Funter Bay History: A 1919 Honeymoon Trip

July 20, 2017

One fascinating source of historic Alaska photos are the vacation albums created by past visitors. The Alaska State Library & Archives has several such albums donated by collectors and families of the original photographers. These provide a great cross section of historic Alaskan tourism, as well as a glimpse into the interests of the tourists (some photographed glaciers while others focused on wildlife and still others on industry).

An album from July of 1919 follows the journey of some newlyweds from Seattle to Southeast Alaska. Unfortunately the names of the couple is not known. They sailed on the steamship Admiral Evans, which made stops at the canneries in Funter Bay and nearby Hawk Inlet.

1919 Album 1

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

It’s not clear if the following photo of salmon on a cannery floor was taken at Funter or Hawk Inlet. Both canneries would have looked similar inside.

1919 Album 2

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

 

1919 Album 3

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

The next photo of the USS Marblehead is quite interesting. I mentioned the Marblehead’s anti-piracy visit and showed a postcard photo from a different angle in this post.

1919 Album 4

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

A newspaper article from Juneau mentioned the Marblehead that same month:

Marblehead article

Getting back to the photo album, a wider view shows the cannery with native worker village on the right, and a denuded small island in the foreground (probably Gauge Is.)

1919 Album 5

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

A pair of photos show the young couple taking turns posing in the woods at Funter Bay:

1919 Album 6

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

 

1919 Album 7

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

And finally, a shipboard photo as the steamer left Funter Bay:

1919 Album 8

Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Alaska Travel Photograph Album,1919, PCA 425-09

If anyone happens to recognize these people, I would love to hear about it!


Funter Bay History: Special Agent Harold Merrin

February 16, 2016

In the 1930s Funter Bay was home to one Harold Merrin, a “Special Agent” with the “U.S. Division of Investigation”. While the title might suggest an affiliation with the FBI (which held that name prior to 1935), there was also such a division under the General Land Office. This was part of the Department of the Interior, and conducted investigations into all sorts of mineral and property rights for the US Government. Special Agents of the Land Office worked with everything from logging and grazing licenses to oil and gas surveys to mineral claims and property rights.

Harold Woodworth “Hal” Merrin was born in Ohio in 1893, to parents Ernest and Lenna. The family moved to Spokane by 1910. He grew up with a background in mining, as his father worked at various mines and was later director of the American-Scotia Mine in Orient, WA. Harold served as secretary-treasurer of this company while in college.

Merrin1

Harold attended North Central High School in Spokane, but WWI pulled him and many of his classmates away before graduation. Harold joined a trial officer’s training camp in 1918 and briefly served as a Corporal with the American Expeditionary Force in France (source). After returning to the US, Harold enrolled at the State College of Washington and received his Bachelors Degree in Mining Engineering in 1921.

Camp

After graduating, he worked as an assayer with the Santa Rita mining co, then as a land appraiser for the government land office in Portland and Santa Fe. By 1923 he was working as a government mineral examiner in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. One of his jobs included investigating a “Mystery Metal” found in Oregon. In 1926 Harold married Bertha Thompson of Everett, WA.

In 1933 Congress authorized payments in the amounts of $124.35 and $35.90 to Harold Merrin for travel expenses to and from Alaska while under official orders. In 1935 he was reportedly working as a special agent for the U.S. Division of Investigation. In 1936 the Division of Investigations had him stationed at Funter. The WSU Alumni paper reported the birth of Harold and Bertha’s daughter Evelyn that year.

WU Alumni 2

I have not found the exact nature of Harold’s government work at Funter, but property and mineral issues would likely have kept him busy. Several mines were active at Funter, which would fall under Harold’s area of expertise as a mineral surveyor. Other activities could have included homestead claims, fish trap locations, hand logging, and cannery land use. Some of these industries had overlapping property claims and some were known to use mining claims for other purposes. Juggling the competing interests of Alaskan industries with each other and with the federal government was likely a full time job.

Harold’s government work appears to have led him into the private sector after a few years. In 1937 he was superintendent of the Alaska Empire Mine at Hawk Inlet, across the mountain from Funter (source). In 1938 he was back at Funter Bay, after “exposing his family to six months in the civilization of the outside world”.

