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E. J. "Stroller" White, Alaska-Yukon Journalist



Arctic & Northern Biographies


    Elmer J. White was born near Cambridge, Guernsey County, Ohio, on November 28, 1859.

    Once he finished his schooling, Elmer became a teacher. He found that career unsuitable, however, and moved to Florida where he bought a controlling interest in a small newspaper, the Gainsville News. From there he went to Washington State, where he and his wife "Josie" (Alice Josephine Keys, 1875-1956) and a daughter, Lena, were living when news of the gold strikes in the Klondike hit. They headed north, and Elmer went to work for the Skagway News. The lure of the goldfields was too strong, though, and he soon left for Dawson. It was in Dawson where he earned the nickname "Stroller," for a column he wrote under that name. After 5 years in Dawson, Whitehorse was the next destination. From 1904 until 1916, Stroller was editor of the Whitehorse Star.

    On August 7, 1906, a son, Albert Hamilton White, was born in Whitehorse. On June 18, 1915, Lena was one of 209 students to graduate at the University of Washington in Seattle. There may have been another son, but newspaper reports are contradictory on that.

    When the Whites left Whitehorse, they moved to Douglas, adjacent to Juneau, where Stroller bought the Douglas Island News.

    Stroller White died in Juneau on September 28, 1930, and was buried in the Elks Lodge section of the Evergreen Cemetery in Juneau.

    By 1933, son Alfred had adopted the name "Stroller," apparently as legal name change - on December 18th of that year, a marriage license was issued to A. Stroller White, 27, of Juneau, and Emily Thrailkill, 25, of Missoula (Great Falls Tribune). On September 11, 1937, their first son was born in Los Angeles, and he was named Stroller.

    Below are some newspaper articles (accessed from Newspapers.com) written by or about Stroller. They may give current readers some appreciation of why he was so loved and respected - he said what needed to be said, yet had a wonderful sense of humour. To expand on this, the book "Tales Of A Klondike Newsman", compiled and edited by R. N. De Armond, consists of articles written by Stroller White - it can be downloaded for free at the above link (pdf, 92MB). Stroller's story (as well as the stories of 4 other Alaskans) is also told in Barrett Willoughby's "Alaskans All" (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1933).





    A little humour from Stroller, during the height of both the Conrad silver days and the Wheaton Valley mining rush. The man charged, Billy Weisdeppe (the proper spelling), was one of the main freighters to the mines.

Fairbanks Daily Times (Fairbanks, Alaska)
Sunday, September 16, 1906




Fairbanks Daily Times (Fairbanks, Alaska)
Sunday, August 6, 1911

    Stroller White, of the Whitehorse Star, has complained to the government that not all of the residents of his district have been counted by the census enumerators.




Fairbanks Daily Times (Fairbanks, Alaska)
Wednesday, March 13, 1912

THEM WAS THE HAPPY DAYS

    The efforts of a few sensationally-inclined space writers on the Outside to reawaken the world with lurid accounts, says Stroller White, of a rich strike in the Sixtymile country are more or less amusing to old Yukoners, who experienced the thrills the present day writers are endeavoring to create fourteen years ago. Those were the days when there was reality in stories about gambling outfits being rushed to new fields and about deaths on the trail.

    The spirit of '98 is still extant all over the Yukon, but it takes more than three cents to the pan to awaken it. Then good and reliable men, horny-handed sons of toil, many in moccasins, others in hobnailed boots, would indulge in the "long, juicy waltz" at 3 o'clock in the afternoon as readily as they would when the gloaming gloamed several hours later. Daylight next morning would find them promenading to the bar with more gusto than can now be found within the entire Klondike watershed, to say nothing of Livingstone and Kluane.

    The days when a man would walk five miles to see a pair of long stockings hanging on a clothesline are gone, never to return and with them have gone the fellow who did it. Never in Yukon will the dance halls advertise "Fresh chechacco girls just in over the ice" and never again will roadhouses advertise a "Grand Opening" every time a hole in the wall is "re-chinked" or a pane of glass is put in to replace the half dozen beer bottles which originally served as a window.

    The old time dog driver may be here, but he has lost his voice, also that flow of language which heralded his approach from four miles up the creek. If he is here at all, he is on the water wagon and advocates woman suffrage. The dog-driving spirit may be in his system, but it would have to be milk-fed and hand massaged to revive it.

    The Stroller hopes, nay, he believes, that the Sixtymile is the greatest discovery made in Yukon within recent years, and, in case his belief is confirmed, there will be a mighty movement toward that country by the time the purring of the pussy willow is heard in the land and the glory of the morning star is dimmed by the rising sun at 3 o'clock. But people will not go crazy over it, no matter how much it is heralded and glorified by visionary space writers.

    The best days Yukon ever saw or ever will see were were the days when the gubernatorial chair was a milk box.




Passing on journalistic advice to another newspaper, in a classic Stroller way!

