Thomas James McGill

Tom McGill was born in 1863 on the farm in Elma Twp, Perth, Ontario to George McGill, an Irish immigrant and Margaret Sutherland who was of Scottish origin but born in Ontario Canada. It was a large family.
McGill was one of the members of the Klondike Brigade of missionaries sent to the Gold Fields to minister to the miners. He arrived in May 1898 on the steamer S.S. “Tees” to Skagway and then proceeded to Dyea.

He was also later a member of the Yukon Order of Pioneers. He and his wife Laura (who he married in 1899 in Victoria) probably settled in Vancouver since he wrote a book about the founding of the Salvation Army there. He died on this day, February 16, 1950 at the age of 87. The picture above is the Salvation Army in Dawson in 1900. It might be McGill.;1880 census for Perth, Ontario, Canada.

The Hallelujah Lassies

One of the many religious communities in Skagway during the Gold Rush, the Salvation Army had several people working here. The most famous was General Evangeline Cory Booth who was born on Christmas Day 1865 in London to the founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth. The names of some of the others here were:
Lieut. Emma Matilda Aitken (middle row far right)
Adjutant George Dowell (middle row, second from left)
Ensign Rebecca Ellery (middle row, far left)
Captain John Kenny (top row, second from left)
Ensign Thomas James McGill (top row, second from right)and his wife Laura Aikenhead McGill (not pictured)
Ensign Fred Bloss (top row far right)
Ensign Frank Morris (top row first on left)
Captain John Lecocq (front row)
These were members of the 1898 “Klondike Brigade” of nine Salvation Army soldiers, seven men and two women (well actually three if you include Mrs McGill). The “hallelujah lassies” arrived in May 1898 on the Steamer S.S. “Tees” (see yesterday’s blog) at Skagway and then proceeded to Dyea. They climbed the Chilkoot Pass while it was still deep in snow. Included in their outfit were two folding canoes for the river journey, but before the group could use the canoes, they had to cross the rotting ice of Lake Bennett. It took them three weeks to travel from Skagway to Dawson.

Thornton p 190; The founding of the Salvation Army, 1962;; descendent confirmation

Father Pascal Tosi

Pascal Tosi was born on April 25, 1837 in Santarcangelo di Romagna, Italy. He was one of the first two Jesuits missionaries to set foot in Alaska. As the first Superior of Jesuits in Alaska (from 1886 to 1897) he is regarded as the founder and organizer of the Church in North-Alaska.

Ordained a (diocesan) priest in 1861, Tosi entered the Jesuits the following year in order to be sent to the ‘American mission’. In 1865 he arrived in the United States to serve on the Rocky Mountain Mission. For two decades he proved to be an able missionary to the Indigenous Peoples of the American Northwest.

When in 1886 Archbishop Charles John Seghers set out for northern Alaska on what was meant to be a reconnaissance expedition, he had with him as travelling companions Pascal Tosi and French Jesuit, Louis Robaut. The two were supposed to stay with the archbishop only on a temporary basis. The Jesuits had no intentions at the time of opening a new field of missionary activity in Alaska. However, the murder of Archbishop Seghers (November 1886) changed the situation, and their thinking on the matter. (see my earlier blog on Bishop Seghers)

Tosi and Robaut spent the winter of 1886-87 in Canada at the confluence of the Yukon and Stewart Rivers. When in early 1887, upon entering Alaska, they learned of the death of Archbishop Seghers, Tosi considered himself to be in charge, at least for the time being, of ecclesiastical affairs in Alaska. The following summer he made a trip to the Pacific Northwest to consult with the Superior of the Rocky Mountain Mission, Joseph M. Cataldo, who formally appointed him Superior of the Alaska Mission and entrusted him with the task of developing that mission.

In 1892, he made a trip to Rome. There Pope Leo XIII, moved by Fr. Tosi’s account of the state of the mission in Alaska, told him in their native Italian, Andate, fate voi da papa in quelle regione! (“Go and make yourself the Pope in those regions!”).

On July 27, 1894, the Holy See separated Alaska from the Diocese of Vancouver Island and made it a Prefecture Apostolic with Tosi as its Apostolic Prefect.

By 1897, Tosi was physically worn out by a tough daily life and strenuous labors in an extreme climate. He was succeeded both as Superior of the Alaska Mission and as Prefect Apostolic in March of that year by French Jesuit Jean-Baptiste René (1841-1916). From St. Michael, on September 13, 1897, Tosi sailed, reluctantly, for he hoped to stay on in northern Alaska, for what turned out to be a brief retirement in Juneau. As the ship left the harbor, a salute of four guns was ordered as a manifestation of the universal esteem in which he was held.

