“In regards to William G. Martin, as big a fan I am of Bill Hunt’s, I’d have to say that it is he who is doing the imagining concerning Martin’s lynching at Lake Bennett, since he offers no references. Basically, it is just his opinion that the Martin episode never took place. But quite a lot of evidence suggests it did.
First off, Hal Hoffman was an experienced reporter who was assigned to the Klondike rush by the San Francisco Call. He hiked both the Chilkoot and White Pass trails in the summer of 1897 and reported from Juneau during the winter of 1897-98. I have followed his reporting closely and I see no reason why he would exaggerate this particular story.
Hoffman’s story about Martin was also collaborated by another reporter. An “H.L.M.” described the lynching in detail for the New York Tribune, and the story was carried in quite a few other newspapers. The easiest place to read it would be in a paper called the New Zealand Tablet. Google “William G. Martin Klondike” and the Tablet article appears on the first page.
One final piece of evidence that Martin was actually lynched. A George Martin from Missouri wrote a letter to the the St. Louis Republic on August 25th from Dyea, just days before the alleged lynching. Martin’s letter was published in the September 22, 1897 edition of the Republic, and it seems likely to me that this George Martin and William G. Martin were one and the same.
Nothing is ever certain in history, but when you have several contemporary accounts indicating an event happened, and one lone voice a hundred years later saying it didn’t, I’m going to have to favor the former.
Respectfully submitted, M.J. Kirchhoff”
Having looked into it further I found reference to an obituary in a Missouri newspaper: (SHELBY DEMOCRAT Thursday September 16, 1897 Page 2 column 9) so I would have to agree, that we refute the refutation of Bill Hunt!!!
According to a family posting on Rootsweb, William Green Martin was born 1856 in Liberty Township, Shelby, Indiana to William W. Martin (born NC) and Cloe or Chola Ensminger (born IN). His nickname was Gid Martin. He had three older sisters, Amanda, Martha and Mary.
Good sleuthing Mark! Honorary membership in the Skagway Historical Society granted on this day!
Lake Bennett seen above with the boat building in full swing.