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Dyea, Alaska, Saturday, March 12, 1898


The Douglass Saloon Destroyed.
Loss of Life and Destruction Complete.

    On Thursday morning of last week, the building known as the Douglass bunk house and saloon, located at the corner of River and 2nd streets, was discovered in flames.
    The origin of the fire is unknown and is generally supposed to have been caused by an overheated pipe or the bursting of a coal oil lamp in the upper rooms. When discovered, the entire building was wrapped in flames, and it was so sudden in its fury as to forbid any attempts to save either the building or contents, which were entirely destroyed. Gus. Taylor, who was employed as a helper in the house, was found on his escape from the building in an almost unconscious condition, badly burned and scorched. He was a Scandinavian and supposed to be a late resident of San Francisco, and formerly a sailor on the U. S. man of war Charleston. He received prompt medical attention, but it was evident that his injuries were fatal, ad he died about midnight at the Dyea hospital where he received every attention possible.

    After the flames had consumed the upper portion of the building, a human body was seen in the burning house on the first floor. It was impossible to reach the body until the flames were reduced, and it was a sickening sight to behold the exposed skull and the body with the feet consumed. After the body was removed, it was identified as that of Bert. Meeker, who was a guest of the house during the night and who retired to bed but a short time before the building caught fire. He slept on a couch in the same room with the proprietor, and was no doubt overcome by the smoke and flames before he was able to escape. But little is known of his antecedents, but it was found that he had a wife living on River Street, near Healy & Wilson's. This poor woman was informed of his death and was overcome with grief at her loss. The proprietor and owner of the place was J. Douglass, formerly of San Jose, Cal., who came here last summer. He lost everything, including his last stitch of clothing and was compelled to borrow sufficient clothing to cover him, he was left without a dollar but was cheerful that he escaped with his own life, and regretted the misfortune of those who lost their lives more than the loss of his own property.
    A subscription was started by our citizens and money freely given to bury the dead and partly assist Douglass.
    Some comment was indulged in because a prize fight had been held in the building during the early part of the evening, so far as we have been able to learn, it was properly conducted as such events can be, and not much drunkeness indulged in, at least there was no evidence that either of the two victims who lost their lives were not in a sober condition when they retired. It is to be regreted that our first fire should be attended with loss of life and should cause our people to be careful in the construction of the bunk houses and ... [newspaper incomplete]


Dyea, Alaska, April 16, 1898

Douglass Dismissed

    The charges against A. J. Douglass, proprietor of the "Everyones Home," which burned to the ground early in March, were heard in Judge Smith's court on Wednesday last. The accused was dismissed without even the introduction of testimony. The fact was, there was not the slightest evidence on which to hold Douglass. Street talk only was the basis of the accusations, and a flatter case could not be imagined. The lamentable feature of the affair is that the news of the charges against Douglass have reached far beyond the bounds of Dyea, and do what he may he will not be able to make known his entire acquittal of the totally unfounded charges of murder and arson. Mr. Douglass has the sympathy of hundreds of Dyea's best citizens, who never for a moment entertained a suspicion of his guilt, and who will be glad to hear of the failure of baseless charges to find standing in a court of law.

Bert Meeker and Gus Taylor werre buried at Dyea - their graves can be seen here.

A Guide to Dyea, Alaska