August 18, 2017

Soapy Smith in court: The US Commissioner journal for Dyea, Alaska, 1898; Part 3.

Charges against members of the Soap Gang
W. F. Foster, Van B. Triplet and John Bowers
The robbery of John Douglas Stewart
Courtesy Alaska State Archives
(Click image to enlarge)

The legal journal of the U.S. Commissioner Court
Dyea, Alaska; part three of _eleven_(The exact amount and links will be added at the end of publishing all parts.

     The following is part three of a series of articles regarding the journal of legal proceedings regarding  Soapy Smith 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 On this case Commissioner Smith has been replaced by Charles Augustus Sehlbrede.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, three of Soapy's gangsters who started out swindling miner John Douglas Stewart with a three-card monte game, but ended by outright robbing Stewart of his gold poke worth about $2,600. This robbery led directly to the death of Soapy on the evening of the 8th. Following is the transcription of the events listed on page 428, compiled by Commissioner Sehlbrede.

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

United States
W. E. Foster
Van B. Triplet
and John Bowers
Violation Sec 534 (1742) DC.

July 8th 1898.
     Complaint charging defendants W. F. Foster, Van B. Triplet and John Bowers with larceny from the person of another sworn to by J. D. Stewart filed.
     Warrant for arrest of defendants issued and placed in the hands of S. S. Taylor U.S. Deputy Marshal for service.

July 8th. U.S. Deputy Marshal S. S. Taylor being unable to act, J. M. Tanner is appointed to make service of said writ, which said appointment is in writing in words and figures as follows:

United States of America
District of Alaska
    On account of the inability of S. S. Taylor the Deputy U.S. Marshal, to serve this writ, and there being no other officer within the reach of this court to serve this writ, I hereby appoint J. M. Tanner to make service here of.
     Dated July 8th 1898.
     C. A. Sehlbrede
     U.S. Commissioner for District of Alaska, at Dyea.

July 11th 1898. J. M. Tanner who was appointed to make service of the warrant of arrest herein, made his return in words and figures as follows:

United States of America
District of Alaska
     I, Josias M. Tanner hereby certify that the within warrant came into my hands, for service on the 8th day of July, 1898, and I served the same by arresting all the within named parties on the 10th day of July 1898 and I now have the bodies of the said defendants in my custody, awaiting the action of the within named court.
Dated at Skagway, Alaska, July 10th, 1898.
Josias M. Tanner

No. [number] of miles traveled, 40.

July 14th 1898.
     Defendants brought before the court, complaint read to them, and each of said defendants being advised by the court as ti their right to have the benefit of counsel, declined the aid

[Continued on page 428]

More on the charges against the Soap Gangsters
Courtesy Alaska State Archives
(Click image to enlarge)

of counsel and personally waived examination, whereupon it is adjudged that said defendants and each of them be held to answer for 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 there is sufficient cause to believe the said defendants W. E. Foster, Van B. Triplet and John Bowers are guilty thereof, I order them to be held to answer the same, and I have admitted them, the said defendants to bail, to answer in the sum of $25,000.00 each.
C. A. Sehlbrede U.S. Commissioner for Alaska

Complaints issued as follows
In the U.S. Commissioners court for the District of Alaska at Dyea.

United States
W. E. Foster, Van B. Triplet and John Bowers
     In the name of the President of the United States of America.
     To the United States Marshal for the District of Alaska.
     An order having been this day made by me, that W. E. Foster, Van B. Triplet and John Bowers be held to answer upon a charge of larceny from the person of another, you are therefore commanded to receive them, the said W. E. Foster, Van B. Triplet and John Bowers in your custody and detain them and each of them until legally discharged.
Dated at Skagway, Alaska, July 14th, 1898.
C. A. Sehlbrede
U.S. Commissioner for Alaska.

Upon said committant [sic] was indorsed [sic] the following I have admitted each of said defendants to bail to answer in the sum of $25,000.00

C. A. Sehlbrede
U.S. Commissioner

Commissioner's Journal: part 1.
Commissioner's Journal: part 2.
Commissioner's Journal: part 4.
Commissioner's Journal: part 5.
Commissioner's Journal: part 6.
Commissioner's Journal: part 7.
Commissioner's Journal: part 8.
Commissioner's Journal: part 9.
Commissioner's Journal: part 10.
Commissioner's Journal: part 11.

