Monday, October 18, 2010

Pretty cool how this blog works

I've only been up for 9 days, have 8 followers and 136 hits so far, about 14 per day. Instead of posting my new finds to one of six different websites, I am going to attempt to post them all here as a clearing house of sorts.

Concerning Captain Jack McQuesten, Father of the Yukon, I received an email from a gentleman in Germany who collects all things postal, asking if there were any postal marks on letters from Jack's Mitchell, Alaska, post office, in our family collection. What I found out later is that one such item took the highest bid at some major postal auction back in 2005, because you see, no one knows exactly where Mitchell, Alaska, was!

Jack lived at Forty Mile, just across the Canadian border and would not be eligible to be a U.S. postmaster. However, a lot of mining around Forty Mile was done on the U.S. side and Jack, a U.S. citizen, but Canadian resident, was no stickler for the letter of the law. There are two theories -

A) The Mitchell P.O. was located in his store at Forty Mile, and the postal officials blinked their eyes at it.

B) Or it was located a short distance across the border at a stake claimed by a prospector whose last name was Mitchell, and Jack simply walked the mail over the border. There were few if any U.S. authorities on the Alaskan side, but the Mounties were stationed in Forty Mile towards the end of Jack's days there. Jack filed a report on its location, which appears to be purposely vague.

Once the Mounties started asking too many questions about the amount of gold being recovered (for tax purposes) and about whiskey being made (also for tax purposes) Jack picked up and moved across the border where he established Circle City. Jack was one of only two people referred to as part of the "whiskey gang" by the Mounties and Yukon Jack Whiskey is named for him. The other whiskey gang member started a legal distillery in Dawson once the Mounties came on the scene. He is probably the guy who named Yukon Jack for his partner, Yukon Jack McQuesten.

Another interesting story about Circle City is that legend has it the settlers thought it was within the Arctic Circle and so named it Circle City. This has been proven false. Number one, there were many surveyors in the land, including two government teams, one from the U.S. and one from Canada trying to determine the exact U.S./Canadian border. Secondly, Jack McQuesten was named by the U.S. Labor Department as the authority on that border and he provided lodging and supplies to both government surveying teams. To assume that all of these people, and especially Jack, who had been in the area for about 20 years at the time, would not know where the Arctic Circle started, would be crazy.

The other bit of info is that one miner who was at the meeting when the city was named says specifically that they were first going to name it Dawson after a Yukon explorer, but someone said, since the town looked liked a half circle because of the geographic lay of the land, why didn't they call it Circle, and so that was the name that was chosen on the spot. Some called it Circle, others called it Circle City. The real Dawson was settled a few years later upstream near the Klondike.

No comments:

Post a Comment