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Questing for Gold and Furs in Alaska
    by Sverre Arestad (Volume 21: Page 54)

The two sets of experiences recorded here in a sense complement each other. Both narratives concern young men who, around the turn of the century, cast their lot with fur trappers, traders, and gold seekers looking for quick if not easy wealth in the Klondike gold fields, and in the fur trade in the even more forbidding wastes of the frozen Arctic coast of northern Canada.

Our gold prospector, Yakima Pete; Norby, left Yakima, Washington, shortly after the news of the gold strike in the Klondike had spread throughout the world. From Seattle he shipped north by boat to the infant but roaring and rowdy town of Skagway, at the end of the Lynn Canal in southeastern Alaska. From there he trekked on horseback, on foot, and by boat over White Pass, through a chain of many lakes which empty into the Yukon River, and to Dawson down the Yukon. After four years and ten months ;in and around Dawson,; Yakima Pete returned to the Pacific Northwest, never to visit Alaska again.

My only meeting with Peter Norby took place in his home at Port Townsend, Washington, in the fall of 1944. He and [55] his wife, the former Anna Bendixen of Port Townsend, were congenial, hospitable people. Norby, who was then seventy, seemed much younger, with a good deal of physical energy, a lingering spirit of adventure, and a head full of plans. One of them was to write a book about his prospecting days in Alaska that would bring in ;a lot of money; a plan about which his wife expressed some skepticism. Six months later, I received a twenty-four-page manuscript from Norby, a part of which is reproduced here. So far as I know, that is all he ever wrote. His account of gold prospecting, reflecting his buoyant optimism, self-reliance, and good humor, is distinguished by his refusal to dwell upon the sordid aspects of life in the mining camps.

According to the Port Townsend Leader of February 11, 1954, Peter Norby was one of this areas best known pioneer residents . . . widely known for his fraternal, sports and civic activities over a long period of years. He was, for example, an ardent skier and salmon fisherman, an original member of the volunteer fire department, a member of the Pioneers of Alaska, and an active participant in the Jefferson County Historical Society.

Norby was born in Trysil, Norway, August 28, 1874. When he was ten he began work as a cattle herdsman. At the age of 12 in 1886, he came to the United States and settled at Bloomington [Blooming] Prairie, Minn. where he worked on a farm. He came to Port Townsend in 1889 and worked for the Sawbridge Hardware Co., later going to Yakima to work for the same company.

Norbys account, completed at Port Townsend in 1945, is entitled "A Few Reminiscences about My Trip from Yakima, Washington, to the Klondyke in 1897 In the version to follow, alterations from his manuscript consist of condensation, some rearrangement of material, the rewriting of a few sentences for clarity, and standardizing of spellings for consistency. The flavor of the original has been retained. S. A. [56]

by Peter (Yakima Pete) Norby

The story that I am about to tell is all true, and although some of the anecdotes may seem a bit exaggerated, they are not. When I mention Fred, Tony, Dick, John, Roxy, and Riley, I mean Fred Jungst, Tony Krober, Dick McDaniel, and John Miller, while Roxy and Riley were the two horses that Fred Jungst and I rode to Seattle from Yakima, and which we took to Skagway by boat and used to pack our outfits in to Lake Bennett.

Lieutenant Wyckoff, a retired navy man, asked me at the dinner table in Mrs. Stones boarding house on North Railroad Avenue in Yakima in the first part of August, 1897, if I would go to the Klondike if they would stake me. For the information of people who did not know Lieutenant Wyckoff, I might say that he came to Yakima to have charge of some of the land sales along the Dongdon Ditch. {1} He tried to sell me ten acres on a ten-year contract with nothing down. I will admit that I was a fool in not taking him up on it because in two or three years that same land was worth between five and ten thousand dollars. I agreed to go north, but I thought I should wait until spring. Lieutenant Wyckoffs view was that I should leave immediately. I thought no more of it for a few days, but then he told me that they had six or seven hundred dollars for me and that I had better get ready.

Now to tell the truth, I was not very anxious to go. I had a great many friends in Yakima and I also hated to leave my dear parents and other relatives. However, after thinking it over, I finally decided to go. The news was all over town in a few hours. Fred and I formed a partnership of Norby and Jungst, and I might add right here that a hardier and better partner than Fred for a trip of that kind would be hard to find. P.A. Bounds came along and offered me Roxy for the trip. Where Fred got Riley, I don't know. We believed in patronizing [57] home industry, so we bought most of our clothing from Harry Dills, who had been at Pelly River on the Yukon at the time that gold was discovered on Bonanza Creek. {2}

It was ten minutes to eight in the evening of August 28, 1897, when Fred and I departed for Seattle. We had a whole week in which to catch the boat so we were in no big hurry. After four or five days we arrived at Kirkland where we ferried across Lake Washington. We had a hard time keeping Roxy from jumping overboard, as the only place for the horses to stand was between the pilothouse and the railing. We finally got to First Avenue and Madison Street in Seattle in the late afternoon.

Seattle was crowded with gold seekers and it was difficult to get rooms. In the hotel where we stayed, the old National, we had our first experience in listening to a quarrel between two gold seekers, and we often wondered how they could get along on the trail where the hardships were.

Tony Krober joined us in Seattle and became a partner on the way north. Mr. Wyckoff had gone to Seattle several days before we left Yakima and engaged passage for the three of us and the two horses on the first trip of the side-wheel steamer, "George E. Starr, which had been, like a good many others, resurrected from the marine bone yards to carry gold seekers north. After buying our outfits, which included a steam thawer that we left at the foot of the hill named Liarsville, and also a skiff that we sold for lumber after arriving in Skagway, we finally left Seattle.

There were seventy-five men passengers and seventy-six horses aboard, besides the members of the crew. There were three captains on board as passengers besides Captain Gilmore, the commander of the boat. There were also four Petes on board: Big Pete, Little Pete, Blubber Pete, because he was [58] fat as a walrus, and myself, whom they called Yakima Pete, because I was always talking about and praising Yakima. It was very amusing to sit and listen to men from different walks of life, who hardly knew gold when they saw it, myself included, and to hear them talk about the castles in the air that they were going to build when they returned in a few years with their millions. As far as I know there was not a single one on the boat who made anything worth crowing about. One of the passengers reported that he was losing horse feed and early one morning before the others were up, they caught a quiet-appearing man helping himself to the oats from one of the sacks. When his outfit was loaded in Seattle his oats were overlooked. If that had happened on the trail it might have been a necktie party, but he got off with just a little lecture.

After we reached Skagway there was a great scramble to get unloaded because there was another boat in. There was no dock so all we could do was to push our horses overboard and let them swim ashore. The outfits we had to row ashore in small boats and once we had them on the beach we had to work fast to segregate our outfits; Tony nearly lost his whole bag of clothing. A tenderfoot strapped a big forty-five Colt revolver on his hip as he worked to get his outfit together, as that is where most of the quarrels started among some of the so-called miners.

John and Dick arrived on another boat at about the same time we did, and we decided to be together from there to Dawson. From then on we were known as the Yakima party. We transferred our outfits in relays; the first lap was to the foot of the hill afterwards known as Liarsville. There is where the real hardships began. Our horses had to be sharp-shod at all times and we always carried tools to take care of the shoeing, but we ran out of nails. An old blacksmith, who had put up a little shop under a tree, was kind enough to let us have six nails at twenty-five cents a nail; so he believed in getting his when the getting was good. In a few days we all had plenty of nails. In another place on the summit of the [59]

[60] White Pass, called the Middle Meadows, there was a party known as the Chehalis party. They had a horseshoer who fitted and nailed on an old shoe that we had, all for the sum of $5.75. The people on the trail were very generous to their own pocketbooks.

