The Departure

Paris Mercury

April 22 1898 

The Departure

The scene at the station will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it.  Sadly and slowly the argonauts found their way through town to the Great Northern sleeper that had been standing at the Main Street crossing for two days, a grim reminder that good bye time must soon come, causing many a heart throb and many an eye to fill as they caught sight of its sombre outlines down the street. Hundreds of men, women and children gathered on the platform, crowded the tracks and stood on box cars.  It was a silent crowd.  Here a woman stood weeping...., yonder a strong young man gulped back his tears as he talked to his brother...  A white haired father with blanched face, stood aloof, nursing his sorrow alone and looking with mute agony through the car window at his strong young son, the hero of his old age, who was going to a far away new land to work out his destiny.  He might never come back....  Here was a truck full of grips, each containing within the tightly drawn straps its own little story of love.  In them were presents, not to be opened until Christmas morning.....  Then the hoarse whistle sounded. The good-byes had all been said.  Passengers looked out the windows of the train and asked wonderingly if war had been declared, if we were sending a regiment to Cuba.  It was a veritable war scene.  The agony was finally ended and the big red sleeper was coupled on and whisked away....

Their Plans

They left for St. Paul via Hannibal and from St. Paul will go to Seattle...At Seattle they will embark for St. Michael, where their steamer, "The City of Paris" awaits them. The trip will be exclusively by water from Seattle to Dawson.....  There will be none of the walking and pass climbing that the advance party were compelled to do.  They will arrive at Dawson about July first, their trip of 8,000 miles be made in something like 80 days. Their boat is 120 feet long, 20 feet wide and capable of carrying 100 passengers and several tons of freight.  ...The crew will separate at Dawson, leaving one or two men in charge of their stock of goods while the rest prospect.  The contract binds all to stay for three years, but one man will be sent back this winter, probably T. C. Bassett.  They carry with them a stock of goods of all descriptions among which are 20,000 cigars made by C. G. Goetz of Paris.  These cigars it is expected, will be sold at 75 cents apiece.  ... They take with them also a saw mill, but have abandoned the dredging scheme as impracticable. It is not probable that the good will be sold at  Dawson, but possibly at new camps.  The boat will be tied up during the winter, and the boys went well prepared for the long Alaska winters.  They took books without number and tobacco in enormous quantities, besides a sure preventative for the bite of the Alaskan mosquitoes. Each man has a big 38 colt revolver, besides the boat's arsenal, and in fact the Mo. Alaska Gold Co. is well prepared for operations both offensive and defensive. Capt. Talbott of Brunswick captain and John Parsons of Paris who used to ply between the Yukon country and San Francisco, will be  engineer.....

Other passengers will be taken for the trip from St. Michaels to Dawson and the boat may make the trip twice before the freeze.  Each of the boys wore his money about his waist. Here they are, the youngest being 23, and the oldest 64:

C.R. Buerk, T. J. Murphy, Abe Hill, T. G. Bassett, Less Dry, M. R. Rodes, W.W. Allen, J. H. Davis, Rube Holbrook, Paris.
J. T. Dewey,                           DeWitt
R. H. Wright, Ed Powers,       Santa Fe
J .R. Gordon, C. W. Brooks,   Moberly
J. M. Pfaff,                              St. Louis
J. E. Jones,                             Trenton
Monroe Beagles,                     High Hill
Ed Crigler, Chrismen,              Ill.
D.C. Bassey,                           Brunswick

(Courtesy of Kathleen Wilham)