Once again I return to Maori sagas. In the diaries of William Hiscock, a New Zealander in 1898, he traveled with two Maoris on the trail. He later met up with them near Dawson and this little story:
“Coming back we called in to see the Maoris and found they were not doing too well. They were about two miles outside Dawson. Both of them had scurvy. They had built a nice cosy cabin, in appearance outside it was like an old-fashioned beehive. As so many cabins were being built logs soon became scarce and people had to go longer distances to get them, so the Maoris used willow sticks. They peeled the bark off them, and being only about one and a half inches thick they made the cabin round, about twelve or sixteen feet diameter at the base and brought them all to a point at the top. As there were plenty of will sticks at hand they placed them close together. The outside was first covered with a thickness of moss of which there was an abundance, and on that was placed a good thickness of turf and dirt. A nice porch over the door opening and the usual Maori figurehead on the porch finished it. It looked very nice inside. these two Maoris had a very hard time knowing nothing about mining and they suffered from the intense cold. They stayed in their cabin and with the plainest of food and lack of exercise they soon had scurvy nor did it leave them until spring came. They eventually got a passage on one of the steam river boats that came up the river from St. Michaels and then worked their way back to New Zealand.”
The only name he gave for one was “Bob the Maori”. So, looking at the records of the NWMP at the time of their crossing, there was a Robert Doe, a R. Kibblewhite, a R. Hisk and a R. Gane all from New Zealand. Kibblewhite and his traveling companion, C.V. Ledebur were both from Drury New Zealand which was a Maori community. So, by process of deduction, it might be them. Seen above is an African traditional twig beehive house which probably resembled the cabin that the Maoris built in Dawson.
Mssr. Lelouvier entered the great race of automobilists from New York to Paris on January 30, 1908. He decided to race his Werner Car and for kicks, drive across the United States then take it on a boat from Victoria to Skagway. Then on the railroad to Dawson and down the Yukon River. Then he and his two companions would go across the Bering Strait, across Siberia and Europe.
I wonder if they made it Skagway?
Anyway, off to the Soapy Wake!
I think I hear the theme from “Those Amazing Young Men in their flying Machines”…
New York Times, January 31, 1908.
Mr. Pierre Humbert Jr. was a millionaire Boston Banker who had a passion for moving things. So he started the Humbert Transportation Company and the Alaskan and Northwester Railway Company in 1898. He is most famous for transporting 200 cattle from Seattle to Haines to drive to Dawson to feed the starving miners in November 1897.
But even more amusing is the story which appeared in the Evening Times (Washington D.C.) of April 20, 1897 for Cripple Creek, Colorado on April 17.
“There is a report of an SOS which was dropped from an airship. Three crew members, Pierre Humbert of Boston, Massachusetts, C.J. Pillsbury, and C.D. Novina of Paris placed a note in a bottle and threw it at a witness on the ground. The note said that the airship had not been able to land for more than two weeks since landing in Kansas and that they had run out of food. It appeared that they had lost control of their vehicle and did not know whether they would survive the rest of the flight. It was not clear what the observer on the ground was expected to do. There is no report of an airship crashing anywhere in that year, so the final disposition of the crew is unknown.”
Well, obviously they did land and perhaps Mr. Humbert decided he would stick to land-based transportation following this little air adventure.
Minter p 125; Acts of the legislature of WV online; Kansas City Journal Nov 2, 1897;
Ropata, son of a Maori chief, left his home and family in New Zealand to go to the Klondike. He was one of the group of Maori’s that several goldrushers encountered on the trail. His eloquent account to his wife appeared in the New Zealand newspaper soon after he wrote the letter on April 18, 1898.
Timaru Herald, Volume LX, Issue 2798, 30 August 1898 Page 3
A Maori’s Journey to Klondyke.
From Ropata H. Manihera, of the Papawai Pa, Wairarapa, writes as follows to his wife: Port Wrangell, Haines and Skagway April 1898.
