September 17, 2021

Artifact #86: Soapy Smith's son contacts the Sourdough Reunion, 1951

First response from the Sourdough Association
to Jefferson R. Smith from Clara Johnson
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)

lease try to attend and thus forward the spirit of the Sourdough."
Soapy Smith's son contacts the Sourdough Reunion, 1951

     Seventy years ago, at some date previous to February 15, 1951, Soapy Smith's son, sixty-five year old Jefferson Randolph Smith III wrote to someone about the upcoming Twentieth Annual Convention of the International Sourdough Reunion to be held in San Francisco on August 16-19, 1951. Jefferson was living at 2341 Portland Street in Los Angeles. Since 1951 the house was torn down and an apartment building erected. 
     A "Chilcoot Tram" Hawks forwarded Jeff's letter to Alaska Weekly reporter Lulu Fairbanks. Lulu forwarded the letter to Clara Johnson, secretary of the Sourdough-Oakland Sourdough Association in Oakland, California who typed a response to Jefferson on February 15, 1951.

Envelope to first response letter
to Jefferson R. Smith from Clara Johnson
Postmarked February 17, 1951
no legible markings on the rear of the envelope
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)

Oakland, California
February 15, 1951
Jeff R. Smith
2341 Portland Street
Los Angeles 7
Dear Mr. Smith:
     News of your interest in the Sourdough Convention to be held in San Francisco, August 16-19 has reached me through Lulu Fairbanks, ALASKA WEEKLY reporter, who received it from "Chilcoot Tram" Hawks.
     At the present time, our plans are only in the making, but as soon as printed information is available we will send it on to you.
     Please try to attend and thus forward the spirit of the Sourdough.
Very sincerely
Clara Johnson - secy.
San Francisco - Oakland
Sourdough Association
     Since a very young age Jefferson had written to many people who knew his father, seeking to learn as much as he could, considering he was only nine years old when his father was shot and killed in Skagway, Alaska, July 8, 1898. Over the decades he had the pleasure of meeting people who had personally known his father so it is likely he wished to attend the Sourdough convention in hopes of meeting more individuals who knew, or had met his father. I can't help but wonder if he considered that he might run into some victims of his father's gambling games and swindles.
Second response letter - official invite
To Jefferson R. Smith, from C. O. Sivertsen
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)
     Five months later, on July 17, 1951, an official printed "cordial invitation" brochure from the Alaska-Yukon Sourdough Association located in San Francisco was sent out to Jefferson. Chairman C. O. Sivertsen wrote the invitation, including the following statement of inevitability.
     We SOURDOUGHS are decreasing each year, so we would like to have you all make and extra effort to MUSH ON to SAN FRANCISCO and meet those OLD FRIENDS of YEARS AGO, who are dear to all of us, and bring back fond memories of the happy days spent in the Far North. 

     On the inside and rear of the brochure are drawings and photographs of San Francisco sites attendees may wish to visit.
     Unfortunately, I was unable to find out if Jefferson attended the reunion convention. I tried locating records of attendees but had no success.
Envelope to second response letter - official invite
Postmarked July 17, 1951
no legible markings on the rear of the envelope
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)
Inside portion of brochure
drawings of San Francisco sites
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)
Rear and front portion of brochure
Photographs of San Francisco
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)


Jefferson Randolph Smith III
Aug 19, 2021

Jefferson Randolph Smith III: pages 7, 107-08, 167, 417-18, 546, 584, 587-89.

"No dog can go as fast as the money you bet on him."
—Bud Flanagan

September 1, 2021

Frank Reid's Casket Guards - Reversed Image

Frank Reid casket guards
as shown in Klondike '98
By Ethel A. Becker
Ethel Anderson Becker collection
Location currently unknown

(Click image to enlarge)

rank Reid's Casket Guards
Reversed Image
I received the following fascinating email

