September 8, 2017

Another photo of the Soapy Smith gang?

A few of the Soapy Smith Gang
Waiting for a boat to arrive
authors collection
(Click image to enlarge)







ET ANOTHER MISIDENTIFIED PHOTOGRAPH 
of the Soap Gang.

The clothing suggests 1910-1930. Soapy Smith died in 1898. No provenance that these are/were members of the Soap Gang.








"He is the most gracious, kindhearted man I’ve met. To know him is to like him."
—William Saportas



SEPTEMBER 8


1565: A Spanish expedition establishes the first permanent European settlement in North America at present-day St. Augustine, Florida.
1664: The Dutch surrender New Amsterdam to the British, who then rename it New York.
1866: The first recorded birth of sextuplets is born to James and Jennie Bushnell of Chicago, Illinois.
1868: A battle between seven Sioux Indian warriors and members of the Gros Ventre, Ree, and Mandan Indian tribes occurs near Fort Berthold, Dakota Territory. The Sioux fire shots across a river and members of the Three Affiliated Tribes give chase. One Sioux Indian is caught, killed, and scalped.
1868: Indians kill 17 settlers in a raid near Cimarron Crossing, Kansas.
1879: Arista Webb settles an argument with Barney Martin by delivering a deadly blow to Martin's head with the butt of a Winchester rifle, in Dodge City, Kansas. Webb was immediately arrested, eventually facing convicted and execution.
1879: Female gambler Eleanore “Madame Mustache” Dumont commits suicide with a bottle of poison in Bodie, California.
1881: The Bisbee to Tombstone stage in Arizona Territory is robbed. Interviews of the passengers reveal that one of the masked robbers had said, "Have we got all the sugar?" This is said to have been a favorite phrase of Sheriff John Behan's deputy sheriff, Frank Stilwell. Boot marks at the scene match Stilwell's boots. Stilwell and Pete Spence are arrested in Bisbee and returned to stand trial in Tombstone.
1893: Gambler Luke Short dies of natural causes in Geuda Springs, Kansas.
1892: An early version of "The Pledge of Allegiance" appears in The Youth's Companion.




September 2, 2017

Another Soapy Smith Derringer?

SOAPY SMITH'S SOUTHERN DERINGER?

Photo courtesy of Amoskeag Auction Co.
(Click image to enlarge)






NOTHER SOAPY SMITH DERRINGER?

     Called the "Soapy Smith" Southerner Deringer, lot 197 was set to sell in the August 29, 2015 auction run by Amoskeag Auction Company of Manchester, New Hampshire, with a starting bid of $3,000 - $4,000. The pistol failed to meet the minimum required bid.
     These days all one has to do is Google "Soapy Smith" and a plethora of sites are available to all who take the time to read. Because of this fact, I had to chuckle when I saw the following statement in the auction description.
"Except for the killing of vigilante Frank Reid on the same day of his demise none of the documentation provided indicates any gunfights by 'Soapy' that would support the four notches in this pistol but considering his background anything is possible."
Had the auction house gone to the "Violent Clashes" page of our main website they would have seen a listing of the known gunfights Soapy had taken a part in. The "four notches in this pistol," reminds me that there is no evidence of anyone in the old west actually carving notches into the grips of their pistols, keeping tabs of the men they had killed. This was an invention of fiction writers. 


four notches
Photo courtesy of Amoskeag Auction Co.
(Click image to enlarge)

Provenance?

     A letter written by J. Cornell purports that he took this pistol off the body of "Soapy" Smith after the shooting, along with two $20.00 eagle coins. He passed it on to John Jack McPhee on April 8, 1930. In his letter to McPhee he explains how his cabin was flooded by overflow from a river and badly rusted the gun. A small binder with letters purportedly from Mr. Cornell and other owners is included. The binder also has some "Soapy" Smith background, a chronological list of all owners before Mr. Riggs and period photos of the Skagway area and Smith. This Southerner would pass through seven hands before being purchased by Mr. Riggs [Elliott Riggs Collection].
     I could not find a Cornell listed in the known Skagway population. This is not proof that he was not there, but rather that his name is know listed in my records or in the name files from the Skagway Museum.
     The story of a Derringer found in Soapy's pocket closely resembles the gun and story told by Reverend Sinclair that appears in Mission: Klondike, the story of Reverend John A. Sinclair's adventures in Alaska and the Klondike during the gold rush, written by the Reverend's son in 1978. The Sinclair Derringer, a Colt's Model 3, .41 rim-fire is said to have been the derringer carried by Soapy. Historical logic and gun history suggests that both rim-fire weapons were outdated "antiques" by 1898, that neither would have been logical choices for a man who had already survived numerous gunfights, to carry around for personal safety. All of the newspapers prior to Soapy's time in Alaska, spoke of "large frame" revolvers being carried and used by Soapy. No "small pistols" are ever mentioned.  


