Murder of George Holt in Knik, Alaska 1885
George Holt
Murdered at Knik, Alaska in 1885

His Background – The Murder Itself – The Aftermath

A True and Documented Account
written by Coleen Mielke in 2014
with a special thank you to:
Andrei Znamenski
James Kari
Jim Fox
Aaron Leggitt
and
Sashinka and Diana Keplinger
for their help and encouragement

You are welcome to link back to the following article, however, do not re-post
or re-publish it without the written permission of the author, Coleen Mielke


Protected by Copyscape


.


This is a story about C. G. “George” Holt, an Ohio born Quaker who came to Alaska in the 1870’s seeking adventure and fortune. During his (roughly) 13 years in Alaska, Holt excelled in adventure, but never quite found his fortune and eventually was murdered in Knik; this is his story:

~~
 
It is widely accepted that George Holt was the first white man to safely cross the Chilkoot Pass in about 1875. It was big news at the time, because this route, which dramatically shortened the travel distance into the gold rich Yukon region, was guarded by the territorial Chilkat Indians. How he managed to avoid being killed during his time in the pass has been the subject of many debates, however in 1897, a Sitka newspaper suggested that he succeeded because he was accompanied by a well known Chilkoot Indian named "Chilkoot Jack" (Jack Benson). In 1914, on Benson's deathbed in a Juneau Hospital, he confirmed that he did help George Holt cross the Chilkoot Pass route in 1873.
 
After Holt’s historic ascent, he spent the winter in Sitka, sharing the details of his adventure with Lieutenant W. R. Quinan of the Fourth U. S. Artillery. Twenty-plus years later (1897), Quinan wrote an article about Holt for
the Alaskan (magazine) and described him as a "...raw-boned, hard featured, red-headed, horny handed, son of toil and adventure, but plain and modest withal and every word he had to say bore the impress of truth, so that no one questioned his story in the smallest detail.”

From Sitka, Holt sailed to Kodiak aboard the schooner Nellie Edes. From Kodiak, he made his way to the Susitna River area and tried his hand at prospecting with minimal luck. In the spring of 1882, he tempted the fates and followed a band of Copper River Indians to the confluence of the Copper and Chitina Rivers and into the village of Taral. Few white men had ever ventured deeply into this part of Alaska (and lived to tell about it) because the Copper River Indians were fiercely territorial. Once again (just like his “lucky” trek over the Chilkoot Pass) Holt beat the odds and managed to survive an entire summer at Taral, however, in doing so, a bitter fued developed between Holt and the Ahtna Indians that would play an important part in Holt's murder in 1885.


Holt was a stern man with little respect and NO tact when it came to dealing with the Copper River Ahtna. He used any opportunity to impugn their honor by calling them "treacherous and thievish". This so enraged the Ahtna that they were still fuming about him to Lieutenant Henry T. Allen when he explored the Copper River area three years later.        

By 1885, Holt was working as an agent for the Alaska Commerical Company (ACC) at Nuchek Village in the Prince William Sound; later that same year, he was transferred to the Knik Station
  ACC
where he was to work with an Athabascan interpreter named Afanasii.

Afanasii was an opportunist in every sense of the word. It began in Knik (as far as I could determine) in 1883, when he was caught stealing from the ACC store by a Russian trade agent named Chechenov. In an effort to hide his theft from his fellow villagers, Afanasii told them that Chechenov had put a curse on them. Language barriers prevented the agent from defending himself so he fled to the safety of Tyonek before the angry and superstitious villagers could kill him. Once Chechenov was out of the village, Afanasii helped himself to more store merchandise.

Afanasii's routine worked so well, that he tried it again a year later, when the ACC sent a Russian agent named Malakhov to replace Chechenov at Knik Station. It wasn't long before Malakhov caught Afanasii stealing. Once again, he tried to divert attention from his thievery by telling the villagers that Malakhov was a dishonest man; an incendiary character flaw that the villagers would not tolerate. One again, language barriers forced the ACC agent to run for his life, and once again, Afanasii had full access to store merchandise.


A year later, George Holt was sent from the ACC store at Nuchek to replace Malakhov at the ACC store in Knik. Unfortunately for Holt, the company retained Afanasii to act as Holt's interpreter. All Afanasii had to do, to repeat his larcenous routine, was to promote a confrontation between the hot tempered Holt and one of his customers.

