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Inside the Peary Expedition, Part 10: August 13, 1908: Rudolph Franke decides to go home

March 6, 2021

This following letter was addressed to Peary by Rudolph Franke. Franke later said that he wrote the letter under duress, that Peary made it the condition of his return that he turn over to him all of Dr. Cook’s stores at Annoatok, as well as the blue fox furs and narwhal horns he and Cook had collected since their arrival in 1907. Franke said that Peary told him that he was short of furs and needed them to outfit his expedition, and that none would be sent back to the United States. Later, however, Franke saw bundles of furs being loaded aboard the Erik. He knew Peary could not possibly have collected that many furs in the short time since his arrival in Greenland, and was certain they were the same ones that had belonged to Dr. Cook.

The letter is in the hand of Ross Marvin, not Franke. It is evidently a copy of Franke’s original, which is not among Peary’s papers. Whether the mistakes it contains in spelling and form are Franke’s or Marvin’s is unknown, because Marvin’s own letters to Louis Bement are prone to such errors as appear here.

August 13 Franke Letter 1

Etha, August 13th 1908 No. 3 I

Mr. Peary, Esq.
Now is the question before me to do
what is right for the future and after thoughtful
consideration I have resolved to do the following
1. I leave you all the stuff, laying at
Etha and Anoatook to take care of them
because I cant do it. I am in crippled condition
from my boat-trip to Oominui and back,
your judgement and experience will know
to make the best use of them.
2. The enclosed letter authorized you
concerning the 5 boxes, 1 bundle Narwahl
horns and one trunk of furs and one compass,
what to do with them. They are laying on
Arwagluarwi Pt. This is all Dr Cook’s property
except one horn, the heaviest top broken off.
This belongs to me and I beg you to take that
from me, as a present, received for your

August 13 Franke Letter

your kindness and hospitality. I
thank herewith for the care you, Mr.
Bartlett, Marvin & Dr. Goodsell they
gave me, they were very kind to me.
3. My self respect orders me now, not to
go home, but to stay and wait for Dr Cook’s
return. After thoughtfull consideration
I found it would be unwise and foolish to
stand in Anoatook a second winter. I
resolved to go home with the vessel “Erik,”
which you kindly placed to my disposal.
To justify my step for you and others I tell you
the following points.
1. If Dr. C. is going south the Wast Coast of
Greenland he will find assistance there. I
suppose there is now an Danish Expedition
and furthermore plenty provisions at
Shannon and Pendulum Island.
2. If Dr. C. comes back by way the west Coast
of Greenland, he will find assistance at
Anoatook, I cant stand there, because

August 13 3 Rudolph Franke

because there are just for one not for
two provisions, the right kind, and it
would be for both dangerous. The provisions
are now shorter than I leave Anoatook
for my boar-trip to Oominui, in the
meantime the Esquimaux break in the house
and committed burglaries. How much it is,
I cant tell, I cant go up in my condition,
but I hope your Captain Mr. Bartlett will
make a statement by his voyage up the
sound for gathering information about
the ice.
3. If Dr. C. comes back to East Coast of
Ellemereland he will meet you.
4 If Dr. C. goes south the West coast of Ellesmere
Land, he got there provisions at Cape Thomas
Hubbard and on (near) Cape Lockwood coals.
5. By returning way over Alaska he will fall
in with the whalers, wintering at Marshall
4 I must go home, Dr Cooks orders me that, why
I don’t know. I dont know who will pay me off Mr
Bradley New York or Dr. C. I have now written

August 13 4 Rudolph Franke

written agreement. It is also the
highest time, that my old mother,
where I am and to take care of her what
is one of my first duty.
Now you see, Mr. Peary, that I justified myself in
every line and I beg you to take in care all the
property of Dr. C. After advise of your surgeon
I should take care of myself and it would be
foolish to stand a second winter. Please lend
me your helping hand furthermore, I will be
very thankfull In another paper you will find
a statement a statement of the provisions and
supplies and in leaving them I give you full
power to use them. Excuse my bad english
I am foreigner. I remain, Sir,
Respectfully yours,
Rudolph Franke.

