Funter Bay History: Pulling the Trap

June 28, 2018

Fish Traps were a major part of Southeast Alaska industry in the first half of the 20th century. I’ve mentioned the traps around Funter Bay in many previous entries, including some photos of trap operations here and some of the designs and technology here.

As noted on many of the Thlinket Packing Co’s labels, they claimed to be “The only cannery in Alaska fishing with traps exclusively”. This was said to make for “fresh, wholesome, and delicious” canned salmon. Collector George Freddora was kind enough to share a label for “Tepee Brand” Coho salmon that I had not seen before:

Tepee Brand Salmon Label, courtesy of George Freddora.

 

Below are a few photos of trap operations, including “pulling” or “brailing” the fish out of the trap. This was a popular scene to photograph, as the wriggling, splashing fish made for an exciting display. As such, there are a lot of duplicates and variants of these photos for Funter Bay! My apologies if I have posted some of these particular images before.

“Brailing Salmon into Scow”, Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Case & Draper Photograph Collection, PCA 39

 

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Case & Draper Photograph Collection, PCA 39

 

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Case & Draper Photograph Collection, PCA 39

 

“T.P. Co Salmon Trap”, Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Case & Draper Photograph Collection, PCA 39

The next image and variants of it became a popular Alaska postcard, both in original and colorized versions:

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Case & Draper Photograph Collection, PCA 39

Photographer William Case took a number of back-to-back exposures¬† of the brailing process seen above. So far I’ve found 5 of these, and stacked them together into a quick animation:

(Various sources including Alaska State Library and University of Washington Digital Archives).

And finally, a look back at the trap (center-right) and the Kitten Islands, on the way back to the cannery.

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Case & Draper Photograph Collection, PCA 39

 

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Funter Bay History: An-Dis-Cla

June 15, 2018

While searching through the Alaska State Library’s collection, I found a portrait of an elderly Tlingit woman photographed in 1908 at Funter Bay. The photo is labeled “An-Dis-Cla”, presumably the woman’s name. I am assuming she worked at the cannery or was part of the seasonal Tlingit community nearby, as most of the photos from this collection are related to the cannery.

This photo is notable for a few reasons. The photographers Case and Draper took a number of photos at Funter Bay, but rarely if ever included the names of their subjects. They also photographed most of the cannery workers in groups rather than individually, the expense of glass negatives would make a personal portrait somewhat special. The other Tlingit women Case & Draper photographed also had a tendency to avoid eye contact with the camera, as mentioned here and in this book.

I have not been able to find anything about the woman shown in this photo. If any readers know more, I would be interested to hear it!


Funter Bay History: The Expanded Misadventures of Fred Patrick

May 9, 2018

After writing about Funter Bay resident Fred Patrick and his accident-prone life, I dug a little deeper into the original news articles. My prior information all came from summaries written by historian “Kinky” Bayers. The articles he references are mostly available in the Alaska State Library on microfilm.

An article from October of 1931 gives more detail of Fred Patrick’s shooting of Harold Tipton. Apparently Patrick was a “fox rancher” at the time, and Tipton was the cannery watchman at Funter Bay. Both were partaking in moonshine at a “small gathering” when Patrick decided to air some sort of grievance with a gun.

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I was not able to find a follow-up article with the results of this matter. Whether Fred Patrick spent any time in jail for the incident is uncertain.

Fred shows up again in the news in 1938, when fellow fisherman George Ford sank his boat, and the two went missing briefly.

And Fred again ran into trouble with guns in 1939, this time in Elfin Cove.

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That’s all I’ve found so far on fisherman, fox rancher, careless gun owner, and all-around unlucky fellow Fred Patrick. If I encounter him again in newspaper archives I will continue posting his exploits!


Funter Bay History: Trolling in 1952

October 12, 2017

The Juneau Douglas City Museum provided this set of 1952 slides showing some commercial fishing at Funter Bay. Trolling doesn’t seem to have changed much since then! This set is from the Carl and Caroline Jensen collection, Accession # 2002.45. http://www.juneau.org/parkrec/museum/v_exhibit/exhibit4/e41293a.htm

Below we see Carl Jensen cleaning fish near the entrance of Funter Bay. A skein of salmon eggs is in his hand. The cannery and some other trollers are barely visible in the background:

These photos were taken near the end of the fish trap era. Traps competed with trollers such as the Jensens, catching fish on a much more destructive industrial scale. Below we see a cannery tender loading a scow from a floating trap:

And another view of a trap (possibly the same one) with a red watchman’s shack. A cannery employee would live at the trap to keep fish pirates from robbing it. Many commercial fishermen hated the traps and would steal fish from them if they got the chance!

