Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

Who says couples must necessarily be romantic?  I've been going through Scammon's scrapbooks over at the Bancroft Archives, and drawing the members of his Alaska expedition (officially: The Western Union Telegraph Expedition to Russian America) in two's. Mostly because that's the space my sketchbook allows.

George Klinefelter and J.T, Rothrock

So it was a pleasant surprise to learn that many of these lesser-known men turned out to be very big deals later in life.  I guess it follows that if you have the ambition, connections, and luck to get yourself on an expedition like that, you might continue in similar fashion. Like J.T. Rothrock, the Harvard man who had provided heroic service as a captain in the Union army, and who later became one of the leading conservationists of the 19th century. It's part of the romance of the 19th century: That a man could do, if not all, then a whole hell of a lot in a young country that hadn't yet established itself on the world stage. Klinefelter, on the other hand, not so much, but who knows? 

Here are another two members of the expedition:

Sabin, on right

John I. Sabin started out on the Expedition as a mere messenger boy. He later became an important player in telecommunications in California, then was called to Chicago to revamp that city's phone systems later in the century. Died in a big house (his own big house) on the 2800 block of California Street, which is not too shabby

Who knows who the bearded guy on the left was? He's "unidentified", but he's catalogued as 1950.003 14.3, if you want to look up his mugshot in Scammon's scrapbooks.

Then there's the great and tragic Kennicott, which I'll have to save for later, because it involves drawing a lot of buckskin. And Dall, the teenaged science prodigy. In the meantime, here are two more fellows rounding out the facial hair brigade on the W.U.T. Expedition:

On the right, it's Lewis C. Butler. To date, I have yet to figure out what function he fulfilled on the expedition, but with a beard like that, he certainly saved a lot of time by not shaving, so hopefully he was fantastically productive.  The guy on the left is yet another unidentified crew member, with tremendous mutton-chop sideburns. Laugh all you want at their beards, but given the extremely cold temperatures, and the uncertainty of the journey, it was probably reasonable to keep as much hair on your face as possible.