William Judge

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This article is about the Jesuit priest. For the Theosophical author, see William Quan Judge.

Father William Judge (April 28, 1850 – January 16, 1899) was a Jesuit priest who, during the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush, established St. Mary's Hospital, a facility in Dawson City which provided shelter, food and any available medicine to the many hard-luck gold miners who filled the town and its environs.[1] For his selfless and tireless work, Judge became known as "The Saint of Dawson".[2][3]

Judge was born into a religious family in Baltimore, Maryland. Becoming a Jesuit priest, in 1890, at the age of forty, he volunteered to go to Alaska. He served for two years at Holy Cross Mission, on the Yukon River, before being assigned to a smaller mission at Nulato, Alaska.[2] There he built a church and taught the native children.[2] He was then reassigned to the small mining town of Forty Mile, Yukon.[2] He established a mission there in 1894.[3] When gold was discovered in the Klondike, practically the entire community relocated there. He followed, arriving in Dawson City in March 1897.[3]

He acquired 3 acres (1.2 ha) and set about building a hospital, church and residence.[2] The hospital was completed on August 20, 1897.[2] Until the arrival of the Sisters of St. Anne in the summer of the following year, he worked single-handedly, raising funds, supervising the construction and the hospital, and tending to his congregation.[2]

Judge's humanitarian work became known due to the writings of Jack London, whose health — and possibly his life — was saved by the priest. As later self-described, London — like many others involved in the Gold Rush — became malnourished and developed scurvy. His gums became swollen, eventually leading to the loss of his four front teeth. A constant gnawing pain affected his abdomen and leg muscles, and his face was stricken with sores. Due to Judge's ministrations, he and many others recovered their health.

Father Judge died on January 16, 1899 of pneumonia.[2] A man of poor health to begin with, he was worn out by his exertions. The whole town mourned and turned out for his funeral. His grave can be viewed behind the remains of the second church built in Dawson (at the end of Front Street past the ferry landing across from Whitehouse Cabins B&B).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gold Diggers : Striking it Rich in the Klondike, Charlotte Gray, COUNTERPOINT, 2010
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Michael Gates. "Is Father Judge a forgotten hero?". cityofdawson.com. Retrieved August 19, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "Father William S. Judge, 1899". Yukon Department of Tourism and Culture. Retrieved August 19, 2011.