A list of the supplies turned over by Franke is also in Peary’s papers.  This list is also in Ross Marvin’s hand.

The letter and the lists are in the Peary Papers at NARA II.


Inside the Peary Expedition, Part 9: August 10, 1908: Rudolph Franke returns

February 8, 2021

On August 10, Dr. Goodsell wrote in his diary:

“The Captain, McMillen, Borup and boat crew have returned from Littleton Island. They secured four Walrus and nearly one hundred birds. The Captain reported from the summit of the island the pack ice to the northward was nearly continuous. He started out again to be gone a couple of days for a more extended observation of the ice pack. Foggy conditions prevailing, he returned shortly, bringing Dr. Cook’s assistant, Rudolph Franke. Franke desired transportation southward and attention from myself for an injured leg considerably swollen and partly disabling him for a couple of months.”

Ross Marvin informed Louis Bement of the latest developments the next day:August 11 1

August 11 2

8 – 11 1908
Etah, North Greenland.

Dear Mr. Bement: -
Just a few more lines to close
this letter and put it in my bundle to be mailed
in Sydney, before the Erik arrives. What chance
I get to write a little after the Com. gets here
I shall keep the letter open until the last day
and send it by way of St. John’s Newfoundland.
My last message will probably be a post card,
The Erik is already in sight and will
probably be here in less than an hour. The Dr.
Cook affair grows more complicated every day.
His man Rudolph Frankie arrived here yesterday in
a boat from North Star Bay. He is real anxious to leave
here & wants to go home on the Erik. He has not heard
from Dr. Cook since March 17th at Cape Thomas
Hubbard, the Commander’s most western point.
He has a sore leg which our doctor has
begun treating and which the Dr. says needs
rest for some time. He is in no condition
either physically or more especially
mentally to spend another winter
here. Perhaps you may think I ought
to tell you more about the Dr. Cook
affair but as things seem to be so
mixed up here I hesitate about saying
much of anything about it. And as
far as actual news goes there is not
much to be said. Dr. Cook is not
back and no one her knows where
he is. He left Cape Thomas Hubbard
with two native boys and two sledges
that means that he cannot get
very far nor be in very good condition
at present.
We are here at Etah nearly a
week ahead of last trip but we shall
probably not leave here any earlier than
we did last year as the ice is still
heavy north of us. I dont see any chance
as yet to send back any souvenirs on
the Erik this year. I would like to send
something to Cornell. Must close for
the present,
Ross G. Marvin

Dr. Goodsell was asked to examine Franke. Afterwards, he wrote his official report to Peary:

August 12 Goodsell Letter

Aug 12 1908
Commander R.E. Peary. U.S. N.

Dear Sir:
Rudolph Franke requested
professional treatment when
brought aboard the Roosevelt. He
reports having slipped on the ice
the latter part of May, 1908, injuring
his left leg.
On examination the limb is badly
swollen, purple in spots, involving the
thigh, in a less degree. Franke is practically
disabled from the injury and
complicating scurvy.

Respectfully yours
J. W Goodsell Dr. &
“Peary Arctic Club Expedition”

A typed copy of Goodsell’s diary and his official report are at NARA II.


Inside the Peary Expedition, Part 8: Word of Dr. Cook gets out: August 7, 1908

January 6, 2021

Once Dr. Cook’s March 17 letter was retrieved from Annoatok, apparently, as Peary’s secretary, Marvin was asked to make a copy.  He couldn’t help himself from telling his friend what he learned of Cook’s movements.  A copy of Cook’s letter, with a number of transcription errors, is among Peary’s papers at NARA II.

