August 1, 2009

Soapy Smith like crimes?


The following is from, Alaskan Magazine and Canadian Yukoner, March 1900 (Vol. 1, No. 1.) Alaskan Canadian Yukon Mining News, Page 305.
An outbreak of lawlessness reign in Nome. Desperadoes have turned themselves loose and are committing burglary and larceny right and left. It has all happened within the last week. The gang seems to be organized and to work under the direction of a new "Soapy Smith" under other name. It works in one part of town one night and in another part the next. Tents are entered and the money and watches of the occupants taken while they sleep. There have been altogether about one hundred cases of this kind. One man was caught red-handed in the act but his "pal" escaped. He was knocked down with a piece of firewood. The commotion aroused the neighbors, and a squad of soldiers passing by to relieve the guard of the first part of the night saved him from being lynched by the angry crowd. Robbers even enter private rooms and dwellings with skeleton keys and go through the clothes of the sleepers. Much worse than burglary happened to a lone woman in a tent last Sunday night. Robbers cut into her tent, chloroformed her, took what money and gold trinkets she had, and then abused her while she was still under the influence of the drug. The next morning the poor woman was almost insane.

Last night soldiers raided a saloon called the " Montana." which had been quietly kept under surveillance by Captain French, provost-marshal. for some time. A regular "fence" for stolen goods was found in a tent back of the saloon but in the same enclosure with it. Every description of stolen articles was found in the tent, from gold watches to rockers used to work the beach sands. A man named Kulling, who is suspected of being the mainspring of the "fence," was arrested and his bonds fixed at $2,000. He is still in the guardhouse. The proprietor of the saloon was warned but he was not arrested. Within a radius of one hundred feet of where I sit writing, a man in a tent was robbed of $15, his watch and a steamship ticket to Seattle, which he had bought the evening before, and another man connected with the Minnesota-Alaska Development Company was relieved of $170. Soldiers are making arrests wherever the act is justified, but the policing of the camp seems unable to keep up with the wholesale and rapid pace maintained by the lawless element. The people are greatly aroused and a lynching is expected any night, of the first man caught. A man was knocked down on the beach last night and his money, only $10, taken away from him. Another man was found a few days ago near the North American Trading & Transportation Company's store with his head crushed in and his body half covered with debris. There is no clue to his identity.

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