[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”]. NORTH AMERICA - ALASKA - KENAI PENINSULA – GOLD RUSH, George E. WISWELL.
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].
Historically Important Archive Which Gives A First-Hand Account of the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush

[Historically Significant Private Archive Documenting the Experiences of a Gold Prospector during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98); the Archive Consists of Wiswell’s Pocket “Excelsior” Diary with over 60 Pages of Entries; Two “Notices of Location” for the Claims in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, Two Related Power of Attorney Documents; a Letter to Wiswell Addressed to him at “Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska;” and a Receipt for His Return Passage to Seattle; All Dated “1896”].

Diary: ca. 12,5x8 cm (4 ¾ x 3 ¼ in). Standard pocket full calf “Excelsior” diary with a closing flap. Ca. 100 leaves (first twenty leaves with the printed calendar and practical information). Over 60 pages (30 leaves) filled in pencil with the entries for April-September 1896. Pencil signature “Geo. E. Wiswell” on the front pastedown endpaper, additional pencil notes on the rear free endpaper. Several dried Alaskan flowers and a ptarmigan feather laid in between the pages. Covers rubbed, several leaves with stains not affecting the text; overall a very good diary. Papers: six documents from ca. 25,20 cm (10x8 in) to ca. 8x21 cm (3 ¼ x 8 ¼ in). All dated May, June or August 1896. Black ink and pencil on lined paper. Fold marks, two documents with some ink smearing from being wet, but readable; overall in very good condition.

Historically significant original archive with a first-hand account of the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush which started a year earlier than the famous Klondike rush and, in some ways, became its forerunner. Gold had been found in the Kenai River already in 1849, but major interest in the area started only in the 1880s, with more discoveries in the neighbouring creeks. The 1894 gold discoveries in the Bear and Palmer Creeks flowing to the Turnagain Arm led to the rush of local prospectors to the Resurrection Creek basin. The major discovery on the Mills Creek in 1895 caused the next year’s largest stampede of the time to the easily accessible Kenai Peninsula. “Several thousand men, some state the number as high as 3,000 are said to have landed at Tyonok en route for Turnagain Arm <…> This was the banner year on Canyon Creek, 327 men being engaged in mining its gravels during the summer <…> A second rush into the Turnagain Arm field took place in 1898. This was partly an overflow from the Yukon stampede <…>. A majority of the men who first entered the field (1894-95), as well as a few of those who took part in the stampedes of 1896 and 1898, were experienced miners. <…> On the other hand, most of the later comers were inexperienced in any kind of mining and many were scarcely able to take care of themselves. <…> It is doubtful if there is any other part of Alaska where time and money have been wasted in a more enthusiastically ignorant manner <…> than some places in the Kenai Peninsula. The field did not justify the presence of any such numbers as came, and disappointment was the only result possible for most of them…” (Moffit, F. Mineral Resources of Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Gold Fields of the Turnagain Arm Region. Washington, 1906, p. 9).
This archive belonged to one of the Kenai Peninsula gold prospectors, George E. Wiswell, who joined the 1896 stampede. Originally from East Machias (Maine), he travelled in April 1896 to the Turnagain Arm on board the steamer “Utopia” from Seattle. Together with another steamer “Lakme,” the “Utopia” had difficulties with proceeding up the inlet full of floating ice and was stranded for about two weeks, with the rations for the passengers significantly cut; “Utopia’s” captain got very sick and almost died (see more about “Utopia’s” voyage: The Utopia Here. Capt. O’Brien tells his story of the trip and says there was no lack of food// The Seattle Post-Intelligence. 3 June 1896, p. 2). After his arrival to the mouth of the Resurrection Creek where a new mining camp named “Hope” had just been established, Wiswell prospected his claims on the Resurrection Creek and its tributary Fox Creek and made two trips to the Canyon and Mills Creeks’ basins where he worked on several other claims. His gold prospecting turned out disappointing, and he left for Seattle on board the schooner “Sophia Sutherland” on August 26.
His diary accurately records the events of practically every day from April 4 through September 13, 1896, covering his voyages on “Utopia” and “Sophia Sutherland,” trips to the Resurrection, Fox, Juneau, Kenai, Mills, Canyon Creeks, and gold prospecting. Concise but full of content, the entries create a captivating picture of the life of an Alaskan gold prospector. Writing with numerous spelling mistakes and abbreviations, Wiswell talks about his gold panning, prospecting with a rocker, building a dam, going on strenuous hikes along rough mountainous trails, accidents and thefts in mining camps; he regularly notes on the weather (“plesent,” cold, rainy etc.), shooting game for food and the menu of his meals, annoying “misquitos” and “moos flys,” mentions the noteworthy events (an earthquake, the first white woman in the camp, a $42 dollar gold nugget he was shown, etc.) The entry for July 4 contains the familiar refrain of an Alaska prospector: “Abandoned the crick at 10 a.m. No good…”; and the entry for June 11 mentions 75 prospectors leaving Hope on a steamer - “lotts disgusted & going back.”
Separate pages of the diary contain Wiswell’s list of supplies which included among others “2 cloth bags, 1 hunting knife, knives & forks, <…> 6 pairs socks, cheese cloth, claim bills, buttons, pack straps, rubber goods, 1 tent, <…>, 1 pairs overalls…”; “beans, bacon, sugar, salt, peaches, pepper, rice, milk, apples, coffee, tea, flower”, and others. The diary also houses several dried Alaskan flowers inserted between the leaves, one is captioned “picked on the sumitt [sic!] 7.000 feet above sea level, July 26, 1896, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska.” There is also a ptarmigan feather found on a “sumitt” during his hike.
Included in the archive are two hand-written “Notice of Location” filings, each for acres of placer mining ground in the Turnagain Arm Mining District, and two hand-written notes appointing John Newland to act as Wiswell’s “true and lawful attorney to locate and record any placer ground or quartz load that he may see fit so to do”. Wiswell’s August 26, 1896 receipt for paying the amount of $27.50 “For passage to Seattle on Schr. S. Sutherland” is also included. There is also a three-page ALS to Wiswell from his nephew which was mailed in an envelope addressed to “George E. Wiswell, Hope City, Cook’s Inlet, Alaska”. “You are certainly up among the polar bears and polar regions! Perhaps you might find the north pole and bring that down when you return! But without joking you are certainly “roughing it.” We all hope that all the snow about you there will be the peculiar treasure for which you are seeking so persistently <…> The Republican notional Convention has adjoined with a firm platform for gold, and McKinley and Hobart on the presidential ticket. People seem on the whole pleased, and the fight turned out much as was expected. <…> Can’t you make a little sketch of your country and show us where you are. Cook’s Inlet on the map looks like this: [a small hand-drawn map]. Perhaps you can correct the map if wrong and locate your claim approximately…”
Overall a unique private archive with a vivid first-hand account of gold prospecting during the 1896 stampede year of the Kenai Peninsula gold rush.
Born in East Machias, Maine, in the family of a shipbuilder, George E. Wiswell went to Alaska to seek fortune during the Kenai Peninsula Gold Rush (1895-98) and prospected there in May-September 1896. Apparently, he didn’t return east and never married. In the 1900s-1910s, he lived in Washington state (for some period with his nephew Thomas Wiswell, whose letter is a part of the archive), and died in Los Angeles in 1938.