“O, my Pine, greeting. Great is my love for you and the children. Our steamer reached this town on Tuesday. This is the place where we go to the interior. Our party numbers 150. Today we are busy packing our provisions on pack horses, and will finish the work to-morrow, and then make a start. One hundred horses are to do the work. At the summit they will be abandoned, it being too expensive to continue them to Lake Bennet. The charge to the summit is 4d a pound; to Lake Bennet, 8d. We can’t pay the latter, so we shall have to drag the sledges to the lake ourselves. There we must build boats.
“Pine, you can scarcely imagine the great expense of carriage of freight here. You pay the steamer, you pay Customs, you pay wharfage and the tax. Even now it has not stopped. It’s pay, pay, pay, all the time.
“The best plan is not to bring anything but to buy here . It would be less trouble. Goods get stolen. On our arrival here, we found many of our things had disappeared. The country is all frozen over, making the drawing of our sledges very much easier.
“Pine, lots of gold came to this place. Many pakehas have returned with fortunes. Others again, have made nothing. This is a great country – the greatest gold land in the world.
“People run short of food, and are obliged to come back to fetch more. Some run short of money, and cannot pay the taxes, and are obliged to give up. As gold is found close to this place, these are engaged digging round about here. Thought this field is not yet developed, yet the whole of both sides of the river has been pegged out.
“I can’t build a canoe here the trees being too low.
“We intend to go on until our destination at the gold land is reached, where I will write again to you. I am all right, my mates too, and do not mind the cold at nights. It is nice and warm in the daytime.
“the strength of the sun is 90 degrees and more. But the land is all wrapped in snow. A great number of women and children have gone on. Some of these went by road.
“It is all nonsense and talk by the newspapers in saying that Maoris won’t be able to stand the climate here. In my opinion the Maoris can bear the climate best.
“Scarcity of food is the only draw-back here. Why women and children survive here, most of whom are from Australia. The rivers are fortunately well stocked with fish; also there are plenty of ducks, geese, and other fowls.
“O Pine, greeting to you and your children and the people. Long life to you all, and me. Again I send greetings to you, O my Pine. We sailed from Vancouver on reaching this town today. This is a small town, Our steamer passed many small islands coming up.
“This a snow land. On our arrival we looked around on shore, where we found many women and children. This very day four of our shipmates were robbed of their money. This is a notorious place for murders, and very dangerous to be out at nights.
“There were murders just a little while before our arrival. Five mates on the march had a dispute on the road. They parted, two going one way and three the other. In the night, while they were asleep, they were attacked, killed, and robbed, their bodies being chopped up to bits with an axe.
“Some of our contingent have gone by the road leading from here to the goldfields, while the majority of us proceed on by the steamer to Skagway, and take that route. Our steamer leaves again for that place today, getting there some time to-night.
“That is a worse place. Many pakehas have lost their lives there. There’s no law here – you have too much there.
“On our way up we met two steamers full of people returning from there. Their advice is “Go Back; don’t go to the diggings; people going there must be very careful.’ They gave some awful accounts. I scarce know what I shall do on landing – whether to make for the fields and trust to fate, or what; and if death overtakes me, well there’s no help for it.
“O Pine, this my letter to you all, and my love. Take it and show it to the home folk at Papawai, that they may see it and my love.”
The portrait above is of Ropata’s father:
Te Manihera Te Rangi-taka-i-waho was a noted chief of Ngāti Kahukura-awhitia. He helped broker the first Pākehā settlers to the Wairarapa and went on to sign numerous land deals. He died at Papawai, near Greytown, in 1885.
Following the death of Manihera Rangitakaiwaho, his son, Ropata Heketa Manihera, his brother, Hoani Rangitakaiwaho, and Hoani Te Whatahoro Jury presented the portrait to the Government who gave it to the Dominion Museum.
