Arthur was the eighth child born to the Richards family in 1859 in Ohio. His older sister, Clara ran the post office in Dyea, a story which I wrote about earlier here. Apparently her two brothers were also here, Arthur and Daniel.
Arthur was appointed by the U.S. Commissioner to be U.S. Marshal for the Dyea District. In a letter he wrote:
“I have been over the trail to the headwaters of the Yukon several times, to arrest men for getting into rows – generally for using guns…The wonder to me is not so much that men die but that any can survive the hardships. So much packing in mud and wading waist deep in ice-cold water, right from the glaciers above. A good many give up their outfits here for what they can get, and return home. ”
One descendent said that family lore has it that Arthur was responsible for laying the first telephone line from Dyea to the top of the Chilcoot Pass. That would have been during the 1897-98 time as there were several tramways built at that time also. They had better communication then than now, even cell phones don’t always work on the trail today.
He also said ” It is a pleasant trip up here from San Francisco except that accommodations are limited, and while the excitement keeps up the ships will be overcrowded. The steamer I came on, the Mexico, sank on her return trip in 200 fathoms of water and everything lost but the passengers.” this would have been in August 1897 because I found the following article:
The Alaska Searchlight of August 14, 1897 reported on the wreck of the Steamer Mexico: “near the end of Dixon Entrance. The steamer was southbound when it ran upon some hidden rocks at 4 o’clock on the morning of the 6 th . The rocks stove a big hole in the bottom of the boat, but luckily there was not freight on board and the bulkhead compartments of the boat kept it afloat for about two hours, when it finally sank in 100 fathoms of water. The shock caused confusion on board and passengers were thrown from their berths. In a few minutes, however the officers quieted down the passengers while the crew quickly launched the boats and every passenger was transferred from the sinking ship. The hand baggage belonging to passengers was taken from the ship and it is reported that the mail was taken off, although it is not definitely known. There were one hundred persons on board….”
1900 census; Daily Alaskan 3/13/1900 (in 2001 Skagway News); Skagway Museum record; CA death rec; Photo and letter courtesy of Diane Richards Design. Information and updates courtesy of Glenn McKinney – many thanks!
Two weeks after Kennicott died, Frank Ketchum who was appointed by Kennicott to carry on the exploration, left Nulato with LeBarge and continued up the Yukon. Ketchum was from St. Johns, New Brunswick, Canada and was one of the few original white explorers of the Yukon. He served on the expedition with Kennicott who we met yesterday and is pictured above with Michael LeBarge and the English artist Frederick Whymper (middle). Some records say that Ketchum came to Dyea in 1865 with George R. Adams, it is quite possible as these guys seemed to be everywhere in Alaska and the Yukon. They were made of tougher stuff, methinks.
Adams: Life on the Yukon; Buckley: “Journal of the U.S. Russo-American Telegraph Expedition 1865-67, microfilm at UAF;
Though I do not know the owner of the Glacier Hotel in Dyea, here is a nice picture of it, with lots of stuff in the foreground.
The first Postmaster (then called Postmistress) was appointed in 1897 in Dyea by President McKinley. That, curiously was a 51 year old woman who came up to Alaska from Boise, Idaho. Clara and her brothers Daniel and Arthur Allen Richards were from a large family. The 8 kids were all born in Middleburg, Ohio to their farmer father and mother, but they had moved to Idaho sometime in the late 1800’s. When the three siblings got to Dyea, Arthur Allen was appointed Deputy Marshal and Daniel was involved in some business.
The real story here was the scandal involving the Dyea post office. While Clara no doubt was working as hard as she could, the post office was a 14X20 cabin that by all accounts was deplorable. On most days the line stretched far and away with 300-400 men hoping to send and receive mail. Clara’s rule was that no man could ask for mail for any more that 2 people. So if a guy came down to get mail for his 8 companions, it would take him all day to get mail. The amount of mail going North from Seattle was stupendous: 8 steamers full per month docked in Dyea. One steamer alone carried 4000 pieces of mail.
Some men wrote to the Postmaster General in Washington that her volunteers were charging 10 cents a letter to patrons. Clara was accused of slackness and inefficiency as well as graft. It was charged that Clara knew about this, but she countered that it was impossible to do the job without additional funds and assistance from government officials in Washington. So the line stretched for hundreds of feet every day. Seen above is the Dyea post office, but I could not find a photo of Clara.
