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Ladowich Latham Sawyer

L. L. SAWYER is one of the best known and most highly esteemed citizens of Nome. During the past two years he has filled a position on the school board, being elected thereto by a large majority, and selected by the board to perform the duties of secretary of that body. He is a Connecticut Yankee and the son of Jeremiah Nathaniel Sawyer and Emeline Kelly. His father's ancestry is English and his mother's Irish. He was born October 27, 1832, in Mystic, Connecticut. He is the third son of a family of seven children, five boys and two girls. His ancestors were among the Pilgrim Fathers. They were seamen and his father was a captain and owner of vessels. His elder brother was a lieutenant in the United States Navy during the Rebellion, and subsequently was United States Consul at Trinidad, W. I. Jeremiah N., the second son, was a sea captain and one of the owners at Galveston, Texas, of the Charles Mallory Line of Steamers between New York and Galveston. He was agent of the company.

In the period of Mr. Sawyer's boyhood there were not the opportunities for acquiring an education that exist today. Mr. Sawyer's alma mater was a cross-road's country school in Mystic, Connecticut. At the age of sixteen he was left an orphan and thrown upon his own resources. Following the hereditary instinct he went to sea as a sailor. In 1849 he shipped before the mast and went around the Horn to San Francisco, California, and resided in this state a number of years. He and Julia E. Price were married in California in 1857. The issue was a son and a daughter, both deceased. Mrs. Sawyer, who has been his inseparable companion for near half a century, is with him in Nome.

In 1855 he and his brother, Jeremiah, filled a vessel in San Francisco to go to Bering Sea on an expedition to trade for fur and ivory. The vessel was crushed in the ice after having been loaded in less than a month with a cargo obtained from the natives and valued at $80,000. The vessel and cargo were lost. Mr. Sawyer engaged in mining in California, and went to Frazer River, British Columbia, during the excitement over that camp in 1858. In 1860 he followed the stampeders to Caribou, carrying a pack on his back from Fort Hope to Caribou, a distance of several hundred miles.

In 1870 he left the Pacific Coast and returned to Connecticut, engaging in manufacturing in Meriden. He organized the Meriden Curtain Fixture Company, to manufacture a shade spring window roller which he had patented. This company is now the largest manufacturer in this line in the world. He made a fortune out of this enterprise, and lost it through the mental aberrations of his partner who became insane.

After severing his connection with the company and being reduced to poverty, he turned his attention again to the business of mining; forming companies and putting up stamps and amalgamating mills in North Carolina, Colorado and elsewhere. After accumulating another fortune the demonetization of silver left him "broke" again in 1897. In 1898, when near three score, he returned to the Pacific Coast undiscouraged by adversity, and firm in the belief and the hope of acquiring another competence. He started the business of a mining broker in Seattle, and in 1900 came to Nome where he has since resided. Mr. Sawyer is largely interested in the tin mines of Cape Mountain. There is a good prospect that their development will bring him the object of his search in Alaska.

Mr. Sawyer's family has an enviable record for fidelity to truth and absolute honesty. Mr. Sawyer is a Democrat and a bi-metalist and was a warm exponent of the cause of William J. Bryan. He has been active in politics most of his life. While a resident of Meriden, Connecticut, he was elected to the school board, and was the only Democrat chosen on the board in this city of an overwhelming Republican majority. Although he has passed the three-score-and-ten mile post, he is still full of nerve energy, full of sunshine and as buoyant with hope as a boy. He comes from a very religious family but he follows the precept enunciated by Tom Paine: "The world is my country and to do good my religion."  

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




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