Edward C. Robinson

This Edward Robinson was an army soldier here in 1903 where he succumbed to pneumonia on this day, September 27, 1903. He was only 29 and his body was sent to Seattle for burial. He is buried at the Ft. Lawton Military Cemetery. Seen above is his grave marker which says he was in Company M of the 8th US Infantry. Previous to this I thought that the 8th Infantry had arrived in July of 1904, but this proves they were here earlier.

Find-a-grave website; Skagway Death Record

James Murrell Shackelford

James Shackelford was born in 1827 in Kentucky. He was a Union Brigadier General in the Civil War. He has the distinction of having captured Confederate cavalry commander John Hunt Morgan in mid-1863, effectively ending “Morgan’s Raid”. Shackelford’s first wife, died in 1864, and he was left with four small children. He felt it his duty to resign at the termination of the war, despite the fact the President offered him the rank of Major General.
He was also a lawyer and judge. In 1889 President Benjamin Harrison appointed him U.S. Judge in the Indian Territory. By 1902 he was the U.S. Attorney for Alaska.

General Shackelford died on this day, September 7, 1909 in Port Huron, Michigan but is buried in Kentucky.

Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1902; familysearch; Wikipedia;accessgenealogy;

Lewis Grant Brower

Mr. Brower was from Skagway although I can find no other record other than that he died during World War 2 and was buried in the Sitka Military Cemetery on this day, August 8, 1944. Perhaps he died in combat, but that is just a supposition.

The Sitka National Cemetery is one of the smallest national cemeteries and until World War II, was the only one west of the Mississippi River. It had its beginning in the days immediately after the transfer of Alaska to the U.S. from Russia, when various military units were stationed in Sitka and the present location was taken over by the military as a “Military Cemetery”. The oldest burial is December, 1867.

Skagway Death Records; Sitka Cemetery Records.

William H. Phelps

Vinta and Marcus Phelps came to Skagway around 1908. They had at least 6 kids here, one died as an infant, one drowned in Icy Lake, and William died at Normandy in World War two. William was born in Skagway in 1917 and died on this day, August 3, 1944. He received the Purple Heart and is buried at the Normany American Cemetery at Colleville sur Mer, France, seen above. His mother Vinta died a few months later and is buried in the Skagway Pioneer Cemetery with her husband and children.

Genealogytrails.com; Skagway Death Record; 1910, 1920 and 1929 censuses.

Colville Penrose Terrett

Colville Terrett was born on June 1, 1852 in Washington D.C. His family had a long history of military service going back to the American Revolution. He graduated from law school in 1874 and in 1878 joined the U.S. Signal Corps. He fought in the Apache Campaign and in the Spanish American War where he was recommended for a brevet. He then went to the Philippines. Major Terrett of the 8th Infantry arrived in Skagway in 1903. He stayed until 1904. Going back to Texas, he retired in 1912 and was a charter member of the Santiago Society and the Sons of the American Revolution. He died in Augusta Georgia in 1913.

The National cyclopædia of American biography: being the history …, Volume 16
By George Derby, James Terry White

3rd Infantry

The 3rd Infantry arrived in Skagway in July 1904. I only have a few records of men from that who were here: Private Curtis Hubbard (who was convicted for forgery), Quartermaster William Payne Jackson, Captain Charles Dwyer, Captain John W. Barker, James W. McAndrew, Lt. Samuel C. Orchard, and Col. Thomas Childs Woodbury.
However, there was one man, John Woods, who was quite freaked out by the thought of coming to Alaska with his regiment. This is from the Cincinnati Times Star of June 30, 1904:

“The departure of the Third regiment of infantry from Ft. Thomas, [Arizona] for Alaska was the cause of one of the Soldiers attempting to commit suicide. The regiment left Ft. Thomas on the 20th inst. for San Francisco, from which place they will sail July 2 for Alaska. Some of the soldiers of the regiment did not like to be stationed in the far North, but the most of them accepted the orders to leave in soldierly manner. John Woods of Company D of the Third infantry, however, brooded over the matter until he thought life would be unbearable in Alaska and that death here would be better, and not wishing to have the dishonor of being known as a deserter, attempted to commit suicide. His attempt at self-destruction occurred in the Grand Canon (sic) of the Colorado river in Arizona on the Santa Fe train, which was bearing the regiment to San Francisco. The train had stopped at a little station by the name of Canon Diable when, taking the razor, which is issued to all soldiers, he attempted to cut his throat. Comrades prevented him from succeeding in his attempt. It is thought that he will recover.”

Skagway Museum Rec; “Duty Station Northwest” by Lymon L. Woodman; Cincinnati Times online.

Albert B. Towne

Albert Towne was born on this day, June 7, 1842 in New York. He seems to have passionately wanted to be a soldier! Although he joined the military almost as soon as the America Civil War began, it appears health reasons-most likely chronic asthma- caused farmer Town’s initial enrollments to be short lived.
However, by persistently reenlisting he, four units and three service arms later, successfully completed the War. Along the way his name was noted not only as Albert B. Town (the spelling used by the veteran on post war documents, but also Albert B. Towne and Albert S. Town. Whether these changes were conscious attempts to conceal previous enlistments or merely clerical errors is not known.

Following the War the 6’2” blue eyed Town returned to Michigan, married and resided in Monterey and Grand Rapids Michigan before moving to Washington state and then ultimately to Skagway, Alaska.
It is hard to grasp that there were several members of the Grand Army of the Republic that lived in Skagway. He worked as a baggageman for White Pass on Moore’s Wharf.
On June 14, 1914 this “minister of the gospel” was dead from a sudden bout of cerebral apoplexy (stroke). At passing the 76 year-old former cavalryman/infantryman/artilleryman was receiving a $25 per month in Civil War pension. He is buried in the Snohomish GAR cemetery.

