1910-1919: The Monjo Post at Cape Fullerton
Cleveland’s 1924 memoirs in the New Bedford Standard leave a long gap between 1910 and the early 1920s, when Cleveland lived in Repulse Bay.
We can assume that Capt. George Cleveland left Hudson Bay in the autumn of 1910, when the Scottish ketch Ernest William returned to Dundee, Scotland. However I have not yet found any records of him at all between 1910 and 1913.
In June 1913, a year before World War I began, Cleveland left the United States once again to return to the arctic. He was hired by the F. N. Monjo company to establish a trading post at Cape Fullerton. His assistant or partner was a Mr. Bumpus, about whom I have learned nothing.
Whaling schooner A. T. Gifford, frozen in the ice.
Cleveland and Bumpus went north aboard the 83-foot, 86-ton whaling schooner A. T. Gifford, captained by James A. Wing and a crew of 14 men.
The 62-year-old captain, James Allen Wing (1851-1925), had just left his post as master of the steam bark Gay Head of San Francisco, and was well-acquainted with arctic navigation. The son of whaling captain Andrew Wing of Acushnet, Mass., he had sailed on whaling ships since the age of eleven, including one voyage of the A. R. Tucker, before moving in the early 1890s from New Bedford to California to follow the profits of the whaling trade. In California he became master of the bark Sea Breeze, the steamer Karluk, the C. T. Walker plying the western arctic waters for whales, and was part of the ‘ice catch” of 1898 in which eight whalers were trapped in the ice off the coast of Alaska. After two seasons on river steamers between Stockton and San Francisco, he became captain of the Gay Head, a post he held from 1909-1912. Wing was an acquaintance of Capt. Hartson Bodfish of Vineyard Haven, among other whaling captains who had moved to San Francisco with arrival of the new century.
The A. T. Gifford, built in 1883 in Essex, Massachusetts, had until recently been under the command of Cleveland’s old nemesis, Capt. George Comer. Comer had been master of this vessel from 1907 until 1912, after his previous whaleship, Era (just purchased by F N Monjo) was wrecked off Newfoundland in 1906. Under Comer, the whaler had operated out of Stamford (New London?), Connecticut, hunting for whales and furs and wintering at Cape Fullerton. The vessel was no longer owned by Luce & Co. of New Bedford - since 1907 it was owned by furrier F. N. Monjo of New York City, and Cleveland was now an employee of Mr. Monjo.
The A. T. Gifford left Stamford on June 13th, and badly leaking, limped into St. John’s Harbour in Newfoundland on the 25th for repairs. A group of crewmen, alarmed by the state of the vessel, complained to the local Consul, and were subsequently locked in the local jail until departure.
On July 10th, the repairs complete, the rest of the crew deserted. Wing wrote in the log,
“All ready for sea. Mate Thomas 2nd Mate Briggs Steward Enginer Colins Deserted leaving Mr. Cleaveland + Bumpus for a crew / got out warrent for Arrest of Deserters Polise unable to find them”
Monjo sent a telegram the following day, which Wing tucked into the back of the logbook. It read:
To: Captain Wing Schooner AT Gifford St. Johns Nf.
On Monday heard from Cleveland
Dissatisfaction among crew
but as you expected Leave
Sunday thought too late reach
you was anxious not Hearing
your Sailing wired Consul he reports
trouble report fully advise
when sailing also if want me
There might have saved you
trouble if had me come up last week
F. N. Monjo.
Within the day Capt. Wing had, with the help of a paid local agent, recruited and hired a new mate, a second mate, and three new crewmen (who were to be paid a $10 advance three days after leaving port.) Retrieving the rest of the crewmen from the jail (and paid the police fifty cents for each), they departed. By the beginning of August they had arrived in Hudson’s Bay.
On August 27, 1913 they arrived at Cape Fullerton and anchored. Capt. Wing wrote:
Strong NW winds clear at 4 Pm went into Fullerton Inner Harbor Anchored in 6 Fathoms Got Steam Launch overboard getting ready to go to Chesterfield Inlet for Natives none Here all gone away Police came onboard short while short of Provisions let them have 4 lbs. Bread 300 lbs.”
Mr. Cleaveland with steam Launch 4 men / went to Chesterfield Inlet Raining Hard.”
On September 2nd, after a week of hard rain and squally wind, Cleveland returned. Wing reported:
Moderated some Mr. Cleaveland came back 2 Boats Crew of Natives bought 1 the other coming with dogs and Gear in own Boat Bought 140 lbs. Deer meat from Natives.”
Started to Build House for Station took Part of Lumber on shore. Police reported Rose Welcome full of ice came down 3 days ago Scotchmen still in Repulse Bay cannot get out for Ice.