Description:

     Brown Manufacturing Company Southerner Deringer, serial #6812, 41 rim fire, 2 1/2" octagon barrel with a lightly oxidized and frosted bore. This very good condition brass frame Southerner is purported to belong to 19th century conman Jefferson Randolf [sic] "Soapy" Smith who met his demise in Alaska plying his trade. The barrel is a brown patina with scattered pitting. The frame has tarnished to a dark bronze color with scattered light handling marks and fine casting defects. The hammer and trigger have worn to brown with oxidation blemishes and pinprick pitting. The smooth rosewood grips rate very good with light handling marks and four "notches" cut into the right panel. The barrel and grips are numbered to the gun but the extractor is not. The loading notch no longer functions and the full cock notch, while operational, requires an unusually heavy pull to release. The barrel to frame fit is loose with varying degrees of slot damage present on the screws. Mr. Smith got his nickname from a favorite scam of his, where he would buy boxes of 5 cent bar soap, set up a small table and announce to all in earshot that they had the chance of winning $20.00, $50.00 or even more for a few dollars investment. As he spoke he would wrap several of the bars with twenty dollar or larger bills in front of his hapless victims add them to the pile of soap bars and start selling them for $5.00 or more each. He would remove these seeded bars from the pile with sleight of hand or mark them for his "shills" to buy. His "suckers" would eagerly buy or bid for them hoping for a quick profit especially, when the shills in the audience would proclaim how they "found" money in the bar they "bought". After selling the last bar he would quickly pack up and leave with only him and his gang having profited. "Soapy" was a true crime boss of his time and he and his gang caused so much trouble that members of the Skagway "Committee of 101" (vigilantes) took action. One report indicates he was killed on July 8, 1898 by members of the "Committee of 101" in the shootout in Skagway, where he used a Winchester rifle to kill vigilante Frank Reid before another Committee member gunned him down; but others claim it was at the hand of a U.S Marshall. Except for the killing of vigilante Frank Reid on the same day of his demise none of the documentation provided indicates any gunfights by "Soapy" that would support the four notches in this pistol but considering his background anything is possible.











The Guns of Soapy Smith: February 4, 2010


* Another source is the main Soapy Smith website which has a page on Soapy's Weapons.



"The author’s father and his siblings resided with Mary, known to them as “Mammy.” She often spoke of their grandfather’s behavior. Mammy loved her beer and whiskey mix, which she said was for her rheumatism. On Saturdays after a few of these concoctions, she would enlighten the author with fascinating stories of Soapy. Then for the gift of her stories, she “let him: clean her wooden floors. "
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 7



SEPTEMBER 2


1775: The first American war vessel, Hannah is commissioned by General George Washington.
1789: The Treasury Department is established.
1862: Sioux Indian Chief Little Crow and his warriors attack an Army encampment in Minnesota. Gunfire is heard at the Lower Agency in Birch Coulie and troops stationed there race to the spot, but not before 24 soldiers are killed and 67 wounded.
1864: Union forces led by General William T. Sherman occupy Atlanta, Georgia during the Civil War.
1868: Indians attack a mail escort at Little Coon Creek, Kansas. Three Indians are killed, and three soldiers are wounded.
1868: Famed Texas and Dodge City, Kansas gambler Benjamin F. Thompson shoots and wounds his brother-in-law and spends two of a four-year sentence in the Texas State Penitentiary.
1868: William “Billy” Thompson and U.S. Army Sergeant William Burke go to a house of prostitution in Austin, Texas, where upon seeing three drunken soldiers sleeping outside, Thompson suggests that they strip the trio and hide their clothes. Burke refuses, and later that night he burst in on a sleeping Thompson and threatens to drive him outside naked. Thompson shoots Burke, who dies the following day. Thompson is able to flee the state and arrest.
1884: Fire destroys 22 buildings, including the Missoula National Bank in Missoula, Montana.
1885: Twenty-Eight Chinese coal miners and general laborers are killed in Rock Springs, Wyoming by other striking coal miners who were upset about the refusal of the Chinese to join the strike against the Union Pacific Coal Department. In 1887 the U.S. government paid $147,748.74 in restitution to China as a result of the clash.
1887: Andy “Andy Cooper” Blevins, a hired killer, leads some of his brothers and other cattlemen on a night ambush of the Tewksbury sheep camp in Pleasant Valley, Arizona Territory, shooting and killing John Tewksbury and Bill Jacobs. This occurs during a range war called the Graham-Tewksbury Feud.
1889: Soapy Smith writes a five-page letter to his wife Mary giving details of the shootout at the Pocatello train depot that occurred two days previous on August 30th.
1897: Previously known as Queens Magazine and Queen of Fashion, the first issue of McCall’s magazine is published.
1901: Vice President Theodore Roosevelt utters his famous "Speak softly and carry a big stick" phrase during a speech at the Minnesota State Fair.




