Series: Fred W. Dewey's Trip to the Klondike

Introduction by Mary Dewey

two men sawing wood into boards
Fred Dewey on top sawing logs into boards for their boat.

Courtesy of Lys Burden, great granddaughter of Fred.


Fred w. Dewey, age 26, left Jamestown in February 1898, shortly after his son Robert was born, to go to the Klondike in search of gold. He represented a group of friends who financed the venture. His letters home give a vivid picture of the almost unbelievable hardships and grueling hard work men endured in the elusive search for great wealth.
Fred Dewey had come by a sturdy physique as the son of Adeibert DeWitt Dewey of Jamestown and the grandson of John. –Dewey and J. Billings, both of Sinclairville. As merchants and farmers of those early days, they also had sturdy physiques.
In his youth, Fred had spent countless hours on Chautauqua Lake thinking nothing of competing in rowing races from Jamestown to Mayville and return. As a young boy he would row from the steamboat landing in the outlet to Goose Creek to pick water lilies and row back to the boat landing, walking from there to the mid-morning Erie train to sell them to the passengers. Not only that, as a young man he had joined with several other youths to manufacture raft on which they proceeded down the Conewango creek, Allegheny, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to St. Louis. All of these activities and his unusual strength uniquely fitted him for the experiences the Klondike Gold Rush.
Fred's letters here are un-edited and their style speaks well for the education which he received at the Jamestown high school from which he graduated.
These letters describe the first year of his two year search for gold. He and a partner, with incredible fortitude, dug a large quantity of ore from their claim on the banks of a creek, from which they expected to sluice riches after the spring thaw. Unfortunately the thaw became a flood which washed their ore downstream. Thus discouraged Fred returned to his family with one nugget as a souvenir of his efforts, and that was stolen from him as he slept on the train heading home0
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Last updated: September 28, 2017