There is a headboard in the Dyea Cemetery that simply says “Noscitur”. The first time I saw that it seemed like an odd name, but I found out later that it is a legal term which means “he is known by the company he keeps”.
The news report in the Dyea Trail on this day, May 7, 1898 started with “Someone has committed murder! ….Phil F. Hardesty found the dead body of an unknown man on Tuesday last. He hurried back to town and reported his discovery to Mr. W. S. Levens, by whom he is employed. Mr. Levens organized a party to bring the body to Dyea, the party consisting of Attorney McEnany, Theodore Houseworth, Ed Welch, Messrs. Hardesty and Levens, a teamster and a representative of the TRAIL. After an hour’s climb up the steep side of the mountain, a small bench of level land was reached, and there, stark and stiff, in the midst of the timber, lay the body of a man who had been shot either accidentally or purposely, by some hand other than his own. …

A careful examination of the wound was then made. It revealed the fact that the man had been shot from behind. The bullet had entered squarely in the back of the neck and had come out at the left side of the mouth, shattering the bones and flesh of the left jaw mercilessly. The man’s face, torn and covered with blood, presented a horrible and sickening sight.
Stooping over the body, one of the party remarked that evidently robbery was not the motive of the killing as the man’s watch was still in his pocket. That was the way it looked. The watch pocket in the man’s pantaloons was bulged out and shaped just exactly as it would be with a watch in, but when touched it gave evidence that while a watch had been there it had been taken.
The body was carefully wrapped in a large piece of canvas and tied to a pole. In this manner it was packed down the mountain, but only with great difficulty, several men with axes being required to cut a kind of a trail. The body was brought to Dyea and an autopsy performed by Dr. T. L. Price, who said the man had been dead from 24 to 48 hours,a nd that the wound had been made by a bullet of not less than 44-calibre, if not a 48. In the man’s pockets were found a Canadian $2 bill, a pocket knife, a match box, a box of 22 calibre cartridges, a small key tied to a piece of r..?.ou and three pieces of pilot bread. In a small purse secreted in the hollow of his [?] next to the flesh and tied just above the ankle was $80 in gold and greenbacks. He wore a black slicker-hat and striped mackinaw coat, a white and black checkered flannel shirt, blue overalls, and rubber boots. He weighed about 160 pounds, was muscularly built, about 5 feet 8 inches in hight, had bluish gray eyes, brownish black hair, sandy mustache and was between 35 and 40 years of age. It is judged that he was an Irish-American.”

So apparently an inquest was done and concluded that the man had come to his death as a result of a gunshot wound (duh!). Since no one came forward to collect the body presumably the $80 in gold and cash should still be in the sheriff’s office. Nope, missing….
Yep, things were getting bad at that time… bios noscitur; Dimitra Lavrakas for her insightful comment on legal terms.



One Reply to “Noscitur”

  1. Another unsolved mystery on the trails. I always wonder if these murders had anything to do at all with the Soap Gang. Was this “muscularly built” man a victim or the bad guy in this instance, receiving trail justice?

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