Andy Beckwith was a well-known riverboat man and saloon owner in the early days of the Interior. By 1911 he was given an offer to take a pleasure cruise down the Yukon by a friend who was the captain of the paddlewheel sternwheeler, the Julia B.
Andy sent reports back to the Fairbanks Daily Times of what his thoughts were regarding the new stampede to Ruby.
Fairbanks Daily Times July 20, 1911
BECKWITH SEES RUBY AND IS UNIMPRESSED
Captain Andy Beckwith, one the masters of the good ship Senate (a saloon) of this city, who is now aboard the Julia B. on a little pleasure outing to St. Michael, has sent the following wire to the Times, which would seen to indicate that nothing new has been found in either the Ruby or the Indian Creek camp since the arrival here of the last steamer, and also that the jovial skipper is enjoying his run down the river:
Kaltag , July 15, 1911
“Simply prospect. Ruby twelve cabins and about six other buildings going up. People are seemingly waiting for something to turn up. Everyone says it will make a camp. I’m from Missouri. Indian Creek news very meager. One report says they have 25 cents to the square foot on bedrock. Am learning to play bridge whist.” “ANDY BECKWITH”
Fairbanks Daily Times, August 8, 1911
ANDY BECKWITH TELLS WHAT HE KNOWS OF RUBY
Jolly Skipper, Who Has Been to St. Michael on a Vacation, Has Another Look at New Diggings
Andy Beckwith, one of the proprietors of the Eagle, who went down to St. Michael on the last trip of the Julia B. on a little vacation and who is now on his way back on the same boat, has wired the Times from Gibbon, giving his impressions of the new Ruby Camp, which he investigated as thoroughly as his short stay at the town would permit.
As will be remembered, Mr. Beckwith was not very favorably impressed with the showing that had been made at the time he passed Ruby on the down trip and wired back to Fairbanks that he would have to be “shown.” The resident of the new town evidently were ready for him when he came back and they appear to have convinced the skipper at least of their optimism and their determination to stay with the camp, as the following wire will indicate:
Fort Gibbon, August 7.
Times Publishing Company (excerpt from letter.)
“ ... The town is building rapidly and there is a general air of prosperity everywhere. There is a decided shortage of beef and whiskey.” “ANDY BECKWITH”
Fairbanks Daily Times, Augus17, 1911
RECOMMENDS A RIVER VOYAGE TO OLDTIMERS
Andy Beckwith Makes Trip to St. Michael on the Julia B. and Thinks It is All the Candy.
ARCTIC BROTHERS GIVE HIM WELCOME
Greeted on the Island in a Way That Made Him Think He Was Some Pumpkin in Alaska.
“In all the years I lived in this country, I never before realized the possibilities of a summer outing on the great inland waterways which form our only means of moving about the country during the open season. In my opinion, there is no country in the world which offers greater attractions in the way of scenery than do the vast valleys of Interior Alaska, and my advice to those old-timers who are laboring under the delusion that they must make a trip to the Outside for the benefit of their health, is to persuade Commodore F. H. Burrichter, of the Julia B., to permit them to make the trip to St. Michael and return on that palatial vessel, of which he is part owner.“
Such was the statement of Skipper Andy Beckwith, one of the masters of the Eagle saloon of this city, who returned Sunday from a trip to the mouth of the Yukon as the guest of Mr. Burrichter. The Julia B. sailed from Chena July 16, and during the entire trip Mr. Beckwith says, there was not a dull moment, every member of the crew, from Admiral Scott to Kelly, the Sounder, conspiring with nature to make the time pass pleasantly for him, although, at times, the rigidity of the rules with regard to eating and drinking caused him temporary pangs of homesickness. As an illustration of the strictness of the regulations to which he was subjected, Mr. Beckwith says, Commodore Burrichter labeled one of the water barrels “Andy’s Barrel,” and permitted him to partake of no other beverage on the down trip. At St. Michael, the barrel was filled with Lead Mine Whiskey, and this was all he had to drink on the return trip.
Upon arrival at St. Michael, Mr. Beckwith was greeted by the residents of that place in a manner that caused him to believe he was a man of some consequence in the community, until he learned that the cause of his effusive welcome lay in the presence of an A. B. button (Arctic Brotherhood), which he wore in the lapel of his coat. That same evening, he attended a meeting of the Brotherhood and witnessed the initiation of several candidates. Nearly everyone on the island is an A. B., and they take great pride in their organization; and they are particularly active in the matter of entertaining visiting members, as was evidenced in the reception accorded to the stranger from Fairbanks.
As has already been mentioned in these columns, Mr. Beckwith spent a short time at Ruby City on the return trip, and he was much impressed by the spirit of optimism which prevailed among the pioneers of the new camp, and he believes they will make a good camp of it if there is any gold in the country.
Andy eventually moved to Ruby and later was one the very early arrivals to Livengood, where he died of a heart attack while building another saloon. He was the first fatality in the new camp and his death was announced in newspapers all over Alaska, the Yukon and Washington state.