May 15, 2016

Denver's mega election fraud of 1895

he more things change, the more they stay the same.

   When I published Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel in 2009 I had plenty of information on Soapy's involvement in the Denver election scandal of 1889, as it is the most famous, considering Mayor Wolfe Londoner, the Chief of Police, Bat Masterson and many more, were implicated with fraud and corruption. It also made Soapy Smith's empire the recognized leader of Denver's criminal underworld in newspapers all-across the nation. I know that the '89 trial did not put an end to political corruption in Denver but I had little idea the future scandals were equally well-known, at least in the newspapers. I thought that the criminal underworld adapted to better hiding tactics, but newspaper coverage of the 1895 elections proved that wrong. I am equally surprised about how much the Rocky Mountain News was able to uncover. I uncovered and copied these stories several years ago and am just now getting around to them. It's very fascinating stuff.
   The election fraud machine was so powerful that honest officials, if there were any, were powerless to do anything for fear of not only their positions, but their political positions, and perhaps their very lives as well. The police, the sheriffs, the district attorney, the grand jury, were all aware what was taking place, and did nothing. Minus a few reported ballot box thefts I researched since my books publication, this one article shows that little had changed since the corrupt were first caught in 1889. The following clipping was published in the Rocky Mountain News on April 6, 1895.


Political Pull Will Protect Election Thugs.


Lawbreakers Brag About controlling All Legal Machinery from the Grand Jury to the Sheriff’s Office—A List of Names Which the Purblind Prosecution Is at Liberty to Use—Circumstantial Statement of Places Where Crooked Work Was Carried on—Number of Times Each One Voted.

    District Attorney Whitford “doesn‘t know” anything about the ravished ballot boxes in the Third and Fourth wards last Tuesday. Members of the police board “don't know,” the grand jury has been dismissed for the term, and the district attorney has informed the court that there is nothing more to bring to the attention of that jury. The thieves and thugs who voted dead men's names have, many of Them, left the town, and the remainder are still being harbored in Denver. There may be some connection between their continued residence in the bottoms and the nightly prowlings and thieveries which are being committed in the residence portion of the city.   It begins to look as if the assertion made at the repeaters‘ headquarters in Dick Carberry‘s saloon by the criminals protected by the authorities that “we have the police board, the prosecutor, the jury wheel and all the spokes" is about correct.

Time to Escape.

    Notwithstanding the dense ignorance prevailing at the city hall, Soapy Smith is retailing with a great deal of satisfaction, "how we did it,” the gambling houses are running as in the palmy days, and the element that the snivel service reform police board pledged it would wipe out, is having things all its own way in Denver just at present, and to honest citizens a very bad way it is.
   There will not be another grand jury until the April term convenes, and not then unless the court is informed by the public prosecutor that it is necessary to have such a jury in attendance. If the action of Greeley W. Whitford is awaited in the premises there will be plenty of time for all the hoboes who assisted by voting dead men’s names in making possible the "glorious victory" last Tuesday, to escape to greener fields, if there are any such pastures in the country just now for the sand-bagger and the thief.
   No action has been taken by the police department, the detective department, the sheriff's office, the prosecutor’s office or any department of the city or county whose duty it is by law to apprehend and punish criminals, to know anything at all about the repeating that Smith and his gang are making merry over. The farce of the transaction is not apparent to the dozen citizens in the Fifth precinct of the Third ward, to the men in the Sixth precinct of the same ward, as well as the Fourth, who found when they reached the polls that their names had been voted by prize fighters and toughs. Some people have no sense of humor.

Record of Repeaters.

