Ezra Meeker

Another great character, Ezra Meeker was born in a log cabin on the family farm in Huntsville, Ohio in 1830. He married Eliza and moved to Puyallup Washington by covered wagon in 1852. They had a hops farm in 1891 but then in 1892 a plague of hop lice struck the Pacific Coast, devastating crops. Meeker’s crop sold for a fraction of the expected price. He later wrote, “All my accumulations were swept away, and I quit the business — or rather, the business quit me.”

In 1896 Meeker traveled to Alaska, opening a store in Dawson and filing a mining claim. Despite four trips to the Klondike, he never found gold, however, in 1898 at the age of 68, he formed a company with George Cline and John F. Hartman to dry vegetables for soups, Mrs. Meeker helped dry the vegetables for the Klondike Venture. In the spring, Ezra went north with his son Fred over the Chilkoot Pass with 15 tons of dried vegetables and chickens. On one stretch of 2000 feet they paid $40 a ton for freighting. They went down the Yukon in a flatboat where Ezra fell in the White Horse Rapids. They sold potatoes, onions, chickens, sugar and condensed milk. Later they sold fresh vegetables that were brought up individually wrapped.

In 1901 Ezra Meeker left the Yukon and came home to stay, arriving two weeks before his golden wedding anniversary, but without the gold. He made four trips to the Klondike and had saved possibly $19,000, which he lost in the final mining enterprise. A deep freeze came a month earlier than usual and prevented his thawing the ground, and cut off water for sluicing. A later report stated that the mine he lost proved profitable.

Meeker worked for many years to preserve the famous Oregon Trail (it became part of the National Trails System in 2004). In October 1924, he flew over a portion of the trail in a single-engine, high wing Army Fokker T-2. By ox, Meeker made two miles per hour crossing the Trail in 1852 with his family. His plane flew the route at 100 miles per hour.

Ezra said he never spent even one day sick in bed during his entire 58-year marriage. He died on this day, December 3, 1928 in Seattle (of senility) and is buried in the city he founded, Puyallup, Washington. He is seen above shortly before his death, in 1928 with his Model-A Ford with covered wagon.

historylink.org; Klondike Stampeders Reg p252; Yukon site; Washington state records;

Regie’s potatoes

Reginald Genn was born in 1873 in England. When he was 14 he ran away from home and went up the Niger River in Africa where he came down with “Black Fever”. Fortunately a passing ship took him back to England where he apprenticed to his uncle on a sailing ship at age 17. He went around Cape Horn twice, the second time he jumped ship in San Francisco and made his way to Victoria where he met up with his sister and brother.
He worked there as a clerk, then moved to Trail, British Columbia where he ran a bakery restaurant and laundry. He staked some gold claims in 1897 in B.C. and with a bit of money in his pocket headed to Seattle where he purchased a sail boat with two Norwegians and then bought 30 tons of Yakima potatoes to use as ballast for the boat. That cost him $90. When he arrived in Skagway he sold the boat and sold the potatoes for $100 a ton. “All that glitters is not gold,” he used to say.

By June 1, 1898 he was at Tagish where he got a Canada Free Miner’s Certificate. A month later he was staking gold claims in the Klondike.
By 1905 he had returned to Victoria where he married and then set out for New Zealand to start a chicken farm, but when they arrived he changed his mind and they returned to Victoria. By 1908 he and his wife and son returned to Glasgow Scotland where he tried to convince relatives to emigrate to Canada. By 1911 they had returned to Victoria. Reginald Genn died on May 7, 1953 in Victoria and is buried at the Royal Oak Burial Ground.
The photo above is of Regie with his 1929 Coupe in Victoria.

Pennington; rootsweb Genn family website.

Captain Charles Constantine

On this day, August 11, 1897 Capt Constantine of the NWMP foresaw problems with the goldrush and instituted the requirement for each miner to bring 1000 pounds of supplies with him when crossing into the Yukon. An excerpt from Pierre Berton:

Despite the precautions enforced by the North West Mounted Police, there were many who made it to the Yukon without proper provisions. “[Charles] Constantine of the Mounted Police viewed the situation with foreboding. As early as August 11 [1897] he had written bluntly to Ottawa that `the outlook for grub was not assuring for the number of people here–about four thousand crazy or lazy men, chiefly American miners and toughs from the coast towns'” (p. 172). Company stores in the region were also aware of probable shortages. “The company clerks admitted only one man at a time, locked the door behind him as they would the door of a vault, sold him a few day’s goods, and sent him on his way. A man could have half a million dollars in gold–as many of them did–and still be able to buy only a few pounds of beans, but it was sometime before the newcomers could understand this. They found it hard to comprehend a situation in which gold by itself was worthless” (pp. 172-173).

Klondike Fever by Berton