Below we see the fishermen parked at the float at Funter Bay in the morning (based on the sun). Carl Jensen is seen picking herring from a net, likely set from the side of the boat overnight. These would be used as the day’s bait.

The herring threaded onto hooks can be seen a bucket below:

Whales, likely bubble-net feeding on small fish:

The lighthouse at Point Retreat, northern end of Admiralty Island:

Sunset at Funter Bay:

Thank you to the JDCM for helping me locate and scan these, and thanks to the Jensen family for donating this great documentation of fishing 60 years ago!


Funter Bay History: A Commemorative Plate

September 15, 2017

This somewhat mysterious artifact rests in the Juneau-Douglas City Museum’s collections. A fancy gold-edged plate or dish with a portrait of five Native Alaskan women from Funter Bay.

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The plate has no indication of when or why it was made, the only marks other than Museum collection numbers being a “Made in Germany” stamp on the bottom.

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The artwork is not attributed on the plate itself, but is clearly based on a 1907 Case & Draper photo from Funter Bay.

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Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Case & Draper Photograph Collection, PCA 39

Whether the plate was commissioned by the Thlinket Packing Co, or by Case & Draper studios, or by someone else, I don’t know. I’m also not sure if it were a one-off product for a company executive or family member, or some mass-produced item sold as a souvenir or offered as advertising material. Such plates with Alaska scenes were sometimes commissioned by companies as advertising, but there is no company name on it.

The JDCM catalog notes that this was donated by Mamie and Marcus Jensen, and used by the Feusi family of Douglas.

I would love to find more information on this curious Funter Bay plate, if anyone knows more they are encouraged to contact me!

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Thanks again to the Juneau-Douglas City Museum for letting me see and photograph this artifact!

 

 


Funter Bay History: Cannery Licenses

September 13, 2017

Earlier this summer I visited the Juneau-Douglas City Museum on a research trip. Among the many interesting pieces in their collections were a set of business license and related paperwork for the Thlinket Packing Co cannery at Funter Bay.

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There are separate application forms in the file for both the cannery and the saltery side of the operation, for the season starting in 1908.

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There are also applications for the 1907 season:

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A letter from the district court in 1908 reminded the Thlinket Packing Co that they had not yet paid their taxes on the 1907 salmon pack:

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These documents are all from the Juneau Douglas City Museum’s collections, Item #2008.21.073, “Application for cannery license for Thlinket Packing & Trading Co.” and 2008.21.075, “Application for saltery license for Thlinket Packing & Trading Company“. Much thanks to Jodi DeBruyne for helping me locate and view these items!

 


Funter Bay History: Burford Photos 1940s-1960s

August 31, 2017

This set of photos comes from the Jack and Mabel Burford Collection in the Alaska State Archives. The Burfords offered charter sport fishing trips to Funter Bay, Elfin Cove, and other areas from the 1940s into the 1960s.

Unfortunately the library did not have a working slide scanner, so I had to make do with a camera and light table. Any blurry slides are probably my own fault and not that of the original photographer! You can click on the photos to see larger scans.

Fish Traps and fishing boats near Funter Bay in 1945:

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A color slide from 1945 shows the Burfords’ boat Donjac tied up at the cannery dock. The cannery buildings are starting to look a little run down in this photo, with moss growing on the bath house roof. Several other boats are also at the dock, including a fish buying scow, a packer, and some commercial trollers.

A later trip in 1945 seems to have left the group stuck in Funter Bay waiting out a storm. A snowy series of photos are labeled “stormbound at Funter”.

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Some photos of Gunnar and Lazzette Ohman’s log cabin at Funter Bay in 1958 (misspelled on the slide labels). Lazzette has a brief autobiographical article here and a longer published book available on Amazon.

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The Burfords later operated the vessel Katinka, seen below at Funter Bay in 1959:

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Funter Bay sunsets are a popular subject of photos! I have found quite a few in a variety of different collections.

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Below are some 1960s photos. The first is undated but shows fishing boats at the mine float as seen from a plane:

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A 1961 photo shows local fisherman “Cracker Box Mac”. This nickname could have been a reference to his boat.

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Floyd Keeler at Hawk Inlet. This may be one of the hand logger brothers attributed to “Keeler’s Cabin” at the North entrance of the bay.

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The cannery in 1962, as seen from Harold and Mary Hargraves’ house. The buildings are looking even more run down and part of the dock seems to have disappeared:

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Hargraves’ home at the former saltery:

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The Pribilof cemetery near the cannery:

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And an undated photo of a very small log cabin somewhere at Funter Bay. This is a little different design than Shorty’s Cabin, but not much bigger!

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These photos are all courtesy of the Alaska State Library & Archives, Jack and Mabel Burford Collection, PCA 516.