1905 directory, 1915 directory; rootsweb; Civil War vets of Washington State online.

Arthur Murray Jarvis

Arthur Murray Jarvis was born on this day, April 6, 1862 in Toronto, Canada.

In 1896, Charcoal, a Blood Indian killed another native man and then went on a shooting spree ending with the deliberate and bloody murder of NWMP Sgt. Wilde Wm. Brock. NWMP Inspector Arthur M. Jarvis followed Charcoal until he was caught and subsequently tried and hung in 1897.
Then, later in 1897, when hundreds of prospectors headed for the Klondike gold fields through Fort Chipewyan and the fur trade river system, Jarvis was sent on a long winter patrol to prevent conflicts. Jarvis was the first Canadian government official to enforce Canadian laws in the Fort Chipewyan region.

In 1898 he was sent to the Dalton Trail Post also known as Pleasant Camp located near Haines. The post was designed to maintain order during the Gold Rush, control the surge of people to the area, and establish a border custom station. Inspector A.M. Jarvis led eighteen North-West Mounted Police from April to October, 1898. Under his supervision, they collected custom fees, captured several criminals, and witnessed the remnants of the U.S. Reindeer Relief Expedition pass through to the Klondike. He established the boundary line on that trail and built a fort at the base of the Chilkat trail there. He was with the NWMP at the spike ceremony in Carcross for the completion of the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad in 1899.

In January 1900 the Secretary of State for War for Canada accepted the offer of Lord Strathcona to form a unit to go to South Africa for the war. Among those mounted rifle officers was Major A.M. Jarvis. For his valor in battle down there he was awarded the “Companions of the Order of St. Michael and St. George”.
Jarvis retired from the NWMP in 1912 after 31 years of service. In 1915 at the age of 52 he went to England and signed up to serve in World War One in France and Flanders. Jarvis was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel, Assistant Provost Marshal. For his service he received the “Commander of the Order of the British Empire”. Arthur M. Jarvis died in 1930 in Toronto.

Chambers: The Royal Northwest Mounted Police a Corp History, online; Who’s Who, Vol 57 1905;

Roy Minter

“Once you have breathed its early morning air after a light rain… Once you have listened to the silent hiss of the slowly flowing Yukon River… Once you have basked in a Yukon sun-tinged midnight dawn… And once you have seen the ice come in and the ice go out, you are beguiled and enchanted and you are never quite the same again.”

These words by Roy Minter to the Vancouver Yukoners annual dinner capture the spirit of Roy’s life long love of the Yukon.
Roy Minter was born in England in 1917, but came to Canada as a child. He later served as an officer in the Canadian Army.
In 1955, he began his long association with the Yukon while serving in the Whitehorse headquarters of the Northwest Highway System.
He later worked for White Pass & Yukon Route as marketing director. The picture above pictures him in the center – third from the right. This was a publicity shot to promote the Yukon. He started the Dawson Music Festival, the Klondike Defense Fund, and the Yukon Foundation to help researchers and historians.
He produced internationally acclaimed films, TV and radio programs, but the most memorable to me is his book “The White Pass: Gateway to the Klondike” which he worked on for twenty years. Anyone interested in the history of Skagway should definately read this book. It is much more factual that Pierre Berton’s somewhat romantic “Klondike Fever”.
A recipient of the Order of Canada, Roy Minter died on this day, February 8, 1996.

Hougen website.

Blowing Like Thunder

On this day, February 1, 1899, a U.S. Marine died in Skagway. He is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Juneau. I can only guess that he was part of the 14th Infantry that had arrived in December 1897.(The main body of the 14th Infantry, companies A, B, G, and H arrived in February 1898 from Fort Vancouver, Washington with orders from the War Department to stay “at least through the coming summer”.)

When the troops first heard of their destination, an air of excitement pervading the barracks. “All were wild to go, and each feared his company might be kept back to man the garrison at Vancouver.” Soldiers leapt into action, rapidly preparing equipment, supplies, and Klondike clothing for the journey. Throughout the Vancouver/Portland area, preparations and goodbyes began as the army prepared to move most of the 14th Infantry north.

Once they arrived, their enthusiasm turned to despair: “Colder than blazes and blowing like thunder described this place from one week’s end to another,” wrote one young soldier the following month. “You never saw a more disgusted set of fellows in your life than our men”.

Politically, the arrival of the troops was meant to cement the U.S. occupation and the boundary with Canada. When Colonel Thomas McArthur Anderson and the troops of the 14th Infantry arrived, they encountered a major of the Canadian Mounted Police – probably Zachary Taylor Wood, with five men and a British flag flying overhead. A potential international conflict began as Anderson ordered the major to remove the flag and move his men to the Canadian boundary, a division determined by the United States. Outnumbered, the flag came down and the Mounties shed their uniforms while in town.

The photo above is of a soldier (Ernest Rue Davidson) in 1899. He was part of the 14th Infantry that went to the Phillipines, so he may or may not have come to Skagway, but it is a good image of the uniform.

Juneau Evergreen Cemetery website; Ft Vancouver NHS online manuscript: “Part 2-The Waking of a Military Town, Fort Vancouver and the Vancouver National Historic Reserve 1898-1920”; Anderson, Arline, “Daughter of Uncle Sam”, Unpublished Manuscript (Vancouver, Washington: Fort Vancouver Regional Library, n.d.), 83.