by Alison Eastaugh Browne
RALPH ELLIOTT "BOB" ROBERTSON
Ralph Elliott “Bob” Robertson was born n Sioux City, Iowa, in 1885. He attended the U. of Washington for a brief period of time—perhaps for only one semester, and probably after he became a lawyer.
Bob originally worked as a clerk for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on reservations around Onawa, Nebraska. Upon seeing a list of available positions posted, he applied for, and got, a job as a court reporter in Alaska. He arrived in Juneau in 1906, with 50 cents in his pocket. George Simpkins met the boat Bob arrived on, gave him $5 and directed him to a respectable boardinghouse.
Bob’s mother and sister came to visit and lived in Juneau for a brief time in a house either right across the street from the Catholic Church, or just south of that. Bob’s father was a journalist. Bob went to work as a court reporter and law clerk under Judge Royal Arch Gunnison. In those days, the “dispensing of justice” was done by the court traveling by boat or whatever means necessary to reach Alaska communities. It was called the “floating court.”
CAROLINE “CARRO” BENNING GREEN
Caroline “Carro” Benning Green was born in 1885, in Washington, D.C. Carro (known as “Mimi” to her grandchildren) came to Juneau in 1912, to visit family friends, then Alaska Governor and Mrs. Walter E. Clark from West Virginia. She and Bob Robertson met in Juneau and were married in the newly constructed Governor’s mansion on Calhoun Avenue in the spring of 1913. The marriage was the first to take place in the Alaska Governor’s Mansion.
Bob and Carro first lived at 418 East 7th Street, a house that Bob cleared the land for and had built. They then moved next door to 709 Gold Street, to the house previously owned by Royal Arch Gunnison and his wife. Gunnison was a judge of the first Alaska Judicial Division.
Bob turned to law and was admitted to the Alaska bar in 1913, and joined Gunnison as a law partner at the salary of $125 per month. At that time, to “pass the Bar” and become a lawyer, one needed to work under a lawyer for two years. He won the first case he tried in August 1913, and was actively engaged in the practice of law for almost 50 years.
Bob was always interested in mining and was involved with mining law. He grubstaked several miners. Bob served as Mayor of Juneau in 1920-23. He said he was more of a street commissioner than mayor because that was where the problems were. He and Carro would walk Juneau’s streets at night to see which street lamps needed replacing.
For recreation, Bob tried golf but gave it up. The course of 9 holes was on the tailings at Thane from the Alaska Gastineau Mine, so it was all fine sand. The “greens” were smoothed by raking with a board. At high tide, only 5 holes were available. Bob and Carro would also ice skate at the Evergreen Bowl (Cope Park) and in front of the Mendenhall Glacier. They would also bobsled on Gold Street and on 9th Street hill in the winter. The police had strung red lights on wire across the intersections to encourage drivers to watch for children on sleds. Both Carro and Bob played tennis on wooden board courts near 9th and Gold Creek. Balls could take a very wild bounce when they landed on a crack. Carro was hit in the eye by a ball and lost part of the sight in that eye.
Bob and Carro built a cabin at Mile 13, Auke Bay, in the 1930’s, where they maintained a truck garden and strawberry patch.
STATEHOOD AND THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
Bob was one of fifty-five delegates to the Alaska Statehood Constitutional Convention which convened in November 8,1955, in Fairbanks along with other Juneau delegates, Dora Sweeney, Douglas Gray, and Burke Riley. Juneau’s Tom Stewart was elected by the delegates to be an officer of the convention, nondelegate. William A. Egan was named President of the convention. Katie Alexander Hurley, who lived in Juneau at the time, was hired by Tom Stewart to be the Chief Clerk.
At the 1955 constitutional convention,
Delegate R. E. .Bob. Robertson approved of statehood but wanted Juneau
named the capital in the body of the constitution, not just in the schedule of
transitional measures. (In 1962, the Alaska Supreme Court held that because
the state capital reference was only a transitional measure, the capital could
be changed by statute or initiative.) Bob also believed that the initiative
process the Constitution proposed was too easy to implement, and because
initiatives can.t be easily corrected, bad law could result. He also opposed a
provision submitting an ordinance to the voters on whether to abolish fish
traps. Arguing unsuccessfully to change the three items, Bob submitted a
letter of resignation to convention President William Egan three days before
the convention concluded and returned to Juneau. Believing the resignation
wouldn.t be effective unless all of the delegates accepted it, Egan did not
distribute copies of the letter. The convention concluded without Bob
Robertson.s vote. In 1960, Bob was persuaded to sign the constitution,
which he did happily, finally making it a unanimous vote.
Alaska did become a state in 1959. Bob ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate against E. L. Bob Bartlett. In 1960, one year before he died, Bob became very ill. An official state gathering took place at Bob’s home at 709 Gold Street where Governor Bill Egan, U.S. Senator Bob Bartlett, Dora Sweeney and others came with original copies of the Constitution for Bob to sign, which he was pleased to do.
Bob and Carro had three children who were raised in Juneau and graduated from Juneau High School in the 1930’s.
RALPH ELLIOTT ROBERTSON, JR.
Ralph Elliott was born in 1914, in Juneau. He attended the U. of Washington. During WW II, he served in the Army and taught bombardiers how to use the Norden Bombsight, a secret bomb-sighting device on military aircraft. As a boy, he worked at the A-J Mill and at various canneries and cannery boats. He married Dorothy Hill in 1947, in Anchorage, and they had three children: Bruce (1949), Wendy (1951-1967), and Ralph (1953). Elliott and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1951, where he now resides in Richmond, California.