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.
W. E. "Slim-Jim" Foster: pp. 80, 91-92, 471, 475, 525-26, 554, 564-67, 569-70, 575-76, 579, 595.
Van B. "Old Man" Triplet (Triplett): pp. 90-92, 471, 475, 526, 554, 564-67, 575-79, 595.
John L. "Reverend" Bowers: pp. 65-69, 76, 87, 91-92, 128-30, 188, 193, 195, 214, 247-48, 268, 272, 313, 328-29, 342, 351, 353-55, 358, 361-62, 264-67, 369, 382, 389, 396, 398, 417, 471, 478-79, 487, 489, 502, 509-10, 525-26, 554, 564-67, 570, 575-76, 578-79, 594-95. 
Deputy U.S. Mars hal 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.
Josias M. Tanner: pp. 82, 459, 500, 530, 533, 535, 541, 544, 547-49, 551, 562, 564, 566-71, 575-79, 582.

“Enter biographer Jeff Smith with his determination to record apparent realities, no matter what they might be. His method was to line out all available information about the man and interpret it based on documentation of strong or at least reasonable authority. His decades of work draws back a curtain on times and details previously unknown about Soapy Smith…”
—Art Petersen, Alias Soapy Smith


1587: Virginia Dare is the first English child known to be born on American soil. Born in the colony that is now Roanoke Island, North Carolina, it mysteriously vanished.
1735: The Evening Post of Boston, Massachusetts begins publishing.
1840: The American Society of Dental Surgeons is founded in New York City.
1846: U.S. forces led by General Stephen W. Kearney, capture Santa Fe, New Mexico.
1862: Indian Chief Little Crow leads an attack on the Lower Sioux Agency near Fort Ridgely, Minnesota, killing twenty men and taking twelve women captive. Other raids will take the lives of as many as 400 settlers.
1862: Union troops reoccupy Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas, controlling the Rio Grande's Middle Valley for the remainder of the Civil War.
1872: The Hayden Expedition camps at a geyser basin in Yellowstone, Wyoming Territory.
1889: John O. “Texas Jack” Vermillion, now known as “Shoot-Your-Eye-Out-Jack,” of Wyatt Earp fame is arrested as a steerer in one of Soapy Smith’s Denver, Colorado auction houses along with Soapy, Soapy’s brother Bascomb, J. Allen, and “Fatty Gray” Morris, after a front page expose’ entitled Smith and His Pals.
1894: The Bureau of Immigration is established by Congress.

August 16, 2017

"New" photograph of Juneau Company Wharf, Skagway, Alaska.

"Skagway from Outside Wharf - (Third Wharf)"
Circa 1899
Courtesy of DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University
(Click image to enlarge)

erhaps one of the closest photographs showing the location of the gunfight on Juneau Wharf.

     According to the accounts the shootout between Soapy Smith, Frank Reid and Jesse Murphy took place about 60 feet inside the entrance of the wharf. There are stories of early residents of Skagway showing visiting friends and tourists the blood stains on the wooden planks where Soapy and Reid fell.

Are those blood stains?
Close-up of approximate location of the gunfight.
Circa 1899
Courtesy of DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University
(Click image to enlarge)

     Historian and publisher, Art Petersen came across this photograph while researching the photographic files at the DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University. We thank him very much for sharing this with us.
      In comparing photographs there is no doubt that the photo is of Juneau Wharf.

Comparison of matching structures.
(Click image to enlarge)

Juneau Company Wharf
The above link is a general search of the blog. Be sure to scroll to the bottom. There are more articles if you click "more posts" at the bottom of the page.

"A clever rascal in one of Shakespeare’s plays claims that “Some men are born great…, Some achieve greatness…, And some have greatness thrust upon them.” And some, like the imposing, contradictory, aggressive, charming, and unforgettable Soapy Smith–his watermarks all through the pages of the last chapters of the American West–have all three."
— Art Petersen, Alias Soapy Smith


