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Reindeer, Gold, and Scandal
    by Kenneth O. Bjork (Volume 30: Page 130)

IN 1893, H. C. Wahlberg, a businessman in Seattle, saw great economic possibilities in Alaska. It should, he thought, become to the Pacific Coast and to America what the Lofoten Islands and Finnmark were to Norway, and he urged the founding of a Norwegian or Scandinavian colony in the territory. He and others who expressed similar views in the early 1890s and spoke of another "Land of the Midnight Sun" or a "New Norway" were thinking of the rich harvest of the sea and a mixed economy of fishing, farming, and logging in southeastern Alaska. At a much later date, in 1944, C. L. Andrews, in a chapter titled "The Alaska of the Future," maintained that the territory "is the Greater Scandinavia,'' with vastly more resources than Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland combined, but with only a tiny population. {1}

In dozens of letters written by Norwegians and Norwegian Americans in the late 1890s and the early 1900s the expressions "New Norway" and "New Scandinavia'' appear as naturally, if not as frequently, as comments about weather, the sea, mountains, forests, and tundra. Unlike John Scudder McLain, who visited Alaska in 1903 with a party from the Senate committee [131] on territories, the Norwegian writers say very little about agricultural possibilities in the Far North, despite the fact that they were fully aware of similarities between their homeland and Alaska. {2}

It was the discovery of gold in the Klondike and Alaska that brought the north country into the full consciousness of the Norwegians and their Scandinavian cousins, not the views of farsighted men considering the total economy of Alaska. The lure of gold in the many rivers and creeks of the territory caused an increasing number of them to travel northward, and the rich findings in the Cape Nome area greatly stimulated the process and gave a strikingly Scandinavian coloring to the Alaska story.

If the gold fields near Nome were to become the magnet drawing argonauts of varied origin to Alaska, their discovery was the result of a quite different story, in which motivations were other than the search for the golden fleece. This story deals with the introduction of domestic reindeer into Alaska and is inseparably woven into the tale of greed and scandal that followed.


In 1884, Dr. Sheldon Jackson, who had served as a Presbyterian home missionary in Wisconsin and Minnesota and later in the Rocky Mountain area, sailed to Alaska as superintendent of missions in that territory. A year later he was also appointed federal superintendent of education for Alaska, and was charged with the responsibility of establishing a free school system. To this task he devoted the next two decades; in addition, he assisted in creating mail routes, aided in organizing the government of the territory, and was active in political life as leader of the so-called "missionary party." {3}

During his travels in the area of the Bering Sea, Jackson observed that the wholesale slaughter by whites of [132] whales, walrus, even caribou and deer -- together with irresponsible fishing -- was rapidly destroying the very basis of life for the Eskimo. He visited native villages where the people were dying of hunger, and gradually came to the conclusion that there could be little hope for a school system until the Eskimo had the essentials for a normal existence. After careful study of the situation, he came to the further conclusion that the introduction of domestic reindeer would be the best solution to the problem of providing food, clothing, and necessary tools in the future.

Jackson secured the first few reindeer from the Chukchi (Chuckchees), the herders of eastern Siberia, with funds first raised by private subscription in the American East and later appropriated by Congress. The task of introducing and caring for the animals was given to the Office of Education in the Department of the Interior. This task was not easy, as events soon revealed that adequate buildings and corrals had to be provided and grazing land surveyed in an area extending Bristol Bay to Point Barrow. Most important, experienced herders had to be found to train the Eskimo in the reindeer culture. {4}

Vast areas of land in western and northern Alaska were covered with moss, the chief reindeer food, and the climate there was found to be generally milder than in Siberia. The supply of animals across the Bering Strait was adequate. Obtaining the first reindeer, however, proved to be difficult in the extreme. Jackson and Captain J. Healy, who represented the government in the revenue cutter Bear, decided to place a few animals on one of the Aleutian Islands as an experiment. The Chukchi herdsmen, who were willing enough to exchange reindeer meat for inexpensive goods, were afraid to sell their animals on the hoof; their witch doctors (shamen) had taught them that, if they did, the [133] spirits would cause the death of their herds and untold suffering for the herdsmen. Captain Healy was able to overcome the fears of the Siberians only after promising to feed them if such a calamity indeed occurred. Sixteen deer were bought in 1890. They thrived in Alaska, and in 1892 seventeen animals were brought to Teller on Port Clarence Bay in the Seward Peninsula, some sixty miles southeast of Cape Prince of Wales. A station was started there, and more deer were imported from about a hundred miles away. By 1902 a total of 1,280 had been brought in, all from Siberia. From these came all or almost all of the 350,000 reindeer estimated to be in Alaska in the 1920s. {5}

It was much more difficult to secure experienced herdsmen capable of training the Eskimo in the care of reindeer. The Chukchi, who had been employed for the first two years of the experiment, proved to be unsatisfactory, as the Eskimo regarded them as socially and culturally inferior to themselves and charged that they were cruel to the animals.

Readers of Norwegian-American newspapers saw, late in 1893, a story inspired by Sheldon Jackson. It stated that the government was seeking in the States and Canada men with practical experience with domestic reindeer. If readers knew of Finns or Lapps accustomed to their care and willing to go to Alaska, they should get in touch with Jackson at the Office of Education. None, it turned out, could be found in North America. {6}

What happened to solve the problem was explained in 1895 by William A. Kjellman (Kjellmann) of Stoughton, Wisconsin, who also took the opportunity to correct misunderstandings about the fate of the Siberian reindeer in Alaska. They had not been slaughtered, as some newspapers had reported, and indeed had increased in number. In 1893, he said, the government [134] had imported 127 deer, together with four Siberian herders. Miner W. Bruce, who had been superintendent of the project, was replaced by W. T. Lapp. The failure of the Chukchi as instructors quickly caused the government to bring Lapps from Norway to take their place.

Kjellman, who was chosen to hire the Lapps and accompany them to Alaska, was born and raised in Finnmark, northern Norway, near the region occupied by the Lapps. He had learned their language as a boy and later, employed by a wholesale firm in Hammerfest, had bought reindeer meat and skins from the Lapps and sent these to England and Germany. Leaving for Finnmark in February, 1894, he proceeded to Kautokeino, where he hired seven Lapps, whose families accompanied them to Alaska. An additional 120 reindeer were imported from Siberia the same year, bringing the total to 418. Kjellman was soon forced by illness in his family to leave the Teller station, where he had been serving as superintendent, and to return to Wisconsin in August, 1894.

The government was fully satisfied with the new arrangement, especially after observing the manner in which the Lapps and the Norwegians who had accompanied them began the care of the reindeer, which soon increased in number to about 710 and were divided into three herds. Kjellman thought it would be of interest to many if Skandinaven of Chicago, the leading Norwegian-language newspaper in America, would follow the reindeer story in Alaska, especially now that it had become largely a Norwegian project, with Norwegian directors as well as Lapp herders. The acting superintendent in 1895 was J. C. Widsted, who had Norwegian assistants. In addition, there was also a Norwegian-American missionary and teacher at the Teller station, Pastor T. T. Brevig from Hudson, Wisconsin, a native of Norway. {7} [135]

The Lapps, who unlike the Chukchi in Siberia had been Christianized as well as partially Europeanized, had requested as a condition of their leaving Norway a Lutheran minister as well as Norwegian supervisors in Alaska. The American government turned to the Norwegian Synod (Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). In 1894, through the offices of Rasmus B. Anderson in Madison, Wisconsin, it inquired of the Reverend H. A. Preus, president of the Synod, whether he could provide a pastor to serve the Lapps and their Norwegian associates. Such a person would also be a teacher in a government school for native and other children, and would have the privilege of preaching the gospel to the Eskimo. Preus asked Brevig, who had taught in public schools in Minnesota, if he and his wife would serve in the dual role as teachers and missionaries at Teller.

Accepting, Brevig met and joined Kjellman and the Lapp party in Madison in May, 1894. A company of sixteen Lapps, Kjellman with his wife, a child, and his father, Brevig and his wife and one child, they proceeded to San Francisco by way of St. Paul, where they met Governor Knute Nelson -- the "King of Minnesota." There and all along the train route to Seattle and San Francisco, the Lapps attracted interested crowds. On June 7, the party left by ship for Alaska and arrived at the Teller station on August 1. Four days later, Brevig held religious services in what was little better than a hut, one of several buildings the government had constructed as the Teller Reindeer Station. The buildings, 20 by 60 feet in size, with 8-foot studs, were, as Brevig remarked, better suited for California than for Alaska and were in great need of repair. The structure used for the school also provided an apartment in its east end for the Brevigs and another in its west end for the Kjellmans. To keep out the wind, they lined the interior with cotton cloth over which they painted. [136]

On September 1, Brevig began teaching the Eskimo children, who numbered fifty the first day. The children learned the English words for objects and the instructor learned the corresponding Eskimo words. The task became almost impossibly difficult when the teacher turned to concepts, as abstractions such as numbers proved to be little more than puzzles to the pupils. The language problem was also complicated in religious services. Brevig preached every Sunday morning in Norwegian for the Lapps and the Norwegians, then in the afternoon in English for the Americans and the natives. At the afternoon service a young Eskimo, who was from a mission station and was learning to be a herder, served as interpreter for his people. {8}

Pastor Brevig's teaching-preaching mission at Teller is of absorbing interest in itself and should be studied with care. But his role in this study is primarily as a source of information for the reindeer and gold-strike saga in the Seward Peninsula. From 1897 to 1917, he served as official manager of the herds near Port Clarence. He received the animals imported from Siberia and dispatched herds to the north and south. He was also the first postmaster at the town later named Teller.{9}

On December 14-15, 1896, Brevig could report that the reindeer were doing well, and that Kjellman and two Lapps, Per Rist and Mikkel Nækkilæ (Nakkila, Nakkeli), were just setting out on a long journey to examine stretches of land, both nearby and at Cook's Inlet, considered suitable for raising deer. If their report was favorable, there was thought of creating a Lapp colony at the most convenient location and expanding reindeer production -- thus far largely an experiment -- into an industry. {10}

Two months later, Kjellman wrote to Rasmus B. Anderson, editor of Amerika, from the Bethel Mission [137] station on the Kuskokwim River, explaining that he was looking for a place to which the main reindeer station could be moved. He and his Lapp associates, traveling with deer, had already covered a distance of 950 miles and were as far south as they planned to go. They would now set out, by a different and for longer route, up the Yukon River to Nulato; they would go from there to Norton Bay and home, hoping to arrive in Teller by April 11, after completing a record trip of 2,000 miles without changing reindeer.

They had seen a vast area of wild land and experienced considerable hardship. They had slept in a sailcloth tent in temperatures reaching -75 degrees Fahrenheit, and had encountered a storm so severe that neither they nor their animals could stand. The men had lain flat on the ground for sixteen hours, holding on to one another lest they be blown away. Such days were not uncommon in the mountainous areas. The men had been in places where no white man had ever set foot. Kjellman thought the reindeer industry had a great future, that much had been accomplished already with it, and that Congress should be more generous in appropriating funds. Reindeer were the only adequate means of transportation in Alaska, which was no longer an "icebox" but a "goldbox" that only the deer could open. {11}

The contract negotiated with the Lapps had stipulated that a physician should go to the reindeer station at Port Clarence, where his services would be available to them and to others at Teller. Dr. Albert N. Kittilsen (Kittleson), of Norwegian descent and familiar with the language of the Lapps, had been educated at the University of Wisconsin and the Rush Medical College in Chicago and lived in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, at the time of his appointment to the station. He had traveled to Alaska in the spring of 1896. At Port Clarence he also [138] served as assistant superintendent. When the main reindeer station was moved to Unalakleet in December of the next year, he went along and was there when gold was discovered nearby.

A letter written by Kittilsen a year before his transfer gives some idea of the experiences of a pioneer doctor in northwestern Alaska. His contract permitted him a limited private practice. "I am now," he wrote in December, "more than 200 miles from Port Clarence to call on a sick white child. A Lapp and I made the trip in five days with reindeer. We travel without tent or stove, hoping to arrive each evening at an Eskimo village and to sleep in a house; but one night we had to spend in the snow. This, however, did us no harm, as we are prepared for anything. We have sleeping bags made of reindeer skins; with them one can be warm anywhere.