In 1939 the WSU Alumni update described Harold as having a “Leasing and private practice at Funter”.

Merrin 3

By late 1939 the Merrin family had moved to the Flagstaff Mine in Kasaan Bay, near Ketchikan. They soon moved back to Washington, and Harold passed away in Yakima in 1940 at age 47.

 


Funter Bay History: Helen Antonova, Mining Engineer

May 28, 2015

One of the first women to graduate with a degree in Mine Engineering, Helen Anatolievna Antonova arrived at Funter Bay in the fall of 1929. Born in Russia in 1904, Antonova traveled through China and Japan with her mother before moving to the United States. Her early life was spent in Siberian mining towns, and despite early work in theater, she always dreamed of becoming a mining engineer. She enrolled in the University of Washington’s College of Mines, the only woman to do so at the time (though not the first in the US).

Antonova3

University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, Tyee 1928, pg 57. Courtesy UW Digital Archives.

As a female student in a traditionally male field, Antonova encountered much skepticism from officials and unfriendliness from classmates. She would later experience mistrust from coworkers (and their wives). Despite being told by the dean that no one would hire a woman for mine work, she led a successful career as a mine engineer, working throughout the US. On several occasions she was offered roles in theater and in Hollywood, but preferred surveying and assay work over acting.

After finishing her thesis and graduating in 1928, Antonova found a job with a mining company in Funter Bay. She recalled that the owner initially assumed her to be male, writing that he was surprised an engineer would have a woman’s name. Helen described Funter Bay as a small mining town, but noted that nothing could be purchased there. Despite its small size and remote location, Funter was home to a fellow female UW alumni. May Sophia Otteson (Tubbs) was a graduate of the class of 1916 and daughter of Charles and Mary Otteson, who ran another mine close to the one which employed Helen.

Conditions at Funter were spartan, a house was provided for Helen and her mother but was poorly insulated and had almost no supplies. The mine owner’s wife suggested they bring their own wood-burning stove with them. Groceries and goods were brought out on the weekly steamer from Juneau. Some medical care was available from a nurse living at the nearby cannery. Running water and electricity came from a waterfall, and stopped working during the winter. Helen took these conditions in stride, sometimes standing in icy water while surveying. The mine was reportedly very happy with Antonova’s work, and begged her to return after she moved back to Washington state.

Helen eventually married a Russian miner from Juneau (She mentioned that many Russian miners worked in Alaska, some sneaking over from Siberia illegally in rowboats). Her new husband became jealous of Helen’s superior position and income, and demanded they move back to Washington so he could pursue a degree of his own. She divorced him after his attitude and anger grew worse.

After moving back to the Lower 48, Helen held various jobs at mining and refining companies. She later married Nicholas All from New York (Her last name is sometimes listed as Antonovall). Helen Antonova All was interviewd in 1978 by author Joan Dufault, whose book Vintage: The Bold Survivors! contains more details of her life and experiences.


Funter Bay History: A 1906 Visit

April 23, 2015

An article in the January, 1906 issue of Recreation magazine describes a visit to Funter Bay. Mining Engineer Waverley Keeling penned the piece, entitled “From the Delaware to Alaska” from a bunkhouse in Funter Bay. He describes it as a business stop at “a quartz mine”, but mentions that his party would also “shoot some of the thousands of ducks and a few deer, dig clams at low tide, and catch halibut at any tide”.

mallards

From Keeling, Waverley; “From the Delaware to Alaska”; Recreation, vol 24, No 1, January 1906.

The photo from Funter Bay accompanying the text appears to show Coot Cove. The photographer was on the Western shore looking towards the area which would later be home to the cannery’s scow slipways.

Keeling describes his lodgings as a boarding house “near the shore of a beautiful little harbor called Funter Bay, and just back of us are the peaks of Snow Mountains some 4,000 feet high” (The mountain was not yet named for Robert Barron). He wrote from the combined kitchen and dining table, by the light of a large swinging lamp and tallow candle stuck in a beer bottle, sitting on “the hardest spruce-board stool that man ever constructed”. The group of six had purchased mining properties around Lake Atlin, BC, and had stopped in Funter as a side trip on the way North. They sailed to Funter on the “big Columbia River sailboat of that famous southeast Alaskan, Windy Bill”.

