Tagish Chief Kuckshaw

There was a Native Cemetery in Dyea which was different from the Slide Cemetery.

In the 1970’s, I believe, the cemetery started to wash into the river, so some of the graves were moved over to the area near the Slide Cemetery. The house pictured above must have washed away. The photo must have been taken prior to the October 1898 issue of Munsey’s where it appeared. I do not know who the man pictured was.


Munsey’s Magazine October 1898;¬†NPS records; A.A. Hill book

Thomas Frederic Harper Reed 1878-1965

Last weekend we went to Atlin, it was beautiful. Stayed at the Brewer’s Bay Chalet which, although clean and plain has a million dollar view of the lake and snow covered mountains. After walking around town in the rain, we visited the Atlin Cemetery and photographed this curious monument to Harper Reed, gentleman adventurer. Have not been able to find out anything more, if anyone knows, please leave a comment.

August Konalski

This photo was taken by Howard Clifford before 1975. It shows a few headboards which were probably replacements. Eve Griffin is currently doing a project on the cemetery, photographing all the remaining grave markers and doing a careful measurement and map – apparently something which has never been done before. When her project is finished, very soon, I will post the new map!
August Konalski is an example of someone who did not appear in the Skagway Death Record but who obviously died here on this day, October 7, 1898. Other than the fact that the name Konalski is the second most common Polish name, we know nothing else about him.

Daisy Mason

A new photo of the headstone in Carcross Cemetery of Daisy Mason, daughter of Skookum Jim Mason. She studied drama in San Francisco. Later, she had to sell her house to pay for her dad’s funeral. I will post her dad’s headstone tomorrow.

All of the graves in Carcross are surrounded by little white picket fences. Located on the shores of Lake Nares just south of the bridge in Carcross, this cemetery is seldom visited but has some of the most famous people of the Yukon. If you do decide to visit please be respectful as it is a First Nations Historical Site.

photo by Reed McCluskey

Polly the Parrot

Although I have blogged about Polly before with a real picture of her, here is a picture of her gravestone. They claimed she was born in 1850 and died in 1972 but I have a hard time believing that. Since she was just a bird she did not have a birth certificate to prove she was born then, but who knows? She lived in the Carcross Bar/Hotel from 1918 when left there by the owner who died on the Princess Sophia. I talked to some folks who remembered her and said she was green and said naughty things, but they could not remember what exactly…..

photo by Reed McCluskey

William H. Phelps

Vinta and Marcus Phelps came to Skagway around 1908. They had at least 6 kids here, one died as an infant, one drowned in Icy Lake, and William died at Normandy in World War two. William was born in Skagway in 1917 and died on this day, August 3, 1944. He received the Purple Heart and is buried at the Normany American Cemetery at Colleville sur Mer, France, seen above. His mother Vinta died a few months later and is buried in the Skagway Pioneer Cemetery with her husband and children.

Genealogytrails.com; Skagway Death Record; 1910, 1920 and 1929 censuses.

Nantuck Murders

I recently got a new book called “Sailor on Snowshoes – Tracking Jack London’s Northern Trail” by Dick North. Mr. North has spent decades gathering every detail of London’s trip to Dyea and Dawson, but one incident jumped out at me that I had never heard before.
On page 81, he states that when the Nantucks spoke of “previous wrongs, it is very possible that it was the murder of the two maternal uncles of Johnny Johns they had in mind. ” Johnny Johns was the nephew of Skookum Jim Mason and Tagish Charlie. In 1982 Johnny Johns insisted that “very early in the gold rush era transgressions of the law occurred that were never reported because there were simply no law enforcement officers around. He cited the fate of his mother’s two brothers in 1896. When several white men who had set up camp on the beach at the outlet of Lake Lindeman caught an Atlin native stealing their liquor supply, they promptly shot the thief, killing him instantly. Seeing the only witnesses were two natives (who happened to be John’s mother’s brothers), they killed them as well. Word of the murders leaked out to the village people when the Native girlfriend of one of the whites told John’s mother about it.”
So, I looked through “Life Lived as a Story” by Julie Cruikshank and found the genealogy chart for Angela Sidney’s family. Johnny Johns’ mother was La.oos Tiaa, kaax’anshi or Maria Johns, married to Tagish John. Maria had two brothers who were named Tl’uku and Kult’us but there is no information on them.
Since the 1896 murder was not investigated and the murderers’ names were not recorded it would seem that in this case, they got away with murder. Then, two years later, on May 10, 1898 the Nantuck brothers take retribution for past occurrences, which presumably had to do with the white powder incident – or maybe something else.
North says that Johnny Johns’ family may have instead been referring to the 1896 murders.
An interesting thought might be that the two miners who murdered the brothers could possibly be the same two miners that the Nantucks shot in 1898.
The Nantuck brothers’ testimony seems confused, as written up in “Essays in the History of Canadian Law: British Columbia and the Yukon” by John McLaren and Hamar Foster which is viewable online. It was generally accepted that the Canadian government was trying to understand the issues involved in cases involving First Nations people and that they were beginning to rethink the previous frontier justice actions.
This week the remains of Dawson and Jim Nantuck were re-interred after they were identified in Dawson after accidentally being dug up during a construction project last summer. The Dawson cemetery is seen above.

Alexander Grey

Alexander Grey, known as Sandy, lived in New Westminster, British Columbia but was on his way to Atlin when he checked into the St. James Hotel. The St. James Hotel building is still standing and is directly behind the Hardware Store on 4th. Sandy Grey was born in 1858 in Ontario but had moved to B.C. by 1880. At the age of 41, he died of heart failure on this day, May 26, 1899 in Skagway. His brother George was in New Westminster but it was decided to bury him here in the Gold Rush Cemetery. The headstone, obviously replaced is wrong on two things, the spelling of his name and his age, both of which are from the census and death records. I don’t know what the little saying on the bottom says, I will have to go up and check it out.
Does his ghost still haunt the St. James? Ask one of the hardware employees.

Skagway death/coroners inquest record; 1880 BC census.

baby Nellie Dick

Nellie was born on this day, February 22, 1899 but died two days later. I am reminded of a headboard in the Calico Ghost Town cemetery:
“Since I am so soon done for, I wonder what I was begun for.”

Skagway Death Record.

My rant about the cemetery

Julius Johnson died on this day, February 12, 1899 and is buried in the Gold Rush Cemetery. There is no headboard for him, so don’t bother to look. His is one of the graves that the city magistrate back in the 1970’s wrote down when she did an inventory of the remaining headboards. It was not replaced when vandals destroyed many back in the late 70’s. His name was not on the Skagway Death Record either, so all that is left of him is the Magistrate’s record.
Of the 205 records of graves in the Gold Rush Cemetery that I have gathered over the years, there are only a few headboards and headstones left to view. Here is a good example of how folks who go to the cemetery and report on the graves, think they have the correct information when in fact, the headboards that were replaced had misspellings and wrong dates.
I am sure the same is true for other cemeteries in the country, but the Gold Rush Cemetery is probably one of the most visited ones in the world. On a summer day there are traffic jams of tour buses. The new walkway and modern outhouses are practical but oddly inappropriate for such a tiny cemetery. The commercialization and exploitation is sad. In the past few decades I can think of only one family that has replaced their ancestor’s headstone (Marshal Rowan). Why do families assume that others are caretaking their ancestor’s graves?
Well at least there is not an entrance fee such as the one in Tombstone Arizona!