Hudson Stuck Of Texas and Alaska
It appears that Hudson Stuck played a major role in the lives of Frances and Walter. This biography, so well written, will give the reader some additional information heretofore missing from their story. I would suggest that the reader locate a copy of this book to place the following in context and therefore gain a better understanding of the person of Hudson Stuck.
Hudson Stuck emigrated from England to
Americain quest of scope and excitement, first in Texas and later in Alaska…
…What else was “accomplished” was less to Stuck’s liking. Wood had decided, with Rowe’s concurrence, that the number of mission stations should be cut. The foreign secretary’s visit had confirmed his preconceived notions about Stuck’s unwise expenditures and about
Alaska’s Indians. Too many Natives, Wood believed, viewed the mission as a “sort of Fairy Godmother that must supply them with everything they need," and he saw the "end to be achieved in Indian work in no way justifying "the sacrifices that would have to be made." Although not fully agreeing, Rowe also wanted a shift in the emphasis on whom the church should serve in the north. Appeals for the Indian, “a people who are so weak in self effort," should not, he argued, "be made at the cost ... of the new developing places where the population is white." Rowe believed that with the Indian of Alaska "fast disappearing" it was time to emphasize the work among the whites. Wood also had scant enthusiasm for Stuck's desires "to keep the Indians Indians." Knowing his remarks to be "heresy" in Stuck's mind, he, only half in jest, proposed transporting "both Indians and Eskimos from those rather bleak regions" to a part of Alaska "where there is something more of an outlook for the future." Although usually not so direct with Stuck, Wood constantly argued with his friend over the ultimate fate of Alaska's aboriginals, telling him they had no "racial future" and "no national future." Why, Wood wondered, should the church ask people to donate their lives or their money to something that has "no special bearing on the future," however humane its current activities. Stuck scolded his friend for being so enamored of the "mongolian multitudes" and for discounting the "little people of Alaska." Declaring to Wood that "relative numbers" form a "poor gauge" of the church's duties, he vowed to "fight him to a finish' over the Native question.
More immediate problems faced Stuck in the autumn of 1917, when he despairingly reported to Wood that "the bottom seemed dropping out of everything at Fort
Yukon." Clara Burke, critically ill with septic fever, was, her husband believed, in need of an abdominal section. Dr. Burke - described by Stuck as "overwrought, anxious, and sleepless" and in no condition to perform the surgery - agreed to take his wife to a government physician at Nenana. Stuck, left behind in charge of six-year-old Hudson Burke, thought best it would be several weeks before the winter trails would allow the party's return. "At the worst," he realized that Clara might not return at all. Ten days later, on the last steamboat of the season, the Burkes came back home. Whether by the change of scenery and air or "by the sheer goodness of God," Clara was much improved, and Stuck's apprehension turned to happiness. But the thankfulness proved short-lived, for Walter Harper grew very ill with typhoid and Stuck's long-planned Arctic trek for winter 1917-18 seemed in shambles. The trip was to be his last extensive mush, because Harper would then go "outside" for college and Stuck contemplated only abbreviated journeys: he felt himself "too old to take another boy and bend him to my will ... ... Never again, Stuck wrote, would he brave the intense cold and snow of December and January. To his great joy," after several days of fever reaching 105 and after a loss of twenty pounds, Harper made a rapid recovery. On 9 November 1917, only nine days after Harper had first sat up in bed, the two men set out at 38° below zero on the initial leg of their winter trip. A notation in Stuck's diary reads: "I never thought to be so happy.”…
… broken snow on the Colleen made for some of the most laborious traveling of the whole winter's journey. Lifting snowshoes with two or three pounds of moist snow at every step caused Stuck's shoulder neuritis, which had been dormant, to return. So weary were both men that even their nightly studies lapsed, but they were consoled by knowing they had returned to the "land of life after the death and sterility of the coast." And as they cut cross-country by the portage to the Porcupine, they had a happy and unexpected reunion with Grafton Burke, who had gone to Rampart House to intercept the seriously ill explorer, Vilhialmur Stefansson. Stuck, Burke, and Harper then continued hauling Stefansson to the hospital at
, which they reached in three days. Having been absent just ten days shy of six months, Stuck and Harper were greeted by a village most happy at their safe return. FortYukon
While the welcomes still echoed, Stuck, with six weeks to wait before the river opened for summer visitations, began lobbying Wood by letter to increase the staff and funding for the Eskimo work at Point Hope. He wanted a trained teacher there and a trained nurse, a woman who could "get into the lives of the women as no man can." He told those at board headquarters: "I want to see some result from that trip; it was too arduous to be barren." Writing to S. Hall Young a famed presbyterian missionary, Stuck praised what that denomination had done at Point Barrow, in contrast to what his own church had accomplished at Point Hope. He vowed not to let up his efforts, predicting, "I shall proceed to get myself still more disliked by a vigorous effort to secure change and improvement."
