Leon Edward Henry Hudson

Born on this day, November 10, 1874 in New York, Lee Hudson came to Skagway around 1905 which is when he appeared on the directory.
He worked as a White Pass carpenter, a janitor for the bank, and a cook. He was the Chief of Police in 1923 and the Town Marshal in 1929. His wife Anna was originally from Germany or Norway and his daughter Lucilla was born in this area, in 1909. Anna died in 1912 at the age of 32 leaving Lucilla and Lee. Lee stayed on in Skagway and died in 1934 in Skagway. He is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.

The photo above was taken in 1923 when President Harding visited. Is that Hudson holding the little girl? His daughter Lucilla was 14 then, perhaps that is her standing on the boardwalk wearing a white bow on her head…

1905, 1915, and 1923 directories;1920 and 1929 census; Mason directory; WWI registration; Skagway death record

Thomas Robert Edward McInnes

Thomas McInnes was a son of Dr. T R. McInnes, a Senator, and subsequently Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.

Tom was born at Dresden, Ontario, October 29th, 1867. He graduated in 1889 from the University of Toronto. In December 1868, he married and shortly afterwards registered as a student-at-law. He was called to the Bar, in 1893.

In 1896-7 Tom McInnes was Secretary of the Behring Sea Claims Commission. But in August of 1897 until sometime in 1898 he was a member of the Yukon special police and customs force at Skagway. I have read that the Mounties in Skagway were dressed at first and then later not in uniform because it offended locals. (Z.T. Wood, another NWMP stationed in Skagway stated that he once hit the floor of his office when shots were flying in the street, so apparently they did have an office here also.)

In 1898-1900, the ever-natty McInnes was private secretary to his father, the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia. In 1907, he officiated as secretary of the British Columbia Salmon Fisheries Commission. McInnes died in 1951 in Vancouver, B.C.

McInnes was a poet in the manner of Robert Service. He wrote three volumes of poems: Rhymes of a Rounder, Lonesome Bar and Amber Lands between 1909 and 1913. Here are four lines from “Damozel of Doom”:

” My soul!–a skeleton!–
A rattling little thing,
Twined itself about me
As close as it could cling!”

Minter page 134; Skagway Museum Record.
for more of his corny poetry go to:

George Washington Dillon

George Washington Dillon was born in 1856 in Iowa. He came to Alaska in 1880 from Butte Montana and Washington State. He possibly was the U.S. Marshal in Skagway and also a councilman. The 1900 census lists him as a hunter. He became the Superintendent of Skagway Light & Power Company and manager of the Skagway Wood Yard. He was also a gambler and the street commissioner and dabbled in real estate in 1915.
In 1905 when Robert Sheldon was working for the Skagway Light & Power Company he built the first car in Alaska. The picture above was taken of that car with two important men on it. Robert was only 21 years old at the time, so he is not one of the two. So one of the other two might have been the Supt Dillon.
When George’s great grandson came to Skagway in June 2009 he stated that Dillon died by freezing to death on the streets of Skagway on this day, October 26, 1922 at the age of 66. G.W. Dillon is buried in the Skagway Pioneer Cemetery in the upper section next to his wife Isabella who died in 1909. When she died she left a newborn daughter and 6 other children aged 6 through 18.

1900 1910 and 1920 censuses; 1902,1905,and 1915 directories; Skagway death record; great grandson.

Henry W. Lightfoot

Henry Lightfoot was a lawyer, politician, jurist and Civil War vet. He was born in Lawrence County, Alabama, on December 29, 1846 and served in the Eleventh Alabama Cavalry during the Civil War. He graduated in 1869 from the law school of Cumberland University, Lebanon, Tennessee, and entered practice in Lawrence County, Tennessee. He moved to Texas in 1872, where he went into law partnership with General Sam Bell Maxey.
Lightfoot became prominent in Texas politics and was elected to the state Senate in 1880 and resigned in 1882.

In 1893 Lightfoot was appointed chief justice of the Court of Civil Appeals. In the 1894 election he was re-elected as chief justice of the Court of Appeals. He resigned in October 1897 and came to Skagway, Alaska, on legal business. According to the Skagway death record, he died here of Bright’s Disease on this day, August 24, 1901. His body was shipped back to Texas. Historically, Bright’s disease is often a catch-all for kidney diseases, but strictly speaking is glomerulonephritis, which may be a complication of streptococcal sore throat. If only he had had some Shaker’s Medicinal Spring Water – a sure cure for Bright’s Disease!

Year Book for Texas Austin: Gammel-Statesman, 1902, 1903; Skagway Death Record

Frederick Joseph Vandewall

Fred Vandewall was born on this day, August 16, 1879 in Wisconsin. He was the U.S. Customs Official here from early in the 1900’s to 1929 at least. He was also the Secretary for the Elks in 1915 and in 1923. His wife Florence was also from Wisconsin and they had one son Francis born here in 1908 and who moved to Grants Pass Oregon. Fred’s sister Hazel also lived here. The picture above is of the Skagway Customs Officials in 1906, so Fred may be in there somewhere, since Francis was born here shortly after. I’m not sure that they did not have more personnel working the customs station then we do now!

