The Free Lance
29 Apr 1898 --
Letter From Ed. NASH --
Dawson City, Mar. 8, 1898.
Dear Sister Lavonia,
Your letter of last September has just reached me, after being a long
time on the way. I received no word from mother. Her letter must have
miscarried or gone on to Circle City. In the latter event it will be
forwarded back here so that I will get it this summer.
I am pleased to be able to say that I am in possession of what is
generally considered some very good mining property, which should net me
several thousand dollars at least. From the news just received here I am
led to believe that everybody outside is excited over the prospects of
this region, and have the Yukon fever. I feel sorry for every man that
has it. Claims here are cut down to 100 feet in length. We are allowed to
locate 200 feet, and if it proves good, one-half is reserved for the
government. The Gold Commissioner has almost absolute power, and allows a
man but 4 rights in the whole Northwest Territory. Major WALSH, chief
executive officer of the territory, and Judge MAGUIRE are on their way
in, and there may be a change for the better when they arrive.
Do not believe all you hear. Only the bright side is published. Most
everyone that went out this winter had a claim or list of claims to place
on the market, and when a person has a piece of ground to sell, he is apt
to speak well of the country in which it is located. I am writing you the
facts just as I know them to exist, without any attempt to boom the
country or underrate its merits, and if it is true that 100,000 persons
have started for this place, and will arrive here this spring and summer,
the result will be disastrous. This has been a very mild winter. Last
winter wasn?t cold, either, but the winter of 1895-6 was one of the
coldest ever known, and if the coming winter should happen to be a
similar one, a great many will be sure to freeze to death.
This country, Lord knows, has its drawbacks, but my greatest objection is
its lack of communication with the outside world. Scurvy is quite
prevalent here now, and pneumonia very common.
I have 2 claims on the American side, just beyond the boundary line, so
you see I am a property-holder in 2 countries, and under protection of 2
governments. So far I have not yet seen a person in here that I knew on
the outside. You wrote me for a description of the scenery here. The
plain truth is I?ve lived on scenery and snowballs since I got here, and
don?t desire to hear anything more about them. I am coming out next fall,
or early next winter, and you can come back with me for the trip if you
wish to do so. I will have to come back here again, I think.
Tell the Hollister people, for me, that this country is much overrated.
Don?t allow any of your friends to buy claims that are offered for sale.
Any claim offered at low prices (say from $5,000 to $20,000) is
worthless, or unprospected and good stuff to leave alone. I wouldn?t
advise anyone to come in here unless he was a criminal or not able to
make a living outside.
This letter is going out by Captain RAY, of the U.S. Army who, with 10
dogs, a driver and an Indian guide is all the way from Fort Yukon. Capt.
RAY is going direct to Washington, to the government, and have a company
of soldiers sent in; also to entreat the appointment of officers
necessary for the maintenance of civil law. There are so many people in
Alaska now that it is necessary to maintain order by some semblance of
authority in the military and judiciary line. You will hear from me quite
often this summer. I read every little, on account of not being able to
suit my eyes with the proper kind of glasses.
Ed. L. NASH
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