Judge Frederick McBain Young

Frederick McBain Young was born in October 1863 or 1868 in Montreal. He graduated with a B.A. from Queen’s University and made his way to Nanaimo where he married in 1893. In 1895 he was made a Barrister in Nanaimo. During the gold rush he came north and was in Skagway briefly. He was a friend of John Douglas Stewart who was famously robbed by three of Soapy’s gang members in 1898. Stewart was also from Nanaimo. Young was the first judge of the county court of Atlin, B.C. in 1905. He served 28 years as judge in Prince Rupert county court from 1907. He retired and returned to Vancouver in January 1933, and died in Vancouver on May 31, 1937. Seen above is the Atlin courthouse built in 1900 which Judge Young used.

Frederick Washington Harte

Fred Harte was born in 1839 in Northern Ireland and came to the Yukon in 1873. His party, with Arthur Harper, George Finch and Kinseller reached Fort Yukon from Canada by way of the Mackenzie, Peel, and Porcupine Rivers through the Chilkoot Pass in 1873. This well documented party is perhaps the first white party to cross the Chilkoot Pass. Harte later worked with McQueston and Mayo. All of these men were trappers who searched for furs but were at the beginning of the mining era when gold was discovered in the Yukon. All of these famous early explorers can have their own story told, but here we are celebrating Fred Hart. He was one of the charter member of the Yukon Order of Pioneers and served as the first Secretary for the Y.O.O.P. He died in November 1898 and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Dawson. Seen above are some members holding the banner in Dawson.

Jack Hoyt

Jack was born in 1904 in Oregon and came to Skagway around 1929 and worked for White Pass as a boilermaker. He was Mayor of Skagway during World War two. If you have ever visited Oahu, Hawaii and gone to the Dole plantation which is about half way between Honolulu and North Shore, they have a very cute tourist train called the Pineapple Express. It has rails about 24 inches apart. Jack Hoyt built this little tourist railroad in 1969. I don’t know how much of the original train that he built is still running, but it is a favorite tourist attraction still.

Winfield Scott Woolever

W.S. Woolever was born on this day, May 17, 1863.    Before heading out for the gold rush, he was a partner in a hardware store in Wallaceburg, Ontario, Canada.  He caught gold fever and abandoned his wife Clara (Ayres) and his two daughters,  Miriam and Yula.  The daughters had a brief reunion with him some years later in Seattle at which time, he gave my grandmother Miriam his  gold rush journal. For those interested in his journal is presently at the Wallaceburg museum.

Between 1901 and 1904 Woolever staked gold claims in the Yukon and actually came away with some profits. During his time here in Skagway, he became an active member of the Arctic Brotherhood. Woolever married Paulina Scott Banks after 1905. When Paulina died in 1927 Woolever met Daisy Banks Haner, also a widow in 1926.  They married on August 01, 1927 in Whatcom Co., WA.

Winfield Scott Woolever died on May 4, 1945 in Wickersham, Washington at the age of 82. Seen above is his third wife, Daisy with her son Lawrence Haner, born 1912, and taken at their Wickersham, Washington home.

Paulina was not the sister of Robert Bruce Banks who died in the fiery explosion of the Clara Nevada here in Skagway in 1898.

Many thanks to John Martin for the early history in Ontario, and to Beverly Banks Hammer and Malcolm Haner, grandson of Daisy for setting this story correct!  As with all family histories, the true stories lie with the family, not all of which are as stalwart as we would hope. I just try to spotlight the goldrushers for their feats here in Skagway and the Klondike!