A lot of things have been told about horses that are grossly exaggerated, but a lot of it is true. Many died on the trail. At our camp someone's horse died, and during the night a bear came along and took possession of it and dragged it several hundred feet into the woods. At another place there was a mule with a pack on, lying on the ground and beating his head against a big rock trying to kill himself. The Suver boys and Joe Shull from Ellensburg had as fine a bunch of pack horses as you could find any place. At one spot on Porcupine Hill they came to a place where the mountainside was almost perpendicular. One of the horses stepped out of line, took one look and jumped over, committing suicide. Poor horse. I can see him and the place yet. There was a German who had two very clumsy horses and they were just in front of us. One of them slipped and slid down a shaly place for about fifty feet where he was stopped by a lone tree. We got out ropes and I went down and tied one rope around him and we got him back to the trail. A party from Colorado started from Skagway with a mule pack train of fifteen or twenty head. When they returned they had about half of them left. It was impossible to pack hay along for the horses. Those that would browse got along very well, but the others did not. We always had plenty of grain, and we did not lose more than one horse from accidents. I am glad that some humanitarians have erected a monument near the summit of White Pass in honor of the horses. {3}

When we finally got over the summit the going was comparatively easy, but it took a strong back and heart to stand it. Lots of men got homesick, and that is about the worst thing [61] you can get. I left home when less than ten years old to herd cattle in the mountains in Norway and I experienced plenty of homesickness when I was a boy. So it didn't bother me any on the trail. I could always come in whistling or singing a song to keep up my own courage as well as that of the other men. I saw two men meet, and one said to the other that he just had a letter from home and his wife was not feeling well. With these remarks tears started to run down his cheeks. Pretty soon the other man started to sniff and before I knew it they were both bawling. I couldn't help but laugh, as I was pretty young and I had gone through all that before. It was a good deal like the picture of the covered wagon we saw in the movies. There was a Jew on the trail who had come all the way from Jerusalem with an outfit. He made the remark that if it was not for his wife and babies he would just dig a grave and crawl in. A good many others felt the same way, judging by their looks. The only and original Diamond Tooth Gertie walked by us on Porcupine Hill. She was from Yakima.

We decided that Tony and I should make a trip with three horses all the way to Lake Bennett as that was the place where we would start down the lakes to Dawson. We took some four hundred pounds of staples besides our bedding as we had to stay out several nights on the trip. We bought a sack of oats for thirty dollars and had a horse thrown into the bargain. That same 400 pounds was worth $400 at the lake. When we got there the next time someone had stolen it all. On the way back we had to stay overnight on the summit. We were sure it would snow during the night so we cooked a pot of oatmeal mush, made a bed on top of our clothes, and turned in. Our horses were turned loose for the night. We were covered with six inches of snow the next morning but by rolling our bedding we were left with a dry place to dress and to cook some more mush. Our horses stayed with us, but if they had taken French leave we would have been in a hell of a fix, thirty or forty miles from our main camp with all of our bedding and nothing more to eat. [62]

After we had established our next camp, we decided that two of the party should go to the lower end of Lake Lindemann as that is where the trail joins the lake, and where there was timber to start cutting lumber for a boat. As I mentioned before, the boat Fred and I brought from Seattle we had to abandon in Skagway because we could not bring it fifty miles to the lakes. Tony claimed he had some experience at whip-sawing in Germany and John was a real millwright, having learned his trade in Sweden, so we knew that Tony and John were the two men for the job. While Dick, Fred, and I finished the packing, they felled the trees and set up a saw pit and sawed some boards. Now whipsawing is about the hardest work anyone can ever do, and it wears a lot of good men out quickly. I don't mean to cast any reflections on Tony when I say that John and I finished the job.

One evening on the way back to camp we met a man who had on his back what looked like a quickly made-up pack. The next morning John made the remark that he had slept cool during the night. Tony said the same. Then they began to look at their beds, and they found that some of the bedding had been removed from each bed. Fred's bed and mine had not been touched. About that time Dick asked what had become of that sack of flour that was by the tent door. It had been wrapped in an oilskin. Dick was quite a detective so we sent him down to the lake to find the thief. In a crummy tent at the lake, Dick found his own and John's and Tony's bedding and the sack of flour with the trade name cut out. The mystery was solved. Dick went to fetch a Mountie, but he could not arrest the thief as he had no jail, but he allowed Dick to buy what the man had stolen and he [the thief] was chased out of the country or back on to U.S. soil. A good many of the miners lost all they had through thievery, and so they could not go on to the gold fields. On the thiefs way back we happened to meet him right by our camp and he certainly got a good beating for his stealing. If he had been on U.S. soil and had come in contact with a bunch of hotheaded men there [63] might have been a necktie party. He probably became one of Soapy Smith's gang, which was terrorizing Skagway at that time, robbing and swindling the miners. {4}

I used to tell the boys that when we got into the boat and started floating down the lakes and rivers I would feel right at home as I was born and raised right alongside of the second largest river in Norway, where I lived until I was thirteen years old. We were happy when we got our stuff loaded into our boat, after spending a month or more on the trail. It had always been wet and muddy and we went to bed in our wet clothes nearly every night. The boat which we had named the "Yakima" was twenty feet long and after we had it loaded we had only eight or ten inches of freeboard, so it was not any too safe. We found this out later. On Lake Tagish there is a place called Windy Arm. That was where we first discovered that our boat was overloaded, and we nearly swamped. There were two men who had built a boat next to US and when they put it in the water they found that it was very cranky. The next day we heard that two men had drowned on Lake Bennett.

The river between Lake Lindemann and Lake Bennett is very rough and rocky. One man swamped his boat and got his outfit wet and instead of drying it out and making the best of it he went up on the bank and shot himself. We moved our outfits between these two lakes on an old wagon that we rented. We were the horses. On Lake Tagish we first came into contact with Canadian law, as the Mounties had set up a customs station where we paid duty on some of our outfits. At that place there was a large flock of birds that had lit in one of the trees near by and as I knew they were good eating, Tony went over with his shotgun and let go both barrels and [64] eighteen birds came down. Dick was a good cook and he prepared the finest meal we had had for a long time.

At Miles Canyon, which is about the most dangerous part of the whole trip, we were stopped by another Mountie who informed us that we had better look before we went any farther. We did, and packed [distributed] some of our bulkiest outfit around so we would have more room in the boat. We went through without any trouble. It was my job to be the pilot in all of the bad places as I was accustomed to swift water but I could turn pale as well as anyone in that sort of place. You see, in order to steer a boat you have to row so as to go faster than the water. One half mile below Miles Canyon are the Whitehorse Rapids, which we also went through. Some of the gold seekers hired others to run their boats through those places at $25 a trip. These pilots made better at that than at mining.

The roughest, largest, longest, and last lake is Lake La Barge [Laberge]. John rigged a square sail and as the wind always blows either up or down the lake it made fine sailing. That is where I really had a scare as the waves nearly went into the boat. Below Lake La Barge is a stretch of river that is full of large rocks, where many a gold seeker lost his outfit. One party on a large scow hit a rock and one of the men got so frightened that he stepped off onto a rock while the scow floated away. There he stood waving for them to come back and get him. That could not be done in a few minutes, as it would probably take hours to land and walk back and throw him a rope. In a few minutes there was another boat that came along and it came near enough so he could step on. He joined his own party down the river.

In floating down the river, it was very hard to land in some places, particularly with a heavily loaded boat and the river full of ice. In that part of the country, and because it was late in October, it started to get dark early so we had to start looking for suitable places to land at three o'clock. We sometimes floated for half a mile or more before we could make it, what [65] with the fog and all. If you lost your outfit or got soaked in the ice-cold water it meant either starvation or freezing to death. Outside of that, the trip down the river was not so bad.

In one place we got stuck on anchor ice, which is ice that freezes up from the bottom of the river, and I had to get out and dig it out from under the boat before it would float. It was here that we met Swift Water Bill Gates and two other men. Gates was on his way to San Francisco to get married and they had poled their boat up the river from Dawson. From there they were to go overland via Dalton Trail out to the Lynn Canal, which was about 350 miles away. Bert Nelsen, one of the men, had seventy-five pounds of letters, at one dollar per letter, besides his share of the grub and blankets. They begged us to sell them some of our food, which we did at one dollar per pound.

There was a party of Canadians who were going up the Pelly River and, we were told, they had something good, so we left Fred there. The chief of that party, several more, and the rest of us joined them in their scow to complete our journey [down the Yukon] to Dawson where we arrived on the first day of November, 1897. We first decided to tie the scow up at Lousetown [Klondike City]. We tied the scow up alongside of the ice. The Canadian, who was of French descent, and Fred Hyde, who used to live in Yakima, were very anxious to get uptown to get a few jolts of hooch. The rest of us went to work unloading the scow.

If I thought things were expensive on the trail, my eyes were soon opened when we got to Dawson. The first sign I saw was on a cabin that read "Candles, only $75 a box."They had been $100 the day before. We could have sold everything we had for $1.25 a pound but we needed it all ourselves, especially after that loss at Lake Bennett. The first meal that I bought in Dawson consisted of bacon, beans, a spoonful of stewed dried peaches, bread with no butter, and a piece of pie, and I paid $2.50 for it. Butter, if you could get it, was $4.00 per pound but we never bought any at that price. [66] Everything else in the eating line was $1.25 per pound. Tobacco was $8.00 per pound at one time. We bought a sack of flour for $30 and I knew a man who paid $165 for three sacks.

