Ketchikan beach was named for gold claim owner Martin Bugge, a quiet Norwegian
miner-to-be who left Minnesota during the Alaska Gold Rush to make his
fortune. Magnus Bugge was born in 1875 in Norway but Americanized his
first name to Martin when he and his family emigrated to the United States,
settling in Evansville, Minn.
Unlike his farming relatives, however, Martin Bugge had the blood of Vikings
in his veins. He grew up near the town of Alexandria, Minn., a town that
claims it was founded by Viking explorers when one of their boats arrived
there in 1362! The town claims those Viking arrived in Minnesota via Hudson's
Bay and a network of south-running rivers. The town epitomizes the mischievous
Norwegian humor. Its museum displays a Viking rune - a stone slab incised
with Ancient Viking script that was allegedly found partially buried in
a farmer's field near the town. Residents are said to love arguments about
whether the rune is authentic or not.
Martin Bugge was of Ketchikan's original settlers at the turn of the 20th
century. He was a hard worker. He was also a very private man. Successful
prospectors and miners knew when to keep their mouths shut, and that,
combined with Bugge's natural reticence, made Bugge a successful man.
Even though he always listed his occupation as "miner," none
of his own gold claims ever became a working mine. But he found other
ways to profit from mining, from managing to arranging financing. He was
"associated" with mining until the end and died a wealthy man.
Martin Bugge was in his early 20s when the news of the Alaska Gold Rush
was telegraphed around the world and reached him in Evansville, Minn.
He was in love with neighbor Emma Halvorson, who was still a teenager.
But Emma promised to wait for him until he made his fortune, and did wait,
even though it would be 15 years before they married. He arrived in Ketchikan
in 1901 and immediately went into business with another man, Tom Heckman,
operating an overreach piledriver. Ketchikan was booming and the men had
plenty of work building docks in town, at nearby canneries, and they rebuilt
the bridge over Ketchikan Creek.
In 1904 Bugge, who believed in the Horatio Alger rules of Hard Work and
Clean Living, was able to buy claims in Smugglers Cove and on Cleveland
Peninsula. He was beginning his investments for the future. He continued
in the piledriving business, improving and extending the Alaska Steamship
and Tongass Trading Co. docks. He then built the dock at the copper boomtown
Hadley, the dock at the "It" mine near Kasaan, and the dock
for New England Fish Co. in Ketchikan. At that point, about 1909, he "retired"
from piledriving and apparently concentrated on prospecting for gold and
investing in promising prospects.
In the winter of 1912 Bugge bought a small house overlooking the Main
and Dock Street intersection, a house accessed by a stairway that climbed
upward alongside the Mike Martin homesite, the location of today's Wells
Fargo ( formerly NBA and earlier M&M) Bank. He bought the house from
John Stedman, a principal in Tongass Trading Co., the builder of the Stedman
Hotel and the man after whom Stedman Street is named. In early 1913 Bugge
sailed south and traveled by train back to Minnesota where he married
his waiting sweetheart Emma. She had been teaching school while she waited
for him. At their marriage he was 38 and she was 32.
They traveled to Ketchikan and set up housekeeping. Only single women
could become public school teachers in those early days, so the new Mrs.
Bugge busied herself with church and teaching Sunday School for the Lutherans,
with services held in various locations until a permanent structure could
be built. The Lutherans in those early years operated a seamen's center
in the building between today's Coliseum Theater and the Episcopal seamen's
center on Mission Street.
In 1915 Bugge
bought the cluster of six or seven Gold Nugget claims that today include
Bugge Beach and a sizable stretch of hillside above it. He - or someone
- apparently had prospected the properties because there were holes in
the hillside and one deep shaft that had been staked and worked at one
time. Mining man Bugge kept a low profile from then on, but his Helm Bay
gold mine interests apparently paid off, because during the historic presidential
visit to Alaska in 1923 he was able to present President Warren G. Harding
and Mrs. Harding with a golden key to the city and several other valuable
gifts on behalf o the City of Ketchikan, the gold said to be from his
Helm Bay mine interests.
