Vernette Allis Longuet – First Teacher in Skagway 1898


Vernette Allis was born on July 6, 1867 in Elyria, Ohio. Her father, Spencer Franklin Allis was a farmer. He and his wife Elizabeth Kales,  had two sons and two daughters. She moved out west to Washinton and on June 28, 1892 she married Maxine L. Longuet in Seattle, King County, Washington.  They had a son, Louis Leonard Longuet born 1 Sep 1893 in Seattle, Washington who registered for the draft in both WW1 and WW2 and died January 12, 1958 in Portland, Oregon.

In 1898 the little family came to Skagway and Vernette was the first teacher in a little cabin against the hill according to a photo in the Edith Feero collection of photos in Washington. Her Husband, Max, entered the Yukon in May 1898, and presumably she stayed here in Skagway with little Louis to teach. They returned to Oregon after the gold rush and Mr. Longuet died in 1950 and Vernette died on June 1, 1955 in Marion, Oregon.  Above is a picture of her as a baby in 1867, hope to find a later pic sometime.

She wrote a book called “My trip to Alaska in ’98” which I have not seen, but would be very interesting.



Puget Sound Regional Archives; Edith Feero photo collection Washington Digital Library; Family Search for 1875 NY census; Rootsweb contribution by Kathy Gies;

Liquor, Schools and Boardwalks

In the spring of 1915 the Women’s Temperence Movement in Skagway was staging parades and demonstrations to encourage the townsfolk to vote “dry” in the upcoming election. The Daily Alaskan on May 25, 1915 stated that the town had just spent a lot of money to put in new sidewalks (presumably boardwalks) and that without the $4000 in liquor license taxes there may not even be enough money to fund the school. So, the town voted to be “wet” but that did not last for long. On November 7, 1916 the state voted to go “dry”. The saloons were given a year of grace, until January 1, 1918. But on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1917 the saloons bit the sawdust in every small town in Alaska including Skagway. This was a shock not only to the liquor interests but to everyone who only a year earlier had voted to go “wet”. Of the 16 incorporated towns in Alaska in 1916, 5 had no property tax and depended on the tax on liquor licenses to fund the town. So after that, presumably, Skagway initiated a property tax to fund the boardwalks and the school. Skagway has always been the port for the Yukon and liquor has always been one of, if not the, largest import. I do not know how the Yukoners got their liquor during that decade because it could not have come through here – or could it have? Seen above are the happy ladies of the W.C.T.U. in Skagway in 1915.

Lois Butt

Miss Lois Butt was a teacher in Skagway in 1915. I found reference to her in Nampa Idaho around the same time where they said she was a “tall red-headed old maid who was very stern”.
The picture above is a group of Skagway ladies in 1915 who were involved in the temperence movement. My guess is that Miss Butt is one of them. In my opinion they all look kinda frightening!
“Good morning Miss Butt!”

1915 Directory

Mary Wheeler Bagg Clemenger

Mary Wheeler Bagg was born in October 1857 in Ohio. She and her husband came to Skagway in 1898 from St. Paul Minnesota. Mary was a music teacher.
Her husband Matthew B. Clemenger owned the Arctic Brotherhood Hall, was the President of the Home Power Company, managed the Dewey Hotel and was an assistant Postmaster in 1900.
Their names in the online 1900 census are incorrectly transcribed as Clemens.
She died on this day, October 15, 1902 of heart failure at the age of 45 and was buried in the gold Rush Cemetery. Oddly her headstone says she was 40. Perhaps her husband did not know how old she really was.

1900 census;1902 directory; Skagway Death record

Matthew M. Sundeen

The Sundeen family came to Skagway in 1898. Matthew was a master mariner and had a steamship business as well as being a quartz miner. His wife Ida ran the Pearson and Sundeen laundry. Matthew was born in 1866 in Sweden and married Ida Louella Crosier in Oregon in 1892. They had three daughters, Carrie, Lucille Loraine and Etta who was born here in Skagway in 1903. Mrs. Sundeen died in 1914 at the age of 38 in Portland but Matthew stayed in Skagway for many years and died on this day, September 9, 1941 and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.

Just prior to his death in 1941, Sundeen wrote an article that appeared in The Fairbanks Daily News. Back in 1898, Sundeen said he was in the hardware store opposite the Juneau Wharf and had been first on the scene when he looked out to see Smith and his gang confront Tanner and the boys. He remembers Reid’s revolver failing to fire three times, as Smith fired four shots into the surveyor. Then he watched Jesse Murphy struggle with Smith, trying to wrestle the Winchester away from him before he killed anyone else. In the process, Smith shot and killed himself. Well, enough people had remembered seeing Reid kill Soapy through the years to put into question one old miner’s 43-year-old memory.

Sundeen claimed no one else but him, Smith, Reid, Tanner, Murphy and Landers were on the wharf approach when the killing occurred. Further he claimed that Tanner, Murphy and Landers all agreed to lie to the officials to let Reid think he’d died a hero. Who knows, the story has a certain amount of credibility. I have tried to find record of what became of Jesse Murphy, but with such a common name, he disappeared after 1898. Certainly White Pass who employed Jesse Murphy had much to gain from the end of all the lawlessness in Skagway.

Here is picture of the schoolkids in 1906 in front of the school, no doubt Carrie, Lucile and maybe even Etta are here.

censuses; familysearch; Fairbanks Daily News.

Ellen Kendell Rogers MacMillan

On this day, February 18, 1991 Mrs. MacMillan, a schoolteacher in Skagway in the early part of the 20th century, died in Washington. She was born in 1902 in Skagway, the daughter of Minor Ellsworth Rogers, a White Pass carpenter who came to Skagway in 1897 and stayed until his death in 1958. Ellen’s husband was John Roderick MacMillan. They both died in Redmond Washington.
Ellen is not to be confused with Elma Kyle McMillen who was also a long time schoolteacher in Skagway from 1960-1981. Elma passed away in Whitehorse in 2002.

Margaret Keenan Harrais

Happy Birthday today to Margaret Keenan born in 1872 in Batesville, Ohio.
She came to Alaska about 1902 and was the Principal at the Skagway School from 1914-1916. Skagway had a school from the earliest days until today. One large photo in the visitor center from 1906 shows about 100 children from kindergarten through highschool, which is about the same number as we have today in 2009. She later became Mrs. Harrais and was politically active supporting the statehood of Alaska. She died in Glenallen in 1964. The picture above is from 1901.

From Remarkable Alaskan Women by Jones