One of the first Yakima men that we met at Dawson was Judge Morford, who used to have a farm near "Old Town." He had charge of the Harper & La Due Estate and Townsites. He was loaning money at a rate of ten per cent per month. Fred and I borrowed $50 from him for two months and we paid ten dollars for that short time. I have in my possession a promissory note for $100 which was given me by another man in 1902 at two per cent per month. So you can see there was usury practiced, without any legal restrictions. Charley Overhauser, another Yakima man, had several good mining interests and seemed to be well on the way to becoming wealthy. He would carry gold dust loose in his pants pockets and when he treated the boys he would reach into his pockets for a pinch of gold dust to put in the blower. {5}

There were quite a number of others from Yakima. Judge [R. B.] Mikoy arrived shortly after us. On account of the lateness of the season, he must have had a harder time getting in than we did. I can't recall when Dan and Jim Simmons came. Judge Erwin, C. D. Murane, Al Coburn, and several others arrived in the spring. We all scattered out on different creeks, working lays [claim leases] and doing some stampeding. Tony and I took a lay on Bonanza Creek; after sinking one twenty-foot hole to bedrock, we gave it up. Fred, George Kerr, and I then took an eighty-per-cent lay on Number Fifteen on Sulphur Creek. After sinking four holes that averaged fifty feet to bedrock, we gave that up. Another time we sank several holes on Nine Mile Creek. Not having found anything, Fred started for Eldorado Creek which was across the summit some [67] ten miles away, where we had a cache. I soon went there to work for wages, as I was tired of borrowing money to prospect on. One time we got a contract on Sulphur Creek for one hundred cords of wood at eight dollars per cord, which was a good price as wood was easy to get. We only received $100 as our customer gave up his lay. Fred always said he would never leave the country without a stake, and if it had not been for the letters that I received from my mother and father I might have thought as he did. He went to Fairbanks and then took a trip to the outside to look after some interests he had. He died in a roadhouse on his return to the gold fields.

Martin Olsen, who was from Bellingham, and I made a two-hundred-mile trip to the American side, to Fourth of July Creek, to stake some hard rock which we found out was worthless. We were told about an abandoned cabin where we could stay overnight. After cooking our dog food and our own food outside we turned in for the night. We kept the dogs in as it was very cold. During the night the fire had spread in some chips that were partly covered with snow and it burned a hole in the log cabin and filled the place with smoke which disturbed the dogs, who woke us up. If we had not awakened and gotten out we would have been burned up and it might have been months before the mystery would have been solved, if it ever was. On the way back to Dawson we traveled all day in fifty-five below zero weather and did not know it until we reached Fortymile Post.

The language that was used by some of the miners is not fit to print; even some of our party, myself included, did not use Sunday-school talk always. There was a preacher on the trail who was trying as hard as the rest of us to get to Dawson, that fall in '97. He was sitting along the trail resting, apparently all worn out. Someone came along and greeted him with the familiar "Good morning, partner"- as that was what we called each other on the trail -";How goes it?" He said he was a minister of the gospel and not used to any profanity, but that this was the worst &"blankety-blank" route that he ever was on. [68] Several years after that, my wife and I were walking in front of a church in Port Townsend, when we saw a man under the church digging a basement. I told him it was pretty hard digging, but that I used to dig where it was much harder and where we had to thaw everything. He said he had done the same thing around Dawson in 1897. This man had the same name as the preacher met on the trail so he must have been the same one, but I didn't tell him that.
In 1897 and '98 there was a preacher, not the one who swore on the trail, who started meetings in an empty building and as there were no lamps he used candles. He used some empty whisky bottles for candlesticks. I well remember one Sunday night he was standing there with the bottle in one hand and a songbook in the other singing ";Rock of Ages." On the side of the bottle toward the congregation the bottle had the label "Canadian Club Whisky." In those days there was not any of what the Indians called "Cheecha" [Cheechako] money. So when the preacher took up the collection, the miners would get out their pokes and put some gold dust or nuggets in the collection plates.

One time when I came in from the creeks I went into the Pioneer Saloon, to look for some of the boys. There I met Henry Baatz from Helena, Montana. He went to the roulette table and put fifty dollars on the red. Red it was, then fifty dollars on the green with the same result. After making several winning bets he asked me if I wanted some money, which I didn't. After another bet, I figured he wanted me to sink it for him which I started doing. There were a lot of rounders that claimed they knew him in Montana and asked why he gave his money to me. He said I was O.K. He quit after winning $1,500. But later "Two-Step Louie" Smith came in and lost $1,000. I decided gambling wasn't for me.

As far as I know, outside of Judge Morford and Charley Overhauser, there was not a Yakima man who made any money to speak of. I finally left for the outside in September, 1902, after four years and ten months in and around Dawson. [69] I cannot say that I was ever sorry for going; even if I didn't get rich in gold, I got plenty rich in experience and if it hadn't been for my parents I would have gone again the next year. I have had a lot of fun, after forty-three years, trying to decide what experiences to include in this narrative.


Our fur trader, Clarence Teien, the seventeen-year-old cook of the schooner "Anna-Olga" of Poulsbo, Washington, left Seattle in June, 1912, for the Mackenzie River delta, returning to Seattle in July, 1914, on the steamer "Senator" from Nome, Alaska. In the summer of 1914 this youth, with another crew member of the "Anna-Olga" undertook a 150-mile trip by rowboat up the Mackenzie River to Fort McPherson, attempting to get medical aid for a fellow member of the crew. While Clarence Teien went into the Far North, his father, George C. Teien, and a contemporary had almost as exciting an adventure trying to transport trading goods to the Anna-Olga" from Seattle to Point Barrow.

The manuscript record of the Teiens' adventures runs 150 pages, of which 30, an account entitled "The Cruise of the 'Anna-Olga," were written by Clarence Teien, the remainder by his father. Miss Hilda Josephine Solibakke of Seattle, a niece of George C. Teien, has transcribed "Teien's Tales," from the original almost undecipherable scrawl, with its unique spelling and syntax, and has produced a readable account. From this narrative and from an interview with George Teien in the winter of 1946, shortly after he had completed the manuscript, and from recent interviews with Clarence Teien and Miss Solibakke, the following information is derived.

George C. Teien was born in Drammen, Norway, in 1863, and died at eighty-four in Poulsbo, Washington, November 7, 1947. Of his early childhood he writes in his story: "At the age of three I became motherless. My father was left with eight children, the youngest a year old. Two years later he [70] emigrated to the United States with two sons and a daughter. The rest of us were distributed among relatives in Norway. Thirteen years later, a brother, two sisters, and I headed for Benson, Minnesota, where we arrived June 7, 1881."

In the spring of 1885, after working on his father's farm for three years, George Teien went to Hallock, Kittson County, Minnesota, near where his brother Andrew and sister Christina (Mrs. Rasmus J. Solibakke) had homesteads. During the summer he worked on a wheat ranch known as Fort Farm. The following year he bought 160 acres from his brother. For three years he alternated, seasonally, between Hallock and his father's farm at Benson, harvesting, homesteading, buying and selling livestock on a small scale, and doing some occasional trading. Then he leased his farm and, in November, 1888, established a trading post at Warroad, a small Chippewa village on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

Three years later, in the fall of 1891, Teien bought "a piece of land adjoining Red River, two miles north of Dayton, a small town on the Dakota side," where he built a store and founded the town of Robbin. Among Teien's papers are a number of newspaper clippings which are not fully identified. One headed only Robbin, Minnesota, February 16, states: "Teien was not only the town's first postmaster, but its first storekeeper, first banker and builder of the first telephone system. 'I ran the first line from Robbin to Dayton, in the summer of 1895,' he said, 'using the top strand of barbed wire fences along the road. At gates and crossings a canopy of wire was strung.' The improvised line, he said, worked perfectly and no complaints were received about the service." According to his own testimony, Teien was also Robbin's first insurance agent and for eleven years was clerk of the school district. "I got still another job, of which I tried to rid myself but without success, that of Justice of the Peace - all types of cases were mine, especially the thievery of the half-breeds." {6} While he was at Robbin, Teien married Annie Svenson, [71] who was born in Sweden November 12, 1866. The wedding took place at the town of Teien (named for the Teien brothers, but no longer listed in the atlas), Kittson County, Minnesota, May 27, 1893. Mrs. Teien died in Poulsbo December 6, 1940, at seventy-four. For a number of years she had helped to operate the store at Robbin.

