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Captain D. B. Libby

CAPTAIN D. B. LIBBY first went to Alaska in 1 866 and had charge of a part of the construction work of the Western Union Telegraph Company, which at that time was attempting to erect a telegraph line across Canada and Alaska to connect with a Siberian line by a cable across Bering Strait. Some of the old telegraph poles that were erected in 1866 and 1867 may still be seen in Seward Peninsula. Captain Libby discovered gold on Ophir Creek in 1866, and always cherished a desire to go back to this country, but did not have an opportunity for its gratification until the discovery of gold in the Klondike country created greater interest than had hitherto been manifested in the Northland. He is a native of Maine, and was born February 3, 1844. He served as a soldier in the Union Army, and after the war went to Pike's Peak. While in Alaska in the employ of the Western Union Telegraph Company he had charge of a division of the line construction. He spent the winter in 1866 and 1867 in a camp on Grantley Harbor named Libbysville. After he returned from Alaska he was ticket agent for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, Fourth and Townsend Streets, San Francisco, for fifteen years. Failing health compelled him to resign this position, and he went to Mendocino County, California, where he fully recovered. His second journey to the Northland was made in 1897. He left San Francisco August 18, sailing on the steamer North Fork. He was accompanied by his brother-in-law, Louis Melsing, and by Harry L. Blake and A. P. Mordaunt. He spent two winters in the Fish River country. At the present time he is at the head of a prospecting expedition in the unknown and unexplored country of the Kuskokwim Valley.

Miss Louise Melsing, of San Francisco, and Captain Libby were married in 1882. They have two children, Daniel B., Jr., and Adeline E. The son is now a young man of eighteen years and an assayer. When he was fourteen years old he accompanied his father on a trip to Alaska.

Captain Libby is a prominent figure in the history of Northwestern Alaska. He has trodden many miles of the "toe-twisting tundra," and his work has been distinctively of the kind that falls to the lot of the pioneer explorer and prospector. The region he is now investigating is so far away from the direct and usual methods of communication that possibly a month or more would be required for him to send a message to the nearest post-office or telegraph station. It is to men of this type that future generations will be indebted for a better knowledge of Alaska than we possess today.

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




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