Weston’s carrier pigeons

In 1898 everyone had their own scheme to get rich, and not everyone was goldrushing!

The Seattle Post Intelligencer sent a man on the “Portland” three days after the historic arrival in Seattle.  Samuel P. Weston’s idea was to bring cages filled with carrier pigeons to Skagway and send them south to deliver his reports. Apparently they were all lost on their way south, poor things, they couldn’t make the 1500 mile trip.  Seen above is the Portland.


Eccentric Seattle by J. Kingston Pierce, p. 120

Marion D. K. Weimer

Mr. Weimer was born in August 1853 in Ohio. He married Ella J. Tribby in 1879 in Trenton, Iowa and had a son named Howard L.

M.D. K. as he preferred to be called, and Ella were both teachers. In 1897 with so many other goldrushers, M.D.K. came to Alaska and settled in Eagle where he was the editor of the Eagle Reporter in 1898. He returned to Ohio by 1900 and then the family moved to Nebraska and then on to Los Angeles. Their son worked as a linotype printer in Alhambra and married there.

In 1903 he wrote a book called “The True Story of the Alaska Gold Fields” which can be found online for sale.  He died on February 2, 1931 in Los Angeles.

In May 2009 ice and floodwaters swept away more than 100 years of history with the destruction of Eagle Village. The small log cabins that had once populated the long-established community known as Ninak’ay to the Han people lay strewn along the banks of the Yukon River. The homes, which had been handed down from one generation to the next, were demolished. But now, three years later, a new village stands three miles away on higher ground, safe from floods. Seen above was one of the destroyed cabins from the gold rush.

familysearch; Yukon the Last Frontier by Melody Webb p. 137; 1900-1940 censuses; Rootsweb database of Iowa cemeteries; Alaska Gold Rush History of Alaska Newspapers; Fairbanks Daily News.

Oscar W. Dunbar

Happy Birthday to Oscar Dunbar, born on the day, March 6, 1849 in Salem Oregon. In 1878 he married an English lady, Mary Agnes Thomas in San Francisco and they settled in Oregon. Their daughter Clara Agnes was born in Portland in 1881.
They all came to Skagway in 1898 and Oscar published the Alaska Travelers Guide and was the publisher of the Skagway Daily Alaskan from 1899 through 1900 when his daughter took over the publication of the paper until 1904 or so.
They moved back to Pendleton, Oregon where Oscar died in 1904.

The Skagway Alaskan newspaper is published in Skagway today (resurrected in 1978 by Jeff Brady). Copies are given to each passenger that gets off a cruise ship in summer by local “newsies” dressed in period costume. That newspaper has interesting stories of Skagway as well as advertisements and coupons. In addition, there is another real newspaper that is published every two weeks which details the drama of life in Skagway. Available at the News Depot bookstore for only $1, the police blotter and the Heard on the Wind sections are always worth the price!

Seen above are the “newsies” that distributed the original paper.

1900 census;1902 directory;family chron; Haigh; familysearch.

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.

E. Leroy Pelletier

Mr. Pelletier came to Skagway from New York in 1897 to cover the Gold Rush. In addition to being a newspaperman, he was also a journalist. He was a man possessed of a small body, a large head, and nervous energy that was electrifying. As a newspaperman, he covered the Klondike stampede for The New York Times.
His dispatches to the Times, covering the period 1897 to 1900, provide enthralling reading: he narrated tales of precautions against starvation, delays due to selfishness, preventing a corner in supplies, smallpox comes to camp, getting ready for the greenhorns, pistols drawn many times, large loss of life and a murder, no time for legal trials. Sounds like an adventure movie.

Working for Henry Ford, first as a consulting engineer and later when it was obvious he was considerably more adept with words than machines, Pelletier worked as Ford’s private secretary and advertising manager.
He preferred the title “publicity engineer.” That he was. A brilliant intellect matched with a vivid imagination, he could think even faster than he could talk, and his conversation was routinely described as “rapid-fire.”

His September 5, 1938 Detroit obituary follows:
“E. Leroy Pelletier, 72, advertising manager for Henry Ford, died Sunday.
Pelletier was a former newspaperman who covered the Klondike Gold rush. He designed the first four-cylinder air-cooled automobile at the turn of the century and was president of the company which built his automobile the “Duquesne”.
Tales of Klondike veterans told how Pelletier, the energetic New York reporter, organized the “Jackson Money Exchange” and reputedly sold, through the agency, a third of the Klondike region.
Surviving Pelletier are his widow, Gertrude; 2 sons and a daughter; a brother Frank (Pelkey) of Vancouver,BC. Pelletier was a native of Houlton, Maine.”

In the fall of 1897 he founded the Yukon Telephone and Telegraph Company in Dawson w/big Alex McDonald.

photos from 1897-98: online from Tappan Adney; rootsweb; p206 The EMF co.book by Yanik

George T. Ulmer

George established the first printing plant in Skagway in 1898. He then moved to Dyea and published the “Dyea Trail” on January 12, 1898 for a few months. It was a weekly paper until his death on this day, March 1, 1899 in Juneau. He is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery there. Ho-hum.

Evergreen Records; obituary of brother Charles in Olympic, WA.

Governor John Franklin Alexander Strong

The Guv got his start here in Skagway in 1898 as editor of the newspaper and participant in the famous “Committee of 101” who stood up to the Soapy Gang. He moved to Juneau after that and remained there for many years, succeeding Governor Clark who resigned in 1913.

He was born on October 15, 1856 in New Brunswick Canada and married in 1896 in Salt Lake City. His wife, Annie Hall, was 20 years his junior and worked as his reporter for Skagway Newspaper. He died in 1923 at the age of 73 in Seattle of a heart attack.

Lois Hudson Allen

Happy Birthday to Lois Hudson Allen born September 28, 1878 in Fredonia Kansas and came to Alaska in 1922 (the picture above is the women’s curling club in 1922 in Skagway).
In Colorado she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and to not be a burden on her sons she moved to Alaska. She was an editor in Colorado and so when she moved to Skagway published a newspaper here in 1936-38 called the Skagway Cheechako. She later moved on to Moose Pass Alaska where she died in 1948.

for more on her read: More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Alaska Women
By Cherry Lyon Jones