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