August 7, 1August 7, 2

8 – 7 08
Etah, N. Greenland.
Dear Mr. Bement: -
Here we are at Etah in
the Roosevelt. The Com & Matt went on the
Erik up in Olriks Bay & around to all the
settlements. Dr. Cook seems to be the whole
topic of conversation here but whatever
I tell you I wish you would consider it as
confidential. He sent all but two of his
natives back from Cape Hubbard where the
Com had been last summer1 & said he was
going on to Crocker Land2 but not the pole.
The man he left here went down to
North Star Bay & left a note which we picked
up. He is in a whale boat & is not back yet
but ought to be in a few days. Most of the
men are over to Anarotok3 but are expected
here in a few days, they seem to travel
back and forth.
Dr. Cook and his two natives
are not back yet, they had a canvass boat
big enough for three on the sledge with them
all we know is what we have picked up
from the Eskimo perhaps we will see his
white man before we leave here.
He has a little cache here
at Etah and a box house at Anaratok which
is just north east of Cairn Point. He also
left a cache at Cape Hubbard and found
plenty of Musk Oxen and bear this side
of there. In fact he seems to have had
better lusk than we thought for.
The natives here dont seem
to be worried about his not returning. They
say he is over on the other side eating bear
and musk oxen and will be back here when
the sledging begins again. In that case
he will probably go on to Upernivik during
the fall & sail to Denmark from there.
I would not dare write this
about Dr Cook if I did not feel sure that you
will keep it to yourself.
We will lay here
several days before the Erik arrives and
then several days of hustle like the
devil before we leave here. I will write
again before we leave.
Sincerely yours

Ross Marvin


1 Actually it was the summer of 1906. Marvin makes this mistake several times, referring to “last year” when it was actually two years since Peary’s last expedition. Marvin served on that expedition as well.

2 Crocker Land was supposedly sighted by Peary from Cape Thomas Hubbard in 1906. However, all evidence points to Peary inventing this sighting in an attempt to attract more financial support from the rich banker George Crocker. In any case, Crocker Land does not exist.

3 Annoatok, as Cook spelled it, was a seasonal hunting settlement located about 20 miles northeast of Etah.


Inside the Peary Expedition, Part 7: A Letter from Rudolph Franke

December 6, 2020

At Etah, Peary retrieved a letter sent north via a native by Rudolph Franke, who had been the cook on Bradley’s yacht, and whom Cook had paid to overwinter with him in a house he had built from packing crates at Annoatok. Franke had received a letter from Dr. Cook in May via the Inuit who had accompanied him to Cape Thomas Hubbard, dated March 17. In it he had given these instructions to Franke in case he was not back by June. It read in part:

“While I expect to get back to you by the end of May, still I wish you to be ready to go to Acponie, the Island off North Star, where the whalers’ steamers come, by the 5th of June, and if I am not back go home with the whalers, I think however we will be back.

“Gather all the blue fox skins you can. These must be our money on the return trip. If you can get a few bear skins take them, also Narwhal and Walrus tusks, but do not give too much for them. . . .

“There is likely to be much open water between you and Etah so you had better send the trunk, the Narwhal tusks and all things for the return to Etah at least, if not further, as soon as you can.”

When Cook had not appeared by the appointed date, Franke set out for North Star Bay. Not finding any whaling ships, he started back for Etah, sending ahead this letter to deliver in case he encountered a ship along the way or one had arrived at Etah during his absence:

July 13 Franke Letter

Oomanui, July 13, 1908

Herewith I beg to inform you:
I am from the Yacht “John R. Bradley” New York and stayed with Dr. Cook, Brooklyn, N.Y. the winter 1907-1908, at Anorotok, 20 miles further north than Etah. Dr. Cook did leave me March 3d, Flagler Bay, to start for the far north. I received lettre from him dated Mar. 17th, Cape Hubbard, on May 7th at Anorotok, announcing his return by the end of May. He advised me in that letter to communicate with the whalers, at Akponie1, but I found out by my arrival here, that 2 vessels was already 2 months ago here. I want explain that I must go north again to my quarters, and I beg you to come up to Etah with your vessel to take me home. I have not, the right kind of provisions, which enables me to stand without danger, a second winter, and I am the only white man here. Tillto date I have no messages from Dr. Cook to take this in account I fear he didn’t return and is driven out in East Greenland Sea. I have values for your [illegible word] security against risk, Excuse my bad English. I am foreigner. Please help me.
Respectfully yours,

