November 24, 2017

Seattle Daily Times: Smith's Skagway Guards, April 2, 1898.

The text is transposed below
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mith’s Skagway Guards
Seattle Daily Times, April 2, 1898.

Within seven days of the Committee of 101’s distribution of handbills warning Soapy Smith and his gang out of Skagway, Soapy created his own Alaska army unit with himself as captain. Soapy named his all-volunteer militia, the Skaguay Military Company, in response to President McKinley's call for volunteer companies at the start of the Spanish-American War. Soapy held meetings and volunteer drives, sending the minutes to President McKinley, to which he acknowledged receipt of, and thanked Soapy for, via the War Department. Soapy also sent the same package to Governor Brady of the District of Alaska, offering his services in keeping law and order in Skagway, Dyea and the two trails, basically making Soapy the law. The Skaguay Military Company under command of Captain Jeff Smith, what amounted to his own private army, could quell any “disturbances,” such as vigilantes might cause. The 101, with no stomach to oppose an organized unit of “Patriots,” shrank behind doors and bided time. It is surely interesting to imagine how Soapy's history might have played out had either McKinley or Brady accepted his offer.
     Below is the transposed text of an article published in the Seattle Daily Times, but originating from a reporter for the Port Townsend Call. The story is about the outright robbery of new recruits, and is still believed to be just another fictional story that gave birth in the account published below, which appears to be the first accounting of this story. In Alias Soapy Smith (2009) I published that the story first appeared in a Vancouver newspaper and was republished in the San Francisco Call, June 3, 1898. In November 1898 the Denver Evening Post published a more detailed version, however the facts do not add up.
No other known reports of men complaining that they had been robbed in this way are known. In fact, not even any reports of “physicals” are known. Jeff wanted the Company to be a force in which its members, the town, and not least of all himself could take pride. Such a force could hardly be sustained if its men were robbed as a first experience. Even Collier and Westrate [The Reign of Soapy Smith, 1935], who document nothing and present many details and stories about Jeff and the Soap Gang that could not be true, reject that Jeff was behind the robberies. They counter the story, however, with what appears to be another fabrication: “This dastardly work was reported to Soapy, who wrathfully ordered the perpetrators rounded up and hauled before him.” The perpetrators “attempted to laugh off their performance as a practical joke,” but “Soapy” was not amused and “compelled them to disgorge their ill-gotten booty on the spot and return it to the rightful owners, after which they were forced to apologize to their victims.” That the Company remained active for nearly four months strongly suggests that the men were not abused, at least not as told in the story of its recruits being robbed. —Alias Soapy Smith, p. 491
For your enjoyment and research, following is the original story as it came out in April 1898.



How “Soapy” and His Gang
Display Patriotism.




Open a Recruiting Office, Make
Applicants Strip for a Physical
Examination and Remove All
Valuables From Their Clothes.

A correspondent of the Port Townsend Call, who seems to have wandered away from home without his mother, got as far as Skagway, where the much-maligned “Soapy” Smith appears to have pressed his button, while the gang did the rest.
     The article published below is taken from the above named paper, and merely shows the remarkable resources of men who live upon their wits and who are smart enough to take advantage of every opportunity presented for fleecing the tenderfoot. The article is as follows:
     A special correspondent of the Call at Skagway, writing under date of March 19, sends a grist of information that will be of interest here. Conspicuous among the news furnished is concerning the town itself, which he pronounces to be, without doubt, the toughest town on the face of the earth. The lawless element prevails there, says the writer, and all you have to do is listen to hear pistol shots after nightfall. “Skin games” are thicker than fleas on a dog, and the following of the notorious “Soapy” Smith is reaping a rich harvest from the unsophisticated.
     “The latest, and probably most amusing while at the same time serious game that is being perpetrated upon the unwary is entitled ‘Soapy’ Smith’s Cuban Army, and only goes to demonstrate the vast resources of those who prefer to make money without work.
     “Immediately following the first news of impending trouble between the United States and Spain over the Havana horror, it was announced that a company of militia would be raised at Skagway, outfitted, provisioned and sent to Cuba at once. One of the ‘Soapy’ gang took the matter in hand, and inside of three days 150 men had enlisted.
     “Smith, it was understood, was to put the bills and the organization was to be known as ‘Smith’s Skagway Guards.’ People who had hitherto harbored a bad opinion of the Prince of gamblers applauded the movement, and it was on this account solely such opportunity for fleecing was given.
     “I heard rumors of crooked work in the matter, and determined to find out by enlisting. Dispensing with everything of value about my clothes, and taking nothing but a couple of dollars, a jackknife and a plug of tobacco, I presented myself.
     “The recruiting officer was pleased to see me, and asked me if I was willing to enlist and die if necessary for my country. I told him I was, and he then administered an oath covering the above. At the proper moment the ‘major’ arrived. The recruiting officer said:
     “’Major, this is private S — —, whom you will take to surgeon so-and-so to be examined as to his physical qualifications. Instruct the surgeon to spare no pains in the examination, though we want none but first-class men in Smith’s Skagway guards.’
     “I was led into a dark room, and told to address. I did so, placing my clothes on a chair in plain view. That did not hinder me being robbed, for presently my eyesight was tested on a display card at the back end of the room. After a short delay I was told I could not pass, and the doctor withdrew. I at once went to my clothes, and found as predicted that I had been robbed. There was no one in the front room, so I was compelled to depart by a side entrance, which had been left conveniently open. While I lost only $2 and a jackknife, I am reliably informed that in several instances men have been ‘enlisted’ to the tune of several hundred dollars, in fact relieved of everything they were so shortsighted as to carry with them to the recruiting station.”


