January 26, 2015

Grand Central Hotel, Denver, Colorado, 1879

Grand Central Hotel
circa 1880-82
courtesy of Denver Digital Collections








he OTHER Grand Central Hotel.






Back on December 18, 2014 I published a post on the Grand Central Hotel, which is where Soapy was first witnessed as being in Denver in 1879 as he once testified. It is also the first recorded instance in which Soapy performed the prize package soap sell racket. At the time I published the first article I did not realize that there were two locations showing the Grand Central Hotel. Because of a 1901 photograph, I originally, thought that the hotel associated with Soapy in 1879 was located on the north-east corner of Seventeenth and Blake Streets.


Close-up crop
showing the Rocky Mountain News
courtesy of Denver Digital Collections

On eBay I came across an early business card for the Grand Central Hotel, listing the address as "Lawrence and Seventeenth," three city streets south of Blake and Seventeenth. I do not believe they were operating at the same time, rather the original proprietor (Howard Chapin) closed the one at Lawrence and a new proprietor (M. D. Van Horn) opened on the s.w corner of Blake and Seventeenth. It is a matter of correcting my mistake so future researchers do not repeat the error.


Business card for the Grand Central Hotel
















December 18, 2014










Grand Central Hotel: pages 34, 37, 88, 114.





A man's mistakes are his portals of discovery.
—James Joyce



JANUARY 26


1784: Founding father Benjamin Franklin expresses unhappiness in a letter to his daughter that the eagle was chosen as the symbol of America. He was in favor of using the turkey.
1802: Congress passes an act calling for a library to be established within the U.S. Capitol.
1837: Michigan became the 26th state to join the Union.
1861: Louisiana secedes from the Union prior to the Civil War.
1864: Outlaw “Whiskey” Bill Graves, a robber said to have been a member of the Henry Plummer gang, is hung by vigilantes in Fort Owen, Montana Territory.
1870: The state of Virginia is readmitted to the Union.
1875: Pinkerton operatives arrived at the Missouri farm of James-Samuel in the early hours of the morning. The west side of the family’s cabin was set on fire and a bomb was thrown into the north kitchen window. Although Dr. Samuel was able to extinguish the fire the iron orb exploded, killing his 8-year-old son, Archie, and severely mangling his wife, Zerelda’s right arm. It still is not clear if Frank and Jesse James were at the farm at the time.
1875: George F. Green patents the electric dental drill.
1876: Indian Chief Sitting Bull attacks the civilian post of Fort Pease, Montana Territory, located near the mouth of the Big Horn River.
1877: The Weatherford and Fort Worth stagecoach is robbed by the Sam Bass gang getting about $400-500 from the passengers. Soapy Smith would later witness the shooting death of Sam Bass in Round Rock, Texas.
1882: Charles Earl “Black Bart” Bowles, robs the Ukiah-Cloverdale stage six miles out of Cloverdale California. At the conclusion of the robbery he leaves behind an unusual calling card: a poem.
1883: “Big Ed” Burns, member of the Soap Gang, is arrested in Denver, Colorado.






January 18, 2015

Soapy Smith and the American Institute Fair of 1897.

The American Institute Fair
New York 1897









t is known that Soapy Smith

traveled around the western states following fairs and expositions from which to operate, in his early career as a confidence man. Records show he visited Washington D.C., and his cousin, Edwin Bobo Smith, in early November 1897. Afterwards, he traveled to New York, and was there in early December as well. Soapy was obviously traveling around the eastern seaboard states, and he had a small band of his gang with him. As big as New York is, and was, I am betting that he went there several times, operating short-cons (games of chance), and then leaving the city, to keep from being arrested as he surely feared being extradited back to Denver for missing his court dates in the assault charge stemming from his attack on John Hughes of the Arcade saloon. His younger brother, Bascomb, was serving a one-year sentence, so there is little doubt that Soapy would see time in prison as well.

If I am correct, it seems logical that Soapy went to New York, to make some money ("business before pleasure"), before going to see his cousin. If that is the case, then he was most likely in New York during the final weeks of the American Institute Fair, that ended November 3, 1897. It would have been the perfect place to go for swindling tourists and out-of-townees.   

The American Institute Fair was a technological exposition held annually in New York beginning in 1829. The last one closed in 1897. The American Institute was founded "for the encouragement of agriculture, commerce, manufactures, and the arts." The fair is sometimes referred to as the first world's fair in the U.S., but on a much smaller scale, attracting about 30,000 attendees per year. It was held at Niblo's Garden in New York before being moved to the Crystal Palace in New York. The card above advertises it being held at Madison Square Gardens.

