These might look like two gentlemen out for a stroll in the early twentieth century, but the well-bearded gentlemen on the right is William Duncan, founder of Metlakahtla, a Utopian community. The man on the left with the mustache is Sir Henry S. Wellcome, who founded the pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome & Company, which later became part of GlaxoSmithKline.
Why would you form a Utopian community of Anglicans from the native peoples in Alaska? And why would a pharmaceutical businessman have any interest in it?
Duncan was born in Yorkshire, England, but after joining a missionary society, he was sent to Canada. He actually started a community in British Columbia, but after a dispute with Anglican Church authorities in Canada, he persuaded the U.S. Government to allow his group of 800 native Tsimshians to settle on Annette Island. Duncan lived in Metlakahtla until his death in 1918. (Metlakahtla today has Alaska’s only Indian reservation and 1,400 residents.)
The little town had a church, a sawmill, a brass band and a baseball team. The National Archives has many images of life in of Metlakahtla in the National Archives at Anchorage, Alaska.
Wellcome’s experience with Native Americans was very different from Duncan’s. He was … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on August 20, 2010, under Facial Hair Fridays.
Tags: Alaska, american history, Anglican church, Annette Island, Canada, Metlakahtla, NARA, national archives, National archives and records administration, National Archives at Alaska, odd history, Pieces of History, prologue blog, Prologue magazine, random history, Sioux, Sir Henry S. Wellcome, Tsimshians, weird US history, William Duncan