The months between Stuck's return to
Fort Yukonin late April 1918 and the departure of Walter Harper for the States in early October proved to be difficult ones for the archdeacon. With the old mission house torn down and the new one still under construction, he resided in a tiny room in the hospital's attic, where he was forced to attack six months of correspondence without the use of his typewriter, because the clatter of the machine woke up the Burkes' baby and disturbed the patients. Of far more aggravation and worry was the spring breakup of the river ice and the prolonged flooding. With both the Yukon and the Porcupine very high, these rivers brought havoc to the shoreline atas great slabs of earth disappeared into the water. Indian cabins had to be dismantled and moved back from the water, the hospital tents for tuberculosis patients were inundated, and some of the expensive deflectors (piers), so painstakingly put along the riverbank at Stuck's request the previous year, vanished into the swirling stream. Only a change in the channel prevented the hospital from being washed away. Then on 6 June Reverend William Loola died, leaving Fort Yukon Fort Yukonwithout a permanent missionary. He was the only Native Alaskan clergyman and a man for whom Stuck had great affection and respect. Loola left a wife and five children for whom Stuck felt a financial responsibility, so he petitioned the Board of Missions to help and dug into his own pocket, giving over his recent $250 raise, his first increase in pay since moving to Alaska.
On the happier side, Stuck personally supervised the building of the Burkes' new home, a structure whose cost soon outstripped the money budgeted. When Wood received the new estimates, he responded with a groan and commented to Stuck: "Probably one ought to know you well enough to put it down as a settled fact that when you expect to spend some money you will certainly spend it." To no one's surprise, Stuck used his own funds to supplement the construction. By 1 July he had overdrawn his salary up to New Year's Day of 1919.And he kept bombarding Wood with letters and telegrams requesting more financial help. In one instance, Wood, reacting to both the steamy August temperatures in
New York Cityand to Stuck's incessant demands, erupted in anger, writing Stuck that "some good hot day look out, the bomb is coming your way." Wood also warned Stuck, who was already $2,000 over the original $7,500 allocated, "not under any circumstances to exceed $9,500." When a special appeal to the church press brought in some additional money, Wood wrote again, "please exercise more than your usual care in expenditure."
