1898 Klondike Gold Rush Archive

Value (2007) | $3,000 Auction$5,000 Auction

My mother's great-grandfather's brother, his name was Preston King Jones. He went to Alaska in 1898 and he brought back home with him when he returned two years later, his maps, his diary and some photographs. This one is of his camp in the Klondike.

You brought a whole archive we would call it. It incorporates photographs, letters, manuscripts...

That's what we have, photographs, we have letters. His map which accompanied him on the trip... Yeah.

This gold rush started really when the discovery in 1897 was made public in San Francisco that there was gold in the Yukon region. This was following the California gold rush of '49. Now there was gold found in Alaska. Your great-great-uncle would have been part of that stampede.


And to get there, I'm assuming because of marks on the map, that he took the western route, which was more costly, but it was a lot safer. You didn't have to go through the all Canada route, which would have been going across land much of the way. This way he would have come around by boat. And you can see some of his marks here. So I do believe he came this way. He came across here, the Yukon River, which will take him well, well into Alaska into this Klondike region, which is where the gold had been discovered. The unfortunate thing was, was by the time they got there, many others had laid claim already to the gold that was there. You refer to the diary, which was really very impressive, and it's full of his accounts of what was going on on a day-to-day basis. You brought a few. You were able to decipher a few. This one was dated Friday, November 25, 1898. "Clear windy day. "Stayed in cabin all day resting. "Had a severe attack of piles, and am very sore all over from our walk." So that kind of gives you a sense of some of the mundane trials that they faced up there.

It sure does.

But he seemed to have a pretty positive outlook going through those conditions. And what happened to him and how did he make out?

Well, he was there for about two years. As you said, he arrived by boat. He returned by ship. His home was Sycamore, Illinois. He returned home to his family who had to tolerate his absence for two years. And I believe he contracted scurvy and died about two years later.

Wow. So it did take a toll on his health. And he didn't strike it rich?

No, he didn't. I think he probably had a lot of memories and experiences and certainly he's left a treasure for us.

It's a real treasure for your family, and what they say, the only people who really struck it rich during the Yukon gold rush was the profiteers and the people that were selling them supplies.

And he was just an ordinary man.

Well, as an archive, this is something that is of great importance historically. It gives a day-to-day account. With the photos, with the letters that you brought as well, the map which he carried with him, we feel that it has an overall value at auction for this, something we would estimate in the $3,000 to $5,000 range.


Appraisal Details

New York
New York, NY
Appraised value (2007)
$3,000 Auction$5,000 Auction
Baltimore, MD (June 16, 2007)

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