3rd Infantry

The 3rd Infantry arrived in Skagway in July 1904. I only have a few records of men from that who were here: Private Curtis Hubbard (who was convicted for forgery), Quartermaster William Payne Jackson, Captain Charles Dwyer, Captain John W. Barker, James W. McAndrew, Lt. Samuel C. Orchard, and Col. Thomas Childs Woodbury.
However, there was one man, John Woods, who was quite freaked out by the thought of coming to Alaska with his regiment. This is from the Cincinnati Times Star of June 30, 1904:

“The departure of the Third regiment of infantry from Ft. Thomas, [Arizona] for Alaska was the cause of one of the Soldiers attempting to commit suicide. The regiment left Ft. Thomas on the 20th inst. for San Francisco, from which place they will sail July 2 for Alaska. Some of the soldiers of the regiment did not like to be stationed in the far North, but the most of them accepted the orders to leave in soldierly manner. John Woods of Company D of the Third infantry, however, brooded over the matter until he thought life would be unbearable in Alaska and that death here would be better, and not wishing to have the dishonor of being known as a deserter, attempted to commit suicide. His attempt at self-destruction occurred in the Grand Canon (sic) of the Colorado river in Arizona on the Santa Fe train, which was bearing the regiment to San Francisco. The train had stopped at a little station by the name of Canon Diable when, taking the razor, which is issued to all soldiers, he attempted to cut his throat. Comrades prevented him from succeeding in his attempt. It is thought that he will recover.”

Skagway Museum Rec; “Duty Station Northwest” by Lymon L. Woodman; Cincinnati Times online.

Shot at Lake Lindeman

There are several stories told of the shooting death of John Matthews. In one version his name is Frank Matthews, but the story is basically that while trying to move their load of supplies on Lake Lindeman, John and his father lost the load in the lake. After losing the load, he either accidently shot himself with a rifle or committed suicide. One version was that he was the former sheriff of Puyallup, but I could find no verification of that. John was born in 1872 in Idaho and had a wife named Jane and some babies. He died in May 1898 and is buried somewhere between Lindeman and Bennett.

Klondike Fever; “Every Trail has a story” by Henderson p 44; Mayer; “Two Years in the Klondike”.

Incident at Sheep Camp

On this day, February 20, 1898 two thieves were caught at Sheep Camp on the Chilkoot Trail. The first thief was flogged, but the second escaped and fled down the trail. Too frightened to face his accusers, he took out his gun and shot himself dead. Now this thief was probably William Wellington as his name appears as having shot himself on this date. The grainy photo above could be of this incident, it is from the Yukon Archives.

Although no record exists as to where he was buried, the earliest burial in the Dyea Cemetery was in March 1898. In February there were several other burials in the Gold Rush Cemetery, so he was most likely buried there, but without a headboard.

Pierre Berton page 261 of Klondike Fever; Amelie Kneass in October 1944, “The Flogging at Sheep Camp”. Alaska Sportsman; John Pearson, letter home about incident.

Barney Grey

Barney was an unhappy man. He walked off the wharf on this day, August 25, 1901 and drowned in the bay. He was buried in the Gold Rush Cemetery and little is known of him other than he was about 38 years old.

Skagway Death Record

Caspar Jack Kossuth

Happy Birthday to “Cassie” Kossuth, born on this day, May 2, 1892 in Seattle to Caspar Kossuth and Stella Barnum. Caspar senior died in Seattle between 1892 and 1897 because the widow Kossuth, her mother and her son little Cassie arrived in Skagway in July 1897. Stella set up a little hotel with her mother and soon found help from a gentleman friend, George Buchanan (not the same George Buchanan as the Detroit philanthropist of an earlier blog).
George apparently did not like the boarders at Stella’s hotel, and so did as some jealous men do, he shot her and then shot himself. We do not know if Cassie was witness to this, hopefully not, but by 1900 he had been adopted by another Skagway family the McArthur’s. Now in the 1900 census William and Annie McArthur show both Cassie and a Kenneth McArthur both born in 1892 in Seattle and arriving in 1897. Perhaps they are the same boy, in any event, Cassie grew up and married in 1930 to Margaret in Seattle. He passed away in 1966 in Seattle at the age of 74.
Now those of you who wonder if the spirits of Stella and George still inhabit the hotel building which now sits behind the Red Onion Saloon on 2nd Avenue, the answer is maybe. The current owner told me that his aunt always said she felt a presence in that building, but nothing more. If you happen by on the night of September 20, the night of the murder-suicide listen for a couple of shots!

Victoria Daily Colonist 9.26.97; Klondike Fever

William Wray

On this day, March 12, 1898 William Wray died of gunshot wounds he received on March 9, from his former roommate and intimate friend, Thompson Doucan. Doucan was a barber at the O.K. Barber Shop at the foot of Paradise Alley. While at the “O.W. Johnson Saloon” on the Pacific Coast dock, Doucan shot Wray and then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.

The Skagway news described Mr. Wray as a 36-year old merchant and boat builder who was inoffensive and well liked. The paper said that Doucan however, possessed a “morose disposition and was considered materially ‘off’ by those who knew him intimately”.
Sounds like a lot of intimacy going around.

Famous Murder-Suicide

On September 20, 1897 George Buchanan, an Englishman who was foreman of the Skagway Bay Improvement Company murdered Stella Kossuth and then shot himself.
The Victoria Daily Colonist of Sept 26, 1897 reported that he had been helping Stella, her mother and her little boy start a hotel in Skagway. He then became jealous of men coming to stay at the hotel and shot her.
Stella had come to Skagway from Seattle where her husband, Caspar Kossuth, a Swiss man had died. She was 28, her son, Caspar “Cassie” Kossuth was only 5 years old when he saw his mother killed. Another family in Skagway, with a son the same age adopted him and he moved to Seattle eventually where he died in 1966.
The hotel where this murder suicide happened is still standing in Skagway, in the middle of the block of 2nd between Broadway and State. A former owner claimed she could feel a “presence” in the building, but no known ghosts to date.