18. Jeff Smith’s Parlor was soon relieving prospectors of their funds
Jeff Smith’s Parlor, supplied with liquor and beer via the steamers, was soon in full operation, though it lacked the glamor of Smith’s earlier gambling houses. But it had tables, alcohol, and rigged games of chance, which were all Soapy needed to revive his formerly dwindling fortunes. Smith’s men assumed the guise of legitimate citizens of Skagway, such as a minister or mining engineer. Newly arrived prospectors were welcomed, befriended, and invited for a drink at Jeff Smith’s Parlor. When they arrived, they found more friendly people to welcome them, and games of chance for amusement. There were thimble games, three card monte, and others which led them to lose their money.
Many, having lost their grub stake, were forced to return to the United States without ever reaching the gold fields. Soapy didn’t care, and again claimed that he was actually helping his victims. In his view, if someone was so stupid as to lose all of their money in Skagway they would certainly not have survived very long on in the gold fields. Then in 1898 news arrived of the United States going to war with Spain and Soapy revived his military aspirations which had been crushed by the President of Mexico. Soapy raised a company of militia, installed himself as Captain, and obtained the recognition of President McKinley.