The American Institute Fair
circa 1845
(Click on image to enlarge)


"At these fairs were displayed the finest products of agriculture and manufacturing, the newest types of machinery, the most recent contributions of inventive genius...[the fairs] served a two-fold purpose: that of playing the part of demonstrator to the public and that of furnishing an incentive to the exhibitors, both through competition and through the desire to win the very liberal awards and premiums."
— F. W. Wile, A Century of Industrial Progress, New York, 1928.

The American Institute Fair
1891










At scheduled intervals the Guards would exercise a neat maneuver and fire a volley into the air as Jeff would lift his hat and acknowledge the plaudits of the crowd. It was Soapy’s greatest hour.
— Rev. John Sinclair
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 522.



JANUARY 18


1778: English navigator Captain James Cook discovers the Hawaiian Islands, which he names the Sandwich Islands.
1803: President Thomas Jefferson, in secret communication with Congress, seeks authorization for the first official exploration of north America by the government.
1836: Jim Bowie arrives at the Alamo in Texas to assist the defenders during the Texas Revolution.
1862: The territories of Arizona and New Mexico are admitted into the Confederacy.
1864: The trial of Christopher Lower, David Renton alias "Doc Howard," James Romain, and Billy Page for the murder of Lloyd Magruder begins in Lewiston, Idaho Territory. Lower, Renton, and Romain are believed to have been members of the outlaw gang “the Innocents."
1872: The Grand Ducal Ball in Denver, Colorado Territory is held in honor of Russian Grand Duke Alexis.
1880: Sometime in June Soapy Smith’s father moves himself and his children, minus his deceased wife and living son, Jefferson (Soapy), to Belton, Texas.
1896: The x-ray machine is exhibited for the first time.





January 15, 2015

Soapy Smith, the Owl Club and Spokane, Washington 1889-1897.

The Owl Club
1898 sheet music (March and Two-Step)
"Dedicated to Doc Brown of Spokane Wash."






n Alias Soapy Smith I wrote

about Soapy traveling to Spokane, Washington. The details of his time there are sketchy and have not been fully explored as of yet. It is a part of Soapy's life that still remains a mystery. I originally thought this would be a short, quick post, but I kept finding myself needing to research for answers, and those answers created more questions. I am discovering that rather being just a nice place to wait for the Klondike gold rush to begin, Spokane held more importance to Soapy than what was originally known. 

The first mention of Spokane, at least within my book, comes from a letter, written in 1887 by close-friend John Taylor, which indicates that Spokane was a worthy location to operate in. Nearly two years later in 1889, Soapy, according to a letter to his wife, Mary, was headed there, but an assassination attempt on Soapy, while at the train station in Pocatello, Idaho, may have cut the trip short. He let his wife know that a letter would reach him there, but according to a grandson (my father, John Randolph Smith) Mary hurried to be at her husband's side, probably in Spokane, where she unsuccessfully tried to fix his bullet perforated mustache. There are no known records of his activities there in 1889.

On October 17, 1889, forty-eight days after leaving for Spokane, Soapy was back in Denver. Why did Soapy go to Spokane? Apparently, it was one of the many wide-open (little interference from the law) towns across the west that was positioned around mining camps. He is known to have had allies and friends there, such as early Fort Worth friend, Charlie E. Pratt, who owned a vaudeville theater called The Louvre. After leaving Spokane in 1889 there is no record of a return visit for nearly seven years.

On June 2, 1896, on a return trip from Alaska, Soapy registered at the Butler hotel on Second and James streets, in Seattle. For two months he traveled between Seattle and Spokane. A newspaper in Spokane gives hint of the bunco men working their fair city.

The fame of Spokane is spreading and as a result during the last week a dozen or more noted confidence men have struck town and in a quiet manner have commenced to ply their vocation. They are all said to be “slick” individuals and while as yet have made no effort to capture any large game have been quietly laying their wires so to do. As yet they have confined their attention to working outside saloons, but with the big crowd that will be here this week to attend the races these gentry will no doubt try to do some bigger business. The police have them spotted and if they attempt to try any “funny business” they will at once be arrested (Spokesman Review 06/23/1896).

A letter of response from George Mason, the famed gambling equipment supplier, indicates that Soapy was running games of chance in Spokane in August 1896.