August 24, 2017

Soapy Smith in court: The US Commissioner journal for Dyea, Alaska, 1898; Part 8.

Violet "Vie" Torpy arrested"Mrs. Michael J. Torpy"
"keeping a house of ill-fame"
Courtesy Alaska State Archives
(Click image to enlarge)







IVIL AND CRIMINAL ACTIONS
The legal journal of the U.S. Commissioner Court
Dyea, Alaska; part eight of eight parts.


     The following is the last of an eight part series of articles regarding the journal of legal proceedings regarding Soapy Smith and the Soap Gang in Skagway, Alaska, started by U.S. Commissioner John U. Smith. On this case Commissioner Smith has been replaced by Charles Augustus Sehlbrede.
    On Friday, July 8, 1898, Soapy Smith was shot and killed in the shootout on Juneau Wharf. Minor members of the Soap Gang were deported out of Skagway, Violet Torpy (Mrs Michael J. Torpy) was one of those forced to leave. Following is the transcription of the events listed on page 438 compiled by Commissioner Sehlbrede.

The United States Commissioners Court for the District of Alaska at Dyea

United States vs Mrs. M. J. Torpy - Violation Sec 651 (1867) O.C. [Oregon Code]

July 15, 1898
     Complaint filed by H. L. Swaggart, charging defendant with keeping a house of ill-fame [prostitution], and warrant for the arrest of defendant issued.
     Defendant arrested and brought before the court and being advised as to the nature of the charge filed against her, and as to her right to the benefit of counsel, waived counsel and proceeded with the examination.
     The follow witnesses were sworn and testified upon the part of the prosecution for the United States: John Schroder; J. M. Tanner, F. F. Lelank; J. L. Speery; H. E. Batten [Battin] and H. L. Swaggart.
     The following witnesses were sworn and testified upon part of the defendant.
     J. F. Burkhard and S. S. Roberts.
     The defendant being then advised as to her right to make or waive making a statement not under oath, proceeded to and made statement not under oath which said statement was reduced to writing by the court in the presence of the defendant, and after being read over to the defendant, the same was signed by the defendant in the presence of the court.
     It appearing to me from the testimony produced before me on the examination that the crime of keeping a house of ill-fame has been committed, and that there is sufficient cause to believe the defendant Mrs. M. J. Torpy guilty thereof, I order him to be held to answer the same and I have admitted him to bail in the sum of one thousand dollars.
     Commitment issued and with the defendant and committed delivered to James M. Shoup United States Commissioner Marshal James M. Shoup.

C. A. Sehlbrede
United States Commissioner for Alaska.



* A very special thank you to Art Petersen who located and copied the pages of the journal.











Commissioner's Journal: part 1.
Commissioner's Journal: part 2.
Commissioner's Journal: part 3.
Commissioner's Journal: part 4.
Commissioner's Journal: part 5.
Commissioner's Journal: part 6.
Commissioner's Journal: part 7.











U.S. Commissioner Charles Augustus Sehlbrede: pp. 506-07, 514, 520-21, 527, 529, 533, 537, 542, 544, 547-48, 550, 553, 557, 562-63, 566-67, 570-71, 575, 577.
Violet "Vie" Torpy [Tarpy]: pp. 573.
Joseph Burkhard: pp. 91, 452, 461, 521, 565-67.
Josias M. Tanner: pp. 82, 459, 500, 530, 533, 535, 541, 544, 547-49, 551, 562, 564, 566-71, 575-79, 582.
H. E. Batten [Battin]: pp. 543, 567, 571.






"In the 1930s while involved in St. Louis political circles, Jefferson thought such exposure could jeopardize his position in the city. He even went so far as to hide the enormous collection of Soapy Smith documents and memorabilia behind wall panels in the basement of the family home. John Randolph Smith, the author’s father, told of the hiding place and how he would sneak down and play with the rifle, faro cards, gaming equipment, and old hat and coat secreted there."
Alias Soapy Smith, page 7








Soapy Smith in court: The US Commissioner journal for Dyea, Alaska, 1898; Part 7.

Harry Bronson arrested
"Concealing stolen property"
Courtesy Alaska State Archives
(Click image to enlarge)





Previous version
"Being an accessory after the fact"
Courtesy Alaska State Archives
(Click image to enlarge)






IVIL AND CRIMINAL ACTIONS
The legal journal of the U.S. Commissioner Court
Dyea, Alaska; part seven of eight parts.


     The following is part six of a series of articles regarding the journal of legal proceedings regarding Soapy Smith and the Soap Gang in Skagway, Alaska, started by U.S. Commissioner John U. Smith. On this case Commissioner Smith has been replaced by Charles Augustus Sehlbrede.
    On Friday, July 8, 1898, Soapy Smith was shot and killed in the shootout on Juneau Wharf. Soap Gang member Harry Bronson was charged with "concealing" J. D. Stewards gold poke and was arrested. Following are the two transcriptions of the events listed on page 433 and 437 compiled by Commissioner Sehlbrede. First page 433.