When not directing construction, Stuck passed many hours talking with Stefansson, who, under Burke's guidance quickly recovered from his near-fatal attack of typhoid. The famous explorer, fresh from five years of living in the Arctic, was apparently in no hurry to leave
FortYukon for the outside. His agent had telegraphed to tell him not to arrive in New York until just prior to the autumn lecture season. Stuck and Stefansson squared off repeatedly over the proper role of religious work among the Natives, Stuck believing that the explorer had no idea what missionaries really did. To his mind, Stefansson seemed only interested in what could gratify his curiosity and seemed unable to comprehend “the work that men do for the benefit of humanity.” Stuck was similarly disturbed by his new acquaintance's enormous ego, one fed by the claims of some "outside" who had hailed Stefansson as "the most remarkable northern explorer in history." "Where," Stuck asked a noted geographer in New York, "does brother Peary come in?" Stuck owned a copy of Stefansson's book My Life with the Eskimos and filled it with emphatic and sarcastic marginal scrawls, noting the explorers "insinuations and half-truths." Stefansson discovered the book in Stuck's room and the resulting skirmishes, Clara Burke later recalled, "were a liberal education in the extremes of scientific opinion." The struggle pitted a devoted Christian against a dedicated atheist; their conversations were long, earnest, and usually loud. Although the two contested on many points and saw things with different eyes, they did try to recognize the value of each other's work. And Stuck, as he told Stefansson, would "not give up hope that by and by our points of view may approximate." They agreed that Natives should keep to indigenous ways or to return to them if they had parted. To the explorer, "all other questions seem to me of minor importance."
Stuck also took an abbreviated cruise on the Pelican, the last trip with Harper before his protégé was to leave
Alaska. The pleasure of being with Harper helped to offset the discomfort of temperatures in the nineties (the highest Stuck had ever experienced in), the "intolerable" mosquitoes and horseflies, and the distressing news that the summer's salmon harvest was poor. Most discouraging of all was the temporary abandonment, because of a lack of staff, of the hospital and mission at Tanana. Stuck ended his river visitations with an enforced week-long stopover at Nenana, now a burgeoning railroad center. With the building boom had come a dentist, whose services Stuck badly needed. He was finally paying the "supreme price," he wrote in his journal, "from the neglect of my teeth as a boy." The one tooth that had long sustained his upper bridge work had ulcerated and had to come out, thus necessitating a plate of false teeth. Ever sensitive to his appearance when in town, Stuck took a bedroom in the building which housed the dentist's office so that he could have some privacy while partially toothless. For solace he had a stack of books to see him through his ordeal. The process and result mortified him, for although the inflammation of gums, jaw, and mouth would heal, the "abominable" plate would always be a burden, especially during winter mushes, because it had to be removed and cleaned after each meal. Feeling sorry for himself, he recorded in his diary: "This plate seems a long step nearer old age and decrepitude." With his mouth incompletely healed, he returned to the Pelican for Alaska Fort Yukon, where he would officiate at the marriage of Walter Harper and Frances Wells.
After attending the "
Deaconness School" run inin summer 1917, to work as a nurse. When Harper fell seriously ill with typhoid that September, it was Frances who cared for him around the clock until he recovered. Stuck, who had strictly focused goals for Harper's education-plans so serious that he refused even to consider sending him to his beloved University of the South since "they'd make him play football"- was slow to discover that the feelings between his protégée and Miss Wells had grown from friendship to love. But Stuck had never understood such relationships, and he seriously and insensitively underestimated the depth of the involvement. In November 1917, he wrote Wood "in confidence" that Miss Wells had fallen in love with Harper and wanted to marry him. "There is,” Stuck declared, "no danger in it." He had told the nurse that she should be a sister to Harper since "by the time he is ready to marry" she would be forty. Stuck pronounced Harper ready to put aside any thought of marriage and to "bend himself to the sole task of pursuing a medical degree. Things did not work out as expected, for Harper would make three momentous decisions while on the winter trip of 1917-18. Philadelphiaby Stuck's former colleague Clara Carter, Miss Wells had arrived at Fort Yukon
Although Stuck had begun long before to view Harper as almost a son to me," the young man, reticent by nature, had been less than open in expressing his own personal feelings for his mentor. Yet the early weeks of their Arctic trek changed that, as Harper opened up, telling Stuck details of his boyhood and being increasingly more outwardly affectionate. As Stuck later recalled, Harper came to see him as "almost a father-the only father he had ever known." On this trip, Stuck believed, "the relationship was established as closely as it can exist without the actual cement of blood." But if Harper was now Stuck's "son" he was also similar to so many strong-willed young men who need to make their own decisions, no matter how well meaning the advice of a father might be. Harper wanted to marry Frances Wells in late summer 1918. Although he still hoped for a medical career at some future date, he intended to go outside and join the war effort by enlisting in the Army Air Corps. As their journey progressed, Stuck reluctantly came to accept his decisions and therefore sent letters urging both Rowe and Wood to write to Miss Wells's father in Philadelphia to tell him of their high regard for Harper. Wood even addressed the question of Walter’s mixed blood, a subject, he soon learned, that did not interest or bother Mr. Wells at all.
