Robert Banks was born June 11, 1858 in Windom Minnesota, the 17th child of 21 from his father James Monroe Banks born in 1792 in Pennsylvania.
Banks is mostly famous for drowning in Lynn Canal when the Clara Nevada blew up upon leaving Skagway on February 5, 1898.
Robert Bruce Banks was about 40 when he died and he was trying to find work in Skagway as a woodcutter. His wife Josephine and their 6 children ages 2 through 16, waited for him to return in the Bellingham area. Here is the last letter he wrote to his family three days before he boarded the Clara Nevada:
Skagway Feb. 2,1898
I sent out a letter Monday on S.S. Noyo but we hear she is on a rock between here and Juno. I had hired out then to go on the wagon road to work but when I got out there they said they already had too many men. There are ten carpenters for every days work here. The weather has been very cold and windy for 4 days. We are very healthy,, but I did not come here for health or poverty. Had plenty of that before. Wood cutting is $2. per cord now, and buck our own timber, pay uncertain. In fact pay here is generally uncertain. I have not had a line from you to date except letter in Seattle. Unless something good turns up soon, I will return to Seattle. I can earn a little money there before spring. Alki is expected Friday, then I surely shall hear from you and return on her unless things look better.
With much lonesomeness
R B Banks
Letter one of many and Photo above is courtesy of family on genforum and rootsweb.
George Rapuzzi and his wife Teresa Maria came here from Seattle in the Gold Rush. They were both born in Genoa Italy, George in 1857 and Teresa in 1867 but had come to Minnesota in the 1880’s.
When they arrived here in Skagway they started several businesses including the Washington Fruit and Candy Store (located above between the Red Onion and AB hall), a cigar store, a grocery store, and the California Wine House. They and their children and grandchildren stayed here for decades. His sons George and Louis both worked as U.S. Marshals.
George died on this day, June 10, 1926 and is buried in the Skagway Pioneer Cemetery. His wife Teresa died in 1941 and is buried next to him.
In the past two years the “Rapuzzi Collection” was acquired by the Rasmuson Foundation and donated to the Municipality of Skagway which has in turn given parts and some properties to the National Park. Originally thought to be over 450,000 items, the actual number of items now numbers about 3,000. Hmmm. It sure would be nice to actually see some of these items before they are described and locked away in the city and park archives-far from the menacing crowd.
Captain Joshua Nickerson Rowe, was born on this day, June 9, 1837 in Rockfort or Rockland, Maine. He took a steamer up the Yukon from Seattle on June 16 1898. On return he left Dawson City on September 20th, 1898 as Captain of the steamer James Doneville, with about 120 passengers. On October 5th his diary noted “Got within one mile of the White Horse Tramway”. He died in the Bishop Rowe Hospital, Skagway, Alaska, October 18th, 1898. Services at the Union Church, and buried in the Gold Rush cemetery. He was a veteran of the Civil War.
His grandson wrote a book called “Women of the Sea” 1962 about his mother, Alice Rowe Snow who spent 15 years with her parents, Mr and Mrs Joshua Nickerson Rowe, aboard the schooner Village Belle, the brig J. Bickmore and the bark Russell.
rootsweb; books; Civil War websites; Encyclopedia of American literature of the sea and Great Lakes by Jill B. Gidmark
John Johnson was born in Sweden in 1869 and worked for White Pass as a laborer for many years. He died on this day June 8 1947 and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery. He has a stone marker which is the marker for finding the upper Elks Cemetery. If you stand at the Johnson grave and face the hillside then walk forwards you will find yourself on a small trail that leads to a hidden cemetery up the hillside. Many years ago I took this trail and when I found the graves up there I wondered who they were, and doing research found the stories about those people, which led me here, telling stories of forgotten souls who lived and died here in this little town.
Mr. McFaddeen was born in Cape Breton, Whycocomagh, Inverness, Nova Scotia in 1850. He moved to El Cajon California by 1880. According to the El Cajon historical website, in 1882 Duncan McFadden and his wife built a house and blacksmith shop on the main road across from the Knox hotel. He died on this day, June 7, 1898 in Skagway from meningitis and is buried in the Gold Rush Cemetery.
Minnie Field was born on this day, June 1, 1892 in Belfast Ireland. In 1909 at the age of 17 she emigrated to Canada and by 1919 found herself working as a cook in the Golden North Hotel in Skagway. She also worked in Atlin and later in Juneau.
In Juneau Minnie became known as one of the best cooks in town, and baked a cake for President Harding when he passed through in 1923. After she had worked at the Juneau jail for about seven years, her duties were increased to include caring for prisoners’ children. At the time, Juneau had no orphanage, designated child care system or foster home program. Minnie began caring for several tots; she laid them side-by-side, crosswise in her bed, and slept on the floor. She worked tirelessly to house and feed the city’s children through her own and later government help.
She is a largely overlooked heroine – not a politician or an activist, not a teacher or a missionary – but a woman who contributed a great deal to the “least of them,” Alaska’s needy children, many racially mixed.
from a Juneau Empire Story by Ann Chandonnet about a biography written of “Mama Minnie Field by Dr. Walter Soboleff.