Alaska · Graves

Man shot and killed after stealing miner’s gold

July 8, 1898
Skagway, Alaska
Jefferson “Soapy” Smith is shot and killed after conning a miner out of his gold

Smith, a con-man, gangster, and saloon proprietor, had convinced a miner to play a classic con-game of three-card monte. Smith managed to swindle the miner out of $2700 (approximately $80,000 today) of gold which the miner refused to hand over, likely realizing he had been swindled. Subsequently, Smith and his gang grabbed the sack of gold and ran.

A group of men rallied to retrieve the stolen gold, but Smith insisted he had won the gold “fairly.” An argument ensued and a gunfight unexpectedly broke. Smith and one of the men who came to retake the gold, Frank Reid, fatally shot each other. Smith’s last words were “My God, don’t shoot!” before being instantly killed by a bullet through the heart (he also was struck with a bullet to the left leg and left arm near the elbow, which may have proven fatal had the bullet to the heart missed its target). Reid was struck in the leg and groin, and died from his wounds 12 days later. The three members of Smith’s gang left alive were given jail time for their part in the theft.

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