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Special Collections: Guide to the Granby-Alaska Company Records

Arranged and described by Brenda Howitson Steeves
Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Department
September 2004

Introduction and Summary Information

Collection Title: Granby-Alaska Company Records.
Dates of the Collection: 1906-1933 (inclusive); 1906-1909 (bulk).
Provenance: Gift of John P. Burnham, 1998 and 2001.
Collection Number: MS 208.
Box Numbers: 1 (formerly Cage Box 76).
Size and Arrangement: The collection consists of one document box of material (0.2 cubic feet).
Conservation Note: The collection has been re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes.
Preferred Citation: Granby-Alaska Company Records, Special Collections, Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine.
Restrictions on Access and Use: Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval.

The collection contains records of the Granby-Alaska Company, incorporated in 1906 to operate a gold mine in Omilak on the Seward Peninsula in Alaska.
The mine was started by John C. Green who was associated with the Russian-American Mining and Exploration Company in Washington State. In 1906 Green conveyed the mining property to George Burnham, Jr. of Portland, Maine, and S.H.C. Miner of Granby, Quebec Province; Alfred D. Chandler of Brookline, Massachusetts, Charles C. Young of Ellsworth, Maine, and Webster R. Dorr of Boston also became trustees of the new company. Burnham and Miner supplied most of the money to develop and carry out mining operations, agreeing to loan the company $65,000 to start work in Alaska. Burnham was a pioneer in the canned goods packing business and head of the Burnham & Morrill Company in Portland. He was also an investor in New York City real estate and one of the richest citizens of Maine. Miner was one of the first businessmen in Granby and operated a tannery and a rubber business there.
The mining company had problems from the start with failure to obtain working capital and dissension among the trustees and Green, who was working as general manager. Although all wanted to put the mine into successful operation, they were unable to agree to any plan or to advance the company additional money. Alfred Chandler traveled to Alaska in the summer of 1907 to see to the company’s interests and reported favorably on its progress. However, by 1908 the company’s creditors began to take legal action and after a failed attempt to mortgage the company’s property, all of the trustees except John Green resigned. After this, litigation and efforts to salvage as much as possible were the predominating efforts of all involved. George Burnham died in January, 1909, and the administrators of his estate continued efforts to settle claims and pay expenses. In September, 1909, the lumber, oil and provisions at the mine were sold. Legal proceedings continued for some years and by 1923 it appears that Green had succeeded in raising some money and work had resumed at the mine. However, a letter in the collection written in 1933 indicates that no production had been reported from the property for many years.

Scope and Content Note
This small collection contains copies of documents concerning the founding and operation of the Granby-Alaska Company. The documents appear to have been assembled for some purpose, perhaps to prepare for the numerous lawsuits against the company. Included are the agreement and declaration of trust establishing the company in 1906 and documents from John C. Green outlining the requirements and costs for work on the mine in the first year. Most of the collection consists of copies of letters to George Burnham, 1906-1908, from the other trustees of the company, from attorneys, from John Green and from Green’s son, Harold, who appears to have been responsible for day-to-day operations in Alaska. The letters provide insight into the difficulties encountered by the company in doing business in a remote area, in wintering over in Alaska, and in financing such an operation.
The collection also contains a photocopy of a report done by M.A. Floyd for Harold Burnham of Wellesley, Massachusetts, a nephew of George Burnham. Floyd outlines the history of the company and its many problems and analyzes the possibility of realizing some profit from Burnham’s holdings. A letter to Harold Burnham from the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey provides information about the status of the mine site in 1933.

Box List
Box 1
1 Correspondence, Apr. 30, 1906-Dec. 31, 1907
2 Correspondence, Jan. 14, 1908-Mar. 31, 1909
3 Correspondence, Apr. 1, 1909-Feb. 11, 1924
4 Brief statement relating to Granby-Alaska Co., undated
5 Report of M.A. Floyd to Harold Burnham, undated
6 Letter from U.S. Geological Survey to Harold Burnham, 1933
7 Obituary of George Burnham, Jr., Jan. 1, 1909

Finding Aids for selected manuscript collections in the Special Collections Department at Fogler Library are accessible online in URSUS, in a browsable Guide to Manuscript Collections. Please contact Special Collections at or (207) 581-1686 for further information.

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Special Collections Staff: | Revised: 03/18/2015
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