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Wile, Nathaniel Traub
Signed agreement to join Alaska Mining Co-Operative Society with E. Gisvold, Ernest G. Jacob, Roy N. Abbott, Marcus Blinn, Charles Bryant Starck, August H. Rentz, William Ring, Julius Hoffman, and D.C. Campbell on 1/27/1898 in Chicago. Company agreed to purchase machinery including one boiler, two engines, one hydraulic dredging pump, shaft for driving wheels, ropes, etc. They expected to use this to create steam sled for transporting supplies across glacier, for dreding, mining, and sawing timber for boats. Agreement states that if person becomes sick after starting work, “his interests should be taken care of as a brother.” In case of death, “his family or assign shall be notified and his share of interest or property shall be sent to them.” Those who failed to work would be given a notification, and they still refused to work, then suspended from the party. Matters would be decided by majority rule. All claims would be held jointly by the party. Each member agreed to have $450 of which $75 was to go to clothing (each person doing his own shopping), $375 to cover “machinery, tickets, freight, provisions, tools and other provisions except clothing.” (AMCOS); Arrived in Chicago, 2/23/1898 and joined party including Marcus Blinn (his brother-in-law) and C.W. Shelly. WL 2/23/1898; “My outfit is a good one – have a 44 Cal. revolver & rifle and all the clothing and medicine I can possibly use – cost about $135.00. I have about $15 or $20.00 left.” WL 2/1898; AMCOS reorganized as Alaska Mining and Prospecting Society with E. Gisvold unanimously elected President, S.J. Wallner, vice president, A.E. Cox, general manager and J.M. Mayes as vice manager. WL 2/25/1898; On train to Seattle, elected E. Gisvold, A.E. Cox, N.T. Wile, Alfred Demmities, and Charles Lyons to committee to “make arrangments for permanent organization and draft an article of agreement for the proper government of said Society during operations in Alaska Territory.” WL 2/6/1898; “We lost at least $1200 by outfitting in Chicago. . . We had out election on the 2nd. Mr. Gisvold was elected president, and Mr. Cox and S.J. Wallman vice president and Cox general manager. N.T. Wilde Secy, Alfred Dematties —. We have anew article of agreement gotten up by an attorney, and signed and acknowledged before a notary public by each member of the party making itas binding on us as a legal contract can make it. If we succeed, whenever we get $5000 in the treasury it is divided up equally among the members. . .The Valencia is about 350 ft. long and about 40 or 50 wide, with a steel hull and is able to stand any storm. Our pilot and captain are experienced men, and thoroughly familiar with the route over which we sail . . . Mr. Cox and I have been to the boat trying to get our hand baggage on and to secure our locations. Mr. Dematties . . . says we must be as near the center of the ship as possible; at that place there is very little motion in even the heaviest storms, and we have now made sure of our location. . . If the snhas not filled the crivices of the Valdes Glacier, we will bridge them. There are over 600 men going on our boat and 400 or 500 up there now. With such a force of men working on one road they ought to accomplish something in the way of making a passable road. . . Hoping to hear from you all at Copper City.” WL 3/5/1898; letters of 3/14/98 mentions storm and throwing hay, etc. overboard; address via Pacific Steam Whaling Company; description of storm and episode of the loss of horses from Valencia, “They had a large stable built on the top of the front end of the boat in which they had 15 horses, 1 mule, 8 head of oxen and many tonw of hay and feed and some lumber. On sunday March 13th, the foundation of this stable became loose and the whole thing was about to slide into the ocean, so they shot all the stock and pushed them all off, stable and all. They thought it was more humane to shoot them first than to let them slide off and swim about and suffer for days.” . . .”Orca is a fishing station of about 40, but during tthe fishing season there are about 150 to 200 people here. There is a good store here and prices are reasonable. Some of our men bought some more clothing here. . . This all I will write from here as the accomodations (sic) for writing are very poor as we have to stand and hold our tablets in our hands while writing. Ther are 218 of us in one apartment, crated in like pigs, and stand and eat out of a trough.” WL 3/15/1898; letter of 3/16/1898 describes ice in Valdez Narrows, fishing, arrival at Copper City, and description of area. Mentions instrumental and vocal music, groups organized into singing clubs, and expert musicians. WL 3/16/1898; describes landing at Copper City after the ice had gone out and the Captain tried to land the passengers at Swanport. “. . . the passengers would not allow it, as it took us 5 miles back and put us on the opposite side of the bay from the pass at Copper City and the only way of getting across but by building boats. There are 56 companys on board; they each picked some of their best men, armed themselves to the teeth and they defied the captain and the ships crew (there are 85 men on the crew); then the captain sent a man back to Orca on the double to bring two small boats to land our goods on tthe shore at Copper City, but the ship loses three days time waiting, waiting for all the boats. The ship was to be back to San Francisco today. . . March 19th . . . There are notices posted all around here warning thieves not to touch anything that does not belong to him, and state that any man who steals anything of less value than $100.00 gets flogged 20 lashes, and is driven out of the country. If he steals more that $100 worth he is hung as soon as proven guilty. The men start in the morning with their common coats on after going a mile or two when they get warmed up they throw off their coats and leave them lay along the trail and nothing is disturbed.” Letter also gives temperatures and brief description of the glacier trail, estimate that there are about 1800 people on trail, WL 3/18/1898; replaces Marcus as cook, describes weather, blizzard, route, and accommodations observing that “It was pretty tough for 5 of us to live in a small muslin tent 10ft. by 12 ft., with a loose snow floor in which we would sink knee deep at every step, and everything we set down would bury itself in the snow and become wet for the first few days, but we have a good stove, and the floor soon became solid, and now we have to shovel snow in to level the floor, as it thaws uneven from the heat of the stove.” Calls his group the Carroll Co. WL 3/8/1898; Top of Valdez Glacier, Easter Sunday, describes his duties as cook and hauling supplies, arrangements for photographs, mail arrangments, estimates there are 2500 on trail now , assures his family that “at least 100 doctors have their shingles out along the trail,” an notes that the Chicago party has divided with the five of them as one party (Doc (?), Charles Starck, Marcus Blinn, N.T. Wile, and Winnie = W.E. Smith?) WL 3/28/1898; mentions blizzard, trip to Valdez to get and send mail, snowslide, WL 4/24 to 5/2 1898; says Marcus is writing yarns about the trip and not to worry, describes the food supplies they have, mentions people who have sold out and returned home, prices, reasons, and mail arrangements, WL 5/2/1898; describes beauty of Alaska, berries on bushes, robins and other birds, comfort of camp and mail, 5/16/1898; receives letter from wife indicating he has “nearly worried her to death” and considers returning home but he doesn’t really want to. 5/23/1898; Twelve Mile Camp, describes building boats, mail services, improvements the mility will make in mail service, rumors of gold onthe Copper, concerns about his wife worrying, decision to stay unless she writes that he should come home, 5/24/1898; Twelve Mile Camp, describes building boats, amount of provisions hauled over glacier, problems getting their machinery unloaded at Copper City, chicanery by Cox over machinery, dissolution of the party and reorganization into smaller parties, men who have gone home, the route ahead, Indian villages being Greek Orthodox, retelling of mutiny episode in landing at Valdez, mentions U.S. soldiers and Red Cross along trail and in general tries to reassure his wife; 5/24/1898; This was the last letter. Wile went home.