April 6, 2011

Was Skagway attorney. John G. Price an associate of Soapy Smith's?

Newspaper ad in the Skaguay News.
(Click image to enlarge)

Marlene McCluskey over at the Skagway Historical Society blog posted some previously unknown (at least to me) information on Skagway attorney John G. Price, a possible associate of Soapy's

Marlene writes,

John Garland Price was born on this day, April 4, 1868 in Iowa. He became a lawyer and came to Skagway in August 1898 from Rico, Colorado. He married Maybelle Dent here on February 14, 1899 and later that year had a daughter Alma or Ruth, but she was born in Oregon. They had 4 children altogether: Alma/Ruth, Rachel, John Jr., and William who died in infancy.

John G. Price was a member of the Arctic Brotherhood and wrote "The Arctic Brotherhood" in the Alaska-Yukon Magazine in April 1905. He worked for the Price & Stevens Law firm and was a lobbyist in 1899 to Washington D.C. He retired to Washington state where he died in 1957 on Mercer Island.

According to Ashley at the ArcticBrotherhood blogspot, he was a supporter of "home rule". Seen above is a demonstration in front of the old Elks Hall (which burned) of folks protesting for "home rule".

1902;family chronicles GR part website;

There is no solid evidence that Price was associated with Soapy, however, he did associate with men who did. In Alias Soapy Smith, The Skaguay Real-Estate & Investment Company on McKinney Street (5th Avenue today) next door to the post office,

... was another operation believed to have been under Jeff’s control. J. Allen Hornsby, Arthur H. Bryant, and John G. Price operated the office. Their advertisement read,

Real estate bought and sold, houses to rent, business chances, investments made for non residents, special attention paid to the care of property placed in our hands. Mining properties bought and sold & examined. Headquarters for quick cash sales. References, all the prominent men in the city.

Both of Price's partners were associates of Soapy's. Skaguay property often illegally changed hands. As in Creede, Jeff made the most of property protection rackets. Hornsby was on Jeff’s payroll, and Price is believed to have been Skaguay’s first attorney. Assumed is that Jeff used his services from the very start. Of special note is the line “investments made for non residents.” The wording suggests that residents should stay clear of this firm, it being an unwritten but often professed practice that the Soap Gang worked principally on out-of-towners.

John Price: page 480, 521.

Jeff Smith



  1. So glad to find this info online. JG Price was my great grandfather. Truly fascinating to learn more about this family history.

    John Davidson

    1. Hi, John. Thanks for commenting. Do you have any photos or mementos from John? Would be happy to do a new post about him if you do.

      - Jeff

  2. Hi Jeff, Sorry for the long delay. I don't know of any photos or other memorabilia. My grandfather (also John) used to tell me stories about my great grandfather who was nicknamed, "Gampu". He also told stories about Soapy Smith, but we're talking 45 years ago. I will be on an Alaskan cruise soon and we will be in Skagway September 2nd. I'm hoping to see some good history while there for the day.


    1. Hi, John. Better late than never. Please feel free to contact me any time if you remember something, or if I can help you in any way.

      Jeff Smith


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