Skaguay Military Company: May 4, 2011, Nov. 11, 2017, June 30, 2010, June 3, 2010, April 1, 2010, 11

Skaguay Military Company: pages 79, 471, 486-90, 494-95, 498-502, 505, 510, 514-15, 595.

"Captain Jeff R. Smith, Captain Co A, 1st regiment National Guard of Alaska, recd [received] a communication directly from President McKinley yesterday, notifying him that an order had been issued to make out and forward commission for officers and enrollment of men in Co A Skaguay Guards. Capt Smith was not advised whether the services of himself or men would be required in the coming unpleasantness.

We can only suggest that if the president thinks he is going to have any real warm work, a few men like Jeff Smith would be a comfort."
Daily Alaskan, April 27, 1898


1715: Sybilla Thomas Masters becomes the first American to be granted an English patent for cleaning and curing Indian corn.
1758: During the French and Indian War, the British capture Fort Duquesne at what is now known as Pittsburgh.
1783: The British evacuate New York, their last military position in the U.S., during the Revolutionary War.
1837: William Crompton patents the silk power loom.
1846: Carrie Amelia Moore is born in rural Kentucky, to George and Mary Moore. Carry eventually marries Dr. David A. Nation, and becomes Carry Nation, the famed temperance radical. Her daughter, Charlien, suffers from mental difficulties, which Carry blames on her first husband's alcoholism. Charlien is eventually committed to the Texas State Lunatic Asylum (the same asylum Soapy Smith’s father was institutionalized in). In 1889 Carry begins her radical temperance life, starting a local branch or of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.
1850: Texas relinquishes one-third of its territory in exchange for $10 million from the U.S. to pay its public debts and settle border disputes.
1867: Alfred Nobel patents dynamite.
1884: J. B. Meyenberg receives the patent for evaporated milk.
1867: Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer's court-martial ends at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
1868: Outlaw William “Elzy” Ellsworth Lay is born in McArthur, Ohio. He would later join the outlaw gang of Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch.
1876: Indian Chief Dull Knife's village in the Bighorn Mountains near the Red Fork of the Powder River is destroyed by Colonel Mackenzie's troops during the Great Sioux War. Over 200 lodges are burned and items from Custer's 7th Cavalry are found in the camp.
1882: Fort Point in San Francisco, California, is renamed Fort Winfield Scott.
1902: Frank “Buckskin” Leslie, at 60-years-old, accidentally shoots himself in the leg when his gun fell out of his pocket while bending over in a San Francisco saloon.

Artifact #56: Edwin B. Smith writes to Soapy's son, 1908.

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he reason I did not answer your letter
was because it failed to reach me.
Artifact #56

     Another letter from Edwin Bobo Smith to his first cousin, once removed, Jefferson Randolph Smith III, Soapy Smith's son. Born February 8, 1887 means that at the date of the letter son Jeff was 21 years old, and Edwin Bobo Smith, born May 10, 1859 was 49 years old. Edwin writes,

Mar 23, 1908

Dear Jeff:

The reason I did not answer your letter was because it failed to reach me. I have been living in Baltimore since last August working on the Balt. American. Sooner or later I expect to go back to Washington where the rest of the family are. I trust you are doing well and I will always be glad to hear from you. I have a very close friend in St. Louis, by the name of Dennis J. Canty. Some day I wish you would look him up and give him my best wishes. He is I think in the brokerage business with a man named Price or Prince can tell you where to find him.