     Greetings Jeff Smith: (re: Sept. 18, 2009 – Speaking frank about frank pt. 2 – Soapy Smith’s Soap Box blog).
     Having cruised to Alaska, I got interested in reading your blog about the wild times that took place in good old Skagway. It is and likely always will be an interesting historical location along the west coast.
     As to the blogs concerning Frank Reid and his demise.... I was looking at the photograph of Mr. Reid’s casket/the 2-man honor guard, and was wondering if the photograph was developed/printed in reverse?? That happened a fair bit where negatives were concerned as you likely know. I enlarged a copy of the photo image in order to read the text that’s written on the flag, and it was then that I noticed the lettering was lop-sided.
     Do you have the original photograph or was it obtained via another source? I’m also wondering what the wording on the flag would be – I can make out the word MILITIA – but do you know what the rest of the wording is? Is there a photograph in existence of the actual flag that was used to drape Reid’s casket (i.e. unfolded, flattened out with text readable)?? As to the two chaps forming the honor guard – were they friends or perhaps members of a fraternal organization or Militia unit... (i.e. was Mr. Reid in the Militia as well)?. Not sure if that detail was recorded somewhere – perhaps in the newspaper write-up that dealt with Reid’s passing and eventual burial. Is there a possibility that the flag was one that hung in the church where his funeral was held..... and – would it still be there?
     It would also be interesting to know who provided the casket. I don’t have access to historical booklet, directories, etc. from that time period – and thus I have no idea if there was a funeral home/casket shop in Skagway at the time, or did such items have to be imported? It’s definitely not one that was made out of hand-hewn cedar slabs or similar type of wood. The handles would definitely have been imported from elsewhere.
     That’s it for the moment. Hope you can find the time to send back a reply.... Interesting website to say the least. A true wild west narrative that continues!!

Ken R. Johnson
Retired former Museum Curator/Archivist – Canada

Frank Reid casket guards
Reversed image (correct)
Ethel Anderson Becker collection
Location currently unknown

(Click image to enlarge)

It seems this photograph has not been published since appearing in
Ethel Anderson Becker's book Klondike '98. This very well may the first time it's been published correctly.

Following is my response to Ken
R. Johnson.

Hi, Ken
      Thank you very much for writing! Good eye on that photograph! It is indeed reversed. I enjoyed reading your email. The photograph came from the book Klondike 98 by Ethel Anderson Becker, 1972. She collected the photos of Photographer Eric A. Hegg. The photograph you speak of is on page 37. She obviously did not catch on that the photo was in reverse, nor did I. She does not list an archive for the photograph so I believe it was in her personal collection. I did a quick online search and up to 2016 her photo collection appears to be missing or buried somewhere in an archive somewhere.
     Ethel Anderson Becker papers, 1936-1967, University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections. ("Incoming letters from Eric A. Hegg photos, her book 'Klondike 98,' clippings, essay written as student; woodcarving of 'Dawson-Yukon' miner by Hallie C. Heacock, 1965; unidentified book of photo reproductions of Klondike mining scenes (title page missing), undated." [source: Archives West]
     Great questions, but I know very little of the photograph or the outcome of the flag. I do not know where "militia" came from, unless the vigilantes decided to call themselves a "militia," to get away from the negative aura of being a "vigilante committee." Offhand, I do not recall the term "militia" being used in the newspapers, but I would not be surprised that I saw it in newspaper accounts and dismissed it. I did check the Skagway newspapers that are online and the only "militia" I found was in regards to Soapy's Skagway Military Company previous to the shootout and Reid's death.
     In regards to the casket, there were skilled builders in Skagway at the time. There was a hospital, and morticians, so I would guess that there were casket makers.
     I plan to write up a blog post on the photograph as it is an interesting find. I would like to use your name and the email you sent, without posting your email address. I will respect your wishes, just let me know. There is always the possibility that someone will have the answers to your questions!
     I invite you to sign up for notifications of new articles on the blog. Just go to the link and add your email in the box on the right-hand column

Frank Reid casket guards
Ethel Anderson Becker collection
Location currently unknown
(Click image to enlarge)

Jul 7, 2021

Frank H. Reid: pages 10, 439-41, 447, 477, 529-42, 544, 547-53, 555, 574, 576-77, 579, 585.

"You know horses are smarter than people. You never heard of a horse going broke betting on people."
—Will Rogers

August 28, 2021

New photo of Frank Reid's grave

Frank Reid's grave
Can you see the grave?

(Click image to enlarge)

(see bottom of article)

arliest known photograph of Frank Reid's grave.

     Frank Reid was the vigilante combatant who shot and wounded "Soapy" Smith during the Shootout on Juneau Wharf, July 8, 1898. Reid died twelve days later, receiving Skagway's largest funeral up to that time. When I first saw this photograph on eBay I thought it was another one showing Frank Reid's first wooden grave marker. There are numerous markers in the background that are bleached out white and cannot be read or identified, and I had originally thought the one in the center of the photo was Reid's grave. It was only after I took a closer look that I found a "new" photograph of Reid's grave, probably taken shortly after the burial service ended and the attending crowd left.

