December 15, 2015

Klondike Saloon token sells for ...

First saloon in Skagway, Alaska
One historian believes the man standing is Frank H. Reid.

(image: San Francisco Chronicle, August 21, 1897)

Hammers to highest bidder for $680.00!

Oh how I would have loved to have this token, but it is just a tad over my budget. I will have to be satisfied with having a digital one.

The following is from Alias Soapy Smith,

Another saloon in which Jeff is believed to have had a controlling interest was the Klondike. Located in a tent near the northeast corner of Broadway and McKinney (5th Avenue), it was advertised under the proprietorship of Ira Coslet [sic?] and Ward. By the end of December they moved the saloon to a two-story structure at the corner of Broadway and Holly (6th Avenue today) and added “Music Hall” to the name. A December 31, 1897, Skaguay News advertisement billed the Klondike as “the largest and best equipped place in Skaguay,” with “Scotch and Irish Whiskies, fine wines and all the leading brands of cigars.” It had clubrooms for gambling and furnished rooms upstairs for lodging. A dance hall and theater were connected with free entertainment every night.
Frank Reid is believed to have been a bartender at the Klondike when it was only a tent, and that this is where Jeff and Reid first met. On July 8, 1898, Jeff fired the rifle shot that eventually killed Reid.

Soapy Smith is believed to have had a connection to the Klondike Saloon, perhaps even owing an interest. He could have taken an interest of the business as part of a protection racket or by attaching his gambling business. Considering that the Klondike was the first saloon in Skaguay (now spelled Skagway), it is reasonable, at the very least, to assume that he met and knew owners Cosslett and Ward. It is likely that Soapy centered his gambling activity around the saloon. Old timers in Skagway claimed that Soapy held an owing interest in the Klondike. Frank H. Reid, one of the vigilantes who shot Soapy during the gunfight on Juneau Wharf, worked as a bartender at the Klondike Saloon, and this is probably where Soapy and Reid met.

The token (side A)
The Klondike Saloon
Cosslett and Ward

The image at the top of this post shows two men next to the Klondike Saloon. I would guess that these are Cosslett and Ward, the proprietors. However, author M. J. Kirchhoff believes that the man standing is Frank Reid.

Skaguay News man E. J. Stroller White reports of one shootout that took place at the Klondike Saloon. His account is published in Alias Soapy Smith, pages 441-42.

One night a man was killed in the Klondike Saloon and the stranger who did the shooting fled to the street, pursued by a crowd of enraged friends of the deceased.” White had been sleeping underneath the printing press in The News building when five shots were fired after the man “just as he passed the printing office.” Two of these hit the sidewalk, but three flew into the building. The next morning White secured “several sheets of boiler iron with which to surround” his sleeping area.

The token (side B)
There's always "the other-side-of-the-coin."
Cosslett and Ward

Klondike Saloon: pages 439, 441, 456-57, 531.

It was not generally known how many were included in Smith’s gang. Dr. Whiting and Keelar, the “Money King,” later compiled a list of the roughnecks who were supposed to have belonged, and both those men were in a position to judge fairly well. There were 192 names on their list, all of them suggestive of the underworld and many of them unprintable. The sobriquets range from “Soapy” Smith and the “Lamb” to “Moon Face Kid,” “Slim Jim,” “Blackjack Doctor,” “The Queen,” “B. S. Jack….”
—Clarence Andrews
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 564.