How is your mother and sisters? I suppose the sister is married by this time. Give them my love.
Sincerely Yours,
Ed B. Smith—

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     The stationary comes from the Hotel Rennert in Baltimore, Maryland. It was common in the 19th-20th century for people to utilize "free to customers" stationary from hotels, saloons, and other businesses stationary. Edwin may have obtained some, or even possibly lived in the hotel.
     The Rennert, located at the southwest corner Saratoga and Liberty streets, was built by Robert Rennert in 1885.

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Hotel Rennert postcard
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     The hotel contained 128 "chambers," all of which had fireplaces and 40 of which had private baths. The building was illuminated by both gas and electricity. Hydraulic elevators whisked guests and staff between floors and to the roof, which contained a garden and offered splendid views of the city, especially at night. The Rennert closed in 1939 and was torn down in 1941.

Where the Hotel Rennert once stood
now a parking lot
courtesy of Google maps
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     In 1951, a five-story parking garage was built on the site and aptly named the Rennert Garage. It was torn down in 1996 and replaced by a parking lot. A fence of steel and brick that follows the outline of the long-gone hotel is the only reminder of its existence on the site.

Jefferson Randolph Smith III (Soapy's son): pages 7, 107-08, 167, 417-18, 546, 584, 587-89.
Edwin Bobo Smith: pages 20, 22-30, 35, 32, 36, 333, 425, 428, 444-49, 589.

"Brooks took my freight out a mile along the trail and dumped it there for a better offer to haul whisky. There was a clause in the contract that if he didn’t deliver, the pack train was mine. He just laughed at me and said, “What are you going to do about it?” He was fond of drink and had so much money he didn’t know what to do with it.
     I went back to Skagway and I was boiling mad. Soapy Smith was clean and he was intelligent looking. I thought he was the most perfect gentleman there. He looked like a minister and had this soft southern drawl. Soapy was my hero, and I went to him for advice. I told him what had happened and how I owed $8,000 and had to get this gear to Dawson.
     “I’ll see what I can do for you, Belinda,” he said.
     He picked up a good tough bunch of men and we lit out with his crew and took possession of the pack train, unloaded the whisky and packed my freight. Brooks had a pinto he rode all the time and I took that for myself. That’s what Soapy did for me and I liked him."
—Belinda Mulrooney
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 591.


1853: Famed Buffalo hunter, lawman, gambler, newspaper writer, and friend of bad man Soapy Smith, William Barclay "Bat" Masterson is born in Quebec, Canada.
1859: Denver Rocky Mountain Brewery makes the first batch of beer in Denver, Colorado. William Byers of the Rocky Mountain News writes that it is “a drink not deadly in its effects,” and would “decrease the present consumption of strychnine whiskey and Taos Lightning.”
1860: Denver, Colorado gambler Charley Harrison shoots and kills rancher James Hill during an altercation in the Criterion saloon. Details of the shooting vary and in the end charges of murder were dropped.
1863: The battle for Lookout Mountain begins in Tennessee, during the Civil War.
1864: Colonel John Chivington assumes command of an expedition against Indians living at Sand Creek, Colorado Territory.
1864: Kit Carson and his 1st Cavalry, New Mexico Volunteers, attack a camp of Kiowa Indians in the First Battle of Adobe Walls.
1869: Captain Edward Heyl and a detachment of Companies L and M, 9th Cavalry, skirmish with Apache Indians near the Llano River in Texas. Heyl is wounded and one Indian killed. Six horses are captured.
1870: Against outlaw Jesse James's wishes, his sister, Susan James, marries former Quantrill raider Allen Palmer.
1871: The National Rifle Association is incorporated in the U.S.
1874: Joseph F. Glidden is granted a patent for a barbed fencing material.
1882: Charles Earl “Black Bart” Bowles robs the Lakeport-Cloverdale stagecoach, six miles outside of Cloverdale, California.
1889: Famed con man John L. “Reverend” Bowers marries Bella Banning in Denver, Colorado.
1891: The Amethyst (Creede, Colorado) Creede’s first newspaper, is published.) Creede is where bad man Soapy Smith operated his second criminal empire.
1903: Clyde J. Coleman receives the patent for an electric self-starter for an automobile.
1924: Famed lawman Bill Tilghman is killed in the line of duty in Cromwell, Oklahoma. He was 71-years-old.

November 21, 2017

Soapy Smith arrested Oct. 15, 1889.

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eff R. Smith for assault with intent to kill, 
as soon as he arrived in the city last night.