Frank Reid's grave
The grave mound is hi-lighted

(Click image to enlarge)

With Reid's grave highlighted in the photograph above, the entire gravesite becomes clear. Two, possibly three wreaths are evident, one huge and semi-upright with a ribbon attached. The other two are horizontal also with a ribbon. Below these in the foreground are at least three bouquets of flowers, one in front of the other on the left and another on right before the horizontal wreath.

Frank Reid's grave service
The earliest grave service photo

(Click image to enlarge)

The photograph above depicts the grave site service at Reid's grave. Note that there are numerous hats taken off and "resting" at shoulder height. That July sun in Skagway can get rather warm.

Frank Reid's grave
Wooden marker in place
Date unknown
Courtesy of BC Archives Collection

(Click image to enlarge)

The photograph above was taken some time later. A wooden marker has been placed on Reid's grave. Note that trees surrounding the grave(s) have been cut down.

Frank Reid's grave
As it looks today
minus wear and tear.


Frank Reid's Grave
The first marker?

(Click image to enlarge)

A closer look of the photograph above by Art Petersen reveals what appears to be the very first grave marker for Frank Reid affixed to the open face of a split log. This is a small temporary marker properly identifying the grave until the wooden marker seen in the photograph within the article could be completed.


Frank Reid:
Jul 7, 2021

Frank H. Reid: pages 10, 439-41, 447, 477, 529-42, 544, 547-53, 555, 574, 576-77, 579, 585.

"Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math."

August 19, 2021

Artifact #85: Letter from Soapy's cousin Edwin to Soapy's son Jefferson, Feburary 25, 1937

Artifact #85
Letter-page 1
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)


 still think we could do well with the projected biography"
(Edwin was working on a biography of Soapy Smith)

An interesting letter from Edwin Benson "Bobo" Smith, the cousin of Soapy Smith, to Soapy's son, Jefferson Randolph Smith III. Those that have read the book Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel might recall that Edwin and Soapy grew up together in Georgia, traveled the state hunting, and started working the cheap John (jam auction) sales racket in Texas together. Edwin was ready to join his cousin full time but credits witnessing the shootout between the outlaw Sam Bass gang and Texas Rangers, resulting in the death of Sam Bass, with his choosing not to follow Soapy's career path.
     When reading the transcription of the letter below keep in mind that it was written February 25, 1937, so Edwin is 78 years old and Jefferson is 49. Edwin and Jefferson wrote to one another since Jefferson was young, wishing to learn as much as he could about his father. Who better to ask than a family member who grew up with his father?

Artifact #85
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge) 
     The above envelope is part of the Fort Sumter Hotel stationary. Note that the stamp is upside down. Was this intentional or an oversight? Perhaps a sign that Edwin's eyesight was not as it once was? Also note that the address for "Mr. Jeff Smith" is listed as "City Hall." Jefferson was very involved in St. Louis politics, choosing to work behind the scenes. One of his fears was that his political rivals would find out that his father was the infamous crime figure "Soapy" Smith, thus ending his political career. He was very cautious that anyone would find out about his father, even going to the effort of hiding his father's large collection of letters and documents behind a false wall in the family basement.

Artifact #85
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)
     The hand-written letter and envelope is in my personal collection (item #85). Following is the transcription for ease of reading.

1201 M St. nw [M Street, northwest]
Washington D.C.

Feb 25, 1937

      Dear Jeff: From the porch of the Hotel you can see Fort Sumter where all the trouble began between the North and the South; Charleston is really a most interesting old town and quaint beyond description. I stayed there awhile after leaving Savannah.
     Wherever I go I get myself interviewed as you will see by clipping – Native modesty, eh? Needless to say I interview myself.
     Now I am back home I feel improved after my sojourn down the line but am pretty shaky yet! It would have been fine had I been able to prolong the stay in that soft climate.
     By this time I trust you have caught on to something worth while. Outside of government employment Washington affords scant hope and even Uncle Sam is a poor prospect unless there is some big influence back of an applicant.
     The situation here is confusing but it seems to me that Roosevelt is destined to slip; he made a bonehead play in his Supreme Court proposal, regardless of any good intent.
     I still think we could do well with the projected biography [Edwin was working on a biography of Soapy], yet am assailed with fears as to my strength not being up to the mark, I truthfully can not dictate, never could.
     Just as soon as I can get up the nerve to tackle the job I’ll let you know. Meanwhile write me fully. My best love to you and your wife and it would be a great pleasure to see her.
     When in Ga. [Georgia] I thought of going to the old home town but that section has just about as bad winters as Washington or St. Louis and I was dodging the cold.

