“Ya’ wanna’ see Fitzhugh Lee — Soapy Smith’s famous eagle?”


Fitzhugh Eagle

My dear friend Jeff Smith sent me this wonderful photograph of the Eagle that was given to Soapy Smith and displayed in back of Jeff Smith’s Parlor. It was the origin of the Alaskan phrases “I’m goin’ to see the eagle” and “I’m goin’ to show him the eagle” the former meaning I am going to relieve myself, and the latter meaning “I’m going to mug this stupid Cheechawko.” Both referred to the space out back where men went to pee behind the saloon, and also to where Soapy’s men would supposedly mug folk with a poke. Probably not true, since Soapy wouldn’t allow much of any disrepute, including gambling in his “headquarters.”

Here is what Jeff says:

“The photograph was taken by Rev. John Sinclair on July 4, 1898 just before the parade.

“The float, a freight wagon, holds a large wire cage containing the live American bald eagle given to Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith.

Behind the wagon a man holding a large American flag will be followed by Soapy’s private army, the Skaguay Military Company, in which Soapy is Captain. The small boy dressed as “Uncle Sam” is the 9-y…ear-old son of Soapy’s business partner John Clancy. The wagon rests in front of Soapy’s saloon, Jeff Smith’s Parlor (far right). The white and grey horse between the Parlor and the wagon is Soapy’s. He will be riding the same as the fourth division marshal of the parade, but Soapy manages to force his way to the front of the parade, becoming the unofficial grand marshal.”

–Jeff Smith

You can find out much more about Soapy Smith, the “King of the Frontier Con Men” by the website of his great-grandson and biographer, Jeff Smith at http://www.soapysmith.net/

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Posted on September 5, 2011, in Alaskan Gold Rush, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You’re welcome, friend Jeff!

    Like

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