Joe Reinhardt

Letters from Alaska

[NOTE: the original letters were written in pencil, and are very faint. The letters are copied "as is", and only punctuation was added for clarity, when necessary.
In a few occasions, where a misspelled word needed clarification, it appears in (parenthesis)]

June the 10 and 11 1898
Friday

we intend to sail last night but ~e could not ~ot rody so the next day being Friday some of the boys did not want to sail on Friday so we got Everything redy and held a meating and Elect new offers befor sailing I was Elect presintd and Bornand Sectery and morison tresure in tirey new offers and we Steamed up at 12 Ocl and 10 min Saterday morning out on the Strait to the Ocone against a big wind and tide and I tell you that the water was rough. our little craft went up and Down so that the bow dip watter and the next day the boys begin to be sea sick June the 12 Sunday the boys held a little church meating but it was quite plesant on that day but on monday it being to blow and rain when we got out on the osen 200 miles but we had the wind in our favor and I tell you that the mountain of waves did roll and tumbel and the littel craft did go long fine Sometimes on her side so as to let the watter over deck and she plowed her way over fine I had no idea that she could do what she did but the boys continue to be sick for this is the 20 of June and still their sick and little Lady Bens has ben sick Ever Since but is some what beter to day and it is a lovely Day so I thought that I would write some few lines at lesure if we could have our picture taken when we was going over the mountains of water when it was roling and tumling so you could not stand on Deck Even that you had hold of the rigen or rops it would say that they would go Down Every minite but the Captan would say that is nothing that is no sea onely a nice breas but I tell you that breas was Enough for me but I stood it fine I have not ben sick one minute but braist up and down cucking for the boys one of our boys in his letters said that I was a .... I would sing and go over the deck like a Saler one of our Sailers was so sea sick that he could hardly get out but it did not last long and he was over he is my bunk mate a small littel fellow well anna we crowed in this little craft and we are so black and Dirty on a count of the cole smoke and our little kitchen it is a hard life. some of the boys says that if they knew that they would not leve home but i gess we will come out all right we intend it will take 2 or 3 days to get to Duch Harbor we are making good tine the Captain says that it takes some times 6 weeks to __ the same route with a sailing vesel but we have Steam and sails both and we made 2 more sails on the sea and put them up so we go a fling when we have a littel wind. it has ben in our favor so far since we. started. the Captain shut the watter that is fresh watter off from us the first 5 or 6 days for fear that we would not have enough for cooking and said well boys you can wash with fresh watter this morning it felt fine you can not wash with that salt watter the more you wash the blacker you git we had 15 tons of coal when we left Seattle and we are afraid we will not have a nough to last to Duch Harbor this is the 20 of June and the Captain thinks it is about 3 Hundred miles yet. our coal will run out some of the boys are looking to see land but they fail to we are running we cut of about 2100 miles by...a coast but I tell you that this is a long and lonely road not being work much we have not seen but one vesel since we left cape flatery but we have had severl sea gulls all along on our route this morning. it was very plesant the sun came out and the sea was calm and we stop to clean out our flues and during this time we had a reception with the sea gulls they came quite a few I threw some meat and bred and they came close to the boat scrabilg for it so I thought I would try to cetch one of them I took a piece of rine of some pork about 4 __ long and tided a fish line to it and the first one swoloed the pork and the string and then bit it of so I was left but I tryed it again but they would swoler it then I would pull on my string and pull it out again and then they would dive for it again Cap Smith said .......... apiece so he took 2 pieces of pork and a stick of wood about 2 feet long and tied a string at each end and threw it into the watter and you ought to see them pull and hawl and sprawl about it was fun for the boys to see it and we saw severl whales spouting watter and rool their backs out of the watter that was all we see since we left cape flatery now being 12 days on the watter I have ben well ever since only one night that I had an afull time my nerves were all on and thought the boat was going under could not sleep it was a bad night their was