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The Tlingit Alaska Natives dwelled in the Wrangell area long before its settlement. The Russians began trading for furs in 1811 and in 1834, Baron Ferdinand Petrovich Wrangel ordered for a stockade to be built. The stockade was named Redoubt Saint Dionysius. In 1839, the British Hudson’s Bay Company renamed the stockade Fort Stikine. During this time, the Tlingit began to protest the British using their trade routes but two epidemics of smallpox in 836 and 1840 silenced most of it as the disease had killed half of the Tlinigt population. In 849, the fort was abandoned after the sea otter and beaver population was depleted but remained under British rule until Alaska’s purchase in 1867. The U.S. built a military post name Fort Wrangell in 1868 which remained active until 1877. The community around the post grew during the gold rushes of 1861, 174-77, and 1897. On December 25, 1869, a Stikine indian named Lowan bit off the third right finger of Mrs. Jaboc Muller. He was killed in a fight by soldiers who also wounded another Stikine Indian. The next morning, Scutd-doo, father of Lowan, entered the fort and shot the post trader’s partner Leon Smith who died 13 hours later. The US army demanded Scutd-doo’s surrender and began bombarding the Stikine village until the villagers handed him over. He was court-martialed and publicy hanged on December 2. In the late 1890s, fish traps were constructed and contributed to the growth of fishing and fish canning industries in Wrangell before the rise of logging in the 1950s. However, the traps caused damage to the Stikine River and a decline in the salmon population. When Alaska became a state, the new government decommissioned all fish traps, but the fishing industry continued to live on. In the early 1950s, a large fire destroyed much of the historical buildings and dramatically changed the appearance of Wrangell. Wrangell was incorporated as the City and Borough of Wrangell on May 30, 2008 with Canadian American Donald McConachie Sr. becoming its first mayor.

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