This is Elbridge Truman Barnette, the founder of Fairbanks, Alaska. He was a disreputable rogue and scoundrel. He was also an incompetent captain. He wrecked his own steamer, the Arctic Boy, and then had to hire another boat during his quest to establish a trading post to fleece the prospectors heading to the Klondike fields.
The steamer Barnette hired had difficulties navigating the waters about 200 miles from his destination of Tanana Crossing, and Barnette, or ol' E.T., as we like to refer to him locally, pissed the captain off good and got thrown off the boat. Undetterred, the weasel immediately proceeded to establish himself by sucking up to anyone with clout, and renaming the turf after a senator from Indiana in order to garner political connections.
The clincher for the lucky shyster was when gold was discovered in the area within a year of his arrival. Barnette soon found himself the mayor of the largest town in Alaska. Despite such luck, his time in the spotlight didn't last long. Within ten years, Barnette managed to bankrupt a bank, got charged with embezzlement, and run out of town. Still, we forgive or forget most of this - a localized political amnesia - and we honor the man by naming streets, schools, and other buildings after him.
- The Fool
- This posting originally appeared @ "Shouting in the Dark" 2006