20th Century

20th Century-Back to America

    A new millenium.  Things are going well in the world.  The Civil War has been over for more than 30 years, and the Industrial Age has money flowing in quantities unseen before.  One of the most desirable metals - gold - has been found in Colorado, California, Alaska and the Klondike and people are moving in droves to get a piece of the proverbial pie.  Here we find Reuben, who was left to find his own way after his mother sold the family farm.  Thankfully, Reuben took it upon himself to write his stories, which I will include here. 

    Since the gold rush Reuben went on begins in 1898 and ends in 1900, we're going to begin with his account of his adventure entitled "No Gold - No Rush"
    "My goodness, Grandpa!  Weren't you ever just scared to death?"  This is the question I always hear whenever some of my grandchildren find a little time in their active lives to listen to a few tales of my adventures in the gold-rush days of '98-'99.
    And just as regularly I seem to answer "Yes, there was once when my hair really stood on end, as they say."  When I came upon footprints in the snow after being out trapping alone for days and being sure there was no one else within miles of me, I could hardly believe my eyes.
    It was snowing heavily at the time and I had not been able to sight my course by the trees in the distance as I usually did, but had actually been travelling in a circle.  I gazed at these unexpected snow-shoe prints in horror and stories when through my mind of hostile Indians who were supposed to have roamed this wild country long ago and have resented with dire effect any intrusion upon their solitude.
    I soon realized the footprints were my own and laughed at my hears but when I started out and the same thing happened again, I decided it was time to "hole up" for a while.
    To explain how I happened to be alone in all this wide expanse I should say that when winter came down and it became too cold to travel, my party themselves a snug shack at Brule Potange on the Liard River and settled down to wait out the weather.  Four of us, hoping to spend the time more profitably, had decided to go trapping for whatever food or fur we might find.
    Travelling on ice and pulling our supplies on homemade sleds, we proceeded about 75 miles up the Coal River where we built a small log shelter, just large enough for bunks on opposite sides and a huge fire in the middle.  Two of the men soon returned downstream to the original camp but Tom Anderson and I agreed to stay for at least a few weeks.  We finally decided to use the shack for a week-end meeting plave and to go our seperate ways during the week and see who had the best luck.
    Natually, it was a lonely life but I have often wondered why this incident of the surprise footprints in the one among all the dangers and hardships we went through, which always seems to come to mind when people ask if I was ever frightened.
    There was the time, for instance, when we had to pull our boat through Devil's Gorge after having unloaded it, packed our goods for four miles across a 1000-foot mountain.  It took us twenty-five or thirty trips each with all we could carry on our backs and the trail was barely visible and so steep that we first had to cut steps in the side of the hill.  On the other side we cut down small trees and used them as sleds to get things down again but the hardest work was getting the boat safely through the canyon, which was so narrow and steep that we could not see the water from above.
    We tied a long, heavy rope to the bow of the boat, took the rope to the top of the hill and held on to let the empty boat go through running wild.  When it came around the point we went down the bank hand over hand and tried to guide it along from the shore.  We soon came to a three-foot fall with a big rick in the middle of the river bed and no water on the side nearest us.  We pulled the boat over the rocls for some distance but when the nose hit the water again the stern jumped around so suddenly that it hit one of the men and hurt him badly.
    The only thing that saved his life wsa the fact that he was standing directly in front of a break in the rock large enough for his body to fall back into.  We got him up the bank by lining up two together and passing him from one pair to the next and each of us must have felt thankful that such an accident, or even much worse, had not happened to us.
    The story was, and is sometimes repeated to this day, that no one ever went through Devil's Gorge and lived to tell about it and that even the Indians who worked for the Hudson's Bay Company shunned a long stretch of the river hereabouts.  But several parties of us working together, some twenty men or more, took out three boats through one at a time.  The river had narrowed from a two-mile width to about 70 feet and was running against us very swiftly.  Four men would get into a boat with poles, two in front and two on the sweep, while the others pulled us along with ropes from the shore.  We got down on our knees and poled as hard as we could to keep the boat off the rocks, while it tossed and bucked like a bronco, but we never gave up.