In 1901 Teien, looking for another location, made a trip to California and the Pacific Northwest; on this occasion he in-vested in some timber property in Idaho which he later disposed of. He returned to Robbin; he sold his store in 1904, and in the same year bought a hundred-acre farm on Balsam Lake near Hudson, Wisconsin. Less than two years later, Teien sold this farm; he moved to Poulsbo in February, 1906.

Although Teien always remained a resident of Poulsbo, he made trips to Idaho, a journey to Alaska in 1913, a visit to Norway in 1926, and another to the Middle West in 1942. Never attracted to large centers, he spent all his life in small communities, where his presence and his contributions, both in business and in civic affairs, were continually felt. One or two references to Teien's activities in Poulsbo, which closely parallel those in Robbin, are recorded here. It should be noted that all the names of persons that appear with Teien's below, with one possible exception, are Norwegian, Poulsbo having one of the heaviest concentrations of Norwegian settlers in the area.

On January 20, 1933, the Kitsap County Herald (Poulsbo) published a "History of Poulsbo," which stated, "When Geo. C. Teien first moved here in 1906, there were no telephones in the town, and he immediately started in to organize a local company, known as the Poulsbo Rural Telephone Company, which was incorporated on December 10, 1907, by John Storseth who was the first president and Paul Paulson, Geo. Teien, Henry Nordahl, Nels Sonju, C. A. Johnson and John Ryen." {7} The same issue has another item: "Poulsbo . . . was [72] incorporated as a city in 1908, with A. B. Moe as the first mayor and Geo. Teien, Peter Iverson, Martin Bjermeland, A. Host-mark and J. C. Moe as the first councilmen, with L. S. Lange-land as treasurer."
Clarence Teien, the third narrator presented here, was born in Robbin, Minnesota, March 15, 1895. He moved to Poulsbo with his parents in 1906. After his trip to northern Canada, to be described here, he fished halibut around Ketchikan, Alaska; on June 28, 1918, he was inducted into the army and spent six months at Fort Seward, Haines, Alaska. After the war he became a chiropractor. He practiced in Roundup, Montana, until 1942 and then moved to Poulsbo, where he now carries on his profession.

The Alaska fur-trading adventures of the Teiens, father and son, are described in "Teien's Tales," the manuscript account described earlier, which was completed in 1945. A copy is in the University of Washington Library. In the present version of "Teien's Tales" a good deal has been omitted to avoid repetition, for both George Teien and his son Clarence traversed part of the same route and met some of the same people. Many observations on Alaska, the customs of the Eskimos, and similar matters that are part of general knowledge have not been included. The unique personal experiences of the writers have been emphasized. Editing has been confined mainly to condensing the original, although a few lengthy passages have been abstracted, some rearranging has been done, a number of short paragraphs have been consolidated, some sentences have been recast, and spellings have been made consistent. S. A.

by George C. Teien

When I came to Poulsbo there were a number of Seattle people heavily interested in several branches of the fishing industry. They owned, among other equipment, sailing schooners which went to the Bering Sea for codfish. This was salted [73] on the boats and brought back to the sound to be prepared for the market. These cod fishermen were looking for a site for a factory and offered this proposition: any community, with a suitable location, that would furnish a free site and take $5,000 worth of stock in a company would be considered. The Moe brothers, Nels Sonju, and I got busy and made arrangements for part of Andrew Thompson's water front in Poulsbo. Each of us took $1,000 worth of stock. The site was accepted and this industry provided Poulsbo with a payroll, being successful from the start. As for myself, I more than doubled my money. The company was later taken over by Captain Shields. In the same year that I invested in the Alaska cod fisheries, I became a partner in an adventure in fur trading, which my son, Clarence, and I have written about. {8}

On a fall evening in 1911, a man named Steen ambled into the Grandview Hotel in Poulsbo. He claimed his home was near Herschel Island, at the mouth of the Mackenzie River where it empties into the Arctic. He was married to an Eskimo woman and had several children. He had come to San Francisco in a whaler, and from there to Poulsbo. Mr. Steen was an excellent talker. He spoke about the strange country where he had met Roald Amundsen, the great Norwegian explorer who had sailed the Northwest Passage from Norway, and unfolded a picture of the Mackenzie River district with its abundance of fine furs, which could be bought very cheaply. The Hudson's Bay Company had been the only trader there for over a hundred years. Steen pointed out the tremendous expense of bringing supplies a thousand miles or more from the Great Slave Lake country, following the Mackenzie River by boat, and of making several portages en route. He compared this with taking a load of supplies by boat from Seattle direct to Herschel Island, where the Canadian [Northwest] Mounted Police had a station and kept order in a vast territory. [74]

All of this was of interest to me. I had had experience dealing in furs - with the Indians in the Middle West - and Mr. Steen claimed he had many left from the previous year. He said he had about $1,500 to put into a company that would provide a boat and merchandise suitable for this trade. So, a company was incorporated with a one-third interest each for Nels Sonju, Mr. Steen, and myself, and was importantly named the Poulsbo Whaling and Trading Co.

A Mr. Nilson was given the contract to build the boat. {9} It was the size of a large halibut-fishing boat with a 40 h.p. Atlas engine. Our boat was named the "Anna-Olga." It was completed in the late spring of 1912 and taken to Seattle, where the engine was installed. As soon as the installation was completed, we loaded the "Anna-Olga" with trading goods, such as flour, sugar, coal oil, gasoline, traps, and guns. The crew consisted of Captain Steen, an engineer, John Sundblad (a friend of mine from Minnesota, and a fine, able man), an experienced, elderly sailor from Poulsbo, John Erland, and my son Clarence, only seventeen years of age. My wife and I worried considerably because he was going, but it seemed so safe - with an engineer we knew well, and a captain who appeared reliable.

When ready to leave for the Arctic, a rather serious condition arose. Captain Steen suddenly developed an inflated ego. He began associating with bums, drinking, and making a fool of himself. Twice, coming down to the boat late at night, he narrowly missed falling into the sound. Sonju and I became worried, but we had no one else to substitute, and we decided to chance it, hoping that when he got out to sea he would improve. At last, all was in readiness and a westward course was set for Nome, Alaska, about 2,500 miles away. Sonju and I went along as far as Port Townsend, Washington, where we bid our adventurers a hearty "goodbye and good luck." [75]

Anxious waiting for days and weeks followed. Not until they reached Nome would they find a telegraph office or radio. After five weeks we received a letter giving more details than in the wire from Nome. Everyone was safe, although the captain's standing had not improved. In due time they reached Herschel Island, the next station for registering the vessel. During the winter of 1912-1913 we received letters as often as the crew could get them to us. All mail had to go by dog team, in the care of the Canadian Mounted Police, for the first eight hundred miles. It took about six weeks each way.

During the course of the first winter, Sonju and I decided to buy a new stock of trading goods in Seattle and ship it north by the trading schooner "Transit," which was owned by Captain Becklund. {10} The "Transit," loaded to capacity with all kinds of goods, made a yearly trip along the coast of Alaska from Teller, ninety-five miles northwest of Nome, to Point Barrow. She carried provisions for several stores that belonged to Captain Becklund, for a cannery at Kotzebue, and for government schools. On this trip she had as passengers several missionaries and a teacher for a government school somewhere in northern Alaska.

Sonju and I took passage on an Alaska Steamship Company boat, the "Senator," from Seattle to Nome on June 24, 1913. From Nome we went by smaller steamer to Kotzebue. There we connected with the Becklund schooner, the "Transit," which was carrying our goods to Point Barrow. We had ordered the "Anna-Olga" to come out as soon as the ice opened up, and to join us at Point Barrow when the "Transit" arrived. We had planned to send the "Anna-Olga" back to the trading grounds with a new load for another year and to bring home any of the crew who cared to come.

The schooner "Transit" was to be our home for the next twenty days. The cabins could accommodate only five besides [76] the crew. Sonju and I did the best we could in the bottom of the hull with the freight, as four missionaries and the lady teacher had the cabins. Our sleeping quarters proved none too good in a storm which sprang up the next day. When the ship rolled, boxes and bales along the sides of the ship came tumbling down on us. We had only a lantern and when needed it was hard to find in the dark. The hatches had to be fastened down tight to avoid flooding the hull. One of the sailors was nearly lost one night when the storm was at its worst. No landings could be made at wharves, and the people depended on this freight, which came only once a year. So we had to cruise back and forth waiting for the wind to calm down, so as to unload. The unloading along the route was usually accomplished with the aid of Eskimos in their skin boats, which could carry heavy loads.

