Rev. John Pringle

The Reverend John Pringle was a Presbyterian minister who came to Skagway in 1898 and went on to build the first hospital, St. Andrews, in Atlin 1900.
Pringle was born in 1852 but died on this day April 20, 1935 in British Columbia.
His brother George was also a Presbyterian Minister (who married Klondike Kate to her husband) and his brother James was a Sergeant with the NWMP who delivered mail from Dawson to Skagway. His sister Lucy worked as a nurse in the Atlin Hospital in 1922.
Quite a family!
The picture above taken by Anton Vogee in 1899 shows Pringle, perhaps his sister and the Presbyterian Church in Atlin.; Mitchum p 81; Klondike Mission, Sinclair; Mills; Yukon site

Bishop Rowe Hospital

John Earnest Southerland or Sutherland died on this day, April 6, 1898 in the Bishop Rowe Hospital. Although we do not know how he died, it was most probably again from meningitis. He was born in New Zealand, perhaps Otago, in 1874, so he was only 24 when he passed away and was buried in the Gold Rush Cemetery.

A few days later, on April 15, 1898 a letter from the Right Reverend Peter Rowe, Bishop of Alaska was received in New York. In it he described the desperate situation in Skagway and the need for the hospital:

“…the people of Skaguay have been forced to start an emergency hospital. The need of it beggars description. It has relieved many cases of great distress. The people have responded to appeals to their humanity nobly. Impressed with the importance of the institution, representatives of the public have asked me to take charge of it, and I have done so. They have transferred it all into our hands.

“The emergency hospital is a low cabin 30 feet long and 18 feet wide. One room on the ground floor answers for kitchen and cots; one room above is but half-story or attic. In this room I found 12 cots, and 10 of them were occupied with men in all stages of pneumonia and meningitis. Yesterday while visiting it a young man was brought in from the summit, 18 miles, on a sled, tied on to keep him from falling off, having been dragged over rocks and through mud all that distance.

“Last night I was with a young man who died in my arms, from New Brunswick, telling me what to say to his father and mother and sisters. It was most sad, most pitiful. Sickness is ging to increase. The appeals to our humanity cannot be ignored. The sick are absolutely friendless, helpless, and without the hospital would simply die by the wayside. We have one woman nurse, two men, and a cook. Skaguay doctors are attending for little or nothing as expenses permit. We must build an addition if only of an inexpensive and temporary character.

“I am going to begin this immediately. Present accommodations are totally inadequate and unsuitable. We have assumed great responsibility.”
The author of this letter, Peter Trimble Rowe is pictured above.

-from the New York Times of April 16, 1898; Skagway Death Records; headstone.

Edward Anton Rasmuson

Mr. Rasmuson was born on this day, April 5, 1882 in Denmark. He came to Alaska as a missionary around 1904 and was married to Jenny Olson in 1905 in Sitka. His son Elmer described his father, Edward Rasmuson, as a learned, disciplined man who kept his personal diary in Greek, who learned law and banking through correspondence courses.

After 10 years in Alaska, Edward and Jenny Rasmuson moved their family to Minneapolis, where several of his relatives from Sweden had settled. He passed the bar there, but his wife, Jenny, wanted to return to Alaska, so the family moved to Juneau in 1915.

E.A. soon discovered there were too many lawyers in Juneau to make a good living, so he took a magistrate’s job in Skagway.

It was 1916 when they arrived and Skagway had fallen into the doldrums of a post-Gold Rush bust. The originals of the western-style buildings that tourists now visit were boarded up, and the economy was dependent on the vagaries of the railroad business. The memory of Soapy Smith was still fresh, and Elmer remembered “Ma Pullin” riding Soapy’s white horse in parades. The family remained deeply religious, and much of life revolved around the Presbyterian Church.

Because E.A. was the only lawyer in town, it was natural for him to become the attorney for the new Bank of Alaska, founded in 1916 by a group of New York financiers. It wasn’t much of an edifice — four walls and usually two employees. Edward became a Commissioner in 1917-18 and the President of the Bank of Alaska in 1923. He lived in Skagway from 1916 to 1943. Today the Rasmuson Foundation does many good things for Alaska.

Edward Rasmuson passed away in 1949 at the age of 67.

from the Rasmuson Foundation website and the University of Alaska Fairbanks biography website; census data.


Carolina Hilly

Happy Birthday to Mrs. Carolina Hilly according to the headstone in the Skagway Gold Rush Cemetery. There are some interesting things on this headstone, the words “sister” and the Jesuit symbol, see above. She died here in Skagway in 1906 at the age of 52 from heart disease but we really have no other information about her. There was a “Dutch Lena” Hilty who ran the hotel Skagway in 1898 according to a Yukon site, so it is possible that is the same person.

There is a Case & Draper photo from the early 1900’s of the Superintendent of nurses named Carolyn??? #768 in AK photo archives. It is possible that is her, but who knows?

Francis Merrill Sulzman

Father Sulzman came to Skagway in 1931 when Monsignor Gallant established the Saint Pius X Mission Home for Native children who were either orphans or from destitute families, staffed by the Sisters of Saint Ann. The Mission was rebuilt in 1946, and operated until the 1960s.

