[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]. William H. Safford, compiler, photographer George W. Hicks.
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]
[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]

[Yukon Gold Rush photo and manuscript archive formed by a jeweler working in Dawson City.]

Dawson City and elsewhere, Yukon Territory; Vancouver, B.C., 1898–1899. 75 original photographs, including 41 full stereoviews and a few half stereoviews. Printing-out paper, silver prints, and 4 cyanotypes, many numbered and/or captioned in pencil on verso, some with printed captions; 4 manuscript letters, 16 pp. (one letter lacking first page), 3 pp. typescript journal with ms. corrections, 1 receipt, 5 original envelopes.

An evocative archive of photographs and related manuscript and typescript material documenting the operations of a jeweler in Dawson and the broader Yukon Gold Rush scene.

This archive was compiled by Newburyport, Mass. watchmaker William H. Safford who set out for the Klondike with his brother Edward and friends in Feb. 1898—crossing Canada via railroad and taking a steamer north from Vancouver to Skagway. Upon reaching Dawson, William worked as a watchmaker at Gorham Jewelers while Edward mined for gold and also likely engaged in jewelry- and watch-making. The brothers stayed in Dawson for a little less than two years, returning home after failing to strike it rich. The Saffords were accompanied to the Yukon by amateur photographer George W. Hicks, and most of the photographs included here appear to be his work. While he worked at mining, Hicks also sold his photographs on the side. He is one of five known amateur photographers of the Gold Rush who sold photographs to subsidize their income. Hicks left Dawson in 1899.

A small group of images included here focus on the jewelry making scene. One shot shows numerous men standing in front of the Gorham shop (located adjacent to a saloon), its sign reading: “W.H. Gorham Manufacturing Jeweler, Watchmaker Klondike. Souvenirs a Specialty.” There are two interior shots of Gorham’s shop, one showing the proprietor and customers standing at the counter, and the other picturing four men at a workbench, one of whom is identified on the verso as Will Safford. Another image pictures a shack with a sign reading “Waltham,” possibly bearing some connection to the Waltham Watch Co., for which Ed Safford is known to have worked for a period. Also pictured here is Soggs Jewelry Store on Front St. in Dawson, whose sign reads: “Nelson A. Soggs Jeweler & Optician Goods bought & sold.” Soggs was a New York jeweler who arrived in the Yukon in 1897. He established a Jewelry and Optical store in Dawson City, operating with some success there for five years. Two dramatic events marred his time in Dawson. In 1900 at Gold Run Creek, Soggs shot and seriously wounded his mine manager James W. Rogers, with whom he had a history of quarreling, and was jailed briefly in British Columbia. Soggs also lost his wife, who died from pneumonia in her first winter in Dawson in 1901, following a long journey from Binghamton, New York to join him.

Other subjects pictured here include Miles Canyon; “Dawson beach”; Dawson City; Porcupine Hill; “Dawson down river,” Lake Bennett (where canoes are being built); a scene “below Whitehorse Rapids”; Five Finger Rapids; Skagway Canyon; “Dawson and up the Yukon”; a totem pole in Ketchikan; “The King Dome”; “The Danube” in Vancouver, and so forth. One particularly vivid shot documents the Fourth of July celebration held in Dawson where hundreds are gathered and American flags are flying high. Many images show parties traveling and engaged in various activities, including scenes captioned “Moving camp,” “Starting for Dawson” (via two vessels, Waltham and Oma); “Roughing it”; “On the trail”; “Mushing wood”; “Across Summit Lake,” etc. Several images capture hundreds of souls on the crowded trail en route to Dawson. One image—captioned “Double funeral of Harry Davis and Maud Roselle”—shows a long funeral procession for the young actress and her lover (Davis shot and killed Roselle when she threatened to break up with him, then turned the gun on himself). A range of gold mining scenes are captioned, “Panning in miner’s cabin”; “California boys fifty feet underground”; “Hard at it, 50 ft. underground”; “Tunnel entrance Gold Hill”; and so forth. Other subjects pictured include steamboats, construction scenes, makeshift campsites; Avery’s Store (a tent heavily stocked with “Lion Coffee”); elevated landscape views; and so on. A few images of Vancouver subjects are included as well.