That opportunity presented itself just a few months later, when two Copper River Indians arrived at Knik to trade. Right away, Holt argued with one of them and kicked him out of the store. Afanasii saw his chance and wasted no time in convincing the banished customer that, the only way to "reclaim his honor" was to kill Holt. On 12/19/1885, four days after the original confrontation, the Indian returned to the store and did just that.

Word of the murder quickly reached the ACC headquarters at Tyonek. The agent there, a Russian named Vladimir Vasilii Stafeev (who had worked for the RAC and ACC since 1864) appointed himself to investigate the shooting. His journal (written in Russian) includes notes and testimony from five eye witnesses to crime, as well as two confessions from the shooter himself. The journal was translated for me by Professor Andrea Znamenski in 2008 and is used extensively in this account.

~~~~~

One week after the murder, Afanasii's brother (unnamed) went to Tyonek to give Stafeev his account of the crime. He said that two Copper River Indians were in the Knik store and one of them argued with George Holt about some tobacco. The argument escalated and Holt ended up shoving the man, hurting his leg as he fell against a barrel. The Indian wanted to shoot Holt immediately, but the rest of the people in the store stopped him. Four days later, just before the two Copper River men left Knik, the injured man went back to the store and shot Holt. Afanasii's brother said that after he heard the shot, he rushed outside and saw the murderer standing over Holt who was lying in a pool of bloody snow. He begged the shooter not to harm anyone else in the village and the shooter assured him that he was only after Holt.

The day after Afanasii's brother gave Stafeev his version of the crime, Stafeev asked him to repeat it. This time there were several deviations from the first version which made Stafeev suspect the brothers testimony might be an effort to conceal Afanasii's involvement.

Stafeev immediately suspected that Afanasii was involved in Holt's death because of his underhanded treatment of the previous ACC agents, so he told Afanasii's brother that he was going to Knik to personally investigate the murder. The brother tried to convince Stafeev that Knik was not a safe place for him to go because the shooter might still be there.
When his warning did not dissuade Stafeev, Afanasii's brother asked him for the exact route he planned to take, which hightened Stafeev's suspicion of a potential ambush.

Stafeev was concerned that the Copper River Indians might return to Knik with violent intentions if he did not intervene. So, he told Afanasii's brother to go back to Knik and assure future Copper River customers that their business was welcome and that no one at Knik was angry with them. He also sent Afanassi word that he was supposd to welcome the "Copper People" with "food treats" when they came into the store. He hoped that these measures would defuse the situation and give him time to travel safely to Knik to interview witnesses to the shooting.

Stafeev was not the only one who was suspicious of Afanasii's involvement in the murder; Tyonek Chief Nikolai confided in Stafeev that he felt the murder would not have taken place without Afanasii's goading.

Two weeks after the murder, Afanasii's wife went to Tyonek to talk to Stafeev. She told him that the Indian who killed Holt was acting crazy and that Afanasii had to give him $124 dollars worth of store goods so that he wouldn't go to Tyonek and kill Stafeev. He recognized this as yet another of Afanasii's attempts to confuse the investigation.

Three weeks after the murder, a group of men from Knik brought some pelts and furs to Stafeev in Tyonek because George Holt had paid for them before he died. When Stafeev checked the paperwork, he noticed that the original sale was for 78 sable pelts, however, the men only delivered 58 pelts. He suspected that Afanasii had helped himself to the other 20 pelts.

Stafeev eventually went to Knik and interviewed  the following witnesses:

1. He talked to a woman (unnamed) who carried water every day for George Holt. She said that she saw Holt lying in the bloody snow in front of the store and turned him over to check his heart; he was dead. She went to Afanasii's house and asked him for help in carrying Holt's body back into the store. He told the woman that he and his brother had spent the entire morning in their house because they were afraid.

2. Another witness (unnamed) described the Ahtna customer shaking the lock on the ACC door, then he hid out of sight. When Holt came out to check the lock, the murderer hid behind the store. When Holt started to go back into the store, the Indian shot him.
 
