Dawson Charlie

Kaa Goox was a Canadian Tagish/Tlingit First Nation member of the wolf clan, born in 1866. His wife was Sadusge Annie. He was one of the co-discoverers of gold that led to the Klondike Gold Rush in the Yukon. He was the nephew of Skookum Jim Mason. He staked one of the first three claims in the Klondike, along with his uncle and George Carmack. Kate Carmack was his aunt. Storyteller Angela Sidney was a niece.

Pierre Berton incorrectly called him Tagish Charlie in his book.
He died December 26, 1908 in Carcross when he fell off the bridge and drowned. He was only 42 years old. Seen above is his monument in the Carcross Cemetery.

Harry Huntington’s letter

Harry wrote a letter to his fiance (later wife) Jennie from Alaska which is dated 1897, but he must have meant 1898 as it is written on the back of a newspaper extra which has the date April 3, 1898 printed on it. The EXTRA published by the Dyea Trail is about the death of eighteen prospectors in a snow slide.

“Sheeps Camp April 7, 1897, My beloved Wife:-How I wish I was on my way to meet you My Love My all. If tomorrow is a good day we will bid adieu to Sheep Camp and take up our abode at Lake Linder Mon. We were on the summit yesterday, paid our duty and took most of our freight down the hill out to Crater Lake. Wolff and Percival will finish up today. I went as far as the stables and brought back the dogs. Yesterday I dug my freight out of about eight feet of snow, you can see men all over the trail digging out their “caches”, some will never find theirs. Today is warm and the sun shines brightly on the snow covered Peaks. Up to yesterday fifty one bodies have been taken from the snow slide, and some that are alive are in evidence now of the awful experience of being under the snow and couldn’t move a muscle. I talked with one man that was in 45 minutes. He said he could breathe alright and was very comfortable physically but not mentally.
The search for the misfortunate was kept up until last night no one being allowed to pass the Place with a pack or load. There is no one at work this morning and I guess they have given it up. The snow slide made no noise whatever and wasn’t even heard by the ones that were caught.
We never left our camp during the storm and don’t work any stormy days, we have lost a lot of time but it has given us an opportunity to get mail from our dear ones a home. I hate to leave on that account. I rec. a nice letter from Halla yesterday, and I got it by accident too.
One of the Crossley boys was down Sheeps Camp and saw my name on front of a store.(?) There are two places to get mail and I suppose they got it on account of having “Please Forward to Sheeps Camp” on it. You can address your letters to Takish House North West Territory from now on They come from Dyea the 20th of each month.”

from “The Descendents of Nathaniel Huntington” online genealogy book.

August Konalski

This photo was taken by Howard Clifford before 1975. It shows a few headboards which were probably replacements. Eve Griffin is currently doing a project on the cemetery, photographing all the remaining grave markers and doing a careful measurement and map – apparently something which has never been done before. When her project is finished, very soon, I will post the new map!
August Konalski is an example of someone who did not appear in the Skagway Death Record but who obviously died here on this day, October 7, 1898. Other than the fact that the name Konalski is the second most common Polish name, we know nothing else about him.

Hallelujah Conductor

Calvin Eugene Shelly was a conductor on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad. He had come to Skagway from Chicago but was born in 1864 in Akron, Ohio. He came here with his wife Mary and their two sons Allen and Robert.
He attended the Peniel Mission and was “beautifully saved at the mission. He received the name of “Hallelujah Conductor” for he was always praising the Lord….One night during testimonies, he said this –“I have been a year paying for a dead horse, and now I am clear before God and Man.” He meant that he had been a year paying and making restitution for things he had done in the past.” – as Mable Ulery put it.
Their home was on 7th between Broadway and Spring which is just an open lot now. When we moved here in 1998 I remember there was a controversy because someone bulldozed the house one day and hauled it off. It was that action which prompted the city to make it necessary to get permission to bulldoze historic buildings and not just do it in the night. True, it was just a dilapidated house nearly 90 years old, but it was part of the fabric of historic Skagway.

Speaking of historic, seen above is Lep in his conductor’s togs.

Calvin passed away on December 28, 1945 in Burlington, Washington.