Rudolph Franke

I am now going up with boat along the shore. Please look good out. Perhaps you arrive in Etah sooner than I. I expect to be back in 8 or 10 days in Etah. Please give the bearer of this a little gift of tobacco and put it to my account.2

1 Acponie, as Cook spelled it, is a large island near North Star Bay.

2 This last sentence is printed upside down and backwards in the space occupied by the signature and must be read by holding it up to a mirror. Perhaps it was on the outside of the envelop containing the message, but why it is so oriented on the transcript is unknown. Perhaps it is a bleed through from the other side of the carbon paper.

The typed transcript of the letter is in the Peary Family Papers at National Archives II, College Park, MD


Inside the Peary Expedition, Part 6: Waiting for the ice in Melville Bay, August 5, 1908

November 10, 2020

The Roosevelt was delayed at North Star Bay while waiting for the ice to loosen in Melville Bay before heading farther north. Melville Bay was notorious for hazardous ice jams, but beyond was generally clear in August. While he waited, Marvin added a few details about the expedition’s outfit. The “Huskies” referred to here are the Inuit men Peary took on board at North Star, along with their families. The women worked all winter aboard the ice-bound ship preparing skins and sewing fur garments.

August 5, 1908

8 – 5 1908

We have as many good men as we
had last time but near as many
children. We have more dogs, more
walrus meat for the huskies and about
50 ton of whale meat for the dogs. We
have a fine outfit of furs and our clothing
100% better than last time.
The Com. gave me a
Narwhal Horn tonight and I am going
to send it to Cornell for the Museum.
I am going to write Pres. Schurman
tonight concerning it.
The ice is hard and
loose north of us so we are in no
rush to leave here the way we did
last year. I may have another chance
to add a few lines tomorrow. If not
Goodbye. We are safe, dont let Mother
worry too much.
sincerely yours,
Ross Marvin


Inside the Peary Expedition: Part 5: The Roosevelt reaches the native settlements, August 3, 1908

October 18, 2020

August 3  1

August 3 2

8 – 3 1908
North Star Bay.1
Dear Mr Bement:-

It has been longer than I ex-
pected since I wrote last but you know how
busy we are among the settlements here. We are
all going walrus hunting early tomorrow
morning. It is now midnight and I ought to
be in bed but I wont get another chance to
write soon if I go on the Erik.

We reached Cape
York Bay the night of July 31st a week ahead of
last trip but we are going to use most of that
week in spending more time among the native
settlements so that we wont leave Etah much
earlier than we did last year. We had a
rough foggy passage2 and have had dis-
agreeable weather since we reached here. A
snowstorm in Cape York Bay.3

The people are pros-
perous especially with dogs and we have
nearly 150 on board already so we ought to
be secure there. We have more skins of our own
this time so we are more independent of the
natives. The Commander is staying on board
more this time and is actually letting
me do some of his trading with the natives4
& am getting along fine in everyway. I am
in the best of health once more, much
better than when I left home.

We have already
got about a dozen families on board, but we
will clean out the poorest ones when we reach Etah.
I probably wont know much
about the plans until after we leave Etah
but I ought to get something nice out of
the spring work, either east or west, and
that will suit me as well as North.

