Harding’s little speech

July 11, 1923 President Warren Harding addressed a small group of folks in Skagway:

“We may wonder what is the greatest end of life. Men make their plans and try to adhere to them. Skagway, a port situated in a mountain pass, was developed and made notable in a rush of men seeking to acquire something of material value.
There is a motive which is inherent in us, but the longer I live and the more I see of communities and human beings, the more firmly is my belief established that the sweetest thing in the world is the friendship of a few dependable friends. This is the happiness that makes a life of contentment.
Apparently you have much of that here, as much as may be found anywhere in the country, and you also live in an atmosphere that tends to cultivate ambition and lofty aspirations. I only hope that the worthy ones came to full realization.”

Shown above with his wife a few steps north of AB Hall before this speech. He passed away a few days later in San Francisco. This was perhaps the last speech he ever gave.

From the Evening Independent July 12, 1923.

An uncommon silence

Mt Blackburn about 10 miles from the base of Muir Glacier apparently “erupted” on April 10, 1902. A geologist, J.C. McFarland who happened to be nearby stated:
“On April 11 at about 7:30 in the morning the air about me became oppressive with a distinct and uncommon silence. In my wanderings through different wilds I had become used to many strange freaks of nature, but this one appalled me. I was in a rough mountainous country, I should judge about 10 miles from the base of Mount Blackburn, in Southeastern Alaska, not far from the starting point of a glacier called Muir Glacier. Suddenly the earth beneath my foot shook, a low rumbling sound accompanied the quaking. I glanced up at Mount Blackburn. Instantly it seemed as though the peak had opened; a cloud of ashes and smoke shot out into the air several hundred feet, and then there seemed to flow from the opening in the top a stream of dirty stuff mixed with large and small boulders. This continued only for about ten minutes then ceased as suddenly as it had begun.
It was three days after many perilous attempts before I succeeded in reaching the base of the mountain. Then I discovered that the country for miles around had been affected. The small undergrowth of the trees had been entirely covered. This stuff which poured from the top of the mountain was not even warm, but seemed to consist purely of dust rocks and other substances. As far as I can discover this mountain had never been considered of a volcanic nature.”

The official story is that the last time Mt Blackburn erupted was 3-5 million years ago. The 1902 incident was probably just a geologic burp.

New York Times, June 3, 1902

Marion Granger Clark

Marion Granger was born on February 4, 1866 in Calhoun, Wisconsin. When she was 35 she married Henry David Clark in Tacoma and they moved to Skagway to farm. A Clark child was born and died in 1902 who may have been their first child, but they then had two daughters, Floris in 1904 and Dorothy in 1910 who are often pictured in the fields of Clark Farm on postcards.
Henry first started potato farming in Dyea and later had a farm on the other side of the Skagway River where the Jewell Gardens are now. In the tea room are several enlarged photos of the family and the gardens.
Marion was the treasurer of the Presbyterian Church for 26 years and died on this day, April 28, 1947 and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery with Henry.
Above is picture of a modern gardener at Jewell Gardens with a bushel of organic vegetables! Last summer our family did the CSA with them and I plan to again – what a great program! It is so great to know that your food is free of pesticides and chemicals. Garden On!

1920 and 1929 Skagway census; Mills page 64; Skagway death record; 1880 census in Wisconsin; 1915 directory.

Graphie Carmack

The daughter of George Carmack and Kate Nadagaat Tlaa Kaachgaawaa Mason, Graphie was born on January 11, 1893 in Fort Selkirk, Yukon. George met Kate at Healy’s Trading Post in Dyea and they were a common-law marriage until about 1900. That year George took Kate and Graphie to Holister, California to live with his sister. He went back to Dawson where he fell for Marguerite Saftig L’Aimee a large handsome woman who ran a cigar store. Now it was said at the time that Marguerite sold more than cigars, the men loved her. George took her to Olympia Washington where they were married in October 1900. He then took Graphie from her mother and the new family moved to Seattle with Marguerite’s brother, Jacob Saftig.
Jacob, 33, fell for Graphie, 17 and she became pregnant. They married on June 30, 1910 and their first son, Ernest Charles Saftig was born three months later on October 7, 1910. Later, Graphie remarried someone named Rogers because she died as Mrs. Graphie G. Rogers on March 25, 1963 in California, either in Lodi or Los Angeles. She was 70.
I had a visitor come to my desk last summer who claimed her grandfather was G.W. Carmack, son of George Carmack and that he died in Poteau, Oklahoma but could not give me any further information, so perhaps George had other kids from either Kate or Marguerite.
There has been alot of interest in George Washington Carmack with the release of Howard Blum’s book, Floor of Heaven. It is a fun read if you haven’t read anything else on the story, but the footnotes are a little vague, in my opinion. But what do I know…seen above is a cabin with George, Kate and Graphie in happy times.

