Postal Confusion

Today’s History Nugget is about the naming of Healy Lake and Healy River and how they came to use the same name:

Fairbanks Daily News Miner April 13, 1921


Richardson, Alaska March 28, 1921

Citizens, Bipeds, Guerillias and even, Huns, if they have heads as big as a spike, usually go to the Editor with their grievances of all kinds, that begin their medium for exchange of thought and the dissemination of information – the correction of many errors, therefore, take it from me, the few who have the name “Healy River” engraved in their minds have a decided kick against the railroad usurpers of the name “Healy River.” One or the other “Healy River” should be eliminated.

We have the original Healy River named in the early 1890’s, it being the then nickname of the Chief of a small Indian tribe in these parts, who was so called by the early Fortymilers, because the Indians wore a goatee similar to that worn by Capt. John J. Healy, the Post Trader and promoter of that section, and who was the representative of the N. A. T. & T. Co.. As this Chief lived on the Tanana side of the range and on a certain lake and river there, they named the lake and river “Healy,” the Indian’s nickname and so they have been named, known and recognized to this day. Now the railroad builders swipe the ancient and honorable name for a whistling post on their uncertain railroad.

The abundance of Healys is causing Postmaster Deal of Fairbanks and our own postmaster much trouble getting mail for “Healy” to the right one. We do not see why we should give up prior rights to the name of “Healy,” to accommodate any fly-by-night railroader. We were here before they were and will be here when they are gone. As the Geological Survey has affixed “Healy” to this section, it is up to the Survey to refuse to recognize the phony Healy. Since the beginning this kind of work has interfered with the correct sending of the mails, and the Fairbanks Commercial Club, in the interests of this District, should take action to have this mix-up straightened out.

Signed JOSH L. RAY

Note: This was not the first time we have reported on naming problems of locations within the Interior Alaska and the confusion that it brings. Ester was also known as Berry; and today many people confuse Two Rivers with Pleasant Valley (unless you are a resident that lives there). This History Nugget was proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.

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