In 1925 a road was built from Ketchikan to Saxman and provided easy access
to Bugge's beach property. Children splashed in the large, sun-warmed
high-tide pond that would soon after be damned at its neck to become a
real swimming hole. Families gathered to picnic and beachcomb and adult
swimmers would venture out into the channel for some diving excitement.
There were old piling there that had been part of an early fish trap that
had been used by George Inlet Cannery. The swimmers would dive from the
supports that held the piling together - until a storm in 1930 uprooted
the piling and the diving platforms were lost.
The Rotary Club of Ketchikan leased the beach property in 1928 and did
some work on the "bathing pool," and two years later decided
to raise money by public subscription to buy the property from Bugge,
to improve it, and dedicate it as a public park. That's why the property's
name became changed to Rotary Park. Ketchikan folk, however, are known
for calling many if not most locations and businesses by "what they
used to be."
Martin Bugge was a good, honest and hard working citizen, but he was not
known as a philanthropist. So the Rotary Club formed teams among its membership
to see which one could raise the most money. The teams were assisted by
the Boy Scouts, the Elks, Eagles and the Gyro Club and about 300 school
children of Ketchikan. Dances and raffles were held and by 1930 Rotary
bought the beach property from Bugge for $2500.
Two toilets had been installed and two bathhouses built for changing into
swim suits. The creek across the road was used for washing up, trails
were built in the park areas, and businesses had donated garbage containers
and beach stoves. There were plans to pipe creek water into the park for
picnic use. Parking spaces were cleared by the Bureau of Public Roads.
A contest was held to name the new park, the name to be chosen by school
children. It was hard to come up with a name that everyone could agree
on. Third-grader Marjorie Ann Voss won a $15 prize for her suggestion
of Community Beach. Bobby Race suggested the name Tongass Park and also
won a $15 prize. But about that time the full force of the Great Depression
reached Ketchikan and finding a name for a park that everyone could agree
on faded from importance as the populace concentrated on economic survival.
In spite of the suggestions for a new name, the little park on Tongass
Narrows was called Bugge Beach or Rotary Beach - as it is still called
In 1943, on the same day, the town would lose both Mr. and Mrs. Bugge
in a curious sequence of events. It was a wet and blowing Fourth of July
weekend, with .57 inches of rain measured over the weekend and a downpour
of almost an inch a day later. Mrs. Bugge had been quite ill and was admitted
to Ketchikan General Hospital on Saturday, July 3. The old Bawden Street
hospital's rear entrance and the backyard walkway of the Bugge home were
only yards apart along the stairway Edmond Street.
Mrs. Bugge died at 6 a.m., Sunday July 4. She was 62. Her niece, Dorothy
Halvorson, a teacher at Ketchikan High School, couldn't find Mr. Bugge
to tell him of his wife's death. A search was begun and an acquaintance
of the Bugges, a man named Robert Novatney,
McFarland and her sponsor the Rev. Dr. Sheldon Jackson first stepped ashore
at the village of Fort Wrangel on August 10, 1877, just two days before
Amanda's 45th birthday. If she had not been a mature Christian she probably
would have gotten right on the next boat south and gone back to Portland.
She found that she would be the lone white woman in a lawless goldrush
town. Fort Wrangel was recently closed and the only representative of
law and order was a commissioner of customs. Moreover, the only available
building was an empty dance hall which would be reclaimed when the miners
came down the Stikine River from the Cassiar mines in October. For more
than a year she served as the minister to the small settlement.
Amanda soon learned that she would have to contend with the evils of slavery
and witchcraft. Rev. S. Hall Young wrote that Fort Wrangel had forty Indian
slaves in 1878 and about 100 persons were killed as witches that year.
She quickly won the trust of the native Alaskans, and the Indians turned
to her for advice on spiritual, legal, and medical matters. She once presided
over an Indian constitutional convention.
Amanda was undaunted, so Sheldon Jackson arranged for the dance hall,
gave her ten dollars, and hurried back to the East Coast to plead for
funds for the Alaska mission. It was not in the budget and he had to sell
the idea to the mission board. Some were horrified that he had left a
lone woman in such a hostile environment.