Write soon
E. B. Smith
Artifact #85
Letter-page 2
Jeff Smith collection

 (Click image to enlarge)
Artifact #85
Letter-page 3
Jeff Smith collection

 (Click image to enlarge)
     Edwin B. Smith passed away just over three years later on November 1, 1941, never publishing his biography on Soapy, titled Boyhood Days of Jefferson Randolph Smith II and Edwin Bobo Smith, which resides in my personal collection. Edwin's writings are the best accounts of Soapy as a youth and young man, and were used extensively in telling the story of Soapy in the early days.

* Special thanks to my publisher, Alaskan historian, and longtime friend, Art Petersen of Klondike Research for his help in deciphering the handwriting of 78 year old Edwin Smith.

Edwin Benson "Bobo" Smith:
Jefferson Randolph Smith III
May 04, 2021  

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

"Every crowd has a silver lining"
—P. T. Barnum

August 15, 2021

William Deutsch, Alias "Henry Dutch," Tivoli Club manager, property owner

William Deutsch
Palace Theater's Tivoli gambling den
Denver Republican
June 13, 1882

(Click image to enlarge)


 illiam Deutsch

 Alias "Henry Dutch"



(Much of the information comes from the book Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel)

Tivoli Beer Hall
Managed by William Deutsch

(Click image to enlarge)

     William "Henry Dutch" Deutsch was a Denver business property owner and business manager in the 1880s-90s. His early story is currently unknown, everything known thus far beginning in 1881-82, when he managed Ed "Big Ed" Chase’s Palace Theatre’s saloon and gaming annex, the Tivoli Beer Hall.(1) For ejecting a John Burns from the Theatre in March 1881, Deutsch is arrested for assault and battery.(2) The Denver Republican for June 13, 1882 (see top of post) states that Deutsch left (or is fired) the Beer Hall, opening the Lyceum Vaudeville Theater in South Pueblo, Colorado, while the Rocky Mountain News writes on June 3, 1883 that he is proprietor of the Tivoli Variety Theatre in Pueblo. At the same time the News states that he is the proprietor of the Tivoli Beer Hall in Denver.(3) In 1887-1888 he is listed in the city directory as proprietor of the Alhambra Beer Hall at 1321 Seventeenth Street(4) and as its manager in 1889.(5)

The Deutsch Block
Tivoli Club at far left

(Click image to enlarge)

     Deutsch obtains property in Denver
on Seventeenth and Holladay streets (later named Market) in 1886.(6) He builds the Deutsch Block, where in February 1888 he receives permission to open a saloon at that location. The north corner of that Block houses Soapy Smith's and Ed Chase’s Tivoli Club.
     In city directories for 1890-91 and 1893-95, Deutsch is listed as proprietor of the Tivoli Club,(7) but it is Soapy who controls it. In June 1892 the Rocky Mountain News mentions him as proprietor.(8) The city directory in 1897 lists the Tivoli Sample Room at the same location.(9) Soapy left in 1895-96 so the Tivoli is under Deutsch's control now.

Tivoli Sample Room
Courtesy, Geri Murphy collection

A business card lists his name for the “Tivoli Sample Room” located on the “corner 17th and Market streets.”(10) A “sample room” was a step above a saloon in class, some of which served only wines.

Whiskey flask
for William Deutsch
Courtesy of
the Jerry Hazalet collection

Deutsch’s name also appears on a personalized glass whiskey flask, the label reading, “Fine Old Monogram whiskey, Bottled expressly for Wm. Deutsch, Tivoli Seventeenth and Market Street, Denver Colo.”(11)

Denver map
Note "TIVOLI" circled in red

(Click image to enlarge)

It is believed that William Deutsch kept Soapy's Tivoli saloon going until at least 1908, according to a Denver map. At some point he opened a hotel in the Deutsch building as well.

(1) Rocky Mountain News 03/06/1881
(2) Rocky Mountain News 03/12/1881
(3) Rocky Mountain News 03/06/1883.
(4) Denver City Directory 1887 and 1888.
(5) Denver City Directory 1889.
Rocky Mountain News 8/12/1886
(7) Denver City Directory 1890-1891, 1893-1895.
(8) Rocky Mountain News 06/19/1892.
(9) Denver City Directory 1897.
(10) Tivoli Sample Room business card, Geri Murphy col.
(11) Whiskey bottle, Jerry Hazalet col.

William Deutsch
January 2, 2009

William Deutsch: pages 80, 131-32, 248.

"By gaming we lose both our time and treasure - two things most precious to the life of man."
—Owen Felltham