    At the repeaters‘ rendezvous, the following record is given out lawlessness, and the men who did the repeating have been paid by the money of the corporations on the basis of having done this "work:”

1—Billy Mahan, pugilist, voted thirteen times.
2—Billy Lewis, pugilist, voted twenty-two times.
3—Jimmy Lewis, pugilist, voted twenty times.
4—Kid Lewis, pugilist, voted seventeen times.
5—"Dutch,” expressman, voted nineteen times.
6—Ed Train, alias Mayberry, voted twenty-one times.
7—Jack Verome, machinist, voted six times.
8—Billy Lerou, blacksmith, voted three times.
9—Dan Closkey, painter, voted four times.
10—Ike Meyer, bartender, voted three times.
11—John Davis, brakeman, voted five times.
12—Lon Brown, brakeman, voted four times.
13—Billy Ketchin, fireman, voted seven times.
14—Jerry Black, calciminer, voted two times.
15—Joe Martin, clerk, voted two times.
16—Pat Mullene, driver, voted two times.
17—McLeod, “tout,” voted six times.
18—Evans, “tout,” voted three times.
19—Berkley, "tout," voted four times.
20—Robinson, “tout," voted six times.
21—Ed Smith, no occupation, voted eight times.
22—Sam Zeigie, no occupation, voted three times.
23—John Ricker, no occupation, voted six times.
24—Mike Reynolds, no occupation. voted seven times.
25—Dave Patterson, gambler, voted eleven times.
26—Claud Hilder, gambler, voted five times.
27—Baxter, gambler, voted four times.

    All the parties above named were of those who were assigned to vote electors’ names on Larimer street, at the Windsor hotel, on Arapahoe street and in Jimmy Doyle’s own Precinct on Sixteenth near Market.
   Of course the list is incomplete, but the district attorney, who “doesn’t know,” might with diligence add to the number of those who are now known to have committed election day crimes. Diligence is necessary, as the perpetrators of the outrage have, many at them, already left the city with the “swag” which they received for this day's work.

The list of names contains only one recognizable name, that of Ed Smith, probably the boxer "Denver Ed" Smith, a pugilist working for Soapy. Known for his boxing history, but known to Soapy fans as having had an altercation during the Logan Park riot in 1889. The odds increase a tad as there are four other "pugilists" listed.

"Denver Ed" Smith: pages 50, 89-90, 97, 271, 275.

I never talk much about Jeff Smith. He was the warmest hearted man I ever knew and writers … always get things mixed and paint up the bad side of his career. He never threw down a pal. I never talk about him except to warn young persons from gambling. Never gamble, if you would respect yourself. It makes you treacherous and spoils friendships. If you will let vice alone and put your energies in other directions you cannot fail.
—Henry “Yank Fewclothes” Edwards
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 592.

MAY 15

1602: Cape Cod is discovered by Bartholomew Gosnold.
1862: Congress creates the Department of Agriculture.
1863: Osage Indian warriors kill Confederate officers at Drum Creek, Kansas.
1872: The Sante Fe Railroad reaches Wichita, Kansas.
1872: Buffalo Bill Cody tracks and kills four Indians who committed depredations near North Platte, Nebraska.
1876: “Snowshoe Thompson,” the famed skiing mail carrier of the High Sierras dies. He is Norwegian born, Jon Torsteinson who changed his name to John Thompson and became famous in 1856 when he delivered mail between Placerville, California and Carson City, Nevada on skis in three days carrying a sixty pound sack of mail. He continued the same route for 20-years.
1880: Three settlers are killed by Apache Indians at Kelly's Ranch, New Mexico Territory.
1882: Doc Holliday is arrested in Denver, Colorado at the request of an Arizona peace officer and charged with the murder of Florentine Cruz. The Governor of Colorado refuses to extradite Holliday to Arizona. It is believed Holliday met Denver underworld boss Soapy Smith during this period.
1883: With permission from the Mexican government U.S. troops attack Chato's camp, Sierra Madres, Mexico.
1887: A large funeral is held for Ponca Indian Chief Wasiki in Arkansas City, Kansas.
1895: Soapy Smith and his younger brother, Bascomb are arraigned and charged with assault to kill Arcade saloon propreitor John Hughes. Upset, Soapy goes on a drinking binge with gunfighter and Soap Gang member, Joe Palmer. They were, in the words of the Denver Times, “as jolly as a pair of pirates.” Soapy was arrested twice that day for carrying a gun.
1911: The U.S. Supreme Court orders the dissolution of Standard Oil Company, ruling it is in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

May 3, 2016

I was at the opening dedication of Jeff. Smith's Parlor...sort of.