William J. Blackwell

William J. Blackwell was born in 1843 in New Jersey. He married Adelaide M. Blood in 1883 in California and owned bottling and brewing companies in Seattle and Slocan, British Columbia before he came to Skagway in 1898. Here he started the B&B Bottling company with Mr. S.E. Beazley. He moved on probably to Nome where he was a member of the Eagles until 1915. He was also a member of the Arctic Brotherhood from 1898 to 1902 in Skagway. One account says he died in Alaska on this day, October 5, 1922. Washington state census records show him in a Sedro Wooley mental institution in 1930 and that he died there in May 1930. Not sure which is correct, but nevertheless he did have a business here on 5th Avenue until 1907. He manufactured and bottled soda water, sarsaparilla, ginger ale, champagne cider, sarsaparilla and iron, as well as all kinds of mineral waters with syrup.

Washington state records; business directories; 1900 census; Daily Alaskan 1900.

Michael James Heney

Having often referred to Mr. Heney, I looked back and found that I have never done a post just on him. So here is the brief biography from Wikipedia:

“Michael James Heney was born on October 24, 1864, near Stonecliffe, Renfrew County, Ontario. He was the son of Thomas Eugene Heney and Mary Ann McCourt, Irish immigrants. His family farmed in the upper Ottawa Valley.

At age 14, Heney ran away from home to work on the newly announced Canadian Pacific Railway. Though he was soon found and brought home by his older brother Patrick Heney, he stayed home only until 1882, when he left home to work on the Canadian Pacific Railway in Manitoba. He started as a mule skinner and gradually worked his way up through all the aspects of construction. In 1883 he was included in a survey crew, spending the next three years learning more about construction as the Canadian Pacific Railway worked its way through the mountains of British Columbia.

At 21, Heney was ready to set up as an independent contractor. He returned east to earn the engineering degree his father wanted him to have, but was too impatient and was soon back in the west. By 1887 he had moved his operations to Seattle, working on the final stages of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway. The career of the “boy contractor” was launched. Many construction projects in Washington, British Columbia and Alaska followed.”

A chance meeting with the London financiers at the St. James Hotel in Skagway led to his most famous achievement, the building of the 110 mile track from Skagway to Whitehorse. Built in a record two years and two months it still runs today but only on the Skagway to Carcross length.

At the pinnacle of his career, Heney left Cordova, Alaska to complete some business arrangements in Seattle. On his way back north, his ship hit an uncharted rock and sank. Heney went under deck to rescue his horses, but the last boat left without him when he returned on deck. So he swam to a boat and held on to the stern while it was rowed ashore as there was no room on it. I read another account that said he swam back to help women swim to safety. In either case, shortly thereafter he developed pulmonary tuberculosis and died within a year, on this day, October 4, 1910 in San Francisco. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery Seattle.

The photo above shows him later in life with his cigar. I think it exemplifies his character more than the more common studio photo of him. He had a number of similarly strong men working for him who pushed the thousands of workers to finish the White Pass project. Seldom have I seen anything negative written about him, but I believe there was another side to management. Similarly, there has never been anything written about his private life. Heney never married nor did he have any women friends. I have seen references to his deep grief over the loss of two of his co-workers, Robin Brydone-Jack and Hugh Nelson Foy during the building of the railroad. During the reconstruction of the White Pass Depot building by National Park Service workers in the 1970’s, they found negative grifitti about Heney written on the boards under the subfloor. I believe he was a man driven to accomplish great things and was the inspiration if not the embodiment of Ayn Rand’s character of Howard Roark in The Fountainhead. However, that does not mean that he was loved by all. In those years, businesses did not have to worry about safety, insurance, worker’s compensation, or benefits. White Pass did have a hospital and they did bury their workers who died during construction. However, they did not tolerate strikes, and being a railroad town, workers and their families over the decades were at the mercy of the WP management.

Wikipedia; Minter.

Dr. Emory Kniskern

Emory Leroy Kniskern was born on this day, October 3, 1868 in either Marne or Berlin Michigan. He attended the University of Michigan medical school to get his medical degree in 1895. He came to Skagway in the gold rush and signed death certificates in April of 1899. By November 1899 he was in Washington and married Cornelia “Nellie” Butler. He was a Captain in the Medical Corps at Camp Worden, Washington in World War One. He had two sons and moved back to Muskegon Michigan where he specialized as an oculist and aurist. Dr. Kniskern died in Michigan in 1946 at the age of 78.

Not having a good picture of Dr. Kniskern here is a photo of a guy with his faithful steed on the dock at Skagway.

Skagway death records of April 29, 1899; family search; Washington census 1910; Univ of Michigan online.