1777: The Battle of Bennington takes place. New England's minutemen route the British regulars.
1812: Detroit falls to Indian and British troops during the War of 1812.
1829: 18-year-old "Siamese twins," Chang and Eng Bunker, arrive in Boston, Massachusetts for exhibition. They have been joined at the waist since birth.
1858: A telegraph message from Britain's Queen Victoria to U.S. President Buchanan is transmitted over the recently laid trans-Atlantic cable.
1861: U.S. President Lincoln prohibits Union states from trading with the states of the Confederacy.
1878: Lawman John Beckwith is involved in a shooting in the home of his father, Henry, who had killed his son-in-law, William Johnson, during an argument in the ranch house located in New Mexico Territory. John had tried to intervene and was almost shot by his own father. Earlier in the year John was among those who killed rancher John Tunstall, setting off the infamous Lincoln County war.
1896: Gold is discovered in the Klondike, Canada starting the Klondike gold rush. It is what draws bad man Soapy Smith to Alaska, and to his death. George Washington Carmack, Skookum Jim and Tagish Charlie, discover the gold in Rabbit Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River, Yukon Territory. Carmack staked his claim, marking the beginning of the world's largest gold rush as thousands of miners poured into the territory. Word of the discovery does not reach the outside world until July of the following year, when the steamer Portland docked in Seattle with two tons of gold in her cargo hold. At the time North America was experiencing a severe economic depression known as the Panic of 1893. The rush literally ended the depression overnight. Of the tens of thousands who ventured north, Soapy Smith joined the stampeders, not to mine for gold, but to mine the stampeders of their gold.
1899: Outlaw “Black Jack” Ketchum stopped a Colorado and Southern train near Folsom, Arizona Territory. After robbing the train, conductor Frank Harrington fired at him with a shotgun but apparently missed. The two men continued exchanging shots and both men were wounded, Ketchum receiving buckshot in the chest, but he managed to escape. Ketchum was found the next day alive and propped against a tree. He was taken to Santa Fe where he was tried and hung on April 25, 1901.
1923: 20 members of the Denver Blonger gang are arrested in a raid that ends Blonger rule in the city. The Blonger’s were Soapy Smith’s successors to the underworld throne in Denver.
1924: Former Doolin-Dalton outlaw gang member Roy Daugherty, alias “Arkansas Tom,” is killed in a shootout with lawmen in Missouri.

August 14, 2017

Traps for Klondikers, the newspaper story of Soapy's shell and pea operators.

Operating a shell and pea game
One of the Soap Gang
along the trail
(Click image to enlarge)

Soapy Smith's shell and pea operators in Alaska

      From the day that Soapy Smith arrived in Skagway, Alaska his gang operated the old shell and pea swindle in town and along the White Pass and Chilkoot trails with great success. In fact, they became so well known that nearly every city newspaper covered the plight of those taken in by the hucksters. One might think that all that coverage would have educated enough of the stampeders to stay away from the confidence game, but there were plenty of dupes for the taking and this was solely Soapy's domain. Any con men arriving in Skagway could not work without Soapy's permission and a generous piece of the profits.
     The May 23, 1898 edition of the Daily Republican of Monogahela, Pennsylvania published detailed account of the shell and pea men working the trails, their method of operations and how they lured the victims into playing their games of no chance.



Ingenious Snares That the Sure-Thing
Gamblers Set for the Unwary — A
Spell-binder Who Carries a Bogus
Pack — The Shell Game — Salted Mines.

     Since the grass has begun to grow too short for them in town, some of the confidence workers who still remain at Skagway, Alaska, have taken to the trails, where they continue to set snares for the dollars of unwary Klondikers. On the Skagway trail the sure-thing gambler seldom goes higher than the foot of White Pass summit. Half a dozen or so of the tribe usually travel together, sharing as the close of the day the profits of the tricks they have turned. One of the party is chosen as active operator. His necessary qualifications are a capacity to judge human character and a tongue that is gifted with glibness.
     The successful confidence operator is best described by the term spellbinder. His confederates—the steerers—carefully disassociate themselves from him whenever a possible victim is in sight. The better to disguise his wolfish character the steerer frequently dons the sheep’s clothing of a packer. It is no uncommon incident on the trail to see two or more notorious bunco steerers faring along, one after the other, apparently heavily burdened with packs which, if analyzed, would prove to be nothing more than straw or ships in canvas sacks. A little ahead of them always is the operator, equipped with a small portable table, three shells and the elusive pea.
     When the first one reaches the manipulator of the ancient, but to the victim ever new, game, he stops, watches and listens, and finally lays down his pack as if to rest and be amused. Steerer No. 2 follows his example, as do the others in turn. By the time the prospector victim arrives he finds a spurious Klondiker just winning a bet from the shell game player amid the half-envious congratulations of his confederates.
     “Well, well, this is my unlucky day, “ says the man with the table, “but I’ll give some other gentlemen a chance to win with the little pea.”
     Back and forth and round about go the little shells again, a glimpse of the pea being given the watchers at seductively frequent intervals. Another steerer guesses its location and wins a greenback or two.
     “If you fellows are hitting me too hard,” dubiously comments the operator, “I must size up my roll before taking any more bets.”
     He opens a well-lined pocketbook, an, while his attention is taken up with its contents, one of the steerers slyly raises the shell under which the pea is hidden. That catches the outsider, unless he be invulnerable against the temptations of bunco.
     Laying his finger on the shell indicated to him, he offers to bet $10, $20, $50, or a higher sum that it covers the pea. His bet is taken, the shell is lifted, and the pea proves to be somewhere else. Usually the victim makes a second, and perhaps a third, bet in the hopes of retrieving his loss, always with the same result. A witness to one of these episodes tells of having seen a prospector who had lost $90 sit upon his pack and burst into tears. He said that his last dollar had gone on the game.
     Still higher up the trail that same day a man who runs a tent restaurant bet and lost $20, but the shell-game player was glad to disgorge it when the victim’s wife, a 200-pound lady of German nativity, seized him by the coat collar and screamed lustily for help. …
     On the Skagway trail the shell game is not in operation regularly. The men engaged at it are supposed to be a detachment of “Soapy” Smith’s gamblers. Those who operate in Dyea, Sheep Camp and along to the base of Chilkoot are under the leadership of Tom Cady, a notorious Colorado camp confidence man. …
     As United States Deputy Marshal [John] Cudihee is now the sole guardian of the peace for Skagway and Dyea, it is almost impossible to keep the sure-thing gamblers and others of their ilk off the trails …”
The Daily Republican
May 23, 1898