     Mid 1889 marks Jeff’s first sequence of violent behavior and his first reported use of a knife and a gun. All within a month and a half, there had been fist-fighting, man caning, destruction of property with a knife, threatening a man with a knife, and a fierce shootout. The causes of these events are not hard to account for. The Logan Park affair that had gone so badly awry; the Rocky Mountain News declaration of war on Jeff and his businesses, including unrelenting public insult of Jeff and his circle; legal peril (and cost); and an explosive, sudden, and nearly successful plot against his life. Any of these events could have released the safety catch on Jeff’s behavior. In matters large and small, violence seems to have become much closer at hand.
Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel

     The above newspaper clipping from the October 16, 1889 edition of the Denver Daily News opened a new mystery in the Soapy Smith annuals. Seven days later Soapy was held by the grand jury to answer for assault with intent to kill. 
He was present yesterday in the criminal division of the district court and gave a bond of $1,000, John Kinneavy becoming his bondsman. —Rocky Mt. News, 10/17/1889
     In Alias Soapy Smith, this was question, "another bond for $1,000?" It was originally believed to have been a carry over from Soapy's July attack on newspaperman John Arkins, but this may not be the case.
     On July 30, 1889 Soapy attacked John Arkins, owner and managing editor of the Rocky Mountain News for mentioning his wife and children in with an article attacking Soapy's criminal empire. The trial continued into August but never seemed to come to an official end, at least one published in the newspapers. The News had declared war on the bunco men and then the saloons and gambling. They were successful in pushing a temporary reform movement in Denver which closed up many saloons and gambling houses, including Soapy's Tivoli Club.
     On August 28, 1889 the News reported an altercation in one of the gaming houses in which Soapy slashed a faro layout with a dirk, and then held it to the throat of the dealer.
     Two days later, on August 30, Soapy, his brother Bascomb, John "Shoot-Your-Eye-Out Jack" Vermillion, John Fatty Gray" Morris, and possibly “Auctioneer Roberts” as well as J. W. Allen, are involved in a shootout at the Pocatello, Idaho train depot.
     On October 15, 1889, forty-six days after the Pocatello gunfight, Jeff comes back in Denver and is immediately arrested.Originally it was thought that the arrest had to do with the beating of John Arkins, but it is likely that this new arrest and charge is for the knife at the dealers throat incident just before leaving Denver. So how did it end? That's the mystery at this time. The case seems to have simply vanished.

"Never play cards, or shoot pool, with a guy nicknamed after a city."


1620: The Mayflower, with 102 passengers, arrives at Provincetown, Massachusetts from Plymouth, England.
1789: North Carolina is the 12th state to ratify the Constitution.
1860: Tom Horn is born in Memphis, Missouri. During his life he worked as a Cavalry scout, Pinkerton detective, range detective, and an outlaw. In 1888 he won a championship steer roping contest. In Wyoming he is tried and hung for the murder of 14-year-old Willie Nickell, a crime that some believe he did not commit. While awaiting execution, Horn made the rope used to hang him, one day before his 43rd birthday.
1867: Carry Amelia Moore's (Carry Nation) wedding in Missouri is delayed due to her drunken groom, Dr. Charles Gloyd, a severe alcoholic. The couple has a daughter, Charlien, who suffers from mental difficulties. Their marriage ends in 1869. Carry believed that her husband's alcohol consumption has caused her child's problems. Charlien is eventually committed to the Texas State Lunatic Asylum (the same asylum Soapy Smith’s father was institutionalized in). Carry meets and weds Dr. David A. Nation in 1877. In 1889 Carry begins her radical temperance life, starting a local branch or of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.
1871: M. F. Galethe patents the cigar lighter.
1871: The corpses of two stagecoach robbers, named Taylor and Burns, are brought to Cimarron, New Mexico Territory, after being killed by Bounty hunters on October 31, 1871 near Fort Union.
1877: Thomas A. Edison announces the invention of the phonograph.
1880: Outlaw Billy the Kid, and four of his gang, steal eight horses from the Grzelachowski ranch in New Mexico Territory.
1883: Chet Van Meter, accused of beating his family and threatening others, is shot and killed by Deputy U.S. Marshal Cash Hollister and Ben Wheeler in Caldwell, Kansas. Upon seeing the approaching lawmen, Meter fired his revolver at them. They returned fire, killing Meter with five wounds to the chest.
1884: Denver, Colorado Police Chief William Smith shuts down every gambling house in the city. The reform lasted one month.
1887: The first Montana Central train arrives in Helena, Montana, in a snowstorm.
1891: Bat Masterson marries Denver Palace Theater song and dance performer Emma Walters. It is in the Palace Theater that bad man Soapy Smith and Ed Chase met their wives as well. Ed Chase operated the Palace, which was described as “a death-trap to young men, a foul den of vice and corruption.” In 1887, Chase partnered with bad man Soapy Smith in opening the Tivoli Club, a saloon and gaming house.
1900: Wild Bunch outlaws Robert Leroy “Butch Cassidy” Parker, Harry “The Sundance Kid” Longabaugh, Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan, Ben “The Tall Texan” Kilpatrick, and Will Carver sit for the famous "Fort Worth Five" photo, in Fort Worth, Texas.