Timaru Herald, August 30, 1898; Auckland Art Gallery.
There was an ad for Dr. Boetzkes in a Skagway Newspaper in 1898 so we know he was here. The funny thing is that a few months earlier, on June 20, 1897, he had taken a rifle and tried to kill his wife, Helen, and his 4 kids(Clara, Anna, Harry, Walter) in the delightful community of Bensonhurst-by-the-sea.
This was reported by the New York Times on June 21,1897: “TRIED TO SHOOT HIS WIFE; Dr. Boetzkes of Bensonhurst, Seized by Strange Frenzy, Aims a Rifle at His Family. RESISTS POLICE WITH PISTOLS Mrs. Boetzkes in Her Night Clothes Ran to the Station House for Help — The Doctor Was Arrested and Paroled for Examination.”
If you read the entire article online, it seems that he was sick with a cold and had been taking stimulants [???!!!] anyway, his lawyer, one Felix McCloskey (hopefully no relation) said he was ill and not responsible for his actions.
On July 10, 1897 he failed to show for trial and so his friends forfeited the $500 bail but apparently were happy to see him go. In 1898 he was also being sued for negligence. So, he went to Seattle where he got into a fight with Mayor Woods “his pugnacious spirit had effervesced” and so, then he set out for the Klondike.
Skagway would be like a great place for a gun-happy, incompetent doctor, I wonder where he went from here? Perhaps he got together with his wife in Washington, the Washington records show a Dr. Boetzkes dying in 1902 but the age is wrong. The 1910 census in Seattle definitely shows Helen his wife as a widow, and in 1926 she dies at the age of 73, also in Seattle.
Ny times articles of June 21 and August 26, 1897. Report of Cases Vol 26, New York Supreme Court. Washington census and death records.
The little note in my database just said J. Peraldi died on this day, April 14, 1898 at the Hotel Rosalie. (You would think this place got a bad rep for so many guys dying there).
It took a long time searching for records but eventually I found an old obituary, in French, for the island of Corsica, translated said:
Hyacinthe Antoine Léon Peraldi de Comnene: Mining Engineer. It is sent by the government of the United States to Alaska to the search for gold mines. He died accidentally in Alaska, April 14, 1898.
I think it loses something in the translation, but essentially he was a goldrusher whose family was in Philadelphia, apparently recently emigrated from Corsica. He was born in 1872 in Alata, a small town on the island of Corsica. Whether he was actually an engineer I don’t know, but his family thought enough of him to have his remains sent back to Philadelphia where he was buried with the other Peraldi de Comnene’s. There were references also to his family being among the personal enemies of Napoleon Bonaparte. Families left Europe for many reasons. Seen above is a view of Alata, Corsica.
Skagway Death Record
I love this story.
Francis M. Rattenbury was born in 1867 in Leeds, England. Rattenbury emigrated to Canada in 1892, first working as agent for Bradford investors in Vancouver. His experience in commercial and civic design, structural systems, architectural historical vocabulary and office practice furthered his career quickly. Aided by his prize-winning ability as draftsman, Rattenbury quickly supplanted the earlier generation of immigrant architects in the province. He won the 1893 competition for the new Provincial Legislature in Victoria a building which is beautiful and which is open for tours today. Despite cost overruns, the building opened in 1898 to considerable praise. He also designed the famous Empress Hotel in Victoria which overlooks the bay.
Rattenbury’s demonstrated competence at architectural display won him patronage from the leading institutions as well as government. I read once that he designed the White Pass administration building in Skagway that today houses the National Park’s administration. Rattenbury also was a promoter of the Bennett Lake & Klondyke Navigation Company.
Unfortunately for one so talented in architecture and business, he failed miserably in his personal life. Rattenbury married Florence Eleanor Nunn on June 18, 1898 and had a son Francis Burgoyne Rattenbury that same year. Rattenbury and Florence did not get along and fought often when he was at home, but he stayed away on projects in the Yukon during the gold rush. Eventually he divorced in 1925 and married Alma, who at the time of their marriage was 26 to his 56 years of age.
