Posts Tagged ‘Alaska’

Angus Mac Donald

July 9, 2012

Image from the University of Montana

I don’t know if this is the same Angus  Mac Donald in the following poem, but the Angus Mac Donald pictured above  also lived an interesting life.

ANGUS MAC DONALD

(By. J. HAMPTON MILES.)

When Arctic was a wilderness,
E’er foot of Pioneer
Had trod upon the velvet moss
That draped her golden lair;
When forest monarch reigned supreme
O’er mountain, lea, and dale,
E’er winter’s crested, crystal sheen
Was streaked with silver trail.

A white-winged sloop approached the coast,
Then fringed with gorse and teak,
Old Angus Mac., with miner’s pack,
Mushed up her glacier’d peak;
The red man’s snarling, wolfish cur —
The bear, and antler’d king,
With growl and wail, near camp and trail
Did nightly anthems sing.

In manhood’s prime, with giant’s frame,
Herculean bone and brawn,
Piercing the sylvan God’s domain
Into the frigid zone.
Thewed was he like the polar bear,
Living in glacier’d cave,
For fortune’s weal, with heart of steel,
He fought the Arctic wave.

Through forest wild, and herbage dense,
He moved and moved and moved,
With silent care toward the star
His spirit sought and loved;
Through endless waste, o’er mountain dome,
From surging ocean brine —
From Ketchikan to plot of Nome
He mushed and builded shrine.

Among the first to pierce the hue
Of Arctic circle’s ray,
The first to ride a bark canoe
O’er Yukon’s surging spray.
His camp-fires were the first to glow
In valley, dale and glen,
He broke the first trail through the snow
With white man’s moccasin.

When savage sought to take the life
Of wives and children dear,
He fought the red man knife to knife
And drove him to the rear;
In Wrangel camp, through winter’s cold,
Defended he the white,
When demon’s yell brave hearts did quell,
He ever fought the fight.

Through blinding mist of sleet and snow,
He paced from dark till dawn,
Each weary hour along the shore,
Protecting white man’s spawn;
Thus night by night, and day by day,
Did he the vigil keep,
Through rain and snows, without repose,
While others slept sweet sleep.

Beneath two flags he fortunes sought,
And fortunes whiled away;
Like other men he sold and bought
The pleasures of the day;
And be it said that never man
On whom the cruel fate
Had filled with dirt the golden pan
Turned hungry from his gate.

But sun of life moves on his course,
And Angus, old and gray,
With broken health and empty purse,
Is treading in its ray;
The days that’re gone and days that dawn
Are memories and care,
With broken health and vanished wealth,
He moves toward his star.

But not the star of which he dreamed
In cycles past and gone,
When golden sun rays on him streamed
From dawn till balmy dawn.
But will our flag — the Stripes and Stars —
Forsake his silver head?
Forsake the son who forged her crown,
And weaved her silken thread?

Fairbanks Daily Times (Failbanks, Alaska) Dec 24, 1912

Image from the Hudson Bay CompanyLearning Center

*****

From Scots in the American Northwest:

Angus MacDonald from the Isle of Skye entered the service of the HBC in 1838 and proved so skillful in obtaining Indian furs that in 1852 he was appointed head of the extensive Colville district, including all traditional posts north of Walla Walla, Washington, far into British Columbia. MacDonald held this position until 1871, when the HBC finally gave up its last posts in the United States, and lived the rest of his life as an American in Montana Territory.

At HistoryLink, an essay about Christina McDonald, Angus’ daughter, includes some fascinating recollections:

Angus MacDonald from the Isle of Skye entered the service of the HBC in 1838 and proved so skillful in obtaining Indian furs that in 1852 he was appointed head of the extensive Colville district, including all traditional posts north of Walla Walla, Washington, far into British Columbia. MacDonald held this position until 1871, when the HBC finally gave up its last posts in the United States, and lived the rest of his life as an American in Montana Territory.

…..

Christina McDonald, the second child of Angus McDonald  and his wife, Catherine Baptiste (1826-1902), was born on September 20, 1847, near the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort Hall (present-day Idaho), where her father was employed as a clerk. A native of Scotland, Angus McDonald had immigrated to Canada in 1838 to work in the fur trade and had served his apprenticeship in the Snake River country, where he met Catherine. Christina later wrote: “My mother was of mixed blood. Her father was an Iroquois Frenchman, long in the employ of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Mother was a cousin of  Eagle-of-the-Light the Nez Perce chief” (Williams, Daughter, 107).

