I have received enquiries about Thomas Marshall Word Jr. or Tom Word from a woman who purchased historic photos of the Word family at an estate many years ago. She contacted me because she intends to put them up for sale on Ebay, which is great, so that everyone who is interested can have a chance to acquire them. It was several years ago that I was doing some research on him, but apparently I never wrote up the story. I quote here from Jeff Smith on his Soapy Website:
“For a few years now I have been exchanging interesting e-mails with Fred Wood, a great-grandson of Skagway’s Thomas Marshall Word. If Fred and I are correct Word is the man who acted as the go-between for Soapy and the vigilante’s after John Fay shot and killed Deputy U.S. Marshal Rowan and Andy McGrath. Word was involved in the hunt for the gang after Soapy had been killed and came real close to becoming famous as the man who captured the three top gangsters, Bowers, Foster, and Wilder. Hours later he was one of the guards protecting those same three bunco steerers locked away on the third floor of the Burkhard Hotel. Tom Word twice aided in keeping a blood thirsty vigilante mob from orchestrating a wholesale slaughter and that’s something his g-grandson can be proud of.”
Jeff has an excellent write up of the information that he has gathered here:
Anyway, for those of you who are interested, below and above here are a couple of photos of the photos.
The other day a descendent of T.J. stopped in here to my office and gave me a copy of his ancestor’s diary.
T.J.Jessop had started from Australia in late 1897 and after several adventures wrote this about Skagway:
“I will revert to Skagway it was a very lawless city and was terrorised by a notorious gang of criminals, the chief was known as “Soapy Smith”, He was very amiable and meek in his manner and very like a parson in more ways than one, and very deceiving in every way.
Several Aussies were forcibly robbed by the gang. Members of the gang would turn up by boat from Vancouver and of course they, or some of them, would play “Two Up” and the gang took particular notice of those who had plenty of money, and on arrival at Skagway would introduce them to members of the gang. They would then propose to show them Indian Totem Poles and rain gods (which were mythical) and when a secluded spot was reached would forcibly rob them. The robbed would appeal to the Marshall (he was in charge of the soldiers) no police and he would just laugh at them at being caught as there were hoardings everywhere containing warnings.
In Vancouver and Skagway really there was no excuse at being caught. The gang even went as far as to establish information bureaus (which were bogus), but on entering these places there was always some form of gambling going on and if the entrant did not join in, they cut his gold belt off from around his waist.
I read this after I came back to Australia that a man named Reid was in Soapy’s gambling den when a dispute arose and Reid got the drop on Soapy. There were not many members of the gang present and he was bluffed, and it preyed so heavily on his mind that next day he was seen making for the jetty with a gun in his hand. Reid was an engineer and was supervising repairs or extension to the jetty. He saw Soapy coming and both fired at the same time. Reid was shot through a wrist and Soapy was shot dead. The gang then became disorganised and the townspeople rounded them up and put them in a steamer and sent them down to the “States”. (U.S.A.)”
An interesting take on the Soapy-Reid gun battle!
Frank Burney was born on April 9, 1874 in Wisconsin. In 1896 he was working as a farmer in Fresno, California. There were other Burney’s in the area so presumably he went there with family. Farming must not have been too interesting, so in May of 1897 he came north. And here is where he disappears for a couple of years.
He showed up on the Upper Bonanza with his new wife, Blanche Pattie Martin also from Wisconsin, in 1901. He was working a claim on the Upper Bonanza with partner E.J. Hill until 1904 when Hill died and Frank took his body back to Fresno.
Now, this may be a stretch, but there was a U.S. Marshall appointed in Skagway in July, 1898 by the name of Barney, no other information. He is significant because he was one of the three Marshals that arrested the Soapy gang during July 1898. In March of 1899, Charles Eckerman, the bartender at the Board of Trade Saloon (seen above in 1898), tried to shoot Barney (Eckerman was shot and killed 6 months later). It was about this time that Burney went to Dawson, so I am jumping to the concussion that Barney and Burney are one in the same.
In any event, Blanche and Frank left the Yukon and moved to California, living in Berkeley, Long Beach, Fresno and Los Angeles. Blanche died in 1956, Frank in 1957 and their daughter, born to them late in life, Virginia, died in 1941 at the age of 26.
Yukon archives; familysearch censuses; California death and census records: Seattle Post Intelligence of Sept 22, 1899.
Dr. S.D. Cameron was famous for attending the autopsy on Soapy here in 1898. He was fairly young at the time, 24, having come from Ontario where he was born in 1874. He came from a big Scottish family, his parents were from Scotland. He worked at Log Cabin in 1901. After the Skagway bank robbery in 1902, he examined the body of the dead bank robber and chaired the coroners inquest here. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1902 and applied for his physicians license in Washington state also in that year.
In 1917 he married Laura Bouillard in Yakima, she was 26 then and Dr. Cameron was 43. He died on August 19, 1922 in Yakima and is buried there.
In the picture above, I believe that the young bloke to the far right is Dr. Samuel D. Cameron.
Howard Clifford p 142; yukon genealogy; 1920 Yakima census; Washington marriage, licensing, emigration and census records.
