HISTORY FEATURE

Sisters (at table) Winifred Anderson, Marjorie Morgan and Gene Weeks look over photos and newspaper clippings at the White House kitchen table, while Judy Munns, Jan Tronrud and Devereaux Morgan check out an album in the background. JB

Guthrie descendants visit home of great uncle and aunt

By JEFF BRADY
The three grand-nieces of gold rush saloonkeeper Lee Guthrie visited Skagway last Sunday aboard the Yorktown Clipper and were treated to a reception at the White House Bed and Breakfast, the home that Guthrie and his wife Abbie built in 1902.
The Guthrie descendants brought several family photos to share with Lori, Jan and John Tronrud (who restored the home with the late Ralph Tronrud in the 1990s), Wanda Warner, (whose family owned the home for many years), Karl Gurcke and Jim Corless of the National Park Service, Judy Munns of the Skagway Museum, and this editor/historian.
Most of the photos were stereopticans of the home taken by Abbie Guthrie in 1906, including one of her in a mirror that shows her taking the photo. Others showed the gardens and the interior of the home with original light fixtures, clawfoot tub, windows, and wood work that matches what’s inside the house today.
The photos were mailed in 1908 to Guthrie’s brother Edwin, grandfather of the three women who visited Skagway. After making his stake in Skagway “in the service industry for the miners,” said one of the sisters, Lee Guthrie returned to Salado, Texas to marry Abbie Atkins, daughter of the Primitive Baptist minister and his childhood sweetheart. He brought her up to Skagway and tried to lure Edwin up, but the brother stayed home to run the family drug store.
After a trip Outside during the winter of 1901-02, they returned in the spring to build what the newpaper called a “palatial mansion.” They had previously lived in the Nye-Rehr home on Seventh. The Guthries resided in the new home only a few years, leaving for California around 1908 after Lee sold his Board of Trade Saloon.
They apparently had no children and there is no record of their life after Skagway other than a letter from Santa Rosa, Calif. in 1912 and a page of a family will that stated Lee died “about 1922” and was survived by Abbie. To their knowledge, she was not a Hearst heir, as some accounts have stated, nor was he married to one, “but we love that connection and want to know more,” said one of the sisters. “We’ve been trying to get here for years.”

From left, Devereux and Gene Weeks, Marjorie Morgan, and Winifred and James Anderson outside the White House B&B in Skagway on Sept. 3. JB

The grand nieces are Marjorie Guthrie Morgan of Myrtle Beach, S.C., Winifred Guthrie Anderson of Chestertown, Md., and Gene Guthrie Weeks of Athens, Ga.
Guthrie was born in Mississippi and his parents were “burned out” by Union soldiers during the Civil War and moved their two young sons to Texas. Lee Guthrie was a gambler and had been in the mining town of Cripple Creek, Colo. before coming up to Skagway, the sisters said. He fit right in with the young Alaska boomtown.
Historian/writer Cathy Spude e-mailed that “the reference (in this year’s Skaguay Alaskan feature on saloons) to Abbie Guthrie being Governor Hearst’s niece came from an article in the Daily Alaskan, April 5, 1900, page 1. I have tried to do the research to figure out the exact relationship, but could never discover it, and have finally concluded that she was perhaps a cousin’s daughter, as George Hearst’s immediate siblings did not have any children, nor did his wife.... Hearst had cousins who did settle in Texas, so it makes sense.”
Spude added that census information from 1920 and 1930 placed the Guthries in Santa Rosa, as well as a May 4, 1918 newspaper article about Phil Snyder visiting them in Santa Rosa. “When I found a death certificate for a Robert L. Guthrie who died in Stockton, California on September 20, 1934, I assumed it was him,” Spude wrote. “That man had all of the same demographic information as our Lee Guthrie, and his wife’s name was Abbie.”