The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Mark Simonson

February 2, 2013

Area residents sought gold in Alaska in 1897


Herman N. Carpenter of Oneonta wasn’t about to wait until the next spring. Carpenter was reported as having departed for the Klondike on July 28. He told a Star reporter, “I shall have a wonderful experience, a good time, anyway, and if there is any gold to be gotten I will get some of it. I anticipate the journey with pleasure only.”

Frank D. Miller got a letter from Carpenter in early November, telling of how Carpenter had arrived at Minook, “a place several hundred miles up the Yukon, where the party will remain for the winter,” as the river had frozen over.

Harsh conditions, no food and lawlessness were pretty much all items to be read about in Alaska during the winter months of 1897 to 1898. Still, people were making their way north once the spring months returned, but not as many as the past fall. Some likely changed their minds about going.

From the Otsego Farmer of April 8, 1898, came the news, “Dispatches from the coast say that the steamers going north are only half loaded with passengers. Last week George Behme of Middletown (Delaware County) returned before he reached the Klondike. He concluded there were too many ahead of him. F.W. Wakeman of Walton … has returned, not being pleased with the prospects in the region.”

The adventure wasn’t only for men. The Otsego Farmer of May 6 reported that Flora Reidel of Cobleskill had made the trip and wrote home to her husband from Lake Lindeman.

“The average load a man takes is about 100 pounds and they were surprised to see me carry as much as I did. The men are gone half a day in search of wood as the snow is up to their armpits and sometimes deeper.”

By August, Alfred Morse was back in Sidney Center, and it was reported, “He seems to have had a good deal of experience during his trip in everything except digging gold.”

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Mark Simonson

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