A Gambler's Wedding


Whenever or wherever a miner appeared at Dutch Jake's bar with a pokeful of nuggets, he quickly helped to dispose of the hoard in ways highly satisfactory to his gambling instinct.

"Dutch Jake” Goetz was a large man, boisterous, and an outgoing gambler.  His reputation was one of the most reckless, indifferent, and big hearted men that ever rode a mule or mare.

So his marriage to Louisa Knuth was one of the best publicized events in the wild mining town of Eagle City in 1884.  Louisa came from his home area, Germany, to wed and live in this reckless unlawful frontier town filled with rowdy miners.  

The wedding was announced in the Murray Times, which ran an advertisement inviting everyone to attend both the ceremony and feast.   Notices were posted on trees along the trails.  Jake’s best friend and business partner, Harry Baer, was scheduled to furnish the supper, a feast which he intended to be so good it would bring the prospectors out of the hills like woodrats.

Louisa demanded a proper wedding.   The wedding had to be delayed a few days until Louisa’s trousseau arrived from the East. 

The big day appeared.   Chinese lanterns flickered from ropes stretched the length of three blocks along which the wedding procession passed on its way to Union Hall, parading to the music of “Marching through Georgia” played by a brass band. 

Jake had a live and let live attitude toward clergymen.  He classed them along with lawyers and doctors as persons to be avoided - except in cases of extreme need.   For the wedding there was such a need.  In Eagle City resided only two justices of the peace, each fully capable of performing a marriage ceremony devoid of flummydiddle.

To save hard feelings, Jake decreed the toss of a dollar would decide which justice should tie the nuptial knot.  That done, the winner retired to worry out the best ritual he could invent without recourse to religious sources.

Owning to the inexperience of Justice Klein, the ceremony limped at times.  However, His Honor came through with the essentials.

“Jake” he queried, “you do promise to dake Louisa all your lifes and dake care of her and do shust as you would be done by, so help me Got?”

WHEN Jake had replied with a sturdy affirmative and Louisa had followed with her “Yes”, Justice Klein came to a relieved ending.

“Now, Jake, shust put the ring on her finger hand and you got her”.

The feast was attended by everyone for miles.  It lasted for three nights and two days filled with food galore and barrels of drink.   It was a wedding never matched again.

When Jake and Harry Baer – and of course Louisa – arrived in in Spokane Falls four years later, they had cleared $200,000 in the booming and bust frontier town of Eagle City, running the most rootin-tootin saloon ever operated in this wide open early mining town.


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