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World famous explorer murdered | Turning Back the Pages

•100 years ago — March 1914•

World famous explorer murdered

News of the death of Harry V. Radford, formerly of North Creek and well-known throughout the Adirondacks, and his traveling companion T. George Sweet, has been received from the Canadian Mounted Police. They indicate that a quarrel followed a misunderstanding between Radford and an Eskimo in which both Americans were killed.

Radford and Sweet, who were exploring the far north, had engaged two Eskimos to guide them to a whaling vessel at Point Barrow. The party was already to start when one of the Eskimos backed out and refused to go. Enraged by this action, Radford struck the guide with a whip. A fight followed and Radford was speared in the back by another native. Sweet made a run for his sleigh, but was murdered before he had any time to put up a fight.

Radford, it seems, had bought an Eskimo wife and according to the story told by her father and another Eskimo who had witnessed the fight, Radford put up quite a fight before he gave in and had to be speared several times before he fell and his life lingered as he lay on the ground, he got the finishing touch by getting his throat cut.

On being asked why the Eskimo refused to accompany Radford, they said that the man’s wife was taken ill and Radford not understanding the Eskimo language, must have taken the wrong meaning and tried to force obedience. (Note: Harry Radford and T. George Sweet died before they got to Point Barrow in 1914. Will Rogers and Wiley Post died in a plane crash in 1935 when they arrived there. In 1908, Harry V. Radford erected a bronze tablet on a large boulder on the mountain road entering North Creek from the Tahawus Club commemorating Teddy Roosevelt’s wild ride Sept. 14, 1901, to the train station in North Creek when he became President of the U.S. after President William McKinley expired in Buffalo from an assassin’s bullet.)

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