Happy Thanksgiving from the AKDNP! We’re thankful for the opportunity to make 100,000 pages of our historical newspapers accessible through the National Digital Newspaper Program and Chronicling America.
The following article titled “Thanksgiving Day, Rev. L.H. Pedersen Tells of Its Significance and Duties” was printed in the December 2, 1905 issue of the Seward Weekly Gateway. In it Rev. Pedersen writes, “The best thing that hearts that are thankful can do Is this – to make thankful some other heart too.” Here’s hoping our participation in NDNP is making all you researchers’ hearts thankful too!
The Opening Statement series features the foreword or introduction given by editors or publishers in the first issue of the paper addressing its readers.
The Morning Alaskan, February 1, 1898, Vol. 1, No. 1
Editor: O.W. Dunbar
“With this issue THE MORNING ALASKAN makes its debut before the citizens of Skaguay and the countless hordes of people who eagerly await any news pertaining to this city and the country beyond. But a few days a resident of Skaguay, and that time busily occupied, I have been unable to make the acquaintance of as many of the citizens as I would have wished, but through the MORNING ALASKAN I hope to become personally acquainted with all. THE MORNING ALASKAN shall always be maintained as a bright, newsy sheet, with the interests of Skaguay and its enterprising citizens always uppermost in the editor’s mind.
What separates Alaskan roughnecks from their counterparts in the lower 48?
The following blurb from the November 18, 1916 issue of the Iditarod Pioneer has this to say about the men and women of the frontier:
“The following paragraph in answer to a query was published in the Literary Digest recently:
Roughneck is a slang term for a tough or a rowdy, such as a member of one of those gangs that at one time terrorized the people of the slums of New York of Chicago. The term is also used to denote a person who lacks manners or refinement, in contrast to one who has a good address and the appearance of culture, as “Oh! he’s a roughneck!” In the Evening Post (New York) of August 17, 1903, we find the following: “His (Sam Parks) stated income amounts to union wages from his union of roughnecks, as the ironworkers call themselves, as walking delegate.” Also in “Colonel Crockett in Texas,” published in 1836, we read: “You may be called a drunken dog by some of the clean-shirt and silk-stocking gentry; but the real roughnecks will style you a jovial fellow.”
In Alaska the term “roughneck” has an appropriate meaning distinct from any of the above definitions. Far from being a term of reproach, it is in large measure complimentary. It refers to that large class of Alaskans who, meeting and combating natural obstacles in an untamed wilderness, overcomes them and glories in the task. The Alaskan roughneck may have been reared amid the refinement or luxury, or he may have been a product of the slums; but the trials and difficulties met with the Northland lend that touch of nature which makes them all kin. The roughneck of today is apt to be the capitalist of tomorrow, and even then he is not ashamed of being designated as a “roughneck” [emphasis added].”
Prospecting on the Alaskan frontier was perhaps the most dangerous for those early treasure seekers. Extreme temperatures and unpredictable weather patterns coupled with the desolate and unforgiving terrain spelled disaster for many mining parties trying to make their way toward the promises of valuable ore.
The article below from The Valdez Daily Prospector, published July 2, 1913, reveals one such story of a miner who disaster befell and whose bones were later discovered in a small crevice of the Valdez glacier.
“FIND BONES OF ’98ER ON GLACIER DIARY AND LETTERS NEAR THE BODY
MRS. ROSE JOHNSON FINDS REMAINS OF UNKNOWN PROSPECTOR ON VALDEZ GLACIER NEAR THE THIRD BENCH — PAPERS, CLOTHING OLD WATCH AND CLOCK NEAR BY.
Mrs. Rose Johnson, who owns and is opening up a quartz property located on the mountains rising from the Valdez glacier, last Friday night found the bones of a prospector who had been frozen to death years ago, and upon further search found old clothes letters and the watch of the unfortunate man, who evidently had died in 1898 or early in 1899.