3. Another witness (unnamed) said the Ahtna customer hung around outside the store pretending to look for something. Holt watched him for a while then turned to go back into the store and the Indian shot him.
 
4. Another witness was a boy (unnamed) who said that after Holt was killed, Afanasii began to cry. The shooter asked him why he was crying since Afanasii had hired him to kill Holt. After Holt was dead, Afanasii gave the shooter $124 worth of store goods to keep him quiet.

 
5. Stafeev’s journal also mentioned a confession from the shooter himself. One of his confessions was made to a Knik medicine man named Konstantin in the summer of 1886; Konstantin's niece was the shooters wife. The murderer said that after Holt threw him out of the store, 
Afanasii repeatedly put him to shame by asking “Why did you let Holt get away with that?” The taunting so enraged the Indian that he shot George Holt.

6. The villagers at Knik told Stafeev that if he was going to arrest Holt's murderer, then he should also arrest Afanasii,because all of the evidence pointed at him. They also told him that Afanasii's brother lied about the murderer when he said that the shooter was going to Tyonek to kill Stafeev. In fact, the murderer wanted to go to Tyonek to tell Stafeev that Afanasii hired him to kill Holt and that he wanted to go to Kenai so he could confess to his godfather, Father Nikita Marchenkov. 

Stafeev’s journal does not mention the name of the man who killed Holt; however, in 1917, a Ketchikan newspaper gave the murderer's name as "Nicolai, the son of a powerful Copper River medicine man", and described Nicolai as "a tall strapping man, who would make a match for any good size white man”.
 
In exchange for the right to resume trade at Knik, Nicolai remained peaceful over the next year.
The Copper River Indians sent word that they were grateful that Stafeev was not angry with them because they valued being able to purchase tea, gun powder and tobacco at Knik. As a show of good faith, the Ahtna offered to pay “redemption money” for the murder and as a gesture of penance, they forced Afanasii to give up his ACC trading post keys. In yet another token of peace, the murderer went back to his camp and told everyone they should not argue with the ACC store managers, using his own experience as an example of what could happen to them if they did.

An test of this new civility came when the new Knik ACC agent, a man named McFord, bought a black fox pelt from two Ahtna trappers in the fall of 1886; he paid them $13. A few months later, the same 2 men returned with a second pelt but this time, McFord paid them $15 for it. As the trappers viewed it, McFord must have shorted them $2 on that first pelt and they wanted the money. When McFord refused, the trappers threatened to kill him (Stafeev suspected that Afanasii, again, had a hand in this tension). However, it was Nicolai (the man who killed Holt), who came to McFord's defense this time and sent word to the trappers, that he would kill anyone that harmed McFord.

Three ACC trading agents, Alec Ryan, George Shell and J.B. Ballow, wrote to Alaska Governor A.P. Swineford in Sitka and offered to apprehend Holt's killer and turn him over if the Governor would send an authority (almost 600 miles) to receive the prisoner at Knik, but Swineford never replied.

A scathing news article (Sitka 1886) titled “Our Crippled Judiciary”, condemned the authorities in Sitka for ignoring the Knik murder and reported that the Copper River Indians were bragging about the government being afraid of them. In turn, the Swineford's only response was that he “did not have time” to deal with the case.

Nine months after Holt’s murder, another ACC agent named J. B. Ballow was stationed at Knik, and by December of 1886, the Ahtna’s, emboldened by the lack of government action for Holt's death, were issuing death threats to the people of Knik in earnest; locals were afraid to live anywhere near Knik and temporarily moved to the safety of Susitna Station or Tyonek.
 
In 1887, a New York Times article reported that Governor Swineford accused the U.S. Government of protecting the ACC by allowing them a monopoly on the fur trade in Alaska. He said the "ACC, by the power of its great wealth, had driven away all competition and reduced the Native populations to a condition of helpless dependence, if not absolute slavery wherever the ACC was not supervised by government agents". He felt that an absence of healthy competition had allowed the ACC to become so powerful, that the Natives were forced to accept “beggarly prices for their peltry".

I believe this New York Times article exposes Governor Swineford’s true reason for not responding to George Holt’s murder; he was angry with the ACC and had no intention of coming to their aid.
 
