Grave Marker's of Soapy Smith

(l to r) Cleve Hall, Mr. Ransonj and Charles Nourse, of the Canadian Bank of Commerace poses by Soapy's grave, August 12, 1901. Note the revolver in his right hand.

Since his death in July of 1898 the grave site of Soapy Smith has gone through at least 5 grave markers. Why so many? They were stolen, shot at, blown up, vandalized and replaced. Each marker has it's own unique story. If only they could talk.

The first marker

This is the first grave marker. This photograph was probably taken by Rev. R. M. Dickey in July of 1898. It was replaced or stolen sometime after 1901. Note that there is no difference between this marker and the one at the top of this page. This marker seems to have remained undamaged between 1898 and 1901, whereas the later markers received more than their fair share of graffiti. Considering that Soapy Smith was very unpopular after his death and anyone in the least association with him was kicked out of town, there is a question as to why this marker's font was so much fancier than the fonts on all the other graves in the gold rush cemetery of the same period. This marker may have possibly been on the grave as late as 1917.                                                                                 

The second marker

This is the second marker. Placed on the grave between 1901 and 1917. There are hundred of carved names that were etched into this marker while it stood over Soapy's grave. One of the markings has a date of 1917.

This marker was probably on the grave in 1919 when a massive flood washed Soapy's body out to sea. The marker was possibly found and placed back on a site as close to the original gravesite as possible. In 1927 Harriet Pullen received $50 from Tom Kearney asking that she fix up the grave. She had a nice marble headstone made and exchanged it for the wooden marker, which she placed on display in her hotel along with other Klondike gold rush memorabilia.  It resided in Harriet Pullen's  hotel museum. It was sold in auction in 1973 to the Smith family, and is in possession of the Jeff Smith collection.

The third marker

This is the third marker.
The marble headstone paid for by Tom Kearney and placed there by Harriet Pullen in 1927. Martin Itjen became the graves caretaker starting in the 1930s. There were several postcards showing this marker as it appears to the right and later with a metal cage over it. This marker became target practice for vandalism and gun practice.

Marker #3 (inside a protective cage)

This is believed to be the above marker (#3) encased in a protective wire cage. Note that the lettering matches the locations of the one above. The letters are dark, so perhaps they may have been painted. A postcard of this marker had a postmarke of June 21, 1954 so we know it was up in that year. It is believed this marker was eventually blown up with dynamite.

 The fourth marker

This is the forth marker. The date of it's manufacture and maker is unknown. It was made of metal with a wood border and then a wooden post and metal pipe fence was placed around it.

Looking just below the pipe closest to the photographer you can see the bottom portion where marker #3 was originally located.  

July 8, 1974 (first annual Wake)

The forth marker in 1974 at the very first annual Soapy Smith Wake, in poor condition and ready for replacement.

The fifth marker

The fifth marker is actually a reproduction of the second marker. Jeff Smith photographed and measured the second marker in his possession, believing it was the first marker and James Richards of Skagway had the copy made. It was placed on the grave in 1997.


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