An almost love story

Most folks have heard of the April 3, 1898 avalanche and how it swept away 100 people, with about 85 people dying and being buried in the Dyea Slide Cemetery. But have you heard of the strange case of Arthur L. Jappe and his “sweetheart” Vernie Woodward who saved him?
Pierre Berton wrote that when Jappe’s lifeless body was dragged out of the snow, Vernie was beside herself. Now, not being one to stand by and accept things, she worked on him for three hours, moving his arms and legs, pumping on his chest and breathing warm air into his lungs. Smart girl! It worked! Jappe came to – and supposedly uttered her name. We all assumed they lived happily ever after, but no, when I looked into it, I could not find Vernie at all, but I did find Mr. Jappe – and his wife and 5 kids back in New York. Turns out he had gotten married to Katherine Henrietta Reuflei in August of 1897 and had gone to Alaska soon after.
So he must have returned after his notoriety of surviving the avalanche. The Dyea Trail newspaper of the time reported that Jappe feigned ignorance of his relationships with Vernie, but it would seem that after the newspapers blew the story all out of proportion, poor Jappe felt the need to return to New York and do some explaining.

Pierre Berton, The Klondike Fever p 265; Snowstruck: in the Grip of Avalanches by Jill Fredston; familysearch; One Came Late by Allen p 319.



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