July 23, 2008

Descendant of Deputy Marshal James Rowan, killed in Skagway

Hi, Gang.

I never ceased to be amazed at who finds our website and writes in. Today was no exception. The great-grand-daughter of U.S. Deputy Marshal James Mark Rowan wrote me looking for information on him. Rowan is the lawman shot dead along with McGrath by bartender John Fay on February 1, 1898 in Skagway, Alaska. The vigilante "Committee of 101" gathered up a mob to hang Fay but Soapy hid Fay while he and his men held off the unruly mob at gunpoint. Fay was eventually promised safe passage and handed over to the U.S. Commissioner to be taken to Sitka to await trial. Soapy was in favor of law and order. As it turns out the court system actually worked to his advantage because it was so slow. Most miners were not willing to wait around for a trial and thus the Soap Gang got off more times than not.

Please welcome Renee Rowan,

Hello Mr. Smith,

My name is Renee Rowan and I am the great granddaughter of Marshal James Mark Rowan. I have reviewed your website and was wondering if you had any information about my grandfather, James Mark Rowan and his mother, Bernie Rowan.

It is my understanding that after the killing of my great grandfather, Soapy Smith saved John Fay from being lynched by the townspeople. It is also my understanding that due to the circumstances and his desire to maintain whatever control he had in Skagway, Soapy Smith established some kind of financial aide for Bernie Rowan and my grandfather.

I have been tracing my family tree and have not been able to access information re: Bernie Rowan. It is my understanding that she may have given her son to the Catholic Church. I would imagine that it was very difficult for a woman, with a small child, to make a life in Alaska, during that time.

I am currently in touch with many individuals in Skagway, as well as with the US Marshals, to gain information re: James Mark Rowan, the great grandfather and the grandfather.

I hope that you can assist me in my search, as you may hold information in primary source documents that will provide my family with information.

Renee Rowan

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Thank you for leaving your comment and/or question on my blog. I always read, and will answer all questions left here. Please know that they are greatly appreciated. -Jeff Smith