Tosi died in Juneau on this day, January 14, 1898 and is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery under the false name of Father Tozier.

Wikipedia; LLORENTE, S. Jesuits in Alaska, Portland, 1969;TESTORE, C.Nella terra del sole a mezzanotte. La fondazione delle missione di Alaska. P. Pasquale Tosi S.J., Venice, 1935; ZAVATTI, S., Missionario ed esploratore nell’Alaska: Padre Pasquale Tosi, S.I., Milan, 1950.;

Charles Augustus Sehlbrede

Reverend Gus (he was also a minister) came to Skagway in 1898 from Oregon.
Born on this day, December 10, 1851 in Louisville, Kentucky, Gus was one of ten children. After college, he took the train to Oregon in 1877 and passed the Oregon Bar the next year. He married in 1883 in Salem, Oregon.

Because of the recommendation of U. S. Senator George W. McBride, Sehlbrede was appointed as U. S. Commissioner at Skagway, Alaska by President McKinley. While on that appointment, he presided over the coroner’s inquest for Soapy Smith. He was also appointed town recorder after John U. Smith left. (Smith was a crooked U.S. commissioner for Dyea from August 1897 to May 1898 who disappeared the night that Soapy was shot.)
Sehlbrede brought his wife, Ianthe, and his two daughters, Bertha Lucille and Emma Lucrecia to Skagway. However, Ianthe and daughters left in 1901 to go back Corvallis (wimps). Judge Sehlbrede joined them soon after in sunny Oregon.
The photo above is from a 1947 magazine article.
Sehlbrede died in 1922 in Corvallis also and is buried in Oak Lawn Memorial Park there.

1900 census;Pioneer History of Douglas County, Oregon; Pennington; 1902 directory;Portrait and Biographical Record of Western Oregon, published by Chapman Publishing Company, Chicago. 1904

Bishop Charles John Seghers

Seghers was born on December 26 1839 in Ghent, Belgium. Left an orphan at a very early date, he was brought up by his uncles. After having studied in local institutions and in the American Seminary at Louvain, he was ordained priest on 31 May, 1863. He then left for Vancouver Island, where he was engaged missionary work among the pioneer whites and the natives. After several years of hard work establishing missions in the Northwest, the Pope appointed him Archbishop of areas in the Northwest including Alaska.

When Bishop Seghers arrived at Dyea in 1886 he was slapped in the face by the Klanot chief of the Chilkoot tribe. Undeterred, he decided to climb the Chilkoot Pass with four other men, Father Pascal Tosi, Father Aloysius Louis Robaut, the cook Antoine Provost, and a man named Frank Fuller.

When the men reached the confluence of the Yukon River and the Stewart River, Seghers decided the other two priests should spend the winter there, while he and Fuller would press on to Nulato. Father Tosi expressed concerns about this proposal, noting that Fuller had displayed signs of emotional instability. Seghers acknowledged the concern, and how the lateness of the season would likely impact his work. He gave as his reasons for going ahead anyway as his wish to fulfill a promise made to the people of Nulato to return eight years earlier. As they continued down the river, Seghers came to realize that, as traveling conditions and the boat deteriorated, Fuller’s mind did as well. On October 16, he wrote in his diary:
“Peculiar conversation with (Fuller) in which, for the third time, he gives evidence of insanity.”
On November 27, Seghers and Fuller, with two native guides they had acquired at Nuklukayet, decided to spend the night at the fish camp at what is today known as “Bishop’s Rock”. Seghers was in high spirits, laughing frequently, thinking that he would finally reach Nulato the following day. Fuller, however, remained sullen, looking suspiciously at his companions and remaining agitated throughout the night.

Between six and seven the next morning, the party arose and prepared for the final leg of their journey. As Seghers bent over to pick up his mittens, Fuller fired a single shot which killed Seghers instantly. Seghers died on this day November 28, 1886 at the age of 47.

Fuller was then arrested, taken to Sitka for trial and sent to prison for eight and a half years. When let out, in Portland, Oregon, he got into a violent quarrel with a neighbor and was himself murdered.

The remains of the bishop were ultimately transferred to Victoria and he is remembered as “the founder of the Alaska missions.”

-from AK Tribunal Papers, 1904; ; Gates, 1994; “Mgr Seghers,l’apotre de l’Alaska” by Maurice de Baets;

Father George Edgar Gallant

Father Gallant was born in 1894 in Rustico, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

In 1898, during the Klondike gold rush stampede, Father Rene and Father Philibert Tumell, established Saint Mark’s Church in Skagway.

