A Sequel, of Sorts

There’s a new Lovewell video on Youtube, featuring more of the family pictures from Norm Stofer’s scrapbook, shared with us recently by his granddaughter, Ashley Gresham, and his daughter, Dale Ann Johnson.  I had tried earlier to cobble together something from my Keynote presentation for the 2017 Lovewell/Davis reunion in Republic, Kansas, before taking a different angle, slicing it into manageable sections.  The first one of these, posted a few weeks back, examines six photographs known or believed to be images of Thomas Lovewell, following their trail to see why and how they were made, and why we have them.  

The new video concentrates on the watershed year of 1893, and the stormy decade that followed, ultimately leading to Thomas Lovewell’s decision to run away from home.  Unfortunately, there hasn’t been time to piece together the ending I originally intended, making the result feel truncated and incomplete, with a long setup that never quite pays off the way it was supposed to.  Eventually, I’ll get around to fixing it, but in the meantime, consider this a sample of a work in progress, one which might amount to something someday.

To be perfectly honest, this project is mostly an excuse for letting a camera wander over a selection of those wonderful family pictures that have turned up over the past little while, and then stitching the scenes end-to-end with a few words and some appropriate music.  The original ending was much more wistful and elegiac, but I do rather like the way it now goes out with a bang.

Of the nearly fifty images used to create this simple outline of the story of 1893, only half a dozen or so were culled from family albums.  The rest had to be fished out of various collections of maps, historical photographs, and old newspaper clippings - even a few snippets of motion picture footage from the Prelinger Archives.  All of that raw material and so many hours of work have produced a result that’s about the size of a gnat.  Ah, well.  It seemed worth doing at the time.

While looking for newsprint concerning Thomas Lovewell’s return from Alaska, I came across an interesting item from a Republic County newspaper, reporting on the old frontiersman’s return from the Klondike.  Over the years I’ve tried various search terms, such as “Alaska,” “Nome,” or “Cape Nome,” in combination with “Thomas Lovewell” or “Thos. Lovewell.”  I’m not sure that I ever before thought to use “Klondike,” but this time it yielded an unexpected and somewhat unnerving result.

The same September issue of the Courtland paper filled with details about the 1900 White Rock Old Settlers’ Reunion, contains a report on Thomas Lovewell’s chat with the editor on the prospects he found in the Klondike.  An edition of the Republic City News from the same week, has him returning from Cape Nome, which lies at the very opposite end of a very large state.  Not only do at least three papers put Lovewell in the Klondike, but several news items from the previous May, have him headed there by way of Seattle.

What’s the deal?  We’ll investigate the possibilities next time.

© Dale Switzer 2023  dale@lovewellhistory.com