GEO. MASON and CO.
Playing Cards and Ivory Goods, 1413 Eighteenth Street.
Denver, Colo. Aug. 10, 1896

Friend Jeff:

Yours at hand and will say am glad to hear from you and you are still on earth. We have a new small Tivola. We made a few weeks ago a New Orleans Belt with 50 spaces [—] there is [sic] 2 prizes and 3 blanks. It is a good deal larger, that is, the basket, than the old style and makes a better showing. We made it for one of you x lieutenants Power and the gang and think they are doing well with it, as they were running at Fisks Gardens and done well. Since then I see in paper they were arrested at Colo Spring and fined 50.00 and a few hours to get out of town. Since then I have heard nothing from them or seen them. There is nothing going on here at all and it seems worse than ever. We will soon make some drop cases, that is as soon as we can get at them [i.e., get to making them]. Ed Chase sent over a note for that machin[e] saying it belonged to him and he paid what charges was on it. The machine we put the celluloid on and fixed up. But your jewelry spindle is still here. Jeff wishing you success we remain yours Resp.

GEO. MASON

That same month Soapy attempted to defraud J. Hugh Bauerlein of a mining claim. Jeff sent Bauerlein of the Denver Stock and Mine Exchange an unsigned check for $2,500. Hoped for, probably, was that the claim papers and unsigned check would be returned for signature, but Bauerlein did not fall for the trick.

On August 14, Soapy received a letter from wife Mary. It was addressed "care of the Grand Hotel" in Spokane, located on the corner of Howard Street and Main Avenue.


Grand Hotel ad
from stationary letter head
Jeff Smith coll.
 (Click image to enlarge)


In October 1896, while Soapy was dealing in fraudulent claims, etc., he decided to start selling interest in McGinty, the petrified man, as he had done since 1892. He sent a letter to Henry "Yank Fewclothes" Edwards in Denver, informing him to crate up McGinty and ship him to Hillyard, Washington, a suburb of Spokane. A letter from Judge James B. Belford dated October 16, verifies that Soapy was there at the time. Another document showing Soapy in Spokane includes a promissory note for $250 from D. P. Stomas, dated October 13, 1896. At the bottom appears “Due Oct 18th 1896 At Spokane [signed] DP Stomas.” Not indicated is what the money was for. Could Stomas have been one of the new "investors" in McGinty, or was he paying off a gambling debt?

November 1896 also shows that Soapy was still operating in Spokane. A letter from George B. Fisher to Soapy, care of the Grand Hotel, arrived on November 12. Soapy did see this letter, but it is not known if he was in town at the time. Six days later, on November 18, 1896, good friend, Bat Masterson, the famed lawman and gambler, wrote Soapy, regarding money that was collected in Spokane at the Owl Saloon for a mutual friend. Bat writes in the letter to tell "Brownie" that $100 had already reached that friend in need. So, two things are now known. Soapy was in Spokane for about a month, plus or minus a few days. The second thing is that until now, I did not know who "Brownie" was, but I'm certain that Bat was referring to H. G. "Doc" Brown (The Spokes-Man Review lists his name as H. G. Brown, July 15, 1902).

Soapy's choice saloon while in Spokane was the Owl Club, located at 2nd and Washington. In Alias Soapy Smith I mention the Owl Club and "Doc" Brown several times, but I did not realize that they were connected. In my research to write this post I came across the History of the City of Spokane and Spokane County, Washington Volume 1, by Nelson Wayne Durham (1912). Page 466 mentions that "Doc" Brown ran the "Owl gambling House." I cannot be certain, but in looking at Google maps, it is possible that the building which held the Owl Club may still be standing.

 

The Grand Hotel location
Spokane, Washington

On January 24, 1897 Soapy bought, from one Martin Murphy, his 1/8 interest in a gold mine located about 150 miles north of Spokane, for $1. The bill of sale, appearing to be Martin Murphy’s hand, evidences having been written under duress or in something akin to distraction, hurriedness, or inebriation. Words are repeated. The word heirs is misspelled and rewritten, again incorrectly. Punctuation and capital letters appear (or do not appear) in odd places, and the description is not clear, requiring a closing reference to where the claim is recorded. Dictation of the contents could account for confusion and so many anomalies. The document is on stationary from the Grand Hotel, where Soapy was staying. It seems pretty unlikely that this was a legitimate, voluntary purchase, but rather one of extortion, settlement of a gambling debt, and/or the remnant of a swindle.