Stuck married Walter Harper and Frances Wells on
4 September 1918, an event of such apparent magnitude to him that his diary is void of entries from that day to the departure of the Harpers some five weeks later. With his most intimate friend, John Wood, away in the Orient, Stuck had no one to whom he could unburden himself, yet just hours before the couple left for the States, news arrived that Germany had sued for peace and had requested an armistice. To Stuck's joy, Harper would now go directly to college, which would be paid for, not by Stuck as he had expected, but by the bride, who had a $10,000 legacy. As Rowe described the newlyweds, "They were coming out in such happiness, with hopes and promises so bright.”
On Wednesday evening, 25 October, Walter and Frances, along with scores of other passengers from interior
Alaska, transferred at Skagwayto the steamer Princess Sophia for the trip down the inside passage to Vancouver and Seattle. At Thursday morning, while passing down the Lynn Canalduring a blinding snowstorm, the ship, some forty-five miles from Juneau, ran aground on a reef. As the steamer clung tenaciously to the rocks, the crew, because of high winds, was unable to transfer anyone from the stranded vessel to boats standing by a few hundred yards away. The captain of the stricken ship initially anticipated that high tide would free the Princess Sophia on Thursday afternoon, and when the release didn't occur, he still refused to off-load his passengers amidst the snow and sleet, insisting that the danger was minimal. After two days of perching precariously, the ship was slammed by another, even more violent, storm. At ten minutes to five on Saturday morning, the steamer's wireless operator sent out a distress signal, adding just a line to say "good-bye, we are foundering," before the Princess Sophia slipped off the reef and went down. Of the more than 300 people on the ship, none survived.
When the daily telegraphic bulletin was received at Fort
Yukonon 26 October, Stuck refused to accept the report coming in about the sinking of the Princess Sophia. After a special dispatch arrived announcing that all had been lost and mentioning Harper by name, Stuck wrote in his diary: "I will not believe it at present." He thought it incredible that a vessel could be lost with all hands in the narrow and protected waterways of the Lynn Canal. He rationalized that the names received "as more likely" to be the names of the survivors, and he clung to the thought that Rowe, his wife, and young son had experienced a similar accident eleven months before and that all 36o people had been safely landed on an island before their ship sank. The next day brought telegrams from friends confirming the tragedy. Stuck, with no official word yet, still would not accept that his "dear boy, a son to me," and his bride had been "swallowed up in the black waters." But on the last day of October the territorial governor, who had directed the futile rescue operation, notified Stuck that Harper’s body had been recovered. A day later Stuck learned that the remains of Frances Harper had been identified. Although "staggered" under the blow and calling it "the most terrible thing that has happened in my experience," he finally accepted the inevitable and telegraphed Mr. Wells to urge that the Harpers be buried side by side in Juneau. Then, in the same church where he had performed the couple's wedding less than two months earlier, he presided over a memorial service for Walter Harper and the others lost.
Two weeks after the disaster, Stuck noted in his diary on a page exactly opposite his happy entry of
8 November 1917, that the next day marked a year since he and Harper had set out on their arctic circuit. He recorded that he had gone down to the Pelican a few days earlier and "could scarce bear to enter her: everything on board spoke of Walter." The memories were too much and his spirits too low for him to consider another winter journey. He believed his travels to be "well nigh ended." What he did want to do, no matter how painful the task, was to write an account of their arctic sojourn, one which could be a memorial to Harper. So he immediately began work on this book, the fourth of his volumes on Alaska published by Charles Scribner's Sons.
