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Clark, Willoughby (ca. ?-1906); Munly, Thomas J (ca. 1857-1932). Historically Important Collection of Two Original Letters Signed to Joseph W. Ivey, Former U.S. Customs Collector in Alaska, Regarding his Participation in the Upcoming Nonpartisan Convention in Juneau and his Pioneering Interest in the Kayak Coal & Oil Fields. Catalla (Katalla), Alaska: 22 September 1903; 15 November 1903.



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Two Quarto letters (ca. x cm or x in). In all 3 pp. of text. Brown and blue ink on yellowish lined wove papers. Fold marks, but overall a very good collection.

Historically important collection of two autograph manuscript letters from Catalla (now the ghost town Katalla), with notes about Alaska’s early territorial governance disputes and the general excitement over the coal and oil discovery on Kayak Island.

The addressee of both letters, Joseph W. Ivey (ca. 1856-1922), originally from Portland, Oregon, was an American politician and an active supporter of Alaska. From 1897 to 1902, he served as the U.S. Customs Collector in Sitka, and between 1903 and 1906, Ivey actively lobbied for the establishment of a Territorial Delegate for Alaska, hoping to secure the position himself. He participated in nonpartisan conventions and made several unsuccessful trips to Washington, D.C., to push for legislation. Ivey was also among the first to explore the coal and oil properties on Kayak Island and served as a special representative for Kayak miners in Washington in 1903.

The earliest letter, dated September 22, 1903, is written by Willoughby Clark, Alaska’s pioneer lawyer and the first attorney to engage in active practice. The letter captures Ivey’s early struggle for Alaska’s Territorial Governance and discusses his participation in the October Nonpartisan Convention in Juneau (despite Ivey’s efforts the convention voted against Alaska’s Territorial Legislature). In the text, Clark informs Ivey that he was unanimously chosen as a delegate for the convention, and while the credentials were sent to Stephens Hotel in Seattle, this letter would grant him admission if needed.

The second letter, dated November 15, 1903, is written by Thomas J. Munly (ca. 1857-1932), an early real estate salesman from Portland, Oregon. The letter likely addresses Ivey’s interest in the Kayak coal and oil properties, which he claimed were “the purest yet discovered in the United States.” (Despite early discoveries and rapid development of coal & oil on Kayak Island in the 1900s, the industry declined in the 1910s and did not achieve long-term success). In the text, Munly informs Ivey that his brother, Dr. James B. Munly (Spokane’s pioneer physician), has secured interest from a prominent capitalist in Washington regarding the coal and oil lands mentioned by Ivey. Munly requests assistance in locating Ivey’s coal holdings, emphasizes the urgency of gathering samples despite snowy conditions, and asks Ivey to send any available samples to his brother for examination. Overall, interesting collection of historically important letters from Alaska’s early history. 

The text of the earliest letter: “I have this day mailed to you at Stephans Hotel Seattle your credentials as delegate to the Nonpartisan Convention to be held at Juneau. You were unanimously chosen at a properly Call Meeting held last night of which Geo J. Barrett was chairman and I was secretary. In case you should miss your credentials at Seattle this letter should be sufficient to admit you.” 
The text of the second letter: “I came here to see you in regard to locating coal and oil land that you mentioned to me when I last seen you at Yakutat. I wrote my brother James who is a physician in Spokane in regards to the information you had given me and he was successful in geting capitalist interested in the coal proposition, one of them who is a very prominent man and could give you considerable assistance in Washington. They sent me the names with poverty locate them on the vacant lands. I find it difficult to get any information in regards to your coal holdings, every one having propositions of their own. If you can give me a letter to parties here who can assist me in finding your coal and the vacant lands which I presume adjoin – it. I will be very thankful to you also make me a proposition on your coal holdings and state whether you would stock in part payment if you are satisfied into the parties. In the meantime I will try to get someone who will go with me to your coal proposition and assist me in geting samples. This will be hard work as it has been snowing ever since I arrived. I am anxious to get them interested as soon as possible. If you have any samples with you please send it to my Brother Dr. James B. Munly Peyton Building Spokane Washington.”

Item #MA34
Price: $950.00