"It is pleasant to travel with deer; on level surfaces they are much faster than horses, and they go through where it is so uneven that a horse wouldn't think of making it." His letter, he explained, would have to travel 2,000 miles by sled before it could reach a steamer. As for cold, the worst he had experienced was only -49 degrees, and this was moderate for one dressed in deerskin from top to toe. He was traveling with two beautiful reindeer that had an unfortunate habit of running away. "Last year they did this three times. So far they have not got out of my control, although they have been able to smash two sleds for me." {12}

On June 22, 1897, Brevig had written in some detail about conditions at Port Clarence, and had informed readers of the Norwegian-American press about the decision to establish the Lapp colony and major reindeer station twelve miles from the mouth of the Unalakleet River, where there was an Eskimo village and a Swedish mission named for the river. There were, as he wrote, four reindeer herds in Alaska, with about 1,450 [139] animals. Some 425 calves had been born during the year, 140 at Port Clarence and 115 at Cape Prince of Wales; sickness, misfortune, and the butcher's knife had taken about 100. {13}

Brevig reported in August of the same year that the "Wisconsin people" had already left his station, at least temporarily. Kjellman was with Sheldon Jackson up the Yukon River, and Dr. Kittilsen had just gone down to Unalakleet and St. Michael with supplies from the Port Clarence station. It was not certain that he would return, as the gold mines down there had a magnetic attraction for all who heard the rosy reports about them. Brevig was now alone with the Lapps and the Eskimo. He enclosed a copy of the July issue of what he called the most northwestern American newspaper, the Eskimo Bulletin. It had been written and printed solely by the Eskimo herders under W. T. Lapp, who was then in charge of the mission herd. {14}

Skandinaven carried a story dated October 20, 1897, from Seattle, reporting grim news from Sheldon Jackson. The missionary stated that half of the people at Dawson City had left the Klondike, and that the only way to avoid hunger there among Americans was for the government to set up reindeer stations throughout the Yukon Valley. The deer were necessary, not only for bringing food to the needy on claims as far as 150 miles from the Yukon, but also for bringing out the mineral wealth. Kjellman was now on his way to Finnmark to bring back more Lapp drivers to replace those who were returning to Norway with him after having fulfilled their three-year contracts. About fifteen Eskimo now knew how to herd reindeer, and by the following fall some 300 animals would have been trained for driving. According to Jackson, "If the government won't use them, they can be sold. We will receive $50 per head for them when hunger stalks the door, as it will next year [140] and always in the Yukon Valley. Steamers cannot solve the problem of food supplies." {15}

The next month, Washington Posten noted that the revenue cutter Bear had arrived in Seattle. Aboard were some of the Lapps who were returning to their homeland. The climate in Alaska, they said, was much colder than in Norway, requiring two deerskin coats (frakke) instead of one as in Finnmark. The reindeer in Alaska were doing well but required more herders, who would earn $300 a year and their keep. {16}

Kjellman passed through Madison, Wisconsin, en route to Norway, accompanied by a dozen Lapps and a few Eskimo who were going to be educated at the government's Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. He said, when interviewed, that the main reindeer station definitely would be moved to within forty-five miles of St. Michael, and thus much closer to the rest of the world. The new site, chosen by Kjellman as general superintendent of the reindeer project in Alaska, would also have better harbor facilities and other advantages over Port Clarence. He informed Amerika og Norden that he had visited the Klondike gold fields during the summer and thought it unlikely that miners there would be successful. He would return to Alaska to continue his work of instructing the Eskimo in the reindeer culture. {17}

Kjellman and his company spent a couple of weeks in Chicago, where he was interviewed at great length in their hotel. Skandinaven's reporter described him as a tall, strongly-built man of about forty, with black hair and a full beard. The Lapps were dressed in the same skin and wool garments they wore in Norway. Kjellman recounted the whole sad story of why the reindeer had been introduced into Alaska, and added that in recent years not one whale had been seen in the Bering Sea. No less than 172 persons, he said, mostly Norwegians, [141] had offered their services to Sheldon Jackson in bringing Lapps from Norway and supervising the reindeer project, some of them specifying that they would bring Lapp herding dogs as well. Kjellman, who received the appointment and brought the Lapps with their dogs in 1894, had found 151 reindeer at Teller. In the fall of' 1897, there were 1,568 animals in the territory, divided among five stations: Teller, Cape Prince of Wales, the most western American point, Cape Nome, Golovnin Bay, and Eaton. These reindeer belonged to 500 Eskimo who had been taught to use the animals for transport, food, and clothing. In addition, there were another 500 Eskimo who, directly or indirectly, earned their living from the government's activity.

When Kjellman first went to Alaska, he remarked, the Eskimo were suspicious of the project, believing that whites would gain whatever benefits might ensue, as they had done in mining, whaling and sealing, and the canning of fish. They were won over only when it was made clear to them that all gains would be theirs. "Look here," Kjellman and others had said to the Eskimo, "you have a herd of 100 deer that we will give to a group of three families for a period of five years. You must not sell, slaughter, or lose them, but train them for transport as we do, and after the five years give us back 100 deer. The increase in the herd is your own property." Kjellman continued: "And we told them we believed they would become owners of 500 animals in these years, which would give them an adequate start in supporting themselves and their children for the rest of their lives. The project has been so successful in three years that the original units of 100 deer have increased to 368, which makes the owners . . . at least moderately well-off and independent. They are regarded by their own people as rich and are called umeliks or chieftains."

Kjellman added: "We gather from the various villages [142] young Eskimo who undergo a three-year learning period at one of the stations. During this time the government provides them with food, lodging, and clothes. If some of them at the end of the three years are found to be ready to care for a herd of reindeer, they are sent out with a number sufficiently large to begin sustaining them, their families, and others." The number of animals given them was determined by the size of their families as well as the number of learners in the group sent out. When the superintendent determined that three of them were ready to care for a herd and to work together, he gave them 100 reindeer. If he found only two who were willing to work together and were capable, he gave them 75, 80, or perhaps 100, depending on the size of their families. If a learner proved to be unprepared for the task of herding, he was given another year of training. If, after four years, he was still unqualified, he was given a share in a herd under the control of another native.

"As early as the summer of 1895," Kjellman said, "the Eskimo had become so interested in the project that we couldn't accept half of the applications we got from all corners of the country . . . as the government's appropriation for the operation of the school was too small for so many students. It became necessary, then, to cooperate with the various mission societies that are working in Alaska." A herd of 100 reindeer, accompanied by a Lapp, would be lent to a mission for a five-year period, with the understanding that the Eskimo in the mission would train under the Lapp, that the society would clothe and feed the natives, and that part of the herd's increase in five years would become the property of the mission and part would go to the Eskimo. "Now five times as many Eskimo are being trained as herders than would have been possible if the government were alone in the program." The mission societies were required to [143] report on their activities, and the superintendent had the power to recall the original number of reindeer lent out if he thought there was danger of losses caused by neglect. There had been no need to enforce this regulation, however, as the relationship with the missions had been one of full cooperation and success. The societies the superintendent had worked with were the American Mission Association, the Swedish Evangelical Mission Association, and the Episcopalian Mission.

The government was also supporting fifty-four Eskimo directly with food, lodging, and clothes. These were the students' wives, families, and other relatives who were not able to support themselves. "As the young men we are training will be the future leaders of the reindeer industry," Kjellman explained, "we are careful to choose the best, most trustworthy, and strongest among the Eskimo. To do this, we must often support their elderly parents and other relatives who previously had depended on them for their daily bread." Such persons normally contributed to the station the products of their hunting and fishing.

Twelve of the Lapps who had gone to Alaska in 1894 and whose contracts had expired were returning to Norway with him, but had not yet decided whether to renew their contracts. It was possible, Kjellman said, that he might bring back to Alaska as many as 100 families. In general, the Lapps had liked the territory, although they had found the winter climate more trying than in the birch forests of northern Norway. In order to secure moss for the deer, they had been compelled to stay in the western part of Alaska that stretches out into the Bering Strait. On its treeless heights they were exposed to winter-long and ice-cold northwestern winds. At times, even in their deerskin clothing, they were unable to leave their houses. The reindeer, however, did well even in the cold. The stretches of land in the interior, [144] with their pristine forests and extended valleys, had a much milder winter climate, but in summer were extremely warm, and people there complained about the mosquitoes. {18}

The reindeer story took a new and exciting turn late in 1897, with further reports of threatened hunger among the miners in the Yukon. Nordvesten, for example, carried a story from New York to the effect that 1,000 animals might be imported from Norway. Kjellman went to Washington to receive instructions in the event that Congress approved the plan to acquire these reindeer. From Røros, via Aftenposten in Kristiania, came the news that Kjellman had arrived in Finnmark on a much larger undertaking than the one of 1894. Horses had failed in their effort to bring supplies into the Yukon. Kjellman hoped to take back with him not only 1,000 deer, but 100 Lapps for a new colony in Alaska. He had said it would be relatively easy to buy the deer at $10 a head in Nordland and Finnmark, but moss in quantity sufficient to feed the animals during the journey presented a real problem in winter.

Kjellman, in Norway, explained that two transport ships, each of 250 tons, had brought food to the mining districts in the Yukon. Despite the great care that was being taken in distributing the food, with 200 Canadian mounted police rationing it, the supply could not last beyond the beginning of April. If the rivers were not open before July, enabling steamers to go in with new provisions, the mining population of from 6,000 to 8,000 would suffer real want unless food could be transported overland in one way or another. Of this fact the government was fully aware, and the three states of Oregon, California, and Washington had volunteered to contribute the necessary provisions free of charge if a means of transportation could be found. Hence the need for the reindeer, Kjellman said. He would be able to take back [145] 100 pounds of food for each animal. Asked how many Norwegians were in the Klondike, he answered that there were between 400 and 500. {19}

Kjellman presumably had some difficulty in recruiting Lapps. According to one Norwegian newspaper, the herders who returned to Kautokeino had lodged complaints. They had been well paid, they said, each adult male receiving by contract 100 kroner (about $20) per month in Alaska, and they had been given free board and clothing. All had gone well on the Thingvalla ship Island, and, on arriving at Port Clarence in 1894, some of the Lapps had set about building houses and caring for the reindeer. Others had fished for salmon. Until the houses were completed, they had been forced to live with the Eskimo in crude dirt dwellings. In summer they lived in tents. The work had not been hard, but they had found it difficult to adjust to the food they were given, especially the salted meat, which they left in water for eight days before they could eat it. Only when they became sick did they receive small portions of fresh deer meat, despite the fact that they had been promised fresh meat in their contracts. They had been assured, too, that they would be permitted to take their dogs back to Norway, free of charge, but had been forced to return without them. Their children had suffered from convulsions, and all of them had found it difficult to adjust to the climate during their early months in the territory. One herder had lost his young wife. But the Lapps admitted that the Eskimo had been willing to learn the care of the deer. They would agree to return to Alaska, as they had been able to save about 3,000 kroner per family, if they were assured that contracts would be strictly honored. {20}

Kjellman was forced to travel over 3,000 miles in Finnmark and was reported from Alta to have secured only about 500 animals. After much effort, he had been [146] able to persuade fifty Lapps to accompany him. Sheldon Jackson had shared his search and had found the region more challenging for winter travel than Chilkoot Pass in Alaska. But they were partially successful, and Dr. Jackson wired the Department of War early in February, 1898, that the Allan Line's Manitoba had left Norway with 530 deer and 87 Lapp men and women. {21}

For some weeks the Norwegian-American press had been exaggerating the number of Lapps and reindeer, but Skandinaven was close to the truth in reporting that on February 27 the Manitoba had arrived in New York, after a trip lasting 24 days, with 537 deer, 43 Lapps, 10 Finns, and 15 Norwegians who had brought their families with them -- in all 68 men, 19 women, and 26 children. The group included six newly-married couples, Samuel Balto, a Lapp who had been with Fridtjof Nansen in his famous trip over Greenland, and Johan Peter Skalogare (Johannesen), a Finn who had carried mail on his back for eight years in Finnmark. The cargo included 418 pulkas (Lapp sledges), 511 sacks of sailcloth, and 4,000 sacks of moss. {22}

The train bearing the reindeer expedition, thirty-nine cars divided into two sections, stopped off in Chicago on March 6, 1898, and, after the animals had been given some rest in the stockyards, went on to Seattle. Skandinaven took the occasion to announce that it was possible the deer and the sleighs would be sold on the West Coast, as the government had learned that help was no longer needed for the miners in the Yukon and Alaska. The number of Finns in the party was now reported as two. {23}

The reindeer grazing in Woodland Park in Seattle in 1898 before going on to Alaska. The photograph is by the well-known Norwegian photographer Anders Wilse. COURTESY OF THE HISTORICAL COLLECTION, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON LIBRARIES

