Sunday, June 28, 2015

My Grandmother's Adventures: A Summer Sailing Trip Along the Alaska Peninsula, and a Shipboard Romance

Sloop Gladys at Unga Island, 1913

In the summer of 1913, after their trip to the Grand Canyon, my grandmother RUBY BOLTON BROWN accompanied her father FRANK R BROWN  back to her childhood home on Unga Island, Alaska. This trip would become a turning point in both their lives.

FRANK R BROWN returned that year to Unga Island to discover that his friend Capt OTTO CARLSON, and another man Mr PARR were trying to establish a new mining venture, called the Delaroff Development Company, which would re-work tailings of the Apollo Gold & Silver Mine on Unga.  FRANK apparently was very interested in this venture, and became partners with Capt OTTO CARLSON.

In 1888, my great grandfather FRANK R BROWN had established, then managed the original Apollo Mine, which was owned by the Alaska Commercial Company, from 1888 until 1904. He had built the large frame mine manager's house at Unga where grandmother RUBY & her sisters grew up.

Employees of the Delaroff Development Co, Unga Island Alaska, 1914. Frank R Brown is at far right, others not identified

The Delaroff Development Company was unfortunately a flop (WWI put a stop to it--it became difficult to obtain the raw materials necessary for the operation, and labor became scarce).  In 1916, a prospector named GEORGE CUSHING claimed to have found a "new Apollo lead", and the mine and all interests were sold to E. B. DEMING, a wealthy businessman from Bellingham, Washington (interesting coincidence:  when I attended Western Washington University in Bellingham in the 1970s, I actually lived in the old Deming mansion, which had been converted to a rooming house).

So when my grandmother RUBY accompanied her father in 1913,  he was exploring the possibility of a new mining venture. According to the article she wrote about the Apollo mine, written in 1967 for the Alaska Sportsman magazine, this was the last  time she visited her childhood home.  Most of the people she had known from her childhood were gone, except for a few.

One of these few was Capt ZIMRO "ZIM" MOORE, a well-known sea captain, who had temporarily retired from the sea to act as deputy to the US Marshall on Unga Island.

Captain Zimro "Zim" Moore, who died when the Admiral Sampson sank in Juan de Fuca Strait in 1914

Here is what my grandmother RUBY wrote in her article:

"A small sloop, the Gladys, had been built at Apollo and I shall never forget a trip four of us made on her that summer. Capt MOORE at first would not hear of my being a member of the crew; I would just be "excess baggage" in his eye. He finally consented, and the  four of us--father and I, Mr. PARR and Captain ZIM--set out in the little vessel. We slept in hammocks which were hooked up against the cabin walls during the day, and our stove was tiny, like a toy stove, although it served us well.  We anchored each night in some small harbor along the Alaska Peninsula, and I remember one day climbing a hill and looking down at the Bering Sea on the other side.

"Captain ZIM MOORE was a wonderful storyteller, and kept us in laughter as he sat at the tiller and steered the little boat.  Not long after that he returned to sea as master of the Admiral Sampson and it was a great shock to all of us when he drowned after his ship was rammed and sunk on Puget Sound the following year." 

SOURCE: "Apollo" by Mrs. R. B. Martine, Alaska Sportsman Magazine, May 1968, pp 8-13. (Published post-humously). 

The Admiral Sampson, before 1914, location unknown, photographer unknown, possibly Thwaites?

Later that summer of 1913, as RUBY and her father FRANK returned south on the steamship Dora, she met her future husband, R. B. "Rolla" MARTINE, who was traveling the Alaskan coast, appraising canneries for the General Appraisal Company of Seattle & San Francisco.  A lively & affectionate correspondence developed between them,  and on April 6, 1915, they were married in Seattle, thus beginning an adventure of a different kind.

Steamship Dora, photo by Thwaites, Alaska State Library Historical Collection

There is a wonderful book about the photographer John E. Thwaites, and the Steamship Dora's route in the Aleutiansincluding info on Capt ZIMRO MOORE, Unga Island, the Apollo mine & much more,   called  "Sailing the Mail in Alaska: The Maritime Years of Alaska Photographer John E Thwaites 1905-1912" by J. Pennelope Goforth.

I am certain both my grandparents & great grandparents were well acquainted with Thwaites, as they all travelled frequently on the Dora, and many of his photographic postcards have been passed down to me from my grandmother RUBY.

My grandparents lived in Seattle, where both their children were born, until 1921, when they moved to Oakland, then San Francisco, California. There they lived until 1956, when they again returned to the Seattle area. They are both buried at the Mt Pleasant Cemetery in Seattle.

Wedding photos: My grandparents R B "Rolla" Martine & Ruby Bolton Brown 1915

My great grandfather, FRANK R BROWN, continued to return to Unga Island every summer, until it became physically impossible. He died June 18, 1939 at my grandmother RUBY's home in San Francisco, and is buried at Cypress Lawn Cemetery, Colma, California.

Most photos from my personal collection.

Have a great day!


© Betty Tartas  2015


Unknown said...

Thank you for posting this cousin Betty!
Everett Phillips III

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting this Cousin Betty!
Everett Phillips III

Marian B. Wood said...

Betty, I thoroughly enjoyed your grandmother's adventures. How lucky you are to know so much about her life and times!