November 20, 2017

Artifact #55: Soapy's son writes to Edwin B. Smith, 1905

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our father and I were sincere friends and I honor his memory.
Artifact #55

Soapy Smith's son, Jefferson Randolph Smith III was born February 8, 1887, which means at the writing of this letter he was eight days into his eighteenth year. Is his age just a coincidence for contacting his 46 year old first cousin, once removed? Was he looking for a job in Washington D.C. where Edwin lived and worked? Jefferson worked for a newspaper and got into politics, just as Edwin did, so it seeks very possible that Jeff wanted to know about one field or the other, and perhaps even both! 

February 16, 1905

My dear young kinsman:

I was very much pleased to hear from you and hope you write from time to time let me know how you and your family are getting on. There is always a place in the world for a young man of industry, patience and courage; and a man who is absolutely determined to make something of himself is almost certain to succeed. Your father and I were sincere friends and I honor his memory. Give your mother and sisters my love and best wishes. It is possible that I may go to St. Louis on my way to Texas when the year is out and if so I will be sure to pay you a visit. If there was anything for a youth to do in this city I would like to see you here but the field here is barren of opportunities. With best wishes,

Edwin B. Smith

to Mr. Jefferson R Smith
St. Louis, Mo.

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     The letter was postmarked in Washington D.C. on February 16, 1905 at 7 AM. It was postmarked in St. Louis, Missouri on February 17, 1905 at 8 PM. Meaning that it traveled about 834 miles in 37 hours. Not bad for 1905.

Stationary logo
Circa 1904-1905
Note the leafless tree is the same one in the photo below
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The New Willard
Circa 1904
Courtesy of Library of Congress
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     The stationary and envelope comes from the New Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. It was common in the 19th century for people to utilize "free to customers" stationary from hotels, saloons, and other businesses stationary. Edwin may have obtained some, or even possibly lived in the newly renovated hotel.
    Still standing and listed on the national register of historic places with the National Park Service, The Williard underwent a massive transformation at the turn of the century, becoming the New Willard.
     The new Willard, designed by New York architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh and erected by the George A. Fuller Company, was hailed at its opening as Washington's first skyscraper. Completed in 1904, the new building saw an addition of 100 rooms in 1925, broadening the F Street facade by about 49 feet. The property remained in the Willard family until 1946, closed in 1968, and underwent extensive renovation, again opening its doors in 1986.
Further information on the Willard and the New Willard can be found at the NPS.

Jefferson Randolph Smith III (Soapy's son)
: pages 7, 107-08, 167, 417-18, 546, 584, 587-89.
Edwin Bobo Smith: pages 20, 22-30, 35, 32, 36, 333, 425, 428, 444-49, 589.

"I think you hit him"
—Soapy to Texas Ranger Richard Ware
after Ware shot outlaw Sam Bass
July 19, 1878, Round Rock, Texas
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 31.


1789: New Jersey becomes the first state to ratify the Constitution.
1868: Fort Omaha, Nebraska is established.
1868: A Denver mob seizes captured criminal Sam Dougan from Denver City Marshal Dave Cook and hang him from a tree. Dougan and Ed Franklin had robbed Police Judge Orson Brooks of $100. The pair fled to Golden, Colorado where Cook shot and killed Franklin and captured Dougan.
1879: The Tabor Opera House, built by the “Silver King” Horace “Haw” Tabor, in Leadville, Colorado opens.
1880: Charles Earl “Black Bart” Bowles robs the Redding, California-Roseburg, Oregon stagecoach in California, a mile from the Oregon state line.
1884: Deputy U.S. Marshal Cash Hollister is shot and killed by Bob Cross, a man wanted for adultery. Hollister and three other lawmen are at the Cross farm in Hunnewell, Kansas, where Cross' wife and sister deny he is there. When Hollister comes across Cross, the latter shoots twice, killing him.
1892: “Chief” Jeff “Soapy” Smith presents his fraternity, the Improved Order of Red men, with a war bonnet that came directly off the battlefield of Wounded Knee.
1901: North West Mounted Police in the Yukon, Canada are on alert due to an imaginary threat of an American invasion. The threat is orchestrated by the Order of the Midnight Sun, an organization formed by American miners. The plans for the invasion are made in jest, out of boredom, and never meant to be leaked outside the membership.
1901: The second Hay-Pauncefoot Treaty providing for construction of the Panama Canal, is signed by the U.S.
1903: Tom Horn, Cavalry scout, Pinkerton detective, range detective, champion steer roper, and outlaw, is tried and hung in Wyoming, for the murder of 14-year-old Willie Nickell, a crime that some believe he did not commit. While awaiting execution, Horn made the rope used to hang him, one day before his 43rd birthday.

