Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lennie is Sick as a Dog

Today, Thursday, March 3, 1898 Lennie writes simply:
Got up sick as a dog.
Ole was sick also.

Today Lennie's brother, Benjamin Davis, celebrates his 25th birthday. He is still single and lives at home with Lennie, siblings Frank and Myrtle, and their parents Josiah and Martha Jane. Benjamin will marry in 1907 and he and his wife will raise nine children.

I want to go back to my previous post. Remember yesterday's letter in the Omaha Bee written by Lucius C. Pease? Today I learned that Pease won a Pulitzer in 1949 for editorial cartooning. He was an artist, political cartoonist, and writer. He spent a couple years in the Yukon during the gold rush years.

Mr. Pease writes in regards to his trip to the Yukon:

"We brought four big oxen and three months' feed for them. I decided upon oxen for two reasons. The man upon whom we had depended for dogs raised the price to double that agreed upon, but fortunately I had learned something by a trip I made to Skagway and Talya some two months ago for the purpose of acquainting myself with the needs of the trip. I found that oxen were about the most satisfactory animals of all the varieties of quadrupeds that have been used on this trail since the rush began. I met Willis Thorpe, the oldtimer, who has made money during the last two seasons taking stock to the Yukon over the Dalton trail. He said oxen would go where horses could not be made to go and that they would haul twice as much on the same feed and could stand more cold. A dog will not haul much more than to last himself in the journey to Dawson and you have got to take a lot of dogs to haul a man's outfit. When I returned from Skagway my partner agreed with me, and when the dog man wired us that he could not give us the dogs for less than $50 each we telegraphed back: "No dogs' thanks. We shall put our trust in God and oxen."

"The four (oxen) average 1,800 pounds each. They are young, lively and exceedingly gentle, and work singly in harness, each drawing a large toboggan fourteen feet long with three shoes bolted on the bottom to protect it from the wear of the ice and rough ground and to keep it from sliding sideways down a slope. Each toboggan will take as a nice shaped load 600 pounds of pressed hay, 600 pounds of corn and barley and 800 pounds of outfit for ourselves. This is forty days' provisions for the ox, and four toboggans take our entire outfit, which weighs 3,000 pounds, and includes tools and one year's provisions for the men. The oxen travel in single file, stringing out into quite a respectable caravan."

I won't include the entire letter for I'm not certain it is in public domain (in regards to copyright) but I think it will be fine to include these excerpts to illustrate to you the difficulty of traveling to the Klondike in those days.

"We are camped down in a very wild gorge, the rocks towering far above us on all sides. Our tent is pitched in the snow, which is about ten feet deep under us. I am seated Turkish fashion on my sleeping bag, which I spread on a few armsful of evergreen boughs hastily gathered in the neighborhood. A good fire is roaring in our Yukon stove and the north wind is howling and drifting the snow outside. Our cattle (the four oxen) are still fat and in good condition and are snugly housed in a snow shed which we dug out of the side of a huge snow drift against the wall of the canyon ....

...we are now hauling our stuff from the cache to the summit, two miles and a half above. When all our goods are at the summit we shall.............make a rush for the first timber on the other side, which is about twenty miles. That done, we shall consider half our journey to the Yukon accomplished.....we may be delayed for some time should a period of very stormy weather set in, but we have cattle feed to last fifty days and we are contented in the knowledge that the hardest part of our journey over the pass is done. We are well and my appetite is enormous."

Mr. Pease and his outfit are well stocked with food. He mentions the following "grub" which is to last them a year in the Yukon.

Condensed coffee and milk, cereals, pilot bread, corn meal, pea meal, wheat flour, canned baked beans, rice, barley, small beans, rolled oats, meats, butter, bacon, salt pork, cheese, smoked herring, ham, saccharine tablets, sugar, molasses; dried soup vegetables, potatoes, onions, squash, dried eggs, raisins, apricots, dried plums and peaches, currants; pepper, salt, eight pounds baking powder, mustard, soda, celery salt, horseradish, ten bars soap, coal oil, candles, matches galore. Total weight 2,250 pounds, with boxes. Total cost, $300.

Betcha didn't know that saccharine was first produced in 1878 at Johns Hopkins University.

See the interesting things you learn while following Lennie's Diary?

P.S. While googling for Lucius Pease I found that one of his paintings is up for sale on eBay this week. I am in no way connected to this sale, yada, yada, but thought you might like to see the listing here.


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