Godfrey Otto Chealander

Mr Chealander was born in Kalmar Sweden in 1867 and came to America where he settled in Kankanee Illinois. He married Mary Cecelia Costello there in 1893 and then moved to Tacoma. The family then decided to move to Skagway in 1897. Godfrey opened a cigar store business and was later the Skagway City Clerk in 1901. He was one of the organizers of the Arctic Brotherhood Camp #1 in Skagway and served as the Grand Arctic Recorder in 1905.

While living in Nome in 1907, he had been helping to collect the official Alaska exhibit for the Portland fair. But something about that exhibit was bothering him. It just wasn’t going to do Alaska justice, he thought, tucked away in a corner of the U.S. Government Building, alongside every other government department. Homeseekers and investors might never notice.

Chealander had an idea-and now he knew where to write. He sat down in the lobby of Nome’s Golden Gate Hotel, picked up a pen, and wrote a letter to his friend John Edward Chilberg. This was the letter that started everything. It opened with a bang:

“An Alaskan exposition for Seattle in 1907-how does the idea strike you?”

He was very involved in organizing this Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle Washington, the world’s fair that in 1909 drew more than three million visitors. Of course, being Swedish they also made sure there was a “Swedish Day” for all the Swedes in the area. (Yay Swedes!)

Godfrey later became involved in Washington politics and history. He died on this day, December 4, 1953 in Los Angeles.

from Washington history online