Paty Jager: Shanghaied

My current release is called Western Duets-Volume One in the novella are two historical western romances. One, the longest, has the subject of shanghaiing. This is a subject that has always intrigued me since watching episodes of Bonanza and the Big Valley that had characters being Shanghaied.

I thought it was only done on the Barbary Coast. Until I started doing my research and discovered the most notorious shanghai city was in my own state.

Portland, Oregon was the longest running and most 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 (where the name shanghaied came from) 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 men planned to go back on ships, while others had dreams better paying, less harmful work.  While staying at the boarding houses they ran up tabs.  The crimp (the Dutch word krimp means a holding tank or pen for live fish), would use this tab against them. When a captain of ship came around he would pay the crimp the man’s tab and extra to put the man on his ship. The man had to work to pay the tab he now owed the captain. Once he worked to pay off what the captain paid for him then he would online pokies draw wages at the lowest pay scale. It would be quite likely, the captain would pay them much less than they were owed. Since many of the men who ended up as sailors had little learning and couldn’t keep track of what they owed or was owed them.

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. This 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.


Western Duets- Volume One

Western Duets is a novella with two historical western romance short stories.

Shanghaied Heart
Tossed together in the underbelly of a ship, strangers Finn Callaghan and Prudence Hawthorne must learn to trust one another in order to escape, but their freedom may be short lived once Finn discovers Prudence”s brother wants her dead.

Last Stand for Love
U.S. Marshal Chas Brown agreed to be Sarah”s proxy husband in order for her to keep her dead husband”s ranch. Little did Chas know, he’d lose his heart in the process.

Available at:   Windtree Press       Kindle            Nook

One lucky commenter will receive an ebook copy of Western Duets.


Award winning author Paty Jager is a member of national and local writing organizations. She not only writes the western lifestyle she lives it. With sixteen novels and several short stories published, she continues to have characters cavorting in her head.

You can learn more about Paty at her blog;  her website; or on Facebook;!/paty.jager , Goodreads  and twitter;  @patyjag.

©2013 Paty Jager

Birthday Bash! Today through June 30th the first book of my spirit trilogy, Spirit of the Mountain, a paranormal historical romance set among the Wallowa band of Nez Perce is available in ebook for $.99.  It”s my birthday gift to readers. Enjoy!
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24 thoughts on “Paty Jager: Shanghaied”

  1. Such an interesting post Patti. Thank you. I’ve seen old movies about people being shanghaied but didn’t know the origin of the term ‘blood money’.

    I would love to be entered into your giveaway. Thank you.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  2. Paty, what an interesting post! I always learn something new from your posts. I didn’t realize that Portland, Oregon was the most notorious shanghai city. Both stories in Western Duets sound very interesting and I am looking forward to reading them.

  3. Hi Cindy W., My curiosity when writing a book/story always gets me digging and finding interesting information.

    Hi Becky! Thank you! I always learn something new when I research. And then I like to pass it on to readers.

    Hi Victoria, Thank you! I like to drop in history and unique details into my stories.

  4. Paty, it’s great to have you join us around the campfire today. Such a treat when you visit. I love both of your novellas. They sound like something I need to read. The cover is very special.

  5. Thank you so much for the “Birthday gift.” I look forward to reading it. We will be in Idaho this summer and have trips to several Nez Perce sites planned. I always read books that tie in to the places we visit, so this is perfect.

    Both stories in your Western Diets sound good. I never knew all the details of the shanghai business. I assumed it took place in many port cities, but didn’t realize Portland was such a large center. Thanks for the information.

    I see you are on the agenda for RomCon. I look forward to meeting you there. Let us hope the fires don’t get any worse. The fires last year were heartbreaking and this year’s are already worse. We are taking our grandson on a big western trip, and so far, fires are in 4 places we plan to visit. It was also the case last time we traveled in the area.

  6. Fascinating stuff, Paty. I have a character in an earlier book who get shanghaied on the Barbary Coast. It makes a fun story element.
    Your stories sound wonderful. Thanks for being our guest today.

  7. Patty this was great information.. It was amazing how many young men were brought into servitude like this.. I love books about the Barbary Coast, but I did not know that this happened as far up the coast..
    Thanks for sharing your info on your books..

  8. Welcome, Paty!!! What a great post. I knew the British Navy “impressed” men into duty, but I had no idea it was done in the US as well. If you’re a 24 fan did you see the episode when Jack Bauer was Shanghaid on a boat going to Shaghai???

  9. I thought this practice was just in San Francisco also. Your book sounds very interesting. I will have to look for it.

  10. Very interesting! I love it when given the opportunity to learn something new! Will be looking forward to read Western Duets!

  11. Shanghaiing sounds so scary! It’s hard to believe that it used to happen so much. I’d love to read this book! Thanks!

  12. Linda, It’s great to be back. Thank you! My daughter designed the Duets cover.

    Sherri, There were just as many dangers back then as there are now it would seem.

    Gerri, Now-a-days it is human trafficking. I think I’d take being shanghaied over that.

    Thanks D’Ann!

    Patricia B., It will be fun to meet you at Romcon. I’m glad my book being on sale fits into your reading needs.

    Hi Elizabeth! It was the Barbery Coast that I’d heard of and was excited to learn it would work in one of my stories.

    Hi Kathleen, You’re welcome. When I learn interesting historical facts I have to use them in stories.

    Hey Danita. I know, you keep telling me that! LOL But I have so much on my plate right now, I’m content with the short story.

    Melissa, That is the worst part besides working long hours with little to no pay.

    Hi Renee, I haven’t watched 24. But I could see where it could happen today. There are a lot of homeless that could be picked up and used without anyone looking for them.

    Thanks Goldie. I hope you enjoy the stories when you get the book.

    Thank you Emma!

    Connie J., That’s my favorite thing about writing historical. Letting others know the information.

    Thanks Heidi!

  13. That’s great historical information and I didn’t know about shanghaied. Thank you for sharing this history. Please enter me in your giveaway.
    Barbara Thompson

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