October 14, 2008

Did Soapy have Bob Ford killed?

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Robert Ford, "the dirty little coward who shot Mr. Howard," aka Jesse James in 1882 will have an important role in the upcoming biography on Soapy Smith. It was ten years later in the silver rush camp of Creede, Colorado in which the two men met. According to first-hand accounts from those who knew Soapy, he did not have any liking of Ford. Some of the older biographies on Soapy even have the two men pitted against one another for control of the underworld in Creede. However, Ford did seemingly make one drinking buddy of Soap Gang member, Joe Palmer. On at least one evening of too much alcohol consumption the two men happily shot up the town and were deported by a group of angry citizens Later bother were allowed to return. The photograph on the right is perhaps the best I have ever seen of Ford.


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On June 5, 1892 fire destroyed most of the business district of Creede. Some of the business men who had lost their structures erected tents in vacant lots around the town which did not burn. Ford set such a tent for his Exchange Club saloon until a new building could be erected. Ford never got the chance; three days later Edward O'Kelley walked into Ford's tent and nearly severed Ford's head with a shotgun blast to the throat. The photograph to the left shows a large gathering in front of Ford's tent on the day he was killed. Some historical authors contend that Soapy Smith had Ford murdered by talking O'Kelley into the dirty deed.

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A postcard was later produced showing a tattered tent with a front-bar sitting along side. The caption reads that it is Bob Ford "bar." But are they speaking of the tent, the outside front-bar, or both?

Jeff Smith

10 comments:

  1. Have you seen this site?
    http://home.att.net/~pipix/dpl_monthly_pix8.htm

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  2. Thank you "S." That is an interesting site. I see that the author and I agree on the Ford photos and whether the tent in the postcard is Ford's.

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  3. Do you think maybe the cabin mentioned as being under construction could have been later used as a bar? I'm unfamiliar with the dates so I have no clue.

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  4. Hi "S." I know the date of the photograph was taken on or after June 8, 1892. I am not certain about the date of the postcard photograph but I believe it was taken some times afterwards. I also believe more than ever that the wording on the postcard refers to the wooden front bar and not the tent.

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  5. I agree with you, here's why:
    Being an artist I tend to go by what I see. Even considering a little bit of a different angle I still don't feel the hills in the background are quite right and I fail to see enough space beyond the tent to accomodate the frame buildings appearing in the photo with the crowd.
    Extremely interesting, none the less!
    :)
    BTW, do you think you might be posting anymore letters? I think you should have them published in book form someday. I would buy a copy, that's for sure, I love "Ol' Soapy"!

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  6. Hi, "S." I did notice the difference in the background but forgot to include that in my original post. I noticed it was also mentioned in the website you included. Good eyes.

    Yes, I will be posting letters and documents. Anything that is in the coming book will probably wait until after it is published. I have considered doing a book just on his letters and documents but will have to see how well the biography does first to see an indicating interest. I have also considered a screen-play. A movie on Soapy has always been a dream of mine.

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  7. I live very near Dawson City so whenever I go over there I like to attend the plays at the theatre. Seems like they used to include Ol' Soapy or a Soapy-like character. That may have been up to thirty years ago so I can't tell you much more than that, but I remember there being a bad guy with a big hat like his.
    I always wanted to write a funny play about life along the Valdez to Fairbanks Trail during 1898. I thought I'd call it "This Ol' Roadhouse" and use the music from the 1950s song,"This Ol' House". There were so many crazy people living here then (gold seekers, roadhouse proprietors, postal clerks, traders, trappers, traveling con-men, ladies of the evening, proper roadhouse women, preachers, teamsters, freighters, dog mushers, Natives, etc., etc.) the possibilities are endless!

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  8. You should write that book "S." It took me twenty years to complete mine but I hear some can do it quicker, lol. Having a book published is a way for you to "continue." Long after I am gone, my book will be here to remind others that I once was.

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  9. It'd be nice to write but since I can't type
    and would have no idea where to begin work on a book it's doubtful that will ever happen. Fun to think about anyway.
    Looking forward to reading yours, though!!!
    BTW, why I go by 'S.': not so many letters to hunt for! It stands for Shellie.

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  10. Shellie (alias "S"), it is a pleasure to meet you

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Thank you for leaving your comment and/or question on my blog. I always read, and will answer all questions left here. Please know that they are greatly appreciated. -Jeff Smith