Hastened by scandal attaching to his divorce and remarriage, Rattenbury returned to Britain in 1929. He was murdered by his 18 year old chauffeur, George Stoner, Alma’s lover, on this day, March 28, 1935. (Stoner crept up behind Rattenbury and struck him on the head three times with a mallet.)
Stoner was found guilty of murder and sentenced to hang. Mrs. Alma Rattenbury, although chastised for being an adultress, was found not guilty of any crime and released. Despite her freedom, Alma was distraught. Four days later she waded into the Avon River and resolutely stabbed herself six times before delivering a fatal wound. Ouch, how Shakesperian!
Stoner’s death sentence, because of public pressure, was commuted to life imprisonment. After serving seven years he was released in 1942 to join the army. He took part in the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944.
The Right Way On, Olive p 165; Alaska State Archives; www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com
Believe it or not there are two Thomas Eakins statues sitting on the side of the road next to city hall. All but forgotten and in pieces, if the city sold them they might be able to pay the entire school budget next year. or not. Occasionally a visitor asks about them and is amazed that no one in the city seems to know anything about them…
“…no records exist for how the modeling was carried out, but given the time frame, it is logical that they were tackled individually, allowing a complete figure to be shipped to the foundry for firing while modeling was begun on the next. Having started in September 1896, Murray and Eakins were still at work on the sculptures in October 1897.
Murray’s and Calder’s statues were duly installed on the building, where they remained for the next sixty-three years. After the building was renovated in 1961 they were removed in the interest of pedestrian safety. Calder’s were preserved and later installed on the grounds of the Presbyterian Historical Society.
Eakins and Murray’s prophets, however, met a far stranger fate. Each was sold for $319, the cost of crating and shipping. Moses and Elijah were bought by Arthur Garrett of Skagway, Alaska, and eventually donated to a Catholic church there. The remaining eight became cemetery statuary in Frazier, Pennsylvania, where all but Samuel, as biographer Lloyd Goodrich noted, “fell prey to vandalism, weather or neglect.”
The partnership that began out of necessity for Eakins and desire to learn for Murray blossomed into a lifelong friendship. Eakins never publicly claimed co-authorship of the statues, suggesting that he wished both to promote Murray’s budding career and to protect him from any judgmental reaction among Philadelphians that the young sculptor had been ill-advised in his selection of a partner.”
From page 412 of the Revenge of Thomas Eakins by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick
Yale University Press, 2006
There were about 50 New Zealanders, or Kiwis, who arrived in 1898. George Fetherling in “The Gold Crusades: A social History of Gold Rushes, 1849-1929” on page 141 states there was a group of Maoris at Sheep Camp in 1898. Looking over the list of names, and not knowing what Maori names are like, I see a W. Ratri, J. Bungale, C. Chleablein, and a Tom Tipppili as well as quite a few English sounding names and Mc’s. I once emailed some professors in New Zealand to see if they could tell, but they said that it was of course possible that the Maori’s had taken English sounding names, so they could not tell which ones were Maori. Anyway, it is an amusing thought that tatooed Maoris were slogging up the trail with everyone else.
Fetherling; NWMP records of people crossing the pass and at Lake Bennett in 1898.
Several decades ago, the city clerk of Skagway went to the Gold Rush Cemetery and wrote down the names on the headboards that were still visible. Some were names of folks not recorded in the death records or on any other list or census. John Holland is one of those. We only know that he was born in December of 1849 and died on April 18, 1899 in Skagway and is buried in plot number 75. My notation for this is just “Lorene’s list” for the lists that Lorene Gordon gave me when I started this project.
So who was John Holland? Perhaps he fled the lower 48 to avoid being confused with this John Holland who invented the submarine, seen above in his fantastic creation in 1898.