Clara Richards never married and died on December 28, 1928 at the age of 81 in Boise. She is buried in the Morris Hill Cemetery.
Jackson Family website; familysearch; a Marcuse letter of July 6, 1901 called the “Weekly Philatelic Era”; Klondike Saga: The Chronicle of a Minnesota Gold Mining Company By Carl Ludwig Lokke
This photo of John H. Worick’s Bookstore in Dyea shows that he was also a real estate agent. The sign at the right says
Lot with 2 tory house Price $1500-
Cor(ner) lot on Trail 50 X100 ft. $350-
Cor. lot on Main St 24 X 100 Price $250-
Lot with house on river $375-
Lot 25 X 100 on Main St $150 (?)
T.L 8 (?) Cookstove $15
Lot 50 X 100 on Main St. $1250
Lot 25 X 100 on Main St $600
20 DOGS for sale cheap
leave orders for freighting to Sheep Camp
Tent 18 X 60 (?) feet
Lot on River St 50 X 80 with log house
25 ft. lots (?)”
Presumably that is Mr. Worick standing to the left, slightly out of focus, no doubt ready to run to his next deal…..say, that house on the river for $375 sure sounds tempting….
John H. Worick was born February 18, 1846 in Stephenson, Illinois to a big family, he was one of 13 children. He stayed in Dyea into 1899 and then must have returned to the mid-west where he died January 25, 1911 in Greenleaf, Kansas.
Obituary of his father in 1903 in Monroe Weekly Times; rootsweb family information;
“Spanish Pete” was born in 1857 in Noya, Spain and came to Skagway in the gold rush. He worked as a mail carrier in Dyea in 1900 but had came to Alaska in 1896. In 1903 he beat up Joe Lee, a Tlingit native because he lived next door. The Daily Alaskan article from April 28, 1903 reported that “Spanish Pete had beat up an Indian named Joe Lee on April 27 at Dyea after he discovered Lee near a house that the Indian had recently purchased but which Pete considered his own….Spanish Pete regards Dyea as his own private preserve and resents visits from Skagway as an invasion of his rights. When Lee denied Pete’s ownership and refused to vacate the property, the latter struck him with a four-foot club which he continued to wield vigorously until help arrived.”
Thomas Thornton states in his ‘Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Ethnographic Overview and Assessment’ on page 211: “Native families who had traditionally harvested and smoked fish at Dyea returned to their camps to do so, often complementing traditional subsistence harvesting with cultivated gardens. However, some returnees were intimidated by whites attempting to exercise control over the area.”
The Lee family lived in Haines but had a smokehouse along the river in Dyea where they would smoke coho and dog salmon. They would also gather highbush cranberries there on the flats where it was much easier to collect than in the brush. Coho salmon eggs were mixed with gray currants and cranberries to make kanigul (“paint”) a local delicacy. The Lee family would also cut birch to sell to the railroad for fuel.
1900;Klondike Nugget 6/10/1900; Thornton page 211
William Steele was the postmaster in Dyea and had quite alot to deal with in 1898. Not least of which was Mrs. Sarah Rowley who attempted to shoot him because she thought he had stolen their goods.
Although she was arrested for the attempted murder of postmaster Steele in Dyea on June 12, 1898, she was later released on insanity. She and her husband, H. Campbell Rowley worked as packers on the Chilkoot Trail. They had lost their outfit when the SS Corona went down, and then their replacement outfit was also lost.
No wonder she went crazy!
When I worked at the Skagway Post Office in 1998 I encountered a number of irate and irrational people at the window who also thought I was hiding their mail. I remember one man who could not believe that his package, sent from Florida the day before, was not in Skagway since it had been sent priority! Another local man would scream at us if his Wall Street Journal was not in his box at 8 am, despite the fact that mail arrives by small airplane, and in huge bags, and weather permitting. So we would upend all the mail, look for his paper and make a special delivery to his box to avoid the commotion. Well all those postal workers that I worked with are retired now and the screaming man – well he died shortly thereafter of hypertension as I recall…..
New York Times 6/17/1898; Skagway Museum Record