Frances to Daddy, April 30, 1918


Circle City, Alaska
April 30, 1918  

Mr. Guilliam A. Wells
155 E. Walnut Lane
Philadelphia, Pa.

Dear Daddy: 

            You are no doubt surprised to see a letter headed “Circle” but such is the case – I have been here since the 25th and will probably go back to Fort Yukon on the first river steamer down stream about May 20th.  My trip here was a very anxious and urgent hurry call to the aid of the government school teacher here a Miss Carey – a lovely young girl who was cleaning with gasoline when it spontaneously combusted and she caught on fire and was, we at first thought fatally burned – she is pretty nearly out of danger now – having had her pneumonia crisis last night and her burns are healing with remarkable rapidity although there is a great area of tissue to be built up.  I shall take her back to Fort Yukon with me if she is able to be moved.  If not, I shall wait until she is – although it is not so urgent for me to get back now that Dr. Burke has returned – I am anxious to be nearer sources of supplies, etc., than I am here, nearly a hundred miles from anywhere – I made a record trip here covering the distance between Fort Yukon and Circle in 21 hours traveling by dog team over the worst of all bad trails and when I saw the wireless tower appear I was never so thankful to see anything before – almost as glad as I was to get to the halfway road house where I knew a fresh team and driver were waiting for me.  We came through a driving snowstorm from the time I left Ft. Yukon at 10 p.m. until 9 a.m. the next morning but we could not stop and push on in spite of every conceivable difficulty on the Spring trails from open water and overflow making it one long hair breadth escape.  Robert Surface speaks of “deaths that hang by a hair.”  I know what that meant about six different times on that first night.  The next day the trail was very, very difficult but not quite so dangerous although some of the places make one feel queer when I think of them now and realize what a miss step of one of the dogs or mistaken sliding calculation of my Indian driver would have meant.  However, I got there safely in six hours less time than they thought I could possibly make it and after sitting still in a narrow sled for 21 hours I was thankful for the chance to walk on terra  ferma.

Everyone here is very, very good to me and I am now breathing quite freely with my patient and the rest of the time here promises to be a very happy one, as there are some lovely people here and I feel perfectly at home with them.
I suppose the papers have been full of the Steffanson excitement and I am thankful Dr. Burke could get back so soon instead of having to be away for three months as we first thought. Steffanson et al are all at Fort Yukon until such time as he feels able to proceed either back to the Artic or “outside.”

The Archdeacon and Walter are also home – they got back on the 26th making and finishing the trip pretty nigh as they planned originally.

There is little or no news to tell you other than the above, as not much has happened that I know and so far I have been kept pretty busy caring for Miss Carey and doing the household chores as I have her at her own home where it is very cozy and homelike.  Circle is not so large as Fort Yukon but more like the outside – as through the summer there are about 1000 white people who make this their headquarters while running out along the creeks.

I expect to be able to do some work among the few (about 50) natives here and at present am kept rather busy with some sick among them too – one case of Soba Pneumonia and other various ailments not quite so serious if kept down by a little care.  It is too bad that there is not a worker of some kind here but there is none as is the case of many other posts where the work has had to be neglected, owing to the lack of workers and funds.

There is a chapel and hospital here - all that remains of the former work and which some day may be opened again.  This will probably reach you about the same time that a scribbled note from Fort Yukon, saying that there was to be a long pause and there would have been too had not I come here.   This can get “outside” via Fairbanks as they have mail connections here through Fairbanks as well as Eagle and thence over White Pass, which latter is the real Fort Yukon route.
Give my love to all and don’t forget that I am anxiously looking for that promised picture of yourself.   This is the third mail which has come and brought no letter from you – consider yourself duly scolded – with a great deal of love.


 (Editor's note: Circle is located south, up the river)

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