November 27, 2009

Anti-Palin forces uses my book facts out of context!


I reported on November 17, 2009 that Sarah Palin had mentioned Soapy Smith in her new book, Going Rogue. It's not much but here again is what she wrote.

"After his adventures in Tombstone, the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp came north and spent a few years in Nome during the gold rush. On the other side of the law was "Soapy" Smith, a Wild West crime boss whose tight-knit gang moved from Colorado to Skagway. They made a mint cheating gold miners out of their cash. It finally caught up with Soapy Smith: he was killed in a shoot-out with a vigilante gang."

In attempts to discredit her book the "anti-Palin" people are quoting and publishing everything that is wrong in her book. Craig Medrid, staff writer for the Alaska Dispatch wrote the following in his article Palin: Hunting Devils in the details.

"Going Rogue," Page 13: "Soapy Smith: he was killed in a shoot-out with a vigilante gang."

BADLY WRONG, although vigilantes were involved. According to The Skagway News of the day and various histories since, Jefferson R. "Soapy" Smith was shot and killed by one Frank Reid during a scuffle. Here's the account from the author of "Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel": "Apparently Soapy made an attempt to strike Reid with the barrel of (a) rifle, but Reid raised his left arm and the rifle barrel cut Reid's arm. Reid was able to grab the barrel with his left hand and forced it away from his body. As the two men fought for control of the rifle, Reid pulled out a pistol and began to fire. At that same instant, Soapy jerked his rifle back towards Reid and returned fire. When the shooting had ceased, Soapy Smith was dead and Frank Reid lay badly wounded." There was no shootout with any gang, but the fight with Reid did start after Smith went to confront a group of vigilantes who were meeting to decide how to shut down his corrupt Skagway businesses.

Although I am neither for nor against Sarah Palin I could not stand by as people used my research completely out of context for their own needs. I immediately emailed Craig Medrid as well as responded on the website. I hope to hear from the author of the article soon. The following was posted by me on the Alaska Dispatch.

My name is Jeff Smith, author of Alias Soapy Smith: The life and Death of a Scoundrel and the website Alias Soapy Smith. It is important to me that people know that you took the facts from my book and my website completely out of context and horribly and incorrectly stated my conclusions about the Shootout on Juneau Wharf in which my great-grandfather, Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith was killed. I can only surmise that you either did not read the book and/or website or that you intentionally left out major important portions of one or both in order to show that Sarah Palin was incorrect in her statements on page 13 regarding Soapy Smith's fight with vigilantes.

Had you read the book and/or my website you would have clearly noted in my book (pages 532-580) and on my website (HERE) that Frank Reid was NOT the man who killed my great grandfather, and that in fact, another member of the vigilante guards present joined in the fight and wrestled Soapy's rifle away from him and turned it on an unarmed Soapy and shot him in the chest killing him instantly. Whether you agreed or disagreed with Soapy's ways is irrelevant to the fact that Soapy was shot while wounded and unarmed, which in most civilized communities is murder. The vigilantes hid this fact from the courts in order to save their own new found power.

I am neither for or against Sarah Palin, but am rather a historian who has spent the last 24 years researching and writing the true history of my great-grandfather, the good and the bad. It bothered me to see someone come along and misquote my hard work. I invite you to reread my website and book.

Jeff Smith



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