A letter to wife Mary, dated February 15, 1897, listing the "Owl Saloon" as his contact address, simply reads,

Dear Wife
This far on my journey to the North God bless you
Jeff
Owl Saloon
Spokane

Within two months time Soapy returned to St. Louis, Missouri where his wife and children were living with her mother. This begins another point of mystery in Soapy's life. This exit appears to be sudden and unexpected. It is possible something happened that forced his migration. On May 2, 1897, a “Charlie,” wrote to Soapy from Spokane, asking for his assistance in a detailed swindle plan he was forming. In the letter Charlie makes it clear that Spokane is a great location for bunco activities and gambling, so we know that Soapy did not leave due to anti-gambling reforms there, and that the town was thriving. So why did Soapy leave? Something happened, but what?

At the time I published Alias Soapy Smith, I could see that something had happened in Spokane. I wrote,

Before returning to Spokane, where Jeff probably had a few enemies, he used a news-oriented form of messaging in a newspaper to announce to friends that he was headed back. A clipping he cut out and saved tells the story.

THE SEAL CAME BACK

“Jeff,” the pet seal belonging to “Doc” Brown, after exploring the waters of Lake Coeur d’ Alene, has concluded he likes those of the Spokane River, in the vicinity of Spokane, better, and has returned. Perhaps it was because of his fondness for the “Doc.” Whatever the cause, he is back.

Several weeks ago “Jeff” was sent to the Lake, where he could have abundant room in which to disport himself. … A large bathing pool was fenced in for him in the bay at the ranch owned by George Forster. There “Jeff” seemed contented for a time. It was a lonely spot, however, and “Jeff” craved company.

He broke out of the pool and went to Coeur d’ Alene city, where he was seen Friday. He was reported from there, and “Doc” Brown sent a box of fish up to him. Before they had arrived, “Jeff” had started for Spokane.

Yesterday he was seen in the water above Washington Street Bridge. He seemed glad to see familiar faces, wagged his tail and tried to stand on his head, as an evidence of his joy. “Doc” Brown will secure permission from the owners and have a home built for him on the island, where he may spend the winter.

Coeur d’ Alene, the lake and the city, are about thirty miles east of Spokane. It would appear that Jeff had traveled to Coeur d’ Alene but had met with little success and wished to return to Spokane. Perhaps it was anticipated that a rival gang would not welcome his return, so, perhaps with the assistance of a reporter, he sent the coded message to let friends know he was coming. “Doc” Brown, a friend and Spokane associate of Jeff’s, tried to convince Jeff to stay put, but Jeff was already on his way. Later on, Brown sought permission from the rival boss for Jeff to stay in Spokane during the winter when visiting from Alaska. 


The Spokesman-Review for July 12, 1897, published a story about a gold brick bunco man, “One of the most notorious and dangerous criminals of the United States…, none other than ‘Rebel George,’ alias W. H. Knowlton and a hundred others aliases.” A probing reporter interviewing the man in jail, portrayed him as evasive and unstable. Toward the end of the interview, asked if he knew Jeff, the man, now thoroughly painted as a rascally criminal, replied, “No, I don’t know ‘Soapy’ Smith. I know of him, but never met him.” Jeff thought more damage had been done to his reputation. He clipped the story and sent it to Mary in St. Louis, writing at the top, “Same old story what next. I can’t do no good.” That sounds to me like he is not writing from Spokane, although he may have still been in Washington state, perhaps in Seattle.

Five days later, July 17, 1897, the steamer Portland docked in Seattle with about 4,000 lbs of gold. It is all but guaranteed that if Soapy was not in Seattle on that day, he was in that city within days. The Klondike gold rush was on, but that's another story.

H. G. "Doc" Brown remained in Spokane. The Spokane Press, Nov. 12, 1902 has a mention on page four.

“Charges His Friend With Embezzlement” Lyndon M. Hall files a complaint with the police to the effect that George O. Scraggs has swindled him out of $100. Mr. Hall wished to mail his certificate of deposit received as wages to his bank. He wrote the letter, endorsed the certificate and enclosed it. His friend, Scraggs, offered to drop it off at the Rathdrum post office for him. Instead, Mr. Scraggs boarded a train for Spokane in Rathdrum. “He landed there in the evening and going to ‘Doc’ Brown of the Owl, it is said, presented the endorsed certificate … when the arrest was made he was broke.” (The Owl is only one of the well-known saloons and gambling establishments in town, others are the Stockholm, the Coeur d’Alene, the Combination, and the O.K. The moral for both Mr. Gower and Mr. Hall seems to be that they should be a great deal less trusting.)