On his return to
Tananain June, 1913, after the successful Denaliclimb, Stuck had received a request from E. L. Burlingame, editor of Scribner's Magazine. Burlingame, who had sent his letter before he knew whether the Stuck- Karstens party would succeed, wanted Stuck to supply him with an exclusive 8,000-word account of the climb and to allow the periodical's parent publisher, Charles Scribner's Sons, first option on any book-length manuscript about the ascent. Stuck jumped at the offer and agreed to write the article. His initial letter to Scribner's indicated that he had already finished much of the longer narrative. He also told Burlingame that "nine-tenths" of a book-length study on his winter travels, entitled Ten Thousand Miles with a Dogsled, was already in New Yorkbeing typed. Was Scribner's interested? Five months earlier, Stuck had asked …
… the divided loyalties of the recent immigrants, one had had to be wary. When traveling in the bush or along the creeks, Stuck had guardedly remained silent until he discovered the national origins of his would-be hosts. Although throughout the conflict he had fervently believed the kaiser to be a mad man-and too often declared that opinion-he had also uncharacteristically kept his counsel and held his tongue when his listeners might have cherished pro-German sympathies.
The war had accelerated the general exodus of whites, which had already begun because of the prewar decline in gold mining. Some newcomers to Alaska had returned to Europe to join the fighting, and even before the U.S. entry, some, like Stuck's good friend Dr. J. 0. Sutherland had joined the Canadian forces. Later many whites "came out" to secure higher wages in Seattle or
in war-related industries, and the white population in Alaska fell from 35,000 to 17,000. Bishop Rowe bemoaned the trend, but Stuck generally approved, because his long-held notion that nine-tenths of Portland Alaska would never be of use to any but the Natives was thereby justified and because 'his" Natives might be spared the insidious influence of degraded whites. He even saw a bright side to the destruction of the winter fur market due to the war, for now the Indians would have to do without "white man's grub" and "live once more mainly on the resources of the country."
What was distressing to Stuck about the emigration pattern was that the "best" whites were lost while the "lowdown" ones remained, and yet he of course continued to minister to the isolated miners, including them in his summer and winter itineraries. He followed stampeders to "Flat" or to "
" or to "Poorman" or anywhere "color" had been discovered and where, as a young engineer noted in 1916, "wine, women, and song were the order of the day and night." After the war’s end, prohibition became law, and Stuck of course looked with favor upon the consequent changes, especially in his native charges, who were becoming a "vigorous, self-supporting people." Stuck wished and expected that trend to continue, as a consequence of prohibition and the diminishment of the white population. Long City
For weeks after the sinking of the Princess Sophia in late October 1918, Stuck struggled with his grief at Harper's death. He had long been accustomed to the ubiquity of death, but now he seemed unable to shake off his feeling of loss. He wondered, as he told John Chapman at Anvik, whether he had fixed his affections "too exclusively" on Walter. Although he never slept particularly well, now Stuck woke up night after night with the dreadful vision of Harper and his bride being swallowed up in the icy waters. In December 1918, he wrote a friend that "though the stunning effect of the blow has passed it leaves me with a kind of amazement and crushing of confused sorrow." In such intimate revelations, Chapman later reflected, Stuck was breaking with his customary reticence: more expected was his telling another friend that "my dead must bury their dead for there is work yet to do." Indeed, some signs of his renewing combative spirit had surfaced in mid-November 1918 when he opposed a quarantine order by the U.S. deputy marshal at Fairbanks .