P.S. Happy Birthday to Buckwheat today also.

censuses; directories; 1936 newspaper article; World War One Registration;

Marshal Alfred James Daly

Marshal Daly was the Special Marshal appointed to Skagway after Marshal Rowan was murdered in February 1898. Daly was here in April, May and June 1898 and prosecuted Soapy Smith in an assault case in June.

Daly achieved some notoriety in 1897 when U.S. Deputy Marshal William C. Watts was shot and killed on Admiralty Island on September 1, 1897 whiled serving a warrant, (he was the first lawman killed in the line of duty in Alaska).
Hiram Schell and William “Slim” Birch, the murderers, wounded three other lawmen. They escaped but were apprehended soon after with the help of the U.S. Marines and a bunch of outraged volunteers.
The Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted the case was our Alfred J. Daly. Despite his good efforts in that case, the jury found the men not guilty saying the Marshals had not adequately identified themselves before the attempted arrest. Governor John Brady was horrified and compared the decision to let them go to the outrageous things happening in Skagway with the Soapy Smith gang. Perhaps that is why he sent Daly to Skagway.

Alfred James Daly, died on this day, August 6, 1912 in Tanana Alaska, he was 39 years old. His remains were taken to Nome for interment. Pictured above is Tanana around the turn of the century.

Alaska Library; Skagway Museum Record; News account list NPS library; The Daily Alaska Dispatch, 1912-08-29; Sitka Daily Alaskan various dates in 1897; Forgotten Heroes of Alaska by Wilbanks.

John Harte McGraw

Born on October 4, 1850, in Penobscot County, Maine, John McGraw arrived in Seattle in 1876 broke and friendless. While growing up in Maine, McGraw’s father drowned, his mother remarried, and he found himself running a general store at age 17. He arrived in Seattle from Maine during the 1870s at the age of 26, and got a job as a clerk in the Occidental Hotel. He joined Seattle’s tiny police force and that was the beginning of his successful Pacific Northwest career in law enforcement, business, and politics.

John McGraw’s Seattle police job was occasionally exciting. Those young years, the wide-open town saw the toleration of a certain level of lawlessness. On January 17, 1882, businessman George B. Reynolds was threatened by two armed men as he walked down the street. Reynolds refused to cooperate with the robbers and was fatally shot in the chest. Reynold’s murder aroused Seattleites who caught the suspects and turned them over to authorities.

A mob formed, demanding custody of the accused. Seattle Chief of Police McGraw and King County sheriff Lewis Wykoff (1828-1882), both of whom were armed, held firm, but the next morning at the preliminary hearing the mob grabbed the prisoners and hanged them from two maple trees in Occidental (Pioneer) Square. Then they returned to the jail, extracted another prisoner, and hanged him as well. (Wykoff died suddenly of heart disease two days later.)

John McGraw ran for governor in 1892 with the slogan “Build the Lake Washington Canal and Build it for 1893.” (Ground was broken for the canal in 1911 and it opened for navigation on May 8, 1917.)

During his term as governor, McGraw was considered “a zealous friend of the University of Washington,” leading the effort to purchase a tract of land for $28,313.75 that became catalyst for the future campus. The cornerstone of the first building was laid during ceremonies on July 4, 1894.

Similar to many Pacific Northwesterners, McGraw was bitten by the “gold bug” following the July 17, 1897, arrival from Alaska of the steamship Portland with its “ton of gold.” Following his term as governor, and a spell of ill health, McGraw headed north as a first class passenger aboard the famous Portland on her return trip to Alaska. He arrived in Skagway in 1897. In 1900, he returned without striking it rich, but wiser and in better health.

John McGraw died on this day, July 23, 1910 in Seattle. After his death, a bronze statue of him, made in Paris by sculptor Richard E. Brooks, was erected in Seattle’s Times Square.


George Joseph Rapuzzi Jr.

George Rapuzzi and his wife Teresa Maria came here from Seattle in the Gold Rush. They were both born in Genoa Italy, George in 1857 and Teresa in 1867 but had come to Minnesota in the 1880’s.
When they arrived here in Skagway they started several businesses including the Washington Fruit and Candy Store (located above between the Red Onion and AB hall), a cigar store, a grocery store, and the California Wine House. They and their children and grandchildren stayed here for decades. His sons George and Louis both worked as U.S. Marshals.

George died on this day, June 10, 1926 and is buried in the Skagway Pioneer Cemetery. His wife Teresa died in 1941 and is buried next to him.

In the past two years the “Rapuzzi Collection” was acquired by the Rasmuson Foundation and donated to the Municipality of Skagway which has in turn given parts and some properties to the National Park. Originally thought to be over 450,000 items, the actual number of items now numbers about 3,000. Hmmm. It sure would be nice to actually see some of these items before they are described and locked away in the city and park archives-far from the menacing crowd.

Steve Sheldon

Steve Sheldon was the U.S. Marshal for Haines and Skagway between 1925 and 1930. The museum in Haines is named for him. Steve and his wife Elisabeth were lifelong collectors and his extensive collection was donated to the city of Haines. Steve was born on this day, May 27, 1885 in Columbus Ohio and moved to Alaska in 1911 to work with Michael Heney on the Copper River Railroad. He met Elisabeth, married and stayed in the Haines and Skagway area. He died in August 1960 in Seattle.

WW1 registration for Haines; Sheldon Museum site

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.