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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Tue., Jan. 28, 2014

From our archives, 100 years ago

Dutch Jake Goetz, Spokane’s mining-gambling-hotel impresario, found himself utterly besieged in Chicago by people who wanted to relieve him of his millions.

He was in Chicago to get married to the former Isabella Sweeney when a Chicago reporter wrote a story that said he was worth $10 million to $15 million. Soon, Dutch Jake had received “scores of communications,” many addressed only to “Dutch Jake, Multimillionaire,” all asking for financial help.

“It is said that there are 150,000 unemployed persons in Chicago, and the articles in the daily papers set them all on me,” Dutch Jake said.

“Many of them were so insistent that friends advised me not to go out alone after dark.”

He said the hotel lobby was “besieged with newspaper reporters and photographers the whole time we were there, and they made life a burden.”

He said he wished he could find the reporter who wrote the original story and set him straight.

“No matter how hard I tried to convince them I was not a millionaire, but just plain Dutch Jake of the Coeur d’Alene Hotel, they would not believe me,” he said. “And when I told them I had to borrow enough money to get to Chicago, they laughed at me.”

For good reason. The idea that Dutch Jake had to borrow money to get to Chicago was just as laughable as the idea that he was worth the unfathomable sum of $15 million. The truth was no doubt somewhere in between.

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