Long time friends
l to r: Matthew Ruff, Stephanie Garcia, Jeff Brady, Allison Hays,
Jon Baldwin,
Arlo Ehly, Katelyn Lauria, and Ashleigh Ricci
That's me in the frame
Photo by Donna Clayson
(Click image to enlarge)

 was there, I tell ya!
 Dedication opening of Jeff. Smith's Parlor. 

My good friend Donna Clayson from Whitehorse, Canada and I had planned to finally meet in Skagway for the opening dedication of Jeff. Smith's Parlor. She wanted me to meet 94-year-old Tom Clark, the great-grandson of John Douglas Stewart, the miner robbed by the Soap Gang, which directly led to Soapy's demise. But alas, life always seems to get in the way and I found myself waiting for a personal matter to end before I could free my finances for such a trip. That personal matter should have ended in December of 2015, but here I am May 2016 and still waiting. As a counter measure, Donna worked with the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park and the City of Skagway to see if there was anything they could do, but times are tight all over. Donna decided that I was going to the dedication ceremony, one way or another. That another meant bringing me to Skagway, in spirit, via a framed photograph. I was naturally disappointed in not being able to attend, but amazingly, seeing people holding my photograph as Donna snapped photos, really helped in making me feel like I was a part of the celebration. It warmed my heart. I owe Donna a great deal of gratitude for bringing me to Skagway.

The following day she sent me the photographs in the following email.      

Hi Jeff

Attached are photos of the dedication from yesterday in Skagway (April 30 2016).

It was a cold, raining, windy day but the weather did not detract from the wonderful job the Parks did in bringing in this very special day. There was a crowd huddled under the tent to listen to the speeches. Everyone signed up for a tour that started at 5:00 to 9:00 pm, only around 8 or so at a time. The very informative lady from Parks toured us through 3 rooms full of memorabilia including the last room that held a Sitka deer (not really, just a white tail or such with its legs shortened), two moose tangled but the horns did not belong to those moose. The taxidermist did a wonderful job. There was also a strange looking wolf and a moose skull with growths on the antlers and had lit up eyes. Lol

After the speeches and during the tours the Red Onion hosted a party atmosphere with music and lots of food for all.

There is a photo of Tom Clark, great-grandson of Soapy's last victim, J. D. Stewart.

As you can see in the photos your framed picture was very prominent throughout.

There was also an argument after the speeches between 'Soapy' and 'Frank Reid' culminating in both of them being 'shot'. I am waiting for Ben Hayes to get me the names of those involved and will send them once I get them.

Ben Hayes was very helpful. As well, I had numerous people ask me whose photo I was carrying. I had your name and relationship to Soapy written under your photo and pretty much everyone that was there now knows what you look like.

Ben would like you to keep in touch and let him know when you will be visiting. He will give you a personal tour of the parlor.

It was a wonderful day Jeff. Ben was saying he wished you had been there but not enough time to organize it. Well, my opinion? M-m-m-m, okay then.

All the best Jeff, Donna

Following for the photographs Donna took. Click the images to enlarge them for better viewing.

