Dr. John P. Brawand

Dr. Brawand AKA James P. Browand was a physician and surgeon at the Red Cross Hospital and the White Pass Hospital in Skagway from 1897 to his death, on this day, June 21, 1914. Brawand was born in Iowa in 1861 to Swiss parents but came to Skagway from Chicago.

In addition to being a doctor he was also a civil engineer and served on the Skagway City Council in 1910,1911, and 1912.

He had a child living with him in 1910 probably an orphan. He is buried in the Elks Cemetery which is above the Pioneer Cemetery.

Polks Gazateer, censuses, Skagway Death Record.

Charles Leroy Cartwright

Charles was born in Indiana in 1854 and came to Skagway around 1902. He married Elizabeth Abigail Deshamp and they had 5 boys born between 1903 and 1910: Claty, John, Frederick, Chester and Clarence. Claty died soon after he was born, but the other boys and Abby lived with Charles in a cabin near the railroad tracks at mile 6.5 between Denver and Rocky Point. The view from there is seen above. Must have been lonely for Abby and the boys because she left Charles after the 1920 census. She then remarried in Everett Washington in 1924.

Charles worked as the White Pass athletic club janitor and died on this day, June 20, 1931 in Skagway and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.

Censuses, Skagway death record, Washington records online.

George Joseph Rapuzzi Jr.

George Rapuzzi and his wife Teresa Maria came here from Seattle in the Gold Rush. They were both born in Genoa Italy, George in 1857 and Teresa in 1867 but had come to Minnesota in the 1880’s.
When they arrived here in Skagway they started several businesses including the Washington Fruit and Candy Store (located above between the Red Onion and AB hall), a cigar store, a grocery store, and the California Wine House. They and their children and grandchildren stayed here for decades. His sons George and Louis both worked as U.S. Marshals.

George died on this day, June 10, 1926 and is buried in the Skagway Pioneer Cemetery. His wife Teresa died in 1941 and is buried next to him.

In the past two years the “Rapuzzi Collection” was acquired by the Rasmuson Foundation and donated to the Municipality of Skagway which has in turn given parts and some properties to the National Park. Originally thought to be over 450,000 items, the actual number of items now numbers about 3,000. Hmmm. It sure would be nice to actually see some of these items before they are described and locked away in the city and park archives-far from the menacing crowd.

John Helmar Johnson

John Johnson was born in Sweden in 1869 and worked for White Pass as a laborer for many years. He died on this day June 8 1947 and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery. He has a stone marker which is the marker for finding the upper Elks Cemetery. If you stand at the Johnson grave and face the hillside then walk forwards you will find yourself on a small trail that leads to a hidden cemetery up the hillside. Many years ago I took this trail and when I found the graves up there I wondered who they were, and doing research found the stories about those people, which led me here, telling stories of forgotten souls who lived and died here in this little town.

George Clement Stanley

Happy Birthday to George born January 13, 1873 in California, maybe Albany where he had relatives when he registered for the World War One draft. He was a painter and a paperhanger here in Skagway in the 1920’s, and in 1920 he was living at the Golden North Hotel. He died here in 1925, possibly in the Golden North (ghosts anyone?) and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.

The picture above is the memorial that used to be at Inspiration Point along the train tracks, dedicated to the pack horses on the trail of ’98. The picture was taken in 1967, I’m not sure if the marker is still there or not.

The Tailor of Skagway

I first became interested in compiling the history of individuals in Skagway when I visited George Mowl’s grave in the Elk’s part of the Pioneer Cemetery (difficult to find without directions). His gravestone and the two stones on each side of him were vandalized years ago, so it was difficult to read them and so I decided to do some research.

Turns out, he came here from Ouray Colorado in the goldrush. He was a tailor born in England in 1840. He started a men’s clothing and tailors at 461 Broadway in Skagway with Mr. Ehrlich. He later started the first moving picture theatre here in 1915.

His wife Annie was a ladies tailor and she died in 1911. George then married another English lady, Mary Ann who came to America in 1918. George lived in Skagway over 20 years, and died on December 5, 1919 and was buried next to Annie. Mary Ann died in 1920 and was buried on his other side. He never had any children.

Bob Oscar Siegrud Selmer Jr.

I met Oscar when we first moved here in April 1998. I was walking down the street and he hailed me from his truck and asked if I needed a ride. I told him no, I was happy walking. I always regretted that, I should have ridden with him then and gotten to know him better than I did. Oscar was born on this day, November 25 1918 in Skagway. He spent most of his life here in Skagway working for White Pass, marrying and having children. After his first wife, Alice died he often visited her grave at the Pioneer Cemetery. Every Memorial Day for many years, Oscar would clean up around her grave, and those of other family members and old friends.

A few years later, Oscar met Judy Camp, a veterinarian whom he had befriended while hiking the trails and picking up trash. He took her with him when he decided to re-measure the width of the valley and tell the new editor his findings. Oscar and Judy also loved singing together and they were married in 1979.
After his White Pass years, Oscar never really retired. He served on the city council a time or two, and ran the senior citizens program for 11 years. He was proud of being “Mr. February” in the “Seniors on the Last Frontier 1988 Calendar,” and even prouder of his senior gold pass to Skagway School activities. He was a lifetime member of the Eagles and Elks, and a member of the Juneau Igloo of the Pioneers of Alaska. As Skagway’s longest living resident, he was called on in 1997 to unveil the Centennial Statue, along with members of the valley’s oldest family, the Dennis’s.
Late in life, with his health in decline, Oscar still liked to spend time on the benches downtown or riding around in his cart greeting friends and visitors. He entertained various writers and even joked with one last summer that he might not be home later because he bounced around town “faster than a fart on a skillet.”
If you caught up with him in a restaurant, he usually had an old photo in his pocket and a story to tell over many half cups of coffee. If he got your interest, he might bring along a prop for the next time he saw you.
He died in 2000 and is truly missed by me and many others.

from personal reminiscences and a 2000 “Skagway News” obit.