Pioneers of Southeast Alaska
A feature column by author and freelance
Louise Brinck Harrington
18. “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)
17. 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
16. 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
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
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
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. -
Saturday - May 12, 2007
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Tuesday - October 17, 2006
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
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
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
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
Passing of a Legend, Bruce Johnstone - The Boy Who Hunted
Bear - When Bruce Johnstone was eleven years old he went bear
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
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
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.
Thusday AM - August 10, 2006
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