In spite of constant verbal threats, the Copper River traders avoided Knik for the next three months. Ballow assumed they were trading with the “Three Brothers” or at Cape Martin, but in the spring of 1887, a group of Copper River people, accompanied by their Chief, returned to Knik to trade. They told Ballow that they had stayed away because the people of Nuchek told them Ballow was killing many men and would kill them too if they returned to Knik. Ballow assured them that he had no intentions of killing anyone so trade resumed. In 1887, the Knik Indians even built a church with hopes of converting the Copper River Ahtna while they were in Knik (that church was moved to "New Knik" [Eklutna] in 1897).

In the fall of 1890, George Shell, another new ACC agent for Knik arrived on the schooner Kodiak. Also on that schooner were two white men, Al Creason and C.Wise, who were scheduled to spend the winter at Knik with George Shell. It only took two weeks for Shell to encounter his first conflict with the Indian who killed George Holt. Shell wrote in his journal, "I may have to kill the Indian in self defense".

In January of 1891, word arrived that the Copper River people were on their way to Knik to kill everyone.
In self defense, villagers built a 25’ watchtower on top of the trading post and manned it 24 hours a day, hoping it would give them an advantage over any approaching attackers.

Word reached Knik in February of that year, that Nicolai and his followers had gathered six miles away at "Upper Kennick" and were planning an attack anyone at Knik Station. Alec Ryan, who had a store at Knik, closed his shop and left for Tyonek. George Shell, closed the Knik ACC trading post and left for the safety of Kenai. Keep in mind that ACC agents were totally without backup of any kind or legal recourse. The closest authorities were hundreds of miles away and a Revenue Cutter had not been seen in Cook Inlet in four years. With that in mind, it is no wonder that the remaining white men at Knik (Alec Ryan, Charles Miller and Al Creason), took it upon themselves to act as judge, jury and executioners on April 22, 1891 when they captured and hung Nicolai for killing George Holt and his subsequent threats to the people of Knik.
 
A
n Ahtna man named Chashga was in Knik the day of the execution (Chashga would later become the
father of Nickafor Alexan of Tyonek). Chashga told the story of Nicolai's execution to Dena’ina Elder Shem Pete and in 1985, Shem Pete repeated the story to Dena'ina historian James Kari. Mr. Kari was kind enough to share Pete's unpublished version with me in 2010.

Shem Pete could not remember the Ahtna name of the man who killed George Holt, but he did remember that his fathers name was
Benast’a Gga
. So, in Shem Pete’s retelling of Chashga’s account of the murder, he calls the shooter: “Son of Benast’a Gga” or “Little Benast’a Gga” which can get confusing.

Below you will find my abridged version of Shem Pete's story about the capture and execution of George Holt's murderer. I have not changed his story at all, except that I have used the murderers Orthodox name [Nicolai] in an effort to make the story easier to follow.


Below is my My Abridged Version of Chashga's Story about the
Capture and Execution of Nicolai (George Holt's Murderer) as He Told
It to Shem Pete. Tape recorded and transcribed by James Kari 1985.

By Coleen Mielke


The Copper River Indians came down to Knik to trade, among them was Benast'a Gga's son [Nicolai]. They were all complaining about the price of goods at the store. The storekeeper grabbed [Nicolai] from the back, kicked him in the behind and threw him out of the store; the Indians gathered their goods and left Knik.

At their camp on the  Chickaloon River, [Nicolai] told his father that he was going back to Knik. His father, Benast'a Gga, a big medicine man, assumed that his son was going back to Knik to see a woman, so he said OK.

[Nicolai] left Chickaloon and went directly to his friends house at Eklutna. He showed his friend a muzzle loader hand gun and told him he was going to kill the storekeeper at Knik with it. After a short conversation, his friend decided there was nothing he could to to deter [Nicolai], so he let him go.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR OF THIS WEB PAGE:
Shem Pete's story does not include the actual murder...
it jumps from [Nicolai] heading to Knik to kill George Holt
in 1885...to [Nicolai's] execution in 1891.



Shem Pete's story jumps ahead here (to 1891):

The next day, [Nicolai] went to Knik to visit a "woman that he loved". This woman had children, but no one in Knik would marry her because of her relationship with [Nicolai].

