I have received enquiries about Thomas Marshall Word Jr. or Tom Word from a woman who purchased historic photos of the Word family at an estate many years ago. She contacted me because she intends to put them up for sale on Ebay, which is great, so that everyone who is interested can have a chance to acquire them. It was several years ago that I was doing some research on him, but apparently I never wrote up the story. I quote here from Jeff Smith on his Soapy Website:
“For a few years now I have been exchanging interesting e-mails with Fred Wood, a great-grandson of Skagway’s Thomas Marshall Word. If Fred and I are correct Word is the man who acted as the go-between for Soapy and the vigilante’s after John Fay shot and killed Deputy U.S. Marshal Rowan and Andy McGrath. Word was involved in the hunt for the gang after Soapy had been killed and came real close to becoming famous as the man who captured the three top gangsters, Bowers, Foster, and Wilder. Hours later he was one of the guards protecting those same three bunco steerers locked away on the third floor of the Burkhard Hotel. Tom Word twice aided in keeping a blood thirsty vigilante mob from orchestrating a wholesale slaughter and that’s something his g-grandson can be proud of.”
Jeff has an excellent write up of the information that he has gathered here:
Anyway, for those of you who are interested, below and above here are a couple of photos of the photos.
Arthur was the eighth child born to the Richards family in 1859 in Ohio. His older sister, Clara ran the post office in Dyea, a story which I wrote about earlier here. Apparently her two brothers were also here, Arthur and Daniel.
Arthur was appointed by the U.S. Commissioner to be U.S. Marshal for the Dyea District. In a letter he wrote:
“I have been over the trail to the headwaters of the Yukon several times, to arrest men for getting into rows – generally for using guns…The wonder to me is not so much that men die but that any can survive the hardships. So much packing in mud and wading waist deep in ice-cold water, right from the glaciers above. A good many give up their outfits here for what they can get, and return home. ”
One descendent said that family lore has it that Arthur was responsible for laying the first telephone line from Dyea to the top of the Chilcoot Pass. That would have been during the 1897-98 time as there were several tramways built at that time also. They had better communication then than now, even cell phones don’t always work on the trail today.
He also said ” It is a pleasant trip up here from San Francisco except that accommodations are limited, and while the excitement keeps up the ships will be overcrowded. The steamer I came on, the Mexico, sank on her return trip in 200 fathoms of water and everything lost but the passengers.” this would have been in August 1897 because I found the following article:
The Alaska Searchlight of August 14, 1897 reported on the wreck of the Steamer Mexico: “near the end of Dixon Entrance. The steamer was southbound when it ran upon some hidden rocks at 4 o’clock on the morning of the 6 th . The rocks stove a big hole in the bottom of the boat, but luckily there was not freight on board and the bulkhead compartments of the boat kept it afloat for about two hours, when it finally sank in 100 fathoms of water. The shock caused confusion on board and passengers were thrown from their berths. In a few minutes, however the officers quieted down the passengers while the crew quickly launched the boats and every passenger was transferred from the sinking ship. The hand baggage belonging to passengers was taken from the ship and it is reported that the mail was taken off, although it is not definitely known. There were one hundred persons on board….”
1900 census; Daily Alaskan 3/13/1900 (in 2001 Skagway News); Skagway Museum record; CA death rec; Photo and letter courtesy of Diane Richards Design. Information and updates courtesy of Glenn McKinney – many thanks!
Frank Burney was born on April 9, 1874 in Wisconsin. In 1896 he was working as a farmer in Fresno, California. There were other Burney’s in the area so presumably he went there with family. Farming must not have been too interesting, so in May of 1897 he came north. And here is where he disappears for a couple of years.
He showed up on the Upper Bonanza with his new wife, Blanche Pattie Martin also from Wisconsin, in 1901. He was working a claim on the Upper Bonanza with partner E.J. Hill until 1904 when Hill died and Frank took his body back to Fresno.
