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Steamboat Jennie K Overturns in Storm - Four Dead

November 2, 1899

    Seattle, Washington, Nov. 1 The treasure ship Roanoke, which reported here to-day, sixteen days from St. Michaels and eleven days from Cape Nome, brings the first story of the death of several New Yorkers, members of the Alaska Prospecting Company. The dead are:

    Mr. and Mrs. Emil Kuhner, Oscar Becker, and a man unknown. Becker's body was washed ashore on the beach at St. Michaels Island, and later there was found an overturned steamer and a scow loaded with machinery, which represented the assets of the company. Two survivors are John Becker and Theodore Diederick.

    The news was brought to St. Michael by natives who claim to have seen the steamer overturning during a severe windstorm which prevailed about Sept. 15. The Government launch Nordica was detailed to the scene of the accident. She returned two days later with the scow and Oscar Becker's body. Owing to a high surf the crew of the Nordica could not make an examination of the overturned steamer, which no doubt contained the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Kuhner and the unknown man.

    Upon Becker's body were found papers, but owing to their water-soaked condition they were not legible. The party was made up in New York City in the Spring of 1898. The Beckers and Kuhners lived, it is said, at 110 East Seventy-first Street. The Beckers, it is stated, were people in comfortable circumstances. Kuhner, who was a jeweler, had married a Miss Becker.

    "The family formed a party, and purchased a small iron steamer and named it Jennie K. It was shipped to Seattle last June, and from there sent to St. Michael on a steamer. From there the party sailed for Hamilton Station. Severe storms were encountered and other difficulties caused considerable dissension. One day, it is said, Kuhner threatened to shoot Oscar Becker and Diederick. John Becker left the party on Jan. 1. Later Oscar Becker and Diederick deserted and took up new quarters. Oscar Becker joined the original party again later, but John Becker and Diederick secured other positions. Dietrick said at St. Michael on Oct. 5:

    "The last I saw of the party was on Sept. 3. Then the steamer was anchored in midstream, between Kucklik and Hamilton, on the Yukon. They were probably on their way to Cape Nome. Mrs. Becker, the mother, lives at the party's former home, in Seventy—first Street, in New York City."

    Owing to the lateness of the season, it will be impossible to make further search for the missing bodies.

    The Roanoke had on board, according to her owners, drafts and dust from Cape Nome amounting to $1,500,000. The principal portion of this is represented by drafts held by John Brynteson, Jafel Linderberg, P.H. Anderson, and W.A. Killman, four of the original locators of the camp. There were about 200 others on board with dust valued at from $500 to $5,000 each, a large portion of the same being beach dust. Owing to the alleged impurity of the water at Nome, typhoid fever was quite general at the time the Roanoke left, and twelve deaths had occurred.


This article was published widely in many forms on November 2, 1899, and some contains misspellings - the original source may have been the Associated Press. The title graphic is from the Victoria Times-Colonist (Victoria, BC) of that date.

The traditionally correct spelling of what appears as Kuhner is "Khuner", and these people appear in other articles with that spelling.