When the train arrived in Seattle, the reindeer were taken to Woodland Park, where crowds of people gathered to see them and the Lapps. The government definitely had given up the original plan for a relief expedition to the Yukon, according to Washington Posten but [147] the deer nevertheless would be sent to Alaska. The new plan was to divide the herd into two parts; one with 337 animals would go to Pyramid Harbor, and from there by the Dalton route to a place under American jurisdiction, possibly Circle City, where a relief station would be set up under Kjellman's direction. The remaining 200 deer would be sent to Prince William Sound with about fifty attendants under the leadership of Captain W. R. Abercrombie. The second expedition would investigate the Copper River (Port Valdez) area, where it was hoped they could find a way, over only American soil, by which to reach the gold fields in the Yukon. The general attitude seemed to be that, although the government had given up its original plan for which the reindeer had [148] been purchased, much good would still come from their use in Alaska. {24}

The first and larger expedition left Seattle aboard the bark Seminole in March, sailing first to Port Townsend, where women and children were to be put ashore temporarily, then going on to Pyramid Harbor, where the reindeer were to be stationed for a couple of months. It was reported that 200 of the animals already had been sold to private individuals for $100 each. In April, the second expedition, under Abercrombie and with Martin Bjørnstad, an experienced miner, as interpreter, left for Copper River. {25}

Kjellman returned to Wisconsin in the summer of 1898 to spend some time with his family in Mount Horeb. Interviewed by Amerika og Norden in Madison, he reported that he had had amazingly good fortune with his reindeer in Alaska and likely would continue to serve as superintendent. He also stated that there had been three expeditions similar to his but under other leaders during the past winter. In one instance, the last deer had died when the ship from Norway anchored in New York. A second expedition brought a couple of live animals as far as Seattle, but these had died en route to Skagway. The third had five live reindeer when it arrived in Skagway, but the last of them had died at Lake Bennett. Kjellman had brought 536 of his 537 deer to Alaska in good condition. He informed the newspaper that Pastor Brevig would return to the States in the summer, as the government would soon end its work at Port Clarence, where only a few families remained after the reindeer station had been moved to its more favorable location. Kjellman said he would go back to Alaska soon, and would proceed to Siberia to secure more animals, {26}


Martin Bjørnstad, with Captain Abercrombie's exploring party in the Copper River country, wrote a series of [149] long letters to Washington Posten late in 1898, but these reports deal largely with mining prospects -- or lack of them -- in the region. Abercrombie had been generous in providing stranded gold-seekers with lodging and food -- presumably including reindeer meat -- in Port Valdez. Traveling over the Valdez Glacier was extremely difficult. Abercrombie's expedition had left in the summer to cross the glacier and explore the region beyond as far as Mount Wrangell. It apparently found a better route to Copper River than the one by way of Valdez Glacier, but it could be used only in late fall or winter. Bjørnstad was one of the party that had found it. {27}

Pastor Brevig, home in Wisconsin after his four-year period of service at Port Clarence, also visited the offices of Amerika og Norden and presented a lecture in Madison and elsewhere on his Alaska experience. He [150] naturally hoped to arouse interest in his mission and to promote support for his work with the Eskimo. He reviewed the entire reindeer story and said he thought the government's program was successful. Those involved in it had discovered in time that at least half of Alaska was clearly suited for grazing ground, and that the wilderness could sustain millions of deer and serve the native population well. {28}

On January 1, 1899, Lapps delivered at St. Michael what remained of the main herd of reindeer transported from Norway. With them were also a number of missionaries on the way to stations along the coast. Significantly, the men brought news of a remarkable discovery of gold in 1898 in small streams flowing into the Snake River, which had its mouth at Cape Nome. Prospectors had begun a stampede to Nome, some pulling their sleds themselves because of the high price and shortage of dogs. Dr. Kittilsen, who had been with the first Norwegians and Lapps to locate claims, had been living at St. Michael for more than a month, but returned to Nome on January 9 with an ample supply of provisions. {29}

After the discovery of gold at Cape Nome, the reindeer program was to play a secondary but not unimportant role in the overall story of Alaska. But the people who had been and in part still were involved in it --Lapps, Finns, and Norwegians -- were to be major characters in the new saga of gold.


As late as the summer of 1899, Washington Posten, which reported faithfully on incoming ships from Alaska, wrote mainly of mines owned by Seattle Norwegians and of the successes, failures, and tragedies among these people in the Yukon and Alaska. But it also gave tentative reports of the gold find at Cape Nome. [151] Hundreds of gold-seekers, the newspaper said, were going there and to the Klondike daily, but Nome was being favored, in part because it was on American soil. On June 30 it reported that rich gold fields "really have been discovered" in the Seward Peninsula. In July, "gold ships" began to arrive from St. Michael, and the Alliance brought the first substantial news about Nome. Later ships brought the report that there were more people than mines at Cape Nome and advised people not to go there. {30}

The press had a reliable source of information from Nome during the early fall of 1899 in Magnus Kjeldsberg, who had been in charge of the reindeer sent to Norton Sound. When he arrived at the station there, he learned of a gold discovery on Anvil Creek. He had gone immediately to the Nome area and had been fortunate in securing some of the best claims in the new mining district. He, Dr. Kittilsen, and a few other Norwegians could be said to be the richest men at Cape Nome. Kjeldsberg had left Norway a little more than two years before With hardly a cent in his pocket; now he counted his money in the thousands of dollars. With another Norwegian, he later operated a saloon on Anvil Creek. In September, Washington Posten announced a second discovery of gold along the beaches at Cape Nome; there, too, Norwegians had been among the fortunate. {31}

Once fully aware of the importance of the discovery on Anvil Creek, the Norwegian-language newspapers carried many stories about it and Nome, often with exaggerated estimates of the riches taken. Although most of the miners had earned good money, many were nevertheless sick because they lacked fuel for heating, and among them was Jafet Lindeberg, the chief discoverer on Anvil Creek. A little over two years before, he had come with the Lapps in the second reindeer expedition, and had gone to Norton Sound with Magnus [152] Kjeldsberg and his brother. Lindeberg recovered and arrived in Seattle aboard the gold ship Roanoke, which carried $1,500,000 in the precious metal. Lindeberg and John Brynteson were reported to have $400,000 each, J, R. Anderson, $100,000, H. C. Wilhelmson, $30,000, and William A. Kjellman, $75,000. Kjellman, who planned to spend the winter in Wisconsin, was accompanied by Dr. Kittilsen, who also had rich claims. {32}

Late in 1899, Skandinaven ran a long but misleading story about Cape Nome, among other things stating that the chief discoverer of gold there had been a Swedish Covenant missionary from Chicago, the Reverend Nels O. Hultberg. {33} This and other inaccurate articles in the Norwegian-American press also had implied less than honest actions by Hultberg and another Covenant missionary, P. H. Anderson. Kjellman felt impelled to write an article correcting these errors, and he sent copies of it to various newspapers from his home at Mount Horeb. He described the "gold belt" to which Nome belonged. Paying sand had been found at various places in the belt; each had its own "discoverer," Kjellman wrote, "and I think that, if one knew the whole truth, Scandinavians without doubt hold the record. This, in any case, is true along the Bering Sea coast" -- a fitting consequence, he added, of the fact that Virus Bering, the first European to sail those waters, was a Scandinavian.

Kjellman explained that the discovery at Cape Nome was made in 1898 by the Swedes Erik O. Lindblom and John Brynteson and the Norwegian Jafet Lindeberg. The three men had sailed from Golovnin Bay on September 11 in a fiat-bottomed boat "in which few would have risked their lives." On September 18, coming to one of the Snake River's tributaries -- later named Anvil Creek -- they had found coarse gold in paying quantities. The men had remained long enough on Anvil Creek to seek out and stake what they thought were -- [153] and what proved to be -- the best claims. They had returned to Golovnin Bay on October 5 to get several more men to join them and to agree on the necessary bylaws for the new district.

Dr. Kittilsen, who was then at Golovnin Bay, Gabe Price of San Francisco, Johan I. Tornanses (Tornensis), a Lapp, and the three discoverers had set out for Nome on October 12 in a small schooner belonging to the Swedish mission and had arrived at Snake River on the 15th. There they had organized a mining district, staked their claims, opened a recorder's office, and chosen Kittilsen recorder. They had worked at their tasks until the freeze set in, then had returned overland to Golovnin Bay and given out the news of their actions. These, Kjellman maintained, were the naked facts about Anvil Creek. Stories in Skandinaven and other newspapers some time earlier had tended to blacken the reputations of two honorable Swedish missionaries. He thought the much publicized "beach diggings" at Nome would yield little gold but that the rivers and creeks, as well as the tundra in the Cape Nome district, would give up a great deal of treasure; they were already largely "located." {34}

There was a measure of truth in Skandinaven's story about Hultberg as the discoverer of gold at Cape Nome. Captain Daniel B. Libby, who had been a member of the Western Union Telegraph construction corps in Alaska, was among those who had found evidence of gold on Mesling and Ophir creeks in 1897. After spending the winter at Golovnin, he and his associates had resumed prospecting and founded Council City. Hultberg, who had established and was in charge of the Swedish Covenant mission at Cheenik on Golovnin Bay, came to Libby's camp on April 23, 1898, and took part in the organization of the Discovery mining district, the first placer district on the Seward Peninsula. Soon [154] after, he participated in the creation of the Eldorado (El Dorado) mining district, adjoining Discovery, and the Bonanza district on Golovnin Bay.

Hultberg had actually prospected before Libby's arrival. One result of this activity had been a rush of prospectors to the Kotzebue area in the summer of 1898. No promising discovery resulted there, however, and the Ophir Creek findings were soon "eclipsed by strikes on Anvil Creek." Natives had reported gold on the beach of the Sinuk River, information that led Hultberg, Brynteson, H. L. Blake, and others to set out in a schooner for the site. A storm forced them to take refuge at the mouth of the Snake River. Prospecting there, they crossed Anvil Creek but found little gold and failed to stake out claims. Similarly, they did not find gold in sufficient amounts in the beach sands of the Sinuk River. {35}

By far the most important account of the gold discovery on Anvil Creek was written in later years by Jafet Lindeberg. A trader in Golovnin Bay named John Dexter, he wrote, had provided a few natives with gold pans and instructed them in their use. While on a fishing and hunting trip, an Eskimo named Tom Gaurik found gold on Ophir Creek in the Council City area. When he returned in August, 1897, he reported his find. Shortly thereafter, a few prospectors representing San Francisco capitalists under a grubstake contract learned of the native's experience from Dexter. Prospecting there with others during the winter and spring of 1897-1898, they staked claims on Ophir and Melsing creeks and organized the Eldorado mining district, elected a recorder, and drafted rules. When news of their success slipped out, a rush followed from nearby places. He continued:

"I, Jafet Lindeberg, a native of Norway, came to this country in the spring of 1898 with Sheldon Jackson. . . .for the express purpose of going to Plover Bay, in [155] Eastern Siberia, to relieve Captain Kelly, who was trading at that place for reindeer. . . . I left Seattle on the steamer Del Norte . . . taking with me a stock of provisions. . . . On arrival at St. Michael, news was brought to Doctor Jackson that Captain Kelly had been driven away from Plover Bay by hostile natives. It was then decided that it would be unwise to send me over there and, being left without a suitable position, Doctor Jackson gave me permission to leave Government employ. This I did, and, taking my outfit, made for the new diggings at Council City, which had been located on the banks of the Niukluk River, near Ophir Creek."

Lindeberg introduced his major associates in this manner: "John Brynteson, a native of Sweden and an experienced coal and iron miner who for seven years had worked in the mines of Michigan, determined to go to Alaska and look for coal. Arriving in St. Michael and hearing of the discoveries on Ophir Creek he promptly left St. Michael for Council City, arriving there early in the summer of 1898.

"Erik O. Lindblom, a native of Sweden, by profession a tailor, and for years following his trade in San Francisco, while there, hearing of the fabulous reports from Kotzebue Sound, joined the stampede, going north on the bark Alaska. Arriving at Port Clarence on his way . . . and hearing of the gold discovery on Ophir Creek, he left the ship and proceeded to Golofin [sic] Bay, then to Council City.