The tribe seems to be still on
the increase there has only been two or
three deaths and a good many more births.
The Roosevelt has two good salt water
Scotch boilers this time and is going to
be much more powerful this time. There
is no good reason why we should not
be in winter quarters by the first of Sept.
if we meet with anything but the
hardest kind of hard luck. We have nearly
twice as much food and board and about
40 ton of whale meat for the dogs. It is
fresh this time and will not poison the
dogs the way the salted whale meat did
last time.5

Our doctor this time is a nice fellow
and perhaps a more scientific man than
we had before, but he is not going to be
the man for field work that Dr. Wolfe
was. Dr. Wolf wanted to come but his father
had bought him and office outfit and
did not want him to go. There are seven
old timers on board Peary, Captain, Chief6,
Bos’n7, Matt, Percy and myself. Well

Ross Marvin


1  North Star Bay was the southern limit of the so-called Polar Eskimo tribe, with whom both Peary and Cook interacted on their polar expeditions. It is the current location of Thule.

2  That is:  across Melville Bay.

3  Cape York lies at the northwestern end of Mellvile Bay, which was known for its treacherous ice in the age of sail.

4  Peary was notoriously stingy in allowing members of his expedition to trade for anything valuable.

5  On his 1905 expedition, Peary bought tainted whale meat en route that poisoned 80 of his 200 sled dogs over the winter.

6  George A Wardwell, the Chief Engineer.

7   John Murphy.


Inside the Peary Expedition: Part 4: At Sea, July 30. 1908

September 13, 2020

Ross Marvin

Ross Marvin

July 30 1July 30 2July 30 3

7 – 30 1908
at sea off the Greenland Coast
bound for Cape York, N. Greenland

Dear Mr. Bement: -
Well here we are in the land
of the midnight sun once more and everything
is going lovely. We have had fog and rain
most of the time and a good deal rougher
voyage than last time, but the Roosevelt
seems able to stand anything even
loaded down as she is.

This noon I had
an entirely new experience on board ship
one which I had often thought of and won-
dered what it would be like. We were
running along full speed just after
dinner. ( “When” crossed out) The Captain and I were
chatting together in our Cabin when the
cry came of “breakers ahead”. Of
course we both rushed on deck and
by turning the Roosevelt sharply
we ran between them and the coast
as they were some distance out and

We passed Disco1 night before last and
Upernivik this morning as you see
we did not stop at either place. The
Erik will stop there I believe going back.
We expect to reach the Duck Islands tonight
and Cape York tomorrow night if all goes

As before the Com. expects to transfer to
the Erik for a week or so and I shall prob-
ably go along with him although he has
said nothing as yet.

My work of the last trip
is divided among three this time and I seem
to be getting only the best of it. I am still
busy but am able to do my work much
more thoroughly than I could before.

We are all wondering
whether we will meet Dr. Cook here or not.
The Com. is perfectly willing for him to go
back on the Erik if he cares to. It will be
rather a poor ending for his trip if he does
go back that way. The Com. spent all of
one meal explaining to us just how he felt
about Dr. Cook and his coming up here.

I shall make this letter one of several
installments and if gets too long I may
make two of it. I am rooming with the Cap-
tain and we are the very best of room-mates.
The other two men have my little room for
the two of them. I didn’t lose anything
there by coming late.

We are much better
fitted out this time both in provision and in
equipment. Captain Sam is in charge of
the Erik so we feel sure of having lots of
coal.  I think it is about an even chance
whether we stay one year or two. Of course
that is all nonsense in the papers about
his intending to stay three years. We
have provisions on board for three years
however in case anything should happen.
The only thing that is going to happen is
is that we are going to reach the Pole
itself this time and get back safely
with the task finished. Goodbye for
Ross Marvin


1 Disco is a large island just off the coast and was the site of Upernavik.


Inside the Peary Expedition: Part 3: A brief stop in Labrador, July 23, 1908

August 20, 2020


Labrador 1Labrador 2

on board the Roosevelt,
off Turnavik, Labrador
July 23rd, 08.

Dear Mr Bement: -

Just a few lines

we we <sic> will land for a few minutes
at the fishing station of Captain
Bob’s father at Turnavik. He has
200 pair of skin boots here & so
we came up after them.

This note ought
to reach you at the same time
yesterdays letter did.*

I started in before
breakfast to rig up a box for
my instruments and have been
at it all day. I started to
write a note to Mother after
supper, when a squall struck
us and nearly carried away our
fore-top-sail. We have been
over half an hour in a blowing
rain getting in the canvas.

