White Pass workers

Here is a great shot of White Pass & Yukon Route workers about 1920 with their little work train cars.

Photo courtesy of John Weise.

William Henry Trewolla Olive

Happy Birthday to Mr. W.H.T. Olive, an architect, born on September 29, 1865 in Truro, Cornwall, England. He was the architectural helper to the famous Rattenbury who built the Parliament in Victoria among other buildings.
Olive was the manager of the Bennett Lake & Klondyke Navigation Company where he managed passengers and provisions and was responsible for two all-important kinds of shipment: mail and liquor. He lived in Atlin until 1904 when he moved to Carbon, Alberta.
He died in 1940 in Calgary.

His amazing memoir of his time in the Gold Rush is told in his book “The Right Way On” which he wrote in 1939. This photo is in the frontpiece of the book, and boy was he one sexy looking guy!

John Weise

John Weise emigrated to St Paul Minnesota from Brightling, Sussex England where he was born on September 29, 1872. At the time he emigrated his name was Jesse Funnell. When he moved to Skagway in 1898 he changed his name to John Weise. He may have gone to Atlin to mine but later worked in Skagway as a bartender for the Board of Trade Saloon.
He also worked as a section foreman for White Pass. He married Theresa, a cook for White Pass and they lived in Skagway when their son, John was born in 1915. In 1916-17 they moved to Whitehorse when Prohibition closed the bars in Skagway.
John’s grandson, also John Weise, forwarded the photo above which he believes is his grandfather – a dapper fellow! I will post some more of his photos in upcoming blogs – some great ones of Engine 67, Engine 61 and some workers on White Pass using work carts/Casey cars which I have never seen before.

John Weiss; 1920 census.

Sophie Matthews

On this day, September 27, 1938 Sophie Matthews died and was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery. She was 76 years old, a Tlingit native born in Klukwan in 1862 and her native name was Kxa Gis Ooh. She married William Edward Matthews who came to Skagway in 1888 from St. Louis Missouri and was a farmer.
Their son William Clarence Matthews also married a woman named Sophie who died young, at 26, in 1921 and is buried in the Cemetery in Dyea. See her grave in the picture above. Their two daughters, Julia and Mable died as little girls in 1920 also probably from the influenza epidemic and are buried together in Dyea. There are quite a few descendants of the Matthews clan that still live in Skagway.

Skagway death record.

Bruce H. Wark

I found this wonderful site that has the entire diary and photos of Bruce Wark:

Above is his receipt from the Canadian tax collector Rant at Lake Bennett from June 1899.

Lewis Meyers

Lewis Meyers was a merchant in Skagway in November of 1898. He decided to go to San Francisco on business.
On November 22, 1898 he checked into the beautiful Baldwin Hotel downtown at the corner of Market and Powell. He never checked out. At 3:20 am a fire broke out and soon the entire hotel was in flames with people hanging out of windows and jumping to the ground. Lewis had a heart attack and died on November 23, 1898.

When the Baldwin Hotel was completed in 1877 at the cost of $3 million, it was opulent and majestic. Unfortunately, by 1898, the economy was in a downslide and opulence did not attract paying guests. Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin, a California comstock miner had invested most of his money into the hotel and land. Like many others during this economic depression, Baldwin mortgaged several properties, including his hotel, in an attempt to pay his bills. But when the hotel caught fire and burned to the ground, he was not that unhappy. He was able to sell the property for $1.1 million, about $200,000 more than the amount owed on the hotel’s mortgage—proving that the nickname, “Lucky” was well-earned.

Unfortunately Mr. Meyers was not as lucky, he should have stayed put in safe Skagway, Alaska!

SF Municipal Reports; Elias Jackson Baldwin biography online; gendisasters.com;

Regie’s potatoes

Reginald Genn was born in 1873 in England. When he was 14 he ran away from home and went up the Niger River in Africa where he came down with “Black Fever”. Fortunately a passing ship took him back to England where he apprenticed to his uncle on a sailing ship at age 17. He went around Cape Horn twice, the second time he jumped ship in San Francisco and made his way to Victoria where he met up with his sister and brother.
He worked there as a clerk, then moved to Trail, British Columbia where he ran a bakery restaurant and laundry. He staked some gold claims in 1897 in B.C. and with a bit of money in his pocket headed to Seattle where he purchased a sail boat with two Norwegians and then bought 30 tons of Yakima potatoes to use as ballast for the boat. That cost him $90. When he arrived in Skagway he sold the boat and sold the potatoes for $100 a ton. “All that glitters is not gold,” he used to say.

By June 1, 1898 he was at Tagish where he got a Canada Free Miner’s Certificate. A month later he was staking gold claims in the Klondike.
By 1905 he had returned to Victoria where he married and then set out for New Zealand to start a chicken farm, but when they arrived he changed his mind and they returned to Victoria. By 1908 he and his wife and son returned to Glasgow Scotland where he tried to convince relatives to emigrate to Canada. By 1911 they had returned to Victoria. Reginald Genn died on May 7, 1953 in Victoria and is buried at the Royal Oak Burial Ground.
The photo above is of Regie with his 1929 Coupe in Victoria.

Pennington; rootsweb Genn family website.

Ellen Orr Batson

Born on this day, September 22 1879 in North Carolina, Ellen Orr was married to William Burt Batson the town butcher in Skagway. They were here at least from 1910 to 1915 but probably longer. William managed the Frye Bruhn Meat Company.
Ellen Orr Batson died in 1967 in Randall Washington and is buried in the Silver Creek Cemetery there.

There were actually two buildings associated with the Meat Market, one is on 5th, seen above, and this summer was the “Bombay Curry” Restaurant. This was the actual store and is being considered for historic building status, the other is the building on 5th and State. This building, the Frye-Bruhn’s cold storage building, was once used to refrigerate the company’s meat products. It has been recognized as historically significant by the National Park Service, which took ownership of the building in 2004. A contributing element of the Skagway and White Pass National Historic Landmark, this building is also in the process of being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places by the Park Service.

Late breaking news about the restoration of the cold storage building:
a revolver was found in the walls of the building last week, no news on its age, but a photo of it is flying around Skagway. Earlier in the summer one of the archaeologists was impaled in the eye by a flying nail but she is now recovering. Who knows what other evil spirits the building hides?

Alaska Library Archeaology; 1915 directory, family website, Silver Creek Cemetery list, Skagway News, Skagway Museum Record.

Infant Mortality

On September 20, 1900, three babies died, Elias Rudd, Constant Schemich, and one of Kitty Smith’s babies. The only cause of death listed on the Skagway Death Records was for Constant and that was for brain fever. They were buried in the Gold Rush Cemetery. The influenza which spread over the world in 1918 reached Alaska in force in 1919 and 1920.
Then in 1935 on September 20 Leonard A. Sweeney, another newborn, died and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery. In those days folks had a curious penchant for photographing dead people in their coffins.

Skagway Death Record