Juneau, Alaska Sept. 12, 1897
My darling little Kidlets;
It is just two weeks ago tonight, that we spent the last evening together (Sunday), when you, Sweet Pussie, made us all cry with your sweet little song; we have singing this evening here on the boat, and I am thinking of you my darlings more than ever, and I had to go out of the parlor as I did not want to give way to my feeling of homesickness. I guess you will notice that we have again changed our plans, and we are not going by the way of Stickeen River as this route, though less hazardous and in fact quite easy of access earlier in the season, is at this time too long and the connection between the steamers is stopped for the season; therefore we are going Dyea.
So far we have had. nothing but the nicest time; today we saw the most beautiful scenery, that you can imagine; we saw a rainbow and glaciers, this is a large square strip of ice on a mountain all the way down; then we saw what they call Sun Dogs, it was a patch of colors at the foot of the mountain just like a round ball of rainbow as big as the sun is when it goes down: it was the grandest sight, the sunlight from the distance playing on it at the foot of the mountain, and big clouds arising from within the mountains, and above these, snow lying here and. there. You certainly have to look at anything like that to be able to realize the sight. I donít know what else to write except to wish you a hearty good night and God bless you my Sweats and keep you for me from all harm. It is now eight oíclock here and it is nearly midnight with you,in fact nearly midnight with you,in fact just midnight. Sweet dreams and again Godís blessing is the dearest wish of my heart for all of us. My eternal love to each one of you my darlings.
This letter arrived in Coudersport September 24, 1897
Skaguay, Alaska, Sept. 14, 1897
Dearest Darlings, Sister and Brother:
We arrived at this place today, and you would not imagine such a nice day could be out here. Sol has been down to town, as you must know, there is no wharf here and everything is loaded upon a scow or lighter and towed above high-water mark on rocks; the people go on boats to the shore. Sol says it is a lovely place with a lot of hotels, and one that is named ďWaldorf, so you will see we are not in a wilderness. We have met some very nice people out here and so far the indications are that we will get over safely.
Dear Gussie, words surely cannot express our feelings right now, when we hear that everybody, who has enough money to pay for packing, can and will get over Dyea Pass, and we know now that it would have been an utter impossibility to get over with what money we had, as we have about 1500 lb. or more and it costs ~.4O per lb. to pack, and a boat (after we are over the pass, on Lake Linderman) will very likely cost a couple of hundred so you might just imagine how we feel toward you for sending us the $200.00 after all you have done for us. All Iíll say at present is that I feel that God is merciful to us and will protect us in such a way, that we shall be able to be independent, and thereby you shall have your reward, as I certainly do not wish to repay you in any other way but with my unchangeable love to you; I should say Solís as well, but I am afraid that Schamshu might get real jealous as I think we was somewhat already. The scenery here is most beautiful, and we
and we will probably remain here over night yet, as it takes a long time to unload such a lot of freight, as they have on board; then we go over to Dyea (about three miles from here) on the boat, and then we shall begin our ascent on the mountain. Everybody says that if we have packers enough to pay, we can get over in about two or three days, and after that everything is easy sailing; why, even now Sol is just saying to me, ď think it will be a pleasure trip right through after allĒ. We shall keep you posted right along, though we expect to be in Dawson City by the time you receive. Write to us there to the Post Office, and put on a four cent stamp; it costs that to Alaska.
Dear Gus, it would do you good, to see what class of people we are going with; among these, there are quite a few who have been there and going back again. You can not imagine how honest, kind-hearted and in fact noble they are; I think the so called ďSociety PeopleĒ could learn yet a thing or two from them, so you can see I am not going among savages, but just the reverse; a good woman in this country is held more sacred than in our civilized N.Y. I guess this is enough for one letter so Iíll remain in happy thought and anticipation of hearing from you all in Dawson City,
Yours, lovingly and affectionately
Becci & Sol
You may give, if you wish, an innumerable amount of kisses and hugs to my three beauties for their Mother & Father.
By the way, if you did not see our name advertised on the steamship news, was because we are booked on this steamer as S. Shelby and wife.
This letter arrived in Coudersport September 28, 1897.
Dyea, Alaska, Sept. 16, 1897
Thank God, so far so good. We have all our things packed, and ready for the walk up the mountains with the Indians tomorrow morning at six oíclock: it will be the seventeenth and you know this means good. Up till now everything went very smooth, except the last night after we left the steamer, we had the beginning of Klondike hardships, though we know, if it should not be much worse, why then it will be right enough. We camped on a scow over night and it happened to rain as it usually does here at night, but we were partially protected by half a tent overhead and we were fenced around with a whole lot of hay, and we slept on a bunk or rather sat on it, and when we got tired or stiff one kind-hearted man told us to turn the bunk over and we will feel softer. But we actually enjoyed it for a change, and you would not believe how good camping out seems to do us. Sol. l ooks, Thank God, so fine as he had. not looked in two years, and I, well he told me that I look like a pretty (that is good looking rather) young boy, in fact just like Bertie, so I guess it does not do me any harm either and the longer we are out on the road and the more people we meet, the better we seem to like them, as they are all without any distinction, a kindly ot (sic. Perhaps ďlotĒ) and well contented.