WA state records; California death index; SS death index.Canadianmysteries.ca; Johnson; Thornton; Kitty Smith oral history:Life Lived Like a story; WA 1910 census;1901 Carcross census;Polk County News, Dec 20, 1923.

Ashbel Barney Newell

Mr. Newell was born on this day, April 26, 1868 in Albany, New York and graduated from Yale where he played on the Football Team in 1888, seen above.
He was involved with railroad administration and started work at the White Pass & Yukon Route in 1901 as the Vice-President. It seems as though his position was based in Seattle as there was some controversy of White Pass closing their Victoria and Seattle offices in 1902 and moving them to Vancouver. His socialite wife apparently stayed in Chicago and occasionally visited the far Northwest before returning to civilization. He visited Dawson with President Graves in 1903 but received an icy welcome from Yukoners because of some White Pass administrative polices.
Anyway, by 1912, Ashbel had moved on to be President of the Tennessee Central Railroad.

Magnetic Pole at Skagway

In 1903 Professor Samuel Jackson Barnett of Stanford University stated that his extensive studies with USGS on the coast in the Skagway area determined that there is a magnetic pole here!
Reported in the Philadelphia Record:
“The party made a special investigation in the peculiar magnetic disturbances which have made navigation difficult in certain localities. Near Skagway the disturbances are very severe the deflection of the needle being so great that the compass is rendered almost useless in that vicinity. It was found that this strange state of affairs was due to the abundance of magnetic rock in the locality. This rock is present in immense quantities on Douglas Island and on the mainland and near Skagway. Professor Barnett says that there was almost a perfect magnetic pole at that point.”

Hmmm, a perfect vortex of inestimable value!

Philadelphia Record, September 12, 1903

Dr. Peter A.E. Boetzkes

There was an ad for Dr. Boetzkes in a Skagway Newspaper in 1898 so we know he was here. The funny thing is that a few months earlier, on June 20, 1897, he had taken a rifle and tried to kill his wife, Helen, and his 4 kids(Clara, Anna, Harry, Walter) in the delightful community of Bensonhurst-by-the-sea.
This was reported by the New York Times on June 21,1897: “TRIED TO SHOOT HIS WIFE; Dr. Boetzkes of Bensonhurst, Seized by Strange Frenzy, Aims a Rifle at His Family. RESISTS POLICE WITH PISTOLS Mrs. Boetzkes in Her Night Clothes Ran to the Station House for Help — The Doctor Was Arrested and Paroled for Examination.”
If you read the entire article online, it seems that he was sick with a cold and had been taking stimulants [???!!!] anyway, his lawyer, one Felix McCloskey (hopefully no relation) said he was ill and not responsible for his actions.
On July 10, 1897 he failed to show for trial and so his friends forfeited the $500 bail but apparently were happy to see him go. In 1898 he was also being sued for negligence. So, he went to Seattle where he got into a fight with Mayor Woods “his pugnacious spirit had effervesced” and so, then he set out for the Klondike.

Skagway would be like a great place for a gun-happy, incompetent doctor, I wonder where he went from here? Perhaps he got together with his wife in Washington, the Washington records show a Dr. Boetzkes dying in 1902 but the age is wrong. The 1910 census in Seattle definitely shows Helen his wife as a widow, and in 1926 she dies at the age of 73, also in Seattle.

Ny times articles of June 21 and August 26, 1897. Report of Cases Vol 26, New York Supreme Court. Washington census and death records.

Clean Sweep

Today marks the 43rd year that local folks of Skagway showed up in their grubby clothes and extra-toughs to pick up trash bags for project Clean Sweep. I don’t know how many people helped today, but there was certainly a great showing given the fact it was cool and blowing. Although earlier this spring the Chamber of Commerce seemed to be on the ropes, the good directors and members pulled off a great luncheon too.
Reed and I decided to clean Pullen Creek by the Peniel Mission. After the devastation of the “hazard tree removal” action last fall, most of the slash and brush had accumulated in the tiny creek. Plastic bags, pieces of cardboard, aluminum cans, one petrified coconut, and even an ancient car battery were also caught up. We noted some new bear poop and we talked to a few visitors from Whitehorse who came down for the long weekend.
We took naps after the luncheon, and I’m now eating the leftover cupcakes I made for the event. Wish you were here to share one!