    After repeating this ordeal with each boat we got them all to safer water and were ready to reload them but the whole procedure took us more than two weeks and advanced us on our way only a few miles.
    For forty or fifty miles below Devil's Portage, too, our progress had been painfully slow.  In the region called Hell's Gate we passed through six canyons within six miles and at times we had to crawl along the face of the cliffs with harnesses across our shoulders and ropes attached to the boats fore and aft to keep them straight and to pull them through the swift water.  (Years later I was able to get copies of snapshots taken by a Scotchman in another party and sent home to Scotland to be developed.  They show us clinging to the rocks like flies and pulling ourselves around rocky corners where we could not see ahead.)
    On one such occasion when I was the last man on the rope and it was my job to watch the boat and keep the rope up out of the watter, the men ahead suddenly took up the slack and the rope jumped high above my head.  The rapids were so noisy that the others could not hear my shouts and I was left to flounder the hundred feet or more to shore.  It was getting dark and in the midst of the rushing water, I became dizzy and almost felt myself being swept away.  But after a few moments of sheer panic, I managed to reach shore and soon overtook the others who were greatly relieved to see me alive.  Needless to say, their relief was nothing to my own!
    Once during the Winter of trapping, with which I began this account, a sudden cold spell caught me far from shelter, though my partner had seen "sundogs" and had gone back to the shack expecting to find me there.
    During the first night the temperatures went down to 76 below, as we were told later, but I had learned how to make a pretty good temporary shelter.  Sticking up a row of poles and spreading my canvas tarp over them to reflect the heat, I built a huge fire and lay down without blankets or sleeping bag, managed to keep from freezing by turning over often and pushing more and more poles toward the center of the fire.
    I gave up in the middle of the night, however, after a spark flew out and landed on my knee, burning through my heavy clothing and waking me up.  It took the rest of the night and all next day to reach the shack without stopping to eat or to rest.  I found that when I tried to stop for a few minutes I immediately began to feel numb and I knew I must keep going.
    Tom and I were surely glad to see each other that time and thankful for the cozy shack we had built so carefully.  We had first laid logs to a height of about three feet to form an 8-foot square and had put on half the roof.  Then we dug down about three feet into the ground inside the logs, throwing the dirt up onto the half roof as we worked.  After finishing the rest of the roof of poles chinked with moss, we distributed the dirt over the whole, leaving only a square hole in the center for a chimney.
    Inside, we left a moung of dift in the middle of our little room on which to build our fire of 3 ft. logs and put up a railing around it of longer poles pegged down at the corners.  We could sit on our bunks and put our feet on this railing and keep nice and warm, but before going to sleep we threw the fire outside, getting rid of the smoke and sparks which might fily, and put sacks over the chimney hold to keep out the cold air.  With a long pole which we kept for the purpose, we could poke the sacks away in the morning and be ready to build a new fire.  Wood was kept ready and dry under the little teepee or porch we had built over the doorway.  How young and strong we were to be able to endure this lonliness and hardship and to enjoy at least part of it!
    I remember the time when one of my snow-shoes broke while I was floundering through deep snow and how helpless I suddenly felt.  After some deliberation I took off the good snowshoe and laid it on the top of the snow to lean my arms on and dragged myself along inch by inch.  Finding a sort of knoll where the snow was shallower and, luckily, there were plenty of sticks and branches lyign about, I set out to repair the damage.  I whittled down four stout pieces, two for each side of the broken frame and bound them on tightly with the good stout twine I always had with me and the snow-shoes were good for the rest of the winter.
    Besides the ball of twine and a good sharp knife, I carried along an ax, a frying pan, a can for making tea, a tin plate and eating utensils, my gun and some shells.  I took no blankets or bed-roll but only and eight-foot square of canvas to sleep on and to wrap my other equipment in.  Before long our rations were so low that we had only flour and tea to take with us and I used to bake what we called bannocks, sometimes only one for each meal.
