by submitted by Janet S. Seitz
William F. Reed was born in Brentwood, Tennessee in 1836 and lived there until 1852 when he moved to California during the gold fever. From there Reed came to Alaska during the Frazer River excitement and was in Wrangell for several years before coming to Juneau in 1882. He apparently never married and his survivors were his two sisters in Tennessee. He died on September 9, 1894.
In Juneau, Reed was a successful businessman and miner. He was a grocer and ran “The Reed House.” According to the Alaska Mining Record, September 10, 1894 issue, Reed had suffered from heart trouble for some time and he apparently passed away during his sleep.
Reed’s will is recorded in the Deed Book 11, page 784, Juneau Recorder’s Office, Roll 316. It was made March l0, 1887, and indicates his name as William Farmington Reed. All the estate was to be left to his brother, Peter H. Reed and sister Mary F. Redmond, both of Williamson County, Tennessee. A codicil recorded indicates that his brother had died and if his estate was over $5,000.00, $1,000.00 was to go to Miss Amulia Reed of Williamson County, Tennessee, a cousin, with the rest of the estate to go to his sister, Mrs. Mary F. Redmond.
The inventory and appraisement of his estate runs 72 pages and is housed at the Alaska State Archives. He owned 19 plots of land in the Juneau and Douglas area (a large amount of these were in the then downtown Juneau area), land at Wrangell, and interests in 44 mining claims. He was a partner with Philip Starr in at least two mining claims, the Starr and Reed lode, and the Jumbo lode.
The inventory and appraisement also listed his cash, gold dust and nuggets, personal effects, household furniture, hotel furniture fixtures, store and office furniture and other goods, ware and merchandise as well as accounts receivables and notes, for a total estate valued at $55,732.73.
William Reed is slightly mentioned in “History of the Mines and Miners of the Juneau Gold Belt” in a discussion of the SumDum Chief and Bald Eagle lodes, where he is referred to as “W. F. Reed, one of Juneau’s leading merchants.” R. N. DeArmond’s “Old Gold: A Collection of Historical Vignettes” indicates that the “Reed House” was later known as the Central House, and mentions that it was on Second Street and its proprietor “W. I. Reed” put up a number of buildings and engaged in more than one line of business. Lloyd H. Kinky Bayer’s Juneau Historical File mentions that a George Kyrage was the owner of Central House and was an “annex to the Reed House.” In 1913, a petition was presented to the City Council to have the old Central House torn down as a menace to that section of town. A note from 1914 mentions that a two-building, two story, would be put up next to the old Central House.