It is not believed Soapy Smith ever returned to Spokane.

















Spokane, Wash. Note: Posts are not in order of importance. Be sure to scroll down.









Spokane: pages 113, 165-66, 170, 172, 197, 416, 418-19.
"Doc" Brown: page 427.
Owl Club: 419, 421-22, 425.





There are so many in business here … who are involved with Jeff Smith and are coining money from the sporting element, that they willingly tolerate Smith’s influence in civic affairs. His word is the law!
—Thomas Whitten
Skagway hotel proprietor
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 514.



JANUARY 15


1777: The people of New Connecticut (now the state of Vermont) declare their independence from England.
1844: Outlaw Cole Younger is born.
1844: The University of Notre Dame receives its charter from the state of Indiana.
1859: Gold is discovered at Gold Run, Boulder County, Colorado Territory.
1863: The Boston Morning Journal is the first newspaper in the U.S. to be published on wood pulp paper.
1864: Stephen Marshland, a member of the Innocents Gang, is lynched in Big Hole, Wyoming Territory.
1870: A cartoon by Thomas Nast appears in Harper's Weekly using the donkey to symbolize the Democratic Party for the first time.
1872: Russian Grand Duke Alexis scurries up a telegraph pole to escape a wounded bison in Nebraska.
1874: The James-Younger Gang stops a Stagecoach near Hot Springs, Arkansas, robbing the passengers, the mail bags and express box. A watch and money is returned to a passenger who served in the Confederate Army. John A. Burbank, former governor of Dakota Territory, is robbed of $840 and a gold watch. The bandits are believed to be the James and Younger brothers and either Clell Miller or Arthur McCoy. They make off with approximately $2,200 plus jewelry and a horse. When Jesse is killed 8 years later, Burbank’s watch is found in his home.
1891: Bascomb Smith, Soapy Smith’s younger brother, is fined $110 for being intoxicated, disturbing the peace, and carrying concealed weapons in Denver.
1892: Triangle magazine in Springfield, Massachusetts, publishes the rules for a new game of two teams getting a ball into a peach basket attached to a pole. The game eventually becomes basketball.





January 8, 2015

THE BOOK ALIAS SOAPY SMITH AS AN INVESTMENT!

Put Your Eggs In A Money Making Basket







ant to make money? Looking for an investment?

PURCHASING ALIAS SOAPY SMITH 
IS AN INVESTMENT!





I have saved searches for my book Alias Soapy Smith, so that I can see whatever pops up online about it. I recently received a search from a site called "Used Price Info," which was nothing uncommon or special about it, except for the prices it advertised for the sale of my book online. Mind you, many of these prices were based on "used" books! The prices range from $49 to $102. I did some checking at Amazon, one of the cheapest prices listed for my book, and the site was correct. The cheapest USED copy of Alias Soapy Smith at Amazon is $92.09.

NEW copies can still be had from my publisher at $26 (plus shipping), but apparently people and the internet search mechanism are not aware of this! Grab a copy before they're all gone, read it, and then resell it at double the price! Of course, I cannot guarantee obtaining a return that is double your investment, but there are not a lot of books out there, minus antique ones, that can say this. 

BUY AN INVESTMENT TODAY!
www.klondikeresearch.com

Sources:
Used Price Info.










He is one of the greatest characters in the west
— Lafe Pence
Colorado state representative, 1894.
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 312.