1791: The first ten amendments of the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, are ratified by the state of Virginia.
1815: Jane Austen's Emma is published.
1854: The first street cleaning machine is put into operation in Philadelphia.
1863: The first U.S. bank robbery is committed by lone postal employee Edward W. Green, who held up a bank in Malden, Massachusetts.
1869: Deputy John Thomason and three other men surround the Samuel family farmhouse in Clay County, Missouri in search of outlaws Frank and Jesse James. The men are in hopes of collecting a $3,000 reward for the brothers but they are not there.
1877: The Dodge City Times of Dodge City, Kansas reports that “Sheriff Bassett has been appointed by Mayor Kelly to assist Marshall Ed Masterson in preserving order and decorum in the city.”
1877: Thomas Edison patents the phonograph.
1880: Outlaw Charles Bowdre states in a letter to J. C. Lea of Fort Sumner, New Mexico Territory that he is running and is thinking about turning Billy the Kid over to Sheriff Pat Garrett in return for his freedom.
1881: Charles Earl “Black Bart” Bowles robs the Downieville-Maryville stagecoach four miles from Dobbins, California. At the conclusion of the robbery he leaves behind an unusual calling card: a poem.
1883: Marshal Henry Brown kills gambler Newt Boyce in Caldwell, Kansas.
1890: Chief Sitting Bull, Indian leader of the Hunkpapa Teton Sioux, is killed by Indian police at his home in a remote corner of the Standing Rock Reservation in Grand River, South Dakota along with 11 other tribe members, allegedly while resisting arrest.
1901: Outlaw and Wild Bunch member Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan is captured in Jefferson City for the shooting of Knoxville policemen William Dinwiddle and Robert Saylor.


  1. According to Frank Reid’s testimony in an April 1898 deposition, he arrived in Skaguay July 28, 1897 to help a Mr. Hilts of Juneau tend his bar. As this illustration of the Klondike Saloon was sketched only a week or two later, it’s much more likely that it is Reid who is portrayed in the illustration rather than Coslett & Ward, who had not yet acquired the business. Source: Montana Dawn website, Reid testimony.

    1. There is no existing paperwork for the owners of these early saloons, nor when Coslett & Ward had proprietorship. The name of "Hilts" may very well have been an error on Frank Reid's part.

      The Montana Dawn website (Cathy Spude) is well-known for changing facts and leaving out important information that Cathy does not personally agree with. Caveat Emptor!

  2. I agree with your Caveat Emptor. Still, the Alaska Mining Record of July 10, 1897 reports R.J. Hilts and several other men going up to Skaguay to check on business propositions, and the July 24 issue reports them returned from Skaguay “favorably impressed.”

    1. I'm not saying that R.J. Hilts didn't exist. The information is certainly worthy of saving, but it is not safe to assume that just because Reid mentioned "Hilts," that Hilts is connected to the Klondike Saloon. If you plan to use any of Cathy Spude's information then I strongly recommend that you double check all of the sources. It would not be the first time that she inserted unexisting or deleted existing text from sources.

  3. How about this then? The Skaguay Daily News of November 19, 1897 reported that R.J. Hilts had retired from the Klondike Trading Company effective November 10. A week later, on November 26, the paper reported the Klondike Saloon “owned and operated” by Cosslett & Ward.


    1. The Klondike Trading Company was not the Klondike Saloon. Remember that history is missing a whole lot of information in regards to early Skagway. There is a reason it was called a "camp." Few of the merchants were keeping records because they did not know it would turn into a permanent town.

      The SDN reporting on the Klondike Saloon is more than likely an ad, than a notice of opening. Cosslett & Ward may have owned it from day one.

    2. Cosslett & Ward may have owned the Klondike Saloon from day one, but that’s only speculation. The first concrete evidence of their ownership is in November.

      Meanwhile, multiple sources cite Juneau businessman R.J. Hilt’s activity in Skaguay’s earliest days, and as mentioned above, Reid said that he worked for Hilts as bartender at his saloon starting in late July. In the illustration being discussed, the Klondike Saloon sketched in early August, a man that shares Reid’s distinctive mustache stands in front of the tent. Reid was supposed to be there, and he said he was there, and even you in your above article state: “Frank Reid was believed to be a bartender at the Klondike when it was only a tent.”

      Nothing is certain, but the preponderance of evidence suggests to me the mustached man to be Reid rather than Cosslett or Ward. You may disagree, but that’s what makes history fun. Please add to this thread if you ever come across any additional evidence that Cosslett & Ward were in Skaguay by early August.

      Adios from a blog fan.


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