Arthur O’Leary

O'Leary 1898

I recently received some original photos of Mr. O’Leary’s cabin and compadres on the trail. It is near Mirror Lake, which I don’t immediately have access to the exact location. I will post these here along with a photo of Mr. Arthur O’Leary in 1898 as he prepared to come to the Klondike. He was only 24 years old and full of the Irish heritage of adventure and hard work – don’t I know about that from my own family!

Anyway, here is his story as told by his great grand-daughter, Jeanie Decker:

After their father’s death in 1897, Arthur O’Leary (born 1874 in Illinois) and his younger brother Richard (born 1876) were the only remaining members of their family. While Richard was attending Knox College, Arthur headed west. In 1898, Arthur went to Alaska. According to his obituary in an Illinois paper, “With Ben. W. Alcott, lately governor of Oregon, and also a hometown boy, he went into the Klondike and with two other men built the first cabin on the Yukon, being on the inside, when the Gold rush occurred in 1898.”
Arthur returned from Alaska in Aug, 1899. Arthur returned to Illinois and then, with his fiance Frances Cornell and his brother Richard, left Illinois and moved to Denver, where Arthur and Frances were married in 1900. Arthur and Richard mined in Colorado for a several years. By 1910, Arthur and Richard had moved on to the La Cienega Mine in Mexico, while Frances and her daughter roomed in El Paso. I don’t know if Arthur got caught up in the Mexican Revolution, but he sent his daughter a postcard of the troops entering Juarez with a cryptic message: “This picture was made possible by about 50 Americans but am afraid next time they will be against rather than with them as I think some time in the near future there will be trouble from another source.” (Odd thing to write to a 6 year old!)
By 1920, Arthur, Frances, and their daughter had moved to Placerville in California, where he would mine for the rest of his life. (Richard would remain in El Paso, mining in the south, until his death in 1952.) I still have two of Arthur’s mining claims from El Dorado County. Arthur died in Placerville in 1932 of a heart attack. His obituary included: “Mr. O’Leary has been active in the mining industry, from Alaska to New Mexico. At the time of his death interested in a number of mining properties including the one he was working on at the time of his death. During his long residence in El Dorado county he had attained a position of unique province among members of his chosen profession and in other lines of endeavor by his cheerful dispositon and stong character.”
The “Ben W. Alcott” mentioned is Ben W. Olcott, who was also from Keithsburg IL and became governor of Oregon in 1911. “

New Photos of Governor Wilford Bacon Hoggatt!

Anne Cripps, granddaughter of former Alaskan Governor Wilford Bacon Hoggatt has graciously sent us these three new family photos all taken in 1905 at the Jualin Mine. Hoggatt  was part owner in this mine. In one, he is standing in front of his cabin.  In another it looks as though he’s wearing his Navy uniform; the man with him is someone named Alfred Nadeau. In the third photo, he is in the center, but  no identification for the other two gentlemen.

Many thanks for these great family photos, previously unseen by the public!



John Weir Troy

Governor Troy was born on this day, October 31, 1868 in Dungeness Washington.

John Troy came to Skagway with his wife Minerva on August 19, 1897 as a correspondent for a Seattle paper and stayed in Skagway until poor health caused him to return to Washington. John returned with Minerva to Skagway in 1898 and managed a pack train taking supplies over the White Pass. His daughter Helen was born in Skagway in 1899 and daughter Dorothy was born in 1901, although it is unclear if she was born in Skagway or in Washington. The Troy family moved back to Seattle, Washington in 1907.

While in Skagway, John joined the Arctic Brotherhood. He was also the city auditor, the city clerk from 1900-1901 and was the Vice President of Chamber of Commerce. He was the publisher of the Daily Morning Alaskan from 1899-1904.

John moved back to Alaska in 1913 with Helen and Dorothy to be editor of the Daily Alaska Empire in Juneau. He purchased the newspaper in 1914. While visiting Seattle in 1916, John Troy married Mrs. Ethel Crocker Forgy, formerly superintendent of schools in Seward and also a licensed embalmer. The couple continued to live in Juneau, where in addition to being the manager and editor of the Daily Alaska Empire, John Troy was also Collector of Customs for the District of Alaska from 1919 until 1922.

He was active in politics and was elected Governor of Alaska from 1933-1939. He died in 1942 in Juneau and is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery.

1905 directory; 1900 census (listed as Tosy);Juneau Genweb;1909 AB book,Gold Rush participants website; Minervas papers online at Alaska Archives.

Thomas Robert Edward McInnes

Thomas McInnes was a son of Dr. T R. McInnes, a Senator, and subsequently Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.

Tom was born at Dresden, Ontario, October 29th, 1867. He graduated in 1889 from the University of Toronto. In December 1868, he married and shortly afterwards registered as a student-at-law. He was called to the Bar, in 1893.

