Arthur Ransom McConahay (nicknamed “Long Shorty” because he was 6' tall)
came to Sitka, Alaska in June of
1886 as a Private in Company K, U.S. Army 21st Infantry from Vancouver.
In 1893, after he left the military, he moved to the Cook Inlet area where
he married a young Copper River
woman (living in Knik) named Maypoy (the church later changed her name
to Martha). Martha died before 1902,
leaving “Long Shorty” with 4 small children: Mary, born about 1893, James
born about 1895, Martha born about
1897 and Katherine (“Katie” or “Kate”) born about 1899.
McConahay was a very well respected man and it is said that his "integrity
won the confidence of all who
met him". Knik merchants hired him to transport large sums of cash (by foot)
from Knik to Tyonek with no
problems ever reported.
In 1902, McConahay (a Protestant) was largely responsible for the construction
of a new Russian Orthodox
Chapel at Susitna Station. Father Ioann Bortnovskii said that McConahay
donated his expertise, building
materials and food for the village laborers that built the Chapel.
That same year McConahay married Stefanida Istutulianshin at Tyonek,
she died before 1910 and the children
were then sent to the Woody Island Orphanage in Kodiak.
By 1910, McConahay had a commercial salmon drying business at Three
Mile Creek on the western shore of
Cook Inlet, selling three tons of dried salmon per season. By 1912,
he was appointed as Postmaster of Beluga.
In the fall of 1917, McConahay’s health started to fail and he moved
from Tyonek to the Pioneers Home
in Sitka, where he died in the spring of 1918, at the age of 60.
Arthur Ransome “Long Shorty” McConahay wrote the following poem:
“To me there’s nothing half so fine,
as baked or roasted porcupine.
Give fools their silk and knaves their wine,
But give me lots of porcupine”.