    I would pour water from melted snow into the top of my sack of flour, stir it around into a ball, then flatten it out to bake in the frying pan leaned up against the fire.  I got into the habit of baking three of these cakes in the evening as soon as I got a good fire going, I would eat one for my supper saving one for breakfast and the other for my mid-day snack, often carrying it inside my clothing to keep it from freezing.
    We had no traps but would make dead-falls where we found fresh tracks and on week-ends at the shack would feast on the rabbits and fool-hens we had managed to catch or shoot.  I shall never forget our Christmas dinner which consisted of a porcupine which Tom had shot and roasted.  After our diet of tea and bannocks it tasted fine.
    When we rejoined our party in February after being gone three months, they were surprised to see us and had, in fact, started up the river without us.  The two men who had returned to camp in November had reported that they left as much food as they could with us, but they were sure it could not last us all winter.
    "Old Man" Laraway, leader of our party up until now, had become quite weak and lame from scurvy by the time we got back and for some forty or fifty miles we took turns hauling him up the river.  We left him at Liard Post when we reached the mouth of the Dease River, where he joined a number of other invalids, some who were, like him, suffering from scurvy, some with frostbitten feet and others nearly dead from lack of food.  Here they were able to receive some medical care and, most important, a greater variety of food and most of them lived to come back home by way of the Hudson's Bay relief boats.
     Until April of '99 we were able to travel on ice and early that month we reached the post at Laketon where we were able to buy a few supplies.  In May and June we actually did some prospecting at last but found so little gold that it was very discouraging.  We did find plenty of caribou all through this region and enjoyed a welcome change of diet.
    In July and August we travelled by foot through the wild Cassiar country and in nearly six weeks never saw another man not of any sign that a tree had been cut down by anyone.  By the middle of August we were not only ragged and worn-out, but were ready to give up hope that our persistence was to be rewarded in any way.
    Four of us built another boat with which to go down river and across Teslin Lake heading for the Alaskan coast which was still many miles away.  For ten days we walked down the Teslin Trail, made by men who had come in through British Columbia heading for Dawson, and from the trail we counted no less than sixty-five forses which had died and been abandoned there.
    The group of farm boys from Eastern Quebec who had left Edmonton so hopefully nearly eighteen months before, now had to be rescued by the Canadian government, which had sent in relief boats with food, medicine and free transportation, as well as reimbursing the Hudson's Bay Company for the help they had given in various emergencies.
    Along with the estimated four or five thousand other men who tried this "deadly" Edmonton trail, either trying to travel overland with horses or to follow the rivers and lakes in boats, we had been lured by much false publicity.  Misleading maps and pamphlets had told us we could reach the Klondike in six weeks by well-marked trails which we found did not exist and now we were glad to escape with our lives.
    We brought home memories of adventures and narrow escapes to talke about the rest of our lives but now the number of those who can reminisce with us - or even listen to our stories -  grows less each year.
    Late in 1961, in connection with publicity for the annual convention of Alaska-Yukon Pioneers, we learned of Dr. Christian Falkenberg of Seattle who was said to be the last survivor of the Edmonton Trail.  My wife wrote to him at once to let him know that I was still among the living and only thirty miles away.  He got in touch with us immediately, inviting us to be his guest at the reunion banquet, and we had not talked long before we realized we had been at Devil's Portage at the same time.  The doctor even remembered some of the bantering words he had exchanged with Old Man Laraway, our leader, who at this time was seventy-two years old, and a veteran of practically all the gold rushers heard of during his life.
    Unfortunately, sickness prevented out meeting again and Dr. Falkenberg, who was some years old than I (though from his erect appearance and alert manner, no one could have guessed it) passed away last August.  Does this leave me, I wonder, the last of the many who went out from Edmonton so long ago in search for gold - or was it mostly for adventure?"

