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Fred E. Daggett

F. E. DAGGETT is a pioneer hotel man of Nome, and although his hotel has been twice destroyed by fire he has thrice built it, and with pluck and persistence that deserves a better fate is still engaged in the business. He conducts the leading hotel of Nome, which in furnishing and equipment is equal to many first class hotels in far more pretentious cities.

He was born in Hammond, Wisconsin, August 23, 1864. He left home when he was fourteen years old and worked his way west. At Spokane, Washington, he was employed for two years at the Windsor Hotel. He was subsequently connected with hotels in Portland, San Francisco and Northern California. He was employed in the Southern Pacific Commissary Department for four years, and was also connected with the commissary department of the California Navigation and Improvement Company. In 1898, he went to St. Michael, Alaska, with the Alaska Exploration Company, Captain Hibbard, manager. He resided in St. Michael until the spring of 1900, filling the position of post steward besides having charge of the commissary department for the company. Going to Nome in 1899, he saw an opening for a hotel. He purchased a lot and went "outside" to obtain the necessary money for the construction of the building. He and A. J. Johnson built the first hotel in Nome. They chartered a vessel to take to Nome the material and equipment for the hotel, the cost of which was $35,000. Arriving in Nome they discovered that the lot upon which the building was to be erected had been jumped and sold many times. Rather than seek to recover it by litigation another lot was purchased, which is the site where the hotel now stands.

Johnson sold his interest to J. B. Harris, and the size of the house was increased during the following winter so that it had sixty furnished rooms. At 1 :30 P. M. May 25, the day the last carpet was laid, a fire broke out, and by 3 o'clock the hotel property was entirely destroyed, entailing a loss of $40,000. With a capital of $8,000 they started to rebuild, and two weeks later the new building was open for the reception of guests. The bar receipts on the opening night were $2,000. The new house cost $40,000 and was plastered with a $16,000 mortgage, drawing a monthly interest of two percent. During this summer season a hall costing $10,000, making a total investment of $50,000, was added to the building.

July 5, 1904, all the indebtedness had been paid except $2,000. At 5 o'clock in the morning of this day another fire destroyed the Golden Gate Hotel, and what was worse than the destruction of the property, destroyed three lives. This fire left Mr. Daggett with but $70 in cash and without a change of clothing. Discouraged, but not downed, he planned to build again, and by the assistance of the public-spirited citizens of Nome he has erected a third building which with its furnishings has cost $43,000. If he does not have another visitation from the fire fiend, and if Nome prospers as it should, and as everyone who is familiar with the resources of the camp believes it will, Mr. Daggett will relieve himself of the burden of this debt and win out in an uneven fight against the worst luck that has befallen anybody in the Nome country.


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




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