A Fisticuffed Debate

In today’s world, there are many ways to connect for debate, ideas and opinions without ever having to physically face the opposition; unlike the early days of Fairbanks when there were no radios, televisions or other devices that allowed instant engagement with world events from the safety of home. In the old days, opponents faced each other and accepted the consequences of their points of view. The following newspaper article from 109 years ago, describes how the men of Fairbanks debated opinions in a cigar store located on 1st avenue in the area where the Marriot Hotel and the Lathrop Building stand today.

Northern Light- December 1, 1906


With Tom McGowan rubbering from a chair, Dan Callahan and William Kleinberg acting as referee, that must have been an interesting scrap in Dan Rose’s cigar store, between Roy Maddox, city councilman, and Judge Roy, attorney at law, last Monday.

As usual, a number of men were gathered in the cigar store. Questions relating to the past, present and future, upon every subject under the sun, are settled there daily. If you want to hear arguments about any mortal thing on earth, wise, otherwise or demise, go to Dan Rose’s cigar store. That’s where the clans of all colors of belief gather.

At times these arguments have reached such a high pitch that someone had to sit upon the safety valve for a time, but not until last Monday were blows ever resorted to.

Roy Maddox and Tom McGowan were arguing the Wickersham matter. Anything McGowan loves next to witnessing a good scrap is a good argument. Robert Fleming, R. M. Brown, Hans Stark and others who were present fired in random shots occasionally to help the good cause along.

Finally, Judge Roy butted in. This was the flash in the pan which ignited the powder. Maddox called Roy names which are not published in Sunday school books. Roy returned the compliment with interest

The attorney was sitting down and Maddox came towards him; both men made a pass, clinched and fell, with Judge Roy on top. Tom McGowan jumped on a chair where he could get the best view and Callahan and Kleinberg closed in to take charge.

“Don’t blind me, man,” Maddox is quoted as saying. “Alright, keep your finger out of my eye and stop biting, “Judge Roy is said to have replied. He then got up and said: “Now fight like a man.”

The chairs were switched out of the way and the two men peeled off their coats. Callahan called time a couple of times and then men were allowed to rest. Once Judge Roy slipped and while he was on his knees Maddox pasted him one on the jaw which nearly put the attorney “out of business.” He quickly rallied, however, and the fight went merrily on, Maddox reaching for Judge Roy’s wind all the time.

“Shall I stop it?” asked Kleinberg. McGowan stopped chuckling long enough to answer: “You are running the show.”

The fight was stopped, and Judge Roy seemed to have much the best of it, although the next day he was adorned by a beautiful blackened optic, while Maddox didn’t show a scratch.

Note: Maddox, McGowan, Callahan and Dan Rose were all charter members of Pioneers of Alaska, Fairbanks Igloo No. 4. Judge Wickersham was a member of the Juneau Igloo. There is only one man in Fairbanks who could be “Judge Roy”, and that would be the charismatic LeRoy Tozier who was also a charter member and the 1st president of Igloo No. 4. Although Tozier was never really a courtroom judge, he was referred to as such in this article because he was the favored referee or judge at most sporting events held in Fairbanks. This debatable History Nugget was proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Fairbanks Igloos of the Pioneers of Alaska, who invite all readers to fight fair with your opinions.

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