The Tailor of Skagway


I first became interested in compiling the history of individuals in Skagway when I visited George Mowl’s grave in the Elk’s part of the Pioneer Cemetery (difficult to find without directions). His gravestone and the two stones on each side of him were vandalized years ago, so it was difficult to read them and so I decided to do some research.

Turns out, he came here from Ouray Colorado in the goldrush. He was a tailor born in England in 1840. He started a men’s clothing and tailors at 461 Broadway in Skagway with Mr. Ehrlich. He later started the first moving picture theatre here in 1915.

His wife Annie was a ladies tailor and she died in 1911. George then married another English lady, Mary Ann who came to America in 1918. George lived in Skagway over 20 years, and died on December 5, 1919 and was buried next to Annie. Mary Ann died in 1920 and was buried on his other side. He never had any children.

Godfrey Otto Chealander

Mr Chealander was born in Kalmar Sweden in 1867 and came to America where he settled in Kankanee Illinois. He married Mary Cecelia Costello there in 1893 and then moved to Tacoma. The family then decided to move to Skagway in 1897. Godfrey opened a cigar store business and was later the Skagway City Clerk in 1901. He was one of the organizers of the Arctic Brotherhood Camp #1 in Skagway and served as the Grand Arctic Recorder in 1905.

While living in Nome in 1907, he had been helping to collect the official Alaska exhibit for the Portland fair. But something about that exhibit was bothering him. It just wasn’t going to do Alaska justice, he thought, tucked away in a corner of the U.S. Government Building, alongside every other government department. Homeseekers and investors might never notice.

Chealander had an idea-and now he knew where to write. He sat down in the lobby of Nome’s Golden Gate Hotel, picked up a pen, and wrote a letter to his friend John Edward Chilberg. This was the letter that started everything. It opened with a bang:

“An Alaskan exposition for Seattle in 1907-how does the idea strike you?”

He was very involved in organizing this Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle Washington, the world’s fair that in 1909 drew more than three million visitors. Of course, being Swedish they also made sure there was a “Swedish Day” for all the Swedes in the area. (Yay Swedes!)

Godfrey later became involved in Washington politics and history. He died on this day, December 4, 1953 in Los Angeles.

from Washington history online

Martin G. Itjen


Martin Itjen died on this day December 3, 1942 in Skagway. Born in 1870 in Germany, Martin was a showman who promoted Skagway in many ways. He arrived in Skagway in 1898 as a stampeder. He later worked as a White Pass laborer, he owned a transfer business, was an entertainer, owned the Bay View House hotel, and was even an undertaker.

In 1935, as a great publicity stunt, Martin took his “street car” to Hollywood to promote Skagway tourism. He called on big screen starlet, Mae West, to “come up and visit him sometime.” His image of standing in front of his bus with Mae West is the most famous image.

He is buried in the gold rush cemetery next to a large gold-painted boulder which is chained down.

A fellow bloggist has lots more info on Martin’s family:
http://wiekingderviking.blogspot.com/

Captain John Irving


Happy Birthday to John Irving born November 24, 1854 in Portland Oregon. He was an early member of the Arctic Brotherhood in Skagway in 1900 and also a member of the Provincial Government. His navigation business was in the building that is now Richters on Broadway near 2nd.

His wife was Jane Munro daughter of Alexander Munro the Chief Factor of Hudson Bay Company, she probably lived in Victoria. His shipping business was the early main competitor to Capt William Moore on same routes around 1860; in 1882 after Capt Moore lost boats and his Victoria home, Irving hired Moore’s three sons: Billie, Henry and John to be captain, mate & purser on Western Slope sternwheeler.

His boat the “Willie Irving” was said to be the first boat through the Whitehorse Rapids under her own steam. It was built on Lake Bennett 1900, by Alex Watson.

The Captain was also a member of the Yukon Order of Pioneers. In his later years Captain Irving lived in a small converted store on West Pender Street in Vancouver. With his tall spruce figure and his white goatee beard he was a very handsome gentleman. His favorite remark when meeting an old friend on the street was “How about a smile?” He died in 1936, poor in everything but friends.

