Walter and Winnifred Scott

Walter and Winnifred were twins born in Seattle in 1904, but they were baptised on this day, July 30, 1907 in the little church seen above in Carcross. Their parents were John Wallin and Mamie Emmerson Scott who moved to Carcross about 1903 and bought the Caribou Hotel from Walmsley there. Johns brother, Alfred helped them run it. John also worked as the town’s first postmaster. The hotel was known as the Scott Hotel and it burned in 1936.

Yukon Archives COR 275 f 6; Explorenorth

St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Of the over 5000 people that I have birth location information for that lived in Skagway at the beginning of the 20th Century, over 150 of them were born in Ireland. There was a significant Irish community here with the Mc’s the O’Briens, O’Connors, Farrels, Ryans and Finnegans. Like other communities, among the harworking Irish were White Pass employees, stage performers, prostitutes, longshoremen, blacksmiths, firemen, waiters, sailors and even a Skagway Mayor.

The famous “McGreely’s Express” stamp issued privately in 1898 in Dyea was actually started by a fellow named McGreely. Seymore C. Marcuse came to Dyea in January of 1898 and met McGreely who was doing private mail runs from Dyea to Skagway. The two of them established the mail service and produced 2000 stamps, of which 1000 were used. The other 1000 stamps were divided between the two men. The beautiful stamp was actually created in San Francisco by an unknown artist. When the new postmaser Clum came to Skagway on April 1, 1898, the McGreely’s Express shut down. Both McGreely and Marcuse went to Dawson, but Marcuse returned to San Francisco by 1901 where he wrote a letter explaining the history of the stamp. Today these stamps occasionally come on the market and fetch up to $175 each.

Irish born “Whiskey Finnegan” built boats at Bennett and has a place on the Chilkoot Trail named for him.

“Chris Shea, the son of an Irish immigrant, came to Skagway in 1898, worked as a laborer for the railroad, started signing on as bartenders for the Mascot, the Pantheon, and then the Pack Train. In late 1904, he finally had enough money to partner up with two other men and buy the Pack Train. He organized baseball games, courted the labor unions, organized the men in the saloons, and formed a labor party. In 1907, his political party overthrew the businessmen who had been running Skagway since the gold rush days. For the next three years, he instituted Progressive Era reforms for city government, including equalizing the tax structure, purchasing the power and water company for the city, and overseeing the settling of a lawsuit between the original claimant to Skagway – Capt. William Moore – and the townspeople who staked out the lots in the heart of the town.”

Pennington; Chris Shea info from Skagway News story; Proof of McGreely’s Express Legitimacy by Steve Sims online at

Tom Williams

Although little is known of Tom William, one thing is sure, he died on this day, February 12, in 1887 in Dyea.
The circumstances of his death are extremely important to history. Tom was a mail carrier who, while crossing the Chilkoot Summit nearly froze to death on the mountain. “Indian Bob” helped carry him down to the Healy trading post in Dyea where Tom told a fantastic story of gold being discovered and that a fellow traveler Leslie had poisoned and shot his partners – perhaps to keep the location a secret.
Pierre Berton said that Tom had nuggets of gold on him, but died before he could give the exact location-but that it was near 40-Mile River in British Columbia, seen above. After that, stories persisted of gold in the Yukon and eventually sparked the gold rush of 1897-98.
Who knows, perhaps there is still a place in the north where gold nuggets lie on the sides of a stream. I’m thinking I might do a little more camping this summer…..

from: The Yukon p.379; Pierre Berton; and p. 183 of Alaska: Its History and Resources, Gold Fields, Routes and Scenery 1895.

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.