    Reuben also wrote an overlapping autobiographical story in July, 1964.  It isn't titled, but the text is as follows:
    "I, Reuben Martin Westover, am now past 90 years of age and would like to tell my grandchildren some of my adventures up North, when I was a young man.  And a little about our family, which might be interesting.
    I was born and grew up on a farm in the township of Sutton, Quebec, about sixty miles Southwest of Montreal and just across the border from Vermont.  This farm had been in my family since 1796, when my great-grandfather got it as a "King's Grant".  He was loyal to the king during the Reovolution and gave up a large section of land in Western Massachuetts and moved his family to Canada.  There was a lot of persecution of "Empire Loyalists" at that time and many of them left the colonies and settled in Canada.
    My father died when I was 16 and I had to manage the farm from then on.  My four half-brothers, sons of my father's first wife, had left home before this and my own older brother, Egbert, had lost his arm in a railroad accident the year before.  Besides my mother and brother there were four sisters to support and educate and I had a lot of responsibility.  As soon as he was old enough, Egbert went to Montreal to study and become a lawyer.  He practiced law for many years in Montreal and then went to Northern Quebec where there are quite a lot of French people so he had to speak French and English.  He made a fine reputation and won many honors, even from the government.  He left all his money to his 12 nieces and nephews when he died in 1954.
    My oldest sister Mary, married Arthur Foss, and they had no children.  After her husband died, Mary lived with Eva for many years, at Sandwich on Cape Cod.
    Jessie's first husband died after Marion and Marjorie were born and she moved to Everett after your Uncle Newbary and I had settled here.  She later married Mr. Allan and their children are Bill, Pat and Barbara.  Barbara is now Mrs. "Shorty" Kinder.
    My sister Anna married Ezra Ball and their children are Gordon Ball, Muriel Duckworth, Evelyn Homan and Mildred Luxton.  Another son was killed in the first World War.
    Eva, the youngest sister, was born on New Year's Day in 1880 and she and I are the only ones left.  Eva became a nurse and never married.
    She did some nursing here in Everett years ago but has been living at Sandwich, Mass. for a long time.  She nursed so many people all over Cape Cod that she used to say she knew everybody of the older generation and many of their children and grandchildren. 
    Some time after my 21st birthday we sold the farm and I headed out west.  By 1898, when the gold-rush fever broke out, I had been working on a ranch in South Dakota for a year.  I heard that a bunch of fellows from back home were getting ready to go to Edmonton to start out for the Klondike and I arranged to meet them there.
    There were six of them, besides myself, including Old Man Laraway who was 72 years old.  He had been in the California gold rush in '49 and '50 and in several others before that and we took him for what he knew.  He was a lot of help in deciding what to take and how to pack it and he had up make waterproof sacks for the food or anything that water would spoil and we were better off than many of the other parties.  We started out with about five tons of stuff, including food, clothing, tools, gunds and shells, etc.  Also 100 pounds of extra canvas which we thought we could use for water pipes when we started mining for gold.  We ended up using it to patch out clothes when they wore out and when I went to work at Fort Townsend 18 months latre I had big canvas patches on my seat and on both knees.
    We met in Edmonton on March 28, 1898 and camped out for five nights on the vacant prairie in front of the small wooden store run by the Hudson Bay Co.  We bought our supplies and hired two teams to take us to Athabasca Landing about 100 miles away on the river.  There was nothing there then but a portable saw mill and a lot of other men like us.  When we visited in Edmonton in 1969 we found a good-sized city called Athabasca at this place and we drove to it in a couple of hours.  The other time it took us four days.
    We got there on April 6th and started cutting trees and hauling them to the mill on the riverbank.  We built a 34-foot scow and a small boat to pull behind it and left on May 3rd as soon as the ice went out of the river.  We traveled about 26 miles from noon to 9:30 the first day but started early the next day and covered 75 miles.  One of us sat up each night to guard the boat while the others took turns sleeping.  We had 17ft. oars, two on each side.
    Eighteen miles father down our boat got stuck on a rock and a sand bar and I jumped into the river and lifted up on the stern enough to get her floating again.  At the mouth of the Pelican River we found a lot of fish running and so we camped at noon and caught fish until late that night.  These were suckers just like the ones back home and they tasted good, even if they were boney.
    Next morning we went back a couple of miles to help a boat we had seen stuck on a rock and we helped each other through the Pelican Rapids.  These rapids were easy compared with the many others to come.
