Men must Work and Women must Weep

On the evening of January 2, 1898, Doc Tanner shot N. Lee and William Call, two of his partners in the Witch City Mining Company, because he thought they were going to cast him out of the party. He missed, the man he most wanted to kill, party leader, Frank Haines. A miner's court was called that night, and after five hours of debate, the majority voted in favor of death for the murders. They hung Doc Tanner at sunrise, 9 am, on January 3rd.

The tragedy of events did not end here. Relatives, who were waiting anxiously to learn about how much gold had been discovered, had now to be notified of the deaths. H.B. Allen, manager of the Pacific Steam Whaling Company in Orca, wrote Mrs. Call saying: "Your husband, as good, noble and true a man as I ever met, was murdered by the man whom he most befriended."

When the letter reached Mrs. Call in Minnesota, she was so upset the local paper reported "Mrs. Call has been rendered so nervous by the affair that she is unable to recall even a brief biography of her husband." Call had been working a 500 acre farm and was reported to have a $5,000 life insurance policy.


However, a week later, the Worthington Globe headlines read -- "Mrs. Call committed to Asylum." The article noted that she was judged mentally unsound and temporarily committed to the asylum at St. Peter after attempting to take strychnine. The paper notes that she was shocked by her husband's death and family's poor financial condition. Their farm was heavily in debt and the insurance policy had elapsed several months earlier.

Like many others before and after them, the Calls hoped that by gambling they would strike it rich in Alaska, they could improve their financial situation. Few ever think they might lose.

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