August 20, 2009

Edward Lung's run-in with the Soap Gang

John and Frank Clancy's
original business card
(Jeff Smith col.)

Edward Lung exited the Cottage City in Skagway, Alaska 1898. It was his second trip to the camp, the first being late 1897, soon after its founding.

Now I was walking along a dimly lighted, crooked street. All at once, I found myself in a knot of men. One on either side grasped me firmly by the elbows.

"Say, Pardner," one of them said in a low tone, "saw you come in on the Cottage City. Now, wouldn't you like to join us in a little fun tonight? Meet the boys, play some games—and the girls—oh, la!la! they're dolls! You know, It's a long, hard trip to Dawson," said the other fellow persuasively, "and it'll be your last chance to really enjoy life for a while. Come on with us to Clancey's [Clancy's] Saloon. The drink's on is!"

While they talked, I was being expertly propelled down the street toward the saloon. In less than a minute, if I didn't do something quick, they'd have me inside, and, once there, it would be difficult to deal with them. So, with a sudden double twist of the elbows and a quick jerk, I freed myself and stopped short. "No, thanks," I said in a steely voice. "I don't drink or gamble and I have a fine wife at home. Besides, I know who you are. You're Soapy Smith's gang. You see, I'm not a green Cheechako like you think! I've been here before! And yes," I said as I leaned forward, scrutinizing one of the fellows closely, "remember me? Two months ago on White Pass? Yes, by golly! It was you who gave me that letter to deliver to Clancey's [Clancy's] Saloon. And it wasn't your fault I wasn't robbed of every speck of gold I was carrying! You dirty dog, you were sending me into a den of cutthroats and thieves ... and I've wanted to punch you in the nose ever since. ... So, here goes!" and as I spoke, I jammed my fist into his face and he went down in a surprised heap. (I confess, quite unexpectedly!)

Then I whirled on my heel, leaped out of the crowd before anyone could grab me and took off on a fast dog trot down the street...

(Black Sand and Gold by Ella Lung Martinsen, pp. 381-2.)


  1. Wonderful stuff, Jeff. this is the real-life thrilling days of yesteryear.

  2. Thank you Dave. I appreciate any and all comments, questions, or suggestions.


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