Allan Alexander Allan was born in Dundee, Scotland on June 5, 1867. He came to the USA in 1887 to deliver a Clydesdale horse to a person in South Dakota. From there, he worked at a number of jobs in the Lower 48 before working his way to Alaska in late 1897. In the spring of 1905, Allan went to work for a hardware company in Nome, owned by Charles Darling and Dudley Dean. He later formed a partnership in a dog kennel with Charles and Esther Darling. He would become known as Scotty Allan, King of the Alaskan Dog Mushers.
Scotty Allan was the predecessor of Leonhard Seppala when it came to raising and racing dogs. The Allan-Darling Kennel entered teams in many of the earlier races in Nome, mostly with Allan as the driver. In addition to an outstanding dog racing record, Allan made a considerable amount of trips with his dog teams to various parts of Alaska. The longest, the most grueling, and the most prestigious race was the All Alaska Sweepstakes, which took place annually in April -- from 1908 to 1917. Here is a synopsis of Scotty Allan's participation in that event:
- 1908: Placed second, driving the Jacob Berger team. Kid and Baldy were the co-leaders.
- 1909: This race was won by Scotty Allan, driving one of the two Berger teams entered. The Allan team consisted of 8 dogs. Five of them were co-leaders Kid and Baldy, and the Tolman brothers (Tom, Dick and Harry).
Esther Birdsall Darling with the Tolman Brothers.
Photo credit: Scotty Allan Collection, Anchorage Museum, B1994.018.3
In the above photo, Tom is the dog in the middle. Mrs. Darling described Dick and Harry as ".....so much alike that it was nearly impossible to tell them apart....." The date of this photo is unknown. It was taken at the Arctic Studio in Nome, Alaska. The Arctic Studios went out of business in 1913.
- 1910: Allan placed third, driving the Allan-Darling entry, which consisted of 10 dogs. Seven of them were Baldy, Irish, Tom, Dick, Harry, Jack McMillan and Spot.
- 1911: Won by Scotty Allan, driving the Allan-Darling entry. The team consisted of 11 dogs. Baldy was the leader. Seven of the other team dogs were the three Tolmans, Jack McMillan, Spot, Irish and Priest.
- 1912: Won by the Allan-Darling team with Scotty Allan, driver.
- 1913: The Allan-Darling team placed third with Scotty Allan, driver.
- 1914: The entry by the Allan & Darling Kennel consisted of a team of 16 dogs, with Scotty Allan as driver. When Allan reached the halfway point at Candle, three of his dogs were running loose and another one was being hauled in the sled. On the return trip, the Council checkpoint reported that two dogs were being hauled in the sled and four dogs were running loose. Scotty Allan finished in second place.
- The 1915 AAS race started on April 15. About a week earlier, Scotty Allan reported it was unlikely that his veteran dog, Irish, would be able to participate in this race due to age related problems. Allan anticipated that his team would consist of 12 to 14 dogs. Baldy would be his leader. As it turned out, Irish did run in this race. During the outbound journey, the Council checkpoint reported that Scotty Allan was carrying one dog in his sled and another one was running loose. The lead changed several times during this race, alternating between Allan and Leonhard Seppala. On the return trip, near Council, Allan lost his way along the trail and was forced to return to Council, thereby losing several hours. Seppala won the race and the Allan & Darling team finished second. This would be Scotty Allan's last AAS race.
The Allan-Darling Kennel consisted of dozens of dogs over the years. The names and other details about some of these dogs are known. Some are in written accounts and others are in photographs from the time. Here are a few examples:
Jack McMillan was originally owned by Albert Fink, who was a lawyer and also a key person involved in the formation of the Nome Kennel Club and the All Alaska Sweepstakes race. The first AAS race was run in April of 1908. Albert Fink entered a team which was driven by John Hegness. Jack McMillan was the leader of this team. The Fink entry won the race. The Allan & Darling Kennel subsequently acquired Jack when a man brought him to Scotty Allan to be euthanized. The reasons given were that Jack was a dangerous and ferocious dog, and that he refused to travel with his team. Allan agreed to take the dog, but said he would not kill him. Under Allan's guidance, Jack would go on to become a productive member of the Allan-Darling Kennel. In 1913, Mrs. Darling took Jack McMillan to the Allan's home in Berkeley, CA where he would enjoy the rest of his days in retirement. Mrs. Allan and her children turned him into a pet. During the latter part of September, 1916, Jack was struck by an automobile and died as the result of this accident. The Allan family buried him under some rose bushes at their home.
