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The Death of Jim Hall, 1918

Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

Klondike Gold Rush, 1896-1899

The Weekly Star - Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Friday, September 20, 1918

Jim Hall, Who Made Millions in the Klondike, Commits Suicide on a Calfornia Ferry

    Clippings received recently from San Francisco tells of the tragic death of Jim Hall at Vallejo, California, Hall was the owner of claim No. 17, Eldorado, in the Klondike, which produced two million dollars and perhaps more. No. 17 was staked September 6, 1896, twenty two years ago. Hall was in the Yukon valley long before the Klondike strike, and was known on the Stewart river and in other earlier camps. After making his big stake he was married in Dawson to Miss Lillian Green. Hall once owned the Green Tree block, the Auditorium theater and many other buildings in Dawson. He left that city about fifteen years ago. The San Francisco Chronicle of August 21st says:

    James Hall. pioneer of the Klondike gold fields, holder of property in San Francisco and reputed to be wealthy, shot himself to death on the deck of the steamer Napa Valley as it was docking at Vallejo last Thursday. He was buried here yesterday, the funeral being held from his residence, 1301 Page street.

    The identity of the man who thus ended his life was not fixed until yesterday, the first report being that his name was "Jas. Bradley." That name, with the address "Springfield, Mo.", was found in a pocket of the dead man's clothing when his body was recovered from the water, where it fell when the shot was fired.

    Hall was missed from his home here two days before the tragedy occurred. His wife, Mrs. Lillian Hall, manager of the State Employment Bureau, started an inquiry, but was unable to discover her husband's whereabouts until she learned of the death of "James Bradley." The description of the body tallied with that of Hall. With her sister, Mrs. Joseph Headley, Mrs. Hall went to Vallejo, where she identified the body as that of her husband, and brought it here for burial. No inquest has yet been held at Vallejo.

    Hall took a dramatic means of killing himself. As the Napa Valley was making port and most of the passengers were hurrying forward, he mounted to the upper deck at the stern of the vessel, placed the muzzle of a 38 caliber pistol into his mouth and fired a shot. His body fell into the water and was not recovered until the next morning, when it was discovered by newsboys.

    Hall was nearly 74 years of age. When he was married he was 55 years old and his bride was but 17, according to members of her family.

    Mrs. Hall, who was Lillian Green, daughter of Dr. B. J. Green, an early resident of San Francisco, studied dancing and singing. She had ambitions for a stage career, and joined a stock company that was to play an engagement in Dawson in 1899. The steamer Willie Irving, on which the company had taken passage, was wrecked off Selwyn island. Many of the women saved were without adequate clothing. As Miss Green had rescued one of her trunks, she took an active part in relief work among the survivors. Hall, who, on his way to Seattle, had been stopped at Selwyn island by a message from his mine superintendent at Dawson and was about to return to the North, also was engaged in aiding the passengers, according to a story told yesterday by Mrs. Jeannette Wyncoop, sister of Mrs. Hall.

    Hall and the young actress became acquainted on the island and together made a seventy-five-mile sledge trip on their way to Dawson. Three months later they were married.

    Mrs. Wyncoop said that Hall was liberal in his wedding gifts. It was reported at the time that his present to his bride was a check for $100,000.

    Soon after the wedding Hall purchased the Savoy theater at Dawson, the largest playhouse in the northern city at that time, and renamed it the Auditorium. He gave the theater to his bride. At a later date he owned two of the largest hotels in Dawson.

    Soon after his marriage Hall disposed of his mining interests, which included No. 17. Eldorado, from which large quantities of gold were taken, and in 1900 he brought his wife to San Francisco. They established their home at 1301 Page street, where Mrs. Hall has resided since that time The Halls traveled extensively in the East and much publicity was given at the time to the "Alaska millionaire and his actress bride."

    Since coming back to San Francisco to live Mrs. Hall has visited Alaska many times, her sister estimating that since 1900 she had made thirteen trips to the far north. About ten years ago Hall and his wife separated and their affairs were aired before Superior Judge Thomas Graham. Judge Graham said last night that he gave Mrs. Hall a decree of separation, to the best of his recollection, on the ground of cruelty.

    "The case was an unusual one in many respects," said Judge Graham. "Both avowed their love for each other in court, but there was a wide disparity in their ages and they could not get along."

    Mrs. Hall testified that her husband, who had given her $100,000 or so on their wedding day, was jealous. He bought her a theatre in Dawson and made it, through lavish expenditure of money, one of the show places of the North and one of the most popular. Rex Beach referred to this theater in one of his stories, "The Iron Trail," I think it was.

    "The wife testified that she assumed the management of the place soon after the wedding and, because she made it a rule to be present every night, her husband began to be jealous of her. He objected to her giving her smiles to anyone else. She said she had to smile on the miners and other patrons of the place if the theater was to keep its patronage.

    Then Hall began to mention from time to time that she was an actress and dancer before he met her. She felt he was taunting her, and at last left him. Then the suit was filed and came before me. I tried to reconcile them, but they said that was impossible and, as I remember, I gave her a decree.

    "There was a property settlement and, I believe, he gave her half of all he had. The half, I think, amounted to something like $750,000. I remember that he made the settlement willingly. It may be possible that the $750,000, which represented half his fortune at that time, was based on mine prospects and since has dwindled, but I know that Hall's fortune at that time was estimated as being in excess of $1,500,000.