Duncan was born in 1916, in Juneau. He graduated from Stanford University and George Washington Medical School. He was a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during WW II serving in Europe. As a boy, he worked in the A-J Mill, the Taku Cannery, and the Port Althorp Cannery (near Cross Sound). Duncan was, and still is, an avid skier. He married Mary Isabel Eggert of Seattle and they had three children: Carol (1944), John (1947), and Cynthia (1952). After practicing medicine for many years in Seattle, Duncan and Mary now reside in Bellevue, Washington.
CAROL BENNING ROBERTSON EASTAUGH
Carol was born in 1918. She attended the U. of Washington for two years and also attended a fashion design school in San Francisco. She married Frederick Orlebar Eastaugh in 1942 in Seattle. They had two children: Robert (1943) and Alison (1947).
Carol was musically gifted. In 1962, she wrote “Hoochinoo and Hotcakes,” an early Juneau Gold Rush musical melodrama that played for 15 years. In 1967, she wrote “Lucky for Us” a full-length musical performed in Juneau in celebration of Alaska’s Purchase Centennial. The musical was about the Juneau gold rush based on historical fact and fancy.
Carol was also active in community affairs. She served as one of three members of the State of Alaska Violent Crimes Compensation Board for 16 years and was named Juneau Rotary Woman of the Year in 1972. An enthusiastic gardener, she was a life member of Juneau Garden Club and served as its president. She taught Sunday School at Northern Light United Church, was a Girl Scout Troop Leader, and with Kay Parker, served on Juneau’s Beautification Committee. After Fred retired, they moved to the “cabin” at Auke Bay, where she and Fred enjoyed gardening and entertaining. Carol died at her home in 1999.
FREDERICK ORLEBAR EASTAUGH
Frederick Orlebar Eastaugh was born in 1913, in Nome, Alaska. His father, Ted Eastaugh, came from England to Nome during the gold rush in 1889. Fred’s grand uncle was a mining engineer on the Seward Peninsula in the 1890’s. His mother, Lucy Ladd of California, came to Nome to teach school. She and Ted met and married and had two sons: William Eastaugh (who later settled in Wrangell with his wife Doris and two sons, Ted and Dennis) and Frederick Orlebar.
Fred graduated from the U. of Washington and during the summer worked for the Alaska Steamship Line as a freight clerk aboard and purser. He was an excellent, creative photographer, and developed this skill while taking many beautiful photographs of Alaska during ship travel. His photographs were featured in his own exhibit at a gallery in Seattle. Fred worked for Pan American World Airways from 1940-46 in Juneau, Fairbanks, San Francisco, and Seattle. He married Carol in 1942. They met in 1933, when he was in Juneau working on the addition to St. Ann’s Hospital. He worked for Pacific Northern Airways as an accountant, and then took a cut in pay to work for PAA, helping develop an accounting system for its operations in Alaska.
In 1946, Fred and Carol moved permanently to Juneau, where he joined the law firm of Robertson & Monagle as a clerk. He read law and was admitted to the bar in 1948. He became a partner in 1958, and retired from the firm Robertson Monagle Eastaugh in 1988. His specialty was mining law. He served as municipal magistrate in Juneau from 1950-55, and as municipal attorney from 1955-62, and was city attorney for Juneau, Skagway, and Wrangell.
Fred was elected to the House of Representatives of the 21st Territorial Legislature and served two years from 1953-54.
Fred loved gardening and boating. He was a Taku River Rat, having built a 22-foot Storey Sharpshooter boat himself and having taken it up the Stikine River. He also enjoyed sailing. He was an avid long-time skier. Fred died of cancer at his home in 1992.
ROBERT LADD EASTAUGH AND ALISON BENNING EASTAUGH BROWNE
Carol and Fred had two children, Robert and Alison.
Robert graduated from Juneau High School in 1961, and from Yale University and Michigan Law School at Ann Arbor. After working for the Dept. of Law from 1968-72, he entered private law practice in Anchorage where he practiced law until he was appointed by Governor Walter J. Hickel to the Alaska Supreme Court in 1994. Robert married Patricia Hughes of Anchorage in 1971. They have two children: Carol Hughes (1975) and John Frederick (1980). Patricia died in 1996. Robert and his children reside in Anchorage.
Alison resides in Juneau. She graduated from Juneau High School in 1965, and attended her junior year at the Annie Wright School in Tacoma. She graduated from the U. of Washington after spending one year in Tours, France at L’Insitut de Touraine. Alison worked for 10 Alaska legislative sessions as a Fiscal Analyst for the Senate and House Finance Committees and one session as an assistant to President Jalmar Kerttula. In 1983, she went to work for the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. where she served as the Corporation’s Director of Administration from 1984-98.
Alison married Thomas Lee Farnan in 1972. Tom died of a heart attack in 1986. Alison married Forrest Reginald Browne, Jr. in 1994. Coming to Alaska to take the job of Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Klukwan, Inc., Forrest later became the Executive Director of the Alaska Municipal Bond Bank Authority while simultaneously holding the position of State Investment Officer in charge of the State’s bond financing. Forrest died of cancer at his home in Juneau in 1999.