Lot of four (4) letters from G.A. Brooks, a gold prospector as a member of the Athol Cooperative Mining Company, heading to to Alaska / Yukon, written to his daughter Emma. Lot includes letter written while aboard the Steamship Brigham, in the Bering Sea, with a brief account of nearly wrecking during a storm, and talk of his optimism about a good gold claim. 4 letters total, 1 written aboard the steamship, 1 is written from Tacoma, Washington (en route to Seattle), 1 from Interlochen, Florida (1899; presumably after returning from his adventure in Alaska?), and 1 written from his hometown of Baldwinville, Massachusetts prior to embarking (1897).
Here are details about the 2 manuscript letters concerning his travel to Alaska:
LETTER WRITTEN IN TACOMA EXPECTING TO SAIL FOR ALASKA.
Four page letter. Sunday Apr. 24, 1898. Tacoma, Wash.
I am expected to sail for St. Michael Alaska the 30 next Saturday on the Steamship Brigham we may have a brush with the Spanish[?] but I hardly think they will trouble us but later if the war continues there will be danger on the Alaska line. I have a good Winchester repeating rifle and I shall see what it is good for before I am taking prisoner... I drew the plans for a boat 45 feet by 14 feet it will carry 45 tons of freight... a good boat with steam boiler and engine. It will be seldom that any one will hear from me after I get to Alaska and I go into the wilderness hundreds of miles where the White man has seldom been if ever I shall be [?] on the Tannana River a branch of the Yukon 300 miles from the mouth of the Yukon the Tannana is 500 miles long... we shall then go up the Yukon to Dawson but I am sure we shall find good claims on the Tannana I have reason to think that the Glaciers from the east range of mountains must have deposited gold in the [?] of the Tannana and if so we shall find it... Give my love to Chas and kiss little Genie for me... From your loving Father G. A. Brooks."
WRITTEN WHILE ABOARD A STEAMSHIP IN THE BERING SEA, HEADING TO THE GOLD RUSH TOWN OF ST. MICHAEL, ALASKA 1898.
Written by G. A. Brooks, while on board the Steamship Brigham(?), after almost sinking in the Bearing Sea, on the west coast of Alaska, about 300 miles from St. Michaels [St. Michael Island].
"My Dear Daughter Emma, It us now over three months since left home... I am now on the Steamer Brigham in Bearing Sea on the West coast of Alaska about 300 miles from St. Micheals where I expect to arrive the 18th or 19th. It's been a long time getting here and our Company have met with many difficulties but I suppose a bad beginning means a good ending so we live in hopes of a bright future in our trip from Seattle to [?] Alaska we came very near being recked and many of the passengers were afraid one many prayed [but] I walked the deck with a smile on my face in the storm... the more danger there was the better I liked it... death I fear not, but sickness and disease I want no part of. I expect to stay at St. Micheals [St. Michael Island] about one week and then go up the Yukon and the Tanana River in our [new?] Steamer [which] is 45 feet long 14 feet wide with a 22 horse power boiler and engine. I drew the plans and framed the boat without any help from any one... I have had several sea captains say that it was a strong and well built boat that it could be sailed to China in perfect safety... the steamer [?] I am on has 4 boats in tow ours is one of them we call it the Athol after the name of our company which is the Athol Cooperative Mining Company there are 11 in our company 2 from Athol 4 from Templeton 2 from Gardner 2 from Connecticut 1 from Shelburn Falls all good men. I think I shall stand the climate as well as any of the party I have not lost a pound yet and some of the party men lost 20 pounds. reached St. Micheal as 4pm July 12th. Give my love to little Genie and Charles and a big [?] to you. address letters to Weare Alaska U.S.A. From your loving Father G. A . Brooks."
Great letters, with interesting content; of the 4 letters, only 2 mention Alaska or gold mining. The 4 letters are creased at old folds, with light wear; very good.
Fort St. Michael was a U.S. military post, established in 1897. During the gold rush of 1897, it was a major gateway to the interior via the Yukon River. As many as 10,000 persons were said to live in St. Michael during the gold rush.