There is a wonderful story about Rebecca and Solomon Schuldenfrei. Their great great granddaughter tells it best and you can read it in its entirety by following the link below.
“Rebecca Schuldenfrei was born in 1863 near Krakow in the Austro-Hungarian empire. At a young age she immigrated to America and lived most of her life in New York. In 1897 her husband, Solomon decided to set out to the Klondike with a business partner in search of gold. As the trip rapidly approached, the partner decided he could not leave his business and backed out. Becci, concerned that her husband was not tough enough for the wilds of the Yukon, would not let him go off alone and decided to come along. The couple had three children and, in a move very uncommon to mothers of her day, Rebecca left them in the care of her sister and joined her husband as a partner on his adventure. Having never lived outside a city, both Sol and Becci had no way of knowing what kind of dangers they faced. They went for practical reasons: Sol’s business had not been very successful, but they must have had some sense of adventure or else they would not have taken all the risks they did. Most of what is known about Rebecca Schuldenfrei comes from the numerous letters she wrote to her sister and her children during the entire trip. Where these letters are quoted, her spelling and grammar is used. Whether what she says is completely accurate or whether it was appropriately filtered for her readers is unknown. What the letters definitely show is an incredible journey of a urban woman in the wilderness of the Yukon.
All the knowledge Becci and Sol could have had of the Yukon was gained from newspapers and stories. They brought what they guessed they would need, but they had no sure way of telling. They were outfitted by a company known as Cooper & Levy. Mrs. Cooper, wife of one of the owners, came out to the shop to see “the lady who goes to Klondike in a silk skirt” (Sept. 5, 1897). Becci was gaining a reputation. Sol had to be talked into buying a gun as the couple knew nothing about handling weapons. They had to buy a year’s worth of supplies which would end up costing them hundreds of dollars to transport. However, due to the enormous inflation in the Klondike, the more supplies one brought, the better.”
The one curious fact that I had from a different source was that Sol paid the Indian guides $700 to pack their canoe with Rebecca inside of it, over the Chilkoot Pass. What a guy!!!
“Having practically no money when they arrived, Becci decided to open a restaurant for a few months until her husband could get a claim. On October 19, Becci wrote, “Just at present things do not look so bright here as they are pictured in the newspapers…this beautiful Klondike is only good for very strong and hardworking miners, as any one, who is not brought up from childhood to the hardest kind of labor, is of no earthly use here.”
They are pictured above.
Fred Harte was born in 1839 in Northern Ireland and came to the Yukon in 1873. His party, with Arthur Harper, George Finch and Kinseller reached Fort Yukon from Canada by way of the Mackenzie, Peel, and Porcupine Rivers through the Chilkoot Pass in 1873. This well documented party is perhaps the first white party to cross the Chilkoot Pass. Harte later worked with McQueston and Mayo. All of these men were trappers who searched for furs but were at the beginning of the mining era when gold was discovered in the Yukon. All of these famous early explorers can have their own story told, but here we are celebrating Fred Hart. He was one of the charter member of the Yukon Order of Pioneers and served as the first Secretary for the Y.O.O.P. He died in November 1898 and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Dawson. Seen above are some members holding the banner in Dawson.
