This woman’s history is complicated so I will make a stab at it.
Violet Denizen was born in Marysville, Iowa in 1876. Her first marriage was to Mr. Allman and she changed her first name to Iowa. Her second marriage was on March 2, 1903 to J. S. Harding, a “mining man” in Wenatchee, Washington. It must not have worked out because she went back to her first married name of Iowa Allman. She apparently came to Skagway either in 1897 or soon after her marriage to Harding, and purportedly worked as a prostitute when she met the eminent Thomas Marquam, an Alaska Republican politician. See earlier blog on him:
Iowa, or Violet, died on February 21, 1917 at the age of 41 in Seattle. Her name then was Iowa Marquam, so presumably she married Marquam somewhere in there. Or she just used his name.
The picture above must have been taken between 1910 and 1913 because it says her name is Mrs. Iowa Marquam. In the 1910 census she was living with Thomas Marquam in Fairbanks as Iowa Allman. If she married, it would have been after that. One of the fellows pictured is Andrew Jackson Maiden who died in 1913, I believe.
From left to right they are Andrew Jackson Maiden, Hans Matson or Madsen, Albert Henry Mayo, Mrs. Iowa Allman Marquam, William “Bill” McPhee and James “Jim” Bender. These were old timers or Pioneers of Alaska who the Marquams were enterttaining.
Mae Field was born in Ramsey County Minnesota in 1873. Her birth name may have been Mary Lavinia Sullivan born June 20, 1873 in Ramsey but I can’t be sure. In any event, she was quite famous in the north. When she married Arthur Daniel Field in Hot Springs, South Dakota in 1897 she had already been married and divorced. Arthur was ten years older and had some wealth derived from bootlegging and brothels. The couple decided to go to Dawson to mine. They were able to get their mining equipment over the Chilkoot Trail, but lost most of it in Lake Lebarge in a storm. Arthur staked claims and got a liquor license, just in case the mining did not work out. Mae decided to return to balmy Minnesota for the winter. When she got to Skagway the only boat available was the somewhat dubious “Georgia” which she decided to take, despite no one else taking the chance. Her luck held, but on returning to Minnesota, her mother told her to go back to her husband. So she did. After many adventures and working as a nurse, a babysitter, and a dancer. She later had a rooming house, but she always seemed to live well and have money. She moved to Vancouver in 1911 after her husband left her and the Mounties found her in bed with an unmarried man. (Hmmm) Although they were never able to prove she was a prostitute, the Canadians imprisoned her for six months and told her to leave the country. She eventually settled in Ketchikan where she was living in the 1940’s helping the Sisters of Mercy, orphanages, friends and the poor.
Seen above, Mae Field during her Dawson days.
Good Time Girls of the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush by Morgan; Rebel Women of the Gold Rush by Mole; familysearch.
George Johnson was born about 1875 probably in Alaska. He was a packer to the railroad camps along the White Pass line in 1898-1899. He was described as being half Native.
On January 2, 1899 May Burke witnessed the shooting of George by Jesse Rounds, a prostitute at White Pass City because George was harassing her.
(This location, along the White Pass route about half way to the top of the pass, is now owned by the National Park Service, but there have been no plans to do anything with the area.)
Six months later, May Burke was arrested at the Summit for “disturbing the peace”. Apparently these railroad camps were lively places.
George died on this day, January 4, 1899 and is buried in the Gold Rush Cemetery.
A wild Discouraging Mess, page 70; Skagway coroners inquest
Happy birthday, December 19, 1859 or 1861, to Dr. Hornsby, surgeon for the White Pass Railroad, editor of the Daily Alaskan and member of Skagway City Council. Unfortunately he was also a friend and likely co-conspirator with Soapy. In the coroners report for Ella Wilson, the black woman who was murdered by strangulation in her bed, Hornsby’s report said the death was “unintentional” and the case was forgotten in all the excitement of the day. He also apparently failed to publish an account of the Stewart robbery, no doubt at Soapy’s request. After the death of Soapy, the town “rounded up” various supporters and associates. To quote Hornsby: “I was sent out of Skagway in a most arbitrary manner. The United States Commission said there were no charges against me, but that he had no power to combat the citizens’ committee that had put me on the boat at the point of loaded Winchesters.” In any event, he left and went to Eagle and then back to Chicago where he became superintendent of a hospital, then on to Washington D.C. where all good scoundrels end up. He appears to have died in 1939 at the age of 80.
Seen above are the 10 members and friends of Soapy that were rounded up. I don’t know which one is Dr. Hornsby, but I would guess it is the guy in the center saying to toss your eggs carefully (this doctored photo was used in 2008 for our Egg-Toss).
-Jeff Smith page 574 in “Alias Soapy Smith”;Haigh p.89: The book of Chicagoans by Albert Nelson Marquis online
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
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
Mr. Verbauwhede was born in 1850 in Wareghem, Flanders, Belgium. His family, wife Nathalie and three kids came to Skagway in 1898 from Portland Oregon. His store which sold candy and cigars is still standing on Broadway and is owned by the National Park Service which leases it to Klondike Tours.
The photo above is of the other two cribs which he owned around the corner in “French Alley” between 2nd and 3rd off Broadway. The young lady pictured is not related to the family, she was a tenant.
Frederick and family stayed here until 1904 when they decided to go back to Europe and landed in Roubaix, France. His grandson, also named Frederick Verbauwhede still runs a casino in Normandie.
Frederick Verbauwhede died on this day, November 12, 1933 in Roubaix, France, he was 83.
1900 census;1902 directory;family chronicles Gold Rush participants website; descendant in France.
Nicknamed “Fighting Tom,” he was elected to represent Republicans from Skagway and Haines at the 1900 territorial Republican convention in Juneau. He lost his bid to become Alaska’s delegate to the National Republican Convention, but represented Haines as a witness before a U.S. Senate subcommittee investigating conditions in Alaska in the summer of 1903.
Tom Marquam came to Skagway with some lawyer friends in 1897 to follow the gold rush as his father had done in 1849 in California. He met a young woman, possibly a prostitute, here and married her. She died a few years later and he then married another prostitute named Ray Alderman pictured above with President Harding.
In 1923, when it became obvious that Dan Sutherland, Alaska’s delegate to Congress, was at odds with the president and would not escort Harding on his visit, Tom happily volunteered to do it himself, with his bride at his side. Harding, a man of the world with a mistress of his own, appreciated the mayor’s pretty wife. He invited the Marquams to accompany him in his private railroad car, and Tom’s appointment as ambassador seemed assured until Harding died less than three weeks later.
Tom Marquam’s death on November 23, 1931, at age fifty-seven was not well explained. One newspaper reported he had died of a heart attack; another referred to several operations and a long illness. There were rumors that he had been murdered and it was also suggested that he had committed suicide in a fit of depression over the still unsettled charges against him.