Now, this may be a stretch, but there was a U.S. Marshall appointed in Skagway in July, 1898 by the name of Barney, no other information. He is significant because he was one of the three Marshals that arrested the Soapy gang during July 1898. In March of 1899, Charles Eckerman, the bartender at the Board of Trade Saloon (seen above in 1898), tried to shoot Barney (Eckerman was shot and killed 6 months later). It was about this time that Burney went to Dawson, so I am jumping to the concussion that Barney and Burney are one in the same.
In any event, Blanche and Frank left the Yukon and moved to California, living in Berkeley, Long Beach, Fresno and Los Angeles. Blanche died in 1956, Frank in 1957 and their daughter, born to them late in life, Virginia, died in 1941 at the age of 26.
Yukon archives; familysearch censuses; California death and census records: Seattle Post Intelligence of Sept 22, 1899.
Fred Fonzo was born in 1859 in Denmark. He married Mary Boyd in the San Francisco Bay area and had two children, Fred Jr. in 1892 in Berkeley and Myrtle. He ran the Acheson Hotel and also worked as a constable in Berkeley.
In 1894 his wife died and so he headed north to Alaska. He apparently never bothered to write to the family to let them know where he was. They assumed that he had died, but he appeared in Skagway about 1909 where he worked as the U.S. Jailer and Marshal. On June 16, 1911, while trying to evict Miss Mary Bernhofer from the New Home Hotel, her niece, Lena Bernhofer, aged 16, shot Marshal Fonzo. The bullet pierced his arm and lodged in his chest but did not kill him. However, news of the bullet reached the Oakland Tribune on June 22, 1911 and the family discovered his whereabouts (having mourned him for 17 years).
Meanwhile Mary Bernhofer refused to leave the hotel and said she would burn it down and kill herself if evicted. Mary Bernhofer was the hotel proprietor of the “New Home Restaurant & Lodging house” since 1897. In 1915 she appeared in Juneau as a housekeeper at The Bergman Hotel, but her employer died the next year and so Mary Bernhofer became the manager for many years. This hotel, on 3rd downtown, now a hostel, is still running today, seen above.
Fred Fonzo died on this day, June 4, 1927 in Seattle at the age of 68.
Born on this day, April 17, 1869 in Pleasant City, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Daniel Alexander Sutherland came to Circle City Alaska during the gold rush. He moved to Nome in 1900 and staked some gold claims. He came to Juneau and Skagway about 1909 and succeeded Marshal Shoup as the town Marshal here. He later went on to run for Congress and served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the territory of Alaska in the 1920’s. He was very popular and it was there that he earned his nickname for being so contentious.
He was most famous in Alaska for promoting air transportation to reach isolated communities in the winter.
He died on March 24, 1955 in Abington Pennsylvania at the age of 86.
usmarshals.com; Fairbanks news list, NPS; Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
Reverend Gus (he was also a minister) came to Skagway in 1898 from Oregon.
Born on this day, December 10, 1851 in Louisville, Kentucky, Gus was one of ten children. After college, he took the train to Oregon in 1877 and passed the Oregon Bar the next year. He married in 1883 in Salem, Oregon.
Because of the recommendation of U. S. Senator George W. McBride, Sehlbrede was appointed as U. S. Commissioner at Skagway, Alaska by President McKinley. While on that appointment, he presided over the coroner’s inquest for Soapy Smith. He was also appointed town recorder after John U. Smith left. (Smith was a crooked U.S. commissioner for Dyea from August 1897 to May 1898 who disappeared the night that Soapy was shot.)
Sehlbrede brought his wife, Ianthe, and his two daughters, Bertha Lucille and Emma Lucrecia to Skagway. However, Ianthe and daughters left in 1901 to go back Corvallis (wimps). Judge Sehlbrede joined them soon after in sunny Oregon.
The photo above is from a 1947 magazine article.
Sehlbrede died in 1922 in Corvallis also and is buried in Oak Lawn Memorial Park there.