Robert Belcher was born on April 23, 1849 at London England. In 1868 and at the age of 19, he joined the 9th Lancers (Queen’s Royal) which was a cavalry regiment in the British Army and was assigned the rank of Trooper. He remained with the 9th Lancers until he departed to Canada and joined the new North-West Mounted Police on November 3, 1873. After serving three years he retired, but then reenlisted in 1885. When free time became available, Robert Belcher was actively involved in promoting sporting activities amongst the Force members. “In 1879 cricket was introduced at ‘G’ Division, Fort Saskatchewan by Sgt. Major Bobbie Belcher, a former English public school boy.” In 1897 he was selected to go to England for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Celebration The chosen members were all young, trim, handsome, 5’10” to 6’0” in height, average waist of 35 inches, average chest of 39 inches and most sported long waxed mustaches which were considered dashing at the time. He then served at the Chilkoot Pass that winter under Captain Z.T. Wood and later in Dawson (I wonder if they played cricket at the pass?). He then went to the Boer War in South Africa and served in Lord Strathcona’s Horse Regiment for which he was awarded the Companion Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George medal (he is circled in the photo above). He later served in the Alberta Dragoons and the 5th Cavalry Brigade and saw some action in World War One. He died suddenly on February 10, 1919. His son Perry Belcher also died in World War One at Passchendaele. (There is a very good movie by that name about that battle, I have it if anyone locally wants to borrow it.) Colonel Belcher Hospital in Calgary, Alberta is named for him. Honored in Places: Remembered Mounties Across Canada by Hulgaard and White, page 20.; www.rcmpveteransvancouver.com
Joseph W. Nee was born in 1885 in Washington Territory. His parents, John and Maggie were born in Ireland and emigrated about 1869 to Kentucky where their first son was born. After that, based on the kids birthplaces, they moved to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, back to Alabama, Oregon and finally Washington Territory. His father John must have had a bar because in 1886 he was convicted of running a gambling house and having minors present in Lincoln County Washington. Joseph was the 8th living child in 1887. They all must have worked hard on the farm and so, in the gold rush, Joseph, at age 13 helped to run the Hotel and Store at Sheep Camp half way up the Chilkoot Trail. He stayed in the Yukon until 1903.
By 1910 he was back in Lincoln County Washington with a general store, a wife, Goldie and two kids.
Seen above is the store and hotel, the label says it is Dyea, while other records say it was at Sheep Camp.
Lundberg; Yukon site; Fairbanks news list
On this day, March 14, 1898 Frank Clement of Hillsboro, Oregon was shot and killed at Sheep Camp, on the Chilkoot Trail by Colby Gottlieb Schneider of Howard County Maryland. It was reported that a lynching was averted by the actions of the officers involved and that the prisoner was in custody. There was no other information on this case but a Gottleb Schneider died in Oregon in 1937.
reported in various newspapers including the New York Times
Mae Field was born in Ramsey County Minnesota in 1873. Her birth name may have been Mary Lavinia Sullivan born June 20, 1873 in Ramsey but I can’t be sure. In any event, she was quite famous in the north. When she married Arthur Daniel Field in Hot Springs, South Dakota in 1897 she had already been married and divorced. Arthur was ten years older and had some wealth derived from bootlegging and brothels. The couple decided to go to Dawson to mine. They were able to get their mining equipment over the Chilkoot Trail, but lost most of it in Lake Lebarge in a storm. Arthur staked claims and got a liquor license, just in case the mining did not work out. Mae decided to return to balmy Minnesota for the winter. When she got to Skagway the only boat available was the somewhat dubious “Georgia” which she decided to take, despite no one else taking the chance. Her luck held, but on returning to Minnesota, her mother told her to go back to her husband. So she did. After many adventures and working as a nurse, a babysitter, and a dancer. She later had a rooming house, but she always seemed to live well and have money. She moved to Vancouver in 1911 after her husband left her and the Mounties found her in bed with an unmarried man. (Hmmm) Although they were never able to prove she was a prostitute, the Canadians imprisoned her for six months and told her to leave the country. She eventually settled in Ketchikan where she was living in the 1940’s helping the Sisters of Mercy, orphanages, friends and the poor.
Seen above, Mae Field during her Dawson days.
Good Time Girls of the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush by Morgan; Rebel Women of the Gold Rush by Mole; familysearch.
In 1898 Thomas Crahan and Robert K. Bonine, who worked for Thomas Edison came to Skagway and filmed a pack train at the Chilkoot Pass. The film shows eight loaded mules led by a man on horseback. Although it is only one minute long, filmed in summer, it is perhaps the earliest movie shot in this area. Seen above is a still from that film. Crahan went on to Dawson and did some filming there and then returned to Whitehorse to film rapids in 1900. The Klondike Exposition Company was organized by Edison and Thomas Crahan to make a filming expedition to the Yukon in order to produce films suitable for display at the Paris Exposition of 1900.