big swells in the sea that rock the boat in great shape now we are looking to see land every day at this riting Tusday June the 22 this news a very fine day in the morning the sun came out bright and the sea very calm and the boys feel cheerful and telling stories but as I told you about our sea guls wile playing with them the fish line got tangl up one of their legs and we pull him in but he scrabeled to get a way but of no use we pulled him on deck but we let him go but as the fast away some sine of storm and we did have rain and wind in our favor but it still rains we had an afull time in the storm we are still araining near the shore but now landsight we with an afull sea yesterday that is June 22 and I will always rember the sea was about 25 to 35 feet high and our little craft plaied fine but I tell you she was quick her bow would be straight up clim the mountain waive and then down in hole would think it would swallow us up but no quicker when they came to gether we was on top and some on her side it looked so that we never get out I was in my bunk when the Captain send orders for Johny our little sailor to come on Deck and to heave her to then the crew got skert now Cap bens said we will have a tumbel but I tell you that Captain Smith dun his part well she made a little tumble but came to and the boys holds fast but I do not know how much she could tumbel for we could not stand sit or lay down with out hold with both hands fast then is when the boys begin to look Down in the face and git sick and think of home so dear to them but after heaving her to about 9 0 Clock the sea went down some and fought the hevy sea about 6 hours.with our little ginger untill this morning so we set her to about 2 0 Clock this morning quite cam but the bit nic wer goind all night and fast but Captain was afraid that we would Drift a shore on some rocks for it was dangerous so he is very Carefull man we are still a going on the storm and it is so gofy we are making only 3 miles an hour now comes the tug of war another big storm the teromer went down and Dark and our coal is running short and another bad night June the 23 Friday morning we see land in the north of us and the boys are tickel and they feel better but anna, another dredfull night to indure. we did not heave her to but fought the terable sea all night and just held our own. the men at the wheel had to be lash to for feer of being washed away and none of the boys would go on deck so we had some coal on deck in sacks none of the boys would go on deck to hand it down __ __ they were quite sick but I sed I would help him but I tell you it was no small trick to drag them around and keep on your feet you had to hang on with one hand and the watter in on her side I would rather be Excused but never mind I have went through a good Tale of hardship if god is wiling I expect to go through a good deal more now at this riting we are drawing near to the shore the sun is shining with a nice breas and some what cloudy the island is Shumaker Island you will find it on the map you will see all those Is. along to Duch Harbor and we also see a vesel in sight and see sevorl larg rok _____water and the back but this is a lovely day after such storm (it has stormed for 3 days) steady but the boys mostly on deck and sunning and drying their clothes and feeling good but Lady Bons is still quite sick and 3 or 4 of the boys but I my self a rough tough fellow and Dirty you ought to see us we have been 15 days on the deep blue watters and we will get in Duch Harbor about tomorow night talk about Duch the boys none of them has shave since we left arid they say that they will not untill they get back but as the drew up to noon the Captain all hans on deck that their is lots of work and to do it quick for it rains again so we had to unlash our littel bots and turn them over and get to the Hatch way and take out our fraight and get to some sacks of coal that we had stored away fr we to have fresh untill we get to Duch Harbor so it did not take long and it proved to be afine day and night and I had a good rest thank the lord and hoping and praying that we will not meat with no storms so hevey as we have had our Captains pvt told us that it was only 1200 and then 1500 and now 2000 it is good 2000 miles but is saying what he did of cours is to kick the boys in good humor he knows the road well for he has traveled it good often him and his mate is just as good a man as he is well anna I expect when I get to Duch Harbor that I will get a letter from you but I might get left but never the less I will write you a few lines this tim is you can make out any how you can past your time in studying it out this will be along letter when I get through with it now wile siting on the Deck and watching the beutifull senery and all eye gazed upon it and