The dedication ceremony
Klondike Gold Rush
National Historic Park
Photo by Donna Clayson 
Photo by Donna Clayson

"Ladies" of Skagway
attempt to lure-in Jesse Murphy
Photo by Donna Clayson

Soapy Smith (Jon Baldwin)
Photo by Donna Clayson

Soapy's demise
(Jon Baldwin)
Photo by Donna Clayson
Superintendent Mike Tranel
Photo by Donna Clayson

Frank Reid's wounding
(Jeff Brady)
Photo by Donna Clayson
Jeff Brady
Photo by Donna Clayson

Soapy, Frank, Jesse
Photo by Donna Clayson
Leaving Reid to center stage
Photo by Donna Clayson

Good friends and I
Photo by Donna Clayson
Soapy and Ranger Ben Hayes
Inside the Parlor
Photo by Donna Clayson

Martin Itjen's
Woman in the restroom
Photo by Donna Clayson
Gambling machines
Inside Parlor
Photo by Donna Clayson

Faro and wheel of fortune
Inside Parlor
Photo by Donna Clayson
Locked Horns
Battling Moose
Photo by Donna Clayson

Side lot of Jeff Smith's Parlor
Photo by Donna Clayson

Side lot.
At last mention
Martin Itjen's "street
car" will go on display
in this lot.
Photo by Donna Clayson

Tom Clark
of John Stewart

Photo by Donna Clayson
Rangers and I
Jeff Smith's Parlor
Photo by Donna Clayson

Thank you very much Donna for allowing me to "be there!"

Donna Clayson framed me!
photo by Bob Cameron
(Click image to enlarge)

To round out the series of photographs Donna Clayson took, I am adding a few that Whitehorse author Bob Cameron tookaldwin as Soapy and Matt as Jesse Murphy. But the real star of the day was 93-year-old Tom Clark, the grandson of JD Stewart, the last man robbed by Soapy Smith's gang. Jeff Brady, of the Skagway News interviewed Tom Clark, the great-grandson of John Douglas Stewart, the miner that fell victim to the Soap Gang, which directly led to the shootout on Juneau Wharf. I will publish a link to that story and interview when it becomes public. Thanks to Bob for arranging the interview and bringing Tom Clark down to Skagway for the big event.

Tom Clark and Soapy Smith
Inside the Parlor
Photo by Bob Cameron
The dedication
Photo by Bob Cameron

Shootout on 2nd Avenue
Jeff Brady and the Day's of '98
recreate Soapy's demise
complete with Jesse Murphy's
killing of Soapy.
Photo by Bob Cameron
Day's of '98
Photo by Bob Cameron

Tamar Harrison and Tom Clark
at the Red Onion Saloon

Photo by Bob Cameron
Jeff Brady and the cast of
Days of '98
At Soapy's bar in the Parlor
Photo by Klondike Gold
Rush National Historic Park

Soapy Smith
A unique shot

Photo by Sean Daniels

Skagway's fourth grade
received the first official
public tour
Photo by Klondike Gold Rush
National Historic Park

Matthew Ruff as Jesse Murphy
The man who actually killed Soapy
Great to see my research accepted.
Photo by Donna Clason

Inside the Parlor

Photo by Klondike Gold Rush
National Historic Park

Soapy could sell aluminum siding to people with brick homes.
—Glenn Hester


1568: French forces in Florida kill hundreds of Spanish soldiers and civilians.
1802: Washington, the District of Columbia, is incorporated.
1855: Macon Allen is the first black-American to be admitted to the Bar in Massachusetts.
1873: Manuel Fernandez is the first in Arizona territory to be legally executed, for the murder of Mike McCartney, a Yuma store keeper.
1882: President Chester Arthur threatens martial law due to lawlessness in Cochise County, Arizona Territory.
1888: Florence, Arizona Sheriff Peter Gabriel, shoots and kills Joe Phy, an ex-deputy. Both men had been drinking in a saloon previous to the fight. Although wounded in the groin and chest, Gabriel recovers and is exonerated on grounds of self-defense.
1888: Thomas Edison organizes the Edison Phonograph Works.
1889: Thirty Denver, Colorado policemen raid the cities red-light district with 110 warrants.