November 19, 2017

Soapy Smith's corrections to the Seattle Daily Times: 03/30/1898

Read the entire text below
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 am still here in business, and expect to remain. 
Respectfully yours,
Called “SOAPY.”

In February 1898 The early steamship crews and returning miners gave scolding accounts of Skagway and Soapy Smith. The Seattle Daily Times had called Soapy a crook who controlled Skaguay. Although he indeed was a crook and he did control the town, he had no intentions of admitting it or allowing others to talk about it without rebuttal. Things began to pick up for Soapy's reign in March. The vigilante committee of 101 had tried to rebel in early March but were quickly cowed into non-action of their threats, the opening of Jeff Smith's Parlor, the start of the Spanish-American War and Soapy's private militia moved Soapy's popularity high enough among the citizens and merchants that he retained his position. Being settled in Skaguay, he sought to extend his enhanced reputation, towards the newspaper attacks in Seattle and San Francisco. He first sent a rebuttal to Seattle, which the Times published.


Writes From Skaguay Correcting False Impressions.

Which The Times Most Cordially Grants—States That He Is On The Side of Law and Order and Was Never Convicted of Crime.

     “Soapy Smith” of Skaguay sends The Times the following courteous letter, which is cheerfully published:
     SKAGWAY, ALASKA, March 22, 1898.
     Editor The Times—Dear Sir: I have noticed at different times various pieces similar to the one enclosed in regard to myself. I beg leave to state that I have no gang, and that I have not been ordered out of Skaguay, or any other place, and that I expect to live here as long as I see fit to. I have taken the side of law and order here time and time again, and all reports like the one enclosed are base falsehoods. I helped a lot of citizens stop a murderous mob from hanging a man that no one knew whether guilty or not, and thereby caused the dislike of some of the members of the murderous outfit. I acknowledge I have been in the saloon and gambling business for a number of years, and when all games and saloons were placed under strict police surveillance. And I have never had any trouble in my place of business; was never convicted of any crime in my life, and don’t think that I am being treated right. I don’t think you want to hurt me or my business by publishing such stories, as I am sure I [have] never done you or anyone an injury without cause. I am still here in business, and expect to remain. Respectfully yours,
Called “SOAPY.”

When Soapy received a copy of the March 30, 1898 Seattle Daily Times, he clipped out the article for his personal scrapbook. The original clipping (artifact #143) resides in my personal collection.

Newspaper clipping: page 491.

"But it could be set down as a rule, old-time gamblers say, when “Soapy” Smith sat down to play that the dealer folded back his shirtsleeves another notch and the lookout man took up a fresh chew tobacco and moved his chair closer."
Rocky Mountain News, July 11, 1915


1794: Britain's King George III signs the Jay Treaty, resolving the issues left over from the American Revolution.
1850: The first life insurance policy for a woman is issued to 36-year-old Carolyn Ingraham, purchasing the policy in Madison, New Jersey.
1856: Lieutenant Walter Jenifer and a detachment of Company B, 2nd Cavalry, are on a scout from Fort Mason, Texas, when they attack a band of Comanche Indians near the Llano River.
1861: An attempt to take Indian Territory by Confederate forces fails in a battle at Round Mountain.
1863: President Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of a national battlefield cemetery in Pennsylvania.
1872: Fort McKeen, Dakota Territory, is renamed Fort Abraham Lincoln.
1873: Outlaw James Reed, the first husband of outlaw Belle Starr, and two accomplices, rob the Watt Grayson family of $30,000 in the Choctaw Nation.
1879: Vigilantes force their way into the Leadville, Colorado jail and lynched two prisoners. A note of warning was pinned to one of the corpses.
1880: Corteze D. “Cort” Thomson loses a foot-race in Greelet, Colorado for a $250 side-bet. Thomson is the lover of Denver brothel madame Martha A. “Mattie” Silks. In 1892 Thomson is involved with bad man Soapy Smith in the shooting death of gambler cliff Sparks in Denver. In 1898 Silks accuses Soapy of plotting to murder her.
1881: Virgil Earp testifies at the gunfight behind the O.K. Corral hearings in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.
1887: The Montana Central Railroad line, between Helena and Great Falls Montana, is completed.
1893: The first newspaper color supplement is published in the New York World.
1895: The "paper pencil" is patented by Frederick E. Blaisdell.