"We three men," Lindeberg continued, "met by chance at Council City in August, 1898; after prospecting around in that district for some time and staking some claims, we formed a prospecting companionship and decided to prospect over a wider range of territory. Even at this early date the Council City district was overrun by stampeders and staked to the mountain tops; so we proceeded to Golofin Bay and taking a large open [156] boat and an outfit of provisions, on September 11, 1898, started up the coast toward Port Clarence, stopping at various rivers to prospect on the way, in which we found signs of gold, but not in paying quantities, and finally arriving at what is now known as the town of Nome, which we named, and camped at the mouth of Glacier Creek, prospecting as we went along. The first encouraging sign of gold we found on the banks of the Snake River .... After locating our camp as before mentioned, we proceeded to prospect along the tributaries of Snake River, which tributaries we named as follows: Anvil Creek (taking the name from an anvil-shaped rock which stands on the mountain on the east side of the creek), Snow Gulch, Glacier Creek, Rock Creek and Dry Creek, in all of which we found gold in paying quantities and proceeded to locate claims, first on Anvil Creek because we found better prospects in that creek than in the others, and where we located the 'discovery claim' in the name of us three jointly. In addition to this, each man staked a separate claim in his own name on the creek. This was the universal custom in Alaska, as it was conceded that the discoverer was entitled to a discovery claim and one other. After locating on Anvil Creek, claims were staked on Snow Gulch, Dry Creek and Rock Creek, after which we returned to Golofin Bay and reported the discovery.

"It was then decided to form a mining district, so we three original discoverers organized a party, taking with us Dr. A. N. Kittleson, G. W. Price, P. H. Anderson and a few others, again proceeded to Nome in a small schooner which we charted in Golofin Bay, purchasing as many provisions as we could carry on the boat, and on our arrival the Cape Nome mining district was organized and Dr. A. N. Kittleson elected the first recorder. Rules were formulated, after which the party prospected and staked claims, finally returning to Golofin [157] Bay for winter quarters. The news spread like wildfire and soon a wild stampede was made to the new diggings from Council City, St. Michael and the far-off Yukon.

"At this point very few mining men were in the country, the newcomers in many instances being from every trade known. The consequences of this were soon well known; a few men with a smattering of education gave their own interpretation of the mining laws, hence jumping, mining claims soon became an active industry. . . . They were angry to think that they had not been taken in at the beginning, so a few of them jumped nearly every claim on Anvil Creek, although there was an abundance of vacant and unlocated ground left which has since proved to be more valuable than the original claims located by us and our second party who helped us to form the district. This jumping, or relocating of claims by the parties above mentioned, poisoned the minds of all the newcomers against every original locator of mining claims and as a consequence every original claim was relocated by from one to a dozen different parties. . . .

"In the early months of 1899 we hauled supplies to the creeks and as soon as the thaw came began active mining on Snow Gulch and on Anvil Creek. Soon a large crowd flocked to Nome, which was then known as Anvil Creek. Among this crowd was a large element of lawless men who soon joined forces with the Council City jumpers and every effort was made by them to create trouble. . . . and had it not been for the military, who proved themselves to be true men to the American Government, much riot and bloodshed would have resulted from the conduct of the aforementioned parties. . . .

"The situation was suddenly relieved in an unexpected manner. It was accidently discovered that the beach sands were rich in gold. . . . Within a few weeks [158] the mutterings of discontent were almost silenced because it was found that good wages could be made with rockers on the beach. All the idle men went to work as fast as they could obtain implements." {36}

Something of what it meant to come to Nome from northern Norway and to work in one of Jafet Lindeberg's mines is told in the story of Leonhard Seppala, who later won fame as a dog racer in the 408-mile All-Alaska Sweepstakes and the Ruby Derby. Lindeberg financed the trip of this young fisherman, who in turn was to repay its cost from wages, a sum of $300. On arrival, Seppala and his fellow immigrants wandered about the sprawling town of Nome for several days, finally taking shelter in a cabin owned by Lapps, where they slept on the floor. There they waited for word from Lindeberg. It finally came in the form of a request that Seppala and his partner Magnus, also a fisherman, drive a heavily loaded wagon to Discovery on Anvil Creek. Neither had ever driven a horse and they found it necessary to bribe a stableboy to harness a lively team and hitch it to the wagon. Beyond the firm beach, out on the tundra, their troubles began. "The horses went down in the soft mud and the wagon sank to the axles. Time and again we unloaded the wagon, carrying the burden by hand until we found more solid footing." Almost ready to give up, they were saved by a prospector familiar with their problem. In all, it took eleven hours to make the five-mile trip to the mine.

Leonhard and Magnus were separated the next day. Seppala's account of the job he was assigned suggests the demands made on the workers in the mines. He was ordered to hold a horse-pulled slip-scraper, "which was used to clear away the tailing at the lower end of the sluice boxes. It looked simple enough, but the teamster kept the horses at a trot all the forenoon while I followed filling the scraper and then running behind and [159] dumping it. Later I found out that the dumping was supposed to be the teamster's job." Seppala was saved from total exhaustion by transferring to another job, which was only a bit less strenuous. After the scraper was damaged and taken to the shop for repair, he was put to work shoveling gravel into the sluice boxes, an activity that at first "seemed child's play to me"; but he soon realized that he was falling behind another miner opposite him who "worked like a machine." When the day ended, Seppala's arms "ached and throbbed" and his "blistered hands burned" so he could not sleep.

What any worker in the mines along Anvil Creek confronted in addition to meager wages was a group of "slave-driving bosses. . . . It was a case of the survival of the fittest." The result was discouragement and disillusion on every side. "Men who had never done a day's hard work in their lives toiled and struggled trying to earn enough money to leave the country." After a ten-hour day of shoveling and a sleepless night, Seppala said, "I was in a sort of daze from fatigue. They told me it was time for me to do some real work -- I was to go on night shift." For mineowners, the almost impossible efforts of the workers were profitable indeed. Discovery Mine on Anvil Creek yielded "from six to fifteen thousand dollars in a two-day run of each string of boxes. I saw gold dust and nuggets by the pan and bucketful."

Seppala went on at least one prospecting trip at Lindeberg's request, with negative results. When the prospectors returned, he went back to his night shift. "All that September the rain never stopped." His new foreman was a well-read American who taught the newcomer English and the ways of the country. But the work continued to be unbearable. Seppala stated that his arms burned so with fever that he would go out of his tent and "thrust them into the cold water in one of the pits to cool them and so relieve the pain. . . . After [160] insufficient rest, the men would drag themselves to the pits, stiff and sore in every limb, dressed in oil-skins, sou'westers, and rubber boots, with coal-oil headlights making a weak light." Water "ran in streams down our necks as we bent over, and trickled up our arms as we lifted them with each shovelful of gravel -- a process repeated probably two thousand times in a night. . . . Men came, worked a shift or more, and left, some did not last a single shift."

Seppala, when each evening approached, thought of his home in Norway. In his words, "I . . regretted that I had listened to the golden-tongued orators who had persuaded me to come to Alaska.. . . I wanted adventure and I was getting it. . . . Often when I awoke . . . I would try to console myself with the thought that after all this life had one advantage over that of the Norse fisherman -- we at least had ground under our feet, and not hundreds of fathoms of roaring Arctic Ocean. . . . If only the gold had not beckoned and I had been able to stay in Southeastern Alaska and fish as I had planned so long ago!" Daylight brought new hope. At breakfast, "which was supper for us . . . we would build a crackling fire in the little tent stove. It was so cozy in there that we would fire up and talk for hours while our clothes dried and the boys from neighboring tents dropped in and exchanged stories with us . . . Our troubles were forgotten until we went to bed and the pain and fever returned."

Lindeberg, a major victim of mine-jumping, was not averse to using violence himself in defense of his claims. One night he ordered Seppala and four other men to report at his office. There he told them and additional men to go quietly in pairs to his No. 2 mine on Glacier Creek and to meet him at the southeast corner stake. All received guns, left at ten-minute intervals to walk the six miles in darkness to Glacier, and, arriving, [161] were stationed at various points on the property. Jumpers made two attempts to relocate the claim, and failed. Shots were fired and three intruders were captured. Seppala, who was involved in the fighting, injured one of the jumpers by hitting him with his rifle.

One morning late in October, Ole, boss of a nearby group of night workers, stuck his head into Seppala's tent and announced, "Well, it's all off. She froze up on us last night. You clean up the boxes for the last time to-day." Seppala then found a temporary job in a small camp where the men did their own "sourdough cooking.'' He worked with two young Norwegian Americans just out of school and unused to hard work, but the demands were not great and they got along well.

In December, Lindeberg brought news of the gold discovery in the Kougarok and of a plan to send out four men and two dog teams to prospect in the area. He invited three Swedes and Seppala to join the party, causing the latter to dream of making a strike, staking a claim, and becoming rich. The trip with his congenial partners was rich in experience and tragic in its revelation of what white civilization had done to the Eskimo, but it failed in its search for gold. Seppala never "struck it rich," but, as he told the writer in 1948, he was glad of it. He had seen enough of what the metal could do to people like himself.
When asked his opinion of Jafet Lindeberg, Seppala described him as a strong, natural leader of men, but lacking in education. Tall and athletic, he had been a fine seaman and fisherman in Norway. His parents, both of Finnish origin, had come to Finnmark by way of Sweden. (Seppala's mother was Norwegian; his father was half Finnish.) Lindeberg, something of a "plunger," who was forced to spend a fortune in the litigation resulting from an effort to steal his mines, had later lost much of his money in Nevada. Speaking of the [162] Nome of the early 1900s, Seppala said it was full of Norwegians, some from Finnmark and other parts of Norway, others from the States. Swedes, also deeply involved in the gold discoveries, were perhaps equally numerous. But the workers in the mines had come from everywhere. Seppala, while directing operations in an underground mine, had had employees from Russia, Portugal, Egypt, Montenegro, and other countries under his supervision. {37}


The discovery of gold on Cape Nome was followed by what must be described as one of the most notorious and infamous judicial scandals in American history. It involved the theft, by legal action, of the rich placer mines largely owned by Scandinavians, and it was perpetrated by the judge of a district court in Alaska in collaboration with a prominent national politician.

The Norwegian press in America covered the Nome scandal thoroughly and, on the whole, accurately, but it is best to hear this story of intrigue and conspiracy first from a person trained in the law and familiar with the Alaskan scene. Perhaps no one was better qualified to interpret its legal aspects than James Wickersham, who served as a district judge in Alaska after 1900 and was later the territorial delegate to Congress for fourteen years. He was editor of seven volumes of Alaska Law Reports and author of a Bibliography of Alaskan Literature.

Wickersham writes that among those who went to Nome in 1899 were lawyers to whom it seemed "wickedly unfair that the rich claims, so few in number, should fall to a few 'lucky Swedes' and Lapland rein-deer-herders, and loud protests began to rise above the warm stoves in the straggling new town. Then some 'sea lawyer' raised the question whether these aliens could legally locate and hold mining claims in Alaska." When [163] the Nome lawyers answered this question in the negative, the protests grew into threats, and the threats led to action.

Certain discontented miners shared his view and at a meeting on July 10, 1899, a resolution was drafted declaring the claims of the Scandinavians illegal and therefore open to relocation. The leaders among the protesters had men stationed on Anvil Mountain, near the mines; the understanding was that when they saw a signal fire in Nome they would know that the resolution had passed and that they should get on with jumping the claims. Word of this scheme, however, had got to Fort St. Michael. A Lieutenant Spaulding and two of his soldiers proceeded to Nome, attended the miners' meeting, and forced adjournment by motion.

Frustrated in their claim-jumping plan, the Nome lawyers sought to have the mining laws altered in their favor, and sent one of their men to Washington, D.C., where a bill was pending in the Senate in the fall of 1899 for civil government in Alaska. An act of 1884 had stated that the laws of Oregon "are hereby declared to be the law in said district so far as the same may be applicable." According to the civil code of Oregon, an "alien may acquire and hold lands, or interest therein, by purchase, devise, or descent, and he may convey, mortgage, and devise the same, and if he shall die intestate, the same shall descend to his heirs; and in all cases such lands shall be held, conveyed, mortgaged, or devised or shall descend in like manner and with like effect as if such alien were a native citizen of this state or the United States." Section 73 of the Oregon civil code specifically stated that the "title to any lands heretofore conveyed shall not be questioned, nor in any manner affected, by reason of the alienage of any person from or through whom such title may have been derived."
These parts of the Oregon code had been put into [164] Senate bill 3919, which was introduced on March 1, 1900, by Senator T. H. Carter of Montana. When the bill came up for discussion, Senator H. C. Hansbrough of North Dakota moved their elimination and offered what came to be known as the "Hansbrough amendment," which declared invalid the claims on Anvil Creek and permitted relocation by jumpers ready to act. The amendment was immediately opposed by senators W. M. Stewart of Nevada, J. C. Spooner of Wisconsin, Knute Nelson of Minnesota, H. M. Teller of Colorado, and others.

