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A remarkable journey from Sixtymile with twin toddlers, 1896

Arctic & Northern History

Beaver Valley Tribune (Beaver City, Furnas County, Nebraska), Friday, December 4, 1896

Beaver Valley Tribune (Beaver City, Furnas County, Nebraska), Friday, December 4, 1896

U. Day, a Miner, Makes His Way Across the Summit of Chilcat Pass - The Father Suffered With Cold and Hardships as the Twins Grew Fat.

ORN within the borders of a land owned by the United States, and yet farther away from the center of their country's civilization than any other child or children, is the distinction which will follow Joseph and Bernard Day through life, says a Seattle correspondent of San Francisco Call. They are two-year-old twins and arrived in this city on the steamer Willapa, direct from Alaska, and the place of their birth is not the only thing remarkable thus far in their lives, for, with the aid of their father, they made, in order to reach Juneau and make connections with the Willapa, a trip of many days, coming from the Yukon mining district and crossing the grand but dangerous summit by the Chilcat pass. Others, many years their seniors, have attempted to make that same trip, and were never heard of again, but the babes are alive and well, and, while they cannot talk, they hope to some day be able to discuss the trip as it comes to them from the lips of their father, U. Day.

    The story of their birth, of their remarkable trip and other facts connected with them is one that does not find its way into print very often. U. Day is a miner. He is a big, fine looking man, and for many years before he decided to go to Alaska he worked in the silver mines of the east. He was experienced in his business, and when he made a trip to Alaska four years ago and took a look at the country he made up his mind that he would come back to the United States and get his wife, a bride of a few months, and return to the land of gold. He came back and his wife, who was at that time living with some well-to-do relatives in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minn., consented to return with him to Alaska. She was not very strong, but had plenty of nerve, and in the spring, with the aid of her husband, she reached the Yukon mining district in safety.

    Her coming was a great event among the miners. But one or two women had ever been among them, and those had held aloof from the common miners. Mrs. Day took an interest in them and endeavored to bring happiness to their lives.

    Just two years ago she gave birth to twin boys. They were big and healthy and had eyes that were black as coal and cheeks as red as apples. The exact date of their birth was October 13, 1894, and the place Sixty-Mile Creek. Never did the coming of any one, not even of the hardy men who carry the mail, create such a fervor in the Yukon district. Miners who came down recently say that three months after the birth of the twins Mr. and Mrs. Day received presents from miners far away who heard of the new arrivals. They were the first children ever born in the Yukon district, and they were petted and caressed and humored as though they were the children of some great king.

    On June 3, this year, Mrs. Day, who had not been well since the birth of the children, died, and there was general mourning in the camp.

    Everybody wondered what would become of the twins. Day told his friends that in the fall he would take them to the United States and place them with their mother's relatives at Minneapolis. The miners laughed at him and said that it would be impossible for him to make the trip until the babies were old enough to walk.

    Two months ago Day decided to leave the Yukon with his little ones. The miners generally were of the opinion that it would mean death for the children and probably for the father if he undertook the trip. Day was determined. He said that to keep the children at Sixty-Mile would mean a life of ignorance and suffering. So, early in July, Day started for Juneau with the prides of the Yukon. Before his departure old and hardened miners shed tears and prayed for the safety of the children. Day sald that if they died he would die with them.

    They were dressed in clothes of heavy woolen cloth, and, strange as it may seem, made the trip the greater part of the way strapped on the shoulders of their father. He carried them similarly to the way Indian women pack their pappooses about. They were a great burden, when the length of the trip is taken into consideration and the further fact that Day had a pack of provisions and blankets to carry with him. Day says that at times the weather was very cold, and when his babies would not even cry he would think that probably they were benumbed by the cold. Then he would take a peep at them, and they would either be laughing or sleeping. Once, he says, they amused themselves all day long playing with his long hair.

    When night came on and he was ready to rest Day would remove the children from his back and they would sleep in his arms.

    "Not once did they ever so much as cry," says Day.

    The trip across the summit of the Chilcat pass was the most severe of all, but the little ones stood it all right, though Day says they must have suffered some, because he did himself. Several times in crossing the summit Day, weak with the long trip and the heavy burden, slipped, and, but for the precious ones on his back, he says he believes he would have given up, sunk down and perished. Their cooing, he says, aroused him, and he would struggle on.

    Juneau was finally reached, and safety. There the babes were weighed and it was found that they had grown fat during their remarkable journey. They when the Willapa arrived, took passage on it for the Sound.

    In a day or two Day will leave with his sons for Minneapolis, where they will be placed with relatives and educated. Old miners say the trip will go down as the most remarkable ever made from the Yukon district to Juneau.