October 21, 2008

Skaguay Military Co. ribbon...careful.

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On February 15, 1898 an immense explosion sank the American battleship Maine while anchored in Havana Harbor, Cuba, as a warning to Spain's occupation of that country. At the time the explosion was blamed on Spain although in reality it was more than likely the cause of a boiler rupture. War was declared and the Spanish-American war gave Soapy the opportunity to raise an all volunteer army in Skagway, Alaska.

Soapy was elected captain of The Skaguay Military Company and had official recognition from the War Department. There will be much more detail in my upcoming biography.

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On May 1, 1898 Skagway held a huge May Day celebration and Soapy paraded his new army around Skagway. He had special ribbons made up and sent one to his wife in St. Louis. When the Soapy collection was split up my uncle Joe ended up with that ribbon.

For decades I searched antique shows, yard sales, swap meets and even advertised once, hoping to run across an original Skaguay Military Company ribbon. On October 21, 2008 I found what at first I thought was the original ribbon on eBay but looking closer I realized it is a fake. It can't be called an authentic reproduction because it does not look like the original even though the seller advertises it as such.

I thought you should know in case you happen to run across it and pay big money for an item that was probably given away as a souvenir in Skagway. If you wish, you to view the eBay auction HERE.

Jeff Smith

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