Finding the Hansbrough motion inadequate, the senators who had favored it gave their support to another amendment introduced by Hansbrough on April 4: "That persons who are not citizens of the United States or who prior to making location had not legally declared that intention to become such, shall not be permitted to locate, hold, or convey mining claims in said district of Alaska, nor shall any title to a mining claim acquired by location or purchase through any such person or persons be legal." This altered motion also led to vigorous objection and heated debate in what Wickersham likens to a lawsuit in the Senate. When it appeared that the debate might prevent passage of the bill, which also provided for needed civil government in Alaska, the senators arrived at a compromise that eliminated the controversial sections from the Oregon civil code on alien property rights, and the bill was passed. Nothing in American law, however, denied aliens the right to own or to sell mines.

As Wickersham asserts and the Norwegian-American press had charged all along, the leader and moving spirit in the struggle to get approval of the Hansbrough amendment and its revision had been Alexander McKenzie, a Republican national committeeman from North Dakota who had strong political influence in the [165] capital and in the states of Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana. He had been a receiver for the Northern Pacific Railway during its financially difficult years and subsequently chief lobbyist in Washington for this and other railroads. It was to him that the lawyers representing the jumpers in Alaska turned in their effort to secure the Anvil Creek mines. He failed to steer the Hansbrough amendment through the Senate, but succeeded in eliminating the controversial Oregon sections from the Alaska bill. He also had become interested in the Nome gold field and had set his mind on securing what he could of it.

McKenzie, together with his friends in the Senate, next had to make sure that his nominees were chosen for the new United States First District Court in Alaska. President William McKinley obliged by appointing Arthur H. Noyes of Minnesota as judge, C. L. Vawter of Montana as marshal, and Joseph K. Wood, also of Montana, as district attorney. McKenzie even influenced the selection of minor officers. He then organized, under the laws of Arizona, a corporation with authorized capital stock of $15,000,000. He became president and general manager of this firm, the Alaska Gold Mining Company, and later arranged with Hubbard, Beeman, and Hume, attorneys for the jumpers in Nome, to buy from their clients titles to the mines they had taken. Payment for the claims was made in stock in his company. McKenzie also doled out shares to friends who would help him in his scheme, put some in reserve for other purchases, and was believed to have kept the majority of the shares for himself. It was clear that, in Wickersham's words, he was "intent on capturing a fortune by piratic force from a few simple-minded Lapp reindeer-herders and hard-digging Scandinavian miners. It looked to the boss like an easy job!" {38}

If what had happened in the Senate was part of a [166] carefully worked out plan to justify the seizure of mines from their rightful owners, what followed was nothing less than a colossal swindle. Judge Noyes, an old friend of McKenzie's in Minnesota who had been in Washington during the hearings on the Alaska bill, sailed to Nome from Seattle on the Senator in the company of McKenzie and Robert Chipps, jumper claimant of Discovery mine on Anvil Creek. Noyes remained aboard ship after McKenzie and Chipps went ashore in Nome. On the day of landing, July 19, 1900, McKenzie met with the attorney W. T. Hume of the firm Hubbard, Beeman, and Hume; the result was the transfer to McKenzie's company of a half-interest in the disputed mines. Noyes then entered Nome on July 21. When Wood, the district attorney, became a member of Hubbard, Beeman, and Hume, McKenzie also received a quarter-interest in the legal firm.

It was at once clear that McKenzie faced strong opposition in Charles D. Lane, a successful miner from California, Jafet Lindeberg, whom Wickersham describes as a shrewd businessman who had the witnesses essential to fighting the schemers, and two young San Francisco lawyers, Samuel Knight and W. H. Metson. Lane had organized the Wild Goose Mining Company, which did battle beside Lindeberg's Pioneer Mining Company. McKenzie and his attorneys relied on Judge Noyes to put into effect the plan prepared by them to make McKenzie receiver of the claims and to protect him as he worked out the mines. Knowing of the relationship between the two men, Lindeberg and Lane understood that they could have no justice in Nome: their lawyers therefore prepared to appeal to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

According to Wickersham, McKenzie's lawyers "had four actions pending in the court over which Judge Noyes would preside, attacking the right of the original [167] locators to four of the most valuable claims on Anvil Creek. Another case was brought . . . by Chipps, who had previously jumped Discovery claim, and on . . . the 24th, at six o'clock p.m., in Judge Noyes' private room in his hotel, applications were presented by Hume to the Judge to appoint receivers for these five claims. Without notice to the defendants, and without even reading the papers or the orders he signed, as his first judicial act at Nome, Judge Noyes appointed McKenzie receiver for these five claims, with instructions to take immediate possession and extract the gold therefrom." He ordered those who held the mines to deliver them to McKenzie and to refrain from any kind of interference in working them. "The receiver's bond was fixed at $5,000 in each case, though the output from one of the claims alone was stated to be $15,000 a day. The receiver had two wagons ready and he and his men raced to Anvil Creek that night and took immediate possession of the claims and all personal property thereon, to the surprise of the owners who had not expected such quick work."

When Noyes refused to listen to the mineowners' attorneys or even to grant them the right of appeal in Nome, they sent lawyers to San Francisco who delivered Noyes's papers to Judge William W. Morrow of the federal court of appeals. This court was not sitting, but Morrow prepared orders permitting appeals in the five cases and "directed that writs of supersedeas issue thereon . . . directed to McKenzie and Judge Noyes commanding Noyes to desist from any further proceedings on account of said orders, and commanding McKenzie to restore to the defendants in said cases all property which he had taken as receiver. Certified copies of the orders allowing appeals and writs of supersedeas in all such cases were returned to and filed in the district court at Nome, and served upon Judge [168] Noyes and McKenzie. The receiver refused to enter orders requiring him to do so, and denied the right of the Circuit Court of Appeals to allow the appeals and to issue the writs of supersedeas."

The owners' attorneys thus failed in their effort to get the judge and receiver to comply with the orders of the San Francisco court. Noyes and McKenzie were taking the advice of Wood, the district attorney, McKenzie's private lawyer, and C. A. S. Frost, an examiner in the Department of Justice who was then serving in Alaska and who stated his views "in violent and defiant language.'' The defendants, having no other course, then "made up the record and filed it in the Circuit Court of Appeals . . . with an application for its mandatory action.'' That court on October 1 found that the receiver "had continued to refuse to restore the gold and gold dust and other personal property." It also ordered two deputy marshals "to proceed to Nome, to enforce its writs of supersedeas, arrest the offending receiver . . . and produce him at the bar of that court at San Francisco.

McKenzie and his men again refusing to comply with the writs, the marshals proceeded "to secure the large amount of gold dust deposited in the Nome bank (the Alaska Banking and Safe-Deposit Company) in McKenzie's private deposit boxes." Their task was no easy one, as McKenzie resisted physically and provoked "a violent altercation" at the bank counter. The marshals called upon the army at Fort Davis, and a guard of soldiers came to their assistance. They then broke open the boxes, extracted the gold dust, delivered it to the mine-owners, arrested McKenzie, and "boarded the last boat for San Francisco."

McKenzie was tried on February 11, 1901, was found guilty in two cases, and was sentenced to imprisonment for one year in the Alameda county jail. The court of [169] appeals used blunt, harsh language in sentencing him and praised the people of Alaska for depending "solely upon the courts for the correction of the wrongs." McKenzie's attorneys applied to the United States Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus testing the legality of his sentence; it reviewed his case but refused to prepare the writ. His many political friends rallied to support him and in May, 1901, President McKinley, on tour in San Francisco, received an appeal for a pardon from McKenzie, who claimed ill health. The appeal was granted reluctantly after McKenzie returned the gold dust he had shipped to Seattle.

According to Wickersham, McKenzie's "notorious criminal activities as the head of the most flagrant prostitution of American courts known in our history, and his other offenses were all forgiven by the President's pardon. He returned to North Dakota, where his health quickly recovered its normal condition, and continued in his activities as a leading citizen." In July, citations were issued by the San Francisco court, taken to Nome, and served on Noyes, Wood, Dudley Du Bose and Thomas J. Geary, McKenzie's legal advisers, and Frost. They were ordered to appear before the court of appeals, where they were charged with contempt. All but Geary were found guilty. Noyes was sentenced to pay a fine of $1,000; Wood was given four months in jail, Du Bose, six, and Frost, twelve; all served their terms. Noyes and Wood were subsequently removed from office. {39}

Unfortunately, others had followed the example of McKenzie and his associates in the Nome area. When Wickersham arrived there on September 16, 1901, he found that with the excuse that the locators had not been citizens, many claims had been jumped, and the original owners had had little chance to defend their rights. Lawsuits had been started but not tried. After the [170] San Francisco decisions, the miners naturally expected that they would recover their property. When Noyes sailed for San Francisco, the owners had joined forces and driven off the jumpers, in effect setting themselves above the law. Soldiers had seized the claims but had not worked them. With Wickersham's appearance, they withdrew and civil authority was restored. The judge had some 200 cases before him, but speed in dealing with them was possible because of the San Francisco interpretation of the law. Case after case involving jumping and disputed ownership was tried during the winter of 1901-1902. The "business of the town and district began to respond to the settlement of title." The "cleansing of the Augean stables at Nome," begun by Wickersham, was continued by Judge Alfred A. Moore of Pennsylvania, who arrived on July 13, 1902, to fill the bench vacated by Noyes. {40}


Meanwhile, the Norwegian-American newspapers carried numerous stories, often written as letters from Alaska, about the discoveries at Nome and the subsequent attempts to steal the mines.

One of the first and most competent correspondents to write from Nome was Captain E. M. Cederbergh of Portland, Oregon, who went to Alaska early in 1900 as director of the Arctic Trading and Mining Company. {41} His reports to the Norwegian-American press were detailed, reflecting sound judgment. The same can be said of the letters from C. M. Thuland, who after graduation from Luther College and a short course at the University of Minnesota law school published and edited newspapers in both English and Norwegian. Going to Seattle in 1889, he started Washington Tidende, which later merged with Washington Posten. He continued his studies in law, was admitted to the bar, and opened [171] an office in Seattle. He went to Nome in the spring of 1900 to defend the interests of clients and remained there, gaining some notoriety in suits involving mining property. As a journalist, he also wrote interesting stories about Scandinavian social life in Nome. {42}

Skandinaven was quick to publicize the efforts to deprive the Scandinavians of their rightful claims to mines. Beginning with its April 27, 1900, issue, it covered the debates in the Senate, April 18-19, under the caption Guldtyve (Gold Thieves). {43} The editors expressed their indignation at the shameful treatment of the Norwegians, Swedes, and Lapps in Nome and also the misrepresentations of the situation in the English-language press. The newspaper promised its readers to expose the whole story of the "Laplanders," as all the Scandinavians and Finns were labeled by those who sought to rob them, and spared no words in condemning a so-called Law and Order League for trying to secure the help of Congress in carrying out its plans. It praised Senator Knute Nelson for his defense of the Scandinavians in Nome and such senators as Teller, Stewart, Spooner, and others who supported him. As for Senator Hansbrough, Skandinaven said the Norwegians in North Dakota knew him well as an enemy of Scandinavians but never dreamed that he would sink to the level of becoming the congressional spokesman and tool for a gang of lawless thieves. {44}

The next month, with a clearer view of what had gone on in the Senate, Skandinaven loaded both editorial barrels for an article called "Covering up His Tracks." It charged that Hansbrough, after having been "compelled to abandon his dishonorable plot of robbing the discoverers by means of retroactive legislation," was making "vigorous efforts to enlist some of the Washington correspondents in his cause. In this he appears to have been rather successful. W. E. Curtis had [172] come to his rescue in the Chicago Record." The editorial quoted Curtis as saying that the Alaska bill "would have been defeated in the Senate and Alaska would have been left another year without any laws if Senator Hansbrough and Senator Carter had not yielded the amendment prohibiting the location of mining claims by aliens which they had advocated so earnestly. Senator Stewart . . . and others whose friends are interested in a syndicate that has purchased a lot of claims at Cape Nome from the Laplanders . . . showed a determination to defeat the bill by talking it to death rather than accept the Hansbrough amendment, which canceled the Laplander claims and left them open to relocation by American miners. Most of the claims . . . have been 'jumped' by genuine miners, and the titles will now be settled either by shotguns or the courts. Alaska people report a general and determined hostility against the syndicate, and the miners profess to be able to take care of themselves."