Deadly Glacial Outburst


On this date in 1897 there was a glacial outburst of the lateral moraine of the glacier near Sheep Camp on the Chilkoot Trail. This caused a tremendous flood which carried 7 people away. Among those drowned were Aaron M. Choynski and his friend Flynn. Aaron was the brother of Joe Choynski, a nationally known prizefighter. Also killed were Mr and Mrs Crockett who ran a restaurant at Sheep Camp and three unknown persons.
In June 2002 there was another glacial outburst of the West Creek Glacier which caused damage in Dyea. A jökulhlaup is a glacial outburst flood, something that happens when a moving glacier forms a dam. Because ice makes a poor dam, being lighter and softer than rock, the water behind the dam eventually breaks through.

Bank Robbery!


On this day, September 16, 1902 an unknown man, about 37 years old walked into the Canadian Bank of Commerce in Skagway with a bomb demanding cash. Unfortunately for him, he fumbled the bomb, it went off and blew him and much of the bank up. His bones and skull led an interesting afterlife, first stored in the backroom and then the skull was put on display in Toronto at a bank there, perhaps as a warning to would be bank robbers. The fate of the skull seems to be somewhat obscure, although the bones were burned in a woodstove by the bank personnel some years later. One man, Mr. de Gex had removed a thumb and kept it in a jar of alcohol and would produce it for view for 50 cents to buy himself a quarter shot of whiskey.

John Jerome Healy


On this day, September 15, 1908, John Healy died down south in either San Francisco or Seattle. Healy was born in County Cork, Ireland in 1840, emigrated to the U.S. in 1853 during the great famine. He married in New York in 1863.

He was once boss of a whiskey fort on the Montana-Canadian border w/ partner Dickson(the fort was burned by Indians). He was also sheriff of Cocteau County, Fort Benton Montana in 1880 (see census for kids and wife Mary).
He died a rich man according to Pierre Berton, having come to Dyea and establishing a trading post there with Wilson in 1886. The Healy and Wilson Trading Post lasted for many years in Dyea as there were stampeders before the big gold rush in 1897/98. In 1886 he had 16 stores in Alaska. He also served as U.S. Marshal in Dyea.
The town of Healy, a village on the Alaska railroad, a river flowing into the Tanana River, a rock on Admiralty Island and a locality near Yukon Kuskokwin Delta are all named for him.

He is buried in Seattle.

from: Healy; Greer; Hunt;Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, Dan Thrapp; A descendent says there is a biography of him written by Edwin Tappen Adney. It is currently lodged in the Naval college in New Hampshire.

Garland Hurst Sturgill


On Sept 14, 1943 Mr. Sturgill died in Skagway, although his final resting place is not known. He was born in Cattlesburg Kentucky just after the Civil War. He and his wife Miriam or Missouri lived in Skagway for about 30 years. He ran a woodmill on the ocean south of town by bringing a waterway down the mountain from upper Dewey Lake for hydro power. There was remnants of the mill until recently near the creek. There is also remnants of a small rail line still seen on the south side of Dewey Lake. Each summer, hundreds of tourists walk to this point to get out of town. It is a lovely walk through the trees, and at this time of year, the leaves of the cottonwoods are beginning to turn gold.
Sturgill had a number of run-ins with the law over the years. They lived on 7th in town. No information on what became of Mrs. Sturgill.

Prosper Henry Ganty


Happy birthday to Mr. Ganty born in England in 1875 and came to Skagway in 1901.

In the early years Mr Ganty was a prosperous businessman, he was a member of the Arctic Brotherhood, a Councilman in 1912, and Mayor in 1913.

He was a grocer for White Pass and then a bookkeeper for Ross Higgins in 1905. His Grocery store was known as Ganty and Frandson.

He registered for the draft in WW 1. He signed a letter in 1915 to the Governor of Alaska along with other city leaders, asking for a road to be built to Skagway. Unfortunately the road would not be completed for another 67 years.

His son “Pross” born here in 1906 graduated from the University of Washington and was still living in Skagway in 1929 with his mother Jennie. The building pictured above was the original Boss Bakery where he had his grocery store. It is now owned by the National Park Service and rented to a local business.

Korach family


On August 23, 1907 the infant son of Emil and Lillian Hain Korach died and was buried in the Skagway Gold Rush cemetery. He must have been a twin because his brother, Edward, moved to Los Angeles and died in 1967 at the age of 60 according to the California death index.

A website called drygoodsandwetgoods.com talks about their family. Emil was born in Hungary and ran the Bloom and Korach store in Skagway around 1905. The website says that they moved to Akron Ohio where they passed away. A rootsweb posting also said they were Jewish, but oddly, the headboard in Skagway has a cross on it. Perhaps some well-meaning Skagwegian decided to Christianize the Korach baby in a subsequent remaking of the headboard.