Fairbanks Daily Times (Fairbanks, Alaska)
Tuesday, April 23, 1912

FROM LEARNING

    Apropos the resolution made last week by the Alaskan to print the news when it is news, Stroller White from his wealth of experience as a purveyor of news from the "Everglades of Florida to within the shadow of the North Pole" has the following bit of advice to offer:

    "The Skagway Daily Alaskan, having in several instances lately deferred the publication of local news at the request of those concerned, only to read the same news a day or two later in its exchanges, has made a resolution to the effect that hereafter it will not only publish rumors that savor of news, vague suspicions, "flashes," and everything brought to it via that time-honored "Little Bird" route.

    "In the light of experience extending from the Florida Everglades to within the shadow of the North Pole, we advise the Alaskan in all candor: Don't you do it.

    Away down where the yellow jessamines unfold their delicate petals in January to the sun-kissed zephyrs, where the rose and the orange blossom vie in distilling their perfumes, where the sonorous snort of the alligator is wafted from whither to whence, the editor of the Star, then in the three-button cutaway period of age and inexperience, made a resolution similar to that of the Alaskan. * * * (Excuse these tears. They are only a few of upward of a quart which the editor sheds every time his thoughts revert to that benighted era of his youth.)

    That resolution was unswervingly carried out for two weeks, during which time we were shot at nine times (three weapons missed fire,) horsewhipped six times, sandbagged four times, received eighty-five threatening letters and were turned down cold by half a dozen young ladies to whom we were engaged.

    "Don't do it, we say. No writer can do justice to himself when he is compelled to lay down his pen in the midst of an editorial on Tariff or International Trade Relations to pick bird shot out of his legs with the office tweezers. Besides, it does not pay to have your surface all scarred up merely to satisfy morbid curiosity for news. To this day when we go swimming or strip for a prize fight, we present a rough broken surface similar to that of the state of North Carolina.

    "To be on the safe side, news should not be published until it has been both bar-room and Ladies Aid talk for a week or ten days. Go and have a look at the baby before mentioning the birth. We added to a family once on report and a week later, on recovering consciousness, the figures on the wall paper in that hospital ward looked like a humpty dumpty circus.

    "Publishing news is not a mark of greatness. It is in knowing what not to publish. Therefore, Mr. Alaskan, you had better follow along the old lines and leave the publication of news to your exchanges.

    "Break that resolution, if you would preserve your system intact and your surface unbroken." - Skagway Alaskan.




Fairbanks Daily Times (Fairbanks, Alaska)
Tuesday, April 18, 1916

    It was with a great deal of regret that the friends and associates of E. J. White, the pioneer newspaperman of Skagway and Yukon Territory, learned that he would be with them no more. Mr. White has disposed of his business interests in Whitehorse and will publish the Douglas Island News in Douglas.

    "Stroller White," known the land over as the publisher from Alaska, has made a national name for himself. His name is on the finger tips of every newspaperman in the Northwest.

    Our well-known journalistic friend started his Career in Ohio. The field of education first attracted his attention. He remained in this field but a short time, however, as things were too slow and irksome for his energetic makeup. Migrating into Florida he obtained the controlling interest in a small newspaper. The Alaska fever became too contagious and in a short time we found him in Skagway in the thick of the game.

    In 1898, he mushed into Dawson, where he remained for a period of five years. From Dawson he went to Whitehorse, where he published the Whitehorse Star. The Whitehorse Star, under his management and direction, grew and is now recognized as one of the leading papers in that territory.

    To show their appreciation for the work done in Whitehorse, twenty of the business men in that city presented him with a beautiful watch chain. Mr. White is very proud of this token of friendship and mark of his accomplishment.

    He will be accompanied to Douglas by his family. Lena, a graduate of the University of Washington, his daughter, will be special correspondent on the island for the Juneau Empire.




Grand Forks Herald (Grand Forks, North Dakota)
Saturday, July 13, 1918

    Juneau, Alaska, June 28 - (By Mail) - Thousands of soldiers will come to Alaska after the war, Governor Thomas Riggs, Jr., and other territorial officials believe.

    The prepare the territory for their coming and to advertise the northland outside in the states, the government has named E. J. "Stroller" White as chief of the territorial bureau of publicity.

    Mt. White is a pioneer newspaper man, and is now laying plans for an intensive Alaska advertising campaign, both inside and outside the territory.

    "There is no reason why Alaska should not come back stronger and more rapidly after the war than any part of the American continent," Mr. White asserted recently. "Many young men, the home environments removed for the first time, will not be satisfied to return to the farms and villages after the war but will look for more adventure. Alaska, being the last frontier, will catch many of them and we confidently expect an influx of thousands within a few months after the war ends.




The Seattle Star (Seattle, Washington)
Friday, February 28, 1919

Legislature in Alaska to Meet

    JUNEAU, Feb. 18 - All but one of the legislators for the opening session of the fourth legislature, next Monday, have arrived here on steamers.

    It is thought Luther Hess will be elected president of the senate. E. B. Collins, of Fairbanks, and Stroller White are mentioned for the speakership of the senate. Judge Thomas M. Reed and W. Grant Johnson are candidates for secretary of the senate.

    The first legislation to be considered will probably be an adequate election law.




