There is a headboard in the Dyea Cemetery that simply says “Noscitur”. The first time I saw that it seemed like an odd name, but I found out later that it is a legal term which means “he is known by the company he keeps”.
The news report in the Dyea Trail on this day, May 7, 1898 started with “Someone has committed murder! ….Phil F. Hardesty found the dead body of an unknown man on Tuesday last. He hurried back to town and reported his discovery to Mr. W. S. Levens, by whom he is employed. Mr. Levens organized a party to bring the body to Dyea, the party consisting of Attorney McEnany, Theodore Houseworth, Ed Welch, Messrs. Hardesty and Levens, a teamster and a representative of the TRAIL. After an hour’s climb up the steep side of the mountain, a small bench of level land was reached, and there, stark and stiff, in the midst of the timber, lay the body of a man who had been shot either accidentally or purposely, by some hand other than his own. …

A careful examination of the wound was then made. It revealed the fact that the man had been shot from behind. The bullet had entered squarely in the back of the neck and had come out at the left side of the mouth, shattering the bones and flesh of the left jaw mercilessly. The man’s face, torn and covered with blood, presented a horrible and sickening sight.
Stooping over the body, one of the party remarked that evidently robbery was not the motive of the killing as the man’s watch was still in his pocket. That was the way it looked. The watch pocket in the man’s pantaloons was bulged out and shaped just exactly as it would be with a watch in, but when touched it gave evidence that while a watch had been there it had been taken.
The body was carefully wrapped in a large piece of canvas and tied to a pole. In this manner it was packed down the mountain, but only with great difficulty, several men with axes being required to cut a kind of a trail. The body was brought to Dyea and an autopsy performed by Dr. T. L. Price, who said the man had been dead from 24 to 48 hours,a nd that the wound had been made by a bullet of not less than 44-calibre, if not a 48. In the man’s pockets were found a Canadian $2 bill, a pocket knife, a match box, a box of 22 calibre cartridges, a small key tied to a piece of r..?.ou and three pieces of pilot bread. In a small purse secreted in the hollow of his [?] next to the flesh and tied just above the ankle was $80 in gold and greenbacks. He wore a black slicker-hat and striped mackinaw coat, a white and black checkered flannel shirt, blue overalls, and rubber boots. He weighed about 160 pounds, was muscularly built, about 5 feet 8 inches in hight, had bluish gray eyes, brownish black hair, sandy mustache and was between 35 and 40 years of age. It is judged that he was an Irish-American.”

So apparently an inquest was done and concluded that the man had come to his death as a result of a gunshot wound (duh!). Since no one came forward to collect the body presumably the $80 in gold and cash should still be in the sheriff’s office. Nope, missing….
Yep, things were getting bad at that time… bios noscitur; Dimitra Lavrakas for her insightful comment on legal terms.

Peter Clancy Bean

I was contacted yesterday by an author and historical researcher that had been reading the diaries of Frank Purdy that are held at the University of Fairbanks. One entry in those diaries mentioned the fact that the Purdy party had heard a shot on the evening of March 7, 1898 up near White Pass. The next morning they found the body of P.C. Bean who had been murdered. Now the clue here was that they said he was from California and he was actually Peter Clancy Bean.

The murder case is still unsolved.

from: 1880 census in California; Michael Gibson author of “Echo of a Family Secret” (the story of another unsolved murder available at is currently working on the biography of Frank Purdy, a goldrusher who passed through Skagway.

Samuel Roberts

This murder occurred on this day, March 13, 1898. Mr. Roberts ran the Wonder Hotel and saloon in Dyea and was murdered on his way home. Fitzpatrick, Corbett and Brooks apparently felt they could get away with murder during this period of wild abandon. They did not.

