Nantuck Murder and Execution


A notorious case that started with a burglary. As Kitty Smith, grand-neice of the Nantuck Brothers put it:

Some Indians stole some baking-powder from a prospector’s camp. Turned out it was arsenic, perhaps put there deliberately, perhaps just supplies for refining gold. In any case, two Indians died.

At that time, customary Indian law dictated that members of victims’ moiety or clan (Crow of the Klinkit Tribe) take steps to avenge the deaths, if not against the individuals actually responsible, at least against representatives of their moiety or clan. The debt could be paid by money or a death.

When asked for payment, purportedly, the prospectors said no. At this point, as related by the 4 Nantuck brothers (Joe, Jim, Dawson and Frank), they shot two white prospectors on May 10 1898. One of these, William Meehan, died, while the other, Christian Fox survived and went to RCMP who subsequently arrested the four native brothers.

RCMP took the boys to Dawson where an extensive trial took place. Although they confessed, Canadian leaders felt the need to be lenient because of past cases and a change in attitude towards the First Nations people. In the end, Frank and Joe died of consumption (TB) in jail during 1898 and the other two, Dawson and Jim were hung in Dawson on August 4, 1899.

from two books: Life Lived like a Story by Kitty Smith et. al. and Essays on the History of Canadian Law by John McLaren and Hamar Foster.

Black Cross Rock Incident

On August 3, 1898, while building the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, Michael J. Heney, the company foreman and chief engineer was supervising some blasting at a place called Black Rock which is about 13 miles up the track from Skagway.

As the explosion went off, a huge slab of rock slid down over two men. At first, rumors flew that there were more casualties, but in the end it was confirmed that there were just two.

The company decided that there could be no better memorial to these two men than the rock and so a small memorial was placed there.

Over the years the names of Al Jeneux and Maurice Dunn have been given for the two men, although in all the research, I have yet to find any historical reference to confirm those names.

Curious Tales, Mystery & More

Are you interested in Alaska? Skagway is one small Alaskan town unlike any other. Its very name evokes images from the past of passion, crime, struggles and dreams of fortune.

My name is Marlene and I work for the Municipality of Skagway in the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). If you follow my blog I will revel you with the incredible but true stories that I discover.
Every week at AB Hall (Skagway’s City Visitor Center) I meet many descendants of the gold-rushers who passed through Skagway in 1897-1898.
In this blog I will unearth tales of ghosts that inhabit buildings; famous people who stopped here; murders only recently uncovered; missing people; shipwrecks; avalanches; merchants; romance; orphans and lost souls.
These are their stories.