Dr. Richard M. Allen

Dr. Richard M. Allen was in Skagway in the winter of 1897 as seen in the photo above. He is in the dark outfit leaning on the post. His descendent, Natalie Gohrband kindly allowed me to post this previously unseen family photo. Family lore says he died on a shipwreck at the Kuskokwim River in 1899, but it could have been on the Jessie which sank there in 1898. It was described in a book by Gordon Newell titled the Shipwrecks of 1899, so that may be the source of the confusion.

The Jessie swamped in turbulent water at the mouth of the Kuskokwim River on June 28, 1898. Rev. Welsh and 18 miners from the Columbia Exploration Company were believed to have been massacred by the Yupik Natives or lost in the wreck. One person, a trader called Ling survived and sent word to St. Michael of the shipwreck.



Ernest Harris

Corporal Ernest Harris signed up for the NWMP in Regina in 1893 and was sent to the post at Tagish on January 10, 1898. After two winters, he went to Skagway on leave in August 1899. It was paradise compared to Tagish. So, he decided he did not want to go back to Tagish. He became ill on March 15, 1900 so Dr. I.H. Moore did an emergency appendectomy on him. Luckily he survived that, but his NWMP Superiors in Tagish were not amused. So they sent Dr. Pare of the NWMP to Skagway to examine him, which he did, and reported that indeed, poor Harris could not travel.

Supt. Steele wanted him declared a deserter on April 6, 1900, but when he received a letter from Dr. Moore, he relented until May 29th when he said that unless Harris went to Tagish he would call him a deserter. On June 30th Harris finally returned to Bennett and Tagish at which time Steele had him examined by Dr. Pare.

So, in June 1900 Z.T. Wood finally declared him a deserter from August 26, 1899 which would prevent him from receiving pay from that time until 1900. What became of poor Harris, we don’t know, but if given the choice of spending another winter at Tagish or in Skagway, one can certainly sympathize.

library and archives Canada on the NWMP personnel records online.

H.M. Berge

Hjalmer Melachton Berge was born on November 22, 1896 in Ohio, one of 10 children born to Norwegian immigrants Olaf and Thilda. Somehow H.M. managed to attend college and graduate from medical school. He came to Skagway in 1923 and worked for White Pass as a surgeon. He later went back to Snohomish where he married Jeannette and had a child. In 1928 he was appointed the Snohomish County Health Officer but on April 10, 1933 he died of tuberculosis in the Laurel Sanatorium in Seattle. An occupational hazard for doctors I suppose back then. Washington records.

Dr. Samuel D. Cameron

Dr. S.D. Cameron was famous for attending the autopsy on Soapy here in 1898. He was fairly young at the time, 24, having come from Ontario where he was born in 1874. He came from a big Scottish family, his parents were from Scotland. He worked at Log Cabin in 1901. After the Skagway bank robbery in 1902, he examined the body of the dead bank robber and chaired the coroners inquest here. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1902 and applied for his physicians license in Washington state also in that year.
In 1917 he married Laura Bouillard in Yakima, she was 26 then and Dr. Cameron was 43. He died on August 19, 1922 in Yakima and is buried there.
In the picture above, I believe that the young bloke to the far right is Dr. Samuel D. Cameron.

Howard Clifford p 142; yukon genealogy; 1920 Yakima census; Washington marriage, licensing, emigration and census records.

Grit Grief and Gold

In 1933 Dr. Fenton B. Whiting wrote his account of the events in Skagway in 1898. He dedicated it to his friend Patrick Augustus Heney.
I was contacted recently by Ernie and Nancy Brace who found a copy of this little book in the estate of a Norwegian Homesteaders farm in North Dakota. They felt it belonged in Skagway and so mailed it to me to keep here in Skagway for reference. It will certainly be one of the items which we will feature in our new museum at AB Hall. The best part of this book is that it is personally inscribed by Dr. Whiting to his friend Austin Lathrop who he says was one of the beloved “makers of Alaska.”
So here for the first time ever viewed by the world is the inscription. He was 67 in 1933 when this book was published and he died in 1936, so this is from just before he died.

Dr. Emory Kniskern

Emory Leroy Kniskern was born on this day, October 3, 1868 in either Marne or Berlin Michigan. He attended the University of Michigan medical school to get his medical degree in 1895. He came to Skagway in the gold rush and signed death certificates in April of 1899. By November 1899 he was in Washington and married Cornelia “Nellie” Butler. He was a Captain in the Medical Corps at Camp Worden, Washington in World War One. He had two sons and moved back to Muskegon Michigan where he specialized as an oculist and aurist. Dr. Kniskern died in Michigan in 1946 at the age of 78.