Skandinaven's reply to the Record was a simple statement of the facts in the conflict. It pointed to the "fine Italian hand of Hansbrough" in the Curtis account, which it described as "nothing but a maze of misrepresentations. It conceals the fact that the amendment . . . was smuggled in as a substitute for a unanimous committee report; it describes the original claim-holders as alien Laplanders, whereas the truth is that nearly all of them are Scandinavians and citizens or intended citizens; it represents the contest as a fight between individual American miners and a powerful California syndicate, while, as a matter of fact, it is a fight between the . . . discoverers and lawful claim-holders . . . and a lawless mob, many of whom were aliens. . . Mr. Curtis conceals the fact that Senator Hansbrough himself is one of the claim-jumpers, by proxy or otherwise, while he insinuates that those who opposed the Hansbrough outrage were working on [173] behalf of interested friends! . . . He has been misled into fathering a veiled charge of which there is no trace even in Hansbrough's curious argument."

Skandinaven also called attention to an article written by the Washington correspondent of the Minneapolis Journal, who "tells the same story . . . and it is very evident that both gentlemen have drawn upon the same source." The Journal scribe "dons the mask of impartiality and appears to be very much concerned about the truth. But the burden, not to say purpose, of the article is to mislead the reader -- to befog what must have been perfectly clear to the writer himself if he had made any attempt at all to ascertain the facts." Skandinaven was indignant over the fact that the Journal's writer "gravely informs his readers that a California syndicate sent the 'Laplanders' to a district where gold was not known to exist, for the purpose of gobbling up all the gold there; and that such simple-minded fellows as senators Nelson and Spooner were caught in a Democratic trap and -- 'unbeknownst to themselves,' of course -- were aiding a Democratic scheme of securing a million dollars of Cape Nome gold for the Bryan campaign tired!"

"Here," according to Skandinaven "are some of the pertinent, incontestable facts that the Journal man has neglected to state:

"1. The so-called 'Laplanders' were mostly Scandinavians or Finns. Some of them were United States citizens; others had declared their intention to become citizens in the manner prescribed by law, while the rest (including Lindeberg) had declared such intention in good faith before a United States commissioner in Alaska.
"2. Even if they had been aliens, their right to hold claims is indisputable according to the act of 1897, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States. . .
"3. Some of the members of the so-called Law and [174] Order League were, or are, aliens in the service of English syndicates.
"4. The Hansbrough amendment was presented, surreptitiously, as a substitute for a unanimous committee report. Senator Carter, the chief champion of the amendment on the floor of the Senate, had given his cordial support in committee to the section he had subsequently, at the solicitation of Hansbrough, sought to defeat.
"5. The Hansbrough amendment was an attempt at retroactive legislation, one of the most odious forms of injustice and oppression.
"6. Senator Hansbrough is himself one of the claim-jumpers at Cape Nome.
"7. Senator Stewart stated upon the floor of the Senate that, if the claims of certain people (Senator Hansbrough) had been good, the amendment would not have been presented. To this Senator Hansbrough made no reply." {45}

William A. Kjellman was delighted with Skandinaven's expose. Writing to the newspaper from his home in Mount Horeb, he maintained that the affair was "far more important for the Scandinavian population in this country than it would first appear to be. The assault against some of them at Cape Nome by 'American tramps' for whom Senator Hansbrough . . . has made himself spokesman is one of the worst and most infamous attacks that has ever been made against our people." The same was true, he wrote, of Hansbrough's shameful performance in the Senate, and he hoped the Norwegians in North Dakota would not forget it. He had been in Nome after December, 1898, and knew very well how the jumpers went about their work. "If it hadn't been for the timely help that the Scandinavians received from the military authorities, one would have heard long ago of bloody conflict up there, [175] as well as complaints that in this country there is no law or justice." Kjellman did not know Senator Nelson, but he expressed gratitude for Nelson's skillful defense of the mineowners. He was less enthusiastic about the Scandinavian press in America; during the two weeks he had followed events in the Senate, he had looked for articles in support of their people and those who defended them in Washington, but, until Skandinaven spoke out, he had waited in vain. He hoped now that other newspapers would follow its example. {46}

If the other Norwegian-American newspapers gave less attention than Skandinaven to the Senate debates, they were nevertheless keenly interested in the Nome story. Washington Posten reported in July, 1900, that since General Randall had taken command in the city, lawlessness had decreased significantly. But mine-jumping remained common. Many persons from the States had bought "claims" whose location was a mystery to all but God. Many in the great mass of people that made Nome a city "stand with empty pockets." Nordvesten quoted O. Ellingson of St. Paul, who had just returned from Nome, as reporting that most of the gold up there had been taken, and that hundreds of gold-seekers would die of hunger if the government did not bring them home. Washington Posten published a long and interesting description of the Nome area written by C. M. Thuland. It pointed to the shortage of water for the mines on Anvil, Dexter, Snow Gulch, and Glacier creeks, where people were waiting for the rains that might give them employment and a chance to earn money enough to pay their passage home. Along the beach, one could still wash out about $5.00 a day in gold. Despite all its problems, in 1901 Nome would be a lively mining town of about 3,000 people; there really was not room for more, he said. By the next spring, pending litigation would be disposed of, new claims [176] would be made, and there would be water for the mines, as a pumping station would be constructed in the mountains to supply the creeks. {47}

Kjellman, still in Wisconsin, provided Amerika with thoughtful accounts of the situation in Alaska in late summer, 1900, correcting mistaken and exaggerated statements in the American newspapers. The winter postal service had been irregular in the interior of Alaska: he reported, but a great improvement had resulted from the work of Norwegians in the service. Johan P. Johannesen (Skalogare), who had gone to Alaska in Kjellman's last expedition and who had previously carried mail across Finnmark, had delivered it on skis during the past winter from Eaton on Norton Sound to Kotzebue Sound. Another man, a Lapp, had brought mail by reindeer from St. Michael via Eaton, Golovnin Bay, and Council City to Nome, bringing dependability into the service and winning high praise.

In a later report Kjellman quoted the Cape Nome Gold Digger as saying that, in all, gold to the value of $15,000,000 would be sent out of Nome; Kjellman thought that, for 1900, $10,000,000 would be closer to the truth. The feeling was growing in Nome that the problem of how to continue mining operations in winter would soon be overcome, to the benefit of owners and workers alike. Eskimo, sick with diseases brought by whites, had been taken to Nome for medical care, and some people thought that the natives should be set apart from gold-seekers on a reservation, a plan Kjellman approved. {48}

When the government transport Lawton returned from Nome in August, 1900, it carried 150 gold-seekers "without a red cent" and twenty-six Lapps on their way to Norway. The Lapps, who were tired of life in Alaska, would be accompanied home by Sheldon Jackson; about eighty, who were well satisfied with their [177] reindeer culture and some of whom had made rich gold finds, remained in the North. Skandinaven in September of the same year printed a long interview with a Norwegian from Stoughton, Wisconsin, who had toured Cape Nome and Cape York during the summer. He gave a balanced evaluation of conditions there but advised against rash migration to Alaska. Another man spoke of "disappointment on top of disappointment." {49}

The newspapers naturally followed closely and gave full publicity to news from the Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. In October, 1900, Washington Posten reported the arrest of McKenzie. He had so often, according to Posten "'greased his stockings' at the expense of Norwegian farmers in North Dakota, that he was happy to reap a rich harvest in Nome." The newspaper then recounted the whole sordid story and correctly stated that the only justification for the robbery was the fact that a few of the Scandinavian mineowners were not yet citizens of the United States. The jumpers knew that only a law passed by Congress could legalize their actions, and they had found the man to do this in McKenzie, "who had done the political bidding of James Hill in North Dakota, had thwarted M. N. Johnson when he tried to run for the Senate and got Hansbrough elected in his place, had begun his public life as a United States marshal and in time became one of the receivers for the Northern Pacific Railway as a reward for his services."

The account continued: "Unfortunately for McKenzie and his gang, some of the Lapps had sold their claims to Charles D. Lane, treasurer of the national Free Silver Committee, and among his close friends in the Senate were some who immediately saw what Hansbrough had in mind." Knute Nelson, too, had struck a blow for his countrymen in all of Alaska, and his clear presentation of the case in the Senate influenced others in their favor. [178] Lindeberg, Brynteson, and Lindblom had their mines again and would also get back their gold, "but for them it has been a costly affair." Nome had had little sickness during the past summer, thanks to Lindeberg, R. T. Lyng, a Swede, Thoralf and Magnus Kjeldsberg, and other Norwegians, who had brought spring water to town from Anvil Mountain. Also, a hospital had been built in Nome, paid for by Lindeberg, Brynteson, and Lindblom.

Both Norwegians and Lapps, Washington Posten stated, were dissatisfied with the treatment they had received on the most recent reindeer expedition. "They were treated like dogs and received wretched food. A complaint was sent to the Swedish-Norwegian minister in Washington, who gave it to the Department of the Interior, where it went into the wastebasket." The contract with the United States government had given the parties a period of six months within which they might terminate their agreement. Many in the expedition had taken advantage of this right, but when they came to Sheldon Jackson for settlement, they had to "bite into the sour apple." The contract also stated that the Lapps should have free clothing. They were enjoined to buy clothes in Norway at the cheapest possible prices, and assured that the government would repay them. When the time came to settle for the clothing, the Lapps were credited for the amount they had paid out in Norway, but Jackson had debited them for the clothes they had been wearing for half a year -- at Klondike prices!

The petition to the Swedish-Norwegian minister, reprinted in Washington Posten, quoted the assurance in the contract that the reindeer people would have "good and safe food" as well as clothes. They claimed they did not receive it and, "because of this," the protest stated, "many have been sick." In Port Townsend, Washington, the government had told them that they would [179] obtain at the station all things not included in rations at the same prices they cost at Port Townsend, but this promise was not kept. Nothing had come of their complaints. "Many have sought their release, and all of us are more or less unhappily silenced as inexperienced strangers in a strange land." Returning to the food problem, the petition said: "We think that the total lack of berries or dried fruit during the entire winter has been in part the cause of all our sickness." It also expressed the hope that the American people, who, they were told, fought for those who were hungry and oppressed, "would also grant justice to us who are having trouble in the service of that people." The petition was signed by twenty-six of the Norwegians and witnessed by J. Werner Sverdrup and Thomas Rudd. {50}

When the returning Lapps stopped off in Minneapolis, attracting considerable attention, a reporter from Nordvesten interviewed them. The spokesman for the group, Jacob Larson Hatta, was of the opinion that Alaska would not turn out to be a good place for raising reindeer, in part because of its unfavorable climate but also because its moss was of too poor a quality to sustain the animals. Nordvesten also commented editorially on the matter. At Port Hope, where Hatta had delivered some deer, a bitter wind blew constantly, whereas in Finnmark it did not, and the moss was covered by snow. The reindeer almost froze where he was; within a few years they might adjust to the climate, but they would never thrive as in Norway. {51}
E. M. Cederbergh, writing to Skandinaven in June, 1901, saw a great future for Alaska and gold production, which he thought was only in its infancy. Anvil Creek was a mere beginning. Thus far placer mining and sluice boxes had dominated the story, but now it was clear that gold quartz would have its day. Machinery would be brought in the next summer for hydraulic use. [180] He was less optimistic about Alaska about growing crops, but he pointed to places, on Golovnin Bay and Norton Sound, where vegetables could be raised, and of course there was forest in abundance. Reindeer, he insisted, did well in the country. The governor was reported as favoring populating Alaska with Scandinavians. Tundra was similar to Norwegian peat and could be used as fuel -- an attractive prospect where coal cost $75 per ton and wood was $40 per cord. G. J. Lomen had written to a newspaper in Kristiania asking for information about processing the tundra. He reported that the Eskimo population was dying out because of white man's food. Prices generally were lower, Nome enjoyed excellent water supplied by the Nome Water Company, which was largely owned by Scandinavians, and there was ample social life in the city. Cederbergh concluded by urging persons coming to Alaska to have money enough with them to live on for a time -- and for a return ticket. {52}

