Man Who Helped Name City
Dies at Hospital at 72
A. J. (Ott) Inman, pioneer resident of Ketchikan, died at the Ketchikan General
Hospital yesterday afternoon following a brief Illness. Mr. Inman was 72 years old. A
familiar figure to old-time residents here, he had for years operated a boat shop at
Born in Iowa on January 10, 1870, he was taken to the Puget sound country by his parents when he was six years old. Later, the family settled at Olympia, Washington. It was from there that Mr. Inman went to Seattle after deciding that he would start a boat shop of his own. In Seattle he heard about Alaska and its wealth of fish and furs, and although he doubted the stories, he became interested in the Territory.
Later, he met a group of men who were coming to Alaska in a 32-foot sailboat, and decided
to join them. It was in the fall, and the group of four intended to return to Seattle the follow spring.
Three months were required for the trip here.
It was October 26, 1891, when the sailboat maneuvered through Behm canal, went to Loring first, then to Ketchikan. Dick Stack was the first white man they saw. he was at Loring and when they inquired about a place to stop, suggested Ketchikan. Previously, they had met Yes Bay Johnny, an Indian, when they camped at Yes Bay. He informed them hey were trespassing on his hunting grounds, but they stayed there for three weeks.
FIVE BUILDINGS HERE
There were only five buildings here when the quartet came to
Ketchikan, Mr. Inman used to recall, including warehouses and homes. In addition, there
were a few smokehouses on the other side of the creek. The following spring, Mr. Inman
built three shacks, one for himself and two for the other men. Mr. Inman also had a hand
in construction of the old house, behind the First National bank building, which was torn
down recently. The house was built where the Stedman now stands and then the owner, a Mr.
Clark, had it moved to the other end of the block. Later it became known as the Hans
When the house was finished, Clark sent for his wife, who was the first white woman to live here. She brought their three children here, accompanied by maids, Mr. Inman recalled.
Robert McCoombs generally is credited with being the first white baby born in Ketchikan, but Mr. Inman disputed this. The first white child born here was to Captain Charles Dyer and his wife, in a shack Mr. Inman built alongside what is now the Commercial building. Captain Dyer was a partner of Tom (Helm Bay) Johnson, who is now living in Ketchikan.
CITY GETS A NAME
There was no name for Ketchikan at the time Mr. Inman came here, but
about a year later, at a convivial gathering, Mr. Inman, Mike Martin, Clark and Julius
Sternberg and a few others decided on Ketchikan - which in Indian means stinking waters.
Mr. Inman recalled that the name was decided upon just after the spawning season, when the
banks of the Ketchikan creek were littered with dead salmon.
Mr. Inman explained his name of Ott, as he was called, by saying that in the early days men were known by just a one-syllable word. His first name was Austin, but Ott made a more suitable nickname, and he didn't object.
Survivors include four children, one stepson and two grandchildren. The children are Josephine, Albert and George Inman, all of Ketchikan, and Mrs. Fitzhugh, who lives near Portland, Oregon. Ben Wilcox is the stepson. George Inman is the father of the two grandchildren.
A sister lives at Tumwater, Washington. A brother, Captain H. L. Inman, died in March 1931, At Montesano, Washington. A retired sea captain, he made his home in Ketchikan for many years in the early years.
Funeral services are to be held at 2 Friday afternoon at the Presbyterian church, under the auspices of the Red Men's and Pioneers lodges, with the Rev. George J. Beck officiating. Mr. Inman was a life member of the Red Men, and served as treasurer of the organization for nearly 30 years.
Funeral arrangements were made by Robert T. Graham of Graham Funeral parlors, who was greeted on his arrival here 44 years ago by Mr. Inman. Mr. Graham came here by schooner from the east coast, the trip requiring 18 months. He was one of the few aboard who remained here, the others going farther ...
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Source unknown. Submitted by Richard Inman.