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Yukon Mail Service, 1898

Klondike Gold Rush

Philately & Postal Service in the North

The Klondike Nugget (Dawson, Yukon Territory), Saturday, December 31, 1898 The Klondike Nugget (Dawson, Yukon Territory), Saturday, December 31, 1898

MAIL CARRIER NEARLY MURDERED. The First Mail Man Out of Dawson Followed and Way Laid

    The dangers besetting a Klondiker are not all in frost and ice. E.W. Sandison, it will be remembered, left Dawson on the first day of November with mail for the outside. He had some 80 pounds of letters and proposed to sled that and his blankets over the edge ice before the main river became passable. He is a big strong man and all were confident that he would be the first man out. However, it was slow work making camp every night and many a long detour had to be made in order to avoid open water.

    Corporal Richardson passed him with the official mail and several unencumbered pedestrians also overtook him. But there was a man on his trail from the moment he left Dawson, who had no desire to pass him living. Sandison came in this summer with a scow load of turkeys and successfully negotiated their sale. It was known to only a few friends how much money he was carrying out with him but it was known to all that he had some. A man named Frankej, who has spent several terms in the Dawson jail, was at liberty when Sandison started out and it appears resolved at once upon a bold course to make a stake quickly and get out of the country at one and the same time. Unencumbered by aught than a pair of light blankets the mail carrier was at last overtaken by the sleuth.

    No opportunity had presented itself for a number of stations where both men spent the night for the sleuth to commit the foul deed on which his mind was bent. Sandison at last noticed the fellow reaching the same stopping places as himself nightly and got acquainted. The would-be thief and murderer told a plausible story of hardships and misfortune on the Klondike and his condition at the time bore out the story for he hadn't a dollar left. Sandison took pity on him and invited him to come along. From there on to a point a mile this side of Hootalinqua the two journeyed together, Sandison paying all the bills or furnishing the food when they camped out. At the last camp mentioned Sandison had chosen a camping place away from the beaten trail - a body might lie there forever without being discovered.

    Frankej evidently saw his opportunity. The criminal took the first spell in the robes with Sandison at the fire. At two in the morning Sandison crawled in while Frankej fed the flames. Naturally, Sandison was soon asleep with his gold sack upon his person and his mail under his head. Frankej picked up the axe; it had a short broken handle; one of the prisoner's hands is maimed by the loss of all but two fingers. Probably to this fact the mail carrier owed his life for he was awakened suddenly by repeated blows on the furs and parka hood, which completely enveloped his head. He is a large and nervously quick, active man and had the prisoner disarmed and in custody in a trice.

    Though bruised and bleeding he found himself strong and not very seriously hurt as the furs had prevented the sharp bit of the axe from penetrating. With the axe for his sole weapon, he took Frankej to the police station at Hootalinqua and had his own wounds dressed. When the report left Hootlainqua the injured man was doing nicely and it was believed would start upon his outward trip after a few more days. Preparations were also in progress for forwarding the intended murderer to the Tagish post for custody.

    It is supposed by those who know that Sandison had some $2,000 with him in cash. Being known as a most responsible man it is believed that sundry amounts in bills and drafts were also enclosed in the letters he was carrying.