While he was there, three white men, wearing ankle length navy blue coats, with revolvers hidden in the pockets, went inside the woman's house and found [Nicolai] sitting, barefoot, at a table, drinking tea. The white men overpowered him and drug him out of the house and down a trail that led toward the Inlet. Along the way, they passed [Nicolai's] best friend, Chashga, who was taking a steam bath; the white men told Chashga to "have a good steam bath". He knew what they said because he was an interpreter and understood Russian and English. 


When the white men got to their house, they took [Nicolai] inside and someone threw them a rope from upstairs. They tied it around [Nicolai's] neck and legs so he couldn't move around, then they tied the rope to a flag pole outside. [Nicolai] was heard saying "Bashidil, take me up to heaven and help me" just before "they hoisted him up and choked his throat".

Chashga had one short leg and had to walk with a stick, so by the time he got dressed and reached his best friend (who was also his Uncle), it was too late; [Nicolai] was dead and the three white men had gone back inside their house. Chashga followed them in with intentions of shooting them, but once he got inside, he realized there were more people upstairs that he was not prepared to kill, so he decided against it.

The people of Knik were afraid that the Copper River clan would come back and burn down Knik when they heard about the hanging, so the three white men sent a man named Paul (the younger brother of Knik's Chief Nikolai) to talk to Benast'a Gga who was camped at Chickaloon. They armed Paul with two hand guns, hidden in his clothes, and gave him a new rifle before sending him off on foot to deliver the message to [Nicolai's] father.


Just outside of Benast'a Gga's Chickaloon camp, Paul hid the new rifle under some spruce boughs and entered the camp. Once inside, he nervously broke small branches as he spoke to [Nicolai's] father; he knew Benast'a Gga was a tough man. Paul told him that the white men had warned [Nicolai] not to come back to Knik many times; they gave him good advise but [Nicolai] kept returning, so they hung him.


Upon hearing this, the entire camp started to "cry and holler" in grief. Paul knew his life was in danger, but he respectfully waited "until the sun was setting in the down-river direction before leaving camp". As he walked away, he told [Nicolai's] younger sister "I'm going to go back now"; "yes," she said, "take care of yourself"; she thought the Copper River people might kill him.

Paul wore a red wool coat and when he lifted the tail of the coat, his gun handles stuck out of his pockets. "He began to run, stopping only to retrieve his rifle from the spruce boughs outside of Benast'a Gga's camp. "He ran as if he was flying and imagined hot pain in his back until he ran beyond the distance that Copper River bullets could travel."

Paul's older sister watched and waited for him to come back at the place they called "point extends" (Jim Kari says this is the overflow marsh at Knik); she was worried about him. She thought the Copper River people might have "killed him and thrown him in the water", but he "ran like a champion". It was a long distance from Chickaloon to Knik, so he didn't get back to Knik until early in the morning.

Fear of retribution, for hanging Benast'a Gga's son, consumed Knik for the next month. The white men in the village armed the Dena’ina, that stayed behind, with rifles. They also drilled holes in the walls of their buildings and hung muskrat skins over the holes, so they could watch for any approaching attackers if Benast'a Gga's people declared war on Knik.

When the Copper River people eventually came back to Knik to trade, the white men watched them very carefully and they were allowed to go back and forth into the store only in pairs.

End of Shem Pete's Story
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I've never found record of any retribution by Benast'a Gga's people for the death of [Nicolai].
According to the ACC records, George Holt’s body was exhumed from Knik in 1890 and was re-buried in the Old American Cemetery on Mill Bay Road in Kodiak. A large headstone is engraved (with the wrong date of death), it says “C. G. Holt Killed by Indians December 24, 1884 Age 48”.

Holt's estate was valued at $1,829 in cash when probate papers were filed in Sitka on July 24, 1892 by Major M. P. Berry. With no apparent heirs, the value of Holt’s estate was quickly consumed, by a variety of lawyers, over the following year.

George Holt grave in Kodiak, Alaska  

 
Photo taken by Sashinka & Diana Keplinger, Kodiak, Alaska




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WHO WAS AFANASII and WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM?
The Man Who Instigated Holt's Murder



I found record of at least two different Afanasii's living in the immediate Knik area the year after Holt's murder. The first one was mentioned in the ACC journal of J.B. Ballow who took over Holt's job nine months after the murder. Ballow said a man named Afanasii worked at a small trading post owned by _____ Bowen (6 miles from Knik); Ballow referred to him as "Bowen's Afanasii". Ballow also called his own interpreter at the Knik ACC store as "Interpreter Afanasii".   