     Near the end of the article there is mention of Tom Cady, "a notorious Colorado camp confidence man," as being the "leader" in Dyea. As the town just outside the entrance to the Chilkoot trail, and being only five miles away from Skagway, it is plausible that Soapy maintained operations and control of the criminal underworld in Dyea as well as in Skagway. Having men on both trails meant close to double the profits as only working one of them would provide, thus logic would suggest that Soapy would divide and divvy up responsibility to men he could trust. The fact that Tom Cady has a well-known and detailed history with the Soap Gang beginning in 1892 it seems very likely that Cady was working for Soapy in Alaska.

The original article.
(Click image to enlarge)

Tom Cady: pp. 79, 210-11, 229, 250-51, 253-57, 260, 264, 362, 450.

"Jefferson Randolph (“Soapy”) Smith II was an American, 19th-century confidence man, gambler, and crime boss par excellence–perhaps the most accomplished street hawker and all-round bunco artist of his day."
Alias Soapy Smith


1805: A peace treaty between the U.S. and Tunis is signed on board the USS Constitution.
1831: John Xavier Beidler is born. He is best known for being a zealous vigilante in Montana.
1848: The Oregon Territory is established.
1849: Congress creates the Oregon Territory, made up of today's states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and parts of Montana and Wyoming.
1851: John “Doc” Holliday is born in Griffin, Georgia. Most famous as a combatant at the gunfight by the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881.
1864: During a Civil War battle with Union forces in Missouri, Confederate guerrillas, William “Bloody Bill” Anderson, 16-year-old Jesse James, Tucker Hill, and Arch Clement are wounded. Frank James takes his brother, shot through the right side of his chest, to the Carroll County home of Dr. John H. Rudd.
1864: Fort Collins, Colorado Territory is established to guard the Overland trail.
1868: Ten settlers are killed in Indian raids along the Republican and Saline Rivers in Kansas.
1880: Virgil and Morgan Earp help a Fort Grant sheriff locate a rustler in Arizona Territory. The thief surrendered “when a six-shooter was run under his nose by Morgan Earp.”
1883: “Big Ed” Burns, Soap Gang member, escapes an arresting Denver police officer while still wearing handcuffs.
1885: The Denver Rocky Mountain News recognizes con man Soapy Smith as a new power in Denver’s criminal underworld.
1888: A patent for the electric meter is granted to Oliver B. Shallenberger.
1890: A horse thief is dragged into Prescott, Arizona Territory and killed for stealing cattle.
1896: Gold is discovered in Canada's Yukon Territory, in the Klondike. Within the next year more than 30,000 people rush to the area to look for gold. The rush ends the economic “Panic or 1893.”
1900: The U.S and seven other nations end the Boxer Rebellion, which was aimed at purging China of foreigners.

August 13, 2017

Soapy Smith in court: The US Commissioner journal for Dyea, Alaska, 1898; Part 2.

Soapy in court
Assault and battery
June 25, 1898
Courtesy Alaska State Archives
(Click image to enlarge)

The legal journal of the U.S. Commissioner Court
Dyea, Alaska; part two of _eleven_(The exact amount and links will be added at the end of publishing all parts.

The following is part two of a series of articles regarding the journal of legal proceeding about Soapy Smith, started by U.S. Commissioner John U. Smith. On this case Commissioner Smith has been replaced by Charles Augustus Sehlbrede.
    On Saturday, June 25, 1898, Soapy assaulted F. R. Staples, a miner. He went to Dyea, filed charges with Commissioner Sehlbrede, who issued a warrant for Soapy's arrest. Deputy US Marshal Taylor arrested Jeff, who pleaded not guilty. He then asked for and was granted a three-day continuation. On the day the continuation expired, in court Staples refused to prosecute and paid costs of $1.95. Not known is what Soapy did or said to persuade Staples to drop the case.