    By May 10th we had reached Grand Rapids where the Athabasca falls 240 feet in 12 miles.  There is an island about a half a mile long in the middle of the channel and the Hudsons Bay Co. had built a tram on it.  We unloaded our boat and took it across the island on the tram and carried our stuff past the worst of the rapids.  This was our first packing job and Henry Prentiss strapped a hundred-pound sack of flour on his back the first thing.  I took 50 pounds and got along fast, but later I got used to it and could pack 150 pounds at a time.
    That night we found out we all had cooties but we got rid of them by boiling our clothes every night for three of four days.  It took us about five days anyways to get our boat and goods ready to travel again and then we decided to wait a few more days until we could get a guide to help us through the rapids we were coming to.  There were six boats and crews here together by now and in the next three days we ran six or seven rapids.  The guide had picked his rowing crew and we took one boat through at a time.  I happened to be one of the four rowers, so I went through each of the rapids six times and walked back up the shore five times.
    On may 26 we passed the Big Cascade, where we had to tie our boats close to shore and unload them and let them down with ropes.  One of the boats got into got into trouble when the small tree it was tied to pulled up by the roots.  There were four men in it at the time and they tried hard to row for the opposite side where the falls did not look so bad, but there were too many ricks and they got a hole knocked in the bottom.  They were sucked over the falls but mananged to stay right side up by putting on all the speed they could and all of them came through safely.
    We got to Fort McMurray, about 250 miles down the Athabasca, after going around or through 11 rapids and 2 cascades.  There is a railroad now that bypasses all this bad water but there was nothing then.
    On June 2nd we reached Athabasca Lake after floating night and day on nice smooth water for the last 200 miles.  Coming into the lake we lost the main channel and got into shallow water where there was solid ice to the bottom and only about a foot of water on tip.  We had to take the little boat across first and wade back and forth to pack our five tons of stuff over to it.  When the scow was light enough to pull we took it around into the main body of the lake and loaded everything from the little boat back in.
    The wind was blowing up the lake and it was hard work holding for the opposite side.  There was a high cliff of solid rock coming right down into the water and we had to row until 1 o'clock in the morning before we found a break in the cliff and a small cove just big enough to land on.  On the shore of this lake we saw thousands of geese resting on their way North but they were too far away, with an overflow swamp between, and we could not get any of them to eat.
    At Fort Chipewyan which we reached in a few hours the next day, there was a crown of Indians who had brought in their winter furs to trade.
    Every tent was surrounded by big fierce-looking dogs which were so hungry that they swam out to our boat during the night and stole slabs of bacon and other stuff and scattered our cooking dishes all over the place.  Here we saw young squaws sitting around picking lice out of each other's hair and cracking them between their teeth.
    We started down the Slave River on June 6th.  About 25 miles below where the Peace River flows into the Slave we found ourselves rowing against the current and could not understand it at first.  It seems that for about three weeks each Spring this stretch of river runs upstream until it brings up the level of the lake.  This is something I had not seen mentioned in print and probably few people know about it.
    In about a week we reached Fort Smith where we spent one day and started out early the next morning.  When we got to the mouth of the Salt River about 7 o'clock in the morning, Frank Hoffman and I took the small boat and rowed a long day's trip up the river after salt.  We came to a place where a salt spring flowed out of a hill and everything around was white from the salt left at high water.  The stream had become so narrow that we could not turn around but had to back the boat up to get out.  We were surprised to see this salty water full of big fish.  We travelled two days and a night without sleep, except for the time it took to shovel up four or five hundred pounds of salt, and got back to the main party about 7 o'clock in the evening of June 16th.
    Next day we started on down the Slave River but there heavy winds blowing from the lake and we had to lay over a day or two.  On June 23rd we left Fort Resolution and crossed the South end of Great Slave Lake, 120 miles in 48 hours.  Waves were high and we had to keep swinging the stern around to take them.  We had a sail up all the way across and used one on the smooth parts of the Liard later.  We had to watch out for shallow places too and keep away from the shore.  On June 30th we reached Fort Simpson on the MacKenzie at the mouth of the Liard River.