At Point Hope our passengers disembarked. Sonju and I were glad for now we could have cabins and comfort. July 31 we got to Wainwright, but we were delayed a week by storms. This time was not entirely lost, however, because we were on shore a good share of the time, visiting with the Eskimos and exploring the countryside. Finally, on August 6 the "Transit" started for Point Barrow, eighty miles away. Snow fell and constantly we dodged ice floes. Once we anchored to a big iceberg, which was grounded in thirty feet of water. On top was snow water. A bucket brigade soon filled every tank aboard from this hundred-barrel reservoir.

For several days our advance was blocked by ice. We became increasingly restless as time passed, for there remained but thirty-five miles separating us from Point Barrow, where the "Anna-Olga" was supposed to be. Fourteen months had passed since we had last seen her. So, impatient, we decided to walk along the beach to Point Barrow. But this proved to be the longest thirty-five miles I have ever walked. Skirting the coastline, I dare say it was nearer fifty miles than thirty-five. At eleven o'clock the second night we glimpsed Point Barrow. Our first impression of it was better than we had [77] expected. But we were sadly disappointed about the "Anna-Olga," for she had not come out and neither had she been heard from. On August 22 Captain Becklund finally arrived at Point Barrow in the "Transit," thirteen days after we had left her.
During the eleven days that we were waiting for the arrival of the "Transit" we learned to appreciate the hospitality of the people at Point Barrow. It had started on the night of our arrival when an Eskimo family invited us to a cup of coffee, which we accepted thankfully. The young native woman understood and spoke some English. Passing the large modern school, we were asked in by Mr. and Mrs. Cram, teachers and missionaries. What wonderful folks they were, and what excellent food they served! Later, they moved to their Seattle home. Temporary quarters were allowed us on the second floor of the village store, which was owned by Charles E. Brower. {11} The revenue cutter "Bear" was anchored way out in the ice. The physician, a native, and members of the crew came ashore, a distance of about three miles, by jumping from one cake of ice to another. The day was calm, and to meet someone from the outside was a treat.

Our host was quite a character. He had the main store and the post office, he took the census, and on occasion he was the doctor. His wife was native, and at that time he had six children. Years later I learned that he was still "going strong," that he was past eighty, that he had seventeen children, eight of whom had taken unto themselves native wives. Our first meal was prepared by a white cook, and seal meat was the [78] main dish. It tasted like pork. We also had pickled whaleskin from the white whale. Tomcod was served at luncheon, wild goose for dinner. Several days later Brower killed eleven reindeer, and reindeer tongue was served for dinner that evening.

A schooner, owned by a Mr. Pedersen, which traded to the eastward from Point Barrow, was in port. {12} But there was no sign of our own people. Soon the temperature varied from 220 to 500 above zero, and snow began to f all at night. On the 21st we learned from two native families, who had arrived from Herschel Island by dog team, that they had seen the "Anna-Olga." She was blocked by ice, and her propeller was broken. News at last! We found the native who had seen Sundblad, Steen, Erland, and Clarence. But, how far east from Point Barrow? No accurate information was forthcoming because Eskimos travel by "sleeps."

We had given up all hope of our people coming out that fall, and since nothing could be gained by our remaining a whole year waiting for them, we made a deal with Brower for all our trading goods. He paid us exactly what they had cost us. Captain Becklund had several stores and a salmon cannery nearer to Kotzebue, so he was anxious to get away. We began immediately to unload our goods at Point Barrow from the "Transit." It took us three days, for everything had to be brought ashore in skin boats and in skiffs. Ashore, the freight had to be carried or wheeled in wheelbarrows. Chubby, wide-hipped native women five feet tall would jog along with 125-pound sacks of coal on their backs, walking on a couple of planks from the beach into the warehouse. This was the only chance they had in twelve months to make an extra penny.

The "Transit" was now ready to sail south and we thought we would soon be on our way to Seattle. But the Arctic ice pack closed in unusually early that year, the "Transit" was caught in the ice, and on August 28, 1913, it was wrecked. [79] Every available man was pressed into service, and several thousand dollars worth of furs and a dozen sacks of mail were saved. As shipwrecked sailors, the six-man crew of the "Transit" was turned over to Brower until the next August, to be housed and fed at government expense. But we had to look out for ourselves.

Captain Becklund was determined to proceed south. Two natives owned a whaleboat and the captain was trying to make a deal with them to take him and his cook as far as Point Hope or to Kotzebue. If this were managed, there was a possibility of our being permitted to go along. The arrangement went through and on September 2nd we started out on the 500-mile trip down the coast in an open whaleboat, with Captain Becklund, Goto (the Japanese cook off the "Transit"), two natives, Sonju, and I aboard. It took us eleven days to reach Kotzebue. Several times we had to pull ashore late at night, sleeping on the beach, in an igloo or on the floor of a schoolhouse. Our provisions began to run low before we reached our destination. At last, at one o'clock in the morning of September 12, we arrived at Kotzebue, weary, sore, but happy. Here Captain Becklund had a store and a salmon cannery; the Dolly Varden trout was the principal pack.

We had hurried to Kotzebue to get the mail boat "Corwin" for Nome, only to find that in the Arctic even the mail can be late. Finally, on September 22, after ten days' waiting, the "Corwin" anchored seven miles out. By the next evening all were aboard, with Captain E. J. Healy, and we headed for Nome. We stopped several places en route; on September 27, at 7:30 o'clock in the morning, Nome lay before us. Becklund took us out to his gold dredge five miles out of Nome, on a three-mile stretch of beach, which probably had been washed a half dozen times before he began operations. First, there had been the man with the shovel and pan who, of a lucky afternoon, cleaned up from one to two hundred dollars. Now the captain barely made expenses.

The last steamer south that year was the "Victoria." She [80] arrived in Nome on October 3 and left on the ten-day homeward trip on the afternoon of October 15. Our stay in Nome had been made interesting by, among other things, talking to old prospectors and sharing their special dinners in their humble shacks. Everyone was hospitable and friendly. We experienced one of the worst storms Nome had ever had. A sixty-foot tugboat was driven against the side of the hotel where I stayed, but this saved both the boat and the hotel. Even so, water splashed through the second-story windows of the hotel. Houses, flimsily constructed during boom days on piling six feet high, collapsed as if of mere cardboard.

As I sailed homeward, I reflected that between July 7 and October 15 all that Sonju and I had accomplished was a round trip from Nome to Point Barrow. We had had a lot of experiences, but our objective in going north had not been achieved. Our plans had seemed foolproof. But when one deals with a land of so many unforeseen conditions and changes, plans can be expected not to materialize. So, as Sonju and I proceeded back to Poulsbo, we left the "Anna-Olga" and the four aboard to whatever fate lay in store for them in that desolate country, where in winter the sun does not appear for months, and in the summer is sighted twenty-four hours a day.

Alaska is a country of many varying moods - today, she smiles her sweetest, tomorrow she lets loose thundering storms of destruction. Though we had failed to accomplish that for which we had come, we were now on our way home, in good health, having escaped many a danger, and for all of this we were truly thankful. Time passed quickly on the way home. Many stories were told, mostly of freezing, starving, and hard work. Many "greenhorns" had been lured from home during 1897 and 1898 by tales of easy money and gold that could be picked up by hand on the beach at Nome. Most of them were unfit for such adventure, and they had no conception of the hardships that would be theirs hunting gold in Alaska. [81]

by Clarence Teien

On the 15th day of June, 1912, all members of the crew appeared before the U.S. Commissioner of Shipping in Seattle, and the ship's papers were signed with Mr. Steen as master, John Erland as mate, John Sundbiad as engineer, a Mr. Wagoner as pilot, and I, Clarence Teien, as cook.

The following day we cast off for what was believed to be the Big Adventure. The first serious trouble developed in Seymour Narrows, the entrance to the Inside Passage. That evening, Erland gave Sundblad and me alarming news: Erland had checked the courses Wagoner had charted and had discovered that he was a fraud. Wagoner had shipped on as an experienced pilot of the Inside Passage on the recommendation of Mr. Steen. When questioned, Wagoner admitted having no experience as a pilot. He also admitted he did not own the price of a passage to Nome and, while he and Steen had been drinking together, the latter had promised the passage. Erland was then given the responsibility of navigating the vessel over the Gulf of Alaska from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to Unimak Pass and thence to the Mackenzie delta.

Everything went well on our trip north in spite of Steen and Wagoner. The weather was good and continued so until we reached the Nome roadstead, twenty-eight days out of Seattle. Everyone would have enjoyed going ashore in the dory that we had signaled, to take Steen and our greasy and bleary-eyed Wagoner off the boat - but taking leave of Wagoner was without regret.

