Frank Spencer Briggs Papers

Manuscript Collection #781
Briggs, Frank Spencer, 1870-
Physical description
0.22 Cubic Feet, 18 items , consisting of a diary (photocopy) with typescript copy, and photographic prints (1898-1899) of Yukon gold rush.
Preferred Citation
Frank Spencer Briggs Papers (#781), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Yukon gold rush diary (1898 - 1899) (Photocopy [117 p.]) and typescript copy with introduction by Frank Moss [January 1998, 44 p.] and copies of photographic prints of Yukon gold rush [15 p.] Original diary withdrawn 5/9/2002, in possession of the donors.

Biographical/historical information

Frank Spencer Briggs was a prospector in the Yukon gold rush and he kept a detailed journal (April 28, 1898-March 18, 1899) of his journey to the Yukon Territory and his first months as a prospector on his claim. Briggs was born in the Finger Lakes Region of Western New York on September 15, 1870. He moved to Oroville, Butte County, California, to marry Isabelle Reynolds (b. June 15, 1873), also a native of the Finger Lakes Region. Two children, Augusta and Mary, were born of this marriage according to the typescript preface of the journal written by Frank S. Briggs.

Scope and arrangement

His grandson David L. Moss wrote the typescript.

According to his diary Frank Spencer Briggs and his partner Joe Wolvan left Oroville, California, on April 28, 1898, for Sacramento where they bought tickets on the steamboat SYBIL to go to Victoria, British Columbia (p. 2). They stopped in Ashland, Oregon, where Briggs mentions watching newly recruited soldiers boarding a train heading off to the Spanish-American War (p. 3). Their next stop was Tacoma, Washington, were he attended patriotic exercises for the Spanish-American War at Wright's Park (pp. 3-4).

On May 2, 1898, Frank S. Briggs and Joe Wolvan arrived at Victoria, British Columbia. Briggs records that they stopped at Oriental to collect information about the Yukon Territory and decided to reach the Yukon Territory via Teslin Lake (p. 4). Briggs mentions that he attended church services at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Oriental and that he left for Glenora on board the steamboat SS PAKSHAN on May 9, 1898 (pp. 5-6). Journal entries describe their stop in Vancouver for a couple of days and seeing American soldiers from Halifax that were sent to help the Northwest Mounted Policeenforce the law at Dawson (pp. 8-9); arriving at Ft. Wrangell and unloading their supplies; boarding the steamboat VICTORIA for its maiden voyage to Glenora (pp. 10-11); and gathering more supplies and preparing for the hike to Lake Teslin (pp. 13-15).

On June 12, 1898, Briggs and Wolvan arrived at Teslin Lake. Briggs describes seeing several camps and a sawmill (p. 23) and building a boat to take them to Dawson and the Yukon Territory (pp. 24-26). On July 3, 1898, Briggs and Wolvan continued their journey to Dawson leaving Teslin Lake and entering the mouth of the Hootalinqua River (p. 29). Briggs records the journey to the junction of the Hootalinqua and the Thirty-Five-Mile River, which formed the Lewis River (p. 35), and then following the Lewis River to the Big Salmon River, and finally to the Stewart River, which took them to Dawson (p. 40). He recounts buying supplies at Dawson and then prospecting up Trail Creek, culminating on September 15, 1898, with them staking a claim on Cheechako Hill (p. 60). The journal ends on March 18, 1899.

The Collection also includes a typescript copy of the Frank S. Briggs Journal, a photocopy of the original journal, and several pictures depicting life in the Yukon gold rush. The photographs are of the Northwest Mounted Police station at Dawson; the middle "rock" of Five Fingers; the Yukon River; Dawson (1940); Frank Spencer Briggs (1930); the Thirty-Five-Mile River; Belle and Frank's cabin; Cheechako Hill; Joe Wolvan; Belle, Augusta, and Mary in Palermo, California; Belle, Frank, and Augusta in the Klondike (1901); the trail to Lake Teslin; and the Stikine River from Ft. Wrangell to Glenora.

Administrative information
Custodial History

August 10, 1999, 17 items (.006 cubic feet); Yukon Gold Rush diary, 1898-1899 (117 pp.), photocopy and typescript copy with introduction by Frank Moss [January 1998, 44 pp.] and copies of photographic prints of Yukon gold rush [15 pp.]. Gift of Messrs. Frank & David Moss of Chocowinity, NC.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Messrs. Frank & David Moss

Processing information

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Briggs, Frank Spencer, 1870---Diaries
Frontier and pioneer life--Yukon--Klondike River Valley
Gold miners--Yukon--Klondike River Valley
Ashland (Or.)--Description and travel
British Columbia--Description and travel
Dawson (Yukon)--Description and travel
Klondike River Valley (Yukon)--Gold discoveries--Anecdotes
Oroville (Calif.)--Description and travel
Tacoma (Wash.)--Description and travel