Some excerpts from the diary (all spelling original):
[Voyage on “Utopia”]:
4 April: “We left Seattle at 4 am for Cooks Inlet, Alaska.”
9 April: “We made Sitka 3 p.m., it has a splendid harbor.”
14 April: “Plesent, ran up the Inlet, sited the stmr. schr. Lakme, ran through lots of drift ice, made mouth of R. Kenai about 4 pm, 3 off the boys went ashore…”
15 April: “Strong S.W. wind, made Kamahmak [Kachemak] Bay about noon, the captain is very sick, Excelsior crowd camped at Coal Bay.”
18 April: “Putt Capt. O’Brian ashore, verry sick.”
20 April: “About 10 pm a fire started in the galley and created quite an excitement. We got no breakfast until 11 A.M. Very poor fare.”
21 April: “A very exciting day. Searched the pasangers for chip stores. Had a meeting & subscribed $1.00 each for grub. Stmr. Lakme sailed for the arm.”
22 April: “Down to potatoes & beans with very little bread.”
24 April: “Str. Lakme landing passengers today.”
25 April: “Str. Lakme sailed for Seattle 7 pm.”
27 April: “A committee from the Lakme crowd came over to confer about a town sight when we get to the mines, the prospecters got back.”
28 April 28: “Shook the Lakme town boomers, left for the [Turnagain] arm 8 a.m.”