Young Father (later Monsignor) George Edgar Gallant, became the first priest ordained in Alaska on March 30, 1918. He came to Skagway in 1921 and built a new church and school here, which were named for Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus.
In 1931, Monsignor Gallant would establish Saint Pius X Mission Home for Native children who were either orphans or from destitute families, staffed by the Sisters of Saint Ann. It would be rebuilt in 1946, and would operate until the 1960s. Father Gallant stayed in Skagway until about 1929.
He was a Redemptorist Oblate and quite instrumental in encouraging and promoting the Redemptorists to establish a foundation in Alaska. He was a great devotee of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Devotions.
Monsignor Gallant died on this day, August 4, 1931 back in PEI, Canada.
The church above is St Theresa’s on State Street and 9th Avenue, services on weekends year round.; census; directories; familysearch

Bishop William Ridley

William Ridley was born on this day, July 22, 1836 in Devonshire, England.
In 1896 Bishop Ridley (of the Anglican Diocese of Caledonia – the area of Northern British Columbia, Canada) arrived after his travels up the Stikine River with the first miners on their way to the Klondyke. After he returned he looked for someone to carry out missionary work with the miners and Tahltans. Ridley translated the catechism into the Tsimshian language, in collaboration Odille Morison, a Tsimshian. This became the so-called “Ridley orthography,” the language’s first practical spelling system.

Previous to coming to the Klondyke he had been working in India. He was Bishop of Lake Bennett, Tagish, and Carcross 1898, but retired to England where he died in 1911.
Ridley Island, now an industrial site near Prince Rupert, British Columbia, is named for him, as are numerous Tsimshian extended families with the Ridley surname in Metlakatla, Alaska, and in Hartley Bay and Kitkatla, British Columbia.

Yukon genealogy; “From sea to sea the Dominion” by Tucker; Wikipedia

Daniel George Cock

The Reverend Daniel Cock was the Presbyterian minister in Skagway from 1899 until 1901 for Reverend Dickey.
Rev. Cock was born in Truro, Nova Scotia on this day July 12, 1874 where his forefathers had been Presbyterian ministers since 1770.
This Reverend Daniel George Cock died on April 20, 1958 in Canada.

Above is a headstone from the cemetery in Truro of the first Daniel George Cock (grandfather probably):
“Rev. Daniel Cock the first minister of this township He was a native of Clydesdale Scotland and was ordained to the office of the holy ministry at Greenock where he held a charge a number of years. In 1772 he accepted a call from the People of Truro where he continued to discharge the duties of his office until disabled by the infirmaties of age. He died on the 17th day of March 1805 aged 88”

Mills p 29, 69; Yukon site; Ulster-Scot History site online;

Robert McCahon Dickey

Rev. Dickey was born in 1880 in Armagh Ireland. He was a Presbyterian minister who arrived in Skagway on October 9, 1897 from Winnipeg. Reverend Dickey established a church and hospital in Skagway, but had then turned it over to the American Episcopal Church, as the town was in US territory. Dickey preached the first Presbyterian service in Skagway on October 10, 1897 at Burkhart Hall.

Dickey quickly helped build a Union Church — involving the Episcopalian, Baptist, Native Christian Church, Methodist, and Presbyterian communities. He maintained friendly relations with the Catholics and Jews of the community, as well. He is also recognized for seeking trained nurses and other medical personnel for the local hospital. He set up a church at Lake Bennett where he caught typhoid. He persuaded Lady Aberdeen (Ishbel Maria Hamilton-Gordon, Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair, 15 March 1857 –18 April 1939 pictured above) to send some of her newly created Victorian Order of Nurses to Klondike in July 1898. He is quite famous in the area and stayed in the Yukon until his death, on this day, May 6, 1950 when he died at age 70 in Teslin perhaps.

Cohens book GR Gateway;Yukon geneo; Sinclair; Mills

Leonidas John Hamlin Wooden

The Reverend Doctor Wooden came to Skagway in 1898 and succeeded the infamous Rev. Campbell at the Episcopal Church. Dr. Wooden staffed the Bishop Rowe hospital.
He was also a member of the Arctic Brotherhood in 1900 but around that time he had moved to the Yukon. In the summer of 1904 there was a diptheria epidemic in Circle, Alaska and Dr. Wooden was appointed by Commissioner Nichols to be the Health officer there with full power to “quarantine and protect the public health by all reasonable ways and means”. He and his wife Frances had 6 kids, three who died young. They were all probably here, but there is no record of them.
Leonidas Wooden was born in Indiana in 1856 and died on this day, May 5, 1945 at the age of 89 in Montgomery Kansas.
The picture above is of the little church in Carcross which still has services on Sunday.

Klondike Mission, by Sinclair; 1901 Yukon census; Congressional Reports for the 59th Senate, 1905-1906; Familysearch