Not having a good picture of Dr. Kniskern here is a photo of a guy with his faithful steed on the dock at Skagway.

Skagway death records of April 29, 1899; family search; Washington census 1910; Univ of Michigan online.

Leonard Scofield Sugden

Doctor Leonard Sugden was born in June of 1873 in Scotland. He first came north on a whaling vessel and practiced in Juneau. In 1897, he headed for the Klondike but had to winter at Marsh Lake, where he built a cabin and worked as a doctor for the NWMP. When the real gold rush began in 1898, he helped pilot boats through Miles Canyon and the White Horse Rapids. Dr. Sugden stayed in the Yukon. He was the inspiration for Robert Service’s poem, the Cremation of Sam McGee when Service heard of the story of Dr. Sugden hauling a corpse to Tagish and contacting the family in Tennessee to get permission to cremate the remains.
Sam Steele mentioned in his memoirs that Dr. Sugden once hauled a woman 100 miles on a sled to get her to medical help and safety.
Dr. Sugden married in 1906 and moved to the Kluane area where he mined, hunted big game and bought a Prizma movie camera. With it he produced, in 1915, a film called The Lure of Alaska which played to rave reviews across America and Europe.

The film includes shots from the Seattle harbor and along the coast of Alaska and features scenes of Juneau, Sitka, Skagway, a midnight baseball game in Dawson City, a caribou herd swimming in the river, and icebergs calving from glaciers. The movie also includes scenes of Sugden piloting a raft through the Whitehorse Rapids.

The New York Times in 1917 wrote:
“Seldom have nature pictures been such a combination of thrills and wild beauty. They are a notable accomplishment of the camera and Dr. Sugden’s nerve.”

Unfortunately, Dr. Sugden’s life of adventure ended suddenly in 1923 when he fell off a barge into the Stewart River near Mayo and drowned. He was 50 years old.

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin

The Idaho

The sidewheeler Idaho was built in 1860 by John J. Holland when he was only 17 years old. Holland went on to build many more steamships.
It is said that the state of Idaho was actually named after this ship!
Anyway, it ran on the Columbia River taking passengers and cargo through the tricky rapids for many years. Captain John McNulty took her up and down the river for many years and made lots of money for the Oregon Steam Navigation Company.
In 1881 she was completely rebuilt with a new hull and paddle wheels at a cost of $20,000. In 1882 she ran the mouth of the Columbia several times before getting through, which was quite a feat at that time. She then made the fastest time up to the Puget Sound ever recorded. She worked various routes in the Sound until 1894 when she was sold to the junk firm of Cohn & Cohn. They removed the machinery and sold her to Dr. Alexander DeSoto. He refitted her as a charitable hospital for the returning gold rushers who were maimed and sick.
After 38 years of work it was fitting that the little Idaho served the poor as a hospital for 11 years. After that she gradually fell apart and became part of the harbor of the growing city of Seattle. There is a plaque there that remembers Dr. DeSoto and the hospital.


William Henry Chase

William Chase was a “self-taught” doctor who was here in Skagway during the meningitis epidemic. I’m sure the doctors here could use all the help they could get. “Dr.” Chase then went to Cordova where he was elected 14 terms to Mayor.
He was a prodigious author: “the Sourdough Pot”, Burton Pub. Kansas City 1923; “Reminiscences of Captain Billie Moore” in 1947 and “Pioneers of Alaska” in 1951. He was a delegate in 1932 to the Republican caucus. He died sometime after that.
The image above is probably not his, but who knows?

Pennington page 330.

Howard Atwood Kelly

While perusing Jeff Smith’s book today I found a reference to a doctor that I had not previously known of in Skagway. He was writing in his journal on March 25, 1898 about the shell games on the Skaguay and Dyea trails: “The most prominent feature of the landscape is the activity of the shell-game men and thier cappers. How any one can be deceived by these crooks is a mystery, but many are. They look evil, and are evil. Great numbers lose heavily and a good many have had to give up their journey and turn back, all funds being lost…Shell-game tables extend from Dyea to Sheep Camp and one comes across them every hundred yards or so…”
Well, when I looked up Dr. Howard Atwood Kelly wasn’t I surprised to find that he is not only the founder of the modern science of gynecology, but also one of the four founders of the Johns Hopkins Hospital where he stayed until 1919! Turns out he is another hero who passed through Skagway. Kelly was born on February 20, 1858 in Camden, New Jersy and died on January 12, 1943 in Baltimore.