The United States Commissioners Court for the District of Alaska at Dyea

United States vs Harry Bronson - Violation Sec 534 (1742) Oregon Code

July 9th 1898
     Complaint charging defendant with being accessory after the fact to the crime of larceny from the person of another sworn to by J. M. Tanner filed, and warrant for arrest of defendant issued.

July 9th 1898
     J. M. Tanner appointed by the court to serve warrant.

July 9 15, 1898
     Defendant brought before the court, and upon being asked his true name stated it to be Harry Bronson, and being by the court advised of the nature of the charge against him, and of his right to the aid of counsel, waived examination.
     Whereupon it is adjudged that the defendant George Harry Bronson be held to answer for the crime of being an accessory after the fact to the crime of larceny from the person of another. It therefore appearing to me that the crime of larceny from the person of another has been committed and that there is sufficient cause to believe the said defendant guilty of being an accessory after the fact thereof I order him to be held to answer the same, and I have admitted him to bail in the sum of ten thousand ($10,000.) dollars.
     Commitment issued, and with the defendant placed in the hands of the United States Marshal James M. Shoup.

C. A. Sehlbrede
United States Commissioner for Alaska.

Page 437 changed the charge of "being accessory after the fact to the crime of larceny," to "concealing stolen property."

The United States Commissioners Court for the District of Alaska at Dyea

Violation Sec 561 (1774)
United States
vs
Harry Bronson

July 9th 1898
     Complaint charging defendant with the crime of concealing stolen property sworn to by J. M. Tanner, filed, and warrant for arrest of defendant issued.

July 15, 1898
     Defendant arrested and brought before the court, and upon being asked his true name gave it as Harry Bronson.
     The defendant being advised as to the charge filed against him, and his right to aid of counsel, waived examination.
     Whereupon it is adjudged that the defendant be held to answer for the crime of concealing stolen property.
     It therefore appearing to me that the crime of concealing stolen property has been committed, and that there is sufficient cause to believe the defendant Harry Bronson guilty thereof. I order him to be held to answer the same, and have admitted him to bail in the sum of ten thousand dollars.
     Commitment issued and with the defendant delivered to United States Marshal James M. Shoup.

C. A. Sehlbrede
United States Commissioner.


* A very special thank you to Art Petersen who located and copied the pages of the journal.










Commissioner's Journal: part 1.
Commissioner's Journal: part 2.
Commissioner's Journal: part 3.
Commissioner's Journal: part 4.
Commissioner's Journal: part 5.
Commissioner's Journal: part 6.
Commissioner's Journal: part 8.












U.S. Commissioner Charles Augustus Sehlbrede: pp. 506-07, 514, 520-21, 527, 529, 533, 537, 542, 544, 547-48, 550, 553, 557, 562-63, 566-67, 570-71, 575, 577.
Harry L. "Red" Bronson: pp. 566, 575.
Josias. M. Tanner: pp. 82, 459, 500, 530, 533, 535, 541, 544, 547-49, 551, 562, 564, 566-71, 575-79, 582.




"The citizens have called a mass meeting to consider what steps are to be taken, and it means a fight, and they look to us to lead them."
—Samuel H. Graves
President of the White Pass and Yukon Railway








Soapy Smith in court: The US Commissioner journal for Dyea, Alaska, 1898; Part 6.

Sylvester S. Taylor arrested
Deputy U.S. Marshal

"Wilful neglect of official duty"
Courtesy Alaska State Archives
(Click image to enlarge)







IVIL AND CRIMINAL ACTIONS
The legal journal of the U.S. Commissioner Court
Dyea, Alaska; part six of eight parts.



     The following is part six of a series of articles regarding the journal of legal proceedings regarding Soapy Smith and the Soap Gang in Skagway, Alaska, started by U.S. Commissioner John U. Smith. On this case Commissioner Smith has been replaced by Charles Augustus Sehlbrede.
    On Friday, July 8, 1898, Soapy Smith was shot and killed in the shootout on Juneau Wharf. It was discovered that Deputy U.S. Marshal Sylvester S. Taylor was in league with Soapy Smith and his gang. Following is the transcription of the events listed on page 436 compiled by Commissioner Sehlbrede.

The United States Commissioners Court for the District of Alaska at Dyea

United States vs S. S. Taylor - Violation Sec 636 (1852) OC [Oregon Code]

July 15, 1898
     Complaint charging defendant as United States Deputy Marshal with wilful neglect of official duty sworn to by J. D. Stewart, filed.

July 15, 1898
     Warrant issued and placed in hands of United States Deputy Marshal J. M. Tanner for service.