April 14, 2016

Soapy Smith's saloon fully restored! (pics)

Jeff Smith's Parlor restored

Courtesy of NPS/B. Hayes
(Click image to enlarge)

estoration is complete!
Jeff. Smith's Parlor to open April 30, 2016

     Since December 2008 Soapy Smith fans have awaited the restoration and reopening of one of Skagway, Alaska's most famous buildings; Jeff. Smith's Parlor! The date is April 30, 2016. I had originally planned to attend but a few of life's little "pop quiz's" kept me from going. I would like to try to make up there this summer.
     I have been up to Skagway, Alaska a number of times, the first time in 1977 with my parents, brother, aunts and one uncle. I was 18 years old. Although I was semi-interested in Soapy, that trip forever ingrained him into my life.

(l to r) Soapy, the author, Dorthy Smith (my mother), uncle Joe, aunt Thelma
Author's collection
 (Click image to enlarge)

Seeing the Parlor in 1977 somewhat different from what visitors will see today. First off, it's a whole lot cleaner! Everything has been carefully and lovingly restored. George Rapuzzi won't be giving the tour like he did for us. The old Soapy manikin worked via Ford motor parts built by Martin Itjen before 1941. Visitors opened the front door and Soapy's head turns towards the door and his eyes light up. At the same moment his left arm raises a mug of beer in a toast of welcome, as seen in the photograph above. Visitors today will see the manikin, but it will not operate for fear of further wear and tear.

Courtesy of NPS/B. Hayes
(Click image to enlarge)

(l to r) Thelma Smith, Joe Smith, George Rapuzzi, Dorthy Smith, Soapy
Author's collection
(Click image to enlarge)

Slot machine and artifacts
Courtesy of NPS/B. Hayes
(Click image to enlarge)

Dorthy Smith with slot machine
Author's collection
(Click image to enlarge)

Soapy Smith manikin, 2016
Courtesy of NPS/B. Hayes
(Click image to enlarge)

Soapy Smith manikin, 1977
Author's collection
(Click image to enlarge)

(l to r) Joe Smith, Thelma Smith, Greg Smith, Dorthy Smith, Joy (Smith), Soapy, the author
Author's collection
(Click image to enlarge)

If you plan to visit Skagway and see Jeff Smith's Parlor, do know that you will have to reserve a tour! There are more fantastic photographs of the restored Parlor, the collection within, the artifacts, the manikins (three total), the taxidermy wolf and Two moose lock horns in combat, at the website for the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. A new window will open when you.


Restoration of Jeff Smith's Parlor
(Note: this link will open a new window that contains at least 25 posts. They are not in chronological order. Be sure to scroll).  

"When the recording angel makes up his ledger with Jefferson (Soapy) Smith, there will be innumerable works of charity to be recorded in his favor."
Leadville Herald Democrat
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 591.


1775: The first abolitionist society in the U.S. is organized in Philadelphia with Ben Franklin as president.
1828: The first edition of Noah Webster's dictionary is published under the name American Dictionary of the English Language.
1860: The first Pony Express rider arrives in San Francisco with mail originating in St. Joseph, MO.
1865: President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated in Ford's Theater by John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln dies the following day.
1873: The “Easter Blizzard,” a three-day storm kills many settlers in Kansas, Nebraska and southern Dakota Territory.
1874: Alferd Packer, the lone survivor of the Packer party, makes it to the Los Pinos Indian Agency, near Sagauche, Colorado Territory. Packer told a story of men quarreling and killing each other and of eating human flesh to survive.
1884: Bob Cahill kills outlaw Buck Linn in El Paso, Texas, over a misunderstanding that Cahill had killed Bill Raynard, a partner of Linn’s. Linn came crashing into the gambling hall firing four poorly aimed shots. Cahill's first shot went through Linn’s stomach and shattered his spinal column and the second lodged in Linn's heart.
1894: First public showing of Thomas Edison's kinetoscope.
1902: James Cash Penney opens his first retail store in Kemmerer, Wyoming. It is called the Golden Rule Store. Later stores would be named J. C. Penney.