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Polley, Ernest Milton & Edna (York)

by Patty Ann Polley

Ernest Milton Polley, born in South Boston, Massachusetts, on June 7, 1887, arrived in Juneau in 1915. Ernest and Edna Evelyn York were married on December 21, 1906. Edna, born outside Halifax, Nova Scotia on June 8, 1887, and son Clayton born in Winchester, Massachusetts, on December 26, 1907, arrived in Juneau during the summer of 1916. Edna and Clayton came across Canada on the train to Prince Rupert and on the steamship from Prince Rupert to Juneau.

Ernest Milton had worked for his father, John, who was a building contractor in Massachusetts. Edna’s brother, Charlie York, came to Juneau earlier and urged Ernest to move to Juneau. Upon his arrival he worked for the A.J. Mine as a carpenter. When the U.S. became involved in World War I, Ernest enlisted in the Quartermaster Corps of the U.S. Army and served until discharged in 1919.

One of Edna’s stories was of the difficulties experienced during the flu epidemic in Juneau in 1918. She had the flu and was placed in the hospital but Clayton was a child of about 10 with no one to look after him as Ernest was in the service. Clayton ended up staying in the hospital with his mother simply because there was no other place for him to stay.

Ernest and Edna, with assistance from Clayton, built the cabin that became their home at 604 W. 12th Street that is now owned by their great grandson and his wife, Mikko and Caro Rosier Polley.

After his return to Juneau in 1919, he went to work for the City of Juneau as a street commissioner. He had proposed the A.J. rock be used on the streets of Juneau; however, his idea was not approved. Ernest was angered by this decision and resigned and moved to Sitka where he worked for W.P. Mills who owned several of that city’s utilities. Ernest was elected to the Territorial Legislature in 1920, serving for two years. One of his accomplishments was a child welfare reform act. He then became a tax collector for the Territory traveling across the Territory checking that the $5.00 school tax was collected and remitted.

Ernest was active with the American Legion and helped to establish the Sitka Post. With the beginning of World War II, he continued his activities and on February 26, 1942, he gave a speech at the 20th Century Theatre on the war bond efforts. After his speech he walked back to his seat, sat down by his wife, had a heart attack and died. His activities in addition to the American Legion included the Episcopal Church, Elks, and Odd Fellows.

Edna continued the family’s involvement with the American Legion and the Episcopal Church. She worked at the U.S. Post Office until her retirement. After she retired, she took a trip around the world, riding camels in Egypt and other similar activities. She died at the Sitka Pioneers Home on July 13, 1976, at the age of 89.


Clayton Polley grew up in Juneau, graduating from Juneau High School in 1925, and from the North Pacific Dental College in Portland in 1929.

Doc’s first dental practice was in LeGrande, Oregon. As this was the height of the Depression, he always said he couldn’t pay his bills with the eggs, chickens and produce that he received in payment for his work. He decided to move back to Alaska and practiced dentistry in Skagway from 1932 to 1947.

Doc and Gertrude Kaarin “Sally” Waltonen had both attended school in Juneau and she graduated from Juneau High School in 1927. They were married in Juneau at the Episcopal Church on December 21, 1933. Sally remembered that it was cold with the wind howling and that they spent their wedding night with her in-laws in the 12th Street house.

Doc and Sally moved to Skagway following their wedding and Doc opened his dental office in a building that was the Pinnel Mission. He had his dental office upstairs and the family lived downstairs. In 1936, their first child, Ernest Edward, was born. He was followed by Roger York in 1937. The Polley family lived in Skagway until 1947, when they moved back to Juneau and purchased a house on 11th Street.

While in Skagway, Doc did the Army dental work at Chilkoot Barracks in Haines and served the town of Haines. He also did contract dental work for the BIA at Klukwan, Haines and Yakutat until 1942. While in Skagway, Doc served as the School Board President for six years and three years on the City Council. He was president of the Skagway Chamber of Commerce for two years and secretary-treasurer for three years. During World War II, Doc was captain of the Territorial Guard unit in Skagway. He was president of the Eagles Lodge, and organized and played in a dance band called the Glacier Bugs.

During her Skagway years, Sally was involved with the Skagway Women’s Club, PTA and Presbyterian Church Auxiliary. On their return to Juneau, Sally served as a Cub Scout den mother, a volunteer at the Juneau Health Center and for the American Cancer Society. She was active in the Juneau chapter of the American Red Cross in Home Services and Grey Ladies Hospital Service. She continued her involvement with the PTA, Republican Women’s Club, Republican Party and Pioneers Auxiliary No. 6, Juneau.

Following their move back to Juneau in 1947, Doc served on the Executive Board of the Alaska TB Association and American Cancer Society until both organizations moved their headquarters to Anchorage.

Doc was a charter member and helped organize the Alaska Dental Society and served as its first elected president in 1951, and as its secretary-treasurer from 1956-1959. He was an active member of the Episcopal Church serving on the Vestry as Warden for several years, and chair of the building committee when the church was enlarged and McPhetres Hall constructed.

Doc was active in the Republican party and served as chair of the 4th Legislative District for several years. In 1971, he was honored to cast one of Alaska’s Electoral College votes for Richard Nixon.

He was a life member of Elks, Pioneers Igloo No. 6, Juneau, the Territorial Sportsmen and the Outdoor Council.

Following Doc’s retirement, he and Sally enjoyed their large flower and vegetable garden at their home at Lena Point. He continued his activities after his retirement by working for the development of senior citizen housing which became the Fireweed Place.

Doc died in 1996 at age 88, and Sally resides in the Juneau Pioneers Home.


Ernest Polley graduated from Juneau High School in 1954 and attended college at the University of Oregon and Arizona State University.

Ernie married Susan Walker in 1964, and had two sons, David Clayton and Ernest Mikko. He and Susan moved to San Francisco where Ernie completed work on a master’s degree. They returned to Juneau and Ernie was a special education teacher and worked for the Juneau Empire.

He moved to the Department of Education where he worked until his retirement. Following a divorce, Ernest married Margaret Frolyk, and they had a son, Nicholas Clayton.

Ernie served as a member of the Assembly during the 1980’s, and was elected and served as Mayor of Juneau from 1985 to 1988.

He married Karen Ryalls in 1997.

David Clayton married Kerry Reagan in California and had two sons, Myles Clayton and Liam Timothy. David died in an accident in 1997. Ernest Mikko and Caro Rosier Polley have a daughter, Madison Kathleen. Mikko works for Allen Marine and Caro is with the Juneau Racquet Club. Nicholas Clayton has a daughter, Kelsey.


Roger Polley graduated from Juneau High School in 1956 and attended college at Kemper Military Institute in Booneville, Missouri, Arizona State University and Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Roger worked for the Bureau of Public Roads and the Alaska Department of Transportation until his retirement in 1987. Following his retirement, he enjoyed traveling and fulfilled one of his dreams of learning to cook by attending the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon. He died in 1996.

Roger was a member of Pioneers of Alaska and the Territorial Sportsmen, Inc.

In 1963, Roger married Patty Ann Gambill and they had a son Marcus York, who died in a car accident in 1985. Patty Ann worked for the Governor’s Office, Division of Elections and the City and Borough of Juneau until her retirement in 1996. She served as the Executive Director of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce for three years. Patty Ann served on the Bartlett Hospital Board of Directors, as Co-Chair of the Golden North Salmon Derby from 1997 to 2000, Territorial Sportsmen, Inc. and the Board of Directors of SCSSI that manages Fireweed Place, a senior citizen housing complex.

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