Sulzman was born on this day, March 16, 1906 in Waterford New York and when he left here he joined the army and served as a chaplain in World War 2. He died in 1966 in Matanuska Alaska.

from the Hugh F. McColl webpage at; and the oblatvs.blogspot

Dr. Archibald John Campbell

In February of 1898 Archibald John Campbell, a Scot, came to Skagway to be the Episcopal Minister and dubious doctor.
There was some controversy about Dr. Campbell.
When Presbyterian Minister John Sinclair came to Skagway in 1898 from Ontario, Canada, he found that the Reverend Doctor Campbell was firmly ensconced in the Union Church, that had been built in 1897 by Rev. Dickey. Campbell did not welcome Sinclair and told him the Union Church was Episcopal and refused to move out. Sinclair had been sent by Bishop Rowe because of odd allegations against Dr. Campbell.
Campbell was later fired by Bishop Rowe because of allegations of misconduct with females by a neighbor, George Aggers. Aggers and others said women were seen coming and going from the Reverend’s home at all hours of the night. The women supposedly were coming to Dr. Campbell for his famous internal massage or liver therapy. After some months of dispute, Campbell moved to a cabin on the hillside where he apparently was quite agitated and died on this day, February 22, 1899 of a heart attack.

The Sault Ste. Marie News; Thora Mills- The Church and the Klondike Gold Rush;

Love Story

I pieced this love story together last week; you will love it.

In 1865 a young woman came to Victoria from England on the famous “bride ship”. After an unsuccessful marriage she split up with her gold miner husband and in 1873 her husband paid the convent of the Sisters of Saint Ann in Victoria to care for their two little girls. One little girl, Mary Elizabeth Martin was 5 and she spent the next 27 years working for the church, taking vows in 1885 and the name Sister Mary of the Cross. In 1898 Father William Judge, known as the Saint of Dawson needed help caring for the starving and sick men at the hospital he had built in Dawson. The help he requested came in the form of several Sisters of St. Ann and Mary was one of these.
Meanwhile, in Detroit, a young man, Joseph Bettinger attended college and became a doctor, actually a pharmacist there. In 1898 he also heard the call from the North, and like thousands of others decided to head to the Klondike to find his fortune. On April 3, 1898 he found himself near Chilkoot Pass when a terrible avalanche happened, burying at least 100 people, although some were pulled out, as many as 94 died. Dr. Bettinger helped to dig up and take care of the survivors. He then continued on to Dawson where he went to work for Father Judge. In the summer of 1898, the doc told the priest he wanted to become Catholic and so Father Judge asked one of his faithful nuns to instruct the doctor. It was here that Joseph and Mary met and fell in love.
Mary announced that she wanted to leave the order but was counseled by the Mother Superior and the priest not to. She felt strongly about it and took off her habit and called herself Mary Elizabeth Martin. Shunned by the community, she and Joseph went to Tacoma to visit Mary’s mother, now remarried with 8 children. On July 16, 1900 they were married in Tacoma.
The story would have ended with happily every after, but instead the newlyweds decided to go back to Dawson. When they returned they found that Fr. Judge had died – of overwork at the hospital in July of 1899. The new hospital administration and the community still shunned the couple and Joseph found that he did not have a job.
They decide to return south, but being low on funds, Joseph decides to walk to Whitehorse in December of 1900 when the temperatures were 60 below zero. He tells Mary to take the coach a few days later and they would meet up in Skagway or Whitehorse. It is the last time Mary sees her husband.
Temperatures in the Yukon were 60 degrees below zero that month. When Mary arrived in Skagway she looked for Joseph every day but after days turned to weeks, she implored the authorities to look for him. The NWMP found his body 7 miles off the Yukon Trail up the White River (near Stewart and Minto). The report stated he died of exposure. The authorities asked Mary if she wanted his body sent south, but she could not afford the $320 to ship it, so he was buried near Stewart (the river later washed away the graveyard).
Mary returned to Washington and remarried, but never told her family of her past until she lay on her deathbed at the age of 95 in 1959.

The 1920 Census in Seattle listed her name as Mary E. Barton married to William Barton who was born in 1863 in Canada. Listed her as born 1862-3 in Canada. Two sons, Jack born 1904 and Stacy born 1906.

The Weekly Ex (SF) Sept 30, 1897; Policing the Plains by MacBeth online book p 111;Once Upon a Wedding; stories of weddings in W. Canada by Nancy Millar; personal communications with Mary’s great granddaughter. 1920 Census for Seattle.

Rev. Andrew Shaw Grant

On this day, January 22, 1898 the Reverend Doctor Grant arrived in Skagway. He came here from Almonte, Ontario, but was referred to as a “Scotchman” by Mills. Andrew was born in La Guerre, Quebec, Canada on October 10, 1860 and for 3 years went to McGill University to study medicine.

Rev. Grant left Vancouver for the Klondike on S.S. Danube at age 38. He was a Presbyterian minister and went on to help build the church at Lake Bennett. Together with the Rev. G. Bowen (Anglican) and Rev. S. Hall, they also built the Good Samaritan Hospital. In 1900 he returned to Toronto and brought his family to Dawson where they lived from 1902-1908.; Cohens book GR Gateway; Mission Klondike, Sinclair; Mills and online

John A. Sinclair

The Rev. Sinclair was the Presbyterian missionary who is quite famous in the North. He was the person who buried Soapy Smith and later built the famous church at Lake Bennett where he stayed until April 1900 when he went to Eldorado and Creeks.
Born on February 27, 1864 in Scotch Corners Ontario, he married in 1895 and was in Skagway for the famous 4th of July 1898 parade. He took the photo above, and wrote in his diary that he snapped the shutter at 9:00 am on July 7, 1898 a mere 36 hours before Soapy was shot dead, which makes this the last photograph taken of Soapy while he was alive.

Rev. John Sinclair died too young, on this day, January 15, 1904 of an appendectomy. He wrote a book called “Mission: Klondike” which is available for sale online.; Mills; Sinclair; Berton; Yukon site

Hudson Stuck

This famous mountain climber started out as an Episcopal Archdeacon of the Yukon. His party climbed McKinley in 1913 and he later wrote “Voyages on the Yukon and its Tributaries” and later “Ascent of Denali”. He died of pneumonia in Ft Yukon on October 11, 1920 when only 55 years old. He was born in London England in 1865.