We are now running into
the station and will only
stay about half an hour.

The Erik is keeping
right along with us so we
ought to have company all
the way to Cape York.

I am going to have a
better trip this time than I
did last.

very sincerely,
Ross Marvin


* No such letter was included among the copies given to the author by Silas H. Ayer III.


Inside the Peary Expedition: Part 2: The Expedition arrives at Sydney, July 14, 1908

July 6, 2020


Sydney was the last calling place of most ships headed into the Arctic. It’s chief attraction was the abundant coal that could be had from the mines at North Sydney, which ran far out under the harbor.  It was also the last place where a wide variety of food and supplies could be obtained. But it also boasted the Sydney Hotel with hot baths and a formal dinning room.

Sydney hotel

Peary’s chief assistant on the 1908 expedition was Ross Marvin, who taught Civil Engineering at his alma mater, Cornell University, and also at Mercersburg Academy in PA.  Marvin had served in a similar capacity on Peary’s try for the pole in 1905. He wrote a running series of letters home as the opportunity presented itself. In the transcriptions of these letters, all the spelling and grammatical errors they contained have been reproduced.  For a biographical sketch of Marvin, see: https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/nny360.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/41/44143d20-9136-11ea-a45c-c70f891330ea/5eb5695471f6f.pdf.pdf

The letter head is of the Sydney Hotel, C.B., which stands for Cape Breton. Even though part of Nova Scotia since 1820, the island was always referred to this way during Peary’s time, when it had not been joined to the mainland by a causeway.

July 23 1July 23 2July 23 3

Sunday, July 23, 1908*

My dear Mr. Bement1,-
Well here we are
at Sydney2 and we expect to sail
some time Tuesday. The Eric3 has
already left.

I expected to have time
during our trip from N.Y. to write
you a long letter but I have still
been busy. I have been charged in
sorting and restoring most all of
the ship’s cargo and I tell you it
kept me busy with two or three men
to help me.

Charles Percy4 and I are
the best of friends and I know we
will get along fine. He often speaks
of you and Mr. Wychoff.5

I tried to see Mr Wychoff
to thank him before he sailed for
Europe but I was unable to do so.
I have written him a letter thanking
him and will write to him and to
yourself whenever I have an op-
portunity. Still I wish when you
see him that you would thank
him personally for me.

Captain Bartlett6,
a nephew of old Capt. Sam7, is in charge
of the Roosevelt and a fine young
fellow he is, I can see that already.
Captain Moses Bartlett8, a cousin
of Capt. Sam is 1st mate so we
seem to be well equiped for

The persenal part
consists of Com. Peary, Matt Henson9,
Dr. Wolfe10, and myself. He still
expects to leave me in charge of affairs
at Cape Sabine11 base of supplies but
I want to go on with him.12

I will have to
close this letter now but will hold
it and try to write a little more
before we sail from here. Thanking
you again for all yo u have done
for me I remain,

Sincerely yours,

Ross Marvin


*Evidently the date of this letter is incorrect.  According to Dr. John W. Goodsell’s carefully kept diary, the Roosevelt arrived at Sydney on July 14 and after coaling departed on July 17.

1 Louis C. Bement met Marvin when he attended Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where Bement ran a haberdashery.  It was he who introduced Marvin to Peary.

2 Sydney is on the eastern shore of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

3 The Erik was Peary’s auxiliary supply ship on several of his arctic expeditions.

4 Percy was the steward of the Roosevelt and also the caretaker of Peary’s summer home on Eagle Island in Maine.

5 Clarence Wychoff was the heir to the Remington Typewriter fortune and a mutual friend of both Bement and Marvin. In 1901 Wychoff paid for Bement’s passage aboard the Erik on the Peary Arctic Club’s expedition to relieve Peary, who was then in the midst of an unsucessful five-year “siege of the North Pole.” So Bement was familiar with the places Marvin referred to in his letters. Both Marvin and Wychoff were from Elmira, NY, and both were Cornellians, though not in the same class.

