Monday, February 20, 2012

North To Alaska June (Second Sunday) 1898

William T. Hearn and William R. Bacon left the Salisbury - Delmar area January 31, 1898 for the Goldfields of the Klondike. They were two of about 100,000 people who went north in seach of gold, only about 4,000 would find gold. Moving from the Klondike they went to Alaska in search of gold and a paying job. They wrote a number of letters home to family and friends that were published in the Salisbury Advertiser. Over the next week or so I will post some of their letters home.

Letter to Frank Kennerly from Wm R. Bacon

Lake Lindeman, B.C.
June (Second Sunday)
My Dear Frank,

This is a fine, fine country, but d--- the mosquitoes, they worry us night and day, and to make it worst they are getting thicker every day. I was up on Long Lake yesterday where there is not much but ice and snow and the mosquitoes were as thick there as any where; they seem to breed right in the snow. The first arrivals were big black ones, and now we have all sizes. I think after we have been bothered with them for a few weeks we will be like the river men – won’t mind them much.

Will has gone to church this morning, didn’t suit me. The Salvation Army holds service in a big tent not far away, but most people don’t have time for church, so the attendance is very limited. A pack train of burros has just gone by with one of the drivers swearing at them by the yard. Guess he will interrupt the service. By-the-way that reminds of the one fact that I never told you before and that is one can hear more oaths on this trail in an hour than in Salisbury in a month. Everybody swears, and they seem to always find something to swear at. The pack animals get the most of it.

We had a drove of about one hundred head of fine fat steers brought in yesterday; I tell you they looked fine. We haven’t seen a piece of steak since we left the states and hardly anything else except bacon and beans, until this morning we each had an egg, and to say they were fine is hardly expressing it. I never liked eggs at home but I surely enjoy that one, first I have eaten since I left Wicomico.

Taking everything into consideration I think we fare very well here. We have granulated potatoes, just about like new potatoes only they are ground up and served like mashed potatoes, evaporated onions, evaporated soup vegetables, and a condensed vegetables soup, beef extract, condensed milk, “crystalized “ eggs, haven’t used any yet, we have oatmeal and milk every morning, rice and fruits, corn meal, etc. we can really get up a fair meal but as we haven’t much of a change we get tired.

We have got our boat very near complete, would have had it entirely complete, except corking, had we not run out of lumber. Fair lumber here sells for $250.00 per 1000 feet, so we laid up today debating whether to buy more or go in the woods and “whip” it out. We tried whipping before and soon gave it up and cut our logs and pulled them on skids across three quarters of a mile of flats to the stream, coming near “pulling the liver” out of us. We got them down and rafted them and got on to come down, and down we did come. The current runs about twelve miles an hour and is full of rocks and short curves at that. It was more exciting than riding down from the Scales to Sheep Camp. Think I told you how, when the snow was on, some of the people used to coast about three miles on a stretch, I have seen them going so fast that they would strike a lump and jump 20 or 30 feet. We didn’t jump on the raft but we ran into the bank very often. We got down safe and had our logs sawed one half for the other.

It will soon be two weeks since we began to hunt our timber. The logs we get are only about six to eight inches through.

Our boat is 18 X 3 ½ ft bottom and 20 X 6 ft top with 2 ½ ft sides, built on skiff style. We are rigging a square sail like the Chinese junks have, fasten to the mast in the middle. That the way most of them are being rigged, although some have the schooner sail and some have three cornered one. They are beginning to go down pretty lively now and in course of a few weeks Lindeman will be entirely deserted.

We will be here only a few weeks longer when we join the happy throng and see what is to come next. Only hope we will not see the bottom of “hoss” rapids instead of Dawson.

After this batch of letters goes out we will not write anymore for “Lords Know When.” We have no idea yet where we will locate but feel quite sure we will visit “Uncle Sam” territory before we stop for very long. Don’t like living under the Queen very much. Have to get a license to live almost, at least for everything you do, and then pay the crown a royalty on what you happen to make.

There is an Indian at the Scales about my height only a little stouter built that won a bet the other day of $400 that he could put 280 pounds up the summit without resting but three times and those rests to be limited. He did it and is now ready for bets that he can carry more. Carrying that up the summit and carrying it to level ground is far different.

From what I can see since I have been in this section I think the firm of Kennerly Mitchell and Co., must be enterprising men, and from the trademark “I X L” I suppose they must have sent “Mr. Othello” out here to do a little advertising, we caught a view of two of them, one on a snow bank about seven miles from Dyea, the other at the beginning of the Canyon about two miles from Lindeman.

Frank, the spring here is something wonderful, “today we have snow on the ground, tomorrow flowers are blooming,” almost expresses it. The sun shines for eighteen hours and everything grows by magic. There is a stream between Long and Deep Lakes one can wade across it with rubber boots and in some places might jump across. On one side snow is ten or twelve feet deep and on the other side flowers in full bloom. Long Lake is full of ice, people walking over on the ice, and yet along the shores you can find flowers almost anywhere - some thing certainly new to me.

Will and I have turned out to be barbers, I cut his hair and trim his whiskers and he does the same for me. We now have our hair clipped as close as we can get it, it saves the trouble of combing you know. A big item, Supper is ready so will close.

Regards to all the boys
Wm R. Bacon

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