Parks and Recreation Image

Juneau-Douglas City Museum


by Sarah Lupro


Charles W. Carter was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1870. He left home at the age of 17. He worked in Calgary, Alberta; then in Vancouver, British Columbia; Portland, Oregon; and finally San Francisco, California. When news of the Klondike gold strike reached San Francisco, he headed for Seattle. He took passage on one of the ships headed north and landed on the beach at Skagway in August of 1897.

He worked first at backpacking and then on a pack train, traveling over the Skagway and Dyea trails, particularly the White Pass Trail. One of his stories tells of being away from town the day Soapy Smith was killed. He had taken a tug and barge to Haines to pick up a bunch of mules. When the railroad was completed to Lake Bennett and packers no longer needed, he tried his luck prospecting for gold in the Atlin area. He moved south to Juneau in 1899, where he worked as a hotel clerk, bartender and delivery man and did assessment work on claims at Silver Bow Basin. Charles was a member of the Juneau Volunteer Fire Department from 1899 until 1916.

In 1901, he accepted a contract to deliver the U.S. mail between St. Michaels and Katmai. Charles left Juneau by steamship in September of 1901 for Seattle where he boarded the S.S. Roanoak on September 30th on the last northbound trip of the year. The ship arrived on October 15, at St. Michaels where he purchased a dog team and supplies. It was necessary to wait until December for favorable conditions to start the 1100 mile trip to deliver and pick up the mail. The wait was time spent learning the art of driving and caring for a dog team. Warming weather brought heavy snow and thawing that required him to break trail for the dogs, making the travel slow. It became hazardous crossing lakes and rivers that should have been frozen solid. A dog purchased enroute eveloped rabies and infected several others of the team. All of the infected dogs had to be destroyed, and the shortage of dogs meant travel became even slower. After delivering and picking up the mail he finished the contract on March 3 in Katmai. The ship that was to pick up him and his dog team did not stop although there were several parties waiting on the beach. It was April 13th, before a schooner stopped and took them to Kodiak. There Charles and dogs departed on the southbound S.S. New Port which delivered him to Juneau on May l, 1902.

On May 18, 1902, Charlie (as he became known to his friends) married Alphonsine Lovely in Juneau. Because her father, Henry Lovely, did not approve of Charlie, they were married by the Douglas Justice of thePeace and left on a steamship a few hours later. They spent several weeks in Seattle before returning to Juneau. They reared three daughters, Lavina, Shannon Helen and Leanora. All three born in Juneau.

After his marriage, Charlie worked for the Ross-Higgins Company General Merchandise Store, The B. M. Behrends Company, C. W. Young Company and the Gastineau Mining Company at Thane. He was acting U.S. Postmaster from 1924 to 1926. Charlie learned the undertaking business while working for the C. W. Young Company. At the urging of Mrs. B. M. Behrends, wife of the local banker, he purchased the Sully Undertaking Parlor after the death of H. V. Sully. In 1926, he purchased a house at 4th and Franklin, which in 1932, he remodeled adding a chapel for funeral services. Here he conducted the mortuary business until it was sold to Donald W. Skuse in 1950.

Charlie was very active and held numerous local and state positions in the Elks Club, Rotary Club, the Juneau Chamber of Commerce, Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, and the Pioneers of Alaska even after his retirement. He was a member of the Board of Trustees for the Sitka Pioneer Home for many years. He served several terms on the Juneau City Council between 1907 and 1911 and was mayor in 1913. He worked to bring air mail service to Alaska and also for the construction of the Community Building in order to bring the U. S. Coast Guard’s Alaska headquarters to Juneau.