Louis Alphonse Pare

Louis Alphonse Pare was one of the doctors assigned to treat the members of the NWMP in the Yukon. He was born in Lachine, Quebec in 1848 and was appointed assistant surgeon for the NWMP in 1887. In November 1898 he was sent to Tagish Post where he arrived on December 20, 1898. The post had been without a doctor for a year. Several men were laid up with or recovering from typhoid. Some were sent to Bennett or Skagway to be sent to Victoria.
During his first year at Tagish, he treated 274 cases ranging from typhoid to scurvy and frozen-amputated limbs. Dr. Pare stayed on in the Yukon until his retirement in 1911, being promoted to full surgeon in 1904.
Seen above in Whitehorse in the first electric car. Hmmm, way ahead of his time!

Dobrowolsky, Law of the Yukon; Quebec Heritage News Vol 3:1,2 2004-5 online; 1911 Whitehorse c; online civil servants

Capt. Elijah G. Baughman

Elijah Baughman was born in 1859 in Oregon. He worked on ships all his life. He commenced steamboating on the Puget Sound as a deckhand on the steamer Zephyr in the 1880’s, although he had previously had considerable experience on the Columbia River. After leaving the Zephyr he was mate on the steamers Chehalis, City of Quincy, and Washington. He was master of the steamer Eliza Anderson for three years. He was pilot on the ship City of Seattle for over two years (see previous blogs on the City of Seattle).
While en route from Port Townsend to Seattle, Baughman was the pilot for Captain Gilboy, on the steamship Premier when it collided with the steamship Willamette off Marrowstone Point on October 8, 1892.
It was a tragic accident. The 200-foot Premier with 70 passengers, collided with the freighter S.S. Willamette, that was outbound to San Francisco from Seattle with 2,700 tons of coal. Both vessels, proceeding “full ahead,” met in a thick fog that enveloped Admiralty Inlet and Puget Sound. The Willamette’s bow struck the Premier at a 45-degree angle on the port side, just opposite the pilot house, killing five persons and injuring 18.

The hulls of the vessels became interlocked, making it impossible to separate. The Willamette finally pushed the sinking Premier across Admiralty Inlet, beaching her near Bush Point on Whidbey Island. Meanwhile, the passengers were able to climb from the Premier’s decks onto the bow of the Willamette. The tugboat Goliath arrived on scene a short time later, and took the surviving and dead passengers onboard, transporting them to Seattle. The Canadian Pacific Railway Company, owners of the Premier, patched up and towed the ship to Victoria B.C. to escape the damage suits that were immediately filed against her. After being repaired, the vessel was renamed the Charmer, but never again ventured into American waters. It went from Victoria to Vancouver only.

Another ship that Baughman was captain on was the Steamer Humboldt that made several trips to Skagway. Here is another eerie story from Newell:
“The Humbolt was originally designed as a coastwise lumber carrier. However, due to the gold rush, she was converted to a passenger liner prior to her launching in 1897. Captain Elijah G. Baughman was the Humbolt’s pilot on her first voyage to Skagway. In 1900 he was appointed master, and he remained with the Humbolt throughout his entire career as a shipmaster. By 1933 the old Humbolt had been relegated to a dreary mooring in the San Diego boneyard; Captain Baughman had retired and was living ashore in San Francisco. Lonely and deserted, the old Alaska treasure ship lay quietly at anchor for two years…until the night of August 8, 1935. That was the night Captain Baughman died…slipped his cable, as oldtime sailors used to say. And it was the night the Humbolt slipped her cable, too, and sailed again for the last time. Toward midnight a Coast Guard cutter hailed an unlighted ship moving silently through the harbor. It was the Humbolt, out of the boneyard at last and heading, with eerie precision, toward the open sea. The Coast Guard boarded her and found her warped decks and dusty cabins deserted. They marked it down as a freak of wind and current and towed the Humbolt back to the ship’s graveyard. No living hand, surely, guided the Humbolt that night, but the relationship between a man and a ship who have lived their lives together can become a strangely mystic one. And there are more things on heaven and earth…and on the sea…than our philosophy has dreamed of”

Seen above is the Humboldt in 1901 heading for Nome.

Gordon Newell,”Pacific Coast Liners” (1959); also Lewis Dryden’s Marine History of the Pacific Northwest online