The order came apparently in response to an outbreak of influenza in Fairbanks, and in an effort to curtail the epidemic, the deputy forbade all travel in or out of Fort Yukon. Yet Stuck's headquarters had been completely isolated since the freezeup of the Yukon a month before, and only now were the trails ready for mushing. With the mail carrier due at any time, Stuck reasoned that the Indians from remote areas currently at
Fort Yukon should depart immediately rather than wait until the mailman arrived with letters - and possible contamination. He thus told the Indians who had come to make their annual purchases to go at once, and he wrote a very long and sarcastic essay for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner denouncing the quarantine regulations as a "high-handed piece of panic-stricken stupidity." Under the bold headline "Archdeacon Is Opposed to It," Stuck quoted Burke's argument that it was better for as many Indians as possible to be "away to the woods" than to huddle in ill-ventilated cabins, and he defied the marshal to do anything to stop the flight. Let the entire population of Fairbanks "go to bed and stay there for the winter" if it desires, he reasoned, but to order the cessation of all travel in the interior was "unreasonable and intolerable" in that it kept the trapper from his traps, the hunter from his game, and husbands and fathers from their families.
Thus warmed again to writing and still believing that if Walter Harper had not married Frances Wells he might still be alive, Stuck composed and sent to the Churchman his scathing "Nurses and Matrimony" article. In an accompanying letter to a mission official in New York City, he declared: "These flirting and marrying nurses are a thorn in the flesh to one charged with the care of a hospital." He wanted no more women coming to Alaska seeking husbands. When the article finally caught up to Wood, at a stopover in
Honoluluwhile he was returning from the Far East, the foreign secretary chastised his friend by letter for the piece's 'unsympathetic nakedness of statement." He told Stuck to beware when next outside, as presidents of women's organizations "would throw" him "to the lions.”
Despite his melancholy, Stuck intended to make his usual winter trek to the mission stations throughout the interior, but a renewed and intense attack of neuritis left him unable to put on or take off a coat without pain or help. He delayed his trip as long as he could, only telegraphing for a replacement in mid-January of 1919. Throughout his twenty-six-year ministry Stuck had been physically equal to his duty, and the request did not come easily to him. However, knowing that the outposts and Indian encampments had to be visited, he transferred his travel appropriation to Frederick Drane, the young clergyman at Nenana he had personally recruited five years earlier, and he sent his “new boy" Ala with dogs, sled, and travel gear to meet Drane at Tanana.
Although he was thereby forced to be encamped at
Fort Yukonthe entire winter, he could at least be productive, so he completed the lengthy article entitled "The Arctic Hospital," which had been contracted by Scribner's Magazine, and his $150 payment went directly into the operating budget of Saint Stephen's Hospital at Fort Yukon. Then he attacked the task of writing his fourth volume on for Charles Scribner's Sons, a book that covered his previous winter's circuit of the Arctic coast. Additionally, and after considerable correspondence with William Sturges, the education secretary at church headquarters, concerning just what was wanted and when it was needed, Stuck partly completed a mission study handbook on Alaska Alaskafor adult Sunday school classes. Stuck did not neglect his general health during these times of indoor composition; he resolved to spend two hours daily on a brisk walk, whatever the weather, for, as he put it, "if I have but one arm I still have two legs." He had no intention of letting himself run down." He was currently housed in splendid quarters in the Burkes' new house, and these, the best facilities he had ever known in Alaska, permitted him to write in peace. Four days before the sinking of the Princess Sophia, Stuck had moved from the attic of the hospital, a place without even shelves for books, into a spacious two-room suite, although, as he poignantly told a friend, he would have gladly endured the attic with only cardboard walls separating him from a crying infant and a snoring nurse if he could thus revoke the irrevocable.
Gradually Stuck's spirits revived. The writing of A Winter Circuit of Our Arctic Coast, while reminding him painfully of the adventure he had shared just a year before with Harper…
… Nevertheless, as he was fussing in August 1920 over the Pelican's difficulties, he wrote a telling letter to Wood, in which he said that "an old boat is like an old man - something always going wrong; drawing more and more water; losing speed; looking shabby and worn however she be painted; not having the heart in her that she used to have when she took all sorts of chances and won out." His friend's answer from
New York, "I hope you are not making any personal allusions when you compare an old boat to an old man" was never read by Hudson Stuck. He had died on 11 October 1920 .