…..

Looking back on her relationship with her father, Christina explained that “as I grew older, I became his special companion and acted as interpreter for him most of the time” (Williams, Daughter, 109). Fluent in at least four languages, she became a valuable asset in his business dealings throughout the Northwest. She kept the books for him, and would accompany him and the company brigade to Kamloops each year to deliver furpacks, carrying the records in a buckskin sack. The first part of the journey was along a trail up the Kettle River (present-day Ferry County), and at one point the horses had to be swum across and a raft built to carry the goods.

…..

Read the complete essay at the link above.

Evidently, the Museum of Northern Idaho has a book for sale about Angus McDonald  [review excerpt]:

Quirky exploits, life and death challenges, his wide-ranging celebrity status, intimate victories and continental-sized disappointments were all enjoyed by this frontiersman from Ross-shire, Scotland. Included in this was a marriage to Catherine, a young Métis girl of royal Nez Perce lineage, and McDonald’s rotation through Hudson’s Bay Company’s York Factory, Fort Colvile, Fort Hall and Fort Connah. Throughout the book, author Steve A. Anderson “has allowed the unique and sympathetic voice that emerges from McDonald’s narratives, poetry and native stories, to throw light on the unheralded richness of the time” notes Bruce M. Watson, Canadian biographer and author.

In this description, it does sound like it could be the same Angus MacDonald as in the poem, however, in  a Google review, I found the following:

McDonald has been confused with others of the same name for a century. Anderson has clearly separated this Angus form the others in very scholarly fashion.

Life in the Hills

July 6, 2012

LIFE IN THE HILLS.

Oh! give me the life among the hills,
A life of careless mien,
Among the rocks and laughing rills
And the fronding clusters green;
The life that the happy song birds live
As they flit from tree to tree —
Where Nature’s God has life to give;
It’s the only life for me.

Oh! give me the life where crocus blooms —
Where the wild bees cloister stands
‘Mong garlands wove in the living room
By the sylvan God’s own hands.
In the vicinage of the moonbeam nymphs
And the water sprites play ground;
‘Mong the clustered tress of the fronded cress,
In the valley’s crystal pond.

Oh! give me the life where the spruce trees wave
In Alaska’s balmy breeze,
Whose compound robs the yawning grave
Of victory it would seize;
Where nature’s gyves are the only bonds
That binds the life and soul,
And the climbing vine the trees entwine,
That shades my longed for goal.

Oh! give me the life among the hills
When the frost is in the air —
When zephyrs cold the living chills
And snow lays everywhere.
When winter’s king crowns mountain spire,
And hangs o’er misty dells,
And glaciered vale where runs the trail,
Is clothes in snowy swells.

Oh! give me the life among the hills,
Where God is judge and law —
Where nature’s joy the sad heart fills
And feeds the human maw;
Where nature bathes the throbbing brow,
And sets the soul care free;
Where you live a life that’s free from strife —
It’s the only life for me.

— By J. HAMPTON MILES.

The Alaska Citizen (Fairbanks, Alaska) Nov 11, 1912

According to a mention in The Fairbanks Weekly News-Miner, Nov. 12, 1920, J. Hampton Miles was a member of the Alaskan engineering commission’s office, He wrote several poems that were published in the Alaska newspapers in 1912-1913.

An Alaskan Expedition – 1890-1891

September 23, 2009
Yukon River (Image from www.hougengroup.com)

Yukon River (Image from http://www.hougengroup.com)

MR. W.J. ARKELL, of Frank Leslie’s illustrated newspaper and the Judge, is organizing an expedition of special correspondents and artists to explore Alaska this coming summer. It is believed that a thorough exploration of this comparatively unknown region will reveal more wonders than were discovered by Stanley in Africa.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Mar 20, 1890

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The frontpiece of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated newspaper for the week ending June 28th consists of three pictures showing the start of the Alaska expedition on its long journey. An article accompanies the pictures giving the experiences of the party up to the present stage of their travels. It tells of the difficulties encountered to obtain natives to carry the necessary provisions and equipment into an unknown land. This expedition promises to be one which will rival Stanley’s in interest, especially in the minds of the American people.

