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Cathy Spud
George Rice
Sun Nov 13, 2011 10:39am

I just came across this passage as I was editing the William Bigelow testimony of April 1, 1898:

Q. You stated that you went over to Skaguay on the 27th of June with some pack horses, where from?
A. Dyea.
Q. Did you own the pack train?
A. I owned a half interest in them.
Q. Who owned the rest?
A. Geo. L. Rice.

[Source: National Archives, Record Group 49, Records of the General Land Office, Townsite Files, Skagway Townsite, Price et al. vs. Bernard Moore, William Bigelow Testimony, March 31 - April 1, 1898, p. 33).

Bigelow was a scout and packer who had worked in the area on and off since 1889. He knew the people and the area very well.

George Rice founded the Pack Train Saloon in the very earliest days of the gold rush. This saloon was eventually acquired by Chris Shea and Fred Patton. George Rice was a Juneau entrepreneur who invested in several different kinds of establishments throughout Alaska and the Yukon. I've seen advertisements for saloons, restaurants, and hotels from Skagway, Juneau, Dawson, Nome and other, smaller towns. His brother was Jake Rice. As I mentioned earlier, I believe both the Clancy Brothers and George Rice had established territorial "possession" of Skagway and Dyea before Soapy Smith set foot on the scene. This testimony establishes Rice as an investor in Skagway BEFORE the rush started in late July 1897. This passage shows that he was backing at least one of the packers who were working both of trails BEFORE the rush started.

It would have been difficult for Smith to compete on an equal footing with men like Clancy and Rice with their upscale gambling halls, opera houses and saloons. I believe that is why he kept to working the con games on the street corners and trails (an area in which Clancy and Rice did not want to venture) and did not open a very small "snug, cozy" saloon until mid-May, and that with the Clancy Brother's permission. Rev. Sinclair states that when he first saw Soapy, the man spent most of his time hanging around street corners.



  • Thank you. (nm)Jeff Smith, Sat Nov 12 10:17am
    • George Rice — Cathy Spud, Sun Nov 13 10:39am
      • Pure opinionJeff Smith, Mon Nov 14 8:42am
        Of course you have every right to your own ideas and thoughts Cathy. I do find it amazing how much you seem to gather by reading between the lines without any hints. You wrote, "It would have been... more
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