Got all Lumber onshore all Handy Men from Schooner at work on House.
Another week of “very nasty” weather followed while they continued construction of the house, and more boats arrived from Chesterfield.
Moderate from NW got all Provisions onshore for Cleaveland First desent day since Arriving here got 15 bbls water”
Blowing + Snowing wind NW all work stopped
First part Blowing Hard middle part moderated Latter part good weather / getting all stuff of Cleaveland Ashore / got all Ashore but small things took Groton aft to act a steward put Morgan Forward to Dirty + Lousey.
Blowing + Raining some snow wind ESE
Monday 15 September 1913
Blowing from SE working on House / Discharged Mr. Cleaveland + Bumpus to take charge of Station.
Blowing stiff NW Gale water smooth / weather clear took things Onboard belonging to Natives ready to get out for Marble Island when weather allows.
Hell of a Hole Fullerton.
In the back of his logbook, Wing recorded a long list of food supplies titled “For Mr. Cleaveland.” It included 700 lbs. of sugar; a long list of fruits; coffee and tea; pork, beef, ham, sausage and bacon; Irish Stew, apple jelly, molasses, rolled oats and buckwheat; all spice, nutmeg, cloves, and curry; and much more.
Capt. Wing departed the next day, and within two days had anchored for the winter at Marble Island, some 70 miles to the south. However, the ship and the station remained in contact by dogsled throughout the winter. On January 8th, 1914 Wing wrote:
Light N winds thick weather Sgt of Police at Fullerton came down also Bumpus of our Station 2 Natives sent 2 Natives + Groton after Deer. Bar 30 T 45
Four days later Bumpus returned to the station:
Blowing from SE Sgt + Bumpus left for Fullerton supplyed them with necessary food for trip Natives shot 3 seals Bar 29-5 T 42
A month later, on Feb. 7th, Cleveland visited the ship…
Light NE winds. Mr. Cleaveland + one Native came down from Fullerton. Bar 30-00 T 55
…and left three days later:
Light N winds clear + cold. Cleaveland left for Baker Lake let him have what trade and food he wanted Gilbert went with him carrying Dog feed as far as Chesterfield Inlet. Bar 30-03 Ther 40
On July 12th, after a season of floe whaling, the ice let go of the A. T. Gifford and Capt. Wing sailed north to Fullerton again.
Strong SE Winds thick + raining steering ENE Very rugged at 10 am saw the land of Cape Fullerton at 12am Outer Beacon bearing N 10 miles at 3 Pm Cleaveland from the Station came onboard at 4 Anchored off the Beacon in 7 fathoms Put all Natives Ashore Inner Harbor still 3 feet of solid ice. Bar 29-09
Wing left shortly afterwards, cruising Hudson Bay for whales, but returned one last time to Fullerton Harbour, on July 27th, 1914:
AM Moderate SW at 11:30 Anchored in Fullerton Scotch Whaler Active at Anchor Put all trade ashore for Cleaveland. PM thick Fog strong winds.
The A. T. Gifford returned to New Bedford in September 1914. At the back of his logbook, he made a few notes, perhaps indicating some of the skins Cleveland had obtained through trade:
22 Musk Ox
The page also notes that the Station had obtained 200 lbs of ivory.
Capt. Wing returned with the A. T. Gifford to Stamford in the fall of 1914. He then chose to return to his home in Berkeley California and his old vessel, the Gay Head rather than continuing his employment with Monjo on the Gifford. (As it turned out, this was a wise decision.)
Fullerton Harbour had been a favorite wintering spot for whalers since the turn of the century. In 1903 the North West Mounted Police established its first arctic outpost here, both to establish Canadian sovereignty as well as to keep an eye on the whaling ships and ensure they were properly licensed by the Canadian government. The NWMP administered whaling licenses, collected customs, controlled liquor, and attempted to extend the reach of Canadian law into the region. The police post closed about 1914, reopened temporarily, and then closed permanently in 1919. During 1915-16 the detachment was left in charge of an Inuit man, “Oug-juk” and inspected annually by the NWMP. According to the book The Foxe Basin Coasts of Baffin Island (T. H. Manning, 1943), the disused police barracks at Fullerton Harbour were still being used for shelter as late as December 1940.
The Monjo company’s owner, Ferdinand Nicolas Monjo (1875-1929) of Stamford, Connecticut, was an independent fur trader. His business had been founded in Brooklyn, New York by his father Nicholas F. Monjo, a Spanish immigrant from Algiers, shortly after the Civil War. The Monjo company leased an 11,000 sq. ft. storefront on West 25th street in New York City, and had a presence in the arctic for many years.