Bismarck Daily Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota) Jun 29, 1890

Headwaters of the Copper River, Alaska - 1902

Headwaters of the Copper River, Alaska - 1902

Image from the “Alfred Bennett” files on rootsweb. Lots of good old pictures!

LOST IN A WILDERNESS.

Anxiety Regarding the Fate of Two Members of an Alaskan Exploring Party.

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 6. — Much anxiety is felt here over the fate of Wells and Price, two members of Frank Leslie’s Alaskan party, who started last fall with a small stock of provisions into the unknown Copper river country in Alaska. The last seen of them was on Forty Mile creek, where they bade good-bye to Schanz, when they declared their intention of pushing south down Forty Mile Creek, thence across Dividing Mountains and down Copper river canyon to the coast, a distance of about 800 miles.

They took a guide, who, after conducting them down that creek to the mountains that form the waters’ head between Yukon and Copper rivers, returned to Yukon. He reported they had set out boldly to pass through the almost unknown Copper river country, which is infested with hostile Indians, with few provisions and no winter clothing. Nothing has been heard of them since, and their relatives in Oakland and Kentucky are anxious regarding their safety.

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) Jan 7, 1891

Chilkoot Pass - 1898

Chilkoot Pass - 1898

Above image also from Univ. of WA Digital Collection

THE FATE OF WELLS AND PRICE.

The Frank Leslie Arctic Explorers in All Probability Lost.

SAN FRANCISCO, Cal. Jan. 11. — [Special] — News received by Professor George Davidson of the United States coast and geostation survey, stationed in this city, settles beyond doubt the fate of the two explorers, Wells and Price of the Frank Leslie Alaskan expedition.

Professor Davidson declares that there is only a ghost of a chance of their safety. The two men left Forty Mile creek for the unknown Copper river country last August at the same time that Schanz started for the coast with Greenfield, the Alaska census agent.

Schanz and Greenfield got through all right, though they made a thousand miles’ journey in the native canoes. Price and Wells were dissuaded from attempting to cross the divide and explore the Copper river country, as the season was far gone and the chances were that they would be caught by early snows. When they left the last outpost at Forty Mile creek they had only twenty pounds of rice and twenty pounds of flour and no fur clothes for winter. Price, however, who had spent two years in the arctic regions, said that they could easily buy supplies from the natives.

Since then absolutely nothing has been heard from them. The chief of the Copper river Indians, who left his home in October, reached the Alaskan Commercial company’s station at Alganic in November. He reported that nothing had been heard by his people of any white men up to October 20. The supposition from this is that Wells and Price have either perished or wandered from the regular trail and taken refuge in one of the widely separated Indian villages. If they were lucky enough to find an Indian village nothing will be heard from them till next month, when the natives come down to Alganic or Port Etches with skins to trade.

The chances, however, are greatly against their safety, as any news of white men is carried from one village to another over great distance in Alaska in a wonderfully short space of time.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Jan 12, 1891

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Frank Leslie’s Alaskan expedition, sent out last year, has arrived at Port Townsend, after suffering great hardships. Claim they discovered the source of the Yukon river.

Daily Huronite (Huron, South Dakota) May 4, 1891

Men Bartering With Eskimos

Men Bartering With Eskimos

Image from Univ. of WA digital collection (C. Hart Merriam’s Expedition Description)

A Member of the Alaska Exploring Party Returns.

Special to the Journal.
SAN FRANCISCO, May 6. — A.B. Schanz [Alfred B. Schanz], a member of the Wells-Price Alaska Exploring Expedition arrived here to-day. He was taken sick at Camp Davidson and left behind. He descended the Yukon river in a boat. He made his Winter quarters at an Esquimaux village and in company with John Clark, a trader, made a forty days’ trip north on sleds. On this trip Clark lake and Nogbelin river were discovered.

Daily Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) May 7, 1891

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FRANK LESLIE’S Alaskan expedition is back, claiming to have discovered the source of the Yukon river in the Chilcot mountains a lake they were pleased to call Arkell. As nearly all the recent maps show this lake to be the source of the Yukon, it is not quite clear where the value of Arkell & Harrison’s discovery comes in.