Dubby, whose parents were MacKenzie River Huskies, was born in January of 1899 along Bonanza Creek in Dawson City, Yukon Territory. Scotty Allan acquired Dubby when he was in Dawson, and made a trip from there to Nome in early 1900. Allan retired Dubby in 1908, after the dog had logged about 30,000 miles in harness. On May 15, 1911, Dubby died of cancer.
The 1910 Solomon Derby Race was run on January 18 after being postponed several times due to adverse weather and trail conditions. Kid, who was only a little over 2 and a half years old at that time, had been a leader of Allan's race teams for almost two years. He was half Setter and half Malamute. Scotty Allan's team was favored to win the 1910 Solomon Derby. During the morning of the day of the race, Kid was found dead in his stall. A strap was found around his neck. Allan suspected there might have been foul play involved in order to affect the outcome of the race.
Joe was a husky who was presented to Mrs. Darling as a gift by the famous explorer, Vilhjalmur Stefansson. Joe was a MacKenzie River Husky who came from the Coronation Gulf region of the Northwest Territories. During the latter part of 1917, Mrs. Darling gave Joe to the vice-president of the Southern Pacific Company, who in turn gave the dog to the City of San Francisco. The superintendent of Golden Gate Park took charge of Joe and quarters were prepared for him to live at the park.
Wolf was a young Eskimo dog who came from a native family. Tom took an instant dislike to Wolf when he was introduced into the Allan - Darling Kennel. Wolf was a mischievous pup who had a propensity to want to interact with the other dogs in an unacceptable way. One day, Wolf nipped at the docked tail of Tom. Tom was about to retaliate when one of the dog handlers intervened. At that time, the Darlings, Scotty Allan and their kennel help were on holiday at the Kruzgamapa Hot Springs. The stalls for the dogs were smaller there than those at the Allan & Darling Kennel. Accordingly, there was less space between each dog. One morning, Scotty Allan and the Darlings found Wolf dead in his stall. There were signs of a fight. The two dogs who were closest to Wolf and could have reached him were Tom and Baldy. Mrs. Darling was convinced that the culprit was Baldy; however, Scotty Allan had his reservations about that, and the matter was closed.
Baldywas born in early 1907 and was one of the pups from the Bowen - Delzene dogs. He was a Malamute, Foxhound and Setter mix. Scotty Allan and Mrs. Darling purchased Baldy from a young boy by the name of Ben Edwards. Baldy was about 14 months old at that time. Ben would be a constant visitor and helper at the Allan-Darling Kennel. On the same day that Kid was found dead in his stall, Scotty Allan selected Baldy to be the leader of his team in the 1910 Solomon Derby Race. The Allan & Darling team won that race. Baldy would go on to have a distinguished racing career, earning him the name Baldy of Nome.
The Allan - Darling Kennel in 1910. Photo credit: Scotty Allan Collection, Anchorage Museum, B1994.018.2
During early 1915, the Allan & Darling Kennel was approached by the French government. They wanted about 400 dogs to be used in transporting supplies to the front lines of the war in Europe. A French officer, Lieutenant Rene Haas, was dispatched to Nome. Scotty Allan's mission was to round up 100 sled dogs from the Nome area. He accomplished that task during the next few months.
On the morning of September 29, 1915, one hundred and six dogs were paraded down Front Street on a long tow line. This group included 28 dogs from the Allan-Darling Kennel. Their dog Spot was the leader. Most of the town of Nome turned out to watch this procession. The dogs were loaded aboard the Pacific Coast steamship, Senator. In addition to Scotty Allan and Lieutenant Haas, Kenneth Marr and Archie Cameron would be the caretakers of the dogs, and would go as far as the east coast of Canada. As it turned out, both Marr and Cameron made the trip from Quebec to France. The Senator left Nome at 8:30 PM that evening, and arrived at Seattle on October 8. From there, the dogs were taken by train to Quebec, arriving on October 27.
