Her real name was Honora Ornstein born in 1882 to a prominent Jewish family in the cattle business in Butte, Montana. She stood about 6 feet tall and sported a diamond stuck in her front tooth, hence the nickname.
Diamond Lil had a “Luxury House” in Skagway. “But Diamond Lil was a courtesan in the fullest sense of the word, only entertaining the obviously rich clients who could pay handsomely for what she had to offer. Nevertheless she was fully entrenched in ‘the world’s oldest profession.’”
After the rush, Lil moved to Seattle where some accounts say she opened another house of ill repute and others say she took a job scrubbing floors.
She was married several times but died at the ripe old age of 93, in June 1975 in Yakima, Washington of insanity (probably dementia).
Seen above, she makes chubby look good.
Martinsen; Allen p 336; Klondike Stampeders Register; Yukon News online
Ok, two more good citizens duped into investing hundreds of dollars in the “Evanston Klondike Gold Mining Company”. The so called promoter convinced both George B. Winter Jr., a successful grocer and Dr. Josiah Jones, a physician and surgeon, both of Evanston Illinois to give him the money up front to purchase supplies and set up camp for them. He was also supposed to help them stake gold claims. When they arrived in Alaska, the promoter and their money was no where to be found. Shocking!
Seen above is their camp at Sheep Camp.
BL Singley photo of 1898 Univ of Fairbanks; Evanston directory 1897
Vinta and Marcus Phelps came to Skagway around 1908. They had at least 6 kids here, one died as an infant, one drowned in Icy Lake, and William died at Normandy in World War two. William was born in Skagway in 1917 and died on this day, August 3, 1944. He received the Purple Heart and is buried at the Normany American Cemetery at Colleville sur Mer, France, seen above. His mother Vinta died a few months later and is buried in the Skagway Pioneer Cemetery with her husband and children.
Genealogytrails.com; Skagway Death Record; 1910, 1920 and 1929 censuses.
The New York Times of March 22, 1898 reported that a black prostitute had shot and killed a laboring man at the entrance to her cabin in the saloon district in Skagway. According to the captains of the Alki and the Hueneme the murder started as a result of trouble which began early on Monday evening over the disappearance of the man’s watch.
Apparently nothing was done to investigate this, but on May 28, 1898 – only two months later, Ella D. Wilson, a black prostitute or laundress, was strangled in her bed and her belongings stolen. Her house was on Holly Street, the same neighborhood. Perhaps the murder of Ella Wilson was simply retribution or frontier justice for the earlier murder. Although it was widely rumored that she had $3000, it is highly unlikely that a poor black prostitute could have amassed that much money. Even the high priced call girls made little money. Anyway I will check the local newspapers and see if there is a connection….
Dahl; Skagway death/coroners inquest and probate record