All four of Safford’s letters are written to his wife in Newburyport and comment at some length on his experiences. Also included here is 3 pp. typescript account of Safford’s journey (accompanied by his brother, George Hicks and F. E. Atkinson) from Vancouver to White Pass, from 10 March to 1 April 1898, describing their departure via steamer from Vancouver; meeting “a mason from New Zealand going north”; the town of Wrangel and its totem poles; purchases they make along the way; the ascent to White Pass, and more.

Representative passages of William Safford’s letters and typescript journal

[Returns to Dawson; ca. ‘99] “It is quite different getting into the country now from what it was when we came in. Now there is a railway from Skagway to Bennet [Lake] then steamers across the lakes … and more steamers from the rapids to Dawson … the trip has been made from Seattle in 9 days … The telegraph is being put up. And we are catching up with the times. We have electric lights.”

[Dawson; 6 Apr. ‘99; addressed to his wife] “We had something substantial in the way of dinner. Ed acting as cook, and I a patient waiter. We had sausage (canned) and potatoes, pickles, bread & butter & blackberry jam, and rice with dried black berries, coffee. Talk about living in the Yukon what is the matter with that?…Hicks only worked about three days at his new job. Has now put up a tent on Gold Hill and is going to take pictures. I enclose one of our ‘shack’ that he took. He got twenty dollars out of that plate. The first two and the fourth on the left under the word Saloon are firemen who were visiting Doc.[?] at the time. The thirt is Captain Doc., next with the short fur coat is the ‘Kid’ the young lady is the telephone operator who was coming into the store just as we were ready. Mr. Gorham generally known around here as ‘Billy’ … you will know me by my grey beard (which I took off Easter Sunday) … I also send a small picture of a ‘Yukon minor.’ I send mother a letter by this mail with a picture of Ed at his bench.”

[Dawson; ca. ‘99] “It is quite different getting into the country now from what it was when we came in. Now there is a railway from Skagway to Bennet [Lake] then steamers across the lakes … and more steamers from the rapids to Dawson … the trip has been made in from Seattle in 9 days … The telegraph is being put up. And we are catching up with the times. We have electric lights … but when I want to read I go to bed, I have a candle stick … at the head of my bunk. Are you going to let me read in bed after I get home? You know I will have a lot to read up.”

“I have kept a list of the different steamers that have been here this year and it now [?] up 46, and it is estimated that 8,000 people have gone out.”

[Typescript] 14, 15, 16 March ‘98 “This would be a hunters paradise. At Wrangel yesterday we saw 13 deer and 3 seals—result of a 3 day trip for one man and this morning we have seen thousands of ducks.” “Landed at Skagway about 9 O’clock. The houses on the lower side are all on stilts. The wharf is all of a half mile long. Where there was only one house in Skagway last August, now the population is 6,000 to 8,000. All wooden buildings put up quick and cheap.” “Today we start on the trail. We tent tonight about 5 miles from Skagway. That is as far as we can have our stuff hauled. We have for our supper tonight.”

[Typescript] 29 March ‘98 “Today we made a trip to the summit through the White Pass and it is rightly named white pass. The snow is from 20 to 30 ft deep and the mountains and roads are all covered with snow. Oh what a climb—didn’t my legs ache. The snow blowing through the pass near the top was as bad as a snow storm. And on the summit was a mist that froze to our mittens, whiskers, etc.”

REFERENCES: Gates, Michael, Book Reveals Heartbreak in Dawson City (2015) at yukon-news.com; Rhodes, Betty Matteson. Heartbreak at Dawson City: Historical Novel Based on the Life of Nelson A. Soggs (Betmatrho Publications: 2014); George Hicks and The Talented Amateurs at virtualmuseum.ca; Safford Jewelers at clipperheritagetrail.com

CONDITION: Photos generally good, some faded, a few photos fragmentary or with tears and losses to edges, typescript very good, most letters with separation along folds.

Item #5870

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