To complicate things further, I found two MORE Afanasii's (of the right age and close proximity to Knik) on the 1900 U.S. Census; one of them was living at Hope(age 50), with a wife Mary (age 30), son William (age 18), adopted son Stephan (age 28) and an adopted son Pedro (age 19). Another Afanasii was mentioned in the Herning diaries as owning a sloop at Knik in 1904. I'm not sure if there were FOUR men named Afanassi in the area, or if the man in Hope and the man with the sloop, were the SAME men as mentioned in Ballow's 1886 journal.


The Shem Pete book says that Afanasii was the Russian name for Dusgeda Tukda who eventually became a qeshqa ("rich man" or Chief) of Knik village. Qeshqa's were responsible for the social and economic well being of the village. Besides settling disputes and allocating hunting and fishing destinations, the qeshqa was expected to maintain a reputation as a wealthy, influential leader who was generous with his own good fortune. If a qeshqa was miserly, or if he did not work for the betterment of the village, the village medicine man "broke him with bad luck" and all of the qeshqa's power would be lost.

THAT is exactly what happened to Afanasii, the man who instigated the murder of George Holt. Afanasii became a middle man between the commercial fur traders and the Native people who harvested the furs. His wealth was said to be so great that he had eight caches full of possessions, yet he shared little with his people, which angered the Dena'ina greatly, causing the village medicine man to wish Afanasii much bad luck. Over time, Afanasii lost most of his wealth, his power and the respect of his people. Stories about his final years, described him as a man so poor that he lived on what other people threw away and the villagers hated him.

In the end, Shem Pete said that Afanasii (Dusgeda Tukda) was captured about 2 miles from the mouth of the Little Susitna River and forced into a small bath house, which was on the east bank of the river. They nailed the door and window shut and left him there to die. In the spring, his body was removed from the bath house and buried at that spot.

If the above legend is accurate, how does that coincide with the following newspaper obituary?

CHIEF AFFANACY DIES AT KENAI  
Seward Weekly Gateway 7/24/1909
 
"Chief Affanacy, the hiyu big Chief of the Cook Inlet region, has been gathered to his fathers. His end, unlike his career, was peaceful.
 
Time was when Chief Affanacy was a power, a veritable absolute monarch among his people.  All paid tribute to him and he thus amassed considerable wealth.  He was a natural leader, firm and unyielding. His personality was strong and magnetic and when in his presence the other natives recognized in him, one who must be obeyed.
 
Affanacy once had his headquarters at Old Knik
. Years ago, when the region was chiefly inhabited by natives, an agent of the ACC at that place was murdered.  The crime was laid at the door of the native chief; not the actual commission, but the instigation. The law's delay and the lack of testimony permitted this foul crime to go unpunished. But the finger of suspicion pointed incessantly at Affanacy. 
 
The whites began to invade the land in a mad gold rush. With their advent, the chief's power began gradually to wane. When he died a few days ago, at Kenai, he was living in poverty, shorn of his power and a relic of former greatness."

End of Obituary



In conclusion...is Afanasii/Dusgeda Tukda the man who died on the Little
Susitna River or is he the man who died in Kenai?



There is much more research to be done, many records to glean and
many historical puzzle pieces yet to fit together.


coleen_mielke@hotmail.com





NOTE: Some maps (circa  1900) commonly (but incorrectly) referred to the present day Eklutna area as Old Knik. Chief Afanasii's headquarters was always near Knik Station on the west bank of the Knik Arm of Cook Inlet. It is well established that George Holt's murder took place at present day Knik (not the Eklutna side).

NOTE:
Since most records spelled the original Dena'ina names phonetically, you will find Afanasii spelled a variety of ways: Affanassia, Afinassi, Affanassa, Affinassi, Affinassia, etc. The correct Russian spelling is Afanasii (according to Andrei Znamenski).



RESEARCH  NOTES:

1. One of the men that hung [Nicolai] was Alec Ryan, who later became an ACC agent at Kenai. Records show that Ryan was a tyrant when it came to dealing with the Native population of Kenai. A petition, written by 23 Kenai Indians (with the help of their priest), was submitted to District Judge Warren Truitt in 1895. The Natives asked Judge Truitt to remove Ryan from the Kenai ACC because he tormented them, beat them, threatened them with guns, made alcohol in his store, drank constantly and broke into their houses and drug them out in the middle of the night.  They wrote, "neither cries of women or weeping children stopped this scoundrel."  Further evidence that Kenai needed help came from a report, written in 1895, by Father Vladimir Donskoi to the Alaska Ecclesiastical Consistory in Kodiak.  He said the 1895 population of Kenai was 1,022 and yet the government did not have a single official or representative in Kenai.  In addition, he said the Kodiak Justice of the Peace paid no attention to complaints about the men named Ryan, Parmer (Palmer) and Krisson (Creason) who were causing disorder at the Kenai church.


2. As for actual names of the three white men than hung [Nicolai] for the murder of George Holt:
Alec Ryan
, Charles Miller, Al Creason; I found their names on two different documents. The names Alec Ryan and Al Creason were found in part two of the previously mentioned 1895 petition. In part the petition read: "...five years ago, he (Alec Ryan) together with Knik storekeeper Krisson, illegally hanged an Orthodox Copper River Indian at Knik".


The third man, Charles Miller, was mentioned in a certificate issued by Justice of the Peace James Wilson of Kenai, which said: "I, Justice of the Peace, appointed by American Government for the enforcement of law and order, here, issue this paper to the Russian Orthodox Church to certify that Mr. A. K. Ryan and Mr. Charles Miller, acted in compliance with the rules of the American Government when they  hanged a Copper River savage in Knik Village on April 22, 1891."


3. Vladimir Vasilii Stafeev, the man who investigated the George Holt murder, had been an agent for the Russian Commercial Company, a small trading post inside of the Russian fort at St. Nicholas Redoubt (Kenai), since 1864.  A year after Alaska was purchased in 1867, the Russian Commercial Company became the ACC and Stafeev continued working for them as a trading post agent; he eventually transferred to Tyonek. His personal journals (translated from Russian by Dr. Andrei Znamenski) were used extensively in this report.



Sources - Endnotes

  The Alaskan, "Alaska History", October 2, 1897

  Alaska Commercial Company, Knik Station Log Book, 1883-1903. Alaska Polar Regions Collections, Elmer Rasmuson Library,     University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Hereafter referred to as ACC Knik Log Books.  

 Overland Monthly and Out West  W.R. Quinan "The Discovery of the Yukon Gold Fields", October
  1897

  The Alaskan, "Alaska History", October 2, 1897
  The Alaskan, "From Kodiak's Special Correspondent, July 17, 1886

  Henry T. Allen, Report of an Expedition to the Copper, Tanana and Koyukuk Rivers in the Territory
  of Alaska in the year 1885", Washington: GPO, 1887)

 Stafeev Papers, translated by Andrei Znamenski 2007, hereafter called Stafeev Papers

 Andrei Znamenski correspondence to Coleen Mielke, September 29, 2008

 Stafeev Papers, December 31, 1885

 Stafeev Papers, January 4, 1886

 Alaska Commercial Company, Knik Station Log Book, 1883-1903

 Stafeev Papers, December 29, 1885

 Andrei Znamenski,  "Through Orthodox Eyes, Russian Missionary Narratives of Travels to the
 Dena'ina and Ahtna"
, 1850's-1930's"

 Unpublished Shem Pete interview done by James Kari June 16, 1985

 Stafeev Papers, December 26, 1885

 Stafeev Papers, January 5, 1886

 Stafeev Papers, December 29, 1885

 Stafeev Papers, January 4, 1886

 Stafeev Papers, January 13, 1886

 Stafeev Papers, July 12, 1886

 Stafeev Papers, January 13, 1886

 Stafeev Papers, January 25, 1886

 Fairbanks Daily News Miner, January 23, 1917

 ACC Knik Log Books, March 19, 1887

 Andrei Znamenski, "Through Orthodox Eyes"

 Stafeev Papers, February 6, 1887

 The Alaskan, "The Knik Murder", November 6, 1886

 Andrei Znamenski, "Through Orthodox Eyes"

 ACC Knik Log Books, December 5, 1886

 ACC Knik Log Books, February 9, 1887

 ACC Knik Log Books, February 17, 1887

 ACC Knik Log Books, February 13, 1887

 ACC Knik Log Books, March 17,1887

 ACC Knik Log Books, 12/21/1890

 The Alaskan, "Our Crippled Judiciary", November 6, 1886

 ACC Knik Log Books, February 27, 1891

 Fairbanks Daily News Miner, January 23, 1917

 ACC Knik Log Books, March 13, 1891

 ACC Knik Log Books, March 24, 1891

 ACC Knik Log Books, April 7, 1891

 The Alaskan, "From Kodiak's Special Correspondent", July 17, 1886

 Unpublished Shem Pete interview done by James Kari, June 16, 1985

 "Shem Pete's Alaska", by James Kari and James Fall

 Seward Weekly Gateway, July 24, 1909

 ACC Knik Log Books, December 7, 1886

 Alaska State Library Archives, Probate Files, Sitka




 




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