Because of a jurisdictional dispute, Amanda did not receive a dollar of
salary for a whole year. She stayed in Fort Wrangel because her heart
had gone out to a small band of forty Christian Indians who had welcomed
her with great joy as their teacher and spiritual leader. They had been
converted by a young Canadian Indian, Philip McKay, who with friends had
a government contract to cut wood for Fort Fort Wrangel. Philip's Indian
name was "Clah." His interpreter was Mrs. Sarah Dickinson, an
Indian woman who had married a white man. When the fort closed, Philip,
though barely literate and ill with tuberculosis, stayed on to shepherd
the little flock.
Amanda opened her school in the dance hall with about thirty pupils, with
the Indian woman as interpreter. The number soon grew to 94. Her only
supplies were four Bibles, four hymnals, three primers, thirteen first
readers and a wall chart. Amanda wrote to Sheldon Jackson on December
I never loved a school so well. Today I had 74 Indians crowded into that
little room, but there was no confusion, but perfect obedience and order.
But there is so much to be done (Philip was on his deathbed and could
no longer do the preaching). I try to do everything I can, but feel every
day that I must leave much undone.
Amanda was soon offered a better job at Sitka with twice the pay, a house,
and her winter's wood supply, if she would teach a few white children.
She declined because her heart went out to the young Indian girls being
sold into prostitution. She wrote to Sheldon Jackson:
Last week Mr. X went to the parents of my favorite scholar, a bright little
girl of 13, and actually bought her for twenty blankets. I determined
to rescue her, as she was taken by force, begging and crying not to go.
I succeeded in getting her away and her mother promised to keep her at
home. But I fear for her. Every day I feel more and more the need of a
home for girls. This week I rescued one of my girls, age 11, from a white
man on the street who was trying to get her to go to his house. Oh, if
the Christian women in the East could see these things as I do, they would
feel the importance of such a work here among our poor sisters.
When her stirring letters were published in church circles in the East
she did get the home for girls she had asked for.
Amanda was delighted with the arrival of the Reverend Young, too, who
soon married a teacher from Sitka, Fannie Kellogg. Fannie helped with
Amanda's new home school built in 1880. Amanda's fame had spread throughout
southeast Alaska and the school now had more applicants than could be
accepted. Then came the dreadful shock of fire which destroyed the school
in February 1883. No lives were lost but forty children had to run out
into the snow.
Instead of rebuilding, the board sent Amanda to Sitka with as many pupils
as wished to go. At Sitka, she became matron of the girls' dormitory which
she loved. However, her troubles were not over. According to Sheldon Jackson's
report of 1886 to the Secretary of the Interior, the newly appointed attorney
general and others at Sitka were opposed to the mission school's grant
of land and stirred up Indian opposition to the school. Parents withdrew
about half the pupils and rumors were spread that the matron was a witch,
after a girl died of pneumonia. Even Sheldon Jackson was jailed for a
In 1886, Amanda was asked to manage a new industrial boarding school at
Howkan, the largest Haida Indian settlement. It was on an island about
fifty miles west of Ketchikan. Howkan was later named "Jackson"
and combined with two other villages to form the present Hydaburg. Here
Amanda McFarland mothered, trained, and inspired the Indian young people
for eleven years until her retirement in 1897 at the age of 65. She had
given twenty fruitful years to Alaska: six at Fort Wrangel, two at Sitka,
and twelve at Howkan.
A Brief Summary
of Amanda's First 45 Years
Born Amanda Reed on August 12, 1832 in Fairmont, Virginia, (later West
Virginia when it became a separate state in 1863 during the Civil War),
she was one of thirteen children born into a strong Christian family
which produced several missionaries. Her father was a "river man"
who died of blood poisoning following an accident in which his leg was
caught between two logs. Fairmont was located in a coal mining district
near the Pennsylvania and Ohio borders. Amanda did not have to travel
far to attend the distinguished female seminary in Steubenville, Ohio.
