Alaska Governor John Weir Troy

John Weir Troy, left

John Weir Troy, left

Alaskan author and historian Laurel Downing Bill shares a post, Alaska’s 1st Sourdough Governor, about the man who was Governor of the Territory of Alaska during the 1935 Matanuska Colony Project. Author of the “Aunt Phil’s Trunk” Alaska history series, she writes of Troy stating: “‘The success being worked out through the Matanuska Colonization Project has added a promising outlook for the cover-11-150x225Territory. Not only has it added to the population in the vicinity of the Matanuska Valley and along the Alaska Railroad, but it has caused the people in other districts to become agricultural minded … I believe that agricultural colonization should be carried further with the establishment of more colonies in other parts of Alaska,’ he said.”

John W. Troy

John W. Troy

Born in Dungeness, Washington, a small town on the Olympic Peninsula near Puget Sound, on October 31, 1868, the young John Troy became a reporter for his uncle’s newspaper, the Port Townsend Argus, and later published and edited his own paper, the Port Angeles Weekly Democratic Leader. He served as a Deputy County Auditor, Deputy County Clerk. In 1897 he went to Alaska to report on the gold rush for a Seattle newspaper, also becoming manager of a Skagway pack train service. While living in Skagway he developed polio, and returned to Washington for treatment, but the effects of the illness dictated he would use a cane for the rest of his life.

Senator Tom de Vans of Ruby administering oath of office as Governor of Alaska to John Weir Troy, Juneau 1933. [Alaska State Library]

Senator Tom de Vans of Ruby administering oath of office as Governor of Alaska to John Weir Troy, Juneau 1933. [Alaska State Library]

After moving back to Skagway, Troy became editor and publisher of the Skagway Daily Alaskan newspaper and the Alaska-Yukon Magazine, also serving as Alaska’s U.S. Collector of Customs. He returned to Washington for several years, but then came back to Alaska once again as editor of the Daily Alaska Empire, a Juneau newspaper.
The Daily Alaska Empire was owned by John F.A. Strong, who sold it to Troy in 1913 when Strong became Governor of the Territory of Alaska. Troy was a longtime advocate of increased Alaskan autonomy from federal government control of the territory, and in 1933 he was appointed Governor. In 1935 he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Alaska Rural Rehabilitation Corporation, which was organized to determine the organizational responsibilities of the Matanuska Colony Project. Governor Troy, along with Ernest Greuning, Director of the Division of Territories and Island Possessions of the Department of the Interior, was a featured speaker at the first Colony Days celebration on May 16, 1936.
Governor Troy

Governor Troy

John Troy served as the twelfth governor of the Territory of Alaska until 1939, when he resigned due to ill health. He lived in Juneau until his death in 1942, and is buried in Juneau. There is a Matanuska Valley subdivision road named for him, E. Governor John Troy Avenue, located north and west of Palmer, off the Palmer Fishhook Road.

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