Frances to Daddy, June 2, 1918
Postmark (Fort Yukon, Alaska, June 2, 1918.)
St. Stephen's Hospital,
Fort Yukon, Alaska
Dear Daddy: Your two letters of March 27th and April 24th have both come and I am so very glad to have received them with the promise of your picture in the near future. I hope I shall not have to wait very long as I shall watch every mail for it as well as usual and also the Outlooks which have as yet not put in appearance.
I wrote a long letter to you on my way here and which you will probably receive in this same mail. It describes the first part of my trip home which took exactly 46 hours instead of the scheduled 6 hrs. and was full of excitement. Sometimes the close shaves were too close for any degree of comfort!!
After standing still or dodging the flow of ice we came to what was almost a hopeless stand still for what was thought would be at least 2 days. I had gone to bed when the Pilot Julius Stankus knocked on my door and asked if I would be afraid to go the remaining 17 miles with him in his launch knowing something of how anxious I was to be in Fort Yukon again. I would go anywhere with Julius in his launch at any part of the Yukon navigation as he is a wizard at his job. So I got into my trail things and we started out down the back sloughs but soon had to go the main channel which was running full of huge cakes of ice. That was an hour of hair breath escapes, but we arrived here safely at 2:15 A.M. in the broad daylight with the sun shining and Walter was on the lookout having about 40 fits as he knew I was supposed to be bound down stream from Circle and he knew the condition of the river. It was not so dangerous when the boat left Circle but the ice seemed to be possessed with a myriad of demons and the current was swifter than it has ever known to have been. It was a tremendous experience as we had to run the gasoline engine at top speed in order to be able to make the almost instantaneous right angle turns to get between rapidly running ice averaging from 10 to 100 tons each!!
I am here alive. Very well and happier than I have ever been in my life. In fact I have been pretty happy many times but never in a happiest dream did I come to any near what I am these days. I expect you know by now who is responsible for all this happiness and may be you have read between lines and in spite of the fact I told you there was nothing to read that I would tell you rather than have you guessing. Walter had planned to see you this summer and tell you all about everything and he will see you as soon as he gets out. Until then there is nothing I can tell you of any plans for the future. We have none but when we have them made you shall know them too. The war has stopped Walter's plans for College and Medical school and just how long it will keep us indefinately unsettled we know not. Walter is registered for the aviation corps and will probably go to join his colors from New York where he has friends well up in the Officers rank of the Aviators and it will be at that time he will make a "bee line for Germantown." I know you will think the world and all of him and I feel that he will win even those of the "bunch" that might catch their breaths at the thought of his Indian blood. Some of the narrow minded "cats" in the circle of our acquaintances will have a glorious time hob nobbing but let them go to it. Walter has hundreds & hundreds of friends in the East as well as in Alaska among the very finest such as the Kassbys, in Morristown and "such like" people of New York and in the school near Boston where he was educated so if anyone yaps tell them to go to it but don't let me catch them. I know you people. (and from what "254 & 417" have said about Walter) will be happy with me and so I should worry about the rest - Why did I not tell you before this? Just this that we had no idea when we could be married and what the future would be we could but await and see and as it might have been 6 years we wanted to hold off on the announcement of the engagement. Now anything may happen sooner or later especially if Walter does go to war - However, whatever does happen I will be here unless I am called for the Red Cross nevertheless I will let you know of any change of my plans other than staying here at Fort Yukon - I may be transferred to Tanana the twin hospital to this only the town is more white than native as there it is Walter's home and they speak the same dialect of the Indian tongue that he knows and therefore we could do more far reaching good among the natives but this is all only talk so do not publish it. What I do want is you and of course the boys and Eleanor & Esther , the Aunts, "254", Wells' cousins, Jackson, & Cousin Esther & Mrs. Willits, to know it first hand from me - and ask you to make a point of telling them as soon as you possibly can as I cannot get time to write to them by this mail and I think the Archdeacon is telling the news by this mail - on just who's permission I know not - but since I came back I have learned he told it pretty generally. This writer on his own responsibility - which in the Archdeacon is pardonable as it is him to go ahead and do things expecting everyone to indorse it and as it is the truth he has told there is nothing left for us to do but indorse it even if we are forced to do it sooner than we thought.
I shall write to the members of the family as I get the chance but until then please tell them before some one else does as I would hate it and there is a danger since the Archdeacon has undertaken to speak of it that it might get to them from an outsider and I would hate it. What does Walter look like? He is taller than I. Weighs about 185 is built like Joe. Has Joe's olive tinted skin with red cheeks dark brown curly hair, brown eyes. I'll get some good snaps of him and that will help a little but one has to meet him to appreciate him at all. He is generally known as a "Prince among men" and if you want to know anything else about from a crude outsiders point of view look up under "Walter" or "Harper" in the Archdeacons -"Ten Thousand Miles on Dog Sled" - "Assent of Mt. Mckinley and the "Yukon and its Tributaries." I feel as if I were giving a reference and I am smiling as I write it however it will interest you and of course as I think he is the top of everything in the world I am not competant of giving you a "fair" picture of him.
By the way the lead pencil across one of the pages is Mrs Burke's letter to you about Walter and when I left the room for a minute she got in her share. They nearly have us crazy with their teasing from the Archdeacon down, but we are having our fun out of it too and isn't it funny how nothing really annoys one under some circumstances.
Now sit down and give us your fatherly blessing etc. and Walter will be to see you shortly to receive his "kick out of the front door" All lines according to the funny sheets.
Lots of love to you all and tell them all to write just as they would talk and do it quick. I am not afraid of the "home people" and be sure to keep me posted as to the "cats meows" as I shall treat them as a joke unless they say it to my face and then they had better look out.
By the way no one would think Walter had any Indian blood in him to look at him so the fact need not be made public outside of the family as there is no use stirring up trouble not that I am ashamed of it far from it in fact it is many of his inheritances he has from his mother that makes me love him heaps more than if they were lacking. And now good by daddy dear and write soon to us. A heaps of love from both of us. May 26th, 1918.
(Editor's note: Fort Yukon is located on the Yukon River at the Arctic Circle. Circle is located south, up the river)
Go To Next Letter Return To Aunt Frances Sub-Table Of Contents