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Frank W. Swanton

During the fall of 1897 and spring of 1898. Frank W. Swanton, with others, organized a company known as the Minnesota-Alaska Development Co. of Minneapolis, Minn. This company built at Tacoma, Wash., two river steamers, one called the Minneapolis, and the other the Nugget, for the purpose of exploring Alaska and incidentally of securing some of the gold of this new Eldorado.

He arrived in St. Michael about August 1, 1898, with the intention of going up the Yukon to Dawson, but reports received of the immense riches of the Koyukuk, and its tributaries, and of the great surplus population of Dawson, induced him and his company to change their plans, and they proceeded to ascend the Koyukuk, getting along very nicely until Sept. 13, when at a point about four miles above Bergman, a town some 600 miles up the Koyukuk, the steamer landed on a bar and there it remained, all efforts to get it off proving futile. He prospected all that winter, going up the Koyukuk as far as its head, but found nothing that seemed like pay, and when the ice broke in the spring, came down to Nulato without knowing exactly where to go. At that point the big strike at Nome was first heard of, and he consequently determined to go there, and arrived at Nome August 15, 1899. He went to work on the beach with a rocker, located some town lots and some mining claims, as was the fashion of the day, but did not "strike it rich." He was municipal clerk of the first government ever formed in Nome, and, when the Nome Mining District was formed in compliance with federal statute, he became deputy mining recorder and later postmaster of Nome, which position he still holds.

He was the second president of the Anvil Masonic Club, an organization known all over the United States; was Arctic Chief of Camp Nome No. 9, of the Arctic Brotherhood, and is now Grand Vice-Arctic Chief of that organization.

Mr. Swanton was born in Clonmell, Ireland, Dec. 29, 1863, and educated in Dr. Knight's private school and Queen's College, Cork. He went to the United States in 1883, and was employed by the Pillsbury, Washburn Flour Mills Co., of Minneapolis. At a later date he was in business for himself in the steam specialty line, representing a number of large manufacturers of steam supplies. Mr. Swanton is a popular and highly esteemed citizen of Nome, who has taken an active part in all measures for the good of the community.  

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




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