1900 census;Pioneer History of Douglas County, Oregon; Pennington; 1902 directory;Portrait and Biographical Record of Western Oregon, published by Chapman Publishing Company, Chicago. 1904
John Snook was the nephew of Marshal James McCain Shoup who was a member of the Arctic Brotherhood and the Midnight Sun Conspiracy. Perhaps Shoup was suspicious of everyone and so appointed his young nephew Snook (sometimes incorrectly spelled Shook) to be a Marshal in Dyea in February 1898 after Marshal Rowan was shot.
John Snook was only 22 years old, born October 20, 1876 in Salmon Idaho. He was only Marshal until April of 1898, (perhaps things got a little out of hand, more than he could handle). In any event, he made one very good contact while in Skagway – the sister of Frederick Clayson (famous Christmas Eve murder December 1899).
Charlotte Clayson was a bit younger than John, she was only 14 in 1898. So John waited until 1903 and married Charlotte in Portland Oregon. They moved to Salmon Idaho soon after and had at least two boys, John and Frederick there. John Wilson Snook was active in Republican politics in the 1920’s in Idaho. There is a law firm in Salmon that bears the Snook name, so apparently the law played an important part of this family’s tradition.
Charlotte’s sister, Esther Clayson Pohl was the subject of an earlier blog for her work in Portland.
John W. Snook had a long life, and died at the age of 99 in 1975 in Salmon Idaho. Charlotte, his wife of 67 years, had died in 1970. Seen above is the Salmon Idaho Cemetery where they probably lie.
“Law of the Yukon” Dobrowsky; 1909 AB book; Idahohistory.net;1902 directory, family chronicles; Mission Klondike by Sinclair; Mills; familysearch
Marshal Daly was the Special Marshal appointed to Skagway after Marshal Rowan was murdered in February 1898. Daly was here in April, May and June 1898 and prosecuted Soapy Smith in an assault case in June.
Daly achieved some notoriety in 1897 when U.S. Deputy Marshal William C. Watts was shot and killed on Admiralty Island on September 1, 1897 whiled serving a warrant, (he was the first lawman killed in the line of duty in Alaska).
Hiram Schell and William “Slim” Birch, the murderers, wounded three other lawmen. They escaped but were apprehended soon after with the help of the U.S. Marines and a bunch of outraged volunteers.
The Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted the case was our Alfred J. Daly. Despite his good efforts in that case, the jury found the men not guilty saying the Marshals had not adequately identified themselves before the attempted arrest. Governor John Brady was horrified and compared the decision to let them go to the outrageous things happening in Skagway with the Soapy Smith gang. Perhaps that is why he sent Daly to Skagway.
Alfred James Daly, died on this day, August 6, 1912 in Tanana Alaska, he was 39 years old. His remains were taken to Nome for interment. Pictured above is Tanana around the turn of the century.
Alaska Library; Skagway Museum Record; News account list NPS library; The Daily Alaska Dispatch, 1912-08-29; Sitka Daily Alaskan various dates in 1897; Forgotten Heroes of Alaska by Wilbanks.
On this day, September 1, 1897, William C. Watts, a Deputy U.S. Marshal was shot on Admiralty Island while serving a warrant there. He had come to Alaska in 1893 and was frequently in Dyea. He was the first lawman killed in Alaska, the second was Marshal Rowan who was shot here in Skagway in 1898.
Watts was shot by “Slim” Birch who was taken on the Corona by a US Marshal in December 1897 to San Quentin. Birch was acquitted of murder but sentenced to three years for the crime of mayhem instead.
William C. Watts was added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C. He was also added to the Wall of Honor at the U.S. Marshal’s Service headquarters building in Alexandria, VA in 1998. The Trooper Museum at the Fifth Street Mall in downtown Anchorage also displays a memorial to fallen officers.
from Forgotten Heroes of Alaska by William Wilbanks; and the AK Tribunal report by Moore p 423; NY times of December 18, 1897 online.