On August 16, 1901, C. M. Thuland wrote to Washington Posten to report an extraordinary meeting of the legal profession in Nome. They had decided unanimously on the previous day to send a resolution to President McKinley by telegraph from Seattle requesting the dismissal of Arthur H. Noyes and the appointment of a fair, honest, and capable judge. They accused Noyes of being incapable, vacillating, weak, partisan, and careless. The telegram was signed by all the lawyers in Nome, except for a few who had been appointed commissioners or clerks and who therefore could not have been practicing law. The resolution was a mild expression of what 99 percent of the people thought of the judge. Noyes had left Nome without giving even a couple of hours' notice. Claim-jumping continued. Things had been bad before; they were worse now. It was likely that the mineowners and townsfolk would organize [181] a vigilance committee that would also serve as a court of conciliation, as they expected no help from the government. "Up on Ivan Creek the miners have joined together, and if a jumper tries to take a claim, word is sent to all and they meet at the disputed claim to throw the jumper off. This is easier and cheaper and possibly more just than to appeal to the federal law and Noyes." {53}

Of great interest to the reader must have been Thuland's statement in October, 1901, that a lawsuit had begun as a result of disturbances on Glacier Creek. About sixty masked and armed men had attacked the workers there the month before and seriously wounded one person. The aggressors in this attack were Lindeberg and Lane people, and among the leaders were Lindeberg and G. W. Price, Lane's brother-in-law. When the grand jury met and began to investigate the action, Lindeberg, Price, and several other leaders had left Nome, and charges had been filed against them and warrants were in the hands of the federal marshal. A week later Thuland reported more specifically about the affair. Preliminary hearings had been held against J. W. Griffin and J. T. Price, two of these arrested who, on August 14, had driven claim-jumpers from the California Fraction on Glacier. The jury was divided and new preliminary hearings were to be held later. {54}

A news item from Washington, D.C., on January '23, 1909,, reported that Attorney General P. C. Knox, after a talk with the President, had stated that, regardless of any action to the contrary by the Department of Justice, Noyes would not be invited to refill the bench he had left in Nome. Skandinaven reported in detail that President Theodore Roosevelt had sent a letter to Noyes removing him from office. The newspaper also stated that Knox had studied the whole Nome scandal thoroughly, had publicly branded Noyes's actions as shameful, and [182] had listed and denounced them one by one. In March the newspaper printed an announcement that the Pioneer Mining Company, following the dissolution of the Lindeberg, Brynteson, and Lindblom organization, would now give the public an opportunity to buy stock in the reorganized company and share in the profits of the rich placer gold fields at Nome. The company would sell shares with par value of $1.00 for 50¢ apiece. The advertisement maintained that $2,463,705.10 in gold had been taken on less than ten percent of the area owned by the company in the preceding three years. This statement, it said, had been verified by banks. {55}

Skandinaven then recounted the whole story of the attempted gold steal in Nome, as told by the San Francisco court, and accompanied its long article with an editorial on the "black conspiracy," which it said had broad ramifications. Alexander McKenzie had been the "controlling force" in North Dakota polities for years; "he had made, or unmade, United States senators, governors, and other public officials whom he eared to control .... Fortunately, the cause of justice has equally determined champions in the Senate, chief among them senators Nelson, Spooner, and Stewart."

Skandinaven followed this editorial the next month with another on the Nome judiciary. Numerous letters the newspaper received from northwestern and western states, the editorial stated, disclosed a lively interest in the pending appointment of judge and clerk of court for the Nome district. "Our enterprising and hardy young men are beginning to realize the magnificent possibilities of the vast territory. They are eager to contribute to its development and are ready to face the hardships of arctic winters if they can be assured of an honest enforcement of the laws by the federal courts. Such assurance is entirely lacking at present." But Skandinaven thought President Roosevelt, who was [183] familiar with affairs in Alaska, could be trusted to make the right appointment to the court. The newspaper thought George N. Borchsenius of Madison, Wisconsin, a fine person for clerk of court, as he had stood firmly opposed to the corruption in Nome as clerk under Noyes. But for him, the crimes would have been even more numerous and shameful. He would have the vigorous support of senators Spooner and Nelson. {56}

C. M. Thuland usually included references to mining activities in his frequent letters to Washington Posten. His own Bench Claim No. 4 on Specimen Gulch was prospected during the winter and yielded paying gravel. The Pioneer Mining Company was washing on No. 1 Anvil, with good results. The Reverend P. H. Anderson, a Swedish missionary, was being sued for $400,000. The case concerned No. 9 Anvil Creek, which Anderson had held and worked since the fall of 1898. The charge against him was that he had cheated two Eskimo, Constantine Uparazuck and Gabriel Adams, of their title to the mine. Adams died in 1900 and Uparazuck and K. Hendricksen were administrators of his estate. Erik O. Lindblom had staked No. 9 for Adams and No. 8 for Uparazuck; both natives were members of the Swedish Covenant mission congregation at Chivik. A month later, Thuland reported, Anderson had taken it on himself to function for the Eskimo, as he had heard that natives could not hold mine claims in Alaska. He had joined with G. W. Price to reclaim No. 8 and with R. L. Price to reclaim No. 9. R. L. Price had later surrendered his right to claim 9 to Anderson, "to hold and keep in trust for Gabriel Adams." Anderson had told the Eskimo that they could not have mining claims and that he would hold this claim for them. They believed him. All that the natives had received to date from Anderson was $400, but gold in the amount of $400,000 had been taken from the mine, the richest on Anvil. Thuland and [184] T. M. Reed, serving as lawyers for the Eskimo, were requesting that the claim be returned to the Eskimo and their heirs and that Pastor Anderson return to them the value of the gold that had been removed. {57}

In July, 1902, the steamer Kimball arrived in Nome from Seattle. Among its passengers were Alfred A. Moore, the newly appointed district judge, G. N. Borchsenius, reappointed clerk of court, and B. E. Rogers, also of Madison, Wisconsin, who would hold a position in the court. The ship also carried E. M. Cederbergh. In Madison Borehsenius had organized the Arctic Gold Mining Company; he was said to be part or sole owner of about 100 gold claims in Alaska. Borchsenius' return was warmly received and better days were anticipated by the Nome Gold-Digger. {58}

William A. Kjellman stopped off in Madison on his way to Chicago after a long rest at his home in Mount Horeb. Now full of energy, he wrote to Amerika, he had new plans for Alaska that had little to do with gold. He spoke of Norway and Alaska as if they were neighbors, for he saw a striking resemblance between the two countries in geography, economy, and future development. {59}

Disputes over gold continued late in 1902 to put Nome in the news. Washington Posten stated that in San Francisco Thomas J. Duffy, a mine operator in Nome, had begun a suit against Jafet Lindeberg for $900,000. Duffy charged that Lindeberg had jumped valuable claims belonging to him and had taken gold out of the mines in the amount he was being sued for. The newspaper continued to report on arrivals from Nome and their success in the gold fields. {60} In March and April of 1903, it printed a series of wide-ranging articles about Alaska -- the land of the future.

By 1904, Nome occupied a less prominent place in the columns of the Norwegian-American press. But [185] Skandinaven printed an article from the Minneapolis Journal about Knute Nelson's six bills for Alaska. These provided for a second judge and another judicial district, construction and maintenance of wagon roads, establishment of schools, care of the insane and destitute, codification of laws pertaining to municipalities, election of a delegate to the House of Representatives, changes in the criminal code, and construction of a bridge across the Snake River at Nome. His bills were tangible results of a visit of senators to Alaska in the summer of 1903. {61}

Skandinaven had followed with interest the activities of E. M. Cederbergh and in fact had first learned the real facts about the Nome gold fields from him when he visited Chicago. In May, 1904, the newspaper announced that he was leaving for Alaska after having spent a period of about five months in Chicago. He had been about three years in Alaska as director of a New York firm, then had come to Chicago on the invitation of friends who requested that he buy claims for them on the Seward Peninsula. The result had been Cederbergh's leadership in organizing the Good Hope Bay Mining Company, of which he was president. He was optimistic about Alaska and thought the Seward Peninsula the richest mineral district in the world. According to the article, many Chicago Scandinavians had invested in his company. {62}


Life went on at Teller and the other reindeer stations despite the more dramatic events at Nome and the departure of superintendents and Lapps for the gold fields. The Reverend T. L. Brevig, who had left Alaska in 1898 and had been in the States on leave since then, returned to his mission in the summer of 1900. Seeking support from the Norwegian Synod and from friends [186] while in the States, he had received a little more than $900 from the church and was hoping for $1,000 per year from it in the future. As Nordvesten put it, he had real need for this money, since he intended to start a day school for Eskimo children as well as continue work with Lapp families and gold-seekers. With him when he left the Midwest in late May was A. Hovig, a young man who would assist him in his many activities.

How isolated Brevig was at Port Clarence is indicated by the fact that he received mail twice a month during the summer and at best once in winter, by an overland route. He was grateful for the help given him by friends, but cautioned them to send money, as supplies sometimes arrived at ports in the States too late to catch cargo ships and, as a result, lay over until the next year. Money was being used in Alaska, and so cash gilts could be sent to the Norwegian Synod's treasurer, who would see to their delivery; it was also possible now to send registered letters to the new post office, where he was serving as postmaster. {63}

When Brevig arrived at his mission on June 30, he found its buildings basically as he had left them, but in terrible disorder after their use by mine workers. Teller, the town, had been laid out two miles from the station, and people were streaming into it. The creeks nearby were promising. The schooner Cosca arrived about ten days later and included among its passengers a Lapp family who would serve as reindeer caretakers. The station had received an additional 100 deer, all lively and in good health, but Teller was no longer the chief center for the reindeer industry. {64}

In the late spring of 1900 Theodor Lindseth of Benicia, California, left Seattle on the Cosca to take over direction of the reindeer station at Yacucatta, where Kjellman formerly had been in charge. He had been employed by the Department of Agriculture. Lindseth [187] was born in northern Norway and had known and worked with Lapps. {65}

When Brevig wrote in the winter, he reported that things were going well at the station; everyone was cheerful and healthy. The Eskimo children ate heartily and played; the young men worked every day with enthusiasm, and at the moment were occupied with the woodpile. There had been no hunger among the Eskimo, as the tomcod, a small fish that often came close to the shore, had been available in abundance during the fall. Later in winter the fish had gone away for a while, causing the first food shortage. Some of the natives now lived around Teller and had become acquainted with liquor. "I have been able to get some of them to settle on a point of land west of the station where they are on their own, and they get help where it is needed. I heard yesterday that up on the Govirok River 65 miles to the east there were 24 parentless children who were supported by a young Eskimo and his mother. The need was great. Travel has been such that we have been unable to get up there to investigate. We are now so many at the station that we can't take in more, but we will send up food and clothing as soon as we have the opportunity. In the town of Teller the supply of provisions is small, and so at present it is almost impossible to buy anything there. Coal is $160 a ton but unavailable. Many are seeking to leave for Nome, as food is cheaper there. Many here have nothing to eat except the fish they can catch. Reports of gold one hears everywhere, but these are surely only rumors." {66}

Husbibliothek, a literary supplement to Skandinaven, published an article in November, 1901, on the Lapp women in Alaska. It revealed that there were about a dozen reindeer stations in the territory and that more would be started. It also ran a picture of a Lapp woman in traditional attire at Eaton, then the main [188] station. She carried a baby on her back in a cradle hand-carved from a log and held in place by a strap. The Lapp women played a vital role in training the Eskimo in the reindeer culture. They taught the natives how to make clothes from skins and butter and cheese from milk, and how to cook and dry reindeer meat. Eskimo women gathered at the various stations, often coming from a distance of 100 miles or more, to receive instruction. {67}

Brevig, whose story is closely involved with Lapps, Eskimo, and reindeer, seemed proudest of his work in starting a home for children at the Teller station, the most northerly institution of its kind in North America. In a long letter to Amerika written in October, 1901, he explained that the children in it were Eskimo or of mixed Eskimo and white origin, the latter usually deserted or otherwise parentless. He gave the names of fourteen children, with explanations of the meaning of these names, and added to his list five adult natives who were reindeer herders. These had all been taken in at the station after his return to Alaska and were attached to his home.

Brevig also wrote about fourteen Eskimo who had obtained their reindeer before he left Teller in 1898 and who owned from 75 to 160 animals each. They supported themselves but were under the leadership of the mission, and they received from it and the government whatever they required as payment for their services. This arrangement, Brevig explained, was necessary to protect the Eskimo from exploitation.. All their business was handled for them by the mission. He also named three Lapps, two young men and a woman, who were given food and clothing by the mission and were paid by the government. Alfred Nilima, one of the Lapps, would soon take a herd of about 200 reindeer to the Quaker mission on Kotzebue Sound. Brevig's own family numbered five. In addition, there were Hovig and Lucalia [189] Krukoff, a single lady, both of whom had been with his family from Wisconsin -- a total of forty-three persons who gathered together on Sundays, with the exception of one or two who tended the deer. They were joined by people living near the mission and by some from islands in the Bering Strait and from East Cape, Siberia.