Following is the transcription of page 426.

                   In United States Commissioner Court for the Dist of Alaska
                   United States vs Jefferson Smith Viol [violation] Sec 537  [undecipherable] Code
    June 25, 1898: Complaint charging defendant with the crime of assault and battery sworn to by F. R Staples filed, and warrant issued and placed in the hands of S. S. Taylor U.S. Deputy Marshal for service.
    June 25, 1898: Defendant arrested and brought before the court and arraigned. Sworn and appeared by U.S. deputy marshal A. J. Daly, and the defendant appeared by his attorneys W. R. O'Donnell and R. D. (R. P.?) Weldon.
    June 25, 1898: Defendant pleads not guilty and asks for continuance of said case until 2 O'clock p.m. Tuesday June 28, 1898.
    June 25, 1898: Marshal makes return of warrant which is read and filed upon request of defendant, Court continued until 2 o'clock P.M. June 28, 1898.
    June 28, 1898: 2 o'clock P.M. The prosecuting witness appears and refuses to prosecute the case, and pays the costs and the case is hereby dismissed.
                    C. A. Sehlbrede
                    U.S. Commissioner
                    Court costs $1.95 Paid.

* 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 3.
Commissioner's Journal: part 4.
Commissioner's Journal: part 5.
Commissioner's Journal: part 6.
Commissioner's Journal: part 7.
Commissioner's Journal: part 8.
Commissioner's Journal: part 9.
Commissioner's Journal: part 10.
Commissioner's Journal: part 11.

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.
F. R. Staples: p. 520.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Sylvester S. Taylor: pp. 508-12, 520, 527, 562, 575-76, 580-81.
W. R. O'Donnell: pp. 542-43, 557.
R. D. (R. P.?) Weldon: p. 544.

"Wherever he set up his “tripe & keister” (tripod and suitcase), which held the implements of his nefarious trade, he was certain to draw a large crowd and succeed in molding it to his will. A colorful and complex character of the Old West, he became a ruler of rogues and vagabonds, a friend of the friendless, a protector of criminals, and a contributor to churches."
Alias Soapy Smith


1784: The U.S. Legislature meets for the final time in Annapolis, Maryland.
1846: The U.S. flag is raised in Los Angeles, California.
1859: 2nd Dragoons under Lieutenant Ebenezer Gay battle Indians at Devils Gate Canyon, near Box Elder, Utah.
1860: Phoebe “Annie Oakley” Moses is born. She is famous for touring with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show as a sharp-shooter and trick shot. She was named "Little Miss Sure Shot" by Indian Chief Sitting Bull.
1866: Troops battle and kill thirty-three Indians and wound forty more at Skull Valley, Arizona Territory. One enlisted man is reported killed.
1867: Under the Gaslight, by Augustine Daly, opens in New York City.
1876: The Reciprocity Treaty between the U.S. and Hawaii is ratified.
1868: Captain Fredrick Benteen of the 7th Cavalry reports three Indians killed and ten wounded near the Saline River, Kansas.
1889: The patent for a coin-operated telephone is issued to William Gray.
1896: Outlaws Butch Cassidy, Bob Meeks and Elzy Lay rob the Montpelier, Idaho Bank of $16,500. Much of the money is sent to the defense attorney for old gang member Matt Warner who is awaiting trial for the 1889 robberies of the First National Bank in Denver, Colorado and the San Miguel Valley Bank in Telluride, Colorado.
1899: Denver policemen Tom Clifford and William Griffiths are murdered by Wellington Llewellen. On June 7, 1894 bad man Soapy Smith was the center of a scandal when he attacked officer Griffiths, striking him from behind with the barrel of his revolver. Soapy was arrested for assault to murder, but had the charges reduced. Soapy was fined $10 and court costs.
1907: The first motorized taxicab opens for business in New York City.

August 12, 2017

Soapy Smith in court: The US Commissioner journal for Dyea, Alaska, 1898; Part 1.

Soapy in "court"
March 9, 1898
From warrant to dismissal
Courtesy Alaska State Archives
(Click image to enlarge)

The legal journal of the U.S. Commissioner Court
Dyea, Alaska; part one of eleven (exact number and their links will be added as they are published.)

     John U. Smith, the U.S. Commissioner, the U.S. Marshal's office, and the court, were all stationed at Dyea, five miles from Skagway, even though Skagway was the "metropolis" of the area. The next large town was Juneau 100 miles away. While serving in Dyea John kept a legal journal of the legal proceedings.