While Keeling notes the beauty and abundant wildlife of Funter Bay, he also comments on the downsides; “there is no particular season of the year when it doesn’t rain. The thermometer at Funter Bay since we came has been up to 40, and the rain which descended that day was as unmistakably an outpouring of ‘settled cloudiness’ as anything I have ever seen or felt in Pennsylvania”.


Funter Bay History: Mystery Photos

April 9, 2015

These photos were mixed in with some of the 1920s postcards and photographs that I’ve recently been posting. They are not labeled or otherwise identified, and the exact locations are uncertain. As they were included with a large amount of Funter Bay material, it is possible they are from the Funter area. However, the same collection also had some identifiable pictures of Juneau and Taku Inlet.

This photo shows a woman in a white dress and white shoes, standing on steps in front of a building:

mystery1

The above photo was possibly taken at one of the Tlingit Native houses on the hill behind the cannery, as seen in the zoomed-in image below (from a photo earlier posted). The windows, doors, and steps seem to match. Some of these houses look like they could be very small duplexes:

house_zoom

The next mystery photo shows a waterfall. I don’t recognize this as immediately near Funter Bay, but it could be higher on the mountain or somewhere else on Admiralty Island. It could also be somewhere closer to Juneau.

mystery2

The last photo shows a group of people, possibly about to light a fire. These may be local Tlingit Natives. The setting suggests the shore just above the high tide line.

people

If any readers have ideas or suggestions, please let me know! As usual, you can email me at gabe@saveitforparts.com.


Funter Bay History: Seattle High School Students

March 24, 2015

In the summer of 1919, a group of Seattle high school students traveled to Alaska to work at the Funter Bay cannery. One or more of the group took a number of photos during this and possibly subsequent trips. I have been posting photos from this collection over the last several weeks.

group3

The above photo was likely taken soon after arrival at Funter Bay. The boys are wearing outfits more appropriate for school than for cannery work. One boy on the left has a Ballard HS letter jacket.

A list of the students along with contact information for their parents is labeled “Contracts… Funter Bay”. The back has some of the same names along with numbers, perhaps related to hours or pay.

ebay49    50_crop

The names on the list are:
Clarence Hawley
George Anderson
Malcolm Owen
Harold Hendrickson
Roy F. Swenson
Marvin Kleve
Ed Wilkerson
George Fraley
Gilbert Swart
Elmer Green
Cedric Hilton
Eugene Walby
Robert Stevens
Webster Hallett

Twelve of these boys attended Ballard High School, while two (Owen and Hallett) attended Lincoln High School.

Ballard_Boys_Alaska

Professor Carl Milton Brewster taught Chemistry at Washington State University. Some of these students went on to study Chemistry at various Washington colleges. Prof. Brewster is likely the older man seen in several of the group photos (at center, below). The students have acquired more rugged outfits and a variety of hats in this photo:

group2

Some of these photos are RPPCs, or private photos printed on postcard stock. Several images are wallet-size prints with writing on the reverse side, and some of the smaller prints are partially hand-colorized. There were also a few commercial postcards, likely purchased during the trip. As some of the photos in this set are from later years, one or more of the boys probably returned for subsequent summers. Cannery work reportedly paid better than the summer jobs available in Seattle at the time.

knights2

Written on the back of this photo; “We are rowing boat on the bay”. The cannery bunkhouses are visible in the background:

rowing

And on this photo; “We boys cross the bay and go up to the tunnel of the gold mine”. Apparently a visit to the mine required fancier clothes! This may have been a day off for the boys, or could have been an educational visit to learn about assaying or other mine-related topics.

mine

This photo of Harold Hendrickson is labeled “Me (Buck)”. He may have been the photographer of some or all of these images:

buck

After graduation several of these boys attended the University of Washington, including Harold Hendrickson, Clarence Hawley, and Gilbert Swart. Hawley and Swart both went into chemical engineering. Hendrickson seems to have followed the relatively new field of air conditioning, writing several papers on the subject. He is listed in the 1940 census as an Air Conditioning Engineer in California.

group

group4

Some associated photos from the same collection were taken at other locations, possibly by the same people on their way to or from Funter Bay. These include more RPPCs, trimmed wallet-size prints, and at least one commercial postcard.