When a child or an adult came to the mission to be supported there, the first step in the admission process was a warm bath, then clean clothes from tip to toe. Next, the hair was cut and the head treated with paraffin to keep uninvited guests away. Clothes soaked with blubber were burned, but otherwise serviceable garments were put in sacks until they could be used away from the station or when the newcomer left The children were cooperative and easy to work with. The half-breeds, he wrote, were more stubborn and willful than the Eskimo. The government was giving no help that year, but Captain F. Tuttle of the Bear had put ashore some flour and General Randall had sent in the same boat flour, bacon, and "ship's bread" from his own supply. The mission now had 160 reindeer, of which number it owned 60; 100 would have to be returned in four years, but the mission would keep the natural increase and would have temporary use of the animals it would later return.

More children wished to come to the home, but there was no room for them, and cost prohibited enlargement of the place. Everything would depend on the support that friends would give the home. He did not know how much money had come in for the mission, as he had received no report from the Synod since his return to Alaska. Brevig wrote an eloquent appeal for help, but made it in terms of the Eskimo, who should be aided in defending themselves, largely against the rapidly increasing white population. The mission was a secure place for the natives. Widows with their children and [190] grown daughters came to it to escape the unwelcome attentions of all kinds of men. Many of the problems faced by the Eskimo had been created by whites in the past several years, and those who cared would have to act soon or it would be too late. {68}

At a later date, Mrs. Julia M. Brevig was interviewed in Stanwood, Washington, about the mission at Teller. She used stronger words than her husband in discussing the gold-seekers in Alaska. She answered her own question, whether or not the successful ones visited the children's home and contributed to its work, with these words: "Far from it. The lucky ones have never been of any joy or advantage to us or our work .... But trouble we have had, and I can say pleasure in a certain sense, as it is a pleasure to give food to the hungry." {69}

Earlier, Mrs. Brevig had written from Teller welcoming the arrival of an early spring and announcing that the children at the home had come through the winter without illness, the great trial of other years. All the same she and her husband were eager to have a separate room for the sick, and hoped that funds for it could be raised. No new parentless children had come to the home since the previous fall until a month ago, when Brevig went up to Cape Prince of Wales and returned with four little boys and a girl. When the girl had been with them for two weeks, she ran away to the town of Teller and there found refuge in a house of ill repute. Brevig and one of the young men at the station had gone after her and talked with her, but she had refused to return. Brevig then spoke with the local judge, who brought her back to the mission. Next day she was taken overland to Cape Prince of Wales by a herder; there she was turned over to a missionary.

Since the arrival of miners in the area, according to Mrs. Brevig, the shameful influence of whites had increased greatly; young Eskimo girls suffered especially [191] from it. If those who supported the mission only knew of its work during the past three years, she believed they would rejoice indeed. The last mail had brought the good news that something would be done for the mission by friends. They had often been discouraged; Brevig had written a number of times to the Reverend U. V. Koren, president of the Synod, for help, but had not yet received a reply. Mrs. Brevig had suffered during the winter from a heart ailment and her husband had said she must not spend another winter in Alaska. The young men had traveled with sleds and deer during the past week bringing in fuel; the animals were tired and had to rest, as good wood was found only far away. She had taken all the children for a sleigh ride and picnic in Teller; this treat was repeated each year in the spring. A person with a camera had been out on the ice and taken pictures of the "Santa Claus children." {70}

Brevig returned to the States in 1903 and went back to Teller on the Charles Nelson in June, 1904. With him were an Eskimo boy and Ludvig Larsen, who would take over his position at the station. Also on the ship were Olaus Alseth and Oscar Finley, who would erect schoolhouses for the government at Cape Prince of Wales and St. Michael. On August 8 Brevig joyfully reported that on the preceding day he had baptized 19 Eskimo -- 5 adults and 14 children aged 6 to 15. {71}

Although reindeer were not the main interest of the churches, the story of the reindeer in Alaska was closely interwoven with that of the Christian missions in the territory, as Sheldon Jackson, the moving three in introducing them to the Eskimo, liked to point out. Skandinaven as early as 1902 editorially supported his claim that in a short time reindeer would become the chief means of travel between Alaska and the outer world. They were already in service in moving mail in winter, and many mineowners used them to carry supplies to [192] the claims. The Congregational mission on Bering Strait had a herd of 1,000 animals. Jackson said there were about 4,100 deer in the territory and that the annual increase was between 30 and 40 percent. About 4,500 animals had been born in Alaska since the reindeer were first brought in in 1892. The government was lending them out both to the missions and to private persons five-year periods. Deer were better for travel than dogs, because of the necessity of carrying heavy and expensive food for the dogs and buying more along the way on trips longer than a week. Reindeer, on the other hand, could go anywhere with a pack of 200 pounds on their backs or pull a sleigh with a 300-pound load -- and find their own food along the way. {72}

For some time reindeer were to play a vital part in the lives of the Eskimo. The herds around the stations at Port Clarence, Golovin, Eaton, and Wales grew in number to at least a half million by 1930. The Eskimo owned about 70 percent of them, to a value of about $1,000,000. According to C. L. Andrews, the deer sustained from 5,000 to 10,000 natives and supplied them with virtually all necessities. Management of the herds was transferred from the Office of Education to the governor of Alaska in 1929, and in 1937 the service was placed under the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The reindeer industry was later taken from the Eskimo and given over to white owners. The number of animals declined after 1940. {73}


<1> Skandinaven, February 15, 1893, reprinted from Tacoma Tidende; C. L. Andrews, The Story of Alaska (Caldwell, Idaho, 1941, 247-248.
<2> For John Scudder McLain's views, see his Alaska and the Klondike (New York, 1905).
<3> For a brief account of Sheldon Jackson's career, see Dictionary of American Biography, 9:555-556.
<4> For brief accounts of the introduction of reindeer, see Andrews, Story of Alaska, 178-179, and his "Reindeer in the Arctic," in Washington Historical Quarterly 17 (1926), 14-17. Arthur S. Peterson, in "The Introduction of [193] Domesticated Reindeer into Alaska," in Norwegian-American Studies and Records, 11 (Northfield, Minnesota, 1940), 98-113, summarizes briefly Sheldon Jackson's official reports on the subject together with several other accounts in English.
<5> Washington Posten, December 23, 1893; Andrews, "Reindeer in the Arctic," 14-17. The D.A.B. gives the total number of reindeer for 1928 as 675,000.
<6> Washington Posten, December 23, 1893.
<7> Skandinaven, October 16, 1895.
<8> J. Walter Johnshoy, Apaurak in Alaska: Social Pioneering among the Eskimos (Philadelphia, 19441, 24-37.
<9> For his earliest reports, see Amerika, June 22, September 12, 19, November 7, 1894, July 31, October 28, 1896.
<10> Tacoma Tidende, May 15, 1897; Amerika, May 19, 1897.
<11> Amerika, May 19; 1897.
<12> Amerika, May 26, 1897.
<13> Amerika, July 21, 1897.
<14> Amerika og Norden, November 3, 1897.
<15> Skandinaven, October 27, 1897. Judge William W. Morrow later told the story of an ice-bound whaling fleet near Point Barrow. Its partially Scandinavian crews were relieved in March, 1898, when an expedition, traveling overland with dog teams from Cape Vancouver and adding reindeer with Lapp drivers up the coast, arrived at Point Barrow. See his "The Spoilers," in California Law Review, 2 (Berkeley, 1916), 89-113.
<16> Washington Posten, November 12, 1897.
<17> Amerika og Norden, November 17, 24, 1897.
<18> Skandinaven, December 15, 1897.
<19> Nordvesten, December 16, 1897; Minneapolis Tidende, January 14, 1898.
<20> Nordvesten, January 20, 1898.
<21> Washington Posten, January 14, February 18, 1898; Skandinaven, February 16, 1898; Nordvesten, February 10, 1898.
<22> Skandinaven, March 2, 1898.
<23> Skandinaven, March 9, 1898.
<24> Washington Posten, March 11, 1898.
<25> Washington Posten, March 18, April 8, 1898.
<26> Amerika og Norden, June 8, 1898.
<27> Washington Posten, August 5, November 25, December 2, 1898, January 20, 1899.
<28> Amerika og Norden, December 28, 1898.
<29> Washington Posten, May 12, 1899.
<30> Washington Posten, June 2, 9, 30, July 7, 21, August 18, September 1, 1899.
<31> Washington Posten, September 22, 29, 1899.
<32> Washington Posten, October 27, November 3, December 14, 22, 1899,
January 12, 1900; Nordvesten, December 14, 1899.
<33> Skandinaven, December 27, 1899.
<34> Amerika, May 2, 1900; Minneapolis Tidende, May 11, 1900; Washington Posten, May 11, 1900.
<35> E. S. Harrison, Nome and Seward Peninsula: History, Description, Biographies and Stories (Seattle, 1905), 47-51. [194]
<36> Quoted in J. D. Harlan, "The Nome Gold Placer Fields," in Ax-i-Dent Axe, 16 (Salt Lake City, 1931), 31-35.
<37> Elizabeth M. Ricker, Seppala: Alaskan Dog Driver (Boston, 19311, 97-145; interview with Seppala in Seattle, July 7, 1948.
<38> James Wickersham, Old Yukon: Tales-Trails-and-Trials (Washington, D.C., 19381, 337-347. For the debate in the Senate, see the Congressional Record for March and April of 1900.
<39> Wickersham, Old Yukon, 348-361. For the trials in San Francisco, see Federal Reporter: Cases Argued and Determined trials the Circuit Courts, 106 (St. Paul, 19011, 775-790; 109 (1901), 971-976; 121 (1903), 209-233. For the verdict of the Supreme Court on McKenzie, see United States Reports: Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court at October Term, 1900, 180 (New York, 1901), 536-551. Judge Morrow's "The Spoilers" throws interesting light on several phases of the court cases, all of which were favorable to the mineowners.
<40> Wickersham, Old Yukon, 362-378.
<41> See Cederbergh's comprehensive account of the gold discovery at Nome in Skandinaven, April 25, 1900.
<42> For short sketches of Cederbergh and Thuland, see Harrison, Nome and Seward Peninsula, 288-289, 336-337. Thuland published a brief work in Norwegian on American mining laws, Amerikanske minelove: En haandbog for menigmand i amerikansk mineret (Seattle, 1908).
<43> Skandinaven, April 27-May 9, 1900.
<44> Skandinaven, April 27, 1900.
<45> Skandinaven, May 16, 1900.
<46> Skandinaven, May 9, 1900.
<47> Washington Posten, July 20, August 3, 1900; Nordvesten, July 26, 1900; Amerika, August
1, 1900.
<48> Amerika, August 8, 22, 1900.
<49> Washington Posten, August 31, 1900; Skandinaven, September 5, 7, 1900; Amerika, September 26, 1900.
<50> Washington Posten, October 5, 12, 1900.
<51> Nordvesten, December 6, 27, 1900.
<52> Skandinaven, June 26, 1901.
<53> Washington Posten, August 30, 1901.
<54> Washington Posten, November 1, 15, 1901.
<55> Nordvesten, January 30, 1902; Skandinaven, February 28, March 5, 1902.
<56> Skandinaven, March 12, April 23, 1902.
<57> Washington Posten, May 2, June 27, 1902. For a full account of No. 9 Anvil Creek, see Leland H. Carlson, The Story of No.9 Above (Chicago, n.d.).
<58> Skandinaven, August 22, 1902.
<59> Amerika, September 12, 1902.
<60> Washington Posten, September 19, October 17, 24, November 14, 1902.
<61> Skandinaven, January 29, 1904.
<62> Skandinaven, May 27, 1904.
<63> Nordvesten, June 7, 21, 1,900.
<64> Amerika, August 8, 1900.
<65> Washington Posten, May 4, 1900.
<66> Amerika, April 17, 1901.
<67> Husbibliothek, November 15, 1901. [195]
<68> Amerika, November 20, 1901.
<69> Amerika, February 26, 1904.
<70> Amerika, August 14, 1903.
<71> Amerika, June 24, 1904; Nordvesten, September 8, 1904.
<72> Skandinaven, July 11, 1902.
<73> Andrews, Story of Alaska, 178-179, 188-189, 224, 240-242. [196]


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