"Vol 1 Criminal"
The cover of the journal
Courtesy Alaska State Archives
(Click image to enlarge)

Inside cover of the journal
Courtesy Alaska State Archives
(Click image to enlarge)

Following is the transcription of page 148 (top pic).

United States vs Jeff R. Soapy Smith

    March 9: Complaint filed by U.S. Deputy Marshal John Cudihee
    March 9: Warrant issued.
    March 9: Warrant returned and filed.
    March 9: Defendant arraigned and asking for time to plead. The hearing was set for next Monday at 7 pm at Dyea. Defendant allowed to go on his own recognizance.
    March 14: Defendant appeared and the court being unable to act the hearing was indefinitely postponed.
    March 29: dismissed.

     Interesting to note that the early entry of his name is just Soapy Smith. "Jeff R." was apparently added later as it is written in smaller text. So what crime was Soapy charged with?
     On Monday evening March 7, 1898, between 6 and 7 miles from Skagway on the White Pass trail near Porcupine Hill, Peter Clancy Bean, a twenty-five-year-old miner from Williams, California, was murdered. Powder burns were on his face and a .38 caliber slug in his left breast. Near his body was his empty pocketbook. However, the Daily Alaskan reported $300 in gold was found in his belt as well as $33.72 in cash in his pockets. It was believed his killer, or killers, were frightened away before searching the corpse. His killer(s) was never discovered. It is always possible that a member of the Soap Gang was involved in this robbery turned murder but there is no accusations or evidence that point to this, and hardly not enough to arrest Soapy.
     On March 8 the vigilante Committee of 101 posted "warning" handbills in Skagway and along the trails. The warning was meant for Soapy and his gang, though not mentioned by name, to remove themselves from Skagway. On March 12, two days after his arrest, Soapy posted his own "answer to warning" handbills around town. The following day, March 13, U.S. Deputy Marshal John Cudihee had his hands full when gambler Sam Roberts is shot and killed outside of his cabin in Dyea. The Seattle Times states that Roberts was one of Soapy's gang members, and he may very well have been, but at this time this is no known connection.
     This charge could possibly be linked to the charge of robbery made in the March 3, 1898 edition of the Seattle Daily Times, in which Mr. Frank Secombe,
states that the Hon. Soapy Smith is still the "warmest lobster" of the Skagway crroks. He and his gang boss the town and are running it wide open. A Swede entered this scoundrel's joint and was looking at a game when someone said, "why don't you play?" "I don't want to," he replied. "Don't want to, eh? Well, I guess you ain't got no money!" "Yes, I have, too," he replied somwhat proudly and drew out his roll containing about $500. Some one snatched it and the laugh was on the Swede, for he never saw it any more. 
One newspaper reports that U.S. Deputy Marshall Cudihee "is now the sole guardian of peace for Skagway and Dyea, it is almost impossible to keep the sure-thing gamblers and others of their ilk off the trails ..."

U.S. Deputy Marshall Cudihee
sole guardian of peace for Skagway and Dyea
The Daily Republican
May 23, 1898
(Click image to enlarge)

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

(links will be added as they are published)
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.
Commissioner's Journal: part 8.
Commissioner's Journal: part 9.
Commissioner's Journal: part 10.
Commissioner's Journal: part 11.

U.S. Commissioner John U. Smith: pp. 440-41, 460, 477, 496, 499, 506, 512.
Deputy U.S. Marshal John Cudihee: p. 500.

"Congressmen, lawmen, criminals, parsons, writers, and businessmen called him friend and asked after him."
Alias Soapy Smith


1851: Isaac Singer is issued the patent on the double-headed sewing machine.
1860: Temple Lea Houston, son of Texas President and Governor Sam Houston, is born in Austin, Texas. He is the first child born in the Governor's Mansion.
1861: Apache Indians attack and kill 15 Confederate soldiers in Texas.
1864: General Alfred Sulley's party reaches the Yellowstone River during the largest campaign against the Plains Indians thus far.
1865: Disinfectant is used for the first time during a surgery by Dr. Joseph Lister.
1867: President Andrew Johnson suspends Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, which leads to Johnson’s impeachment.
1868: Captain Fredrick Benteen of the 7th Cavalry reports that Indians have killed seventeen civilians on the Solomon River, Kansas.
1877: Thomas Edison invents the phonograph making the first sound recording.
1878: John W. Swilling, the founder of Phoenix, Arizona Territory is jailed as a suspect in a stage coach robbery that involved two murders. He dies in jail before he can be tried.
1879: The first National Archery Association tournament takes place in Chicago, Illinois.
1881: Cow-boys attack three Mexican soldiers, killing one, outside of Tombstone, Arizona.
1897: The vigilante Committee of 101 is formed in Skagway, Alaska, in response to Soapy Smith and the Soap Gang.
1898: The Spanish-American War ends with the signing of an armistice protocol in Washington D.C. It specifies that Spain relinquishes authority over Cuba and Puerto Rico. Disposition of the Philippine islands is to be decided by American and Spanish negotiators, who meet in Paris for a formal peace treaty.

