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Hudson Stuck correspondence with Harry Karstens

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Identifier: 2005.047.001.003.002 ...
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Plea for a Partner
 
On March 25, 1912, two months after Browne’s expedition departed from Seward, the Archdeacon’s letter—from Fort Yukon to Karstens in Fairbanks—implored him, yet again, to make a commitment to their expedition. With the flowing penmanship that Stuck taught to countless Native American children in schoolhouses and huts across the North, he reminded Harry that he would cancel their expedition equipment order from New York if Karstens weren’t coming. Although Stuck would always insist that this was a jointly led venture and Karstens was not his paid guide, Stuck needed the never-turn-back toughness that had cemented the “Seventy Mile Kid’s” legend. 


"Stuck needed the never-turn-back toughness that had cemented the “Seventy Mile Kid’s” legend."


 In between the lines, it’s apparent that Karstens—accustomed to being paid as a hunting guide—had decried his financial situation to Stuck. The so-called Archdeacon of the Yukon wanted to climb Denali for the sake of advancing alpinism, and of course, to experience the almighty grace of the Lord. But Karstens’ tenuous commitment showed his need to somehow earn a living in the hungry North (on a good month delivering mail, the Seventy Mile Kid might pocket $75; Stuck earned a steady $125 per month, plus all expenses). Hence Stuck’s enticement to Karstens in the letter: “if we succeed in the ascent, the expedition will not be without the likelihood of financial value, and that there will be return to you for the time and labour.”


"If we succeed in the ascent, the expedition will not be without the likelihood of financial value, and that there will be return to you for the time and labour."


 This two-pager mentions nothing about the prospects of the Browne attempt (as Stuck penned his letter, Browne and company were making good time over the Alaska Range to the Muldrow Glacier). In the winter of 1912, news of another Denali attempt would have traveled quickly throughout the territory and into remote villages like Fort Yukon. In a neatly shrunken postscript scribed sideways across the margin, crossing his “t”s over whole words like reverse underscoring, Stuck notes that he had written to Browne’s partner Parker, looking for any hints that the Professor can pass on about their mutual route choice—a perfect example of Stuck shrewdly utilizing the knowledge of his predecessors.
 
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Description Letter from Stuck to Karstens talking about ordering equipment and mentioning that there is a good chance Karstens will profit from the expedition, though Stuck says that to have made the ascent will be enough for his own satisfaction.
Date March 25 1912
Rights and Intellectual Property Under copyright protection.