February 1 is a momentous day in Skagway History. On the night before, January 31, 1898 U.S. Marshal James Mark Rowan was called away from his wife’s bed where she was having a baby. The Marshal went to the People’s Bar on 6th Street (then Holly Street), (where Sgt Preston’s is now), and as he entered the bar Harry Lamont, Marshal Rowan and Andy McGrath were shot by Ed Fay, the bartender. Apparently McGrath died instantly but Rowan staggered across Broadway and died. Ed Fay, although arrested was later acquitted in Sitka.
Mrs. Bernie Rowan and son, also James Mark Rowan lived in Alaska for awhile before moving to Seattle where both passed away, she in 1943 and he in 1975. It was said that James Mark Rowan was the first white baby born in Skagway (see last blog for a possible competitor to that title).
Marshal Rowan was buried in the Gold Rush Cemetery and this summer, on the 4th of July, his great grand-daughter along with the U.S. Marshal’s Service plan to re-dedicate his grave with a new marker. Plans are afoot to have the family in the parade and honor the heroes of Skagway’s both past and present.