OCTOBER 9


1675: The first U.S. corporation, The New York Fishing Company, is charted.
1790: In the U.S., George Washington delivers the first State of the Union address.
1815: The Battle of New Orleans begins. The War of 1812 had officially ended on December 24, 1814, with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent but the news of the signing had not reached British troops in time to prevent their attack on New Orleans.
1838: Alfred Vail demonstrates a telegraph code he had devised using dots and dashes as letters. The code is the predecessor to Samuel Morse's code.
1856: Borax (hydrated sodium borate) is discovered by Dr. John Veatch.
1863: The Central Pacific Railroad has its groundbreaking ceremony in Sacramento, California.
1865: 1,400 Kickapoo Indians defeat 370 members of the attacking Texas militia at Dove Creek, near San Angelo, Texas.
1869: Camp Wichita is established on Medicine Bluff Creek, Oklahoma by General Sheridan.
1870: US mint Carson City, Nevada begins issuing coins.
1877: Crazy Horse (Tashunca-uitco) and nearly 800 Sioux and Northern Cheyenne Indian warriors launch a surprise attack on Colonel Nelson Miles and 7 companies of infantrymen in the Wolf Mountains above the Tongue River, Montana Territory. It is their final battle against the U.S. Cavalry in Montana.
1889: The tabulating machine is patented by Dr. Herman Hollerith. His firm, Tabulating Machine Company, later becomes International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).
1894: Fire causes serious damage at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, IL.
1895: Outlaw John Wesley Hardin marries Callie Lewis, a marriage that lasts only a few hours.
1900: U.S. President McKinley places the District of Alaska under military rule.





December 26, 2014

Inside Soapy Smith's Tivoli Club.

INSIDE THE TIVOLI CLUB
November 20, 1966
courtesy of Getty Images







HE ONLY KNOWN PHOTOGRAPH OF INSIDE THE TIVOLI CLUB




This is a biggie for me. The Tivoli Club has always been somewhat of a mystery for my family. As the most popular and longest lasting of Soapy's saloons (1887-1895), there is little actually known about it, other than what we have in family letters and documents, and what the Denver newspapers reported.

The photograph comes from the Getty Museum and is dated NOV 20 1966. The caption for it reads "Police swarm over inside of Denver's Oldest Bar, 17th And Market Streets, after reports of burglary; Patrolman reported he found lock broken on bar's front door and saw suspect standing inside with money in pockets." (Photo By Duane Howell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

A few years ago I came across a photo of the Tivoli Club from the outside, and looking closely, you can see the letters "ivol" of "Tivoli," the rest being blocked by patriotic banners. Next was a modern (1960s) closeup photograph of the front of the saloon, and now this inside view. Now I need to see a photo of the inside, upstairs (gaming room) and downstairs (saloon ) from the 1890s. The name of the bar was Denver's Oldest Bar, which a number of bars in Denver lay claim to, but considering the Tivoli opened in 1887, it is probable that if standing and still operating, it would have truly held the honor as all the others date after 1892.













The Tivoli Club
(there are numerous posts and they are not in order of importance)










The Tivoli Club: page 79-81, 89, 120, 124-29, 131-32, 138-39, 171-72, 176, 182-83, 185, 188, 190, 197, 247-48, 256-57, 260-64, 272-78, 283-84, 286-87, 324, 336, 338, 352, 358, 389, 420.





He was one of the most kind-hearted men that ever lived. I will venture that there is scarcely a big city in the country where you couldn’t find some man that could tell you of a good act that Jeff Smith had done him.
— R. M. Eddy
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 590.



DECEMBER 26


1620: The Mayflower, with 102 passengers, arrives at New Plymouth, Massachusetts to create the Plymouth Colony, with John Carver as Governor.
1776: The British suffer a major defeat against the Colonial Army in the Battle of Trenton during the American Revolution.
1859: 173 Texas Rangers and 165 U.S. regulars attack the outlaw position held by Juan Cortina in Rio Grande City. Hand-to-hand combat forces Cortina's retreat.
1861: Confederate irregulars defeat pro-Union Indians at Chustenahlah, Indian Territory.
1862: 38 Dakota Indians are hung in Mankato, Minnesota for their part in an uprising. The mass execution is the largest in U.S. history.
1865: The coffee percolator is patented by James H. Mason.
1866: Lieutenant Colonel George Crook leads a company of the 1st Cavalry against Indians at Owyhee Creek, Idaho Territory, killing 30 and taking 7 prisoners while losing only one soldier.
1867: A detachment of Company K, 9th Cavalry, near Ft Lancaster, Texas, is attacked by Indians. Three soldiers are killed during the two days of fighting.
1869: Lieutenant Howard B. Cushing with Company F, 3rd Cavalry, from Ft Stanton, New Mexico, along with 28 citizen volunteers, attack a Mescalero Apache Indian village at the old stage stop of Pine Spring in the Guadalupe Mountains of Texas. One officer is severely wounded.
1874: The first commercial buffalo hunt is conducted in Texas by Joe McComb.
1880: Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garret deposits his prisoners, including Billy the Kid, in the Las Vegas, New Mexico, Territory jail.
1883: Soapy Smith purchases a street vendors license in Phoenix, Arizona for selling his prize package soap.
1909: Western artist Frederic Remington dies at age 48 in Connecticut.