July 15, 1898
     Defendant arrested and brought before the court, and being advised of the nature of the charge against him, and of his right to the aid of counsel, defendant waived examination.
     Whereupon it is adjudged that the defendant be held to answer for the crime of wilful neglect of official duty.
     It therefore appearing to me that the crime of wilful neglect of official duty has been committed and that there is sufficient cause to believe the defendant S. S. Taylor guilty thereof, I order him to be held to answer the same and I have admitted him to bail in the sum of five thousand dollars.
     Commitment issued and with the defendant delivered to United States Marshal James M. Shoup.

C. A. Sehlbrede
United States Commissioner.


* A very special thank you to Art Petersen who located and copied the pages of the journal.










Commissioner's Journal: part 1.
Commissioner's Journal: part 2.
Commissioner's Journal: part 3.
Commissioner's Journal: part 4.
Commissioner's Journal: part 5.
Commissioner's Journal: part 7.
Commissioner's Journal: part 8.












Sylvester S. Taylor: pp. 508-12, 520, 527, 562, 575-76, 580-81.
John Douglas Stewart: pp. 55, 80-82, 91, 434, 525-28, 532, 547, 553, 558, 562-63, 565, 567, 574-75, 577-79, 581, 585, 595.
U.S. Commissioner Charles Augustus Sehlbrede: pp. 506-07, 514, 520-21, 527, 529, 533, 537, 542, 544, 547-48, 550, 553, 557, 562-63, 566-67, 570-71, 575, 577.
Josias M. Tanner: pp. 82, 459, 500, 530, 533, 535, 541, 544, 547-49, 551, 562, 564, 566-71, 575-79, 582.







"Men who had known Soapy were still living, and the Smith siblings were able to question some of these witnesses. In the 1960s they tape-recorded interviews with a number of old-timers who had known Soapy. As a young boy, the author recalls several meetings and interviews in the den of the family home. Too young to be allowed in at such times, I would “hang out” just beyond a set of saloon-style swinging doors and listen."
Alias Soapy Smith, page 7-8.









Soapy Smith in court: The US Commissioner journal for Dyea, Alaska, 1898; Part 5.

George Wilder arrested
"Assault with a dangerous weapon"
Courtesy Alaska State Archives

(Click image to enlarge)




IVIL AND CRIMINAL ACTIONS
The legal journal of the U.S. Commissioner Court
Dyea, Alaska; part five of eight parts.



     The following is part five of a series of articles regarding the journal of legal proceedings regarding Soapy Smith and the Soap Gang in Skagway, Alaska, started by U.S. Commissioner John U. Smith. On this case Commissioner Smith has been replaced by Charles Augustus Sehlbrede.
    On Friday, July 8, 1898, Soapy Smith was shot and killed in the shootout on Juneau Wharf. Seconds after the shooting stopped the Soap Gang rushed forward to aid their fallen boss. George Wilder was accused of threatening J. M. Tanner with a "dangerous weapon." Following is the transcription of the events listed on page 432 compiled by Commissioner Sehlbrede.

The United States Commissioners Court for the District of Alaska at Dyea

United States vs George Wilder - Violation Sec 536 (1744) Oregon Code

July 9, 1898
     Complaint charging defendant with the crime of assault with a dangerous weapon sworn to by J. M. Tanner, filed.

July 9, 1898
     Warrant for the arrest of defendant issued, and J. M. Tanner appointed by the court to serve the served.

July 15, 1898
     Defendant arrested and brought before the court, and upon being asked his true name stated it to be George Wilder, and being by the court advised of his the nature of the charge against him and his right to aid of counsel, waived examination. Whereupon it is adjudged that the defendant George Wilder be held to answer for the crime of assault with a dangerous weapon. It therefore appearing to me that the crime of an assault with a dangerous weapon has been committed, and that there is sufficient cause to believe the said defendant, George Wilder guilty thereof, I order him to be held to answer the same; and I have admitted him to bail in the sum of five thousand dollars.
     Commitment issued and with the defendant placed in the hands of United States Marshal James M. Shoup.

C. A. Sehlbrede
United States Commissioner for Alaska at Dyea.


* A very special thank you to Art Petersen who located and copied the pages of the journal.









Commissioner's Journal: part 1.
Commissioner's Journal: part 2.
Commissioner's Journal: part 3.
Commissioner's Journal: part 4.
Commissioner's Journal: part 6.
Commissioner's Journal: part 7.
Commissioner's Journal: part 8.












George W. Wilder: pp. 92, 268, 272, 338-39, 353, 471, 554, 564-67, 575-76, 579, 582.
U.S. Commissioner Charles Augustus Sehlbrede: pp. 506-07, 514, 520-21, 527, 529, 533, 537, 542, 544, 547-48, 550, 553, 557, 562-63, 566-67, 570-71, 575, 577.
Josias M. Tanner: pp. 82, 459, 500, 530, 533, 535, 541, 544, 547-49, 551, 562, 564, 566-71, 575-79, 582.