Inside passage view, possibly from a steamship:

mountains
View from a ship, probably of Taku Glacier near Juneau:

taku

The next two images show the Steamship Admiral Evans, which occasionally called at Funter Bay. The first appears to be a commercial postcard, possibly purchased on board. The 2nd seems to be labeled in the same way as some of the cannery tender photos from this collection. This may have been taken on the way to Funter Bay at the start of the 1920 season.

evans

evans2

Many of the Ballard students seen here went on to form a club called the “Knights of the Moon”, established January 31, 1920 (Per the Seattle Times). As described in a 1994 Times article, the club was started by 13 friends who attended Ballard High School in 1917, 1918, and 1919. Most of the club members were school athletes who played basketball and baseball, and the club fielded Church League and City League teams after high school.  Several members were good singers, who would go to “Ballard Beach” in Seattle to “bay at the moon” according to Clarence Anderson (George Anderson’s brother). The club would put on dances, beach parties, and theater parties. Anderson reported that there was no drinking at these parties, and credits the club for keeping some young people out of trouble.

knights

Eventually the club reached 50 members, pledging new members like a fraternity, and not missing a monthly meeting until 1987. The Times article went on to report the final meeting in 1994, as only three charter members were still alive.  (Charter Members were listed as Carl Anderson, George Fraley, George Frazier, Clarence Hawley, Harold Hendrickson, Herman Leander, Richard Smith, Roy Swenson, Edwin Wilkerson, Rolf Wiggen, Clarence Anderson, George Anderson, and Harold Shepard).

Several of my recent posts feature other photos from this collection, possibly including and/or taken by some of these people. They are:
Steam Donkey Part II (includes another group photo of the Ballard Students)
1920s Cannery Postcards
1920s Cannery Workers
Cannery Tender Operations
Navy Ships
Dano Mine Part II

I would like to thank Dr. Alice Eagly for providing information about her father, Harold Hendrickson. I would also like to thank the Ballard High School foundation for providing research material on these students.


Funter Bay History: Steam Donkey Part II

March 3, 2015

I previously mentioned a Vulcan Iron Works steam donkey at Funter Bay in one of my earlier posts on steam power and internal combustion. Recently I acquired a photo which shows a very similar device at Funter, perhaps the same one. This photo is likely from the summer of 1919.

donkey

The photo was taken at the corner of the main Thlinket Packing Co warehouse, seen below:

crop

The steam donkey seen in 1919 and the one in my modern photos look nearly identical to me. The layout of pipes, the piston parts, and the boiler door all appear to match. The donkey in 1919 is mounted on large logs. My modern-day photos do not show any logs under the engine, but loose spikes are visible (the logs likely rotted away or were removed). John Taubeneck provided some details on the Vulcan Iron Works in a comment on my earlier post, noting that there are only a few of these donkeys remaining. He believes the unit pictured above is slightly smaller than the one in the woods, but it is hard to tell.

Neither photo shows the conical top or smokestack seen on other Vulcan donkeys, in the 1919 image they may have been removed for shipping, and by the time of my photos the stack seems to have rusted off and fallen to the ground (a few decades ago it was still mostly upright and covered with a washtub).

donkey2

The remaining donkey is across the bay at the base of the mountain where it powered an aerial mine tram. If these are the same unit, it may have originally been owned by the cannery and later sold to the mine. As the cannery used mainly low-horsepower gas engines on-site, a steam engine would likely have been used somewhere off the property. It could have served as a pile driver engine, or been used for logging in Kelp Bay or elsewhere.

The men posing on the donkey in the 1919 photo seem to have been a group of Seattle high school students. They will probably be discussed in an upcoming post.