ARTICLES OF INTEREST: “Find Bones of ’98er on Glacier– Diary and Letters Near the Body”

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.


Front page of the July 2, 1913 issue of The Valdez Daily Prospector.



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.”


On This Day In History: August 25

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.


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.”

Seward Weekly Gateway newspaper article titled Man Hurt By Wounded Bear

Man Hurt By Wounded Bear article, Seward Weekly Gateway, August 25, 1906

NEW WEBPAGE at the Alaska State Library

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!

Visit now at:


Opening Statements: Douglas Island News

The Opening Statement series features the foreword or introduction given by  editors or publishers in the first issue of the paper addressing its readers. 

Douglas Island News

Douglas Island News, November 23, 1898, Vol. 1, No. 1

Publisher: A.G. McBride, Charles A. Hopp


We take pleasure in herewith presenting to the people of Douglas City and Treadwell the initial number of the Douglas Island News, which we earnestly trust will meet with your expectations as an ideal local newspaper and merit a liberal support.

The live and prosperous towns of Douglas City and Treadwell are certainly entitled to one good, wide-awake newspaper, and it will be our desire to supply this adjunct, that is so necessary to the upbuilding of cities, and whether, or not, we succeed in our efforts, we leave for you to judge.

The columns of this paper, with only slight exceptions, will be devoted to the publication of local events and Alaska news, and there being no municipal organizations or elections, its pages will be for the present non-partisan.

Read our paper, observe its style and make-up, and, if it pleases you, give it such support as it is entitled to, and we will be satisfied.

Very respectfully,

A.G. McBride and

Chas. A. Hopp,

Editors and Publishers.”



The first batch of Alaskan historical newspapers is live on Chronicling America – FREE for you to search.     CLICK HERE!


The 1915 Development Number issue of The Alaska Daily Empire, shown in Chronicling America. Highlighted text represents a search for the term “mill”.


1,206 issues of The Alaska Daily Empire (1912-1918), 448 issues of the Douglas Island News (1898-1907), and 47 issues of The Thlinget (1908-1912).

These digitized newspaper pages are TEXT SEARCHABLE.  For tips on searching check out our previous post, Searching Chronicling America, or visit the Help page.

To start exploring Alaskan papers in Chronicling America CLICK HERE or visit Chronicling America and use the dropdown menu to select “Alaska”.


Happy Searching!

Searching Chronicling America

There are multiple ways to search historical newspapers for information using Chronicling America.  But where do you start?


When doing any kind of research it’s important to consider your subjects.  In genealogy this could be your ancestors’ names, in science it could be a theory or phenomenon, and in history it could be an event or place name.  One thing to consider about searching within historical newspapers is the diversity of language used when describing these things.

For example if you’re searching for articles on the Chisana Gold Rush you might only be finding a fraction of the information out there if you’re only searching “Chisana”.  In the early days of the rush there were multiple spellings of Chisana (pronounced Shooshana), sometimes called Shushanna, and often spelled Shushana or Sushana.  Names of towns, regions, rivers, and lakes also differed as new trails were mapped in addition to the use of both Native and non-Native place names.

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Also take into consideration the vernacular of the time period.  If you’re researching women’s fashion trends on the Frontier you may want to consider searching the more antiquated term “trousers” instead of “pants”.


“The First Woman In Atlin”. Article from the front page of the January 18, 1899 issue of the Douglas Island News.

Luckily Chronicling America has a number of search options that will help you narrow your searches and find the specific information you’re after.  To begin there is the Basic Search that appears on the Chronicling America homepage.  You may begin with a broad search here to judge if you need to further narrow your search.  The Basic Search allows you to choose which state you’d like to search, a date range, and any keywords you’d like.  A search for “coal” in West Virginia newspapers from 1800-1899 results in 65,414 results.


At this point you may choose to give up OR check out the Advanced Search tab found at the top of the homepage (definitely check out the Advanced Search).


The Advanced Search lets you select multiple states or specific newspapers if you have a specific town or region you’re interested in.  You can limit searches to just the front page and you can also choose what language the paper was published in (currently the only languages offered are English, French, German, and Spanish).  The phrase search “mardi gras” in newspapers published in French from Louisiana, 1789-1924 yields 155 results.

If you move to the All Digitized Newspapers 1789-1924 tab you’re given the added unique option of searching publications by ethnicity such as Jewish, African American, or Irish.  With the ethnicity search you may also select what state and language (or simply leave the default “All” setting).


And finally, if you’re searching for a popular topic in American history visit the Recommended Topics page (link located on the left sidebar of the Chronicling America homepage).  This page offers preselected articles provided by the Library of Congress (new topics added on a regular basis).  Here you have the option of browsing topics in alphabetical order, by subject category (shown below), or by date (topics arranged by decade).  This page in particular is an excellent resource for students and educators looking to incorporate digital historical newspapers into the classroom!  I highly recommend checking it out.


Now you should be equipped with the knowledge for starting your first search in Chronicling America – happy searching!


For additional tips and help with Basic Searching and instruction in Advanced Searching visit the Help page on Chronicling America at