Monjo had purchased the Era in 1906 (agent Timothy C. Allen) which Comer wrecked shortly afterwards, and the A. T. Gifford in 1907. The Gifford had four voyages under Monjo - 1907 (Capt. Comer), 1910, 1913 (with Cleveland) and 1915.
The Fullerton post may have been the Company’s first trading post in the north. The company was later taken over by Hudson‘s Bay Company.
I have found very few records of Cleveland’s years at Cape Fullerton. One governmental report makes a reference to obtaining 2000 feet of ceiling lumber, tar, and asbestos paper at Fullerton during the summer of 1914, although its not clear if this was from Cleveland’s post or the police post. A similar report about 1916 by Inspector W. J. Beyts states that Cleveland towed Beyts and his party into Fullerton with his gasoline launch, and provided him with a new mast.
Royal Northwest Mounted Police Sergeant-Major T. B. Caulkin visited Fullerton in February and March of 1916 “with a view to collecting the duty on the goods shipped to G. G. Cleveland, trader, per the schooner A. T. Gifford, arriving from the U.S. last fall.” Caulkin wrote, “I interviewed G. G. Cleveland with regard to the payment of duty on his last summer’s shipment of supplies, but he informed me that he had received no invoices, and that his employer, Mr. Monjo of New York, U.S.A., had, or was, making negotiations with the Commissioner of Customs, at Ottawa, with regard to the payment….” Cleveland, who was also looking after the police buildings while the caretaker Oug-juk was away musk-ox hunting, also informed Caulkin "that he would be moving his entire outfit up the inlet during the coming summer, and that there would be no white settlers at Fullerton.” This was evidently only a temporary move, if he moved at all.
Cleveland’s principal activity was trading for furs with local hunters. He collected white fox, bear, and musk-ox furs, among others. In addition to exchanging trade goods, Cleveland also sometimes provided food, such as in the winter of 1916 when Caulkin reported “At Fullerton, there were no natives camped, the natives who usually have their camp there, being on an island half way from Fullerton to Depot island. Mr. Cleveland informed me that they had had no luck seal hunting during the winter, and that he had fed them practically all the time.”
[Note: I am trying to locate the publication that these reports appeared in - Sessional Papers - Canada Parliament - v.52 no.18 1917. (and also v.43 no.16 1909 and v.45 no.19 1911 and Sessional papers.) Does anyone know where I can get a copy of this? I only have small parts of these reports!]
Two years after Cleveland opened his post, arrangements had been made for the Monjo company to pick up the furs he had collected and to deliver fresh supplies. The A. T. Gifford, under Capt. Arthur O. Gibbons, left Provincetown, MA in July 1915 for Cape Fullerton. In addition to Cleveland’s supplies, on board was John Gorton who, with $1000 of lumber and supplies, was to build and open a new trading station some “ten miles north” of Cleveland’s at Lyon Inlet, with the help of one of Cleveland’s Inuit assistants. Gorton was a last-minute substitute for his brother Joseph Gorton and his wife, who so angered Gorton with demands for additional money to pay bills, were left at the wharf. I haven’t yet learned what became of John Gorton or the intended post.
After dropping off supplies and picking up a two years' catch of furs from Capt. Cleveland at Fullerton Harbour in September 1915, the vessel departed for the whaling grounds. It was the last southern whaler to cruise Hudson Bay. After leaving Fullerton, neither Gibbons nor his crew of 15 were ever seen again.
In 1916, after the vessel failed to return or to make contact, Mr. Monjo made a formal request to the Canadian government to help locate the schooner, to no avail.
In 1917 Monjo hired Capt. George Fred Tilton (1861-1932) of Martha's Vineyard to pick up Cleveland’s furs from the past two seasons, deliver supplies to him, and investigate the disappearance of the schooner. (Tilton writes about this experience both in the Dec. 23, 1917 issue of the Boston Globe, as well as his 1928 autobiography Cap’n George Fred Himself.) Tilton had become famous for the 3000-mile walk he made out of the Alaskan arctic in the winter of 1897-8 to find help for two hundred men in four whaling ships trapped in the ice, and so was already an eccentric New England celebrity. The 55-year-old Tilton had recently joined the Naval Reserves, but had obtained a leave of absence from the military to undertake this mission for the Monjo company.
Tilton sailed to Hudson Bay aboard the 90’ Gloucester fishing schooner Pythian, fitted with a gasoline engine, in July 1917, arriving at Cape Fullerton on August 23. According to the newspaper account, with Tilton was “a young man who was to remain with Capt. Cleveland to learn the business; he proved to be an enlisted man in the Naval Reserves and he’s home again now to serve Uncle Sam.” A photograph of “Cleveland’s Home at Cape Fullerton” appears in the Boston Globe article, showing a fairly large wooden structure with a peaked roof.
