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A Glimpse of the Youth of Fairbanks and ET Barnette | Our city


The following article, published in the Seattle Daily Times on November 22, 1908, provides an overview of the life of ET Barnette and the early days of Fairbanks. Due to its length, it will run in two parts, with Part II going to print on October 4.

When a discovery of gold saved Captain Barnette’s neck

Part i


The center of Storm Tanana has moved south and for the winter will hover over Seattle. Captain ET Barnette, banker, miner, pioneer and politician is invited to the Washington Hotel.

There is nothing remarkable about Captain Barnette coming out of the great white silence to spend with his wife and their little one, a few months in the land of God. He’s also likely to be found crossing a Mexican mountain with a half-breed for a guide, or flirting in Turkey with a mean Turk, who is found staking a broken prospector, whose fortune is frozen. on a slab from the Yukon. bedrock.

It is the captain himself who is remarkable.

Barnette has a way of doing remarkable things in a remarkable way. Its orbit is in the largest and not in the smallest dimension. When his hand reaches out, it is to grab a mountain and not a molehill, and he has accumulated a few mountains. His route to what he wants crosses the tundra directly, and he travels, regardless of the obstacle, human or inert. And he leaves behind him an array of enemies as well as friends. This is why, in the Tanana and its adjacent fields, the Captain has come to be known as the Human Fulminate, and for those who play the role of obstacles in his great Nordic drama, he is about as comfortable to have. than a freshly packed hole. full of giant. (The article has a missing word.)

Barnette has three characteristics that stand out par excellence. His first is a way of making friends; the kind that stays for the big show and is handy when the last goat is obtained. Its second is the gentle art of making enemies; the type to talk about their hatred in their sleep and practice guns in their backyard. His third is the science of making money and giving it away.

Barnette has more enemies in Alaska, or better had more, than any man who has ever been to the North. Balance against that that it is also well supplied with friends, and you have in hand the proof of the first two characteristics. As for his third, he is the richest man in Tanana, in terms of wealth in hand, with potential for millions, can he prevent his ever-ready right hand from dissipating what his buying left hand is amassing for him? .

During her six years at Tanana, Barnette probably won $ 2,000,000. Of this amount, he invested $ 300,000. He gave or took an additional $ 500,000. Another $ 500,000 is gone, but Barnette couldn’t tell you where; a few thousand here to a man who did him a favor; a few thousand more to a friend who has faced an enemy; a few thousand more to some poor devil whose only project was drawn directly from the ready sympathy of Barnette. Here and there it disappeared, and it left him today with probably $ 500,000 worth in cash. Add to that mining property, developed and underdeveloped, which he himself staked or bought from stakes, worth from one and a half to three million dollars, and you have an account of the greatest northern fortune. He is the president and principal owner of the Fairbanks Banking Company, and he owns a lot of real estate in Fairbanks, including a nice house. He has mines in Mexico and lumber in Washington.

For every dollar he won, Barnette had to fight, and every fight he had to make his own won, for it is in man’s nature to win whatever he gets his hands on. His methods are most often crude. He rolled in his shoes to the point he was aiming for, with the inevitable result that there were many injured who subsequently bore his name of curse. And it was with those he injured that he had to fight, so much they fought him with force and vengeance that not once, but twice the United States Senate was called upon to prove that between Captain Barnette and one of the best-known judges who ever graced the Federal Bench, there was no inappropriate business or political relationship. Even Theodore Roosevelt’s word has been invoked to confuse the machinations of those who, rightly beaten albeit with harsher conduct and fighting, resorted to subterfuge and black lantern politics to wrest man hate them and the things he had won for them. .

Barnette’s path to the riches of the North was not a primrose path, but he won, and there are few who now stand against him. His enemies, he destroyed or reconciled them.

Six years ago, scores of outraged miners raged along the Fairbanks waterfront. They were armed with a tightly knotted rope and were looking for “Cap”. Barnette. The other afternoon, it took Captain Barnette forty minutes, on time, to walk through the crowd of sourdoughs in the lobby of the Butler Hotel. It was a handshake, or a few words about this or that in the Tanana, and every time he was stopped in his way it was by a friend.

Barnette didn’t want to check out the Fairbanks site when he did. What he did was entirely due to the fact that the captain of the steamboat Lavelle Young could only find three feet of water under the bow of his craft, and he didn’t feel like hanging on to a bench. sand from the Chena River until the ice enters.

Barnette had mapped the Lavelle Young at St. Michael in the early summer of 1901. He loaded it up to the waterline with gewgaws and set out on a trade trip with the many tribes of the Tanana Indians. From Tanana, the Young turned to the Chenoa, as the Indians called it, and nine miles upstream of this interesting stream she put her nose in the sand and the captain ordered Barnette and to its cargo to disembark. All hands turned and chopped wood for a dock, and when the Young steamed down the river, Barnette found himself thousands of miles from civilization in the heart of an uncharted wilderness with thousands of dollars worth of goods lying on the shore.

The next day, however, his customers began to arrive. They came in twos or threes and in families, and within twenty-four hours all the members of the Nenana tribe had disembarked from their birch canoes and the captain was exchanging food for furs.

A log trading post was set up and it wasn’t long before Barnette had company of his own color and adventurous spirit, for from Circle City came famous men from the North like Harry Attwood, and his partner, Billie Smallwood, Felix Pedro, Charlie Calumb and the two boys Costa and others of the early pioneers of Tanana. They had been drawn to a golden tale floating on the Salchacket River, a tributary of the Tanana sixty miles above the Chena. They had prospected there, but found nothing, then they were heading towards Barnette’s camp.

During all this time and all the indescribable trials, Captain Barnette was accompanied by his intrepid wife. Every square inch that he was the pioneer he was himself, she almost played a part of a man in the first creation of the now wonderful city of Fairbanks. During the winter of 1902 the food was so short that it was up to Barnette to somehow get out and bring more back with the first open water, and she stayed with him when in March, he harnessed his dogs and hit the trash without a track. of snow and glacier stretching between him and Valdez. The general direction that only they knew. They knew nothing about the dangerous Delta River, the mountains that had to be climbed in the face of blizzards and other joys of an arctic winter, and they cared as little as they knew. With the captain and his wife were Dan McCarty, father and son, Charlie Smith, Jim Huntington and two others. It was a tough party, but by the time the Captain and Mrs. Barnette and the two McCartys had finished their 400 mile slurry to shore, through an almost constant blizzard, they were almost at the end of their way to over a title. Of the 400 miles Mrs. Barnette had run, 250 on the track and had taken her regular shift for the heartbreaking job of smashing the track on show shoes, in front of the dogs.

Once outside, Captain Barnette had a small steamboat built and demolished. He named it the Isabelle, after Mrs. Barnette, and shipped it to Saint-Michel, where he set it up and loaded it with more supplies. With these he arrived in Fairbanks in September 1902 to find that Felix Pedro had found a salary on a concession he had staked on a stream which later bore his name and which has since done his part to return the Tanana. popular.

Shortly after the McCartys hit the streak at Goldstream and a little later still it was mined on Cleary Creek, and in the years that followed Cleary became the district’s bonanza creek.

Captain Barnette had intended to take the Isabelle further up the stream, but when he heard that gold had been found, he remained in Fairbanks and found a trading post.


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