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Kate Carmack

Kate Carmack’s Tagich First Nation name was Shaaw Tláa. Her parents were the head of the Tlingit crow clan and a member of the Tagich wolf clan. When she was a young woman, she married George Carmack, a prospector from California. In 1896, George and Kate were with Skookum JIm and Dawson Charlie when they discovered the gold that led to the Klondike gold rush. Stories vary, but some say Kate found the gold herself.

 

After the strike, the men were all wealthy, but Kate was not entitled to a claim because she was a woman. George took her to the States, but she was unhappy with city life and they moved to a ranch in California. George deserted her in 1900, and married another. Unhappy and unable to get her share of the gold, Kate and her daughter went back home, settling in Carcross, Yukon where Kate stayed for the rest of her life.

 

A great reference to learn more:

Gold Rush Women by Claire Rudolf Murphy and Jane G. Haigh

 

Soapy Smith

Jerfferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith was a con artist who traveled throughout the West. His nickname is from the confidence game in which he promised there were five dollar bills around certain bars of soap. Customers bought the soap hoping to get one of the bars with the money wrapped around it, but somehow that never happened and he walked away with all the money.

 

Soapy arrived in the Gold Rush town of Skagway, Alaska in the fall of 1897. His saloon and extortion of local businesses financed his gang and their scams. Eventually, Skagway’s law-abiding citizens had enough, and they organized to get rid of him. He was killed in a scuffle in the summer of 1898.

Good reference for more info: see Alaska Geographic: Skagway: A Legacy of Gold

(also listed here in the Schoomarm’s Library)

I love to share my passion for Alaska and its history in my writing for young adults and their grown ups.

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