Ingrained in the history of Soapy Smith are stories of folklore handed down from generation to generation. One of those I cover in my book is The curse of Wagon Wheel Gap.
... An interesting part of the letter involves a father telling his son to “look out for your hand.” A family story called “The Curse of Wagon Wheel Gap” tells how a victim of Jeff’s games near Creede put a hex on the Smith family. Forever, the hand of all first-born males would be impaired. Fear of this curse was renewed in the Smith family when the first grandson was born with a deformed left hand. Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel, pp. 447-448.
I was reminded of the "curse" when I received an email from good friend, Whit Haydn quoting a story of good luck related to Soapy.
For five years, just before the annual Soapy Smith Wake at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California I open up the case holding Soapy's original wooden grave marker. The bottom of the marker is shredded, occurring during the flood of 1919. Over time very small pieces of wood fall from the marker and I carefully pick these up and place them in a container. I then send Whit two pieces and he has them expertly displayed in two shadow boxes for the events auction.
At the top of the grave marker tourists and fans of Soapy splintered the marker and took slivers of the marker as souvenirs and good luck pieces. Historically Soapy is known for his charities and loyalty to friends and associates. His personal letters described in my book bear this out many times over. Thus stories of old friends visiting his grave to pay their respects and taking a piece of the marker as a token of good luck.
Whit's email to me contained what a previous successful bidder of the shadow boxed grave marker wood chip wrote.
November 02, 2009 2:39 PM
Marshall & Sharlene Behrman
we saw your show last Friday night and loved it! We spoke with you after and told you how our luck has changed since buying the Soapy Smith tombstone chip! You were the auctioneer that night! We keep it displayed and truly believe it has brought us good luck. Great things have happened and horrible things we feared have vanished from our lives!
Attention family members: If you have additional information on the curse of Wagon Wheel Gap or other family folklore, true or not, please let us know.