Charlie loved to tell stories of his early days in Alaska and with a twinkle in the eye, relished telling “tall tales” to the unsuspecting right up until his death in 1961. In 1938, Charlie wrote, “We pioneers who are now residents of Alaska, failed to make that fortune so much desired forty years ago. However, our very failures might have been a blessing in disguise. We remained and established homes. Personally, I know that I will never be wealthy as computed in dollars and cents, but I feel that Alaska has treated me kindly. I came here with nothing except ambition and a desire to be an honest man. Now I own my home, have a wife, three children and four grandchildren. My bills for September 1938 are all paid and I have $2.25 in my pocket, which belongs to me. Who dare say that I am not a rich man!”

Lavina May Carter was born in 1903, and died at Juneau in 1960. She married Kenneth Kimbrough; and they had two sons, Charles K. and Robert C., who was drowned in Gold Creek in 1930. Charles K. Linehan (name had been legally changed) became a doctor and married Alene Rohrbaugh. They raised five boys, Allan, Keith, Bruce, Lauren and Clifford. Charles and Alene lived in Astoria, Oregon, where he practiced until his retirement. Lavina’s second marriage was to Jesse O. Bonsall. Their daughter, Sarah J., married Charles H. Lupro, and they raised four children, Robert, Ellen, Vicki and Caroline. Sarah and Charles H. (Harry) live in Juneau.

Shannon Helen Carter was born in 1909. She married Donald W. Skuse; and they had one son, Don. He married Dorothy Sand, and they had no children. Don lived most of his life in California where he died in 1992. Dorothy Sands Carter lives in California. Shannon Helen’s second marriage was to Charles A. Carter; and they raised two daughters, Adrienne and Candida. Shannon died in California in 1967.

Leanora Ellen Carter was born in 1912 and married Clifton (Cliff) K. Tisdale with whom she had one son, Ted. They spent most of their married life in Juneau. Cliff died in 1964, at Juneau, and Leanora died in 1976, at Port Angeles, Washington. Ted married Barbara Philpott; and they have three sons, Ted, Ken and Dan. Ted and Barbara live in Fairbanks.


Charles James Skuse was born in 1844, in County Cork, Ireland. He had worked as a cabin boy on several sailing ships and made several trips to America before settling in Rochester, New York. He had only a grade school education but studied law and served two terms as county judge in Rochester. He married Florence W. Waters, and they resided at Butte, Nebraska, until a hard winter wiped out the cattle herd they were raising. He and several neighbors went to Seattle, Washington, got a dory and came to Alaska prospecting. They sailed into the Cook Inlet area, crossed Kodiak Island, but were unable to find gold. The group separated, and Charles came to Juneau where he decided to stay.

In 1896, he returned to Nebraska and brought back to Juneau his wife, Florence and son, George. Three additional children, Charles, Florence and Donald were born in Juneau. John, the oldest son, died young before the family left Nebraska.

Charles Senior was a master carpenter and worked on the Methodist Church, which was built at the corner of 4th and Seward Streets. However, he preferred to prospect for gold and trap and was often away from Juneau for weeks and months at a time. Charles James was buried in 1917, in Juneau at the Evergreen Cemetery.

George Skuse spent his entire life in Juneau only taking short fishing and hunting trips. He became the caregiver of Charles after their mother left Juneau in 1906, taking Florence and Donald with her. George and Charles’ father was often gone from home for long periods of time; and George made sure Charles was taken care of and worked to see that Charles got a high school education, which he himself did not have. At one time when the boys were young they were cleaning a loaded gun, which discharged and hit Charles in the leg. Their father refused to take Charles to the doctor and left shortly on a prospecting trip. Charles became very ill; and as there was no one to take care of him, George took him to the Ladies of South Franklin who saved his leg and probably his life. The boys knew these ladies because they delivered newspapers to them and also were paid to gather firewood for them. George not only took care of Charles he later was the caretaker of his stepmother and her children for years. George loved to fish (had two boats, the Jerry and the Kim), and he spent many winters on the Taku River trapping.

