HENRY OELBAUM was born near Hamburg,
Germany, in 1860. At the age of fourteen
he went to America and soon found his way
to Chicago, where he conducted a decorating enterprise for twelve years. During that short period Mr.
Oelbaum met with more than ordinary success as an
expert decorator. He undoubtedly would have remained in that city if the Klondike excitement of 1897
had not aroused in him a desire to cast his lot with
the gold hunters.
On the first day of December, 1897, he left Chicago for the Klondike, intending to make the journey
overland, but finding it almost impossible under existing circumstances he and his party of eight took
passage in a small sailing vessel. The little boat was
loaded with provisions, outfits. 200 dogs, twelve horses
and 120 passengers. The weather was bad and she
was sixteen days out from Vancouver to Skagway,
landing January, 1898. Mr. Oelbaum met with the
usual hardships encountered by early prospectors of that year who undertook the journey
to Dawson over the Chilkoot. His party broke up before leaving Skagway, and he
and his partner, P. Freitag, determined to make the journey alone.
The first day out from Skagway Mr. Freitag broke his leg, and that necessitated
Mr. Oelbaum returning to Skagway, where he left his friend to receive medical aid.
Mr! Oelbaum put to work and sledged the outfits over the pass to Bennett and then
returned for his partner, who by this time was able to make the journey. Mr. Oelbaum
had built a boat out of boards he had sawed, large enough to carry the outfits and party
At Stewart River Mr. Oelbaum prospected for gold without success, and returned to Skagway overland. In the spring of 1899, he became influenced by Missionary Hultberg, who advised him to go to Nome. He arrived on the Roanoke,
and pitched his tent on the tundra on the place where the city hall now stands.
Mr. Oelbaum did not work on the beach, but began looking over the country,
and to him belongs the credit of gold discovery on Solomon River. He has opened
up two valuable claims on Solomon River, Nos. 9 and 14. and is also interested on
Little Creek, Nome District. Mr. Oelbaum is a sincere, earnest man. of uncompromising honesty.
Source: Nome and Seward Peninsula by R. S. Harrison. Seattle:
The Metropolitan Press, 1905.