After graduation, she taught school in the Ohio Valley until at the
age of 25 Amanda married the Rev. Dr. David McFarland, eleven years
her senior. Immediately after the wedding in her home church, the couple
left for Illinois. In 1866, after about ten years of preaching and teaching
in Illinois, the Presbyterian board of missions asked the McFarlands
to pioneer a mission at Santa Fe in the Catholic stronghold of the Territory
of New Mexico. Other Protestant denominations had tried and failed.
Amanda's family and friends were strongly opposed to her going to the
wild frontier by a two and one half-week stagecoach journey through
Indian country and no house at journey's end. Her husband also thought
it best to go ahead and scout out the land. So Amanda stayed with her
family in Fairmont for the winter.
Dr. McFarland accomplished a great deal in the seven months before Amanda
joined him. Aided by the Territorial Governor's wife, Mrs. Jennie Mitchell,
the Rev. McFarland held the first Presbyterian service in the Council
Chambers of the Palace of the governors in Santa Fe on Sunday, November
25, 1866, with 40 present, followed by Sabbath School in the afternoon.
On December 10, 1866, he opened a school with ten scholars. On a snowy
Sunday, January 6, 1867, the church, the oldest Protestant Church in
New Mexico, was organized with 12 members, only 3 of whom were Presbyterian,
and a Board of Trustees was elected which included Gov. Mitchell, Chief
Justice Slough, a pallbearer at President Lincoln's funeral, the Postmaster,
a Colonel of Ft. Marcy, and a promising young lawyer named Elkin. On
March 4 of the same year, the Session purchased two acres of land at
a Sheriff's sale and a 3-room house. Amanda arrived in Santa Fe in May,
1867 with forty pounds of baggage.
A year later, September 11, 1868, David and Amanda's only child, Harry
Fulton, age 7 months, died of cholera. Amanda had a wealth of mother
love to lavish on other people's children and kept twelve of them in
her own home. On December 14, 1868, the Presbytery of Santa Fe, Synod
of Kansas, was organized. The church was visited by Sheldon Jackson,
who made a glowing report of the progress of the Church and School.
After eight years and a successful ministry at Santa Fe, her husband's
health broke and they spent two years in San Diego, California. Feeling
better, he begged to return to the mission field, and they were sent
to the Nez Perce Indians in Idaho. There the Rev. David McFarland died
of cancer on May 13, 1876. Amanda, now doubly bereaved, went to be near
friends in Portland, Oregon. There, Dr. Sheldon Jackson met her and
asked her to go to Fort Wrangel.
In 1898 at the age of 65, Amanda McFarland retired to Oklahoma and then
to Fairmont, West Virginia, where she lived with her brother and died
at the age of 80. She always spoke and wrote on behalf of Alaska missions.Sheldon
Jackson said of her: All of the perplexities political, religious, physical,
and moral of the Indian population were brought to her. Her fame spread
far and wide among the tribes. Since the Tlingit Indian society was
matrilineal, Amanda McFarland had status as a woman - an advantage at
the time of her most famous and daring exploit...
At Fort Wrangel, two of her female pupils disappeared from school. Word
was brought to Mrs. McFarland that they had been accused of witchcraft
and were being tortured. Amanda set out to rescue them. Her pupils implored
her not to go. "They are having a devil dance and will kill you!"
Sarah Dickinson, the interpreter, threw her arms around Amanda and,
weeping, declared she was going to her death.
But up the beach alone marched the Christian teacher to where her two
poor girls were stripped naked with hands and feet tied behind their
backs, in the center of fifty frantic dancing fiends who, with yells,
cut the victims with knives and tore out pieces of their flesh. Forcing
her way to the side of the captives, Mrs. McFarland stood warning and
pleading, and threatening them with the wrath of the United States gunboat,
and after hours of dauntless persistency, cowed the wretches and took
away the half-dead girls. (During the night, one of them was recaptured
In 1878, a male minister arrived at Fort Wrangel and took over many
of McFarland's official duties. Until her death in 1912 at the age of
80, McFarland remained an immensely influential woman within both the
White and Native American communities of southern Alaska. She would
later be called "Alaska's Courageous Missionary."