Charles L. Skuse was born in Juneau February 15, 1898, on Starr Hill. He was the last surviving member of the Juneau High School class of 1916, when he died in 1990. Charles wanted to continue his education as he wanted to be a teacher, but he and George had too many responsibilities and too little money. He shared the financial responsibility for his stepmother and her children for years. Charles worked as assayer at the Chichagof Mine for six years and the Alaska Juneau Mine for thirty seven years, the last years as mill superintendent.

When his mother, sister and brother left on a steamship in 1906, Charles and George went to the dock with them. Charles refused to leave the dock even when the boat was long out of sight. Being just seven years old he was sure they would return shortly. George had to go down after dark and make him come home. Their mother promised to write and send for them as soon as she could; however, they never heard from her again. It wasn’t until after her death in 1926, that they learned their father had intercepted all of her letters and the money she sent several times for their fare to Seattle.

Charles married Isabel Duncan in 1940, at her home in Ontario, Canada. They returned to Juneau residing at the family home at the top of Franklin Street until his death December 9, 1990. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in the summer of 1990. After his death, Isabel brought out the poetry that Charles had written her every year at Christmas time for 35 years.(He quit writing when George became ill and died.) The poems clearly show the love he had for Isabel, their animals and life in general. Isabel died in Juneau in 1991. Isabel and Charles are buried beside George at the Alaska Memorial Park.

Florence Skuse was born in Juneau, and several years after her mother took her and Donald to Washington state, Florence died.

Donald Wesley Skuse was born in Juneau in 1905, lived in Washington State, part of the time in Seattle. When he was 18, he returned to Juneau and his brothers. He delivered milk for the Juneau Dairies and worked for the C. W. Carter Mortuary. When Charles Carter retired, he sold the mortuary business and property to Donald Wesley.

Donald Wesley married Helen M. Carter in Juneau. They had one son, Don, born at Juneau in 1929. Don lived most of his life in California where he died in 1992. Don married Dorothy Sands and they had no children. Dorothy lives in California.

Donald W. Skuse’s second marriage was in 1937, to Lillian Howson of Ontario, Canada. They made their home in Juneau for many years. Donald sold the mortuary business when he and Lillian retired to Victoria, British Columbia, where Donald Wesley died in 1986. They had no children. His wife, Lillian, lives in Victoria.


Henry Lovely was born Henri Lamoureux in Quebec, Canada, in 1857, and apparently Americanized his name when he moved to the United States. He married Celina E. Yelle in Minnesota in 1882. They had three children - Joseph, Alphonsine, and an adopted daughter Annie.

Prior to coming to Alaska the family lived in Minnesota and Hamilton, Washington. Henry came to Juneau in August of 1895, from Hamilton, and his wife and daughter followed several months later. Henry was a seaman before coming to Alaska, but he would work as a carpenter and prospector while in Alaska.

While living in Juneau the family home was at the top of Gold Street just about where the Hillcrest Apartments are now located. The family lived there until after Alphonsine married. Then Henry, Celina and Annie left Juneau. They went first to Warm Spring Bay where Henry built a public bathhouse and several cabins. He tried to get title to the property; but when he was unable to do so, they moved to Fairbanks. At one time he was caretaker of one of the Catholic Missions, at either Ruby or Nulato.

Henry had several mining claims, mainly in the Yukon, which he sold over the years, making him quite well-todo. After the claims were sold, he and Celina moved to Roswell, New Mexico, where he built and operated a motel type hotel. He died in 1930 in Roswell.

Their oldest child, Joseph was born in 1883, at Moorhead, Minnesota, and according to a family story, committed suicide because his father mistreated him. If this is true, it happened prior to the family coming to Juneau. Alphonsine was born at Moorhead, Minnesota, in 1886, and married Charles W. Carter in Juneau in 1902. She died in Juneau in 1955. Annie was born in Juneau, married and lived in California until her death.

After the death of her husband, Celina returned to Juneau where she lived with her daughter, Alphonsine and son-in-law, Charles Carter, until her death in 1931. She is buried at the Evergreen Cemetery.