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Juneau-Douglas City Museum


by Bob Hurley

Robert J. and Raymond L. Hurley are grandsons of Robert Cornelius Hurley, (sons of the late Robert Edward Hurley.)

Robert Cornelius Hurley came from Salem, Massachusetts, arriving in Juneau in 1910. He came as an employee of the U. S. Customs Department with the primary responsibility of monitoring the people traveling over the White Pass into Canada, plus other duties.

In 1912, he married Minnie Scott, one of Anna Webster’s twins (Minnie and Mable). Mrs. Webster was in the telephone business with her husband, Ed Webster. In 1913, Robert Cornelius quit the Customs Department and went to work as a secretary and righthand man to Bart Thane, a sharp mining engineer in the Juneau area. Also that year, Robert E. Hurley was born, to be followed over the next three years by Verna Hurley (later Mrs. Roy Carrigan) and Raymond C. Hurley. In 1913, the family spent a year at the Eagle River mine north of Juneau. In 1918, Bart Thane quit the Alaska Gastineau Mining Company and went to San Francisco. Robert Cornelius Hurley quit and followed him, working for him there. In 1919, they both returned to Juneau and resumed work at Bart’s Alaska Gastineau Mining Company.

About 1921, Bart Thane closed his Alaska Gastineau Mining Company. Minnie Hurley took her three children and herself to a cabin she rented from Mr. Marshall out by the Mendenhall Glacier on what is now the back loop road. They spent about a month there relaxing before following Robert Cornelius to Anchorage where he gained employment with the Alaska Railroad as head of their finance department. In Anchorage, a high school student named Scotty Adams worked for him. Later in life, Scotty and his wife, Phyllis, lived in Juneau. Phyllis later became a secretary and office manager for the Juneau and Douglas Telephone Company.

For several years, Robert Cornelius studied law at home, and in 1925, opened his own practice and law office in Anchorage. As the business wasn’t very profitable in the beginning, Minnie Hurley and the children returned to Juneau that same year.

In 1927, Robert Cornelius was in an accident where both legs were run over by an auto, breaking one very severely. After considerable unsuccessful recuperation in Anchorage, he went to Seattle. After a difficult year and a half, and the amputation of one leg, he returned to Juneau in 1929, and reopened his law practice in the Valentine Building. He was also Chief Clerk for the Territorial Legislature that year. Never having made a full recovery from his accident, in 1931, he came down with tuberculosis. In those days, this was a very difficult, serious and largely untreatable disease.

He returned to Salem, Massachusetts, was institutionalized and professionally cared for full time. He died there in 1936.

Minnie Hurley took on more and more of the operations of the Juneau and Douglas Telephone Company. She helped her mother and stepfather full time, as well as managing her family. Minnie Hurley and family sold the telephone company in 1969.

Raymond C. Hurley died in Eugene, Oregon, in 1986 or 1987. Verna Hurley Carrigan passed away in Juneau in 1992. Robert E. Hurley passed away in Juneau in April 1988.


Verna Carrigan was born September 19, 1914, in Juneau, Alaska. She was the second of three children of parents, Robert Cornelius Hurley and Minnie Scott Hurley. In 1921, at the age of seven, Verna moved with her family to Anchorage where her father was employed by the Alaska Railroad. In 1925, she returned, with her mother and brothers, to Juneau. Her father stayed in Anchorage studying law, ultimately becoming an attorney, and practiced both there and in Juneau until an accident, followed by illness, led to his untimely death in 1936.

During these childhood years, hardships were looked upon as a common occurrence, and the strength and work ethics of her mother and grandmother held the family together with a bond that would endure through the years ahead, and formed the foundation of Verna’s character.

During her teenage years Verna worked at the Zynda Hotel (later became the Juneau Hotel) and the Baranof Hotel, filling various positions from desk clerk to head switchboard operator. Soon, it was apparent that her real position in life was to be at her family’s business, the Juneau and Douglas Telephone Company, which was started by her grandfather, Edward Webster, in 1893. As the years progressed, each of the siblings took on more of the duties of the company, each finding their own niche, groomed and supervised by mother, Minnie, and Grandma Webster. Verna’s place was at the switchboard, connecting calls manually by cord and plug. It was a key position in the system, and during times of storms or a major fire, the operators were the hinge of all communications. They held their posts at all costs, making sure the calls got through, disregarding meals or personal matters. In time, she was the Chief Operator and Company Vice-President. In addition, she alone was responsible for production of the new directory every year.

When Verna married Roy Carrigan, there was no doubt what his future would be. Roy soon became a familiar face with the company as a telephone man, installing phones by day and repairing storm damaged lines by night. That was an occupation and a bond that they shared for nearly forty years until the family business was sold.

Timothy, the family German Shepard, could be found riding in Roy’s company truck by day and being guardian and companion to Verna and Roy at all times. I’m confident there was no place in the world where Verna wouldn’t have been safe as long as her dog, “Timmy,” was there.

Verna took pleasure from the earth by helping Mother Nature in the garden. Her home was always a colorful feast for the eye from early spring until late fall. She helped others with her green thumb, quick with advice for those in question, and quick with a hand for those no longer capable.

She learned to cook at her mother’s side, and she learned her lessons well. Verna specialized in difficult candies, and her confections were always a great treat at the many family gatherings.

Retirement brought a lot more free time to Verna; she spent that time focusing on arts and humanities, the things she valued most. She spent time with her close friends, gardening, working with the Catholic Church, and helping her husband, Roy, who by now was nearing the end of his time here with us.

It was but a few short years after Roy’s passing that Verna received her calling and left here quietly in the early morning hours of July 24, 1992. She left this world in peace and in comfort, knowing that for years to come, people would know her and enjoy her without ever meeting her. To accomplish this she left nearly all her assets to charities and organizations that she believed in. The organizations included:
l. University of Alaska Foundation – Juneau Campus - half to the library, half to scholarships
2. Juneau Symphony, Inc.
3. Hospice and Homecare of Juneau
4. Juneau Public Library Foundation
5. Gastineau Humane Society
6. Bartlett Memorial Hospital
7. Diocese of Juneau - for the Shrine of St. Therese
8. Pacific Legal Foundation (non-profit organization)