Albert J. Cody
Success is the result of ability, aptitude and work. Failure, when it is not due to
indolence, most often comes from inaptitude. Men try to do something for which they
are not qualified either by nature or education and training, and they fail. Square
pegs do not fit in round holes. Success waits on genius, but a musical genius might
waste his life behind the plow, in the factory or the counting room. The Maker of man
in His omniscience has fitted some for one kind of work, and equipped others for another
kind of work, so that by natural selection and the exercise of our dominant faculties we
should be doing that which we are best qualified to do. A. J. Cody was made to
order for a detective and an executive officer of the law. Possessing great physical
strength, although a man of not extraordinary size, agile and alert, with a mind quick
of perception and an intuitive grasp of human motive, devoid of fear, yet cautious, and
having withal a keen analytical mind, Mr. Cody has the traits of character that Conan
Doyle has given to the hero of his great detective stories.
Mr. Cody is a native of Auburn, Oregon, and was forty-two years old November 10,
1904. He is a member of an old English family that came to America about 200
years ago. His father was a pioneer of California who emigrated from Indiana in 1849.
A. J. Cody was educated in the public schools of Oregon, and began the serious work
of life riding the range on a cattle ranch in Big Lake County, Oregon. At a later period
he was engaged in the fish cannery business on Columbia River. From 1883 to 1889
he was in the hotel business in Portland. In all of these lines of business he achieved
ordinary success, but it was not until he became an officer of Multnomah County, by
appointment as deputy sheriff, that he found a vocation in which he excelled, and in
which progress and promotion followed in the natural order of events. Subsequently
he was appointed to a position on the police and detective force of Portland, Oregon.
In 1896 when the patrol wagon was called out almost every hour of the day to what
was known as the North End, Mr. Cody was assigned at the request of Mayor Pennoyer
to duty in this tough part of the city. He remained on duty in this part of the city
until June, 1 898, and did his work so well that for three days covering the first Fourth of
July after his assignment there was not a single call for the patrol wagon. He told
the tough element that if there was any fighting to be done he would take a hand in it;
and a few illustrations of what he could do in this line awakened a wholesome respect
for him, which deterred the bad men from violating the law. During his connection with
the police department of Portland he did a lot of clever detective work, embracing
cases covering a wide range of crimes, from the discovery of stolen goods and arrest of
the thieves to the capture of desperadoes who had sent word that they would never be
In 1898 Mr. Cody was appointed deputy collector of customs for Alaska. He
came to St. Michael and ascended the Yukon to the boundary line, establishing customs
houses at Rampart, Fort Yukon and Eagle. He resigned this position the following
year and came to Nome, engaging in mining. In the fall of 1 900 he was appointed to
the position of deputy marshal by U. S. Marshal Vawter. Mr. Cody is the man who
broke up the worst gang of malefactors that ever infested Nome. Sixty men of criminal
instincts had formed a compact to swear alibis and thereby keep each other out of the
penitentiary for their misdeeds. Judge Noyes, Marshal Vawter, District Attorney
Wood and U. S. Commissioner Stevens had a joint interview with Mr. Cody, and
requested him to break up the ring. He agreed to undertake the work upon the condition that warrants should be issued at his request and the arrested men confined in jail
without the privilege of any one visiting them, and that there should be no writs of
habeas corpus. By pursuing this method an opportunity was given to obtain testimony,
and fourteen convicts were deported to McNeil's Island the following spring. The gang
was effectually broken up, and since then Nome has been comparatively free from the
depredations of criminals.
Being a field deputy in the office of the U. S. Marshal Mr. Cody had the privilege of conducting a detective agency, and was employed by all the big companies to
protect their interests. He resigned when Marshal Vawter went out of office, and
devoted his time to the work of his detective bureau and to his mining interests. In
1903 Marshal Richards tendered him the position of office deputy, which he accepted,
and filled until the close of navigation, 1904, when he resigned to return to the states,
the main object of his going being to give his son a collegiate education.
Mr. Cody owns extensive and valuable mining interests in the Nome District. He
owns all of Extra Dry Creek, comprising fourteen claims, and owns property on Anvil
Creek. He and Miss Alice V. Campbell were married in Portland, Oregon, in June,
1884. They have one son, Albert R., a bright young man twenty years old. Mr.
Cody has had an eventful career, filled with thrilling experiences, but there is another
phase of his character of which the world knows less than it does of his public career.
He is an affectionate and devoted husband and father, a loyal friend, and he has a soul
that feels keenly and suffers from the sorrow and misery of the world with which he is
inevitably brought in contact.
Source: Nome and Seward Peninsula by R. S.
Harrison. Seattle: The Metropolitan Press, 1905.