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.
OFFICERS AFRAID TO ACT.__________Political Pull Will Protect Election Thugs.__________NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING AT ALL.__________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.
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.