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James B. Brewster

J. B. BREWSTER is the auditor of the Wild Goose Mining and Trading Company, and is well and favorably known in commercial and business circles in the Northland. He was born in Dayton, Ohio, April 10, 1859, coming from old Puritan stock. While Mr. Brewster may entertain Puritanical ideas of right and wrong and honesty, there is nothing in his demeanor and the social phase of his character to indicate his Puritan origin. He is a man who sees the humorous side of life, and would rather laugh over a good story than lecture a small boy for fishing on Sunday.

He came to Nome on the Charles D. Lane in the spring of 1900. The conditions of the camp were all strange to him. The incidents of those early days were out of the usual routine of happenings that come to men in walks of life in old communities. After the arrival of the steamer, and while freight was being discharged and piled from a dozen steamers in a heterogeneous mass on the beach, one of the passengers on the Lane lost a trunk. Failing to get any trace of it or satisfaction from the men in charge on shore, he went out to the steamer and interviewed Mr. Brewster, who urbanely and suavely said to him: "Judge Kennedy, I will guarantee to get your trunk before dark." The Judge thanked him and left perfectly satisfied, not realizing that it wouldn't get dark for six weeks. Mr. Brewster kept his word. He found the trunk before darkness spread its sable wings over the land.

After the half million dollars worth of freight was discharged from the Lane, he went ashore, and was directed by an official of the company to call upon John Griffin who had been in charge of one of the company's camps, and from whom he could obtain information relative to the company and its affairs which would be valuable to him. He found Mr. Griffin, and after introducing himself, in answer to an inquiry Mr. Griffin told him that he had just been in charge of a camp of small-pox patients. The interview terminated immediately.

Mr. Brewster is both laconic and witty. During the great fight with Alexander McKenzie who was appointed by the court as receiver for some of the claims of the Wild Goose Mining Company, McKenzie shipped 2,000 feet of lumber over the Wild Goose Company's railroad to the Wild Goose Company's mine which he was operating. The freight rate for this hauling was at this time six cents the foot, and when Receiver McKenzie called at the office of the railroad company to pay the freight he was wrathful and virtuously (?) indignant over the bill. While he was storming around in the office Mr. Brewster entered, and the clerk directed him to Mr. Brewster as the auditor of the company and the man to apply to if he wanted a rebate. Turning to Mr. Brewster McKenzie said:

"Why do you allow your men to charge such outrageous prices?" Mr. Brewster calmly replied, "If you don't like those prices I suggest that you ship by the other road." The irony of this is apparent when it is known that there was not another railroad within 3,000 miles of this little line.

Mr. Brewster is married. Mrs. Brewster formerly was Miss Eleanor Lacy, daughter of Congressman Lacy. They have one child, Doris, a bright, sweet little girl thirteen years old.  

Source: Nome and Seward Peninsula by R. S. Harrison. Seattle: The Metropolitan Press, 1905.




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