Robert Service, the poet of the Yukon died on September 11, 1958 in France. His poems brought the “Spell of the Yukon” alive to millions of people who never even visited the North. Although he passed through Skagway, he worked as a bank teller in Whitehorse. His life was long and very interesting. His cabin is still open to visit in Whitehorse, it sits on First Avenue at the museum.
Last year (2011) we visited the bank in Victoria where he worked. It is a beautiful pub now called the “Bard and Banker” downtown. I highly recommend it! (December 14, 2012)
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.
September 8, 1860 is the birthday of Erastus Corning Hawkins, the Chief Engineer of the White Pass Railroad construction and later Vice President and General Manager of the White Pass 1900-1902. He died in New York in 1912 from an operation. In the photo above you can see the four main guys responsible for building the railroad: Samuel Graves, John Hislop, E.C. Hawkins, and Michael J. Heney.
from Graves, The White Pass, and the White Pass website
On this day, September 1, 1897, William C. Watts, a Deputy U.S. Marshal was shot on Admiralty Island while serving a warrant there. He had come to Alaska in 1893 and was frequently in Dyea. He was the first lawman killed in Alaska, the second was Marshal Rowan who was shot here in Skagway in 1898.
Watts was shot by “Slim” Birch who was taken on the Corona by a US Marshal in December 1897 to San Quentin. Birch was acquitted of murder but sentenced to three years for the crime of mayhem instead.
William C. Watts was added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C. He was also added to the Wall of Honor at the U.S. Marshal’s Service headquarters building in Alexandria, VA in 1998. The Trooper Museum at the Fifth Street Mall in downtown Anchorage also displays a memorial to fallen officers.
from Forgotten Heroes of Alaska by William Wilbanks; and the AK Tribunal report by Moore p 423; NY times of December 18, 1897 online.
Mr. N.B. Wilbur died on August 31, 1897. It was perhaps this instance: “an old man who had his goods as far as the summit of the pass went back to Skagway to get horse feed and died of heart disease. His wife was along, but she has turned back. This is the saddest thing that has occurred.” -from George Young’s letter Sept 19, 1897
On August 29, 1898 Arthur Hallum tragically died in a railroad accident on the White Pass. He was only 39 years old, but the age of his death was strangely similar to that of his famous grandfather, Sir Arthur Henry Hallum who died in 1833.
Sir Arthur was a poet and author friend of Alfred Lord Tennyson who wrote a monumental tribute to his friend, “In Memorium” in 1850.
from: Mission Klondike by Sinclair
On August 27, 1897 it has been written that a Frenchman, unknown name, was tied to a stake, shot and hung as an example to thieves. Although this story cannot be corroborated, it was said that some lynchings did occur on the trail.
In 1897 there were several U.S. Marshals in both Dyea and Skagway, so if this lynching did occur, it was not in town. Despite Skagway’s reputation for lawlessness, this period was mostly in the spring of 1898 when Soapy’s gang gained control.
Story of Lynching found on p165 of Fetherling: The Gold Crusades
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.
On August 15, 1913 Harley Andrew Baker was born in Skagway. He was named after his uncle Harley Baker who died in Skagway in 1898 from meningitis at 3 1/2 years old and is buried in the Gold Rush Cemetery.
Harley Andrew became the first Alaska born Catholic Priest. He died in Juneau in 1965 but is buried in the Skagway Pioneer Cemetery. The Baker family stayed in Skagway until the 1930 census. Harley’s father, Elihu worked for White Pass as a brakeman.
From a website called bakercemetery.com; a letter from Francis Baker, the first Harley’s mother; census reports.
On this day, August 17, 1917 a large boulder fell down the mountainside and took out an engine. The Engineer was Walter Collin McKenzie and his 25-year old son, Robert Daniel McKenzie known as “Bert”, was the fireman. They were unfortunaly both killed as the engine rolled down the mountain. No other cars or engines were affected.
In June 1908 the Baldwin Locomotive Works Co. of Philadelphia, delivered two specially designed narrow gauge steam locomotives that had been ordered by the WP&YR. Although Engine 68 was destroyed in 1917, the twin engine, No. 69 would spend the next 46 years puffing across rugged Alaskan and Canadian mountain ranges that had been conquered by the WP&YR.
WP&YR officials recognized a need for additional motive power that would primarily be used to help pull or push freight and passenger trains over the steep grades encountered between Skagway and the summit over White Pass, where the track level rises more than two feet in every 100 feet of distance. At the time of completion Engine 69, at 134,369 pounds, was one of the heaviest narrow gauge, outside-frame locomotives built by Baldwin. It was capable of tackling grades of 3.9 percent and curves and radiuses of up to 20 degrees. The tractive power of 69 was equivalent to that of many standard-gauge engines and it was well-suited to running over rails weighing 56 pounds per yard. In the course of its now-100-year history, the venerable Baldwin 2-8-0 has served in two countries, has transported thousands for either fun or profit.
from Graves, The White Pass; Skagway death records; Weather underground photo.