Family fortune tied to the Klondike Gold Rush

U.S. President Donald Trump’s grandfather started the family fortune during the great Klondike Gold Rush. He never reached the Klondike Gold Fields; he was hundreds of miles short. Nevertheless, he made his golden stake in Golden, B.C., and in the newly surveyed town of White Horse (originally two words), which was named after the rapids nearby. Financial Sourdough Starter for the family fortunes to come.

Friedrich Trump was born in Kallstadt, Germany. His father died when he was young and Friedrich started out as a barber’s apprentice, a useful trade. In 1885, while still a handsome teenager and eager to seek his fortune, he sailed for America, in steerage, to join his sister in New York.

He anglicized his name to Fred, and within five years he moved to the young timber town of Seattle and soon had enough cash to buy tables and chairs for a restaurant. His big opportunity came in nearby Monte Cristo, Washington, a gold and silver boomtown where catering to the need for food, shelter and booze was a golden guarantee of profit. Monte Cristo’s boom and bust was a lesson learned and later gave Friedrich a headstart on the Trail of ’98.

Not in a hurry to join the stampede, it was said in several publications that Friedrich grubstaked two of his Monte Cristo buddies to record claims in his name in the Klondike, in 1897. Indeed, there is a record in the Yukon Archives of mining claims with the name Fred Trumpf on it, which is probably a strange coincidence and it is doubtful if a misrepresentation could have been made on the Application for Grant for Placer Mining, and the Affidavit of Applicant.

Seattle became a supply city for Americans heading for the Klondike. Money flowed like water for outfitting the hopeful prospectors. The drought of the long depression years was over! Trump’s restaurant in Seattle did a booming business.

In 1898, Fred was ready and sold everything and headed north to Skagway, Alaska, to join the thousands of stampeders on the Trail of ’98 to Dawson. His ambition was to set-up in the business again. Mining was a tough gamble and he knew the odds.

Opportunity came soon after he was on the trail. His tent was turned into a restaurant, cooking up the mandatory year’s stock of groceries. More could easily be bought from departing greenhorns who gave up the stampede.

Fred, with his pocket full of profits from the trail, smelled another opportunity. Along with his partner, Ernest Levin, he bought a muddy lot on the lakeshore of Bennett, in the spring of 1899, and put up the Arctic Restaurant and Hotel, a spicy establishment—meals for 75 cents; open 24 hours. It was a popular hangout for young, fiercely mustachioed customers, bathed in manly aroma and for shrill-voiced ladies, drenched in cheap perfume, as enticing, bawdy songs that wafted through the door.

The ballad of “Buck” Choquette

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