May 4, 2011

Ketchikan Daily News and the Devoes

Soon after posting the story of Elias W. and Henrietta (Hattie) Devoe on this blog, Scott Bowlen of the Ketchikan Daily News contacted me with a request to use the story in his column, "Community Cache."  Of course, Scott!  He surprised me further by having some extra research done by the expert, Erika Brown, of the Ketchikan Museum.  So, with their kind permission, I'm posting part of the column here and I'm inserting a photo found in the museum, as well as a current Google Earth photo of the location today, neither of which appeared in the original article.
Fun stuff!

Ketchikan Daily News
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
"Community Cache" by Scott Bowlen, Daily News Staff Writer

"Dianne Kline of Ohio was researching part of her family history recently when she noticed some information about Henrietta Witzgall Devoe.  Henrietta was the sister of Kline's great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Witzgall Delph.
According to Kline's research,Henrietta had married a Port Townsend, Wash., mason contractor by the name of Elias Devoe during the 1890's. 
In 1899, Elias and Henrietta came to Ketchikan to manage a hotel.  The next year's federal census showed the couple still residing in Ketchikan in 1900, wrote Kline in her blog, 'At the Riverbend.'
'This census also told me that they had two girls living with them who worked as waitresses, probably at the hotel: Anna Alajok, single and from Minerva, Minn., and Henrietta Pahikkala of Eureka, Calif.,' wrote Kline.  'Both girls originally came from Finland.'
The next census, in 1910, indicated that the Devoes had returned to Washington state and were residing in Seattle.
Mrs Devoe died in 1942 at the age of 87.
Her Ketchikan connection was of interest to Kline, who wondered which hotel had been managed by the Devoes.
Was that hotel still standing?
After learning of Kline's interest in a bit of Ketchikan history, the Daily News contacted the Tongass Historical Museum. 
Museum Registrar Erika Brown hit the research trail and found evidence of the Devoes' presence in Ketchikan.
An April 9, 1900, advertisement in the Helm Bay and Ketchikan Miner newspaper told readers that 'When you are hungry, visit Devoe's Domestic Kitchen, Front Street.'
Other advertisements followed.
The Feb. 9, 1901 edition of the Mining Journal had an ad for the Hotel Devoe at the corner of Front and Dock streets.
It was the 'Nearest Hotel to Wharf; Best accomodations in town for Mining Men; New Clean beds, comfortable rooms, and first-class tablek,' the advertisement read.
A 1902 photograph shows the hotel on the upland corner of Front and Dock streets, where the Tongass Trading Co. store now stands.

The sign outside says, 'Devoe's Furnished Rooms, 50 cents."
It's clear that the wooden building that housed the hotel was torn down at some point.  The current building there is a much larger structure.
But apparently, back in the early 1900's, the Devoes were active in civic life, too.
According to Brown's research, Mr. Devoe signed the 1900 petition to incorporate the town of Ketchikan, and served on the Board of Election that finalized the community's incorporation that year.  He also became the second assistant chief of the newly organized fire company.
Mrs. Devoe, meanwhile, was among those thanked by church trustees for helping to 'make the Christmas eve social such a pleasant and profitable affair,' according to the Mining Journal in January 1901.  'The amount of the offering was $22.'
The couple departed Ketchikan in the fall of 1902, when the Mining Journal of Oct. 2 described the Devoe's departure from Ketchikan aboard the Humboldt.  'Everybody was on the wharf to say good-bye - but they'll return again, as they all do, for the reason that they'll not be able to find a better place in which to abide than Ketchikan,' the Mining Journal wrote.
The Tongass Historical Museum's research, some of which originally had been compiled by Pat Roppell, was sent along to Kline.
'What a find!' she responded, adding her gratitude for the fine museum staff. 
There was another family connection to Alaska for Kline.
In her original blog post, Kline was curious whether Henrietta Devoe knew a Caroline Delph.
Caroline Delph was a sister of Kline's great-great grandfather, Philip Delph. 
In 1889, Caroline Delph was a teacher at the Sitka Industrial and Training School, the forerunner of the Sheldon Jackson College.
In 1890, she met and married Orville Porter, who then was the U.S. deputy marshall of Alaska, according to Kline's research.  The Porters moved to Oregon that year."

Thanks so much to Scott and Erika and the Ketchikan Daily News for helping me with my research and for printing this article!


  1. What a great story....thanks for posting. I'm always interested in seeing what you'll post next!!!

  2. How interesting! Doesn't this make you want to go back to Ketchikan & meet the researchers & see some of these locations in person? What a small world, especially with the help of the Internet!