Joe Juneau (prospector)

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Joseph Juneau

Joseph Juneau (1833 or 1836–1899) was a miner and prospector from Canada who was born in the Quebec town of Saint-Paul-l'Ermite (later renamed Le Gardeur and now incorporated into the city of Repentigny) to François Xavier Juneau dit Latulippe and Marguerite Thiffault Juneau. He is best known for co-founding, with Richard Harris, the city of Juneau, Alaska, United States. The first major gold discovery in Juneau or Douglas Island (across from Juneau) was circa 1880. It has been the political capital of Alaska since 1900.

Juneau's Native American guide in southeastern Alaska was Chief Kowee, who is credited with exploring much of the area later named for Juneau. Harris and Juneau were sent with Kowee by George Pilz, an entrepreneur and mining engineer from Sitka. After trading much of their grubstake for hoochinoo, or home brew, they returned to Pilz empty-handed, but were promptly sent back to the Juneau area. There, Kowee took them beyond Gold Creek (near what is now the site of the city's Federal Building[1]) to Silver Bow Basin. Today, a creek on Douglas Island is named Kowee Creek.

After the discovery of gold in the area, Harris and Juneau carried approximately 1,000 pounds of gold ore back to Sitka.

The settlement founded by Juneau and Harris was originally called Harrisburg or Harrisburgh, and then Rockwell. Miners often used both names in their records. There was also a proposal to name the town Pilzburg in honor of Pilz. The town received its current name at a miners' meeting on December 14, 1881, at which the name Juneau received 47 of the 72 votes cast, while Harrisburg received 21 votes and Rockwell only four.[1] Joe Juneau reportedly bought drinks for fellow miners to persuade them to name the city in his honor.[2]

Joe Juneau traveled to Dawson City, Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s. He usually spent gold as fast as he got it but at the end of his life he owned a small restaurant in Dawson. Juneau died of pneumonia in March, 1899 in Dawson. His body was brought back to the town that bears his name and was buried in the city's Evergreen Cemetery on August 16, 1903.

His cousin Solomon Juneau founded the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[3]

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