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Jimmy Jackson (1868-?)

Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

The Whitehorse Pioneer Cemetery

Stella Jackson (1873-1941)

The Whitehorse Star - Friday, March 24, 1939

The Colourful Career of Capt. Jimmy Jackson, Hero of Former Days in the Yukon - 1939

    We have in this community, in the person of Capt. Jimmy Jackson, a resident of many years standing and one who, in the early days, played an heroic role in the life of the north.

    Born at Taku seventy-one years ago, a full-blooded Alaskan Indian, the son of Chief Onaklosh, "Jimmy" as a boy suffered many hardships wandering around in the Cassiar country. He tried his hand at mining for a few years and also worked in one or two sawmills before he was employed for a time by the Hudson's Bay Company. He finally left the Cassiar country for Juneau where he succeeded in securing a mail contract with the U. S. A. government.

    As a U. S. mail carrier in the early days between Juneau and Circle City Captain Jimmy Jackson was the hero of many adventures. He first earned fame in 1894 when he made a round trip from Juneau to Circle City, a distance of over a thousand miles, in mid-winter, by way of Taku and the Yukon river. Starting out from Juneau in January 1894 with a dog team and four companions Captain Jackson eventually reached Circle alone with the mail on his back after having been forced to eat off the carcass of one of his dogs for food. His companions consisted of two white men - W. G. Hodges, a printer, and Ed. McNallis, a young Irishman, both of whom wanted to go to Circle although strongly advised not to make the trip - and a couple of Indians. The two white men soon dropped behind and lost the trail made by the mail carrier. Both their bodies were recovered by prospectors the following summer in the Atlin country. The two Indians were left behind at Carmacks, Y. T., and finally made their way to Fortymile where they remained until the river opened up the following summer. They then worked their way back upstream.

    Captain Jackson was under contract to deliver mail and he had phighted his word to Juneau citizens to prove the value of the Taku route to the Interior if that were humanly possible. From Carmacks he hit the trail alone with his mail and his dog team. He camped in the open weather and without any blankets. To make matters worse his dogs began to give out and the last one he had to kill for food before he reached his destination.

    On arrival at Circle City Captain Jackson was liberally rewarded for his feat. A fund was started for his benefit to which the big concerns contributed $150 each whilst individual miners and prospectors willingly did their part toward the fund. As a result Captain Jackson was presented with a dog team and sled together with food and blankets for his return trip. He left Juneau in January 1894 and arrived back there the following March. Some trip! And something to crow about too!

    Because of his intimate knowledge of the Territory and the conditions to be met with on the trail throughout the winter months Captain Jackson acted as Indian guide to the then (1904) Rev. H. A. Cody, M. A. on his visitations to the various outlying settlements. This was at the time the reverend gentlemen was rector of Christ Church, Whitehorse.

    At the time of the Klondike rush Jimmy forsook mail carrying for navigation. He was shipped as pilot on the Golden Star [actually Gold Star] when her master, Captain Turnbull (afterwards master of the str. "Whitehorse" for many years) brought the Golden Star up river to the site on which is now located the town of Whitehorse.

    Captain Jackson is proud of his many years experience navigating the Yukon river and of the documentary evidence which he still possesses of his activities during those times. Discoloured and somewhat the worse for wear and tear, these treasured documents are mute testimony to the faithful service which Captain Jackson rendered as a navigator on the Yukon river. For about fourteen years he was in charge of the boat operated by Messrs Taylor & Drury Ltd.

    Although Captain Jackson has now passed the alloted span of three score years and ten, he is still physically fit although occasionally suffering from the amenities of old age. His time now is mostly taken up either in trapping or fishing according to the season of the year. At Fish Lake he has a cabin to which he wends his way at times and there, no doubt, sits in silent contemplation going back over the years with the various episodes of his adventurous life tinged as they once again pass along "Memory's Lane."