When Steen finally returned, he was in a drunken stupor. So as to favorably impress the two men who had rowed him out he commenced to give orders and commands to get the engine started and to haul in the anchor. He wanted to imply that he was a great captain and we were but the dumb crew, and that he knew how to make us jump through the rings, as [82] it were. To humor him, Erland and I tugged away at the anchor, and Steen with a triumphant gleam in his eye said, "We will show them how it is done on a real ship" - and commenced to sing a sea chantey in rhythm with our work at the winch. Steen was befogged and unsteady and he almost fell overboard as the boat rolled, but I grabbed him and Erland and I were able to get him to his quarters. He then changed into dry clothing and retired to his bunk with his whisky, where he remained in a stupor until we reached Teller.

At Teller, we saw our first Eskimos and they were busy harvesting fish. Upon leaving, the weather had turned disagreeably chilly and squally. We sighted the first iceberg in the vicinity of Point Hope. We anchored there in hopes of getting some information about the ice pack at Point Barrow. As we dropped anchor, a kayak came alongside. It was Little Joe, a white who had been mate on one of the whalers. I believe he was English, but I never did find out his name nor his origin. He had married an Eskimo and had gone "native." He must have been sixty-five years of age, but was spry as a sparrow and chattered constantly. He was happy and apparently had not a care in the world. He informed us that some natives had recently arrived from up the coast, and that we would not be able to get any farther until the ice pack began breaking up and had moved. He offered to pilot us into a small cove for better and safer anchorage.

His invitation to visit him was promptly accepted by Sundblad and me. The house was of sod, stuffy and hot, with a strong seal odor. A kettle of ducks, a cup of strong tea, and a plate of homemade bread was soon ours, and, squatting on the floor, we enjoyed this feast, though the ducks still had some feathers on them. I feel confident that we succeeded in giving our agreeable host the impression that we enjoyed everything immensely.

Captain Steen was well known to Little Joe who was flabbergasted to think we had been hoodwinked into outfitting this mountebank, as he called him, in such grand style. While [83] our estimation of our "nice old man from Poulsbo" had suffered through association, we thought even less of him when Joe told us of Steen's past perfidies. It was a further awakening as to what might be expected in the future. We could but philosophically tell ourselves that there was no use borrowing trouble until it came, and that it was a case of making the best of it for it was now too late to turn back if we were to get past Point Barrow this season.

In three days we again headed north, and soon ran into the solid ice pack. With a strong wind the ice pack broke up and we reached Point Barrow. The realization that we had finally reached the most northerly point of Alaska was one of the high lights of the trip for me. The locale was desolate and windswept, with low, rolling, sandy ground. The government schoolhouse and residence were nicely painted and surrounded by a picket fence.

Vilhjalmur Stefansson was at Point Barrow when we arrived. He was the first white man to see and live with the Copper Eskimos, referred to as the blonde Eskimos, on Victoria Island. All were agreed it would be a remarkable opportunity to bring our entire cargo of trading goods into such virgin territory, as it was a mere six hundred miles north and east of the Mackenzie delta where we intended to go. But when Stefansson explained a few of the risks, dangers, and problems that would be encountered, our enthusiasm waned. He traveled by dog team and lived under native conditions, but to bring in a boat through practically uncharted waters was not to be considered. If we were to get into the moving ice pack there was the chance of our being crushed like an eggshell, and even if that did not happen we risked being frozen in and getting a two-to-three-year free ride around the North Pole.

The wind had been favorable for some time. We anxiously awaited a jump-off. On August 4 we rounded Point Barrow. The main ice pack was about a mile offshore, moving approximately three miles an hour. The navigation charts of these [84] waters were none too reliable so one man was constantly posted in the bow, casting the lead line to determine the depth of the water. Although we ran at slow speed and in spite of our continual soundings, we often rammed into sand bars which formed at the mouths of the many rivers that emptied into the Arctic Ocean. We became quite expert at extricating ourselves, but following a sixteen- or seventeen-hour daily run we were quite exhausted when we anchored to get a little sleep. Sundblad was able to keep the game bag filled with ducks as there were millions of them, and they could be shot down from the deck of the boat.

Approaching Herschel Island, we experienced heavy fog, but were able to discern a high cliff. Erland recognized it from information on the navigation chart, and ordered the course to be steered so as to reach the harbor. At this point, Steen asserted he ought to know where we were for these were home waters, and countermanded the order. In turn, Steen's order was countermanded, for, as Erland contended, it would but pile us up on a rocky reef. We stuck by Erland.

It dawned on us that Steen was deliberately attempting to wreck the boat now that we had practically reached our destination; he could then salvage the cargo, take full charge, and arrange to have us sent out. Then, when an accounting was made, there would be no profits, for he could fix the expense to suit himself. This surmise was based on remarks and hints he had let slip when under the influence of liquor. Anyway, his plans were frustrated and Erland's course soon brought us opposite the Northwest Mounted Police barracks, our port of entry into Canadian territory. There, an inspector, a sergeant, and a corporal were stationed. Here we paid customs tax on our cargo. The inspector commented that Steen was a worthless beachcomber of whom he thought himself well rid when Steen had gone outside the previous summer. He offered us condolences when he found we were mixed up with this schemer. Erland commented that now that we were forewarned we had the situation well in hand, for Erland held [85] the power of attorney to represent the owners. But the inspector reminded us that the master of a vessel held the only full authority and that if any issue came up he could but uphold Steen.

Sunshine bathed this small, peaceful outpost. Long buildings formerly used as warehouses for whaling companies were now insulated and partitioned into living quarters for the police. They had been painted bright red with white trim. Here was a well-stocked library, billiard room, gymnasium with a variety of equipment, a gun room - in fact, practically every comfort. So the lot of these men was almost enviable during the three-year enlistment in the Arctic service, after which they were relieved and sent outside.

I could not help thinking of the different circumstances under which the Eskimos lived. Twenty Eskimo families made their permanent homes here. They lived in one-room sod houses, and during the summer were busily engaged getting seal for its blubber and setting gill nets for their daily requirements of fish. Any extra fish was split and hung up to dry, later to be used for dog food. Some stored fresh meat and fish in cellars, and as only a few inches of topsoil ever thaws, these were practically equal to modern cold-storage plants.

Steen's Eskimo wife and four youngsters had recently arrived with her brother, and we were invited to dinner consisting of boiled salmon trout, tea, and home-baked bread, which was really a treat. Steen's wife had for a season attended the Indian Training School at Fort McPherson, so she had something of white men's ways. We knew little of the Eskimo language or of the more common lingo, which is a corruption of Eskimo, Portuguese, English, gestures, and grimaces. Steen was interpreter. Whether or not he was talking about us we never knew for she just remained squatted on the floor chuckling, grinning, and replying in monosyllables.

The following day, Steen's family and equipment, consisting of bedding, a Sibley Stove and a few pots and pans, were brought on deck, and we headed for Shingle Point where [86] Steen was to maintain his headquarters. {13} It was a bare, desolate-looking sandspit with a high bluff facing the Arctic Ocean, but there was an ample supply of driftwood as well as neglected log cabin in need of caulking and sodding. In fact, this was a cabin constructed by Roald Amundsen, following his successful trip through the Northwest Passage. {14} Within a few days we had the Steen family comfortably established with plenty of cut and stacked wood. We had also built a cache, which was a platform on poles about seven feet high on which the bulky trade goods were stored and covered with canvas.

Steen had hired a husky Eskimo to pilot us on our way up the Mackenzie River to our destination. The pilot's equipment was a whaleboat in which he put all his earthly possessions of dogs, tents, traps, clothing, squaw, two daughters aged eight and ten, and an old, gray-haired grandmother. At first, we did not know if we could trust him, but our suspicions proved groundless and we found him thoroughly honest and [87] upright. The "Anna-Olga," considerably lightened by unloading the stores for Steen's camp, followed confidently.

For seventy-five miles up the river there was no timber except for a mass of impenetrable willows. When finally the timber line was reached, we found it was really a beautiful country with a range of snow-covered mountains to our right. We had for the time no fixed destination - it was merely a matter of deciding and choosing where to make our headquarters. Soon a bluff loomed ahead with the advantage of high ground in the event of high flood waters. The main branch of the river divided here, at Halkat Island. This proved to be a first-class choice for our camp.

Next morning work began in earnest felling trees for our cabin, to be 16' x 20'. The four walls were soon up, the roof sodded, the floor made of rough lumber, and the chimney and cookstove ready for service. The heating stove Steen had assured us was available did not materialize, so John made a serviceable stove from a fifty-gallon oil drum he had picked up at Herschel Island.

