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Major William Newton Monroe

There is not a man in the Nome country who is better known or more highly esteemed than Major Monroe. He came to Nome to supervise the construction of the Wild Goose Railroad, and is the man who built the first railroad in Northwestern Alaska. After its construction he acted as superintendent of the line, and subsequently when the road was acquired by the Nome-Arctic corporation and its name changed, he was selected as manager and placed in full charge of the road.

Major Monroe is a native of Indiana, and was born June 4, 1841. He is of Southern lineage, his parents having emigrated from Kentucky to the Hoosier state. At the age of eighteen he enlisted as a soldier in the First Iowa Cavalry. For meritorious service he was promoted to first lieutenant of the Seventh Iowa Cavalry. He served his country as a soldier during a period of four years and a half, and was in a major in a number of engagements in the Civil War, notable among them the battles of Perry Grove, Arkansas, and Springfield, Missouri. During the latter part of his service in the army he was transferred to the Western Department, and for two years fought Indians on the frontier. He was in Wyoming during the serious trouble with the Sioux.

Major Monroe was accredited with being the best drilled cavalry officer in the Department of the Platte, and has a certificate from General McCane, the commander, for his proficiency as a horseman and a swordsman. He was mustered out of service as Brevet Major, and began the work of civil life as a railroad contractor and superintendent of construction. He helped to build the Union Pacific, and in 1872 went to California, and for many years was connected with the construction department of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. In 1884 he established the town of Monrovia in Southern California, and lived there until the spring of 1 900, being engaged in the real estate business. In 1900 he came to Nome with Charles D. Lane and con- structed the most northerly railroad in North America.

Major Monroe was married in Omaha, December 25, 1864. Mrs. Monroe was formerly Miss Mary J. Hall. The issue of this marriage is four children, Milton S., George O., Myrtle M. and Mabel H. The elder daughter is now the wife of Bruce C. Bailey, and the younger daughter is the wife of Bruce T. Dyer.

When Major Monroe was superintendent of construction on the Southern Pacific lines of the Southwest he was known among the employes by the name of "Red-Cloud." At that time his hair, which is now beginning to show the frost of many winters, was red, and to recall a familiar story, he rode a white horse. Then as now, he possessed an inexhaustible fund of good humor. He has the happy faculty of seeing the silver lining of the cloud, and he can fence a thrust of anger with a joke as dexterously as he could fence with a cavalry sword when he was an officer in the Department of the Platte. He owns a big heart; and with the aggressiveness and industry that are necessary pre-requisites for business enterprise, he has a soul that responds to every sentiment.

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




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