Reno Gazette-Journal (Reno, Nevada)
Wednesday, April 26, 1922




Reno Gazette-Journal (Reno, Nevada)
Wednesday, November 8, 1922




Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (Fairbanks, Alaska)
Friday, June 27, 1930

    A "sourdough stampede," similar to the one held in Seattle last year, will be an event of the summer in Vancouver, B. C. Oldtimers of the Klondike and Alaska are expected to attend in large numbers. An elaborate program is being arranged. The stampede starts August 14 and lasts up and including the 16th.

    The Vancouver Yukoners Association, with headquarters at the Castle hotel, Vancouver, is backing the stampede.

    Among the well known pioneers who are aiding plans to make the celebration a success are Dr. Alfred Thompson, Col. H. D. Hulme, former Governor Scott C. Bone, George Black, member of parliament for the Yukon, Bishop Bunoz, Judge Charles E. Claypool, Charles Garfield, George L. MacLean, gold commissioner of the Yukon, Congressman John D. Miller, Governor George A. Parks, Senator Key Pittman, Delegate Dan Sutherland, Bishop Peter Trimble Rowe, Judge James Wickersham, Oscar Breedman, Clarence Berry, Rex Beach, Les Bernard, Frank J. Cotter, James A. Fairborn, Tom Firth, Judge E. Coke Hill, Earl W. Knight, Captain Austin E. Lathrop, Alfred Lomen, Skiff Mitchell, Frank Manley, Bill McPhee, Mrs. Pullen, Volney Richmond and "Stroller" White.




Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (Fairbanks, Alaska)
Monday, September 29, 1930

            (By Associated Press)

    JUNEAU, Sept. 28 - E. J. "Stroller" White, 74 years old, publisher of "Strollers Weekly" here for a number of years, died today.

    He leaves his widow, a daughter and a son. White went to Dawson in the gold rush days. He was formerly a newspaperman in the states.




Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California)
Sunday, October 19, 1930

    SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 18 - E. J. White, 74, one of the most famous editors and publishers of the Alaskan territory, died from heart disease in Juneau on September 28, it was learned yesterday.

    He was known as "Stroller" White to his friends, having been nicknamed for the Stroller's Weekly, which he published in Juneau. White previously edited the Dawson Daily Nugget and the Yukon Sun.

    He is survived by his widow, Mrs. E. J. White, who was with him when he died; a daughter, Miss Lenore White of San Francisco; two sons, Albert White, a student at Corvallis Agricultural college, and Professor Bernie White of an Ohio university.




Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (Fairbanks, Alaska)
Saturday, July 18, 1931

            (By Associated Press)

    JUNEAU, July 18 - L. Latimer Gray, oldtimer of Juneau and for years chief of the fire department, with Hal B. Selby, former publisher of Valdez and Seward newspapers, and lately a linotype operator in Florida, Oklahoma, Seattle and Bellingham, announced the purchase of Stroller's Weekly, the property of deceased "Stroller" White.




Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (Fairbanks, Alaska)
Wednesday, November 4, 1931

    The national geographic board at a meeting in Washington on October 7 gave the name of "Mount Stroller White" to a prominent peak on the northwest side of Mendenhall Glacier, 15 miles from Juneau.

    By this action the board, which is composed of representatives of all the surveying and mapping organizations of the federal government, has honored the late E. J. White, able pioneer journalist of Alaska, who was widely and affectionately known as Stroller White.

    The peak which will commemorate his work in the Territory is higher and second inland of the two peaks on the northwest side of Mendenhall Valley and Glacier, the first being Mt. McGinnis. The elevation is approximately 5,000 feet.

    Stroller White came north on the gold rush days of 1898 to serve on the staff of the Skagway News and he lived continuously in Alaska and Yukon Territory from that date until his death on September 28, 1930. While working on the Dawson Nugget he started the "Stroller's Column" and from this he acquired the pseudonym by which he was thereafter known. For the 10 years prior to his death he was the owner and editor of Stroller's Weekly, published at Juneau.




The Perry County Times (New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania)
Thursday, October 14, 1937

    IF YOU'VE ever been to Alaska you probably thought it was a good joke on your friends to write a letter to them on the stationery of the Sourdough hotel.

    The Sourdough hotel is located at 1333 Icicle avenue and among the house rules are these: towels changed weekly; spiked shoes must be removed at night; anyone troubled with nightmare will find a halter on the bedpost; don't worry about paying your bill - the house is supported by its foundation.

    This hotel was the creation of a young newspaper man named E. J. White who went to Alaska during the gold rush of 1898. The primitive living conditions in the boom camp of Dawson appealed to his sense of humor so he had printed several hundred sheets of stationery for his Sourdough hotel.

    The gold seekers, seeing in this a chance to play a joke on the folks back home, eagerly bought his stationery at $2 a dozen sheets. White's clever toolery landed him a job on the Klondike Nugget and started him on the career which has made the name of "Stroller" White famous. He's still a newspaper man, publisher of the Juneau Stroller's Weekly, and tourists in Alaska are still writing letters back home on the stationery at the Sourdough hotel.




More Information about Stroller White

The Story of Stroller White

The grave of Elmer J. White (at Find A Grave)

Archie Gillespie appears to have worked with Stroller.