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David Gilchrist

DAVID GILCHRIST The story of the life of David Gilchrist would make a book of interesting frontier experiences, re- plete with tales of adventure, privations and hardships. He is a native of Canada, but the son of an American citizen, and was born in County Grey, January 7, 1870. When thirteen years old he worked in a logging camp, and took his place among men in a thirty-five-mile drive of logs on the river. He went to Winnipeg, and hauled wood with cattle; was there during the stirring days of the Real Rebellion. He drove stage, and finally went west with a carload of horses, Vancouver being the destination. In this part of the country he worked in logging camps, cut shingle bolts and farmed.

In the spring of 1892 he started from Seattle to Alaska, and arrived in Juneau July 3. Since that date he has been an Alaskan. He worked at teaming for the Nowell Gold Mining Company, and then bought a team and began a freighting business. May 7, 1896, he left Juneau with three white men and seven Indians for Lake Tarkena, 375 miles distant over the Dalton Trail. The object of this trip was to build rafts and prepare for the shipment of a herd of cattle to St. Michael. Returning from this trip, he was left by the Indian guides without food far out on the trail. There was war between the Juneau and Stickeen Indians, and the natives who were with him said they thought they heard their enemies one night, so they quietly decamped without awakening the white men. But Mr. Gilchrist got back to Juneau all right, and assisted in driving thirty-seven head of cattle to Lake Tarkena. The expedition continued its journey from Lake Tarkena on rafts. The rafts were wrecked in the rapids of Tarkena River, and the party lost all their personal effects, but continued with the stock overland to Fort Selkirk. Again rafts were constructed, the cattle were killed and the meat was put aboard, and the expedition started down the Yukon. They arrived at Dawson Nov. 7, just at the beginning of the freeze-up, having been floating eight days through ice. Dawson was then a new camp, and a ready market was found for the meat, which was sold at fifty cents a pound. He mined a little in Dawson that winter, and early the next spring made the trip overland to Dyea without tent or stove. In Dyea he arranged to pilot a party of prospectors into the Klondike country. The hardships endured on this trip are memorable, and the experiences of other trips prove that man can stand a lot of suffering from lack of food and weariness and pull through all right.

Mr. Gilchrist came to Nome in the spring of 1900, and landed on the beach with only $2.50, the sum total of his worldly goods. He went to work, bought a team as soon as he had enough money, engaged in the freighting business, which prospered, and in the spring of 1 904 he was elected to the office of city councilman.

February 22, 1902, he married Miss Nettie Widness. They have one child, a daughter. Mr. Gilchrist is a hustler, the kind of a man that could land in any community without a cent, and immediately find means of a livelihood.  


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




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