In 1896-7 Tom McInnes was Secretary of the Behring Sea Claims Commission. But in August of 1897 until sometime in 1898 he was a member of the Yukon special police and customs force at Skagway. I have read that the Mounties in Skagway were dressed at first and then later not in uniform because it offended locals. (Z.T. Wood, another NWMP stationed in Skagway stated that he once hit the floor of his office when shots were flying in the street, so apparently they did have an office here also.)

In 1898-1900, the ever-natty McInnes was private secretary to his father, the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia. In 1907, he officiated as secretary of the British Columbia Salmon Fisheries Commission. McInnes died in 1951 in Vancouver, B.C.

McInnes was a poet in the manner of Robert Service. He wrote three volumes of poems: Rhymes of a Rounder, Lonesome Bar and Amber Lands between 1909 and 1913. Here are four lines from “Damozel of Doom”:

” My soul!–a skeleton!–
A rattling little thing,
Twined itself about me
As close as it could cling!”

Minter page 134; Skagway Museum Record.
for more of his corny poetry go to:

Thomas Christmas Riggs Jr.

Happy Birthday to Thomas Riggs, third governor of Alaska. Riggs was born on this day, October 17, in 1873 in Ilchester, Maryland. He attended good schools and graduated from Princeton in civil engineering in 1894. The Riggs family moved to Washington state and was involved in the lumber business. Thomas came to Skagway in 1897, joined the Arctic Brotherhood, was a U.S. Surveyor, and owned the Dyea Lumber Company. Hmmm, no conflict of interest there.

He then unseccessfully prospected for gold in Dawson and Nome before heading south to Idaho. He found politics more rewarding presumably and was appointed to the U.S. Boundary Commission in 1903 and soon become the United States Engineer-in-Charge. During this effort, his team surveyed the United States-Canada boundary from the Pacific to Arctic Oceans, placed boundary markers, and cleared wooded areas to provide a clear line of sight between markers. (What became of the lumber I wonder?)

After that, President Wilson appointed him to the Alaska Railroad Commission during which time he oversaw the building the Alaska Railroad. President Wilson then appointed him the third Governor of Alaska in 1918.
During his governorship he saw the 1918 flu epidemic arrive in Alaska and made efforts to stop it, but to no avail. The flu wiped out entire villages and left hundreds of native orphans.
When Harding was elected President, Riggs left the governorship and Governor Bone was appointed. Riggs then left Alaska and moved to New York and finally Washington D.C. where he died in 1945 at the age of 72.

Wikipedia; NPS records; WW1 Registration; 1909 Arctic Brotherhood membership book.  Below is a picture of him in Dyea (picture from an ebay posting)

Riggs in Dyea

John Harte McGraw

Born on October 4, 1850, in Penobscot County, Maine, John McGraw arrived in Seattle in 1876 broke and friendless. While growing up in Maine, McGraw’s father drowned, his mother remarried, and he found himself running a general store at age 17. He arrived in Seattle from Maine during the 1870s at the age of 26, and got a job as a clerk in the Occidental Hotel. He joined Seattle’s tiny police force and that was the beginning of his successful Pacific Northwest career in law enforcement, business, and politics.

John McGraw’s Seattle police job was occasionally exciting. Those young years, the wide-open town saw the toleration of a certain level of lawlessness. On January 17, 1882, businessman George B. Reynolds was threatened by two armed men as he walked down the street. Reynolds refused to cooperate with the robbers and was fatally shot in the chest. Reynold’s murder aroused Seattleites who caught the suspects and turned them over to authorities.

A mob formed, demanding custody of the accused. Seattle Chief of Police McGraw and King County sheriff Lewis Wykoff (1828-1882), both of whom were armed, held firm, but the next morning at the preliminary hearing the mob grabbed the prisoners and hanged them from two maple trees in Occidental (Pioneer) Square. Then they returned to the jail, extracted another prisoner, and hanged him as well. (Wykoff died suddenly of heart disease two days later.)

John McGraw ran for governor in 1892 with the slogan “Build the Lake Washington Canal and Build it for 1893.” (Ground was broken for the canal in 1911 and it opened for navigation on May 8, 1917.)

During his term as governor, McGraw was considered “a zealous friend of the University of Washington,” leading the effort to purchase a tract of land for $28,313.75 that became catalyst for the future campus. The cornerstone of the first building was laid during ceremonies on July 4, 1894.

Similar to many Pacific Northwesterners, McGraw was bitten by the “gold bug” following the July 17, 1897, arrival from Alaska of the steamship Portland with its “ton of gold.” Following his term as governor, and a spell of ill health, McGraw headed north as a first class passenger aboard the famous Portland on her return trip to Alaska. He arrived in Skagway in 1897. In 1900, he returned without striking it rich, but wiser and in better health.

John McGraw died on this day, July 23, 1910 in Seattle. After his death, a bronze statue of him, made in Paris by sculptor Richard E. Brooks, was erected in Seattle’s Times Square.