There is no style about them here to be sure and it is all ďRough & ReadyĒ as the saying goes, but you can read them all like a book, openhearted and honest. We have no anxiety about getting over the mountains, but we are somewhat anxious about getting over on the lakes as we will run short ox money for a boat, as we will have about $100.00. left, after we pay the Indians, which will be over $700.00 as they charge like the furies and a person is utterly powerless without them, as the white people cannot pack and climb as they do: they take 150 lbs. on their backs easier than Sol can carry a basket of fruit.
We have nice weather and if it shall be nice tomorrow we will be over the Chilkoot Pass Sunday morning the nineteenth, and if we see we will run short of money, we have out two watches and some other few things, which we can dispose or at a good. price and we will manage to get there all right. We are spending so much money for the Indians, so that we donít take any chances to be frozen in on the way. We have eighteen Indians and we can make the trip over at one time and not come back for any loads, which operation takes too long.
I guess I have explained it to you as much as I possibly can, so Iíll finish with the hope that we will at least have some remuneration for our taking this chance. Please write to Hut and Sig. about our going and how far we are as we are too tired and have to go to bed early and canít write any more. Hoping to see you next summer all safe and sound, I am with Sol. hopeful and lovingly
Sol. & Becci.
Write to us to Dawson City P.O. and we shall write at every opportunity, but if you donít hear of us so soon, donít worry as it will be only on account of delay in the mail. Write to Hut and Sig.
This letter arrived in Coudersport Oct. 1, 1897
Sunday September 19, 1897
We are safe; do not worry, we are very careful and do not go in danger: have no place where to write, so one kind gentleman offered me his book. Iíll write again with every chance.
Becci and Sol.
I write this as we heard that a few people met with some disaster, and there was a woman among them, so I donít want you to think it was anything with us.
Sol. and Becci.
This letter arrived in Coudersport Oct. 7, 1897
Port Canyon, about nine miles from Dyea,
Alaska - Sept. 20, 1897
Dear Deiches and Children.
It is now three days since we left Dyea; we expected to be in Linderman today, but here we sit camping in our tent as comfortable as we can under the circumstances. The reason for this is that it is raining here all the time, and the Indians, who are packing our goods, left the goods here and went back to Dyea for some more food to last them over the journey. We are only one and a half days from Lake Linderman, but we are just as far from it as before, as I am afraid that the Indians will not come back and will give up the job; if this will be the case we will have to give up the job too, and go back to Dyea.
The first nine miles were good traveling, Beckie was going up in a canoe pulled by six Indians, while I followed on foot, which was a pleasant march. The balance of the trip was very rough walking but we stood it nicely; from all indications we will stand the trip all right. If you donít carry anything it is not hard to ascend, and with good weather we will reach it in good shape.
You will probably read in the papers that some people got drowned at this canyon; the true case is that one man only got killed by the glacier that came down a mountain; that happened a night before last. A good many people had a narrow escape of being drowned; this occurred about seven oíclock in the morning; if this would have happened at night there would be no escape for any one; as it is they only escaped with their lives; their goods and provisions were all lost and the poor people are returning home this way without anything, as they cannot go further without provisions. When the water reached us here we were sleeping in our beds, which is the ground, and the Indians came running in with a cry, the water is rising. We jumped up in a second and left the tent; we were not hampered with any night gowns, the beauty is that a man is always in full dress here on every occasion, and it came in handy in this case. All our goods were saved by the Indians, and nothing was lost; anything you hear to the contrary donít believe, as several reporters past here and will report horrible tales. We were telling them to report that S. Shelby and wife were O.K., as we go by this name, it is hard for people to pronounce our name so we adopted this one. The World reporter past here and he sketched this place; you may find it in the paper in about a month from now.
We are traveling with the captain of the Canada Mounted Police Force, and he sees that we shall be comfortable in every shape; he has a few of his policemen with him, and they help us along a good deal. I have nothing more to write, so with regards and kisses to the children and Gussie,
Sol. and Beckie
Thursday, Sept. 23, 1897
We are now at the summit, hard traveling; will be Lake Linderman this evening.
This letter arrived in Coudersport Oct. 15, 1897
Lake Linderman, September 2, 1897.