our little craft plays along fine it and most of the boys have their fur coats on for it is afull cold we are runing along the rocky cost of Alasky it being so cold I thought that I would crawl in my hole for that is the they have to express it it is the fow casel that is were 7 of us bunk this is Sat day the 25 and we expect to be in Duch Harbor to morrow on Sunday Well anna this is fine sight one mountain in wich fire and smoke pours forth it 5525 feet high and covered with snow and all these mountain of rocks as we pass them by before we get to the coast we observed something in the sea several places and they looked like big whales and the Captain laugh he said thet they wer rocks sticking out of the watter my I said Cap you run lotes of chances of runing right on thos rocks and he laugh i knew that they wer on the chart and he knew where to go he is a fine man and so we sailed along and Cap said that when we get to that bay we will have lots of fun catching cod fish so we got to the bay at last and Captain drop his anker and then he fot his lines redy him and his mate and one sailor by the (name of) Peter Johnson but they did not seem to bite but at last Cap mate puled out one that about 20 pouds and the the Cap puled out another and so on thicker and thicker of all the scrabling with fish 3 or 4 of us cleaning and 3 fishing and they would holow and laugh more fish and what a big one that is a fine fellow let us stay hear a week and load our boat down with and soon 3 of the boys ask Captain for one of the small boats to go ashore on the Island for it was only a bout 40 rods not a tree or a house but rocks to prospect and said that they might find it rich with gold but the Captain said no for we might pull anker in an hour or so when the wind gos down but I tell you about fishing we had about 300 feet ot line a big huck with a big piece of pork anda big weight of ... I ran about 2 hands and then let it to the bottom about 200 feet and then pull in on the line and the first ___or Swallow laid and __ __ start off and then we would pull in on the line I tell you that they had to pull so and until we had about 75 to 100 of those big fat fish I tell you it was a picknic for about 2 to 3 hours it look like a slaughter house on Deck we clean them and salt them down so we left about 10 0 Clock and 30 minutes and I went to my bunk and sleep like a log and the sailors cook and heads to have a good feast but that was too much for me so this morning Sunday the 26 of June going through the pass on the bearing sea about 60 miles to Duch Harbor we had a fine treat of fish this morning every one of the boys ate like wolves and it tasted so good this is the third Sunday out on the watters and it is quite calm and we expect to get in to Duch Harbor some time to night Monday June the 27 1898 Hevy storms arose yesterday after noon with a good wind in our favor i went on deck in the evening and it was blowing a gail being tyerd I went in my bunk with the expectation of reaching the Harbor but to my suprise when I got on deck and it was cam and plesant and our Steam gon down and there we lay for 4 hours for what I did not know So I ask the Captain how far we were from the Harbor he said that you sea that point of rocks that is about 7 or 10 m and around that point about 6 miles So I thought it was a good distance yet we had no steam and no wind so we maid suggestions what to do Some of the boys said that they would take a little boat and go to the Harbor and get some coal for steam up and to get in but the Captain said no that they might come a gail of wind Swipe them of then where would they be. Captain tock his glasses and look a round and he said to the Jngneers to steam uo for we had some wood we would go so we did and went on our cours about 2 miles wich we suposed it was right but all at once he turned around and went back he said that he had gon to 10 mil to fur so we steamed back as long as our fuwel lasted but soon plajed out and the wind and rain and the sea began to get up so we were at the mercy of the sea and so we were all day an night then at morning we were drifted about 50 miles out in the sea and so it has ben up tide to day and this is the 3 of July and about 18 miles from Duch Harbor we have ben too or 3 times as near and yet so far but the lord only knows when we will get there it has rained and ben fogy ever cence when we rund out of coalwe new in what state of afair we would be in to for we can't controll our boat on acount of --roller the --der would have no ex-st an wind and sea unless it was in our favor I tell you that the boys begin to git sick and the Captain begin to worry for our fewel being short and our watter gitting short we could not wash our persins nor hands and the damp and wet wether was keeping our bed cloths wet and cold it is so