The Telegraph Line

I have often wondered about the telegraph lines seen along the road in various places with the glass insulators. In 1898-99 when the narrow-gauge White Pass & Yukon Route Railway was built, from Skagway through the White Pass to Bennett City near the BC-Yukon border, they also put in the telegraph line. Before construction was completed in July 1899, the Canadian Privy Council approved the extension of the telegraph line to Dawson City and a spur line to Atlin, British Columbia, where a gold strike had occurred the previous year. Construction on the 1,000-kilometre Yukon portion of the Yukon Telegraph line began at Bennett Lake and finished in Dawson City in September 1899 ahead of schedule. Twenty-eight men, four of whom drowned in the Yukon River, completed the work in six months, traveling by waterway and stringing wire at a rate of 10 to 16 kilometres a day. The estimated cost for the project was $135,750. Supplies arrived in Skagway from as far away as Great Britain, including 600 miles of No. 8 (5mm) wire, hundreds of boxes of insulators and side blocks, and provisions for a 100-man workforce. John Franklin Richardson, construction superintendent worked for John Baptiste Charleson the supervisor of construction. J.C. Tache was the chief engineer (seen above in Skagway) and Joseph Gobeil was the private secretary. Even Michael J. Heney helped by supplying pack horses to bring the supplies to the pass. There are lots more really intereting stories about this in the following book: Wires in the Wilderness: The Story of the Yukon Telegraph by Bill Miller

Edward J. Shaw

Edward J. Shaw was born in 1859 in Massachusetts. He arrived in Skagway early in the century and first worked on Moore’s Wharf and as a bookkeeper. He also worked as a gardener and for the Alaska Steamship Company as an agent. He was a member of the Arctic Brotherhood and was on City Council from 1903-1906. He was a U.S. Commissioner in 1906 as seen above, he is the one standing to the far right. By 1906 he served as Skagway Mayor and as City Manager. By 1920 he was married to Marian, but I could find no record of them after the 1920 census.

1905, 1915,1920.1909 AB book, agent for Ak SS Co ; Barley photo; Thornton

John William Linden Gillespie

Known as “Jim” Gillespie,  he was born in May 1862 in Buffalo, New York of Scottish immigrant parents. He married and had a hotel in Buffalo called the Hotel Gillespie until 1897.  By 1898 Jim got gold rush fever and came to Skagway where he ran a saloon and stayed at least until the census in 1900. Records show that Mrs. Kate Gillespie ran the Buffalo Hotel Gillespie while he was in Skagway, but here he was married to Belle, so perhaps it was his mother or former wife who stayed in Buffalo.

Jim’s other love was baseball and in 1890 he played for one season for the Buffalo Bisons.

The Buffalo Bisons were a Major League Baseball franchise based in Buffalo, New York.  The team existed for one season,  in 1890 and played in the Players’ League.  In a fun game in 1890 with the single men vs. the married men, Jim was second base man for the married men. The Bisons played their home games at Olympic Park.  Jim played one game in right field for the team.  In that game, he had three at bats without a hit and made three errors in four fielding chances. 

He died June 24, 1926 back in Buffalo.  Seen above is the team in 1890. Wish I knew which one was Jim!

Wikipedia; 1900 census.

Ezra Tobey Pope

Ezra T. Pope was born on March 2, 1868 in Sandwich, Massachusetts. He went to Amherst College from 1886-1889. He then worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad from 1890 to 1894 and then became Superintendent of the Northern Pacific wharves in Seattle until 1898 when the gold rush started and he moved north. He became General Agent for the Washington-Alaska Steam Ship Company and Treasurer for the Southeastern Alaska Fish Company. He was purser on the City of Seattle with Hunter as captain and he was also one of the original members of the Arctic Brotherhood and a City Councilman here in Skagway in 1901. His wife Lona Henrietta and sons Ezra Jr. and Augustus must have also been here. They all moved back to Seattle where Ezra and Lona passed away in 1948 and 1920 respectively. The photo above is definitely on Broadway and may be Ezra. It is a snapshot from Ancestry.

Harry Ask

Happy Birthday to Harry Ask, born on May 8, 1894 in Washington. His family moved to Skagway and arrived in February 1898. His father Charles, a Norwegian by birth worked as a clerk and bookkeeper for Kalen and then opened his own store, Ask and Sons General Merchandise. Harry married Irma Williams in Seattle in 1928 and then returned to Skagway and opened his own grocery store in 1929 and was a City Councilman in 1934. The family moved to Washington, and return to Skagway occasionally to visit. Charles Ask, the grandson will be arriving tomorrow here for the Skagway Reunion. This reunion of “old-timers” from Skagway usually meet in Seattle, so it will be a real treat to have them all here this weekend.