John D. Leedy
J. D. LEEDY was the first man to
land in Nome from the steamer Garonne in the spring of
1899, and the steamer Garonne was
the first vessel to arrive at Nome from
from the states. Mr. Leedy's description of the handful of men found in
the new camp is both interesting and
instructive. At this time Nome had
the atmosphere of an unusual environment. The inhabitants had lived
through the long winter without a suitable or adequate food supply, and there
were a few minor cases of scurvy.
Among the inhabitants who had spent
the winter in Nome was a brother of
Mr. Leedy. When the subject of this
sketch swung over the rail of the Garonne and descended by a rope to 3
home-made dory he carried with him
two valises â€” one filled with fresh
fruits and other with fresh vegetables.
He describes the gratification of the
boatman when he was presented with
an onion, and how he ate it like he was eating an apple. The snow had not entirely left the ground, and the only log cabin on the present site of Nome was the
one occupied by G. W. Price, the deputy recorder of the district. A few tents in
which two or three lines of business were conducted, completed the ensemble of the
Mr. Leedy had acquired considerable experience as a miner in the Black Hills
and in British Columbia, and he immediately devoted himself to the work of acquiring
mining property by lease or appropriation. During this year and the years that fol-
lowed he prospected and mined with varying success. He staked the first quartz claim
ever staked on the peninsula. This quartz, property is at the head of Nome Gulch and
Mr. Leedy believes that it contains the possibilities of a mine. He was employed by
the Alaska Banking and Safe Deposit Company as an expert to investigate properties
offered as collateral for loans. Mr. Leedy has the record of never having advised a
loan by which the company lost a dollar.
Mr. Leedy worked faithfully and waited patiently, but his opportunity did not
come until the season of 1 904. He and H. T. Harding had often canvassed the
proposition of a ditch to supply water to the valuable mining claims lying on the
southerly slope of Anvil Mountain. These numerous talks finally crystallized in the initial
work of the Seward Ditch, which diverts water from Nome River near Dorothy Creek,
and will deliver water for use on Dexter Hill under a pressure of 100 inches. With
the co-operation of Dr. Cabell Whitehead and Henry Bratnober this ditch project was
amply financed during the winter of 1904-'05. and with the arrival of the first fleet
of steamers in the spring of 1905 the work of perfecting this important enterprise was
J. D. Leedy was born in Fredericktown, Knox County, Ohio, February 4, 1865.
His father was a lumber manufacturer, who moved to Trenton, Missouri, when the
son was an infant. When he was eleven years old J. D. Leedy went to the Black
Hills. In addition to a public school education he has been a student in the State
School of Mines in Rapid City, S. D. He began the work of mining at an early age,
striking his first drill when he was fourteen years old. He left the Black Hills country
in 1 889 and went to Seattle, and ever since that date he has mined in British Columbia,
Washington and Alaska.
Mr. Leedy married Nellie G. Norton in Nome September 16, 1899. His education has been practical. He has learned by work, and his judgment of mines and
mining is accurate and reliable. He is a man of big brain capacity and the possessor
of that most excellent quality and estimable trait of human character -- honesty.
Source: Nome and Seward Peninsula by R. S. Harrison. Seattle:
The Metropolitan Press, 1905.