Jeff Smith's Parlor had his name in large letters across the front facade of the building. This was Soapy's personal podium, the place where he stood at the bar at shined as the "respected businessman, law abiding citizen, and patriot." I guess you could say that the false front extended into the inside of the Parlor as well. Old timers referred to the Parlor as "the real city hall."
—Jeff Smith



AUGUST 24


1814: Washington D.C. is invaded by British forces, setting fire to the White House and Capitol buildings.
1852: Famed confidence man Frank Tarbeaux is born in Boulder, Colorado. He is best known for dressing and portraying the part of a “rube” (an easy mark), so that players of his three-card monte games think they have a better chance of winning against someone not very intelligent or successful. It’s based on the assumption that few people want to gamble with a person who looks like they win a lot.
1853: The first convention of the American Pharmaceutical Association is held.
1857: The business district of Columbia, California is razed by a two-day fire.
1861: Denver, Colorado southern gambler Charley Harrison, proprietor of the Criterion saloon, battles with Union soldiers who forced their way into the establishment. A melee erupted which damaged the saloon. Later in the evening shots were fired into the soldier’s barracks wounding two. The Criterion was surrounded by soldiers and a canon. Harrison was arrested. He sold the Criterion after the trial.
1866: Infantrymen capture two Indians in the San Francisco Mountains, Arizona Territory.
1868: General Philip Sheridan reports that Indians have killed 20 citizens and wounded many in Kansas. He advocates the Indians' forcible removal to reservations.
1869: The patent for the waffle iron is awarded to Cornelius Swarthout.
1874: Cheyenne Indians kill six government surveyors in Meade County, Kansas, known as The “Lone Tree Massacre.”
1877: Corteze D. “Cort” Thomson wins a 125-yard foot-race against Sam Doherty at the Denver, Colorado fair grounds. Among the betters was Thomson’s lover, Denver brothel madame Martha A. “Mattie” Silks, who won a large cash prize betting heavily on her man to win. The following evening, while the couple rode in a carriage, Thomson was wounded by a bullet grazing his neck. The attempted assassin was never identified. In 1892 Thomson is involved with bad man Soapy Smith in the shooting death of gambler Cliff Sparks. In 1898 Silks accuses Soapy of planning her murder.
1881: Bunco-men “Big Ed” Burns and Mat Mahaim get into a shooting affray in Benson, Arizona. Burns’ is arrested after shooting Deputy Sheriff McComas in the leg. A mob burns the gambling furniture of the con men and forces them out of town. Burns is taken to Tombstone for trial. Burns would later join the Soap Gang as a long-standing member, following Soapy to Alaska.
1891: Thomas Edison applies patents for the kinetoscope and kinetograph.
1895: Three days of bullfighting opens in Gillette, Colorado in which Soapy Smith is believed to operate the gambling concession.
1896: Lawman Heck Thomas shoots and kills outlaw Bill Doolin as the two road towards each other on a road outside Lawson, Oklahoma. It is believed that the wife of bad man Soapy Smith (Mary Noonan) is related to the Dalton family.
1912: Alaska becomes a U.S. territory.




August 21, 2017

Right in front of my eyes: Was Soapy Smith's grave washed away in 1919?

Soapy Smith's grave as it looks today
(Photo #1)
Insert shows the rocks from photo #2
(Photo courtesy of "Creepee Baybe")
(Click image to enlarge)







ight in front of my eyes.
"Vigilantes killed Soapy Smith but it was mother nature who permanently exiled Soapy from Skagway."
... Or did it? 



Does Soapy's grave contain Soapy?

     Since the mid-1970s my family assumed that a 1919 Skagway newspaper article was correct when it reported that a September 12 flood had washed Soapy's grave and remains out to sea. We were told by a few residents that the original grave location was likely in the gully about 15-20 feet to the south of the current grave displaying wooden head-board number five. But what if the article was mistaken? What if there was a pretty good chance that Soapy is buried right where his grave has been all this time?
     My publisher, Art Petersen, is an excellent historian and sleuth. I really enjoy talking with him as we see history through all sorts of different angles. During one of our exploratory discussions we were going over a photograph he had located in the University of Washington digital depository (see photo #2). We were talking about the rocks and boulders being intentionally placed where they were, and that got me wondering where those very heavy rocks might have ended up after the flood. I wondered whether they could still be in the gully, perhaps at the bottom near the river shore. If found they would certainly substantiate the theory that the gully was indeed where Soapy's grave was originally located.      

 
Soapy Smith's original grave marker
circa 1901
(Photo #2)
The rocks in question are at the foot of the grave
The marker is small making the rocks appear much larger
(Note the three American flags)
Courtesy of University of Washington
(Click image to enlarge)

SOAPY IS STILL THERE.

