Jonas Fred Whitcomb Jr.
"Fred" Whitcomb was born on May 17, 1873 at Keene, New Hampshire, the son of
Jonas Fred Whitcomb Sr. and his wife. He had one brother, Charles, and seven sisters.
In February 1898, he left Concord, New Hampshire with a group of men including
Frank Barker from Keene, NH, headed for the Klondike. In California, they joined a larger party.
In May 1898, Whitcomb and A. P. White, of Houghton, Massachsetts, went ahead
to clear a trail from Tutshi Lake to Windy Arm. On the 25th, while leaning over to start a rock
rolling down the hill (possibly during a hunting excursion), Whitcomb's revolver slipped out of
its holster and fell to the ground, discharging it. The bullet hit Whitcomb in the chest, killing
On May 27th, he was buried in a Masonic ceremony at the south end of Windy Arm.
His father sent a brass plaque for the grave, and it was mounted on a piece of slate.
His death was briefly reported in the July 2, 1898, edition of The Klondike
There appears to have been two other burials beside Whitcomb - right beside on
the left is a slate marker with "H. M. H." chiselled into a piece of slate by the same hand as
the initials "J. F. W. Jr." on the back of Whitcomb's slate marker, while several feet to the
right is an apparent exhumation. The 1898 diary of Stewart L. Campbell reports that on Monday, May
9th, 1898, "a Mrs. Howe [was] buried at end of lake. 72 years old", and on May 15, "3 men drowned around
the point." He also reports that he took a photos of the graves at the south end of the lake, so
the deaths he reports are possibly related to this site.
The graves are accessed from the South Klondike Highway - there is lots of room
to park at the south end of Windy Arm . There is no trail, and you have to wade across two
creeks (waist deep at mid-summer water levels) and crash through the forest to avoid lakeshore
The location of Whitcom's grave is marked by the arrow.
Whitcomb's grave is marked by a low piece of slate with brass plate.
The brass plate on Whitcom's grave.
To the right is the presumed exhumation.
Mr. Saunders is, so far, largely a mystery man - all I've been able to find
out about him is a brief mention in the 1899 North West
Mounted Police report, stating that he died of natural causes on June 21, 1899.
Note that his headboard states that he died in May, and I got an email from a
man who had met Mr. Saunders' son some 30+ years ago in Calgary, and he believed that his
father died in a boating accident. Saunders clearly had either some very good friends or a
family wealthy enough to afford to hire this level of grave construction. Note that the headboard
and fence may have been installed long after a rough initial burial.
The inscription carved into a piece of marble inset into his headboard
states simply that he died in May 1899, at the age of 39. His grave is located on the west shore of Lake Bennett,
about a mile north of the mouth of the Wheaton River. It is accessible only by boat from Carcross.
A general view of Saunders' grave.
Right - the marble insert in the headbboard.
The sawn top of a corner post.
Right - the location of the grave is shown by the arrow. This view is to the south.