cold that the boys put on fur coats to keep warm but I wared the firs 2 days but I maid up my mind that we had plenty to eat and watter for sevr1 days and the lord was with us and told the boys we would come out all right only trust in providence and the Captain and we will be all right today the 28 I sugested to burn coal oil morison and boman went down in the engine room to fit some pipes to feed the oil but Cap got afraid that it would blow up the hull craft so we laid out in the sea and being very cam and the boys feeling a littel beter so they got to playing cards to pas the time away but I and boman were planing to get the boat to go and we see land at a distance so the sails were a ... so the wind begin to rais and we sailed along for a while the next morning and found our self about 1000 feet from the big rocks. the fog was so hevy that we could not see but a littel ways off and the sea was very high and we was drifted out in the sea and so it has ben ever cence but the same day in the after noon we thought that not being so far away that we might hold on and so we got some of our .... lumber hiding to git steam so we did and it worked fine we burned about 20 gal of coal oil and our black milk coal and finely of no use and so we drifted out with the tide in the sea ...wish they had not started but of the drifting and rocking tumbling to the mercy of the sea but we have got to stand it I tell you that is the boys knew of this all the gold in Clondike would not Kox them to go. Our little Lady Bens is sick all time I tell you that we are hard looking boys at this writing but we trust in the lord our great god this is the 5 Day of July I have nielect to note down the last 3 or 4 days for I got D__ked in not geting enny Headway so I said that I would notwrite until we got to the Harbor so it is with pleasure that I note down while at this Harbor and thought that I git a letter but not one for me nor for enny for the boys but that is all right we got hear at last. Just 8 day laying around about from 15 to 60 miles from the Harbor floping and drifting and blowing to the mercy of the sea the wind against us we was about 30 miles when wind changcd and was in our favor and we started and got in with ___ help on the 4 of July and hapier lot of boys you never did see it puts me in mind of a bot of scool boys that was going to a cerices we had all kinds of fun Shooting of our guns and singing and talking if we only could git in on the forth of July we always would remember that day if we would be 100 years old this place is a fine scenery way back in between the mountains this bay lays coal was $3 per ton Seattle now $11 per ton unlaskia is about 1 mile from hear another Harbor I will go this afternoon to see the place There is only one store and a coal Harbor. There is 6 steam vesels hear. Some of them to go out to day and they are building some boats hear. we have to buy about 15 tons of coal to reach sound. and it cost about 11 Dol. per ton hear and at Seattel paid $3 per ton so you see that it cost money but we must have plenty of coal we have a distance of about 1000 miles to go yet and we are not afraid of the balance of the weather we will start in a day or too after we wash up and coal up and every thing in shape well, anna these few lines are not riten very good but you can make by taken your time so you will have something to do my helth is very good never no better Eat like a horse and feeling good and hoping that you folks are the same I want you to keep these few lines and when I get home I will pick out the best and have a book printed I expect to keep a log of the rest of my time while hear so I will send you when I get to St. Mikels another ___ pages I went over with a littel boat to unalask that is about a mile from Duch Harbor of course there is no su harbor on your map but you will find it on trans____pertation Co map but to my surprise I got a letter that you mailed and I had this letter very near riten befor I got this and I was pleased to get it but I got one from you before I left Port Townsend but I was glad if it is old this was riten the 15th of may and was pleased to hear from Henry and that he was dowing so well and I will send you a few allaska flowers there is snow all around us on the mountains these places are traiding first it will be long before you get this letter and i will close and you keep these lines I being president of the Co I called a meating to see how much money we could raise to buy coal for we have not a great (D)eal of mony at present it cost $15 Dol. per ton and we had to get trusted by paying one third down and the rest on tick we will load tomorrow and get out for Catbau (Kotzebue) Sound and I r ame your loving
Husband
J.J. Rinehart

address Joseph Rinehart
Schooner Elk
St. Michael or Kotzebue Sound
Alaska