    The Hudson Bay Company had a store there which was headquarters for a large region.  A man named Camsell was the factor at this time and one of his sons, Charles, later became a high official in the Canadian government and wrote books and articles about his life and explorations in the North.  My wife and I exchanged letters with Charles Camsell after his book, "Son of the North" came out in 1954 and he and his brother and I must be the last of those who were there, at Fort Simpson when his father was there.  Since that time he too, has passed away.
    This trading post collected and shipped out 2,500 or more beaver skins and many other furs each year.  There were several other parties there at the time and everyone tied up their boats and climbed up the bank to the store.  The cook belonging to one crew stayed behind to finish something and when he was ready to come ashore he jumped into the water with his rubber boots on.  He slipped and fell in some way and his boots which were full of air came to the top and pulled him down and he drowned.  We never used our boots even when wading in ice water up to our knees.  They were kept mainly for mining work but it was a long time before we did much of that.
    On July 2nd we left Fort Simpson and started up the terrible Liard.  In six days we covered 40 miles and ran 8 miles of rapids.  There were three boats in our bunch by then and we helped each other through the rapids, one boat at a time, and it took us nearly two weeks to reach Nahanni River 120 miles up the Liard.
    At the Nelson River on August 9th we met a we met a party which had come over land Edmonton.  They had started out with horses but they had all died or broken their legs trying to travel over the muskeag and log jams and through the dense timber in some plaves and then the men had decided to build a boat and try our method of travel.
    The merchants of Edmonton and other boosters of the gold0rush had put out maps and pamphlets telling us we could get to the Klondike country in six weeks either by water route or by traveling overland.  It has been estimated that four or five thousand men tried one way or the other.  Most of them turned back from different points along the way, many of them lost their lives from accidents or sickness or plain starvation and only a handful ever for to Dawson or Alaska or ever found any gold to speak of.  A man named Taylor had been hired by the Edmonton boosters to go through and map out a trail for the overland travellers but he never got very far and following the rivers turned out to be the best way.
    It took us nearly six weeks to get through Hell's Gate and Devil's Gorge and it was so hard and dangerous that for a hunred mile stretch along here you could not hire an Indian to go on the river.  The Hudson Bay Company avoided this part of the river too by running one boat only as far as Hell's Gate and going many miles out of the way to bring another one to the upper part of the river.
    By the time we got to Brule Portage early in October it was getting pretty cold and ice was forming and we decided not to go on.  We burned our boats and built a shack to wait out the worst of the winter.  Several other parties did the same and there were about forty men there for some weeks.  Before this we had gone through the terrible ordeal at Devil's Portage and taken our boats through Devil's Gorge, which some people still say no one have ever done.
    My wife has written out a lot of the details of this and about the weeks I spent trapping up the Coal River.  I will skip some of these parts so as to tell how I reached the end of the trail and finally landed in Everett.
    After leaving the shack at Brule Portage in February of '99 we travelled on the ice with sleds to haul our stuff until about the middle of April.  Old Man Laraway was suffering badly with scurvy and for many days I had the job of hauling him up the river on toboggan.  We left him at Liard Post where a man named Cole was looking after quite a collection of sick and injured men.  Most of them had scurvy and some were badly crippled with frostbitten feet.  Laraway gave me $20 for helping him and I never say him again, but heard later that he got back home safely.  By this time I was the only one left of my party and I was travelling with others.  The fellows I started with had decided one ot two at a time to leave the river and try to walk across to Dawson.  I found out later that Charley Ritter and Henry Prentice made it but neither of them found much gold but earned a living by working for a while before going home.
    For about two months of the summer we prospected around the Dease River and at Poor Man's Gulch and found some gold but not enough to make it worth while to stay there.  We found many caribou all through this region and enjoyed the fresh meat.  In July and August we travelled for six weeks through the wild Cassiar country and never saw a soul but ourselves and could not tell where any one had ever cut down a tree.  After going up the Nesetlin River for two or three weeks with a man who had joined us with his three horses we decided to give the whole thing up as a bad job.
    Four of us spent three days building a boat to take us back down the Teslin Lake and across it toward the coast.  We had to whip-saw the lumber and tear up old sacks for oakum and seal it with spruce gum.
