Ernest Keir was born on New Years Day, 1878 in Vernon Wisconsin.
In March 1898, Ernest and his brother set off from Wisconsin for the Yukon. Ernest used his 6.5″ x 8.5″ full-plate camera to record the trip and his stay in Dawson. Although an amateur, he managed to sell enough of his photographs, through a Dawson City drug store, to support himself in the Yukon. His biggest difficulty was in acquiring enough photographic supplies to keep in business. Keir left the north in 1900 and settled in Saskatchewan. He lost the negatives of his Yukon trip in 1913. He died also on New Years Day, 1941 and is buried in the Pines Cemetery in Spokane.
He is seen above in a cabin with some friends during the Gold Rush, he is at the far right. They are showing off their music collection of cylinders and Victrolas which helped to keep them sane in the long winters. Their version of ipods.
Mae Field was born in Ramsey County Minnesota in 1873. Her birth name may have been Mary Lavinia Sullivan born June 20, 1873 in Ramsey but I can’t be sure. In any event, she was quite famous in the north. When she married Arthur Daniel Field in Hot Springs, South Dakota in 1897 she had already been married and divorced. Arthur was ten years older and had some wealth derived from bootlegging and brothels. The couple decided to go to Dawson to mine. They were able to get their mining equipment over the Chilkoot Trail, but lost most of it in Lake Lebarge in a storm. Arthur staked claims and got a liquor license, just in case the mining did not work out. Mae decided to return to balmy Minnesota for the winter. When she got to Skagway the only boat available was the somewhat dubious “Georgia” which she decided to take, despite no one else taking the chance. Her luck held, but on returning to Minnesota, her mother told her to go back to her husband. So she did. After many adventures and working as a nurse, a babysitter, and a dancer. She later had a rooming house, but she always seemed to live well and have money. She moved to Vancouver in 1911 after her husband left her and the Mounties found her in bed with an unmarried man. (Hmmm) Although they were never able to prove she was a prostitute, the Canadians imprisoned her for six months and told her to leave the country. She eventually settled in Ketchikan where she was living in the 1940’s helping the Sisters of Mercy, orphanages, friends and the poor.
Seen above, Mae Field during her Dawson days.
Good Time Girls of the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush by Morgan; Rebel Women of the Gold Rush by Mole; familysearch.
Gordon Newell wrote this very interesting narrative of the sinking of the Cruise Ship Princess Kathleen in 1952:
“Death of a Princess
The loss of the S.S. Princess Kathleen on September 7, 1952 was the most recent and best-remembered disaster to a large cruise ship in Pacific Northwest waters. It occurred in the waters of a notorious ships’ graveyard north of Juneau, not far from where the Island went down in 1901 , the Union Steamship Company’s Cutch in 1900 and the Princess Sophia that slipped off Vanderbilt reef in 1918, carrying all 343 persons aboard to their deaths.
It was three o’clock in the morning when the Kathleen, steaming at normal cruising speed through the light rain, struck almost without warning on the rocky shore. The first officer, who had charge of the watch, was unable to explain why the ship was a mile and a half off course.
The SOS was promptly flashed on the air, but on the wrong frequency. [What the ?!?!]
After two hours without an answer it occurred to someone to check on the situation and a ship-to-shore telephone call was placed to the Alaska Communication System, after which a nearby Coast Guard cutter hastened to the scene, arriving at 6 a.m.
Although the Princess Kathleen remained high on her rocky perch for nearly twelve hours after her stranding, no apparent effort was made to seal off her hull from the sea, nor was any of the passenger’s baggage removed. At 2:40 p.m. the incoming tide floated the liner briefly, but she filled fast, slipping back until she literally stood on her stern, then slipped under 90 feet of water.
The unhappy passengers filed damage suits for the loss of personal property-clothes, jewelery, watches, luggage, cameras-which all went down with the ship, the claims averaging over a thousand dollars per person. CPR attorneys, however, quoted that interesting provision of admiralty law which limits the liability of shipowners ‘to the value of the vessel at the termination of the voyage’ (which was zero, since the Kathleen was a total loss), plus her ‘pending freight,’ which consisted mostly of the fares paid by the passengers for a voyage that was never completed. [what clever attorneys!!]
Eventually the company refunded the fares paid and settled property losses at the rate of $200 per passenger. Although there were those who felt they had received their money’s worth in having taken part in a spectacular and much-publicized shipwreck, a good many of the Princess Kathleen’s passengers view her last voyage, to this very day, as an extremely high-priced lesson in the vagaries of maritime law.”
Newell: “Pacific Coast Liners” 1959.
The Cruise Ship Princess Kathleen was built in Glasgow in 1924 and went through the Panama Canal in 1925 on route to her “triangle service” between Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria. The King and Queen traveled aboard Princess Kathleen en route to Victoria in 1939.
In 1949 she started her Inside Passage runs and was the preferred cruise ship that could carry 1800 passengers and 30 automobiles.
Unfortunately on September 7, 1952 the Princess Kathleen ran aground at Lena Point in Alaska’s Lynn Canal at low tide; it was later determined that radar was not operational at the time of the grounding. The United States Coast Guard was alerted two hours later and a rescue cutter arrived at 0630. The crew tried to reverse off Lena Point, however as the tide rose, her stern became swamped. All passengers and crew were transferred to lifeboats and ashore as she slid into deeper water and then sank.
The wreck of Princess Kathleen sits in approximately 50 ft -100 ft of water and is accessible to divers, however, tides and currents in the vicinity of Lena Point are strong. The wreck contains approximately 155,000 US gallons of Number 6 fuel oil and in April 2010 crews began operations to salvage the fuel in advance of a possible catastrophic leak.
George Griffith Allen and his brother Robert Cochran Allen opened a hardware store in Skagway in 1897. George was a widower, but Robert was married to Ida May and had 4 daughters: Dorothy and Hazel the twins, Irene, and Permelia. The Allens moved back to Snohomish or Portland around the turn of the century and Robert died in 1905 there.
George G. Allen died on April 15, 1936 in Los Angeles.
Another George Allen died on the Princess Sophia in 1918, but he was George M. Allen, an editor who ran the Daily Klondike Nugget in Dawson.
Believe it or not there were even two more George Allens, one was the son of a U.S. Senator from Washington who got into some trouble in Skagway and then went to Nome where he was in an armed robbery. The last George A. Allen was a NWMP Mountie in 1897 stationed at Log Cabin.
Seen above is the G.G. Allen hardware store in Skagway in 1897 or ’98.
Hunt, NPS p.39; 1880 Portland census; 1900 Skagway census; familysearch; Washington records; Klondike Stampeder Reg by Pennington; Cohen.