Rachael Quinlan Conway

Happy Mothers Day to Rachael Quinlan born in 1870 in St. Johns New Brunswick and came to Skagway with her brother Jerry Quinlan. She met Martin Conway here, married and had Elizabeth (Bess) in 1903, John (Jack) in 1905 and Martin Jr. in 1907. I believe Martin Jr. died in Seattle while going to high school there. Bess also went to Seattle for high school. Jack married Gertrude McGrath in 1930 and was Skagway Postmaster from 1930-33. He then went to Sitka where he was Mayor and banker for the 1st National Bank at Sitka. His descendent Quinlan sent me this lovely photo of Rachael and John and Bess sitting in front of their house in Skagway about 1907 or 1908. I previously blogged on Martin Conway where I have posted a new portrait of him. many thanks to Quinlan Steiner for these previously unseen photos of longtime Skagway residents.

Liquor, Schools and Boardwalks

In the spring of 1915 the Women’s Temperence Movement in Skagway was staging parades and demonstrations to encourage the townsfolk to vote “dry” in the upcoming election. The Daily Alaskan on May 25, 1915 stated that the town had just spent a lot of money to put in new sidewalks (presumably boardwalks) and that without the $4000 in liquor license taxes there may not even be enough money to fund the school. So, the town voted to be “wet” but that did not last for long. On November 7, 1916 the state voted to go “dry”. The saloons were given a year of grace, until January 1, 1918. But on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1917 the saloons bit the sawdust in every small town in Alaska including Skagway. This was a shock not only to the liquor interests but to everyone who only a year earlier had voted to go “wet”. Of the 16 incorporated towns in Alaska in 1916, 5 had no property tax and depended on the tax on liquor licenses to fund the town. So after that, presumably, Skagway initiated a property tax to fund the boardwalks and the school. Skagway has always been the port for the Yukon and liquor has always been one of, if not the, largest import. I do not know how the Yukoners got their liquor during that decade because it could not have come through here – or could it have? Seen above are the happy ladies of the W.C.T.U. in Skagway in 1915.

Colonel Robert Belcher, NWMP

Robert Belcher was born on April 23, 1849 at London England. In 1868 and at the age of 19, he joined the 9th Lancers (Queen’s Royal) which was a cavalry regiment in the British Army and was assigned the rank of Trooper. He remained with the 9th Lancers until he departed to Canada and joined the new North-West Mounted Police on November 3, 1873. After serving three years he retired, but then reenlisted in 1885. When free time became available, Robert Belcher was actively involved in promoting sporting activities amongst the Force members. “In 1879 cricket was introduced at ‘G’ Division, Fort Saskatchewan by Sgt. Major Bobbie Belcher, a former English public school boy.” In 1897 he was selected to go to England for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Celebration The chosen members were all young, trim, handsome, 5’10” to 6’0” in height, average waist of 35 inches, average chest of 39 inches and most sported long waxed mustaches which were considered dashing at the time. He then served at the Chilkoot Pass that winter under Captain Z.T. Wood and later in Dawson (I wonder if they played cricket at the pass?). He then went to the Boer War in South Africa and served in Lord Strathcona’s Horse Regiment for which he was awarded the Companion Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George medal (he is circled in the photo above). He later served in the Alberta Dragoons and the 5th Cavalry Brigade and saw some action in World War One. He died suddenly on February 10, 1919. His son Perry Belcher also died in World War One at Passchendaele. (There is a very good movie by that name about that battle, I have it if anyone locally wants to borrow it.) Colonel Belcher Hospital in Calgary, Alberta is named for him. Honored in Places: Remembered Mounties Across Canada by Hulgaard and White, page 20.; www.rcmpveteransvancouver.com

“Fighting Dan” Sutherland

Born on this day, April 17, 1869 in Pleasant City, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Daniel Alexander Sutherland came to Circle City Alaska during the gold rush. He moved to Nome in 1900 and staked some gold claims. He came to Juneau and Skagway about 1909 and succeeded Marshal Shoup as the town Marshal here. He later went on to run for Congress and served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the territory of Alaska in the 1920’s. He was very popular and it was there that he earned his nickname for being so contentious.
He was most famous in Alaska for promoting air transportation to reach isolated communities in the winter.
He died on March 24, 1955 in Abington Pennsylvania at the age of 86.

usmarshals.com; Fairbanks news list, NPS; Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

Albert B. Towne

Albert was born on June 7, 1842 in New York. In the Civil War he was a private in the Ohio Infantry from May 1861 to August 21, 1861. After that he eventually ended up in Skagway Alaska where he worked for White Pass as a wharf baggageman and later as a foreman. There were a few Civil War vets in Skagway in those years. They must have had some good stories to tell.
Albert stayed here until about 1914 when at age 72 he moved to Snohomish where he died, on this day, April 16, 1914, and is buried in the GAR cemetery there. His death certificate said he was working as a painter then.

1905 and 1915 directories; rootsweb and civil war vets of Washington online.

Charles Herbert Lightoller

Today is the anniversary of the night when the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the wee hours of the 15th of April 1912.
I cannot speak any more eloquently of the bravery of Officer Lightoller during that night as the blog post by Dr. Grumpy:
I was surprised to hear that Lightoller was another goldrusher here in 1898 but it makes sense, the men and women who were drawn to the drama of the Klondike were a special breed!

Ranger Marlene

When I was “young” I worked as a ranger in Yellowstone doing snowmobile patrol. Here I am with my not so trusty snowmobile in January 1979. Just thought you all might like to see me doing something completely different.

Winter fly over!

So each day in the summer Paul Swanstrom flies his little red plane from Skagway and Haines over Glacier Bay. Just think what the miners would have thought if they could have flown over instead of crawled over the passes!
Here is a really neat video he posted of a winter trip!

J.W. Nee’s Hotel & Store at Sheep Camp

Joseph W. Nee was born in 1885 in Washington Territory. His parents, John and Maggie were born in Ireland and emigrated about 1869 to Kentucky where their first son was born. After that, based on the kids birthplaces, they moved to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, back to Alabama, Oregon and finally Washington Territory. His father John must have had a bar because in 1886 he was convicted of running a gambling house and having minors present in Lincoln County Washington. Joseph was the 8th living child in 1887. They all must have worked hard on the farm and so, in the gold rush, Joseph, at age 13 helped to run the Hotel and Store at Sheep Camp half way up the Chilkoot Trail. He stayed in the Yukon until 1903.
By 1910 he was back in Lincoln County Washington with a general store, a wife, Goldie and two kids.
Seen above is the store and hotel, the label says it is Dyea, while other records say it was at Sheep Camp.

Lundberg; Yukon site; Fairbanks news list