Prospecting on the Kenai Peninsula:
29 April: “got into Resurection 7.15 pm, <…> it is a cold looking country with lots of snow.”
1 May: “Discharged cargo. Began sleighing our stuff about 2 p.m. and got through 8 p.m. The first night in tent. 3 of the boys went with W. Johnson to locate claims.”
2 May: “We had 30 lbs of rolled oats stole last night. Another boy had $10 stolen in the morning…”
4 May: “…paned out my first pan of gold…”
5 May: “… we had a very heavy earthquake shock in the p.m. it sounded like a train of cors…”
6 May: “… Newland & French went up prospecting last night…”
8 May: “…The first white lady to stop in the camp arived.”
13 May: “Worked on rocker. A.C.Co’s schr. arived with store outfit. Tom fell into the river, lost large steel bucket.”
19 May: “Left Sleighback Cabin a.m. for Fox Creek, pitched the tent then prospected some.”
20 May: “Went up Fox Creek to look up our claims.”
21 May: “Newland & I went up to the forks to Resurection to see our location notes…”
28 May: “We prospected Fox Crick claim, but the water is so high that we can’t do anything…”
29 May: “Newland & I started out with 2 weeks grub to go over to Kenai Ri. Tom went back to Hope. We are camped 1 mile up on East Fork of Resurection. Shot a grouce for supper.”
1 June: “3 partys went out looking for a pass through the mountains. I shot 4 ptarmigans. We will start about midnight to get over the summit.”
2 June: “Started over the divide at 1.30 in the morning. Got through to the Kaluk[?] waters at 5 a.m., a romantic looking country.”
3 June: “We started down the Juno River to the Kenai, a rough trail part of the time”
4 June: “We left camp at 9 am down the Juno, went over a canyon 2 miles long, a water fall in to 50 ft high, lunched at mouth of Juno on Kenai, went up K. and camped ½ up 2d lake. Grand ceneary.”
6 June: “Went up to the divide of Kenai & Canyon Crick, mett quite a number prospecters, a very bad trail today.”
7 June: “Left camp at 11 am, camping in the canyon of Pass Crick. Camped at 7 pm, a verry verry hard trail the last 3 hors. <…> verry tired tonight.”
8 June: “We left Canyon Crick 3.15 pm over Pass Crick for Resurection, arrived at Sleighback Cabin 12.15 midnight, lotts of snow in the pass and slush knee deep. Resurection Creek booming, mett part of pack train.”
9 June “Layed over at the cabin to rest up. 18 men & 7 horses have passed here today.”
11 June, [at Hope]: “Steam schooner L.J. Perry left <…> with about 75 passengers to connect with the Dora, lotts disgusted & going back.”
20 June, [at Fox Creek]: “We got the crick running through the cutt tonight. The misquitoes are worse than ever.”
24 June: “Finished the dam and started on the bedrock ditch.”
27 June: “Worked on ditch. Prospects not encouraging. Misquitos bad.”
2 July: “Worked on the prospect ditch & hole.”
4 July: “Abandoned the crick at 10 a.m. No good. Left for Sleighback cabin.”
10 July: “Had mos meet stew for dinner. Tom shot buck this pm.”
11 July: “Leazier & I went up to […?] claim on Bear Crick.”
23 July: “Left Hope 8 am for up crick, arrived at Sleighback cabin at 4.30 pm, fond my rubber boots had been stolen from the cabin.”
24 July: “Arived at Fox Crick at 3 pm. Moos flys & misquitos very thick.”
25 July: “Arived at my claim on Resurection C. at 12 am, went up to Moos C. in pm and got woodsmans tools.”
26 July: “Grand view. We left camp at 8 am to climb to the summit of the Fox Creek Mountains, got there at 2 pm and back at 4 pm, about 12 miles and 7000 feet altitude.”
27 July: “Rained last night, the brush so wett we could not move. Killed 2 ducks with revolver.”
30 July: “Left Pass C. 8.30 am lunched at summit 12.30 pm, arrived at Canyon C. 5 pm.”
31 July: “We went up to the Polly Mining Co. claims today on Mills C. and down to Johnson & C. Cocks claim on Canyon C.”
1 August: “We went up to forks of Timberline & Mills Cricks. Had dinner with Johnnie the kid and gang. Bear, beans & bread.”
16 August: “Saw a $42 nuget from Bear Crick.”
20 August: “Lasere & I were out cranberring.”
26 August: “Left Hope for Fire Island 8 am, arrived on schr. Sutherland.”.

Item #292

Price: $4,500.00 USD