I received the following email this morning...
Hello, I have been very fascinated and delighted with your website. I live in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. I have many times gone to Skagway, Alaska and every time I went to look at Soapy’s gun. I believe it was in Kerm's jewelers. I am disappointed to learn that it may not have been Soapy’s pistol. It is a very beautiful piece. It was displayed in a very period display case with a few other items. A few years ago it disappeared from the store. Sadly, I have not returned to Skagway lately due to security regulations since 9-11. It was, for many years , my main reason to go to Skagway, just to look at that 41 Colt and have lunch, smell the ocean and re-live the history of the gold rush. I have also visited “Soapy’s" grave on every visit as well. He may have been a bad boy but he sure had charisma! I can almost “feel” him there. Again, a great historic website and many thanks for your effort.
The following is part of my response to Jim.
Thank you very much for the kind words about my great-grandfather, my website, and Skagway. It is indeed a wonderful and beautiful place to visit.
Over the years I have been introduced to several people such as yourself who routinely visited Soapy's grave with such passion. I know my family will appreciate hearing about your adventures, and at the same time saddened that you are no longer able to make the trek. I hope things change for you and once again you are able to make the journey. In the mean time please take a good look around this blog as there are lots of photographs of Soapy's time in Skagway.
The .41 Colt Jim refers to is listed on the main website Soapy's Weapons listed as the Selmer revolver.
The Selmer revolver is said to have originally belonged to Josias M. "Si" Tanner, who claimed that it once belonged to Soapy. The gun was later acquired by Harriet Pullen and showcased in the famed Harriet Pullen Collection. Engraved on the butt of the gun are J. M. Tanner Deputy U.S. Marshal. On the gun butt, near the hammer, it is engraved Soapy Smith and H.S. Pullen 1898. The gun used to reside in a retail shop in Skagway on display in a glass case along with other Soapy mementos and the Colt manufacturing paperwork. It is owned by Maxine Selmer. The fact that the gun may have belonged to Tanner does cast some doubt on whether it was actually once owned by Soapy. Tanner has been accused of giving away several guns to people, claiming that they were once owned by the legendary bad man. The authenticity of this revolver remains a mystery.
|The real McCoy|
The above picture shows the revolver photographed with Soapy's corpse the night he was gunned down. This is the only known photograph of it. The biggest difference is that this pistol is a double-action whereas all the other "Soapy pistols" are single-action. The history of this particular double-action model is military thus also fits Soapy's persona at the time.
February 4, 2010