Bismarck Daily Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota) May 8, 1891

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SEVERAL members of the Alaskan exploring expedition sent out a year ago from New York under the guidance of Hazard Wells have arrived at Port Townsend, Wash. thus contradicting the report that the party had perished.

Stevens Point Journal, The (Stevens Point, Wisconsin) May 9, 1891

Alaska Packers and Miners 1901

Alaska Packers and Miners - Yukon River - 1901

Above image also from the U of WA Digital Collection

Those of our people who knew E. Hazard Wells, at one time with E.T. Cressey on the Daily Leader, and at the same time a special correspondent for the Cincinnati Gazette, will be glad to know that he and his party have returned safely from their exploring expedition into the wilds of Alaska. About a year and a half since Mr. Wells and party were sent to Alaska by the Frank Leslie publishing company.

For 13 months they were lost in the wilds of the northern portion of that country, and suffered privations and hardships almost innumerable. Their escape from starvation was really miraculous. Mr. Wells says the swamps in Alaska are worse than the glaciers, and the mosquitos are more ferocious than the bears. He also says the geography of the country as represented by publishers, is very inaccurate. The experience of the explorers, together with a complete write-up of Alaska, will soon be published.

Daily Huronite (Huron, South Dakota) May 20, 1891

Forty Miles Creek book cover

From: Gold at Fortymile Creek: early days in the Yukon
By Michael Gates, 1994 (pages 58-59) Preview only on Google Books:

In 1890, three hundred miners were located in the Yukon basin. The Arctic was refloated and began to make more regular trips into the interior. Being newer and larger than the previous river vessels, it represented the gradual change which was taking place in the country as the population and gold production increased.

Eighteen ninety was also the first year in which a new route to the interior was opened up. The Chilkat Pass was jealously guarded by the coastal Tlingit, who denied White people access; but in the spring, a party of White men changed all that. Working for an American newspaper, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Magazine, E.J. Glave, E. Hazard Wells, and A.B. Schanz crossed the Chilkat Pass under the guidance of Jack Dalton, a seasoned northern veteran. The party arrived at Lake Arkell (which is now called Kusawa Lake) and divided into two groups. The first, consisting of Glave and Dalton, struck out overland to the west; the latter, including Wells and Schanz, continued to the mouth of Lake Arkell and into the Takhini River, from which they entered the Yukon just above Lake Laberge.

Glave and Dalton had an exciting journey overland along the Alsek River (now known as the Tatshenshini River), down which they travelled, stopping at Native encampments and chronicling the countryside as they went. They eventually arrived at the mouth of the Alsek River.

Wells and Schanz travelled down the Yukon River, arriving at Harper’s new post at Fort Selkirk on 18 June 1890, and encountering Al Mayo on the New Racket (which was carrying a few prospectors to the Pelly River) two days later. They arrived at Forty Mile on 22 June, where, due to Schanz’s ill health, Wells continued on alone. Departing Forty Mile on 3 July, Wells started upriver and arrived, a week later, at Franklin Gulch, near the upper limit of the gold-bearing creeks on the Fortymile River. Here he found forty miners, each working placer claims of 150 feet. The miners, usually working in partnerships of two or more men, were mining a zigzag paystreak some six feet below the surface and were making from six to seventeen dollars per day each. Those who were being paid a wage were receiving eight dollars per day; everyone was making money, but few were doing much better than that.

Wells continued his trek overland from the upper reaches of the Fortymile River until he reached the Tanana River, down which he travelled, arriving at St. Michael in September. He spent the winter travelling overland through Alaska and eventually arrived back in Washington state in early spring. This expedition was the first of a succession of journeys, made by gentleman travellers’ through the Yukon over the next few years. These observers left their mark on the history of the region in the written accounts of their travels. Glave and Dalton returned the following year to further explore the southwest Yukon. As a result of their discoveries, a new route into the interior was established. The famed Dalton Trail was used by Jack Dalton to transport horses and cattle north to the Yukon River and then downstream to Forty Mile. The trail became one of the minor routes of access to the Klondike River during the gold rush.

*****

The Deseret Weekly: Stories of the Klondike Aug 21, 1897

A Chat with W.J. Arkell in which he talks about the Alaskan expedition.