SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Profiles

Pioneers of Southeast Alaska

A feature column by author and freelance writer
Louise Brinck Harrington


Photos18. “Black Matt” Berkovich and Son Nick: A Ketchikan Story By LOUISE BRINCK HARRINGTON- “There’s a story going round about Black Matt Berkovich’s mustache. The big Slavonian had a famous mustache and this hirsute adornment was his badge of identity for years. A short time before his trial, he appeared clean-shaven on Ketchikan streets. ‘Sampson has been shorn of his hair,’ quoth the boys at the Mint. ‘Watch him; he’s due for a fall.’ Almost immediately came his arrest, indictment and conviction as a bootlegger. Then the grand finale.” (Wrangell Sentinel, Dec. 17, 1930)

Photos17. Captain Walter Dibrell: Keeper of the Lighthouses By LOUISE BRINCK HARRINGTON - Everyone loves a lighthouse, especially on a dark and stormy night when your boat is pounding on big seas and you can barely see the bow in front of you. When that bright beam pierces the darkness, what a sense of relief and reassurance - even though nowadays it’s merely an automated light and there’s no helpful keeper there to assist you. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 31, 2015


Photos16. Ketchikan's Industrious Citizen: John Collinson Barber By LOUISE BRINCK HARRINGTON - Back in 1900, shortly after Ketchikan was incorporated as a city, the place was a mess. It may have earned the new title of “Incorporated City,” but it certainly did not look like one. - More...
Friday - May 30, 2014


Photos15. The Mysterious James Edward Duncan - A killer, a convict, and a medical guinea pig. A printer, a chef, and a toy store owner, a fisherman, a gambler, a conman. - More...
Monday - December 03, 2007


Photos14. Pioneers of Southeast: The Ryus Family - Imagine my surprise when I began researching the Ryus family of Ketchikan-assuming all members were either dead or had no ties to Southeast Alaska-and found out that several descendents are living and one is even working on an engineering project in town! - More...
Saturday - August 11, 2007


Photos13. Val Klemm: Miner, Fish Pirate A Feature Story By LOUISE BRINCK HARRINGTON - An old-timer once said, "If you want to make it as a miner, keep your needs few and desires simple."

Val Klemm kept his needs few but his desires were not simple-just the opposite, in fact. - More...
Saturday - May 12, 2007


Photos12. Margaret Griffin McCombs: "Free to Roam" By LOUISE BRINCK HARRINGTON - "In my memory I've been revisiting the old family homestead which was located two miles from the village of Kasaan," Margaret Griffin McCombs wrote in her 1989 memoirs. "A footpath through stands of timber followed the beach leading to the 'ranch.' Someone had built a one-room log cabin on this site, and then abandoned it. So the Griffin family moved in and tried to eke out a living" - More...
Monday - April 16, 2007


Photos11. The Tenacious Emery Tobin - You have to hand it to Emery Tobin: He was one tenacious guy.

It must have been in his blood, inherited from his father August Tobin. Back in 1898 August Tobin left his family-wife Emma and two children, Emery and Florence-in Boston and struck out for Alaska. - More...
Monday - March 12, 2007


Photos10. Harry Nunan & the New England Fish Company - A feature story By LOUISE BRINCK HARRINGTON - Boat loads of halibut, salmon and sablefish. The steamers New England, Kingfisher, Manhattan and schooners Knickerbocker, Prospector and Tyee coming and going. Trolling boats, tenders, seiners and gill-netters tied to the wharf. Floating traps, fish pirates, overdue and lost vessels, shipwrecks, cannery fires and dock accidentsthese were everyday happenings at the New England Fish Company plant in Ketchikan. And the manager of the plant dealt with them all. - More...
Monday - February 19, 2007

Photos9. Pioneers of Southeast Alaska: Patrick J. Gilmore, Sr. - A Feature Story By LOUISE BRINCK HARRINGTON - The hand-written letters arrived in County Galway, Ireland, describing the wonders of a place called Ketchikan-a seaside town with forests, mountains, streams, friendly people and promise for the future. Best of all, everything in Ketchikan was green, as green as the hills of Ireland! - More...
Wednesday - January 17, 2007


Photos8. Pioneers of Southeast: Bakerman Bill Nickey - When walking down Mission Street in the 1930s, you could catch a whiff of fresh bread baking at all hours of the day and night. Following your nose you'd smell coffee and cinnamon, feel warmth from the oven and bright lights through the window. You'd go in for a pastry and a "mug-up" laced with cream and sugar and served with a smile. - More...
Monday - November 27, 2006


Photos7. Pioneers of Southeast: A Tale of Two Men Named Thomas - In 1909 two men with the same last name-Thomas-lived in the small town of Ketchikan on Stedman Street (then referred to as "Indiantown"). Both men originally came from Canada, worked in the herring business and owned and skippered halibut boats. - More...
Monday - October 30, 2006


Photos6. James Bawden - James Bawden chose to make a living the hard way.

He came to Southeast Alaska in 1882 to work as a cooper in a salmon saltery-a safe, steady, barrel-making job. But he gave it up to become a prospector and dig for gold, a dangerous, dirty and usually unprofitable undertaking. - More...
Tuesday - October 17, 2006


Photos5. Edward G. Morrissey - Edward Morrissey, an experienced newsman who'd worked on the Fairbanks News-Miner and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, came to Ketchikan in 1919 and started the Ketchikan Alaska Chronicle. From the beginning Morrissey took a strong stand on issues, stirred up controversy and created enemies. - More...
Friday - September 29, 2006


Photos4. I. G. "Gus" Pruell - Today when you walk around Ketchikan you see jewelry stores galore, rows and rows of them. But think about this: back in early 1900s there was only one.

It was owned and operated by Gus Pruell.

When I. G. "Gus" Pruell arrived in Ketchikan in 1900, he did a little prospecting and then went to work for Tongass Trading Company. While at Tongass he continued to prospect and also worked at a gold mine south of town. - More...
Saturday - September 02, 2006


Photos3. Bruce Johnstone: The Man Who Hand-logged, Hunted, Trapped, Prospected and Became an Alaskan Pioneer - White mist covers the mountains and settles along high granite ridges as the DUCHESS chugs her way into Rudyerd Bay. It is September and patches of devils club are turning yellow and orange, bright against an evergreen backdrop; cottonwoods shimmer like gold in the fall sunshine, and red alder leaves float into a rain-washed stream. - More...
Thursday PM - August 17, 2006


Photos2. The Passing of a Legend, Bruce Johnstone - The Boy Who Hunted Bear - When Bruce Johnstone was eleven years old he went bear hunting.

The year was 1920 and times were hard for the Johnstone family, who had moved to Alaska with several children and few resources. - More...
Thursday PM - August 17, 2006


Photos1. Henry C. Strong - Henry Carlton Strong, who came to Ketchikan in 1899, must have made a lot of money. He involved himself in every developing industry and took advantage of all possible business opportunities.

Born in Jamestown, New York in 1869 Strong went first to Port Townsend, Washington and started a hardware business. After 10 years of work, with a stock of hardware, he took off for Wrangell, Alaska in 1898 and came to Ketchikan in 1899.

Soon after arriving, he established the Strong and Johnstone Company (with F.C. Johnstone and John Stedman), which later became today's Tongass Trading Company. - More...
Thusday AM - August 10, 2006


 

 

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Ketchikan, Alaska