According to Webster

Today’s guest artist: Nicole.

Merriam-Webster’s defines talebearer as “one that spreads gossip or rumors; also: tattletale,” while the Oxford English dictionary frames it as “one who officiously carries reports of private matters to gratify malice or idle curiosity.” Captain Glenn frequently recorded the daily doings (i.e. gossip) of early settlers in Alaska, and this passage manages to combine both the wit and puritan/Victorian attitude commonly found in his journal entries.

This is an excerpt from Captain Glenn’s journal entry of October 8th 1898:

“I also learned from Ladd a new story about Mrs W. of Sunrise. It seems that she insisted on dropping Mr W. and taking up with Mr Smith whom she regarded as the very bright and particular mining genius of this country. Mr W. is away prospecting and this man Smith has been running things with a high hand besides living in open adultery with Mrs W. Naturally people have been gradually drawing away from them and from the hotel and they are becoming more and more left to their own devices. Naturally they look and take to the bottle that cheers and their over indulgences are becoming more and more frequent. She, poor fool, is dropping with lightening rapidity to the bottom of the ladder while he is beginning to show up in his true colors. A short time since he, when on a spree with her, managed to get her thoroughly drunk after which he pulled off all her clothes, left her in the saloon, went out and rang a bell, attracted a crowd that he dragged in to look at her shame. He is of course the lowest of the lot but those whose idle curiosity permitted them to be spectators, really participators, of such a scene without avenging the poor helpless creature cannot be much if any better than he is. The latest thing I have heard of him is that some miners lost stuff (provisions) from their cash [sic] constantly and could not locate the person taking until some rice was missing the sack containing this article happened to have a hole in it and the rice not being a reasoning although a cultivated article insisted on spreading itself along the trail which led directly to Smith‘s Cache. A miners meeting was held in Sunrise to ascertain why this rice should act in such a peculiar manner with the result that after much discussion and careful consideration it was fully determined that Smith could not have prevented its having acted in that way. That this was natural and to be expected from rice a result of its cultivation and that our friend Smith was in no way to blame. A noisy minority insisted on Mr Smith leaving the community within a designated period and their noise overcame the majority but here the curtain fell and I saw no more. Later I learn that Mr Smith did not actually take the stuff from the Caches but bargained with the thief to purchase them from him knowing that they were to be stolen. After this party was ordered out of town Mrs W. took up a collection for him to pay way out and the novel spectacle was presented of having a man receive the benefits of stolen goods & getting free of blame himself and then getting the thief out of the community at the expense of the same.  Voila tout?”

About aschmuland

I'm head of Archives & Special Collections at the Consortium Library. I've been with A&SC since 2002, first as reference archivist, now as head of the department.

One Comment

  1. How interesting, a turn of the century soap opera! I wonder what happened when Mr. W came back from prospecting…

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