Scope and Content
Terms of Access
John "Packer Jack" Newman (1863-1931), Klondike Gold Rush packer and muleskinner, was born in New York and had various rugged careers prior to packing supplies in the Yukon. He served on the British vessel Falstaff, rafted on the Mississippi, and packed supplies into remote settlements in Arizona and Colorado. In 1897, Newman moved to Alaska and began packing supplies for the Brooks Packing Company; eventually he was made its chief operator. Significant events during Newman's life in Alaska include the suicides of two roommates, one of whom was fellow packer Ross Steiner (Newman was charged with, but later acquitted of, Steiner's murder).
Newman commissioned James Wehn to create the White Pass monument, and in 1930, he also asked Wehn to sculpt a bust of Mollie Walsh. Walsh, with whom Newman is generally acknowledged to have been in love, ran a supply and grub tent near the summit of White Pass during the Gold Rush. She was murdered in Seattle in 1902 by her husband, Michael Campbell. The bust now stands in Skagway's Mollie Walsh Park. After the Gold Rush, Newman settled in Seattle where he died of acute appendicitis in 1931. He was survived by his wife, Hannah, to whom he erected a plaque in 1930 (which still exists on the southwest corner of 6th Avenue and Union in Seattle).
An estimated three thousand pack animals, mainly mules and horses, died carrying supplies on the White Pass trail from Skagway into the Yukon gold fields in 1897-1898. During the Gold Rush, the Canadian Mounted Police required that miners bring one ton of provisions per person, so pack animals often carried as much as 400 pounds of provisions each. Hay was an expensive commodity, and as a result, starving animals literally were worked to death on the trail. White Pass soon earned the name of Dead Horse Canyon. John Newman is quoted by Raymond W. Thorp as saying, "We drove them, we starved them, we beat them, and when they couldn't carry the loads on top of their maggoty sores, we killed them. Because of the Klondike, gold rush animals died by the thousands."
In 1928-1929, Newman joined with the Ladies of the Golden North to participate in erecting a monument at White Pass to the pack animals that died in the Gold Rush. The monument depicts two mules with full packs against a bank of snow. Newman wrote the inscription on the monument and contributed $50 toward its erection. Also prominent in the effort to erect the monument was Mrs. Florence M. Hartshorn of Seattle, who in 1898 traveled White Pass by horseback as far as Log Cabin, where her husband was a blacksmith. The monument was completed by James A. Wehn, a Seattle sculptor known for creating the statue of Chief Seattle in Tillicum Square. The White Pass monument was dedicated on August 24, 1929.
Scope and Content
The collection contains images relating to the life of John "Packer Jack" Newman. The collection consists of four groupings of images, including his work on securing a monument to the dead horses of White Pass. Newman's gold rush adventures are depicted in a series of photographs which shows him in Skagway and on the White Pass Trail. Views of the monument, tourists, and attendees at what may be the monument's dedication appear in another series.
Many of the photographs depict John Newman; his wife, Hannah Newman, as well as a man who may be sculptor James Wehn, also appear.
Terms of Access
Collection is open to the public.
Processed by Linda Klein, 2002.
The following collections contain items related to John Newman: