Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Schwatka, Frederick

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SCHWATKA, Frederick, explorer, b. in Galena, Ill., 29 Sept., 1849; d. in Portland, Oregon, 2 Nov., 1892. After graduation at the U.S. military academy in 1871 he joined the army and served on garrison and frontier duty until 1877. He also studied law and medicine, and was admitted to the bar of Nebraska in 1875, and received his medical degree at Bellevue hospital medical college, New York, in 1876. On hearing the story of Capt. Thomas F. Barry, who, while on a whaling expedition in Repulse bay in 1871–'3, was visited by Esquimaux who described strangers that had travelled through that region several years before, and who had buried papers in a cavern, where silver spoons and other relics had been found, Lieut. Schwatka determined to search for traces of Sir John Franklin's party, and, obtaining leave of absence, fitted out an expedition. On 19 June, 1878, accompanied by William H. Gilder (q. v.) as second in command, he sailed in the “Eothen” for King William's Land. The party returned on 22 Sept., 1880, having discovered and buried many of the skeletons of Sir John Franklin's party, and removed much of the mystery of its fate. Lieut. Schwatka found the grave of Lieut. John Irving, 3d officer of the “Terror,” and, in addition to many interesting relics, a paper which was a copy of the Crozier record that was found in 1859 by Lieut. William R. Hobson, of Sir Leopold McClintock's expedition, and which contained two records, the latter, under date of 25 April, 1848, stating the death of Sir John Franklin on 7 June, 1847. This expedition was also marked by the longest sledge-journey on record—3,251 statute miles, during which a branch of Back's river was discovered, which Lieut. Schwatka named for President Hayes. Afterward he explored the course of the Yukon river in Alaska, and rejoined his regiment in July, 1884. In August of that year he resigned the commission of 1st lieutenant, 3d cavalry, to which he had been appointed in March, 1879. He commanded the New York “Times” Alaskan exploring expedition of 1886. Lieut. Schwatka had received the Roquette Arctic medal from the Geographical society of Paris, and a medal from the Imperial geographical society of Russia, and was an honorary member of the Geographical societies of Bremen, Geneva, and Rome. He is the author of “Along Alaska's Great River” (New York, 1885); “Nimrod in the North” (1885); and “The Children of the Cold” (1886). See “Schwatka's Search,” by Col. William H. Gilder (New York, 1881): “The Franklin Search under Lieut. Schwatka” (Edinburgh and London, 1881); and “Als Eskimo unter den Eskimo,” by Henry Klutschak (Leipsic, 1881).