Born in 1857 in Mt. Pleasant Iowa, Frank Herbert Whiting came to Skagway on Friday, May 27, 1898 as Superintendent of the new White Pass & Yukon Railway. He is a background character in the Soapy shooting, having been busy on another dock unloading rails and sleepers with Mr. Graves at the time. After the shooting the Citizen’s Committee appointed the “Committee of Safety” to determine what the fate would be of the many Soapy conspirators, alleged friends and miscellaneous suspicious characters. The “Committee of Safety” consisted of eleven men. Four of these men managed transportation companies, two owned hotels, one blacksmith, two lawmen and of course the two White Pass managers, Graves and Frank Whiting. These eleven men selected the prisoners and forced them to sign over their money and agree to be handed over to the legal authorities.
Some of these men that were accused of vague crimes said that the “Committee” used their temporary and arbitrary power to get rid of business competitors in the witch hunt. Certainly in the volatile atmosphere, few Skagway residents questioned the doings of the most powerful men in Skagway. A total of fifteen men and one woman were deported but no doubt others left rather than be subjected to the “Committee” or possibly lynching.
Jeff Smith points out that when these deportees arrived in Seattle on the Steamship Tartar there is no evidence that any were ever taken into custody.
But back to Frank Whiting. He and his wife Martha and their 6 kids left Skagway in 1903. They probably returned to Denver, where they had lived before. Frank died on this day, January 3, 1936 in Seattle on a visit to his son. He was buried in Denver in the Fairmont Cemetery. One other note was that he was the great grandson of Timothy Whiting who fought in the Revolutionary War, and so was a compatriot SAR.
NPS website; Archives Canada; Alias Soapy Smith by Jeff Smith; findagrave.com; familysearch.
Born October 11, 1956 in Portland Oregon and died November 1, 1923, Dr. Charles Cornelius is often pictured as the doctor who did the autopsy on Soapy and Frank Reid. He was elected coroner of Multnomah County in Oregon in 1894. He came to Skagway in 1898 just in time for the spinal meningitis epidemic and the Soapy shootout.
He returned to Portland, retired and then built the Cornelius Hotel there.
He is seen at the right in the photo above as Dr. Whiting pokes around.
Portland, Oregon – Its history and builders in connection with the antecedent explorations, discoveries and movements of the Pioneers that selected the site for the Great City of the Pacific, by Joseph Gaston, 1911 p. 439
The Sundeen family came to Skagway in 1898. Matthew was a master mariner and had a steamship business as well as being a quartz miner. His wife Ida ran the Pearson and Sundeen laundry. Matthew was born in 1866 in Sweden and married Ida Louella Crosier in Oregon in 1892. They had three daughters, Carrie, Lucille Loraine and Etta who was born here in Skagway in 1903. Mrs. Sundeen died in 1914 at the age of 38 in Portland but Matthew stayed in Skagway for many years and died on this day, September 9, 1941 and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.
Just prior to his death in 1941, Sundeen wrote an article that appeared in The Fairbanks Daily News. Back in 1898, Sundeen said he was in the hardware store opposite the Juneau Wharf and had been first on the scene when he looked out to see Smith and his gang confront Tanner and the boys. He remembers Reid’s revolver failing to fire three times, as Smith fired four shots into the surveyor. Then he watched Jesse Murphy struggle with Smith, trying to wrestle the Winchester away from him before he killed anyone else. In the process, Smith shot and killed himself. Well, enough people had remembered seeing Reid kill Soapy through the years to put into question one old miner’s 43-year-old memory.
Sundeen claimed no one else but him, Smith, Reid, Tanner, Murphy and Landers were on the wharf approach when the killing occurred. Further he claimed that Tanner, Murphy and Landers all agreed to lie to the officials to let Reid think he’d died a hero. Who knows, the story has a certain amount of credibility. I have tried to find record of what became of Jesse Murphy, but with such a common name, he disappeared after 1898. Certainly White Pass who employed Jesse Murphy had much to gain from the end of all the lawlessness in Skagway.
Here is picture of the schoolkids in 1906 in front of the school, no doubt Carrie, Lucile and maybe even Etta are here.
censuses; familysearch; Fairbanks Daily News.
The famous or infamous Frank Reid died on this day July 19, 1898, having been shot in the groin by Soapy Smith on July 8, 1898. He was born in either 1850 or 1844, but it was 1850 in the 1880 Linn County census with his brother, D.V.S. Reid. Both were born in Illinois. His grand-neice came to Skagway and said that the H. in his name stood for Harold.
Frank was a graduate engineer and a teacher in Linn County, Oregon District 29 in the 1870’s. In 1898 he came to Skagway and created the Map of Skagway which was adopted on March 6, 1898 by the City. He had worked with W. Thibaudeau to plat the streets.
Earlier, he had been a Lt. in Mart Brown’s Company of Oregon Volunteers.
Klondike Stampeders Register p80; Mission Klondike, Sinclair; phot above – Eloise Short and Kathryn Baker (right) stand by grand uncle Frank H. Reid’s monument during a visit to the Gold Rush Cemetery in 1990. Photo by Jeff Brady
Happy Birthday to Mr. Fielding, said to be one of Soapy’s cronies. He was born on this day April 26,1880 perhaps in Brighton, England. He was “captured” (after Soapy was killed) at Sheep Camp on the Chilkoot Trail and hauled back to Skagway.
He must have decided to stay in Juneau after that because he shows up in the World War One draft registration there. Here is a photo of some guys at Sheep Camp trying to hide Fielding under a pile of coats. Perhaps Jeff Smith has a photo of him?
Haigh p. 101; WW1 reg in Juneau
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.