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William Moore Testimony

Captain William Moore was the 73-year-old father of claimant Bernard Moore. Most researchers consider William Moore the moving force behind the original settlement of the Skagway Valley by the Moores and the man with the ideas. However, he was a citizen of the British Commonwealth (Canada), and the general feeling was that an alien would not be able to claim a homestead in Alaska (albeit the law was not clear on this point). Due to the fact that the boundary between Alaska and Canada had not yet been settled, and both the United States and Great Britain claimed the upper Lynn Canal, US officials were reluctant to grant any rights or privileges to Canadians in Skagway or Dyea. To do so would strengthen Canadian claims to the area. The questioning of Moore was oriented towards the protestants' claim that he had no rights to file for a homestead on the upper Lynn Canal. 

APRIL 6, 1898



[Page 158]

Captain William Moore was then called in behalf of the claimant and being first duly sworn testified as follows:

Q. State your age, name and present place of residence?

A. My name is William Moore, my age is 73 years the fifth of next June, I am now living at Skaguay.

Q. When did you first come to the Pacific Coast?

A. I arrived in San Francisco on the 2nd day of October '49.

Q. When did you come up to the North West Pacific coast?

A. In '58.

Q. Have you been in that vicinity ever since?

A. I have.

Q. During that period state whether or not you been almost con­stantly exploring and acting as a frontiersman and pioneer, from '58 on?

A. I have with short intervals.

Q. When did you first see this piece of land at Skaguay that is under application for patent now?

(The attorneys for the protestants at this time object to any testimony or evidence being introduced on the part of the applicant as to the residence upon the property in controversy or any portion thereof, also as to any improvements or the value thereof on said property and as to the possession of said property or any portion thereof, or to show the necessity of the applicant for the said property to have the 160 acres or any part thereof for the purpose of trade and manufacture, for the reason that it is part of the applicants original case and does not rebut any new evidence introduced by the protestants nor is it in anywise cerrebuttal testimony, for the further reason that the residence of the wit­ness upon the property in question would not be the residence of the applicant, for the last reason the testimony is irrelevant and immaterial.)

[Page 159]

The object is overruled for the following reasons: That it is mandatory upon the Board under rule 41 or the rules or practice that no testimony shall be exc1uded on the ground or any objection thereto and also for the reason that this has been the ruling of this Board in this case heretofore. Counse1 for protestant excepts to the ruling or the Board.

A. It was about the 5th day or June, 1887.

Q. That was the year you went over the White Pass?

A. Yes sir.

Q. I believe that trip you made over the White Pass was the first white man that ever crossed it?

A. I believe so.

Q. Were you on the ground again in 1888?

A. Yes sir.

Q. What was the condition or the ground at that time with refer­ence to pasture land?

(Here counsel for protestant states that the objection made at the beginning of this witness’s testimony shall apply to each and every question asked him pertaining to matters contained in the objections.)

A. The condition of the ground was that I should judge there was from 20 to 25 acres of good pasture land. The grasses growing close to the water’s edge were coarser than those which grew up where Ben's house now is and farther up.

Q. How about the size of the grass was it thrifty and luxurious?

A. Close to the water’s edge it was coarse and broad, it was not as coarse as it is near some tide water. The grass grew about three feet high.

Q. You thought it was a very handsome place?

A. I thought it was natures garden spot, and I told my son when we found it that here we had better anchor.

[Page 160]

Q. And your son located it?

A. We built a cribbing there the same year, 1887, and the schooner "Charlie" made a landing there and took a load of furs to Juneau.

Q. And in 1888 your son took it up and the first log house was built.

A. Yes.

Q. Will you answer this question as to whether or not Ben has been in the undisputed possession of it from that time until the jumpers got on it?

A. We have been in the undisputed possession of it until the jumpers got on it and drove us out.

Q. Are you a citizen of the United States?

A. Yes sir.

Cross examination.

Q. You son Bernard Moore has been in hearing of this examination and easily accessible to refute and testify in his own behalf in all matters brought out here has he not?

A. Most of the time.

Redirect examination.