     On Facebook there is a page called the Skagway Bulletin Board where locals find out what's going on in town. Occasionally, I post new or interesting stories about Soapy. Sometimes I post questions and the residents are always very helpful and nice. I posted a request for someone to head out to the cemetery to do a little snooping around in the gully. Several people responded that they would be happy to check it out for me. A day or so later I got my answer, and what a surprise it was too!
     Skagway resident and friend who goes by "Creepee Baybe" posted photo #1 (minus the insert) and writes,
There you go, bubbles. It's the same spot. I thought those rocks looked familiar since I've stood by them for decades telling the story of the shootout. Fun field trip
How in the world were those rocks missed all this time! Thank you very much "Creepee Baybe," you solved a 98 year mystery.




The rocks closeup
There is no doubt they are the same
(Click image to enlarge)











1919 flood

 October 3, 2011






"The gambling paraphernalia in the family collection generated in John Randolph a fondness for magic and gambling. He studied and performed standard magic acts for neighborhood shows in the early 1920s. He also learned some methods of deception from his father, Jefferson, who had learned them from his father, Soapy himself. I learned from my father, John, those same methods and in turn developed my own magic and gambling shows. From the 1980s through the publishing date of this book (2009), I could be seen at old festivals, dressed authentically as Soapy Smith, reenacting the prize package soap sell racket, the shell game, and three-card monte on the tripod and keister my father had made."
Alias Soapy Smith



AUGUST 21


1680: Pueblo Indians drive the Spanish out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
1831: Nathaniel "Nat" Turner, a former black slave, leads a violent slave uprising in Virginia, resulting in at least 200 slave deaths and 60 white deaths. He is captured in Southampton County, Virginia on October 30, 1831, convicted and executed on November 11, 1831.
1841: A patent for venetian blinds is issued to John Hampton.
1862: Indian Chief Little Crow's warriors lead by Mankato battle 250 settlers on the outskirts of New Ulm, Minnesota.
1863: Confederate guerrilla William C. Quantrill leads “Quantrill's Raiders,” about 450 men, in an attack against the town of Lawrence, Kansas. Of the 2,000 inhabitants, about 180-200 men and boys are murdered. They loot the two banks, along with other merchants and private dwellings, and then burn Lawrence to the ground. 182 buildings are destroyed. Future outlaws Frank James and Cole Younger likely participated in the raid.
1878: Cowboy George Hoyt dies of gunshot wounds received on July 26, 1878 in Dodge City, Kansas. He had fired his revolver into the windows of the crowded Comique Variety Hall, and was subsequently Assistant City Marshal Wyatt Earp and Deputy City Marshal Jim Masterson shot and wounded Hoyt.
1878: The American Bar Association is formed in Saratoga, New York.
1879: Samuel H. Gatchell, 4th Cavalry, is killed by a band of outlaws he was pursuing, near Little River, Chickasaw Nation. His corpse is returned to Fort Sill and buried in the post cemetery.
1880: A Denver, Colorado newspaper reports that the city council is unable to meet for a lack of a quorum due to the grand opening of a new brothel on Holliday (Market) Street.
1888: The adding machine is patented by William Burroughs.
1911: President Taft approves statehood for Arizona and New Mexico.




August 19, 2017

Soapy Smith in court: The US Commissioner journal for Dyea, Alaska, 1898; Part 4.

W. H. "Professor" Jackson arrested
Alias Turner Jackson
"Assault with a dangerous weapon"
Courtesy Alaska State Archives
(Click image to enlarge)




IVIL AND CRIMINAL ACTIONS
The legal journal of the U.S. Commissioner Court
Dyea, Alaska; part four of eight parts.



     The following is part four of a series of articles regarding the journal of legal proceedings regarding Soapy Smith and the Soap Gang in Skagway, Alaska, started by U.S. Commissioner John U. Smith. On this case Commissioner Smith has been replaced by Charles Augustus Sehlbrede.
    On Friday, July 8, 1898, Soapy Smith was shot and killed in the shootout on Juneau Wharf. Seconds after the shooting stopped the Soap Gang rushed forward to aid their fallen boss. Turner Jackson approached J. M. Tanner and pointed the muzzle of his revolver at Tanner's chest. At that second the rest of the gang started fleeing the scene, and Jackson joined the flight. Following is the transcription of the events listed on page 430 compiled by Commissioner Sehlbrede.

The United States Commissioners Court for the District of Alaska at Dyea

United States vs Turner Jackson - Violation Sec 536 (1744) Oregon Code
Arrested under the name of John Doe Turner

July 9, 1898
     Complaint charging defendant with an assault with a dangerous weapon sworn to by J. M. Tanner, filed, warrant issued and placed in the hands of J. M. Tanner for service. [undecipherable words: could be "July 9th Dyea"]

July 9, 1898
     Defendant arrested, arraigned and stated as the court that his true name is Turner Jackson.