December 22, 2014

The ever-escaping "Slim-Jim" Foster.

Three-card monte
(Click image to enlarge)






ohn H. Foster alias "The Kid"

Not to be confused with W. E. "Slim Jim" Foster, both were members of the Soap Gang in Skagway, Alaska in 1898. John H. Foster ran the Grotto Saloon. He was placed on the Skagway City Council to assist with Soapy's empire. After Soapy was killed at the shootout on Juneau Wharf, Foster and other city council members were forced to resign and leave the city. He is recorded here as still getting into trouble and trying to escape the law, 25-years after the demise of his old boss!

John H. "The Kid" Foster was one of the gang members in Skagway, Alaska. Soapy had him placed on the Skagway City Council. After Soapy's death he was deported out of Skagway and joined the Blonger Gang in Denver. He was sent to prison with the rest of the Blonger Gang when they were rounded up in 1923. The newspaper story below is from 1923 and tells of his attempted escape from prison.



Bunko Man, Heavily Guarded, to Visit Dentist-Teeth Hurt

DENVER. May 17.—False teeth and jail victuals, according to the officials of the district attorney’s office, are the responsible for a court order issued today permitting J. H. Foster, convicted bunko man, to leave his cell at the county jail.

Foster is to start visiting a dentist to have a new plate made. He will be the first of the twenty convicted men to appear on the city’s streets since the trial.

“I’ve got to have a better fit, if I’m going to chew this jail grub,” is Foster’s complaint.

Foster, alias the Kid, according to Deputy Sheriff Jim Marshall, will be accompanied to the office of a dental specialist in the Metropolis building by an armed guard.

Special precautions are necessary, according to Marshall, because it was Foster who hid in a small closet the day the twenty bunko men were being led to their cells after the jury verdict had been returned.

Foster was missed from the line and a search was made for him immediately. He was found hiding in the locker, possibly intending to make a break for freedom before he was missed. Marshall declares that he is determined to keep close watch on the man to prevent any possible attempts at escape in the future.

Source: Fort Collins Courier (Fort Collins, Colorado) May 18, 1923.

















John H. Foster: page 80, 518, 563.





I have seen American citizens deliberately plundered before the marshal’s eyes in dens kept for that purpose…. I had to pay the marshal $20 after he had recovered stolen property, before he would make a return to the court commissioner, as he threatened to turn it back to the thieves unless I did so.
—Lewis Levy, commissioner for parks, Tacoma, Washington.
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 512.



DECEMBER 22


1775: The Continental naval fleet is organized in the American colonies under the command of Ezek Hopkins.
1807: The U.S. Congress passes the Embargo Act, designed to force peace between Britain and France by cutting off all trade with Europe.
1856: Captain Richard W. Johnson and Company F, 2nd Cavalry, from Camp Colorado attacks a Comanche Indian camp along the Concho River in Texas. Two soldiers are killed and two wounded. Three Indians are killed and three wounded. Thirty-four horses are captured and a Mexican captive is recovered.
1864: During the Civil War Union General William T. Sherman sends a message to President Lincoln from Georgia, which reads, "I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah."
1872: Texas Jack Omohundro, who is appearing with Buffalo Bill in a stage show, The Scouts of the Prairie, in Chicago, Illinois, falls in love with Giuseppina Morlacchi, an Italian dancer in the show.
1877: The American Bicycling Journal is published.
1877: The Sam Bass gang robs a stagecoach heading towards Fort Worth, Texas. Soapy Smith would later witness the shooting death of Sam Bass in Round Rock, Texas.
1878: Outlaw Billy the Kid surrenders to sheriff George Kimball in Lincoln County, New Mexico Territory, but escapes a short time later and heads for Las Vegas, New Mexico Territory.
1887: “Big Ed” Burns is the defendant in the first recorded court case of the shell game in Los Angeles, California. He soon leaves for Colorado where he joins the Soapy Smith gang.
1888: Annie Oakley appears in the stage show Deadwood Dick: or the Sunbeam of the Sierras.
1890: 294 members of Sitting Bull's Indian tribe surrender in Cherry Creek, South Dakota.
1894: The U.S. Golf Association is formed in New York City.
1900: The Sherman Tunnel in Wyoming, on the Union Pacific line is completed.