The watch, the works of which had completely rusted, bore the name William Ellery and was a common silver case. The diary was so matted from moisture and exposure that but little could be made out, although in places the print was wonderfully clear.
Letters written in 1898 and bearing the postmark San Francisco, 1898, were found in the pockets of old clothes.
The skull and most of the bones were in one place in a small crevice of the glacier, where they had remained since the death of the pioneer in his efforts to come to Valdez from the interior.
Many believe Mrs. Johnson has found the remains of Dr. Logan, lost in 1899 while coming to Valdez with a party of six, all of whom perished, and all of the party were found but Logan.
In the fall of 1898 and the winter of 1899 the miners who had rushed into the Copper river country via the Valdez glacier, started on their return to Valdez en route to the states to take up anew the work they had abandoned to make a rush for Alaska, and fill their pockets with gold and return to the states to cut a swath like Coal Oil Johnny. They quickly realized that gold was hard to find and that many of them were totally unfit for the work in Alaska.
The stream of men then started back to the coast and among them were a party of New Yorkers, who started for the coast in charge of Dr. Logan.
The party left timber on the Klutina side of the glacier, hauling Maximillian Miller, Adolph Ebehardt, two men sick with the scurvey. The party were caught in a snow and wind storm and all perished. The bodies of Miller, Ebehardt, August Schultz, Rudolph Ellerkamp, Alfred Ellimar, were found by a searching party headed by Dempsey and Jackson and brought back to Valdez and buried at the little graveyard in the western part of town.
Dr. Logan, the head of the party, was not found, although a diligent search for the body was made for days. He was known to have had several thousand dollars on his person when he left the lake.
The bodies of all the other men were found to have sums ranging from $50 to several hundred dollars on them, and but few men in those days were broke.
The party had become scattered when the storm broke and the two sick men were found tied on the sled, but frozen stiff, while the others were found a short distance away, where they had tried to seek shelter in a crevice only to die.
The men were all found near the fourth bench, while the bones found my Mrs. Johnson are on the right had side of the glacier, where the old trail used in 98 was located, but near the third bench a few miles from the Valdez end of the ice.
Logan may have reached this point on his way to Valdez for help when he perished.
It is expected that the federal authorities will have the bones cared for and buried.
Mrs. Johnson made temporary burial of the bones on the side hill, near where they were found and the personal effects have been turned over to the commissioner.”
For those of us who don’t live in a year-round open season, fall bear season is almost upon us. Today’s “On This Day In History” post serves as a reminder for all you hunters out there to stay safe and alert to avoid ending up like A.D. Burton during his hunting trip to Chickaloon Bay in 1906.
Article from the August 25, 1906 issue of the Seward Weekly Gateway.
“MAN HURT BY WOUNDED BEAR
Hunter Badly Used up but Life Saved Because Animal Fell Dead in Struggle
A. D. Burton was badly clawed and one of his arms was broken by a wounded she-bear into which he had put five shots, near Chickaloon bay last week. The bear dropped dead a moment after she attacked him, and that fact alone saved his life. He was brought to Sunrise for care.
Burton trailed the bear for a short distance and shot her. She disappeared in the bushes and he thought she had gone. He saw two cubs near by and started to capture them. Unnoticed the wounded mother rushed upon him and was within a few feet before he saw her. She struck him a violent blow with her paw, breaking one arm and knocking him down. Another blow cut open his face and body, tearing his clothes into shreds; then the unfuriated beast fell dead across her enemy’s body.
Burton managed to make his way to the beach, where other men put him into a boat and took him to Sunrise. Chickaloon bay, where the fight occurred, is a few miles below Hope, on Turnagain arm.”
The Alaska Newspaper Project has gotten a face-lift on the Alaska State Library’s webpage with the introduction of Alaska Historical Newspapers. Here you’ll find links to papers already on Chronicling America as well as current and background project information. As the project grows more content will be added – so be sure to check back!