As soon as the boat was unloaded we planned to take her back to Shingle Point for the winter. Being the least important member of the crew, I was delegated to remain as watchman and to scour the surrounding country for moss to chink the spaces between the logs of our new home. Having gone a short distance, I discovered numerous bear tracks. As these were the first I had ever seen, I became practically petrified with fear and thereafter my excursions were restricted. The nights were filled with many a weird sound - some the crying of the lynx, the mournful croak of the raven, others the rustling of underbrush by rabbits, the scurrying of muskrats inside the tent, while still others were unrecognizable. I believe it was the happiest day of the entire trip when after ten days I heard one evening a faint helloing - it was Erland imitating a moose.

All in all, our new house was very comfortable. After a few shelves were up on which to display our trade goods of flour, gum, tea, sugar, canvas, calico, traps, rifles, powder, lead and [88] shot for self-loading, tobacco, beans, and rice, our native pilot decided to make his winter headquarters next door to us. So, a lean-to was built alongside our cabin. Caribou skins, with the fur up, were put on the bare ground. The ceiling was too low to allow anyone to stand upright. It did not seem possible that anyone could get along in such restricted quarters. The only way to get around was to crawl. But there was a family of five literally packed in with odors of seal oil, cooking fish, and human bodies. Our social calls were usually of short duration.

The days were getting noticeably shorter and the north country was freezing up. Several hours a day, three days a week, John and I spent with a crosscut saw felling pine trees, and cutting these into heater lengths. For our cookstove we located dry logs that had drifted down the river. On a crudely made sled we hauled these to the cabin. These excursions helped keep us in good physical condition. Besides, John and I maintained separate trap lines. Mine were exclusively for mink whereas John's were for mink, lynx, and red fox. The round trip over my line was made three times a week on skis, and covered about ten miles. Our outdoor wearing apparel was a muskrat parka, a pair of caribou pants, a pair of caribou socks, and a pair of fur gloves - all with the fur turned inward. This might seem a heavy, cumbersome outfit. On the contrary, it was comfortable and permitted freedom in walking and running, and kept one warm no matter how cold it might get.

The business of trading with the natives entered its first phase by our visiting them and serving them strong tea. They would coach us in pronouncing certain words and phrases, or they would tell us about recent experiences, or of happenings long, long ago. The buying or trading was permitted to seem incidental. The denomination "one" referred to "one skin" and represented fifty cents; trading for one mink, eight skins were represented - or four dollars; one 49-pound sack of flour cost 25 skins, or $12.50. The standard price on ordinary staples was more or less set by the Hudson's Bay Company. The [89] Eskimos seemed to be able to calculate how much they had coming as fast as we could. We treated them honestly and took no unfair advantage of them. This they realized and appreciated. It was the policy of some traders to give them the short end of the deal.

About May 1, 1913, John and I began expeditions to bring into camp as many muskrats as we could trap, shoot, or run down on the open ice. The latter we accomplished by using a club with which to whack them before they could beat us to a hole in the ice. The days were getting longer, and the sun was really warming things up. As there was a chain of lakes with many muskrats, we were on the run most of the time. We headed for camp as soon as we had a load. John was the official skinner. On a good day we would bring in a hundred "rats." We continued to bring muskrats to camp for three weeks, when the ice commenced to get mushy and unsafe. The muskrat population was pretty well reduced by then.

[Here follows a description of the abundance of wild fowl -ducks, geese, and brant - and a paean to spring. Then misfortune struck. Erland developed melancholia. He attacked Clarence with an ax, but was overpowered and taken 150 miles up the Mackenzie River to Fort McPherson, where the Mounties had a medical station. They rowed twenty-four hours a day on the upstream journey.]

All the while, poor Erland lay trussed up in the bow, constantly talking, singing, yelling, or speaking his native Finnish. After a little over three days and daylight nights, we finally tied up below Fort McPherson, totally exhausted and with hands blistered raw. The doctor could not help Erland. To leave him at Fort McPherson and arrange passage out would have cost $1,200, which was out of the question. So we took him back down river again. He recovered, but he did not regain his former vitality and robustness.

Our fur trading was now finished. We packed the furs in three canvas bags along with a few personal belongings and set out for Shingle Point to put the "Anna-Olga" in shape. The [90] boat was painted and a few repairs made to the shaft and the propeller, which had been damaged. With these things accomplished, we were ready to leave.

No ice was about Herschel Island and when we gave four toots on our whistle as a signal of farewell, I am sure all our faces, with the exception of Steen's, were beaming as radiantly as old Sol's in the northern horizon. But we encountered loose ice after about seventy miles and our progress westward was slowed. Finally we were stuck. Fortunately, we were opposite Clarence Bay [Lagoon], for here we had the protection of a sandspit, behind which we anchored. This would prevent our boat from becoming crushed if an ice squeeze were to set in. A good supply of driftwood and a few logs were about. Otherwise, it was the open, bare, rolling tundra, with a range of mountains about twenty miles back, running parallel with the shoreline. The Arctic Ocean was our front yard. As far as we could see there was a solid mass of icebergs.

The whaling schooner "Elvira" of San Francisco got icebound at about the same time we did. We were almost out of supplies, so we procured from them flour, lard, beans, black-strap, a package of raisins, and two slabs of bacon. They could spare no canned goods, coffee, or butter, for they might have to put in for the winter. The "Elvira" was later crushed in the ice while trying to move out. {15}

We began in earnest to put up a cabin, and after getting together all available logs of any good proportions, we estimated we would have enough for a small cabin 8 1/2' x 12'. No lumber was to be had for floors, frames, or doors, so we hewed them out. It was surprising what a neat job it turned out to be. We got several dinghy loads of sod from the mainland and thoroughly packed it around the cabin and on the roof. In the roof we had only one window - a 10" x 12" pane. The cabin looked cozy enough.

Quite a few seals were in the vicinity, and while many white [91] men cultivate an appetite for them, we never did. The meat is black, has a fishy flavor, and is very greasy. Our diet was becoming monotonous. It consisted of sourdough hot cakes, beans, tea, and sourdough bread. On one occasion, after sleeping out two nights, we came dragging back to camp with six ptarmigan, and they tasted like ambrosia. In the spring we went on a hunting trip for Canadian geese and returned with seventy-five. A few weeks later we got two caribou. And as soon as the ice went out we discovered an abundance of salmon trout in the lagoon in front of our cabin. We were now living off the fat of the land.

The cutter "Bear" of Seattle, with a chartered party of nine wealthy sportsmen from Boston, New York, and New Jersey, also became icebound near us. Progress was blocked a hundred miles west. The easterners studied the flora and fauna of the area. When it became definite that they were to be frozen in for the winter, they hired dog teams and mushed out to Anchorage, Alaska. Another vessel was the "Red Wing," a schooner in the fur-trading business, with a Mr. Swanson in charge. The season was usually spent trading with the natives on the Siberian coast, but the "Red Wing" made quick trips over the territory in which we found ourselves. Mr. Swanson had intended to make a run up to Herschel Island and out again, when he and his crew were trapped with the rest of us. Mr. Swanson made an unusually high offer for our entire cargo of furs, but Sundbiad felt we did not have the authority to dispose of them without the consent or advice of all the owners. When eventually we got out with them, the price of furs had dropped terrifically, and we received 75% less than was offered by Mr. Swanson.

The "North Star" was a small schooner 48 feet in length and was manned by two Anderson brothers who had disposed of all their trade goods and were on their way out to get another load. {16} They accepted Swanson's bid for their furs. [92] A whaleboat with trading goods negotiated the distance from the "Red Wing" through shallow water, and wherever the ice jam was solid it was pulled over into the next stretch of water. The "North Star" headed back towards the east to spend the winter trading. The younger of the Anderson brothers chose to remain where he was, and a young Eskimo replaced him as a crew member on the "North Star."

The big excitement in the Arctic in the winter of 1913-1914 was the expedition which the Canadian government had equipped and sent out in charge of explorer V. Stefansson. The ex-whaler "Karluk" had been completely reconditioned and outfitted with supplies for three years at a cost of $140,000. Several distinguished scientists and specialists were in the area to study winds, currents, geology, mineralogy, and the possibility of discovering an unknown body of land, which from a realtor's standpoint would never cause a land rush. Stefansson with two associates, Storker Stokerson and Anderson, completed a daring trip, remaining on Arctic ice about three months. {17} The "Karluk" was finally crushed in the ice-pack. About fifteen members of the crew froze to death, and fifteen were saved.

