Today the Rasmuson Foundation does many good things for Alaska.
Edward Rasmuson passed away in 1949 at the age of 67.
from the Rasmuson Foundation website and the University of Alaska Fairbanks biography website; census data.
Happy Birthday to Capt. Moore born on this day, March 30, 1822 in Emden, Hanover, Germany. He came up here from Vancouver in 1862 as an explorer. He and his wife, Hendrika Fenn had several kids and grandkids who lived here prior to the gold rush. He once owned much of the land that is now Skagway, but was over run by goldrushers in 1897-1898. His original cabin and house is now owned and has been renovated by the National Park Service.
When Capt. Moore left Skagway, he and his family moved back to their lovely home in Victoria. In November I walked the road where the house once stood, but unfortunately has been replaced by condos. There are a few renovated Victorian Houses on that street. He and Hendrika are buried in the Ross Bay Cemetery, a two mile walk from downtown Victoria. Try as we might, even with the exact plot number, we could not find the actual graves, but I’m sure they are there.
Ed and Estella Peoples moved to Skagway in 1898 from Illwaco, Washington. Ed was a furniture maker and undertaker. On this sad day, March 11, 1901 their two year old son died of tuberculosis in Skagway. Little Edgar was cremated and his remains taken to Portland, Oregon.
The People’s Mortuary was found on the southwest corner of 8th and Broadway from about 1898 to 1901.
Mr. Peoples was the Mayor of Skagway and on city council in 1900-01. After the death of little Edgar, he resigned and moved to Eagle with his wife Estella and Frank Woodruff. They then moved to Rampart, and then on to Fairbanks by 1926. Edgar and Estella both died in Seattle in the 1930′s.
Skagway Death Records; Washington death records; Oregon death records.
Mr. Hestness was a White Pass section foreman in the 1920 census for Skagway. He was born on this day, March 9, 1879 in Norway. He died in 1924, at the age of 45, in a WP&YR train accident and is buried in the Skagway Pioneer Cemetery. He left behind 5 children and his wife Gertrude. His son Harold hated White Pass for failing to compensate the family and so he went to the University of Washington Law School and became an attorney. The photo above is of another train wreck, taken by J.D. True, but you get the picture.
from: 1910, 1920 and 1929 census and book “After the Gold Rush” by Robert Dahl, son of Dr. Peter Dahl who lived in Skagway at the time.Read More
On this day, February 18, 1991 Mrs. MacMillan, a schoolteacher in Skagway in the early part of the 20th century, died in Washington. She was born in 1902 in Skagway, the daughter of Minor Ellsworth Rogers, a White Pass carpenter who came to Skagway in 1897 and stayed until his death in 1958. Ellen’s husband was John Roderick MacMillan. They both died in Redmond Washington.
Ellen is not to be confused with Elma Kyle McMillen who was also a long time schoolteacher in Skagway from 1960-1981. Elma passed away in Whitehorse in 2002.
Jack Kirmse, son of Herman Kirmse, born in Skagway in 1906 died on this day, February 10, 1993 in Carlsbad, California, he was 87 years old.
Herman and his first wife Ida Shonknioler moved to Skagway in the gold rush in 1897 and established themselves as jewelers. Ida died of convulsions in 1900 and so Herman married Hazel Cleveland here in Skagway.
Jack and his wife Georgette lived in Skagway for many years. They owned the Moore House on 5th Avenue which had been in the family since 1907 when Ben Moore sold it to Herman. In 1977 Jack sold the house to the National Park Service and it was restored with antique furnishings. The house is open to the public in the summer to view.
Each year the Skagway school awards the “Jack Kirmse Scholarship” to a graduating senior, and in 2003, Arlen McCluskey (see January 20, 2010 blog) was awarded this scholarship which helped him pursue his educational goals.
This coming summer the Kirmse’s shop on the corner of 5th and Broadway will again be open for business by local residents Cara Cosgrove and Bruce Weber who will sell unique Alaskan crafts and jewelery made by local artisans. The totem poles on the south side of the shop and the clock face on the mountainside are popular for tourists to photograph.
In the picture above you can see both the shop sign and the sign painted on the rocks above town advertising Kirmse’s. The clock face on the clock shows the time of 7:20 which some have said is the time of Lincoln’s death, but actually it has another meaning: in the U.S. clockmakers will set the face of the clocks they are showing in the shop to 7:20 to show the symmetry of the clock face. A Swiss jeweler told me that in Europe they set their clocks to 10:10, the difference being that it makes a smile instead of a sad mouth – a “sourir” I think she said.Read More