We know of John Clum by his title, Postmaster of Skagway, but he had quite a life of adventure both before and after living here. He was a friend of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday in Tombstone, Arizona where Clum married Belle Atwood in 1881. His daughter Caro was also born there on Christmas Eve, 1883.
From Tombstone, he arrived in Skagway on March 26, 1898 and immediately set up the Post Office with himself as Postmaster and Postal Inspector. As mentioned before (March 17, 2010), he did away with the mail service from Dyea to Skagway, McGreely’s Express.
Belle passed away in 1912 in Alaska and John died in Los Angeles in 1932, on this day, May 2 at the age of 81.
Gary Ledoux has written two books on John Clum and his life.
“The men who made the west are fast going and no one that I know of did more to make the West than John P. Clum.” Harry Carr, Reporter – Los Angeles Times, May 1932
Yesterwest.com – an entire website dedicated to the history of John Clum and his influence in Tombstone, Arizona by Gary Ledoux; Pennington p 334; familysearch; postalmuseum.si.edu/gold/clum.html; Alaska marriage records.
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Correction : Skagway Post Office was opend on Nov. 10th, 1897 with William B. Sampson as postmaster. He kept this position until end of 1903.
Clum arrived as a postal inspector and checked the existing post offices at Skagway and Dyea. Skagway was found in good order while the postmistress Clara Richards at Dyea was replaced.
Clum also established a messenger service between Skagway and Dyea 6 times a week (which is what put McGreely out of business)
Clum then opened new post offices at Canyon and Sheep Camp on the way to Chilcoot Pass, also connected by messenger to Dyea.
After this he went into the Yukon talking to Canadian Officials about the mail service and continued his trip to the mouth of the Yukon in the summer of 1898. He stopped in all the communities between Eagle and St. Michaels and opened post offices, appointed and supplied postmasters with stamps and equipment.