July 28, 2017

Did Soapy Smith operate in Cleveland, Ohio?

The Paystreak

October 23, 1897
(Click image to enlarge)

id Soapy operate in Cleveland, Ohio?

     My publisher, Art Petersen, came across an interesting newspaper clipping while researching Mollie Walsh. The article was published in the Paystreak (Sandon, British Columbia) on October 23, 1897. It was originally published in the Cleveland Leader on August 17, 1897. 
     So, is this Soapy Smith or another confidence man? Hard to say with certainty. It depends on when the occurrence actually took place. Soapy did a lot of traveling around the eastern states, including New York, about this time; however, on August 17, 1897, he was around 2,500 miles from Cleveland on-board the steamer Utopia heading to Juneau and Skagway, Alaska.



A Willy Fakir Who Was “Done” by the Farmers.

     “No,” said the soap fakir to a group of people that had gathered around him, according to the Cleveland Leader, “there is no use talking to me about the innocence of the countrymen. He may buy a gold brick occasionally or sign a blank cheque and lose his farm, but, as a rule, he can take care of himself just as well as the next one, and generally a little better. If I knew as much as some farmers I would not be in this business, and you can gamble on that.
     “Why, say, do you know what happened to me the last time I was down in the country? I got pinched, that’s what I done. I got my satchel out in front of the hotel in a little town about 30 miles from here and began to do a few tricks to draw a crowd.
     “After I’d made an egg disappear and pulled a few knots open for them, I says: ‘Now, gentlemen, I’m going to show you a trick that nobody else on earth has ever attempted. You see my hat here? Well, we’ll imagine for the time bein’ that it’s a flower pot. Out of this hat I’m goin’ to make a bush grow up, and when I’ve done that I’ll make every leaf on it turn into a $5 note.’
     “What? Did I do it? Of course I did! But, say, do you know what come of it? Blamed if they didn’t arrest me and fine me $15 for raisin’ bills, which the Justice of the Peace said was ‘contrary to the stetoots made and provided.’
     “Well, I sort of had a hankerin’ to know whether they done it in good faith or just because they thought I was easy pickin’ and what do you think I found out? Why, the people of that town hadn’t paid any taxes for eight years. They’d actually been runnin’ things by pluckin’ just such innocent fellows as me.
     “Now, gentlemen, there’s a $1 bill in one of these little packages. Who will give me 10 cents now for the first choice?”

* Special thanks to Art Petersen for sharing the article, and to Linda Gay Mathis for locating the Cleveland Leader.

"He accomplished his dominance by eliminating chance from his games. In turn, he emptied the pockets of his victims and bluffed them into silence and submission."
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 15


1862: Gold is discovered in Grasshopper Creek, Montana. The camp of Bannock is erected nearby. Confusion over the boundaries requires the camp location be listed as being in Oregon Territory, Idaho Territory, and Montanan Territory.
1864: In what is known as the Battle of Killdeer Mountain, General Sully and his forces attack Indian Chief Sitting Bull's camp on the Little Missouri River, Dakota Territory.
1865: The American Dental Association proposes its first code of ethics.
1866: The metric system is recognized by Congress for the standardization of weights and measures in the United States.
1867: Lieutenant Colonel George Custer is arrested. His pending court-martial is for desertion, for over marching his troops, and for cruel treatment of deserters.
1867: seven soldiers die of Cholera in one day in Fort Wallace, Kansas.
1868: The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is enacted. The amendment guaranteed due process of law.
1874: A band of horse-thieves is caught in Caldwell, Kansas, by a posse led by Under Sheriff John Davis.
1878: Charles Earl “Black Bart” Bowles robs the Quincy-Oroville stage in California, for a second time.
1878: The Grant County Herald in New Mexico Territory erroneously reports that outlaw Billy the Kid is killed in the McSween battle of the Lincoln County War.
1880: Apache Indian Chief Victorio begins a two-week-long series of raids in the Eagle Springs region of Texas.
1884: Famed Denver brothel madam “Jennie Rogers” is arrested for vagrancy and “being a professional morphine taker.” She sentenced to ten days in jail. 
1893: Soapy Smith writes a letter to the editor of the Denver Times stating that there are “no bunco men on lower 17th Street.” He signs the letter, “alias Soapy Smith.”
1895: Deputy U.S. Marshal John Garrett is shot in the leg and chest, by Rufus Buck, as he exits a store in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. It is the beginning of the Buck Gang’s 13-day spree of robberies, assaults, rapes, and attempted murder. The gang is eventually captured, all six men are found guilty of rape, and are executed July 1, 1896.
1896: The city of Miami, Florida is incorporated.

