John Henry McIllree

Assistant Commissioner McIllree of the NWMP arrived in Skagway on the Steamer Queen on August 14, 1897.
He was born on this day, February 28, 1849 in Kingston, Jamaica and died on May 17, 1925 in Victoria. He served in the NWMP from 1873 to 1911 when he retired.
While in Skagway he was laid up with a bad ankle and diarrhea and wrote this:
“The trail is a terror, there is no doubt of that, and no one can form an idea of it unless he goes over it himself. One of our horses got his foot in a crevce and broke the leg clean off and went on three legs until stopped and shot. Another horse died and the balance are in bad shape: sore backs, cut legs & c., and I am afraid we cannot work them much longer… Would you let my wife know I am getting on all right. You can imagine how awful it is to lay on your back all day in this little dark shack, thinking, nothing but thinking.” Seen above with his horse is Asst. Commissioner McIllree

Mission Klondike, Sinclair; civil servants online;Dobrowolsky p. 26;
POLICING THE PLAINS Being the real life record of the famous ROYAL NORTH-WEST MOUNTED POLICE By R. G. MACBETH, M.A.

Patrick Michael McFadden

Patrick McFadden had a few too many drinks and on his way home down Broadway, he fell into the creek, face down and drowned. Since poor Mr. McFadden was a stranger, no one knew him so it was assumed he was about 42 years old. He died on August 22, 1902 and is buried in the Gold Rush Cemetery.

Now you might think this was an unusual case and that it could not happen again – but no fellow sleuthers! Two years ago, a fellow in town did exactly the same thing! Fortunately for him, his friends found him and dragged him out before he drowned too! If you are in Skagway this summer, look for a young fellow with a wicked scar on his forehead. Above is a picture of this wicked creek.

Skagway Death Record.

James G. Hornbaker

Mr. Hornbaker was born in 1875 on his family’s farm in Bonaparte, Iowa. The farm must have been a dangerous place since at least two of his brothers died young – in their teens/20’s before he left.
James was another young man who came to Alaska to seek his fortune; he worked in Skagway as the manager for the Foard & Stokes Company store.
He died on this day, February 24, 1898 of meningitis but his body was shipped back to Iowa. The cemetery there also has this amazing gravestone of another Hornbaker who died in the first World War.

His name was misspelled or mis-transcribed on the Skagway Death Record as Hamlaken.

The Foard and Stokes store was owned by Martin Foard and J.J. Stokes who ran it in Astoria since 1882 and apparently wanted to expand to Skagway.
Foard’s beautiful Victorian house built in 1892, in Astoria is on the walking tour there and is still owned by a descendant.

Ancestry posting under Skaguay; Skagway death record as Hamlaken.

William Cornell Ostrander

William Ostrander was born in 1868 in Orange, New York. His family moved to Portland Oregon in the 1890’s. By 1895 he was living with his parents in Portland, but he decided to travel to the north in search of his fortune. Unfortunately he succumbed to meningitis on this day, February 23, 1898 in Skagway. He was a member of the Woodmen of the World in Portland and so, his body was shipped back to Portland, that being the main reason that men signed up to these organizations back then.
Ostrander may have been an artist as there was a painting by William Ostrander that was auctioned off in 2006.

Portland Death Records; Skagway Death Records; familysearch.

baby Nellie Dick

Nellie was born on this day, February 22, 1899 but died two days later. I am reminded of a headboard in the Calico Ghost Town cemetery:
“Since I am so soon done for, I wonder what I was begun for.”

Skagway Death Record.

Incident at Sheep Camp

On this day, February 20, 1898 two thieves were caught at Sheep Camp on the Chilkoot Trail. The first thief was flogged, but the second escaped and fled down the trail. Too frightened to face his accusers, he took out his gun and shot himself dead. Now this thief was probably William Wellington as his name appears as having shot himself on this date. The grainy photo above could be of this incident, it is from the Yukon Archives.

Although no record exists as to where he was buried, the earliest burial in the Dyea Cemetery was in March 1898. In February there were several other burials in the Gold Rush Cemetery, so he was most likely buried there, but without a headboard.

Pierre Berton page 261 of Klondike Fever; Amelie Kneass in October 1944, “The Flogging at Sheep Camp”. Alaska Sportsman; John Pearson, letter home about incident.

Skagway Cemeteries

What a pleasant surprise to see that my cemetery databases have been posted on the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park website!
Although I continue to update and work on the various pages of my database it is a really great tool for genealogists.
Below is the link to that page:

Max Kollm

Max Kollm was born in 1854 in Germany. He was a member of the Arctic Brotherhood in 1900 here in Skagway. As an artist, one day he noticed that in the spring there appeared in the snow on the mountain above town, the letters “A” and “B”. He brought this apparition to the notice of the National Geographical Society who named it Mt. Arctic Brother. Today we just call it AB Mountain. Max may also have designed the logo for the Arctic Brotherhood.

Max moved on from Skagway and he left Dawson for Fairbanks in 1909. The picture above is an example of his work as a pyrographist done in 1909!
Pyrography has a long history as a decorative technique outside the United States and became a popular hobby in America in the early 1900s with the availability of pyrographic kits and materials. Alaskans adapted the technique to burn images onto moose hide and birch bark. They used pyrography to decorate personal and household items, create vacation mementos, illustrate Alaskan scenes, commemorate events, and honor organizations.
He and his wife Sophie lived in Seattle in 1910 and he was still working as an artist, but then in oil. Sophie died in San Francisco in 1955 but Max does not show up on any death indexes.

Woodcarver online magazine article on Pyrograffitti; Alaska Weekly 1931 article.

Justina M. Dickenson

“Jessie” Dickenson or Dickinson was born on this day, February 17, 1888 in Sacramento, California or possibly Juneau. In the 1900 census in Skagway she was living in the Peniel Mission as an orphan, but her birth date and place were not given. It is assumed she came up in 1899 from Sacramento with Victorine Tooley, a missionary.
She was baptized on June 4, 1901 at St. Saviours Church, actually then just a tent, in Carcross, by Bishop Bompas.
A family site on Genforum says that her mother and father were William and Helen who died in Sacramento before 1900 and that she was baptised at St. Saviours Church in Skagway, but I believe the only St. Saviours (Anglican Church) was in Carcross. (There was a St. Saviours Episcopal Church in Skagway a few years ago, but has no members now, it was only open for a couple of years and met either at the school or at someone’s house.)
It is also possible she was the daughter of George Dickinson, a partner of John Healey’s in Dyea since 1886. George died in November of 1888 in San Francisco.
She died on November 9, 1918 in Portland, Oregon.