6 Robert A. Bartlett, Captain of the Roosevelt on Peary’s 1906 and 1908 expeditions.

7 Samuel Bartlett was captain of the Erik.

8 Moses Bartlett had been the captain of John R. Bradley’s yacht, which had deposited Dr. Cook in Annoatok in 1907.

9 Matthew A. Henson was Peary’s “man servant” and a fixture on Peary’s expeditions from his first to his last.

10 Marvin is confused here. Dr. Louis B. Wolf had been Peary’s surgeon in 1906. For this expedition he had been replaced by Dr. John Goodsell.

11 Cape Sabine had been a base for fall back in case of loss of his ship in 1906.  However, no base was established there in 1908.

12 That is, he would like to go with Peary to the North Pole.

Copies of Marvin’s handwritten letters were given to the author by Silas H. Ayer III, who was the grandson of Louis Bement. They have never before been reproduced in whole. The copy of this letter is cut off on the right margin. The incomplete or missing words have been supplied by the author.


Inside the Peary Polar Expedition: Part 1: A parting interview, July 2, 1908

June 8, 2020

This post initiates a series on original documents related to Peary’s last attempt to reach the North Pole, The Peary Arctic Club North Pole Expedition of 1908. In the coming months, through this series the participants will be allowed to speak in real time through letters, diaries, and other documents about the events of the expedition. These documents will be accompanied by commentary, and where necessary, explanatory notes will be appended to allow the reader to understand the events referenced in these documents.

This is the first in a series of posts in which readers will get their first look at a series of original documents that report the progress of Peary’s last attempt to reach the North Pole, which sailed from New York on July 6, 1908, after getting the personal blessings of President Theodore Roosevelt when he boarded Peary’s expedition ship named in his honor when she was launched in 1905. The President boarded her off his home near Oyster Bay and seemed well pleased with his namesake. “I believe in you, Peary,” he said, “and I believe in your success—if it is within the possibility of Man.”

Roosevelt and peary at Oyster Bay

Peary’s sailing came a year later than he had planned. The Roosevelt had been so battered on his 1905-06 attempt, she needed a near-complete rebuild. This could not be finished in time to get away as scheduled during the summer of 1907. In the meantime, Frederick Cook had slipped out of Gloucester, MA on July 3, 1907, on the private yacht, John R. Bradley, loaded with two years’ worth of supplies, all provided by the yacht’s namesake, his millionaire backer and gambler.

When Peary got word that fall, upon Bradley’s return from Greenland, that Cook had stayed north to essay the North Pole, he was livid. He dashed off numerous letters to the effect that Cook should be compelled to show proof should he dare return during his absence claiming the prize that had eluded his own grasp during 25 years of trying.

Before the Roosevelt sailed, their were endless details to attend to. One of them was to put Cook’s wife, Marie, whose surprise at her husband’s try for the pole was no less than Peary’s, under what Herbert L. Bridgman, the owner of the Brooklyn Standard Union, and Peary’s de facto press agent, liked to call “obligations,” by arranging to bring him home on Peary’s auxiliary ship, Erik, when Peary’s expedition called at the Inuit settlements. Mrs. Cook was naturally apprehensive about her husband’s safe return. Her own means to insure his safe return had diminished considerably after most of her personal fortune had been wiped out in the Panic of 1907; she had even lost the substantial house the couple owned on Bushwick, Ave. in Brooklyn.

Bridgman put in a visit to her and forwarded a memorandum of the meeting to Peary: Mrs. Cook Interview

$500 in 1908 would be equivalent to the buying power in today’s dollars to $10,000.

The original memorandum that bears Bridgman’s signature is among the Peary Family Papers, RG 101, at National Archives II in College Park, MD. The note at the bottom: “*recall my words in Washington in re gold in C—s possession” is written in Peary’s hand.