July 15
     Defendant being arraigned before the court and advised as to the nature of the charge against him, and his right to benefit of counsel, and of making or waiving the making of statement, in open court waived examination:
     Whereupon it is adjudged that the defendant Turner Jackson be held to answer for the crime of an assault with a dangerous weapon. It therefore appearing to me that the crime of an assault with a dangerous weapon has been committed, and there is sufficient cause to believe the said defendant, Turner Jackson guilty thereof I order him to be held to answer the same, and I have admitted him to bail in the sum of five thousand dollars. In default, of which
     Commitment issued and with the defendant placed in the hands of United States Marshal James M. Shoup.

C. A. Sehlbrede
United States Commissioner for Alaska at Dyea.

It is of interest that Jackson "stated as the court that his true name is Turner Jackson." It is believed that this is actually W. H. "Professor" Jackson of Denver Soap Gang fame.


* A very special thank you to Art Petersen who located and copied the pages of the journal.










Commissioner's Journal: part 1.
Commissioner's Journal: part 2.
Commissioner's Journal: part 3.
Commissioner's Journal: part 5.
Commissioner's Journal: part 6.
Commissioner's Journal: part 7.
Commissioner's Journal: part 8.











Turner Jackson: pp. 76, 81-82, 90, 92, 268, 352-55, 358, 361, 365-67, 369, 393, 395, 398, 421-22, 471, 535, 564, 566, 575-76, 579-80, 595.  
U.S. Commissioner Charles Augustus Sehlbrede: pp. 506-07, 514, 520-21, 527, 529, 533, 537, 542, 544, 547-48, 550, 553, 557, 562-63, 566-67, 570-71, 575, 577.
Josias M. Tanner: pp. 82, 459, 500, 530, 533, 535, 541, 544, 547-49, 551, 562, 564, 566-71, 575-79, 582.






"In 1977, John Randolph and his brother Joseph Jefferson Smith brought their life of research to a summit with a family reunion in Skagway. This was believed to have been the first time the Smiths had been there since August 1898. Nineteen at the time, I still remember the concerns my father had about how the family would be received. Would the Smiths be welcomed or scorned? The arrival was kept secret, but somehow the visit was discovered, and waiting at the dock were several members of the Skagway Days of ’98 Show to welcome the visitors. The family was warmly embraced, and friendships were forged that continue to this day."
Alias Soapy Smith, page 8



AUGUST 19


1812: The USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides," wins a battle against the British frigate Guerriere, east of Nova Scotia.
1848: The discovery of gold in California is reported by the New York Herald.
1854: The Grattan Massacre, the first armed confrontation between the U.S. Army and Sioux Indians takes place near Ft. Laramie in present day Wyoming as Lieutenant John Grattan, an interpreter, and 29 infantrymen arrive in the camp of Chief Conquering Bear, firing their canon killing the chief. The Sioux attack the troops, killing Grattan and all but one of his men, who escaped to the fort.
1856: Processing condensed milk is patented by Gail Borden.
1864: Colorado Territory rancher, Elbridge Gerry, rides to Denver to warn of an impending Cheyenne attack on settlements on the South Platte River.
Resulting troop actions disrupt the Indians plans.
1871: A gunfight in Perry Tuttle’s saloon, Newton, Kansas leaves five Men dead and wounded.
1878: Outlaw “Big Nose George” Parrott attempts to stop a train by removing a track rail. The train, at Medicib e Bow, Wyoming, is saved from destruction but not Parrott. He is the only train robber lynched, skinned and pickled.
1882: Las Animas County Undersheriff M. McGraw is shot and killed by Trinidad police officer George Goodell in Trinidad, Colorado after calling Goodell a pimp and his wife a prostitute in the newspaper. The fight takes place in front of Jaffa's Opera House, where Goodell puts six bullets into McGraw, who dies two days later.
1887: The last Indian battle in Colorado occurs as troop clash with Utes near Rangely, Colorado.
1891: Trial begins of Belle Wise for operating a house of prostitution in Denver, Colorado. Wise is Bascomb Smith’s (Soapy Smith’s brother) lover.
1895: John Selman shoots and kills outlaw John Wesley Hardin in El Paso, Texas. Earlier in the day the two had exchanged angry words. That night, Hardin went to the Acme Saloon, where he playing dice. Shortly before midnight, Selman entered the saloon, drew his and fired, hitting Hardin in the head, killing him instantly.
1896: Lawman Alfred Allee is stabbed and killed in a Laredo, Texas barroom brawl.
1900: Ex-Secretary of State Caleb Powers is found guilty of conspiracy to murder gubernatorial candidate William Goebels in Frankfort, Kentucky.
1909: The first car race to be run on a brick track occurs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.