    On August 19th we left Teslin Creek at the south end of the lake and headed for Telegraph Creek on the Stikine River.  It took us ten or eleven days to cover the 160 miles or more.  We carried packs of about 90 pounds apiece.  One morning when we woke up it had been snowing and I had an awful crick in my back.  This was the only time on the whole trip I was laid up but I could hardly move that day.  After a day's rest we went on.  The others lightened my load a little and then lifted my pack on my back and I carried it all day.  I stopped once in a while and leaned against a tree to rest and then went on.
    We walked down what is called the Teslin Trail and countd at least 65 dead horses in plain sight from the trail.  These had belonged to the hundreds of men who had come in through British Columbia along this way to Dawson.  A man named Scott Marshal who was later chief of Police here in Everett and worked with me in a sawmill here in 1900, said he had gone to Dawson this way.
    Three days out of Telegraph Creek we ran so low on food that Bar O'Brein and I offered to run on ahead and bring back what we could get for Old Man Doyle and his nephew.  Mr. Doyle wanted us to stay together and look out for game and just before noon we came across a boarded-up cache of food.  A sign on it said, "Do not molest, we are coming back" but we could tell they had been gone a year or more so we took enough flour to last us to Telegraph Creek.  The law in British Columbia in those days was that if you found food when you were badly in need you could help yourself and not feel you were stealing.
    We got to Telegraph Creek on September 1st and went on to Glenora to catch the last boat down the river ro Wrangell.  Old Man Doyle had very bad feet and he and his nephew, Archie McCormack, hired Indians to haul them the last four miles but Bat and I walked the trail with hills and gulches all the way.
    We got to Glenora about four o'clock in the morning then had to wait three days after all.  The water was very low in the Stikine and the boat had got stuck on a sandbar which held it up for quite a while.  They got it off by fanning the sternwheel until it dug out enough sand to let the boat float.
    This was the regular steamer which carried Hudson Bay Company's supplies to the interior but one this last trip out it was loaded with stuff they were bringing back.  This time it was also bringing out 100 or more men who had been searching for gold in all directions and were glad to get back alive.  The officer's wives on this boat, "The Strathcona", were the first white women I had seen for a year, though there were often Indian squaws at the trading posts we passed.
    Earlier in the year the Canadian Mounted Police and many other people had sent word to Ottawa that men were starving along the Liard and the trading post people were told to feed any of the miners who needed it.  The government would pay them back and would send in relief boats to bring any who wanted to leave out to the coast.  At Telegraph Creek we were given food to last until the boat left and on the boat our meals were furnished.  We made out our own lists and got enough food to last until we could find job.
    At Glenora when we went aboard they gave us white tickets to show we were not paying fares but were entitled to our meals.  They fed us first and we usually jumped off and helped load on the wood they had to pick up along the way.  One morning it was raining and we didn't want to get off but they said the white tickets would not get any breakfast until they got out and worked.  When we refused they served the other passengers and cleared things away without giving us anything.  We sent a committee to tell the Captain the have the table set for us or we would do it ourselves.  So they gave in and fed us.
    When we got to Fort Marshall at 4 a.m. no one was served breakfast but we had provisions we had saved and we went ashore and built a fire and ate ourselves.  We were now in American Territory but our meal tickets were good to Vancouver or Seattle.  They called us together and asked who had $20 to pay for a ticket.  Only one man had, his home was in California and they let him keep his money to help him get there.
    We reached Port Townsend on September 14th.  One of my bunch had left us at Ketchikan and three of us Canadians planned to cross over to Vancouver.  But when I heard they were building the fort there I decided to stay at Port Townsend and look for work.  The contractor asked me if I could hold a plow and I told him I grew up on a farm.  I had on heavy winter clothes and looked so husky he offered me two men's jobs.
    The plow weighed 250 pounds and was pulled by six big horses.  One man drove the horses and two men held the plow which went quite east where the ground had been shot up and drilled.  But as soon as it hit hard pan the horses would have to keep up with the plow by running and when it hit a stone it would jump right into the air.  They were paying two men $2 apiece to hold the plow but they gave me $2.25 a day to take both their places.
    I kept the job three months and a half and they wanted me to stay until Spring.  They hired about a hundred men a month but fired them so that that I was 12th man down on the pay-roll when I left.  The contractor got fifty cents each new man paid for the job in Seattle and he fired them fast enough to keep plenty of vacancies.