"He died," wrote Burke to Wood, “as you and I who knew him best might have expected, but earlier in life. His nervous system seemed to go all to pieces." Stuck's cold had turned to bronchitis, followed by excruciating pain in the right shoulder, which had earlier been relieved. With Hap Burke away hunting, Clara, helped by the schoolteachers and nurse, stayed with Stuck throughout the nights. They got him out of bed to walk, with their support, whenever the arm hurt. Aware that Stuck's health was rapidly deteriorating, Clara sent a telegram to Burke that quickly brought him home. Burke found Stuck much depressed because he could no longer see well enough to read, and he was shocked to see Stuck's pale and drawn face with "expressionless eyes, so unnatural that they suggested only a hazy intellect." The morning after Burke's arrival, Stuck was resting quietly and had recovered full rationality, asking Hap to help him make plans to take the last boat out. Burke told Stuck that they'd monitor the intensity of pain and decide when the final boat of the year came into sight in a week. In a "reconciled tone," Stuck replied: "Well, Hap, I am glad then, if I am going to be sick, that I am to be sick around you and Clara." But the slush ice grew thicker on the Yukon, the ice at the water's edge broadened, and the
Yukon "groaned and groaned night and day" until all navigation ceased. Stuck, now suffering from bronchial pneumonia, began to slip in and out of consciousness, while Dr. Burke, emotionally and physically drained, did all he could to relieve the pain in Stuck's shoulder, using bromides and violet rays and baking it with a hot air apparatus. He tried medicated vapors for the bronchitis and administered caffeine by hypodermic to stimulate Stuck's heart. Stuck's cough became "very harassing and weakening," and he proved "utterly unable" to raise the mucus without help. With the bronchial complication came breathing difficulties.
Burke later wrote that Stuck seemed from the beginning of his last illness to "expect to go." Stuck informed Chief Jonas of his desire to be buried in the Native graveyard, and he dictated letters to Chapman and Drane, requesting that Drane take on his winter itinerary. Before becoming semi-comatose, Archdeacon Stuck told his old friend Dr. Burke: "I am ready to go; I think my usefulness is served - my work is done." His temperature, which had ranged between 103 and 105, climbed to nearly 107 just before he died at four in the afternoon on the eleventh of October, one month before his fifty-eighth birthday.
Once while Burke stroked his mentor's forehead, he whispered, "Archdeacon, do you know how Hap loves you and loves you?" Without moving or opening his eyes, Stuck murmured: "I am glad, glad, Hap, you love me - I am poor on love." Another time near the end, Burke suggested reading to him, and Stuck asked for Wrangell's Siberia and Polar Sea. Burke read from the passage concerning the separation of Wrangell and Matiuschkin in 1820.
He lay back and I continued the text, referring to Matiuschkin's disappointment and retracing his trail, but I had not read far when the Archdeacon startled me by his remark, "Yes I met him." "Whom did you meet?" I inquired. "Matiuschkin," he responded, "right there I met him on the trail."
That episode was fresh in Dr. Burke's memory a few days later when he received an inquiry about Stuck's health from the wireless operator at Eagle. The answer came back through the frigid darkness. "He is on the long trail now."
With snow clouds darkening the sky and the slush ice groaning in the background, Grafton Burke, his tears "beyond control," conducted the burial service. One English hymn and one "in the native" was sung. Burke, in vestments, preceded the body borne on the strong shoulders of Indians along a trail swept clean of snow through the woods to the grave. Hudson Stuck was buried where he had asked to lie, adjacent to the final resting place of William Loola, the longtime Native deacon at Fort Yukon.
Return To Aunt Frances Sub-Table Of Contents