Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday Western - Shanghaiing


As I start "stewing and brewing " the next historical western, I've begun researching.

The book is going to start in the most notorious shanghai city in the U.S. -- Portland, Oregon. There have been some television westerns who had people shanghaied in San Francisco, but Portland was the longest running and more notorious for shanghaiing than anywhere else on the West Coast.

The unsuspecting farm boy, logger, or out-of-towner who was lured to the dock by the saloons, gambling dens, and bawdy houses could wake up indentured to a ship headed to China or ports around the world.

Crimps were men who owned boarding houses that would give sailors a place to eat and sleep when they ran out of money and were waiting for a job. Some planned to go back on ships, some looked for better paying less harmful work. Running up a tab with the boarding house owner, also known as a crimp (the Dutch word krimp means a holding tank or pen for live fish),  would get them back on any ship where the captain pays the crimp the tab and then the sailor has to work to pay the captain back. More times than not, the Captain would pay them much less than they were owed.

Many captains would find a crimp and pay them for ten men. If the crimp didn't have ten men in his house, he would go out and either get able bodied males drunk and passed out or knock them out in alleys and haul them to the ships and dump them.

A crimp could receive a bonus of $30 - $90 for supplying strong men to the ships. the was called "blood money". In some instances blood money could go as high as $120.When the price was this high the Boarding house operators would work together to "gather sailors."

Shanghaiing had the crimps prowling the streets looking for strangers to knock out and dress up as sailors and dump on ships for money. Many were naive young men who were befriended then drugged. The prostitutes even got in on shanghaiing. They pulled in young, strong men to their "crib" and while "servicing" the man would knock them out with chloroform.

Shanghaiing had lessened in San Francisco by the mid 1890's but picked up in Portland at that time. There were even international incidents with the governments of France and Great Britain.



23 comments:

Rose Gorham said...

I found that very interesting, Paty. Thanks.

Gerri Bowen said...

I remember watching TV shows that involved Shanghaiing, Paty. It was very scary then and still scary now. Hard to imagine people would do that, but they did. Very interesting post.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Rose, Glad you enjoyed the post.

Hey Gerri, I can't imagine the thousands of able bodied men that were set to sea to pay off debts they didn't owe or because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Thanks for stopping in.

Gem Sivad said...

Hi Paty. Fascinating information. I'm sure all the "stewing & brewing" will polish it into another great book. :)

Paty Jager said...

Hi Gem. LOL I hope so! Thank you for stopping in and the kind words.

VICKI BATMAN, said...

very interesting, Paty!

Rain Trueax said...

I researched this awhile back for my third Oregon historical and found a lot of what you did. There are tours of the Portland underground which I have yet to take; but until I researched it, I had no idea what went on here and for how long. The internet is a wonderful source.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Vicki! Glad you enjoyed the information.

Hi Rain. The underground tour is the next step I need for the book I'm writing. The info I put on my blog I found in two books I purchased over the weekend at Powell's.

Katalina Leon said...

Wonderful post Patty!

Ella Quinn - Romance Novelist said...

Great post, Paty. I had know idea there were so many people involved.

Alison E. Bruce said...

Like many people, I thought of San Fransisco for shanghaiing and Seattle for their underground town. Portland is a lot more interesting than I imagined.

Paty Jager said...

Thank you, Katalina!

Hi Ella! Thanks! It was a huge thing. Next week I'll write about the corrupt police department and their hand in the trade.

Hi Alison! Yes, Portland is actually pretty notorious for many things. It has just been a well kept secret!

Sarah J. McNeal said...

On a ship or in port, life must have been mightly perilous for young sailor. Well, I'm interested in how this research ties into your next WIP. Want to tell us about that?

Paty Jager said...

Hi Sarah, So true! The research I did said that a sailor's job was the most dangerous at the time and they were paid the least for their work. That's why bodies were shanghaied because no one wanted the job!

My next project is a book that will continue the Halsey Series in a way. I'm going to write a trilogy with the three young men that are brought into the Halsey folds by marriage or circumstance. The first book, Jeremy Duncan, Darcy's brother (Marshal in Petticoats), will be shanghaied while awaiting a ship to go to Alaska. Only someone he befriends will help him get free.

That's all I have to say. ;)

Cathy Mansell said...

Hi Paty,
I found your post interesting and full of intriquing information.

Cathy

Paty Jager said...

Hi Cathy! Thanks!

Sarah Raplee said...

As always, I learned something new from your post, Paty. I've been thinking of including this practice in a future book. You've given me some directions to go to dig deeper into the subject.

Paty Jager said...

Thanks Sarah! Glad I could be of help. I figure if I put all the time in to researching I'm sure there is someone else who might be interested in the info I dredge up.

Vonnie Alto said...

You're a quick study Paty. I can see you thrive on research. And shanghaiing is such an interesting topic. I'm glad you're focusing on local history. Oregon has such a rich past for historical romance. I can't wait to read your book!

Paty Jager said...

Hi Vonnie, Most of my books are set in Oregon or the Pacific Northwest. It's what I know and find the history fascinating. Thanks for stopping in!

Lyn Horner said...

I had no idea Portland was so notorious for shanghaiing. Very interesting, Paty.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Lyn! It was notorious for many things.Shanghaiing was only one!

bn100 said...

That was fascinating to read

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