The original commission had called for 400 dogs, plus or minus 10%. While in Quebec, Allan rounded up an additional 300 plus dogs from the surrounding areas. The dogs were oriented and trained to become accustomed to battlefield conditions. The group left Quebec aboard the ship Pomeranian, enroute to France with 440 dogs. Upon arrival, Allan engaged in further training of the dogs and their new French handlers. After his mission was completed, he returned to the USA and went to Berkeley, CA to spend some time with his family.
The Territory of Alaska and the Alaska State Legislature were created in 1912. The Territory was divided into 4 judicial districts, with Nome being in District number 2. Each district had four representatives and two senators. The first Legislature was convened in 1913, and subsequent sessions would take place every other year. Scotty Allan was elected as a House Member for the 3rd Alaska Territorial Legislature, which was in session from March 5, 1917 to May 3, 1917. The legislative sessions took place in Juneau.
For the 1917 session, Allan traveled by dog team from Nome to Chitina. His team consisted of Baldy and Irish as his leaders, and 8 young dogs from his kennel. Upon arrival at Chitina, he left Irish and the other 8 dogs with a friend who would take them back to Nome. From there, Allan traveled by train to Cordova and then to Juneau by boat. Baldy went with him to Juneau. This would be Baldy's last trip over the trails in Alaska.
After the 1917 session, Scotty Allan and Baldy went to the Allan home in Berkeley, CA. Baldy stayed there for the rest of his life. He died on April 14, 1922 at the age of 15. The Allan family buried him under some rose bushes in their backyard. Scotty Allan returned to Alaska and was again elected to serve in the 4th Territorial Legislature, which ran from March 3, 1919 to May 1, 1919. He continued to go back and forth from his home in Berkeley to Alaska for several more years. Allan later became the manager of the Scotty Allan Dog Food Department, which was located at the Moffat Meat Company in San Francisco. Allan Alexander Allan passed away on the morning of December 1, 1941 at the age of 74. His remains were cremated two days later.
Scotty Allan and Baldy.
Photo credit: Alaska State Library, William W. and Neeta Tobey Sale Photograph Collection, 1905 - 1912.
Final resting place of Baldy of Nome, located in the Elmwood District of Berkeley, CA.
Photo credit: Leonard Schwab
Some miscellaneous items regarding Scotty Allan and Esther Birdsall Darling:
During the early part of 1911, a deer whose name was Dan Patch, and who was owned by a local native, established a record run from Nome to Ft. Davis and back of 33 minutes and 8 seconds. On March 8, 1911, eight Nome dog teams were entered in a race in an attempt to break Dan Patch's record. Coke Hill's team came the closest with a time of 33 minutes and 29 seconds. Scotty Allan's team came in second. A native driver by the name of Split-the-Wind was driving a team owned by Arthur Jett. As he entered Nome on the return trip, Split-the-Wind lost control of his team. Scotty Allan saw what was going on, and he jumped on the rear of the sled and got the team under control.
February 28, 1911: Scotty Allan was elected as one of the Directors of the Nome Kennel Club.
January 31, 1912: Scotty Allan was elected Treasurer of the Nome Kennel Club.
June 25, 1917: Esther Birdsdall Darling received the French military medal Croix de Guerre. It was awarded to her by the French government for her services and contributions of the war dogs from the Allan - Darling Kennel.
October 14, 1917: Mrs. Darling retired from her position as President of the Nome Kennel Club after serving for the past year. Scotty Allan was elected as one of the Directors of the club.
January 13, 1923: Mrs. Darling received $15,000 for the exclusive movie rights to her book, Baldy of Nome. I have not been able to find any evidence that this movie was ever made.
Source Note: The primary resources for this article are the books Baldy of Nome (1916 edition) by Esther Birdsall Darling, Gold, Men and Dogs (1931) by A. A. (Scotty) Allan, the booklet The Great Dog Races of Nome Held Under the Auspices of the Nome Kennel Club, Nome, Alaska: Official Souvenir History (1916) by Esther Birdsall Darling,and numerous articles from the The Nome Gold Digger and The Nome Nugget newspapers (1908 - 1922).
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