Q. Counsel for claimant offers the witness an instrument, and he identifies it as his Declaration papers and he says that the name signed thereto purporting to be his signature is his signature. The same was offered in evidence and received, marked "Exhibit C. of claimant's in testimony.

Q. Were you in the service of the U.S. Navy in the Mexican war?

A. I was the most part of the time.

A. On what ship?

A. On the United States Brig Lawrence.

Counsel for protestant asks that the last question and answer be stricken from the records, and objects to this question for the reason that it is wholly irrelevant; that the paper just introduced shows his intention of citizenship and that the purpose of same is simply for pyrotechnical display and is for no material

[Page 161]

purpose in this case.

The motion is overruled under rules 36, 87 and 41 of the rules of practice. Counsel for protestants excepts to the ruling.

Q. How heavy was she armored?

A. If I remember right she had ten thirty-two pound guns. The commanding officer was Captain Jarvis.

Q. Where did you ship?

A. I shipped in Philadelphia.

Q. To what duty was the vessel assigned?

A. She was on the home station between Chesapeake Bay, Norfolk and the Gulf of Mexico.

Q. I believe you were down there on duty when the battle of Palo Alto was fought?

A. Yes sir.

Q. Did you see General Scott land at Vera Cruz?

A. Gen. Scott was landing at Vera Cruz when we was laying below there on an island.

Q. What rate and rank did you have?

A. I was first an able seaman, and then I was rated a petty officer, Captain of the Main Top.

Q. How long did you serve?

A. I served three years.

Q. Were you honorably discharged?

A. I was.

Q. Where?

A. In Pensacola.

Q. And in'49 came to the coast?

A. In 49 I came to the coast.

(Counse1 for protestant asks that all the questions and answers between the first one since his objection be stricken from the records as the same is wholly irrelevant and made for the purpose of effect only. Same ruling. Exception allowed.)

[Page 162]

Q. And in view of the fact Captain of your services for the United states Government, and by reason of long years experience as a pioneer you now feel as if you are entitled to some of Uncle Sam's land, don’t you?

A. I think so, but I unfortunately haven't got any.

Q. Where does your family reside at present Captain?

A. My family reside at present in Victoria. My wife is an in­valid and lives there with her children and grandchildren.

Q. Is it not a fact captain that since the year 1888, in which you declared your intentions to become a citizen of the United States that you have lived in, and enjoyed the rights of citizenship, in the Dominion of Canada, under the present reign­ing Queen Of England?

A. I have not. I have lived there part of the time, but I was only drawn there by my family being there.

Q. What did you mean by the words being drafted when you entered the United States service?

A. I was drafted from the receiving ship at Norfolk to the United States brig Lawrence.

Q. And at that time you was a subject of Great Britain?

A. Yes, I believe I was.

Counsel for the applicant now offers in evidence a copy of the articles of incorporation of the Alaskan and North Western Territories Trading Company, duly certified by the Secretary of State of the State of West Virginia, under the Great Seal of said state.

Which was received in evidence and marked Claimants “Exhibit D” in testimony.

Applicant now offers in evidence the Certificate of D. Noble Rowan, under the seal of said Company, duly verified, as to directors and shareholders, and which is attached to the above mentioned certified copy of articles of incorporation.

[page 163]

Counsel for protestants object to the certificate for the reason that it is not the best evidence of the facts therein contained, and that it is irrelevant and immaterial.

Objection is overruled and exception noted. Certificate received in evidence as a part of Exhibit D.

Applicant then offers in evidence the certificate of D. Noble Rowan under the seal of said company, and as Secretary, showing where the percentage of stock is owned as between citizens of the United States and aliens.

Counsel for protestants object to the certificate as not being the best evidence of the facts purported to be set out in the same, irrelevant and immaterial.

Objection is overruled and exception noted. Certificate received in evidence and marked Claimants Exhibit E in testimony.

Signed, Wm. Moore

I hereby certify that the foregoing testimony of William Moore was by me read and corrected in the presence of the witness, and that it was then subscribed by him at my office in Sitka, Alaska, this 6th day of April, 1898.

Signed John W. Dudley, Register.


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