November 17, 2017

Soapy Smith musical

The cast of Stonecliff pose
during the death scene of Soapy Smith.
Is that Jesse Murphy about to shoot Soapy?

(courtesy of Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
(Click image to enlarge)

     Originally, this was to be a post about a play (this one a musical) in which "Soapy" Smith play a part. While that is newsworthy for this blog and Soapy family and fans, I did not take much notice of the photograph of the actors rehearsing until I was ready to publish the post. It appears that (1) Frank Reid (left) is wounded in the lower region, a pistol lays nearby. (2) Soapy (center) is laying down, appearing to be holding his leg (as if wounded), with no rifle nearby, and reaching one arm towards (3) another man (right) who has a rifle, perhaps just grabbing it away from Soapy and now pointing it at him? Could this third man be Jesse Murphy? Is this all just coincidence, or did the writer of the play Stonecliff read Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel, or perhaps one of my many blog posts? Very interesting.

hite Pass and Yukon Route musical chugs on without director.

The cast and crew of Stonecliff are pushing forward without Conrad Boyce, who went on medical leave.
Jackie Hong Nov. 16, 2017 8:00 a.m.
At the 11th hour, the cast and crew of Stonecliff, an upcoming musical about railway builder Michael James Heney and the construction of the White Pass and Yukon Route, hit an unexpected obstacle that threatened to derail months of preparation and work.

With less than two weeks before Stonecliff was set to debut in Whitehorse, creator, director and producer Conrad Boyce told the company Nov. 5 he’d experienced a medical issue and needed to fly to Ontario for surgery the next day. He wouldn’t be able to return in time for the opening night Nov. 17, or for any other part of the musical’s tour.

“We were shocked. It’s not something you’d expect,” actor Doug Rutherford said in a phone interview Nov. 8.

But within hours, and over orders of pizza, the shock had given way to planning. The cast and crew decided against pulling the plug and instead, like Heney, chose to forge ahead, splitting up Boyce’s responsibilities among themselves to make sure Stonecliff would make it to the stage as planned.

“It’s really important for us, I think, to go ahead, and it’s an important story and it’s a local story that we can all feel passion for,” said actress Angela Drainville, who, on top of playing Harriet “Ma” Pullen, took over as producer for the Whitehorse run. “I think we were all committed to making sure that it was staged and (that we) really do justice to the presentation and we are confident that we will be able to do that, so here we are.”

Named after Heney’s hometown of Stonecliff, ON., the musical, which stars Shaw Festival actor Billy Lake, follows the struggles and triumphs of Henney and his crew as they build the White Pass and Yukon Route, taking the audience on a journey from from Skagway to Carcross to Whitehorse.

“It’s one of those perfect musicals where it has all of those experiences — it has some tragedy, certainly, you can’t build a railroad without tragedy, but there’s also a lot of great comedic and romantic moments where you’re released from that drama as well,” Drainville said.

Producing the Whitehorse leg felt like a natural fit, she added, since she’s familiar with the Yukon Arts Centre and has extensive experience with producing events, including the annual Atlin Arts and Music Festival.

Other cast members who stepped in include story narrator Bruce Barrett, who will be producing the shows in Skagway and Dawson, actor RP Singh, who will be doubling as technical director and playing character Reverend Sinclair actor James McCullough, who will be filling in as director as well as portraying John Hislop, and actor Brett Chandler, who’s taking over logistical and transportation coordination.

“It’s amazing, actually, how many hats Conrad was wearing, because there seems to be far more people wearing far more hats than they used to, than we were Sunday,” said Rutherford, who’s portraying Eratus Hawkins. Rutherford had originally stepped forward to produce the Anchorage portion of the tour, but the cast and crew ultimately decided, under the circumstances, to scrap it and focus on the Whitehorse, Skagway and Dawson stops instead.

Boyce had also left the cast and crew in as good of a position as he could have, Barrett said, which made continuing on without him easier.

