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

 


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: 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: Captain George Whitney Photos

August 24, 2017

Captain George H. Whitney was an agent of the government’s Steamboat Inspection Service between 1898 and 1928. His career saw him traveling to many Alaskan ports for safety inspections on steam powered merchant vessels. The agency was later merged with the Bureau of Navigation and then superseded by the US Coast Guard.

A photo album in the Alaska State Library & Archives has a few of Captain Whitney’s photos from Funter Bay in 1907. He seems to have been traveling on the steam liner Georgia, possibly to inspect vessels of the Thlinket Packing Co.

View from a steamship (possibly the Georgia) approaching the Funter Bay wharf. Courtesy of Alaska State Library, Captain George H Whitney Photo Collection, PCA 300-82

In the photo above we see the Thlinket Packing Co’s steamer Anna Barron at the wharf. The smokestack from a steam engine is also seen sitting on the wharf, possibly a steam donkey or pile driver engine.

Three friends on the steamship Georgia near Funter Bay. Courtesy of Alaska State Library, Captain George H Whitney Photo Collection, PCA 300-83

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Funter Bay cannery residence. Courtesy of Alaska State Library, Captain George H Whitney Photo Collection, PCA 300-92

The above photo is likely the cannery superintendent’s house, which had a large covered porch.

 


Funter Bay History: Letterhead Evolution

June 26, 2017

In the days before email, every successful business needed a snappy letterhead. Even short-lived businesses which existed only on paper would create fanciful letterhead logos and designs to adorn their correspondence. For the companies that stood the test of time, letterheads would evolve and change as styles moved in and out of fashion. Usually they became fancier and more ornate. The Thlinket Packing Co was no exception, updating and improving their corporate logo several times over the years.

The earliest letterhead for the company was from 1902, when the cannery at Funter Bay was built. This is the first and only reference I’ve seen to “Elizabeth Point”, apparently named after founder James Barron’s wife Elizabeth.

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Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Manuscript Collection MS 43

By 1905 the corporate letterhead featured a photo of the cannery by an unknown photographer (I have not yet located an original).

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Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Manuscript Collection MS 43

In 1906 there seem to have been a few minor changes. A letter sent in January shows a slightly updated version of the 1905 letterhead, adding a new canned salmon product. It also added a house flag (indicating which company owned a vessel), with the “B” perhaps standing for Barron. A message sent later in 1906 from Funter Bay apparently re-used the 1905 letterhead.

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Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Manuscript Collection MS 43

By 1912 the Thlinket Packing Co’s letterhead was quite ornate, featuring a new font and new photos from the 1907 visit of photographers Case & Draper:

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Courtesy of Alaska State Archives, Manuscript Collection MS 43

 

Thanks to Alaska historian and collector Robert DeArmond, we have a very nice cross section of these letterheads to see! Among other documents, DeArmond collected a huge file of corporate letterheads from companies located or operating in Alaska. This material is not yet online, but can be viewed in person at the Alaska State Library & Archives under Manuscript Collection MS 43.


Funter Bay History: Cannery Shipping and Maintenance

June 30, 2016

I recently received a few Funter Bay images from Michael and Carolyn Nore, collectors of historic Alaska postcards and photos. These show some of the Thlinket Packing Co’s operations between about 1914 and 1920. Most are prior to 1918 (based on the cards used), but some are from the same summer as the photos seen previously in this post.

The first photo is a great shot of the Cannery wharf and main buildings, marked “Front View of Cannery”. The large “Thlinket Packing Co” sign is visible above the warehouse. The mess hall and store is barely visible in the rear right, and the Superintendent’s house with its large porch is seen on the left.

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Moving inland, a set of two images show the rear of the cannery buildings. The large chimneys were from the main boiler house.

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The previous photo shows a number of handprints marking the foreground building. I am not sure what this building is, as it does not appear on either the 1964 or 1942 property maps.

Another set shows one of the cannery’s steam-powered pile drivers. I am not sure how many of these units the Thlinket Packing co owned, the remains of a smaller one is on the beach at Funter Bay. A large unit nearly identical to the one in these pictures appears in a 1926 photo at the mine wharf (seen on this page).

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Some scows, rowboats, and a gas boat are seen at the dock and wharf in the next photo. This is a little later than the others, dated May 21 1920:

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The photo below shows a gas boat or launch under the pipeline from the cannery’s oil tank, in June 1920.

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The next photo is labeled “One of the company tugs with a diver repairing her rudder”. It shows a sailing vessel alongside the cannery’s steam tug Anna Barron and a variety of smaller boats. Men on the sailboat are operating an air compressor and have lowered a ladder and several pipes and ropes over the side. What appears to be a diving suit is draped over the sailboat’s boom.

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Moving up in vessel sizes, the next photo shows the Pacific Coast Steamship Co’s City of Seattle at the cannery wharf. The appearance of the ship dates this to 1914 or later, as the City of Seattle was completely rebuilt that year and converted from coal to oil fuel. Prior to 1914 the ship had a different superstructure and the foremast was aft of the wheelhouse, as seen here. The re-built ship can also be seen here and a description of the refit is here. Like other commercial steamers, the ship would call at canneries as needed to transport supplies, products, and workers.

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Next is a photo of the “Indian Village” located Northeast of the cannery. While postcards tend to call this a village, most accounts state it was not occupied year round. The area was more of a seasonal camp for native employees of the cannery who lived there in the summer.

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And the last photo shows an interesting gazebo on the hill behind the cannery, with some Tlingit employees relaxing on benches. What appear to be a number of halibut can be seen hanging from the boardwalk below. The date is not given but is probably between 1914-1918.

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Thanks again to the Nores for sharing these great images!