Henry Belfield LeFevre

Henry was one of the town’s leading men. He came to Skagway from Milwaukee Wisconsin where he was born in 1857. He was a member of the Arctic Brotherhood, a deputy clerk for the court in Skagway from 1908 and a U.S. Commissioner from 1905-1909 and published the Daily Morning Alaskan from 1899-1904. He was also a poet. He died on this day, April 2, 1942 in Juneau and is buried there in the Evergreen Cemetery. In the photo above, of the U.S. Commissioners, of those sitting on the steps, he is the third from the left with moustache and light hat.

1902,1905, and 1909 directories; Skagway Museum Record; Report of Secretary of the Interior 1908.

Charles E. Namby Wynn-Johnson

Charles was born in March 1871 in Richmond England to R. Byron Johnson, an ambitious and energetic lawyer and promoter of British Columbia. R. Byron wrote “The Klondyke Gold Fields – how to get to them” in 1897 as part of his business’ promotion of the West. His business was the British Columbia Development Association.

Charles was trained as a civil engineer and worked for White Pass reporting to the financiers in England on the status of the plans for building the railroad. He stayed in Skagway for a couple of years as the Moore’s Wharf general manager and even working as the U.S. Marshal here. His is one of the few houses still standing in Skagway. It is boarded up, next to the Peniel Mission and across from what was the Pullen Hotel. He moved south to British Columbia and built a ranch he called the Alkali Ranch for his family where he lived until his death there in 1944.

In the photo above, you can see the Wynn-Johnson two story house behind the Moore House in the foreground. Both buildings are still standing, but only the Moore House is restored and open to the public by the National Park. The Wynn-Johnson house is privately owned.

James Mark Rowan

February 1 is a momentous day in Skagway History. On the night before, January 31, 1898 U.S. Marshal James Mark Rowan was called away from his wife’s bed where she was having a baby. The Marshal went to the People’s Bar on 6th Street (then Holly Street), (where Sgt Preston’s is now), and as he entered the bar Harry Lamont, Marshal Rowan and Andy McGrath were shot by Ed Fay, the bartender. Apparently McGrath died instantly but Rowan staggered across Broadway and died. Ed Fay, although arrested was later acquitted in Sitka.
Mrs. Bernie Rowan and son, also James Mark Rowan lived in Alaska for awhile before moving to Seattle where both passed away, she in 1943 and he in 1975. It was said that James Mark Rowan was the first white baby born in Skagway (see last blog for a possible competitor to that title).
Marshal Rowan was buried in the Gold Rush Cemetery and this summer, on the 4th of July, his great grand-daughter along with the U.S. Marshal’s Service plan to re-dedicate his grave with a new marker. Plans are afoot to have the family in the parade and honor the heroes of Skagway’s both past and present.

Martin Conway

Martin Conway was born in 1861 in Ireland but came to Skagway in the goldrush. He stayed for 30 years until his death here on January 18, 1930.

During the time Conway lived in Skagway he was a merchant in 1905-the manager of B.M. Behrends dry goods; then United States Commissioner and Judge from 1908 to 1915; treasurer & Magistrate of Skagway in 1915; and finally the Postmaster from 1916 to 1930. Martin’s wife was Rachel Quinlan born in Saint John, NB Canada and worked for White Pass at Bennett and Carcross. His daughter Elizabeth and sons John (Jack) and Martin Jr. were born in Skagway between 1903-1907. John succeeded Martin as Postmaster of Skagway in 1930 when Martin died.

Martin Conway is buried in the Skagway Pioneer Cemetery. The photo above is of Martin, it was shared by his descendent.

Judge Wilcoxen and Judge Wickersham

Judge Isaac Newton Wilcoxen and Judge James Wickersham, both judges in Skagway in the early years, both died on this day.
Judge Wilcoxen died at the age of 73 on October 23, 1910 in Seattle and since he was a Civil War vet is buried in the GAR cemetery there.
I.N. Wilcoxen was a member of the Arctic Brotherhood in 1900, a Judge in 1902, and member of the school board. He was also a lawyer and notary public in 1901.

Judge Wickersham died in 1939 in Juneau. He was elected as Alaska’s first delegate to Congress, serving until 1917 and then being re-elected in 1930. He was instrumental in the passage of the Organic Act of 1912, which granted Alaska territorial status, introduced the Alaska Railroad Bill, legislation to establish McKinley Park, and the first Alaska Statehood Bill in 1916. Wickersham made the first climbing attempt on Mount McKinley in 1903. In 1927 he wrote: A Bibliography of Alaska Literature 1724-1924 published by the University of Alaska press. In 1938 he wrote Old Yukon: Tales & Trails and Trials.
In Fairbanks, Judge Wickersham’s house is open to the public and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The picture above is of he and his wife Debbie in 1915 on the porch of that house.

Marshal Si Tanner

Also on September 20, in 1927 though, Marshal Josiah Martin “Si” Tanner died here in Skagway. Famous for having arrested 26 outlaws after the Soapy Smith shootout, Tanner served as US Deputy Marshal, Skagway Mayor, Sheriff, Senator and Judge in Skagway. Arriving in 1896 he also had a hardware store and sold Bicycles. He also owned the AB Hall where the visitor center is now from 1903 to 1914.

Originally from Michigan, born in 1850, he died of a heart attack at the age of 77 while having sex with Mrs. Macomber in her store. According to Robert Dahl (son of Dr. Dahl), when Tanner’s daughter came to Skagway to arrange the funeral she told Mrs. Macomber that she would “burn in hell”. Well a few months later, Mrs Macomber’s store burned and she ran back into it to retrieve something and was overcome by the fire.

Be careful what you wish for.

First Alaska Lawman killed

On this day, September 1, 1897, William C. Watts, a Deputy U.S. Marshal was shot on Admiralty Island while serving a warrant there. He had come to Alaska in 1893 and was frequently in Dyea. He was the first lawman killed in Alaska, the second was Marshal Rowan who was shot here in Skagway in 1898.
Watts was shot by “Slim” Birch who was taken on the Corona by a US Marshal in December 1897 to San Quentin. Birch was acquitted of murder but sentenced to three years for the crime of mayhem instead.
William C. Watts was added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C. He was also added to the Wall of Honor at the U.S. Marshal’s Service headquarters building in Alexandria, VA in 1998. The Trooper Museum at the Fifth Street Mall in downtown Anchorage also displays a memorial to fallen officers.

from Forgotten Heroes of Alaska by William Wilbanks; and the AK Tribunal report by Moore p 423; NY times of December 18, 1897 online.