July 25, 2017

Skagway, Alaska preparing for the 4th of July

Skagway, Alaska
June 15, 1898
Broadway and Fourth Avenue
Courtesy of the Pat Hathaway Collection
(Click image to enlarge)

kagway prepares for the 4th of July

A very interesting photograph taken on June 15, 1898, looking north on Broadway from Fourth Avenue as the city prepares for the coming July 4th celebration and parade. Trees have been recently planted on Broadway, not seen in photographs taken the previous month. The rear of the Burkhard House (A) on the southwest corner of Broadway and Fifth shows the tops of the rear windows where soap gang member "Slim-Jim" Foster jumped out of, in a futile effort to escape his vigilante captors, holding him with the other primary members of the gang after the demise of their boss, Soapy Smith. That would not take place for another 24 days after this photograph was taken. Further down, on the north-west corner of Broadway and Holly Avenue, the Mondamin Hotel (B) can just be seen. Soapy lived in room #61 and his saloon, Jeff Smith's Parlor was two doors to the west. Flags and red, white and blue bunting can be seen adorning buildings as a man (C) holds a lengthy portion of bunting ready to drape the frontage of a building. 

"Do unto others what they’d like to do to you, but do it first."
Alias Soapy Smith, p 15


1805: Aaron Burr visits New Orleans with plans to establish a new country, with New Orleans as the capital city.
1850: Harvard and Yale University freshmen compete in the first U.S. intercollegiate billiards match.
1850: Gold is discovered in the Rogue River, Oregon.
1853: Outlaw Joaquin Murrieta and four of his men are shot and killed by California Rangers at Cantua Creek in central California. Murrieta’s head is lopped off to bring back as proof in order to collect the $1,000 reward. The hand of Bernardino “Three-Fingered Jack” Garcia was also taken.
1854: The paper collar is patented by Walter Hunt.
1861: The Crittenden Resolution is passed by Congress. It calls for the U.S. Civil War to be fought to preserve the union, not over the slavery issue.
1865: The Fight at Platte Bridge begins near Fort Casper, Wyoming. Indian Chief Crazy Horse's decoy party of Sioux fails to draw out the soldiers. Instead he attacks the fort.
1866: Ulysses S. Grant is named General of the U.S. Army. He is the first American officer to hold the rank.
1868: Wyoming Territory is created from portions of Dakota and Utah Territories in the Organic act.
1871: Seth Wheeler patents perforated wrapping paper.
1878: Charles Earl “Black Bart” Bowles robs the Quincy-Oroville stage a mile from Berry Creek, California.
1880: Lieutenant Hurst enlists Virgil Earp, and his brother Wyatt and Morgan, to accompany him to the McLaury Ranch, Arizona Territory, to inform the McLaury family of the theft of six government mules.
1881: “Big Ed” Burns opens a saloon in Casa Grande, Arizona from which to swindle victims from the incoming trains. Once it was discovered what they were doing a mob forced them to leave town. Burns joins Soapy Smith's Soap Gang.
1881: Four Mexicans are killed by cow-boys at Sarampion, Arizona.
1882: Roy Bean mails a local newspaper a postcard announcing the opening of his new saloon, the first one west of the Pecos River, San Antonio, Texas.
1890: Soap Gang members Charlie Graff, John Bowers, F. M. Hamaum and Ira H. Curtis are arrested in a mock auction house at Seventeenth and Market Streets in Denver, Colorado, charged with fraud by Herman Llamer who purchased a cheap watch, and made to believe to be a gold one.
1891: Con man Soapy Smith’s mock auction houses, who sell fake gold watches to unsuspecting victims on the streets of Denver, Colorado, are so notoriously successful that policemen are placed in front of the establishments to warn potential victims.
1895: Bannock Indians surround 250 settlers near Jackson Hole, Wyoming until they are dispersed by the 9th Cavalry.
1901: Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan, avenges the 1896 death of his brother John Curry. Logan waited in Jim Wither's corral in Montana all night, and shot Wither when he stepped out to brush his teeth.