2.5 St. Michael to Eureka

Thanks to my Aunt Ruth for the family photos.  Click to see this map; it’s a long one showing about 18 months of Hayes bouncing around recuperating from the rigor of his trip down the Yukon and getting back on his feet financially.

July 23, 1908 – November 21,1909

Just before arriving at St. Michael, Hayes and Feodor were so hungry they tried catching sandhill cranes, “or anything we might find to take the slack out of our stomachs.” Feodor chased an old bird trailing a wing until he was a dot on the horizon. Hayes caught a young bird, but after a fierce struggle, didn’t have the heart to wring the bird’s neck.

Alaska Sandhill Crane

Both men must have been hoarding just enough money for fare from St. Michael to Nome and then south down to Seattle.   Among “the goodly number of ex-gold hunters” joining them aboard the Ohio only one requires a straight-jacket but eleven others “have been so despondent their minds have been clouded.” Hayes, Feodor and the others “considered rational enough to be left to our own resources” joke about the hardships and misfortunes. “If we could not do this we too would be insane.”

Sailing south out of Nome, a passenger named John Rosene  tried to recruit the best of the gold miners for a venture in Siberia. Hayes figures that the Russians would have long since exploited any real prospects in Siberia – and he’s had enough of the cold: “Africa, Australia, any place but this bleak land where all is moss, snow, ice, bitter wind and no food.”

Looking at the map, you can see Hayes getting back on his feet in familiar fashion after one of his devastating adventures: knocking about the western United States getting a stake together before setting off to some new corner of the world.

The mountains of Idaho are beautiful, “but a working man can’t live on beauty.” In August of 1908 he sold magazines for one day, then landed sawmill work in Raymond Washington. At $25 per month, this job lasted until October when he left to visit his Uncle Jim (and Aunt Mary, great-great-grandparents of the author of this blog) in Riverton, Oregon. Always oppressed by family, and too proud to tell them he’s down to his last 80¢, he beats it out of Riverton to another mill job in North Bend that pays $2 a day.

James Manley Perkins and Mary Lucretia Covey Perkins

At North Bend he finds some kindness from a young people’s meeting called Christian Endeavor.  “To be met as a human being … to be asked to return makes it seem like I was still a man.” Nevertheless, he demurs: “they have seen me only when it is dark and do not realize how poor I am. … Until I get some decent clothes it is out.”

Finally, in November of 1908, with a better position as log hauler for the mill at North Bend, Hayes can afford to send to Montgomery Ward for an order of clothing to replace those he’d been calling rags ever since the Yukon. With the new clothing, “I have crashed the crème de la crème of the town and even the mill bosses speak when we meet on the street.” The big boss at North Bend is 87 year-old L.M. Simpson whose vast lumber empire initially was “built up by cutting corners, as have all the big fortunes of the West.” According to Hayes, “No man could hold a job here thirty years ago unless he first took up a homestead. This would be located in the finest timber, and must be sold to Simpson when proved upon.”

Apparently Simpson lived a colorful life. One of his close friends, Peter B. Kyne, “has builded a story of romance founded on the factual experiences of this remarkable man” titled Cappy Ricks. “Of course, the romantic part of it had to be injected into the tale but Simpson’s life is truly portrayed in this book as it has been lived.” (Cappy Ricks or The Subjugation of Matt Peasley has recently been posted as a free ebook.)

The job at North Bend lasted until March of 1909 but Simpson had the bad habit of shutting down the mills “just to make us realize he is boss” so Hayes moved north to another mill job surrounded by “Finns, Swedes, Norwegians and other Scandinavians” in driving rain at Aberdeen Washington. By June he was east in Pomeroy haying with a threshing gang. Then in August, a little farther east harvesting wheat at Nez Perce with “money piling up.” By September, he was fit and flush enough to begin hearing the call of far places again. “I still have some faint remembrance of a river called the Yukon, and of a stormy corner called Cape Stiff by sailormen. But it seems to be the best part of my life, overcoming these hardships and dangers, and here goes.”

But first to Seattle for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific world’s fair.

Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Washington’s First World’s Fair: A Timeline History
by Alan J. Stein

Hayes is not surprised that the “hurry gurdy part” attracts most people: “Not so different from the Barbary Coast, a suspicion of naughtiness without the blatant obscenity that portrays the Barbary.”

After seeing the fair up north, Hayes made a quick jaunt down to California – San Francisco, San Pedro, then out to “Cinco, far out in the desert beyond Mojave” to check on a job.  The foreman courteously asked Hayes  to work seven days a week; Hayes as politely declined.  “No man can do justice to himself and his employer and work every day, to say nothing of pushing the helpless mules he drives.”

Leaving the desert, Hayes returned briefly to Oregon for a few week’s farm work for Cousin Joe Donaldson at Riverton. (Minnie Louisa Perkins, daughter of James Manley Perkins, so first cousin to Hayes,  married Joseph Duncan Donaldson.  Minnie and Joseph Donaldson are the great-grandparents of the author of this blog.)  In November of 1909 Hayes bid goodbye to his uncles in Oregon: “Somehow I feel encouraged to try for Australia.”

Joseph Duncan Donaldson and Minnie Louisa Perkins Donaldson

With his health restored a year-and-a-half after the arduous row down the Yukon, it’s time for another big jump.  His experience in the California logging mills assures Hayes that cargo ships regularly sail lumber west from Eureka to Australia.  Surely at Eureka a short-handed steamer will welcome an experienced seaman for a work-away to the unvisited continent down under.

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