My Dearest Darlings All:
Sol. wrote to you this morning that we arrived here O.K. I was to tired so I will write now, as I am feeling better. I really do not know whether I should give you the satisfaction, Dearest Sister, to describe in detail, if such a thing is possible, our trip over the Chilkoot Pass; it certainly was never made for human beings, as any one who once went over it is either more or maybe less than human, and no living being, who has not gone over it, can actually imagine or anticipate what it really is: no matter even how fearfully hard one pictures it, it certainly surpasses all human realization: I cannot find words hard enough to express it, as the most infernal would be the mildest kind of expression to give it. Surely it does my heart good if I can even vent my feelings a little on the paper, as I could not leave our troubles on my chest; it was so heavy yesterday that I could not breathe any more, and when we did see the end of our journey, and the sun was smiling a beautiful welcome to us and we were about one-quarter of an hourís walk from the lake and where I knew I will be helped and taken care of, as the people (men here are the kindest hearted I ever saw, I actually gave up, and should have turned back (if such a thing were possible for me) as I had no power to move or drag my weary limbs any longer. That l ast quarter of an hour took us two and a half hours until we reached a tent, and one kindhearted, big fellow, who saw us on the way and whom we traveled with on Queen, said to Sol., for Godís sake take her to my tent and give her a good glass of whiskey, as she is played out; and imagine Sol., himself, stopping to rest at almost every step, his ankles strained to their utmost from two days steady tramping on high boulders and. knee-deep mud, with nothing but a hard tack to eat (if you know what that is), and yet never saying a word of complaint, only once in a great while giving a heart-rending sigh and trying to ear it all so as not to make it harder for me, although nothing mattered to me then any more. All I knew is, that if I donít drag myself down to that lake, I will have to drop on the rocksand as Sol. expressed it, if a person dies on these mountains he canít even be buried, there, as it is nothing but muddy rocks and stones. At last we got down and they dozed ire with a whole lot of whiskey and rubbed my limbs, and I fell asleep. After a couple of hours I awoke and felt like a brick again.
I am quite myself again and ready to undertake the journey to-morrow, as Sol. just struck a bargain with some men to take us in their boat and we will give $100.00. as our share, which is very cheap as they are selling boats here for $500.00. and $600.00. a piece, and the whole boat, that is the lumber on it, is worth about $20.00. but you will imagine the value of things here, if one man sold sixteen lb. of nails for $16.00 today; you canít even think people are avaricious for it, as it costs $.40. a lb. to bring it over, and it is actually worth double, as we only had ourselves to carry, and that was too much.
We intent to start tomorrow morning, and If everything is all right, we will be in Dawson City in about twelve days. If you write you shall address us in Dawson City as I think that there will be a mail-train once a month. Write everything to Hut and Sig. I have nothing more to write, I remain Yours,
Sol. and Beckie
I have plenty of everything; donít worry about us, though I have not one dollar left, and I donít need any. I got a fine boat and very cheap.
This letter arrived in Coudersport Oct. 22, 1897
Lake Lindernman, Sept. 25, 1897.
We arrived at the lake yesterday after a hard journey, but we are well and healthy. We donít know how soon we can get away from here, as we have not enough money for a boat and boats are very expensive. I will try to get in with some party, and may get through that way, but should everything fail, I will stay at Lake Bennett over the fall, and will build a house, and as we have p1enty of provisions we can live like a lord. Please let Sig. and Hut know that we got over the Chilkoot Pass all right, as it is very difficult to write on the way, as chairs and tables are unknown in this country. With love to all of you, I am
Sol. and Becci
Lake Linderman, Sept.26, l897
We are leaving here today; we wrote two letters yesterday but donít know if they will be delivered: am writing on boat, and canít write much, we will close with hopes to be in Dawson by Oct. 10th, with Godís Will.
Becci and Sol.
This letter arrived, in Coudersport Oct. 22, 1897.
September 29, 1897.
My dearly beloved Ones:
Today is the second day we are on the boat sailing on Lake Bennett; we are having a fine time as we are with very nice people, who treat us very kindly. I only wish I could sing then it would be just like an excursion trip; we sleep and eat on the boat; it is just a regular row-boat only larger. I think that of all the people who left for Klondike at the same time as we and who were in fact our fellow passengers, we are the only ones who are so far on the Lake by this time. If we only wouldnít have more than $20.00. duty to pay we will be all right, as this is just what we have left for duty, otherwise we shall have to dispose of some grub, but I donít think it will be necessary as we have yet our watches and will rather sell these instead.
Dear Bert, I wish you should write to Mrs. T. and tell her that it is very hard for me to write as the facilities are very slim; I have to write on my knees; let her know where and how far we are, and tell her as soon as we find some nuggets, that will be worth while I will let her know when and how to come, but as yet she should stick to her childrenís dresses.
I hope, My Dear Darlings, that you are not giving Aunt and Uncle too much trouble, and that you are all obedient; I should very much like you all to take some Cod Liver Oil this winter without fail three times a day, as you all need it. You Bert see to it that LU1u takes it too as you know he is neglectful. We expect to be in Dawson in about ten or twelve days if the weather is not too much against us; so far It has been beautiful since we get to Lake Linderman although it has been snowing every night and morning. With love and deep dev~t1on to you all, we are
Sol. and Becci; Papa and Mamma
This letter arrived in Coudersport Jan. 4, 1898.
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