As soon as we saw the ice open up we were anxious to leave our camp. We had no propeller now, and we started out under sail. A water lane had opened up, but it led into a blind pocket and we had to return. In a few days, however, the whole pack moved and on a second try we reached Point Barrow. There we discovered that the propeller we had ordered had not [93] arrived. But we did not want to be detained any longer, so we set out again under sail. We drifted near the Siberian coast. Captain Steen became hysterical and vowed if he ever got the chance to set foot on Alaskan soil again he would do so for he was through sailing with a crew such as ours. It was not long before we were bowling along and at Steen's request he was put ashore at Point Hope. We reached Teller, Alaska, and had the "Anna-Olga" put up for the winter. We took the mail launch to Nome and from there the steamer "Senator" to Seattle, arriving with our furs about the middle of July.

by George C. Teien

After Sonju and I returned to Poulsbo, a period of nine months followed in which to worry about the "Anna-Olga" and its crew. During the winter season mail came out only every two months. It was taken by the Canadian [Northwest] Mounted Police to Herschel Island and from there by dog team about 1,500 miles where it connected with the nearest Canadian Pacific Railway.

In July, 1914, John Sundblad, John Erland, and my son Clarence arrived in Seattle and then in Poulsbo, bringing the furs and belongings off the "Anna-Olga." The boat was later sold to one Mr. Anderson, Sonju's friend, who took her up from Teller, Alaska, back into the Arctic. I lost track of her years ago. They brought out 300 white fox pelts, some red, some cross foxes, about 2,500 muskrats, some martens, and about 25 polar bears. {18}

The European War had been on for some time and the fur market was demoralized. Many obligations had to be met. Nevertheless, we felt it a shame to sell our fur at the prices offered, so we borrowed money and put the fur in cold storage in the hope that the market would improve. Instead, it became [94] worse and after paying storage for ten months the fur was sold for what we could get. The white foxes, for instance, after allowing commissions and storage, netted us $4.25 apiece. Four years later we might have had $45 apiece for the same grade of skins. I selected the largest polar bear for myself because the Eskimo dogs had gnawed off most of its nose so it would have fetched twenty-five per cent less than otherwise. But the taxidermist fixed it so it looked very well.

Figuring the outcome of this venture, I sum it up about like this: Instead of making that million-dollar profit, which Captain Steen hinted we might, I myself lost about $2,000. I do have the polar-bear skin to show for it.


<1> The Dongdon Ditch was also known as the Yakima Valley Canal.
<2> Dills must have been in Alaska the previous year, for gold was discovered on Bonanza Creek (Rabbit Creek) in 1896. See Pierre Berton, The Klondike Fever, 47, 51-54 (New York, 1958). Bonanza Creek flows north into the Klondike River, a few miles east of where it joins the Yukon; Dawson and Klondike City are north and south, respectively, of the mouth of the Klondike.
<3> The inhuman treatment of horses during the crossing of White Pass in 1897 is graphically described in Berton, The Klondike Fever, 154-156.
<4> There are numerous references to Soapy Smith. Berton says: "By April [1898], Smith's organization numbered somewhere between two and three hundred confidence men, harlots and pimps, thugs, gamblers and cardsharps." And, "The means which Soapy Smith employed in his subjugation of a town of ten thousand were tried and tested in the school of experience"; The Klondike Fever, 334, 346. See C. L. Andrews, The Story of Alaska, 194-197 (Caldwell, Idaho, 1947), for a good account of Soapy Smith as a big-time racketeer.
<5> Judge S. O. Morford was "one of the first arrivals at Dawson and was resident manager and legal adviser of Harper & Ladue's interests"; the Pathfinder (Seward, Alaska), vol. 1, no. 7, p. 5 (May, 1920). A blower was a triangular copper utensil, about seven inches long, used to separate gold from sand by blowing the latter away. This dustpanlike object often appeared on a saloon bar and served as a receptacle for gold dust; information from Mr. Ralph Lomen of Seattle, Washington.
<6> The last sentence is quoted from "Teien's Tales."
<7> See John Storseth's "Pioneering on the Pacific Coast," in Norwegian-American Studies and Records, 13:133-162 (Northfield, 1943).
<8> In the Kitsap County Herald, January 20, 1933, is the statement: "One of the largest institutions of its kind on the Pacific Coast is the Pacific Coast Cod Fish Co., situated here. It was originally started in 1911 by Drs. Elive and Iver Jansen of Seattle as a stock company."
<9> According to Clarence Teien, this was Einer Nilsen. The Kitsap County Herald, January 20, 1933, identifies Nilsen as the former owner of a small sawmill, not a boat builder.
<10> This name appears throughout the original account as "Backland." Newspaper dispatches always refer to Captain Becklund of the "Transit"; see, for example, the Nome Daily Nugget, September 27, 1913. The latter form is used here. According to Clarence Teien, Becklund's first name was John.
<11> Vilhjalmur Stefansson writes: "We found Mr. Charles D. Brower, and were received by him into the (for that country) sumptuous establishment of the Cape Smythe Whaling and Trading Company. The village of Cape Smythe, which coincides on the map with the post-office of Barrow, Alaska, is a town in winter of over four hundred Eskimo, besides the white whalemen, the missionaries, and the school teachers"; My Life with the Eskimo, 45 (New York, 1919). Later (p. 387) Stefansson mentions "the people of the two villages of Cape Smythe and Point Barrow, nearly five hundred in number." This information is included because both George and Clarence Teien refer to Brower, and Clarence mentions the number of natives under Brower's supervision.
<12> Captain Theodore Pedersen commanded the schooner "Challenge." Stefansson, My Life with the Eskimo, 48.
<13> A Sibley Stove was a small portable heater formerly used by the army. See Con Price, Trails I Rode, 53 (Pasadena, California, 1947): "We had a little Sibley heating stove about the size of a water bucket for the bed tent." Quoted in William A. Craige and James R. Hulbert, ed., A Dictionary of American English on Historical Principles, 4:2114 (Chicago, 1944).
<14> Amundsen's cabin was actually at King Point, a number of miles to the westward. Stefansson says, "A small gasoline trading schooner also came up and passed to the eastward. She was under the command of and owned by Captain Chris Sten, one of the oldest whalers in these waters and a man at whose camp I had several times visited during the winter of 1906-1907, when he was living at Shingle Point, about twenty miles west of the Mackenzie River. . . . Amundsen mentions [Sten] in his 'Northwest Passage' as wintering at King Point the same year as the Gjøa [1905-06]." The "gasoline trading schooner" mentioned by Stefansson was presumably the "Anna-Olga"; but then, "and passed to the eastward" must be read "and later passed to the eastward," because the crew of the "Anna-Olga" visited Stefansson at Cape Smythe (Barrow). In another instance (p. 35) Stefansson refers to Sten as Stein. Roald Amundsen comments extensively on Sten, whom he identifies as Christian Sten, a native of Sandefjord. He praises him for his helpfulness and for his knowledge of the country and of the Eskimo; this suggests that only five or six years before Sten's contact with the crew of the "Anna-Olga" he had been well regarded. The testimony of Little Joe and of the Mountie at Herschel Island, as reported by Clarence, could have resulted from Sten's more recent reputation. See Roald Amundsen, The Northwest Passage, 2:138- 145, 156, 160, 185 (London, 1908).
<15> "This trading and whaling vessel, owned by Schroder and Arliss, was commanded by Captain C. T. Pedersen; Stefansson, My Life with the Eskimo, 888.
<16> Stefansson identifies John Anderson as a trapper and his brother Matt (Matthew) Anderson as captain of the "North Star," an arctic trading schooner. My Life with the Eskimo, 369.
<17> Stefansson says of Stokerson: "I therefore engaged Mr. Storker Stoker-son, an energetic man whom I knew well, for he had been the first mate on the schooner Duchess of Bedford, of the Anglo-American Polar Expedition." The latter was also known as the Leffingwell-Mikkelsen Arctic Expedition, 1906. On Anderson, Stefansson comments: "Dr. R[udolph] M. Anderson, a classmate of mine in the University of Iowa and a friend of mine for many years. I had known him in the University as one of those exceptional men who won honors both through scholarship and athletic ability. He had been . . . a soldier in the Spanish-American war; he held the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and had written learned books on birds and animals, and was now tired of civilization and eager for a chance to go north with me." My Life with the Eskimo, 1, 5, 49.
<18> The Fireman's Fund Register (San Francisco) lists Sten as the owner of the "Anna-Olga" as late as 1928, obviously an error. The Register ceased publication in 1928.

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