Capt. Tilton determined that the A. T. Gifford had burned and sank in flames on its homeward journey in Hudson Straits. Tilton wrote, "I found proof that the schooner had caught fire and burned until her gas tanks blew up and sunk her, and I learned from the natives of three men who landed in a small boat and died from burns and exposure."
In 1921, several years after he had left Fullerton for Repulse Bay, Capt. Cleveland discovered an overturned fisherman's dory sheltering two skeletons on Coats Island, “one of a small person and one of a medium-sized man.” They were alleged to be the remains of the crew of the schooner A. T. Gifford. The Boston Globe reported Cleveland’s story, which he had just shared with the New Bedford Whaleman’s Club, in the Sept. 23, 1923 issue:
“As Capt. Gibbons of the Gifford was the smallest man in her crew of 15, Capt. Cleveland was almost sure the smaller skeleton was his. When he found lying beside the skeleton of the small man a revolver, which he identified as that owned and carried by Capt. Gibbons, he was certain. There was no means of identifying the other skeleton, although it was probably one of the officers of the Gifford. The bones of hares and small birds told the story that the two men had proceeded as far as possible in the dory and then made a camp as best they could and lived as long as possible on these hares and birds. The two men evidently tried to reach the nearest Hudson Bay trading post, 70 miles from where the dory was found. Capt. Cleveland’s idea is that the men reached Coasters’ Island when the Winter storms set in and were trapped there. The island is near the entrance to Hudson Bay and is rarely visited by Eskimos or hunters.”
The Canadian Government held a criminal investigation. There were no other survivors of the wreck.
(Ferdinand Nicholas Monjo died at his home “The Cedars” in Stamford, CT in 1929. His obituary notes “He was head of a wholesale fur business at 152 West Twenty-fifth Street, New York, bearing his name.” His wife was named as Jennie Rogers Monjo. At the time of his death he was a director of the New York Auction Company and the co-director of the Charity Chest of the Fur Industry of the City of New York as well as the Fur Trade Foundation.)
Cleveland evidently continued his relationship with Tabitia Taututtiaq (the wife of Cleveland’s longtime friend Qillaq/Keedluk) throughout his years at Cape Fullerton. Besides their daughters Ituliaq and Hannah Siksik, their sons Nangaat/Nangnaan Issigaitok and Siusarnaat/Siusarnaan who reportedly fell through the ice and drowned as boys, and their third daughter who was adopted out at birth to a couple in Pelly Bay (and whose name we have not yet learned), Cleveland and Taututtiaq conceived their sixth and last child together, Martha Ipiksaut, born about 1918.
In 1919 Cleveland’s post was obtained by the Hudson's Bay Company (together with all of the Monjo company’s holdings.) That summer Cleveland, now a “General Servant” for the HBC, moved two of the buildings from Fullerton to Beach Point on the south side of Repulse Bay to establish a new HBC outpost. (In 1924 an old carpenter’s shop and an outbuilding were dismantled from the remains of Cape Fullerton Outpost and the lumber shipped to Chesterfield Inlet.)
According to the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, “Captain Cleveland was a well-known Arctic figure. The Nelson River District Manager, Christie Harding, said of him in 1919: ‘Mr. Cleveland is an old timer and has been 28 years in the country, which he knows well. He talks the Eskimo language, is a good trader, navigator and engineer - a jack of all trades, and the most practical man I met on my tour of inspection.’”
Joe Curley, quoted by Dorothy Harley Eber in her book When the Whalers were Up North, noted that Cleveland had been “taken up by the Scottish whalers. But they weren't satisfied either, and it ended up that he was given back to the Inuit people. He kept being handed back and forth.” Even though Cleveland evidently no longer worked for the Scots after 1910, Cleveland’s 1924 serialized memoirs in the New Bedford Standard Times suggest that his memories of the Scottish whalers were fond ones.
The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre has a photograph (N-1987-033: 0028 b&w print, Lorenz Learmonth fonds; also Photograph album #1: 0028) taken in Baker Lake, titled, “Loading the scow to take the detachment [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] from Baker Lake to Fullerton. This scow was built at Fullerton by G.G. Cumberland [sic], post manager there for F.N. Munjo [sic], New York, U.S., later post manager for the company [HBC] in Repulse Bay, NWT. Aug. 1918.” They also have a set of photographs taken of the Fullerton area in 1919: “This accession consist of 29 photographs taken with a panoramic camera. The images are of Inuit, whaling ships such as the "Finback", Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) posts and Royal North West Mounted Police posts along the west coast of Hudson's Bay including Cape Fullerton, Baker Lake and Repulse Bay.” (NWT Archives Accession Report for: N-1987-010. Frank Chrome fonds. Fonds #77.)