White Pass murders

This day, September 30, 1915 was an unfortunate one for a White Pass & Yukon Route section crew. One of the four, Tom Bokovitch was a German prisoner of war, working his way through the war in the Yukon. With him were Henry Cook, Patrick Kinslow and George Lane.
The four men stopped for a lunch break on the track near Whitehorse when they were approached by a Russian man Alex Gagoff. Gagoff may have thought they laughed at him, in any event, he shot them all dead. He then turned himself in to the NWMP in Whitehorse. He was subsequently tried and hung on a cold (-36 below zero) day in Whitehorse on March 10, 1916.

from Law of the Yukon by Dobrowolsky

Frederick Schwatka

Happy birthday to Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka born on September 29, 1849 in Galena Illinois, one of the first white men to cross the Chilkoot Trail.

He went to West Point in 1867 and later by studying law and medicine received degrees in both law and medicine. He then served in the military in the Dakota Territory.
In 1878-1880 he made a trek to find the lost Franklin Expedition. He said it was “the longest sledge journey ever made both in regard to time and distance” of eleven months and four days and 2,709 miles. It was the first Arctic expedition on which the whites relied entirely on the same diet as the Inuit.

In 1883, he was sent to reconnoiter the Yukon River by the US Army. Going over the Chilkoot Pass, his party built rafts and floated down the Yukon River to its mouth in the Bering Sea, naming many geographic features along the way. At more than 1,300 miles, it was the longest raft journey that had ever been made. In 1885 he wrote the Report of Military Reconnaissance in Alaska of his trek in 1883.

He died in 1892 at the age of 43 from poisoning or overdose in Portland and is buried in Salem.


Lois Hudson Allen

Happy Birthday to Lois Hudson Allen born September 28, 1878 in Fredonia Kansas and came to Alaska in 1922 (the picture above is the women’s curling club in 1922 in Skagway).
In Colorado she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and to not be a burden on her sons she moved to Alaska. She was an editor in Colorado and so when she moved to Skagway published a newspaper here in 1936-38 called the Skagway Cheechako. She later moved on to Moose Pass Alaska where she died in 1948.

for more on her read: More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Alaska Women
By Cherry Lyon Jones

Richard Dick

Last year, September 25, 2008 Richard Dick passed away. He lived in Skagway for 60 years and many who live here miss him. An accomplished carver and artist, like many Skagwegians, had worked for White Pass and as a fisherman. Born in Angoon in 1925 he died in Anchorage.

George Washington Carmack

Happy Birthday to George Carmack one of the discoverers of the the gold in Dawson!

Born on September 24, 1860 in Pacheco California he came to Alaska in 1882 on the US Wachusette at Sitka, he was a marine.
George married a native woman who died and then he married her sister, Kate Mason Nadagaat Tlaa Kaachgaawaa who became wealthy with him and moved down south.

Eventually, George left California and his wife and daughter. In 1900, George married Marguerite Saftig L’Aimee in Olympia, Washington. Kate, illiterate and nearly destitute, initiated a protracted legal battle to prove she was George’s wife and eligible for alimony, but eventually dropped the case in favor of trying to reclaim her husband. When this failed, Kate settled in Carcross, where she lived until her death from influenza in 1920.
Their daughter Graphie lived to be 70 and died in Lodi, California in 1963.

Margaret Keenan Harrais

Happy Birthday today to Margaret Keenan born in 1872 in Batesville, Ohio.
She came to Alaska about 1902 and was the Principal at the Skagway School from 1914-1916. Skagway had a school from the earliest days until today. One large photo in the visitor center from 1906 shows about 100 children from kindergarten through highschool, which is about the same number as we have today in 2009. She later became Mrs. Harrais and was politically active supporting the statehood of Alaska. She died in Glenallen in 1964. The picture above is from 1901.

From Remarkable Alaskan Women by Jones

Larss & Duclos Photography

Born in 1863 in Sweden, Per Edward Larss had a photo studio in Dawson during the goldrush with his partner Joseph E.N.Duclos who was from Quebec. Larss were only here from 1898-1904, but his photos are timeless. There is a biography of Larss called “Frozen in Time”.
September 22, 1941 was the death date in San Pedro, California of this famous Klondike Photographer.

His photo studio is visible on the right in this early photo.

Marshal Si Tanner

Also on September 20, in 1927 though, Marshal Josiah Martin “Si” Tanner died here in Skagway. Famous for having arrested 26 outlaws after the Soapy Smith shootout, Tanner served as US Deputy Marshal, Skagway Mayor, Sheriff, Senator and Judge in Skagway. Arriving in 1896 he also had a hardware store and sold Bicycles. He also owned the AB Hall where the visitor center is now from 1903 to 1914.

Originally from Michigan, born in 1850, he died of a heart attack at the age of 77 while having sex with Mrs. Macomber in her store. According to Robert Dahl (son of Dr. Dahl), when Tanner’s daughter came to Skagway to arrange the funeral she told Mrs. Macomber that she would “burn in hell”. Well a few months later, Mrs Macomber’s store burned and she ran back into it to retrieve something and was overcome by the fire.

Be careful what you wish for.

Famous Murder-Suicide

On September 20, 1897 George Buchanan, an Englishman who was foreman of the Skagway Bay Improvement Company murdered Stella Kossuth and then shot himself.
The Victoria Daily Colonist of Sept 26, 1897 reported that he had been helping Stella, her mother and her little boy start a hotel in Skagway. He then became jealous of men coming to stay at the hotel and shot her.
Stella had come to Skagway from Seattle where her husband, Caspar Kossuth, a Swiss man had died. She was 28, her son, Caspar “Cassie” Kossuth was only 5 years old when he saw his mother killed. Another family in Skagway, with a son the same age adopted him and he moved to Seattle eventually where he died in 1966.
The hotel where this murder suicide happened is still standing in Skagway, in the middle of the block of 2nd between Broadway and State. A former owner claimed she could feel a “presence” in the building, but no known ghosts to date.

Deadly Glacial Outburst

On this date in 1897 there was a glacial outburst of the lateral moraine of the glacier near Sheep Camp on the Chilkoot Trail. This caused a tremendous flood which carried 7 people away. Among those drowned were Aaron M. Choynski and his friend Flynn. Aaron was the brother of Joe Choynski, a nationally known prizefighter. Also killed were Mr and Mrs Crockett who ran a restaurant at Sheep Camp and three unknown persons.
In June 2002 there was another glacial outburst of the West Creek Glacier which caused damage in Dyea. A jökulhlaup is a glacial outburst flood, something that happens when a moving glacier forms a dam. Because ice makes a poor dam, being lighter and softer than rock, the water behind the dam eventually breaks through.