“We more or less just looked at it and we decided it was doable because the actual show itself was kind of at, let’s say, the 95th percentile of completion. The hard work of actual production and direction and all the artistic components, all of these things were in place and the show was really looking pretty good, so I think that’s what made us decide that, yes, we can carry on,” he said.

“I think we’re getting pretty settled in at this point. I would definitely say we’re almost to where we would be comfortable in saying (it’s) business as usual.”

And in a poetic sort of way, Boyce’s departure and the cast and crew persevering through the challenge of filling in the gaps he left has brought everyone even closer to the story, Barrett said.

“It’s so interesting because it’s a show which is all about overcoming adversity,” he said. “The story’s (about) the unlikely success of, basically, a farm boy from the Ottawa Valley who wound up being renowned as the greatest railway man in North America and his passion and his dedication and his ingenuity and his inventiveness which allowed him to do the things he did. I would say, we’re all taking a bit of inspiration from that right now, so that makes the show very much in the spirit of the show’s hero far more so than anybody would have ever predicted.”

Drainville agreed.

“I think it’s really giving us an understanding, a little bit, of what Michael Henney went through in terms of building the railway, in terms of now staging, making sure this gets to the stage without Conrad,” she said, laughing. “There’s an allegory there.”

Stonecliff runs Nov. 17 to 19 at the Yukon Arts Centre.

SOURCE: yukon-news

"It is said of “Soapy” Smith that he lost more money at faro than any other man in the history of Denver, and old-time gamblers do not dispute the claim."
Rocky Mountain News, July 11, 1915


1800: Congress holds its first session inside the partially completed Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
1856: Fort Buchanan, named for recently elected President James Buchanan, is established near the Sonoita River in southern Arizona as part of the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. The fort protects emigrants traveling through the new territory from the Apache Indians, who are strongly resisting Anglo incursions.
1863: Council Bluffs, Iowa is designated the eastern terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad by President Lincoln.
1871: The city of Boulder is incorporated in Colorado Territory.
1874: An earthquake is reported in Yuma, Arizona Territory.
1877: Outlaw Jesse Evans and his gang escape Lincoln, New Mexico Territory after jailers “forgot” to lock the cell doors the night before.
1882: Indian Chief Rain in the Face and 500 Sioux surrender at Fort Keogh, Montana.
1883: Charles E. “Black Bart” Bowles, is sentenced to 6 years in San Andreas, California prison after confessing to the November 3, 1883 stagecoach robbery.
1890: Indian uprising is reported in Mandan, North Dakota.
1896: Judge Isaac “hanging judge” Parker dies from heart trouble and dropsy. Parker had been a Congressman, appointed federal judge for the Western District of Arkansas with jurisdiction over Indian Territory. He sentenced more than 160 to death, although only 79 were actually executed.

November 16, 2017

Martial Law: Skagway July 18, 1898

(Click image to enlarge)


Boston Daily Advertiser July 18, 1898


Proclaimed by United States Troops in Skaguay.

     Skaguay, July 16. — Martial law was declared in Skaguay as a result of the result of the killing of “Soapy” Smith, a notorious gambler, and the subsequent arrest of several members of his associates.
     Bowers, one of the ringleaders, had stolen $27,000 from a returned Dawson city miner. The men refused to refund the money, which led to an indignation meeting, and the shooting of “Soapy” Smith.
     Citizens then armed with Winchesters patrolled the streets announcing their intention to arrest all implicated with the dead gambler. The search resulted in the apprehension of Bowers and about a dozen others.
     Capt. Yeatman, of the 14th inf., Stationed at Dyea, brought the soldiers to Skaguay and proclaimed martial law, and according to passengers on the steamer City of Seattle, Yeatman, fearing his inability to restrain the citizens who threatened to lunch the prisoners, decided to give the men a chance for their lives and allow them to go free.


     There have always been problems with getting facts straight in newspapers. In the nineteenth century much depended on the word of others, and they usually list and quote people in order to protect their reputations as a reliable source for information. Sometimes, as in the example above, the newspapers get it all wrong, and with no one to blame but themselves. Following are a few of the errors.
  • Martial law was not declared in Skagway, Alaska in 1898.
  • It was approximately $2,670 that was stolen not $27,000.
  • Captain Yeatman stopped the vigilantes from lynching the members of the Soap Gang, but he did not "allow them to go free."

Fantasy piece

Captain R. T. Yeatman: pages 550-51, 566-67, 569.

"An axiom often quoted by Smith was that every man is a sucker to the wily schemes of some other man."
Rocky Mountain News, July 11, 1915