Because Alaska was a federal territory and not a state at the time, the case went to a federal court, was appealed, and then heard at the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court case 178 US 304 stated on May 28, 1900:
“The said John Fitzpatrick, Henry Brooks, and William Corbett at near Dyea, within the said District of Alaska and within the jurisdiction of this court, and under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, on the 13th day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight, did unlawfully, willfully, knowingly, feloniously, purposely, and of deliberate and premeditated malice make an assault upon one Samuel Roberts, and that they, the said John Fitzpatrick, Henry Brooks, and William Corbett, a certain revolver, then and there charged with gunpowder and leaden bullets, which said revolver they, the said John Fitzpatrick, Henry Brooks, and William Corbett, in their hands then and there had and held, then and there feloniously, purposely, and of deliberate and premeditated malice did discharge and shoot off to, against, and upon the said Samuel Roberts, and that said John Fitzpatrick, Henry Brooks, and William Corbett with one of the bullets aforesaid out of the revolver aforesaid then and there by force of the gunpowder aforesaid by the said John Fitzpatrick, Henry Brooks, and William Corbett, discharged and shot off as aforesaid then and there feloniously, purposely, and deliberate and premeditated malice did strike, penetrate, and wound him, the said Samuel Roberts, in and upon the right breast of him, the said Samuel Roberts, then and there with the leaden bullet aforesaid so as aforesaid discharged and shot out of the revolver aforesaid by the said John Fitzpatrick, Henry Brooks, and William Corbett, in and upon the right breast of him the said Samuel Roberts one mortal wound, of which said mortal wound he, the said Samuel Roberts, instantly died, and so the grand jurors duly selected, impaneled, sworn and charged as aforesaid upon their oaths do say that said John Fitzpatrick, Henry Brooks, and William Corbett did then and there kill and murder the said Samuel Roberts in the manner and form aforesaid, contrary to the form of the statutes in such cases made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the United States of America. Burton E. Bennett U.S. District Attorney”
Fitzpatrick was sentenced to life imprisonment of hard labor at San Quentin, California. Brooks and Corbett received separate trials.

There is no information on what became of Sam Roberts’ body, whether he was buried in Dyea or Skagway. The three defendents all show up on the 1900 census at San Quentin.

court cases online;

Unsolved Murder

A miner named P.C. Bean (sometimes referred to as H.W. Bean) was found on the trail near Porcupine Hill. He had been shot. This murder was never solved but it did inspire Skagway residents to form the Committee of 101 Citizens. His body was buried in the Gold Rush Cemetery. There is very little information about him despite the fact that he sparked a big reaction in town.

The photo above is of some gold-rushers on the Porcupine Trail near Skagway.

Skagway death record; Aunt Phil’s Trunk by Phyllis Downing Carlson; Victoria Colonist online March 16, 1898.

Incident at Sheep Camp

On this day, February 20, 1898 two thieves were caught at Sheep Camp on the Chilkoot Trail. The first thief was flogged, but the second escaped and fled down the trail. Too frightened to face his accusers, he took out his gun and shot himself dead. Now this thief was probably William Wellington as his name appears as having shot himself on this date. The grainy photo above could be of this incident, it is from the Yukon Archives.

Although no record exists as to where he was buried, the earliest burial in the Dyea Cemetery was in March 1898. In February there were several other burials in the Gold Rush Cemetery, so he was most likely buried there, but without a headboard.

Pierre Berton page 261 of Klondike Fever; Amelie Kneass in October 1944, “The Flogging at Sheep Camp”. Alaska Sportsman; John Pearson, letter home about incident.

Steamer Tees

In 1893, Captain John Irving of the Canadian Pacific Navigation Company built three boats for his company. The Steamer Tees was built in Stockton-on-Tees in England, and she plied the Inside Passage for 44 years bringing thousands of gold seekers and others to Skagway and Dyea. The Tees was a modern steel hulled, double bottomed freighter with a triple expansion engine, a siren whistle and electric lights. Her top speed was 10 1/2 knots and at 165 feet, had cabin space for 75 people. She came to the west coast in April of 1896 and despite going aground once in 1899, made hundreds of trips north to Alaska. After being acquired by the CPR in 1903 she continued to ply the rough waters off of the rocky coast of Vancouver Island for 10 years. In 1918 she was sent with a crew of divers to salvage the safe off of the Princess Sofia. The safe with $62,000 of bullion was recovered but the Sophia was not able to be salvaged.
Late in life, in the 1930’s she became a tow boat towing scows laden with hog fuel from the Chemainus Sawmills to Port Angeles. In 1937 while towing a barge into Victoria Harbor on a stormy day she was struck by the barge and destroyed.

The ghost of Fannie Hall, a Gold Rush actress who was murdered on the ship in January of 1900 must have gone down with the ship in Victoria Harbor.
The photo above is not the Steamer Tees but is similar.

Frontier Days in British Columbia by Garnet Basque; Klondike Nugget of February 1, 1900.