    I first came to Everett after my mother wrote that our friend, Rev. Fowler was living here.  He married my father and mother and baptized me in the Methodist church back home.  His daughter had married W.G. Swalwell from Ottawa (I think he was) and they all moved to Everett.  Two girls I knew were making a trip to California and were planning to spend Thanksgiving with the Swalwells and I came across the Sound to see them.  I had seen men plowing their fields late in the fall all around here and when I remembered out late Spring and cold winters back East I decided this was God's Country.   I have thought so ever since and never went back to Quebec except to visit.
    My half-brother, Newbary, sold his store in South Dakota and came to Everett in December of '99 and I came to stay the last day of that year.  I worked in Newbary's Hardware store for a while and when his partner who took care of the plumbing work wanted to leave, I bought him out.  Before long I had learned a lot about the trade and finally bought another plumber's shop and that is how I got started in the business.
    My father's ancestors were loyal to the king during the Revolution but my mother's people were patriotic Amercans.  There is still an old clock kept at the Old South Church in Boston which belonged to one of them and the story is that she gave the lead weights out of it to be melted down for bullets for Revolutionary Soldiers.  I wanted ot be an American citizen and took out my naturalization papers as soon as I could.
    While on the Teslin Trail we met a man named Schenk who said he had travelled out from Chicago which a friend named John Watson and some others.  They had come by way of Edmonton, too, but had gone down the Peace River instead of Athabasca.  Schenk left them and finally made it to Dawson by way of the Teslin Trail but the others stayed and prospected around Great Slave Lake.  Watson and his partners found gold at a place now called Yellow Knife and in other nearby places which have since been very productive.  They went back to Chicago in the summer of '99 hoping to raise money to develop the mines and to build roads to get to them.  But by the following year the gold fever had pretty well died down and Watson never got back.
    As luck would have it, he and his family moved to Everett in 1903 and being a plumber by trade, he went to work for me.  It was not long before someone mentioned the gold-rush and the Edmonton Trail and it came out that were were up there at the same time.
    Watson's father had gone from Scotland to Australia in the gold rush of 1850 and made quite a fortune.  He and his wife had 15 children, seven or eight of them born in Australia, including John, and they finally went back to Scotland.
    One son went to South Africa and became a wagon maker.  He won the Victoria Cross for making strong carriers for the cannon used during the Boer War.  John and some others came to America and settled in Chicago.  One brother of his named Alex was a sea Captain and he came to visit us about the time Howard was a baby.  His home was in California and he had a son who was killed in the First World War.  The family home in Scotland was near a place called Arbroth on the Eastern Side.
    John Watson and his wife ad four daughters and two sons.  Mary Jane Watson and I were married in 1904 and lived together for 42 years.  Besides Egbert, Howard and Harold, we had two other sons.  Francis, the third one, was hurt in a fall when he was four years old and died in 1925 after a lond illness.  Roger, the youngest of all, was born in 1922 and died quite suddenly when he was nine months old.
    Mary's older brother, John, married Elizabeth Watson (no relation) in Chicago before coming out here.  He died quite young and left Lizzie four boys to bring up alone.  An older sister named Jessie married a John Robertson and they lived in Tacoma.  When they both died their adopted daughter, Grace, came to live with us for several years until she was of age.
    Another sister, Isabelle, married Duana Baldwin and they lived in Idaho many years.  Agnes Watson married Sev. Petterson and they lived in Everett but died some years ago, leaving an adopted daughter.  A young brother, Harry, moved away and did not keep in touch but he died later, and was buried here.
    In spite of poor health much of the time, Mary was a wonderful wife and mother but she died in 1946 and Neil and Marilyn are the only grandchildren she ever had a chance to see.  She was very proud of our five sons and would have been very proud of all our grandchildren as I have always been.  May you all be healthy and happy and have long and useful lives."

1900: Reuben officially moved to Everett, Washington

27 April 1904: Marries Mary Jane Watson in Everett (b.16 May 1883 in N.Y. to John Watson and Jessie Adams)  Their children are listed in the timeline.

16 Aug 1907: Egbert Watson born in Everett

14 May 1911: Howard Stephen born in Everett

21 May 1914: Reuben becomes an American citizen

10 Aug 1917: Francis James born in Everett

12 Sept 1918: Reuben submits his WWI Draft registration card, though never serves.

22 Jan 1919: Harold John born in Everett

2 Aug 1922: Roger Bruce born in Everett

21 April 1923: Roger dies suddenly (possibly SIDS?)

February 1925: Francis dies after a fall and illness

30 May 1946: Mary Jane dies in Everett

1947: Reuben marries Ida Paine

10 Aug 1964: Reuben dies just after his 90th birthday.