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The Naming of Alaska

Explorers: "B"


These biographies are from Marcus Baker's monumental Geographic Dictionary of Alaska, published in 1902 by the United States Geological Survey. It detailed the origin of thousands of geographical place names in the Territory of Alaska, and provided brief biographies of about 120 of the people who had given the names described.
Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I-J | K | L | M | N | P | R | S | T | V | W | Z

Baker, 1873-1880

    Marcus Baker, in the employ of the Coast Survey, surveyed in the Aleutian islands and along the Alaskan coast from Dixon entrance to Point Belcher, Arctic ocean, in the seasons of 1873, 1874, and 1880 in the party of Mr. William H. Dall. In May, 1880, through the courtesy of Captain Beardslee, he made a boat journey from Sitka to Chilkat and return. The very few names given during that journey are recorded in the Coast Pilot, 1883.


Barnard, 1898-1900

    Mr. Edward Chester Barnard, topographer of the United States Geological Survey, surveyed the Fortymile district, in eastern Alaska, in the summer of 1898, and also made surveys in Seward peninsula in the summer of 1900. The Fortymile atlas sheet was published in April, 1899, in a Congressional document (Public Resolution No. 25, Fifty-fifth Congress, second session), entitled Maps and Descriptions of Routes of Exploration in Alaska in 1898. The results of the Seward peninsula surveys will appear in special reports of the Geological Survey.


Beardslee, 1879-1880

    Capt. (now Rear Admiral) Lester Anthony Beardslee, U. S. N., was in 1879-80 stationed in southeast Alaska in command of the U. S. S. Jamestown. Among his officers was Lieut. Frederick M. Symonds and Master Gustavus C. Hanus, both of whom had served in the Coast Survey and were enthusiastic surveyors. These officers and their associates utilized their opportunity to increase our imperfect knowledge of the Alexander archipelago. They surveyed Sitka harbor and various coves and harbors and brought back information as to Glacier bay, which, while not absolutely the first, was the first to attract much notice. Their map of Sitka was published by the Coast Survey. Most of the geographic information, except that, is contained in Beardslee's report on affairs in Alaska, which was published in 1882 as Senate Ex. Doc. No. 71. Forty-seventh Congress, first session. This contains several maps, including reprints of United States Hydrographic Office charts 882 and 883.


Becker, 1895

    Mr. George Ferdinand Becker, geologist of the United States Geological Survey, accompanied by Mr. Chester Wells Purington, visited Alaska in the summer of 1895 for the purpose of examining and reporting on its gold resources. Their examination was, in accordance with instructions, confined to the coast, and embraced points from Sitka westward to Unalaska. It included several localities in Alexander archipelago, about Kodiak and Cook inlet, and along Alaska peninsula, and the trip ended with a visit to Bogoslof.
    Becker's report on this work is published in the Eighteenth Annual Report of the Geological Survey, Part III, pp. 1-86.


Beechey, 1826-1827

    In 1824 the British Government determined to send a ship to Bering strait to cooperate with Franklin and Parry in a search for the Northwest Passage. Capt. Frederick William Beechey, R. N., was on January 12, 1825, selected for the task and placed in command of H. M. S Blossom. On May 11, 1825, he received his instructions, and eight days later, May 19, set sail from Spithead, sailed round Cape Horn, and on' June 28, 1826, reached Petropavlovsk. Thence he sailed to Kotzebue sound, arriving on July 22. Sailing northward he made surveys on the Arctic coast as far as Point Barrow and then returned to Kotzebue sound. On October 18, he quit the sound and, passing Unimak strait, reached San Francisco on November 7, where he stayed till the end of the year and then proceeded to the Hawaiian islands, touching en route at Monterey. He arrived at Honolulu on January 26, 1827. Thence he went to China, and on July 3, was back in Petropavlovsk.
    Quitting the harbor on July 18, he returned to Kotzebue sound, arriving on August 5. The rest of the season was spent in surveys about Seward peninsula, till October 6, 1827, when he took his final departure and, rounding Cape Horn, returned to England in September, 1828.
    A full and satisfactory account of this voyage was published by authority of the Admiralty in 1831, entitled Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait, by F. W. Beechey, 1825-1828, 4°, London, 1831.


Bering and Chirikof, 1741

    The first Russian voyage to bring definite tidings as to northwest America was made bv Capt. Commander Ivan Ivanovich (otherwise Vitus) Bering and Capt. Alexie Ilich Chirikof in 1741. It was an official voyage ordered by the government to be made for exploration and discovery. Bering in the St. Paul, with whom was Steller, and Chirikof in the St. Peter, with whom went Croyere, sailed from Avacha bay on June 4, 1741, and together they cruised eastward. On the 20th the were separated by a storm and did not meet again. The courses kept were generally eastward. Bering reached the vicinity of the mouth of the Copper river and landed there on July 20. The next day he turned back, touched at the Shumagins, saw a number of the Aleutian islands, and was finally driven ashore and died on December 8, 1741, on the island which now bears his name.
    Chirikof landed two boat crews somewhere in the Alexander archipelago, perhaps near Sitka. Neither of these was seen again, and Chirikof, sailing away, arrived in Avacha on October 9.
    Concerning this voyage, which was the first of the Russian official voyages to bring back any definite knowledge of America, much has been written. A good account of it compiled from original sources is contained in Journal of Russian Hydrographic Department, 1851, Vol. IX, pp. 190-469. A detailed track chart accompanies this account. See also Petrof's account in Bancroft's History, pp. 63-98.


Billings, 1790-1792

    Commodore Joseph Billings commanded a Russian exploring and surveying expedition in Bering sea and the North Pacific ocean in 1791-1792. He appears not to have made or published any account of it. For the results, see Sauer and Sarichef.


British Admiralty

    The British Admiralty has published various charts relating to Alaska, most of them being compilations or reproductions of other maps. Almost always the source of information is clearly indicated. Occasionally, however, bits of information have been found here and there on the British Admiralty charts which have not been traced to any other source; in such cases reference is simply made to the British Admiralty. The region about Glacier bay on British Admiralty chart 2431 is an illustration.


Brooks, 1898-1900

    Mr. Alfred Hulse Brooks, geologist in the party of Mr. W. J. Peters in 1898, made geologic studies in Alaska in that year and again in 1899. In the autumn of 1899 he spent a few weeks in Seward peninsula. In the season of 1900 he had charge of a geologic party in Seward peninsula, having as geologic assistants Messrs. George B. Richardson and Arthur J. Collier. For reports on this work see Twentieth Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey, Part VII, pp. 425-494; also Twenty-first Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey, Part II, pp. 331-391. The report on the work of 1900 is now in proof and is soon to appear as a special publication of the United States Geological Survey.