Albert Sam Chisel

Albert Chisel or Schisel was born on this day, December first, 1886 in Manitowac, Wisconsin. In the 1920’s he and his brother ran a little store in Haines.
Unfortunately, Albert was murdered by Bert Taylor on the 4th of July, 1927 over a dog dispute. He is buried in Haines.

from Ken Coates “Strange Things Done”

Bishop Charles John Seghers

Seghers was born on December 26 1839 in Ghent, Belgium. Left an orphan at a very early date, he was brought up by his uncles. After having studied in local institutions and in the American Seminary at Louvain, he was ordained priest on 31 May, 1863. He then left for Vancouver Island, where he was engaged missionary work among the pioneer whites and the natives. After several years of hard work establishing missions in the Northwest, the Pope appointed him Archbishop of areas in the Northwest including Alaska.

When Bishop Seghers arrived at Dyea in 1886 he was slapped in the face by the Klanot chief of the Chilkoot tribe. Undeterred, he decided to climb the Chilkoot Pass with four other men, Father Pascal Tosi, Father Aloysius Louis Robaut, the cook Antoine Provost, and a man named Frank Fuller.

When the men reached the confluence of the Yukon River and the Stewart River, Seghers decided the other two priests should spend the winter there, while he and Fuller would press on to Nulato. Father Tosi expressed concerns about this proposal, noting that Fuller had displayed signs of emotional instability. Seghers acknowledged the concern, and how the lateness of the season would likely impact his work. He gave as his reasons for going ahead anyway as his wish to fulfill a promise made to the people of Nulato to return eight years earlier. As they continued down the river, Seghers came to realize that, as traveling conditions and the boat deteriorated, Fuller’s mind did as well. On October 16, he wrote in his diary:
“Peculiar conversation with (Fuller) in which, for the third time, he gives evidence of insanity.”
On November 27, Seghers and Fuller, with two native guides they had acquired at Nuklukayet, decided to spend the night at the fish camp at what is today known as “Bishop’s Rock”. Seghers was in high spirits, laughing frequently, thinking that he would finally reach Nulato the following day. Fuller, however, remained sullen, looking suspiciously at his companions and remaining agitated throughout the night.

Between six and seven the next morning, the party arose and prepared for the final leg of their journey. As Seghers bent over to pick up his mittens, Fuller fired a single shot which killed Seghers instantly. Seghers died on this day November 28, 1886 at the age of 47.

Fuller was then arrested, taken to Sitka for trial and sent to prison for eight and a half years. When let out, in Portland, Oregon, he got into a violent quarrel with a neighbor and was himself murdered.

The remains of the bishop were ultimately transferred to Victoria and he is remembered as “the founder of the Alaska missions.”

-from AK Tribunal Papers, 1904; ; Gates, 1994; “Mgr Seghers,l’apotre de l’Alaska” by Maurice de Baets;

Auto Accident 1955

On this day, October 4, 1955 there was an auto accident on mile 34 of the Haines Highway. The two men killed were Lee Edward Donnelly age 55 and Paddy Duncan, age 90. They were both fishermen and Paddy had once been a Tlingit Policeman which is odd considering that in Klukwan he once murdered a man while drunk.
“December 4, 1936 Paddy Duncan, Indian of Champagne Landing, is charged with the murder of Harton Kane in October 1936, is sentenced to hang March 23, 1937.” This from “Strange Things Done” by Coates.
Paddy was sent to the penitentiary but then parolled. He came back to Haines in 1949. He was a passenger with Donnelly when the vehicle he was riding in left the highway and turned over.

Here is a photo of the Klukwan band from the early 1900’s.

Coates; Cheechako news article October 1936.

John William Scott

John Scott ran the Scott Hotel in Carcross 1903. The hotel ran until 1940. He died on this day, August 13, 1920 in Skagway and is buried in the upper Pioneer Cemetery. Above is a flyer from the Skagway Alaskan in 1913.
That makes it look like a great place to stay, wish there was somewhere to stay in Carcross these days, my sources tell me that the Caribou Hotel there that has been renovated since 2004 will reopen next summer. I heard that when the fellow was murdered there in 2004, his head was missing and was later found somewhere else…..oooooohhhhh! I wonder if there will be headless ghosts there, certainly the possibility exists.; Yukon Archives COR 275 f 6