Anna was born in 1861 in Cornwall, England. After coming to America, she was working as a maid in Sonora when she met a young handsome Jewish man named James Fink. James dropped his real name and adopted his stage name of George Thornton Snow. Anna and George were married and became talented performers who traveled the gold camps of California. They had two children in Sonora. In 1887 the family took passage on the old side wheel steamer “Olympia” to Juneau for a six week stint to provide classical entertainment to the miners there. They liked Juneau and stayed.
George was soon hit with “gold fever” and made two trips to the Yukon leaving Anna in Juneau to eke out a living by sewing. After returning to Juneau in 1894, he planned to go north again but Anna put her foot down and said “If you go we’re going”.
They took the little tugboat “Rustler” up the Lynn Canal to Dyea. The Snow family crossed the Chilkoot in 1894. Daughter Crystal Brilliant, age 10 and son Montgomery, age 11 were perhaps some of the first children to cross. One of the items that they dragged over the pass was a three octave organ. At the top of the pass they were hit by a blizzard and had to build a tent to hunker down for three days. Crystal and Montgomery played “igloo”. George was so proud of his early accomplishment that he started the Yukon Order of Pioneers that year.
The family opened the Grand Opera House at Circle City where they all performed. (See the store in Circle City above in 1897.) They moved back to Skagway in 1909 and George became the City of Skagway jailer. George died in Seattle in 1925 at the age of 78 (he was quite a bit older than Anna).
Anna Snow died on this day, November 19, 1943 in Juneau at the age off 82, and is buried in the Juneau Evergreen Cemetery.
1910; Klondike Centennial Scrapbook p. 145;Snow Family papers in Alaska Historical Collections at the Alaska State Library; Gates; More than Petticoats, Remarkable Alaska Women by Cherry Lyon Jones; Familysearch records; Juneau Parks and Rec site.
Frank Simons came to Skagway with his brother William in the Gold Rush and started the Simons Theatrical Company or Sapho Dance Company at the Mondamin Hotel. In the 1900 census there were 14 performers working for them as singers, dancers, acrobats, and stage managers. Frank and William were born in 1864 in Illinois, barely 10 months apart.
After the Gold Rush was waning in Skagway, the troup headed to Dawson and Nome.
Frank died on this day, November 4, 1928 in Skagway.
1900 census; Strange Things Done by Coates; Skagway Death Record
Known by her stage name of “Little Egypt”, Fahruda Manzar Spyropoulos born in Syria in 1871 became famous for her belly dancing at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. She apparently danced in Skagway and went to the Klondike. Much later, in 1933 she danced in the Chicago World of Progress Fair and then drifted into obscurity.
YA National Museum Of Canada Collection #816; Wikipedia
A Miss Robins entered the Yukon on this day, June 16, 1898 from Superior, Wisconsin. By 1900 there were two girls, Bernice and Clara (last names unknown in the census), but also from Superior, who worked here as “variety girl singer and variety girl dancer”.
It is possible that one of these girls was the Miss Robins who went to Dawson and then returned by 1900 to Skagway. The gold rush was beginning to wane and people were beginning to go home.
This is an example of two things: the difficulty in matching first and last names to people and reading between the lines. I wonder what became of the girls from Superior?
census; Yukon website.
“Arizona Charlie” had a dance hall in Dyea in the goldrush. He also had a saloon at Stone House and then a Grand Opera House in Dawson. He was born in Visalia California in 1860. Charlie was tall, dashing, and flamboyant. He wore a flowing moustache and long hair, in the manner of the Wild West showman he was. He had a dozen careers and a thousand schemes. Occasionally, one paid off. He prospered during the Klondike gold rush. Charlie’s Grand Opera House, now called the Palace Grand Theater, is a landmark in downtown Dawson City. He was a legendary sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
He apparently bled to death on this date, December 9, 1932 in Yuma Arizona while operating on his own vericose veins w/pocket knife.
lots more on Charlie at Wickenburg-az.com; Frank Norris 1986 article
Martin Itjen died on this day December 3, 1942 in Skagway. Born in 1870 in Germany, Martin was a showman who promoted Skagway in many ways. He arrived in Skagway in 1898 as a stampeder. He later worked as a White Pass laborer, he owned a transfer business, was an entertainer, owned the Bay View House hotel, and was even an undertaker.
In 1935, as a great publicity stunt, Martin took his “street car” to Hollywood to promote Skagway tourism. He called on big screen starlet, Mae West, to “come up and visit him sometime.” His image of standing in front of his bus with Mae West is the most famous image.
He is buried in the gold rush cemetery next to a large gold-painted boulder which is chained down.
A fellow bloggist has lots more info on Martin’s family:
Happy Birthday to “Klondike Kate” born on October 4, 1876 in Junction City, Kansas. She came to Skagway about 1899 and worked here and in Bennett before going to Dawson.
When Kate first came to Alaska she was not well known. She was just another actress. What made Kate famous was her flame dance. For this dance she would come on stage wearing an elaborate dress covered in red sequins and an enormous cape. She took off the cape revealing a cane that was attached to more than 200 yards of red chiffon. She began leaping and twirling with the chiffon until she looked like fire dancing around. At the end she would dramatically drop to the floor. The miners loved it. She was a hit and was named “The Flame of the Yukon.”
Klondike Kate traveled all over, doing her dancing routines. She boasted later of wearing $1500 Paris gowns and bracelets of purest gold. It was said she mesmerized the men she entertained.
Many books have been written about her including Klondike Kate The Queen of the Yukon and the Last and Mightiest Frontier Gold Rush by Ellis Lucia.
She died in her sleep in 1957 in Sweet Home Oregon.