Alice Mason

Alice was born in September 1897 and died on this day November 16, 1898 and is buried in the vicinity of the Slide Cemetery with a large marble marker. She was only a year and two months old. The marker also is for presumably her 11 year old brother, John J. Mason who died the following June. Although there are other Native Masons buried nearby, there is no record of their family. Seen above is the marker, courtesy of Mike from

Wilbert Garfield Packard

There are records of a total of 98 people that died on April 3, 1898. All but three died in the avalanche on the Chilkoot Pass.
Wilbert Garfield Packard of Riverside California, born on this day, September 20, 1881 also died on that terrible day, but he died, along with two other men, of spinal meningitis. His marker in the Dyea Slide Cemetery says he was 16 years and 8 months old, the beloved son of Charles and Emma Packard of Los Angeles.

Packard family site on Genforum.

Jefferson “Red” Saling

Jeff Saling was born on this day, September 1, 1845 in Missouri. He came from Idaho with his two cousins Erwin Mickey and Wiley Anderson to Skagway. However the avalanche of April 3rd 1898 caught Jeff and he was one of the victims buried in the Slide Cemetery in Dyea.

Over the past 113 years, some of the headboards may have been replaced, but in any event, the headboard is wrong according to one descendant. It reads Jeff Saley from Weiser, Idaho but should instead read Jefferson Saling from Mann Creek Idaho. It would seem that his cousins would have given his home town since they were here, it is unlikely that someone here in 1898 would have come up with a name like Weiser.

The spelling of Saling could have morphed due to the lack of upkeep on the headboard.

So here is a perfect example of how unreliable wooden headboards are.

I have often thought that the descendants should be the keepers of their ancestors’ graves and markers. For the municipality to replace all 700 grave markers in the Gold Rush, Pioneer, and Slide Cemetery would be an expensive and difficult process. Fortunately, the descendant is considering making a new headboard as Marshal Rowan’s great granddaughter did last summer. She replaced it with a beautiful and completely appropriate marble marker which the city workers installed.

Seen above is the current marker.


There is a headboard in the Dyea Cemetery that simply says “Noscitur”. The first time I saw that it seemed like an odd name, but I found out later that it is a legal term which means “he is known by the company he keeps”.
The news report in the Dyea Trail on this day, May 7, 1898 started with “Someone has committed murder! ….Phil F. Hardesty found the dead body of an unknown man on Tuesday last. He hurried back to town and reported his discovery to Mr. W. S. Levens, by whom he is employed. Mr. Levens organized a party to bring the body to Dyea, the party consisting of Attorney McEnany, Theodore Houseworth, Ed Welch, Messrs. Hardesty and Levens, a teamster and a representative of the TRAIL. After an hour’s climb up the steep side of the mountain, a small bench of level land was reached, and there, stark and stiff, in the midst of the timber, lay the body of a man who had been shot either accidentally or purposely, by some hand other than his own. …

A careful examination of the wound was then made. It revealed the fact that the man had been shot from behind. The bullet had entered squarely in the back of the neck and had come out at the left side of the mouth, shattering the bones and flesh of the left jaw mercilessly. The man’s face, torn and covered with blood, presented a horrible and sickening sight.
Stooping over the body, one of the party remarked that evidently robbery was not the motive of the killing as the man’s watch was still in his pocket. That was the way it looked. The watch pocket in the man’s pantaloons was bulged out and shaped just exactly as it would be with a watch in, but when touched it gave evidence that while a watch had been there it had been taken.
The body was carefully wrapped in a large piece of canvas and tied to a pole. In this manner it was packed down the mountain, but only with great difficulty, several men with axes being required to cut a kind of a trail. The body was brought to Dyea and an autopsy performed by Dr. T. L. Price, who said the man had been dead from 24 to 48 hours,a nd that the wound had been made by a bullet of not less than 44-calibre, if not a 48. In the man’s pockets were found a Canadian $2 bill, a pocket knife, a match box, a box of 22 calibre cartridges, a small key tied to a piece of r..?.ou and three pieces of pilot bread. In a small purse secreted in the hollow of his [?] next to the flesh and tied just above the ankle was $80 in gold and greenbacks. He wore a black slicker-hat and striped mackinaw coat, a white and black checkered flannel shirt, blue overalls, and rubber boots. He weighed about 160 pounds, was muscularly built, about 5 feet 8 inches in hight, had bluish gray eyes, brownish black hair, sandy mustache and was between 35 and 40 years of age. It is judged that he was an Irish-American.”

So apparently an inquest was done and concluded that the man had come to his death as a result of a gunshot wound (duh!). Since no one came forward to collect the body presumably the $80 in gold and cash should still be in the sheriff’s office. Nope, missing….
Yep, things were getting bad at that time… bios noscitur; Dimitra Lavrakas for her insightful comment on legal terms.

Sophia Frederick Matthews

Sophia was the daughter of J. Frederick born in 1895 in Juneau. She married William Clarence Matthews, a Tlinkit who was a farmhand in Dyea at the turn of the century. Sophia died on this day, February 15, 1921 in Skagway and was buried in the Dyea Cemetery. Why she died at the young age of 26 is not known, but many women at that time died in childbirth or shortly thereafter. What we do know is that Mabel, her 8 year old daughter died in 1920 and Julia, her one year old daughter died a month later in April 1920. Perhaps she died of heartache. All three are buried in Dyea.
Some of the people buried in the Native Dyea Cemetery that was being washed away by the river about 10-15 years ago were relocated to the Slide Cemetery.

from rootsweb posting, Skagway News and Skagway Death record.