November 21, 2021

Is this William Allen the Soap Gang member of the same name?

WILLIAM ALLEN
Wanted handbill
Courtesy of eBay

(Click image to enlarge)



 
 
 
 
s this William Allen the Soap Gang member of the same name?


Keep in mind that the individuals that created the handbill in Denver, Colorado, including Sheriff Robert J. Jones, may not have known William Allen's history, and that some of the known information may be completely false, which was discovered in 1892 accounts when Soapy Smith hid Allen, even publishing a fake notice of death and obituary, to keep him from being extradited back to Creede, Colorado where he would be tried for his part in the murder of faro dealer Reddy McCann

I was not able to find a lot about William J. Allen. According to Robert K. DeArment in his Knights of the Green Cloth (1982), Billy Allen was a "gambler of a somewhat higher grade" in Deadwood, South Dakota in 1876. He seemed to migrate between jobs as a policeman and bartender. For many historians Allen is best known for his altercation with famed gun-fighting dentist, John Henry "Doc" Holliday in Leadville, Colorado on August 19, 1884.

[John "Doc"] Holliday had borrowed $5 from an ex-Leadville policeman named Billy Allen, a bartender and special officer at the Monarch [saloon], a position that gave him the right to carry a gun and make arrests on the premises. Allen worked with Tyler and Duncan and was a member of their gang. Holliday was laggard in repaying what he owed Allen. In fact, he was nearly busted, his jewelry already in hock. Allen cornered him in the Monarch on Friday, August 15, 1884, and told him to pony up by noon on August 19 or else. The “or else” was a promise at the very least to thrash him—a promise Allen, a robust man fully 50 pounds heavier than 33-year-old Holliday, could easily have kept—or at the worst to kill him.
     Doc Holliday was acutely aware of the danger he was in as August 19 dawned, his creditor still unsatisfied. Keeping gambler’s hours, Holliday had gone to bed at 5 in the morning and did not awaken until 3 in the afternoon—well past the deadline set for repaying the $5. Knowing that Allen was thick with the thieves at the Monarch, Holliday believed the debt would serve as a convenient pretext for his enemies to put him out of the way once and for all. He would later call Allen a “tool of the gang.”
     Holliday left his room in the Star Block, a building located at 405 Harrison Ave., shortly after 3 p.m. He came upon a gambler named Pat Sweeney, who told him Allen had been to Hyman’s earlier that afternoon and was armed. Upon hearing this news, Holliday hiked back up the stairs to his second-floor room and may have concealed his revolver about his person, or he may have entrusted it to Sweeney or to a close friend and fellow boarder, Frank Lomeister, to carry to Hyman’s—testimony on this point is inconclusive. He then sent Lomeister to find Marshal Harvey Faucett or Captain Ed Bradbury of the Leadville Police Department and seek their aid.
     En route to Hyman’s, Holliday bumped into Faucett himself in front of Sands and Pelton’s clothing store at 312 Harrison. He explained his predicament to the marshal, asking if Allen really was a special policeman. Sensing Holliday’s apprehension that this appointment would permit Allen to walk the streets armed, Faucett answered that even though Allen was a special, he had no right to carry a gun outside of the Monarch. Holliday then made a strange statement: “I’ll get a shotgun and shoot him on sight.” Strange, because it showed intent—to the city marshal, no less—to commit a crime in Colorado, and it was Holliday’s lawful conduct in this sanctuary that guaranteed he would not be extradited to Arizona Territory. There, he would have to stand trial for the Tucson train yard murder of Frank Stilwell on March 20, 1882—if Holliday’s sworn enemies did not assassinate him first. Events strongly suggest this remark showed Holliday’s desperate state of mind, but if he was carrying a concealed weapon and therefore liable to a fine he could not afford to pay, it may also have been disingenuous and intended to forestall the marshal’s searching him. Whatever the full intent, it alerted Faucett to a prickly situation. He set off posthaste to find Billy Allen. He entered the Monarch shortly thereafter, but Allen had just left.
     Holliday shuffled through the double glass doors into Hyman’s an
      d made sure his revolver was placed behind the bar, close by the lighter on the cigar case next to it. Versions differ as to the caliber of the large single-action Colt revolver, some claiming it was .41, others .44.
    
Billy Allen had left his house uptown and strolled down the Avenue. He stopped at the Tabor Grand Opera House to pick up theater tickets and get his shoes shined, and then went into the Monarch. After spending a few moments in the saloon, he was putting on his coat to continue down to Hyman’s when one of the proprietors, Cy Allen (no relation to Billy), warned him against hunting up Holliday just then. Billy Allen answered there would be no trouble and, with a careless air, walked out into the fading sunlight, striding down the boardwalk toward Hyman’s, the hands on the moon-faced clock that overlooked the Avenue to his right nearing 5 o’clock.
     Holliday was lounging by the cigar case when he laid eyes on Billy Allen through the plate glass window at the front of Hyman’s. He reached behind the counter for his Colt and stared at the door. Allen pushed it open, hesitating when a voice outside hailed him. Then he stepped across the threshold, about 6 feet distant, and Holliday leveled the six-shooter that had been dangling in his hand and pulled the trigger.
    
The first shot sailed over Allen’s head, shattered a pane of glass in the double doors and lodged in the door frame. Startled, Allen spun on his heel, intending to flee, but tripped over the threshold and pitched forward, landing on his hands and knees. The ex-policeman scrambled to get to his feet. Holliday leaned over the cigar case and, almost on top of the man who’d been the hunter only seconds earlier, fired again. This shot hit its mark. The bullet tore into Allen’s right arm from the rear about halfway between the shoulder and the elbow and passed clear through, severing an artery in its flight. Jolted upright, Allen stumbled outside. He staggered against the wall of Dave May’s clothing store next door. By now he was in shock and bleeding freely, and he fainted into the arms of an onlooker.
     Holliday had only winged his bird and had been ready to fire again. But before he could squeeze the trigger for a third time, the bartender had rushed up to him from behind and clamped down on his gun hand. Captain Ed Bradbury, who’d given Allen a belated warning, then charged into the saloon and snatched the smoking Colt. Holliday immediately asked for protection, and Bradbury led him to the county jail. At the same instant, Cy Allen and other friends of Billy Allen loaded the wounded man into an express wagon and conveyed him to his house. Doctor F.F. D’Avignon was summoned. He could find no pulse in Billy Allen’s right arm, and concluded the artery was severed. As quickly as possible, he sewed it together...
    
The day after the Allen shooting, Captain Bradbury swore out a warrant for Holliday's arrest, charging him with assault with intent to kill. He was taken to court, and bail was set at $5,000. John G. Morgan, proprietor of the Board of Trade saloon, and Colonel Sam Houston, one of the managers, signed on as Holliday’s sureties, and he was released....

In my personal collection is a letter to Soapy Smith from John Morgan, asking Soapy to keep a lookout for a gaffed faro box in the Denver pawnshops, that had been stolen from the Board of Trade.    

At the trial, Allen testified that he was unarmed at the time Holliday shot him, that he had never threatened Holliday’s life, and that he did not even know Holliday was in Hyman’s Place when he entered it on the afternoon of August 19, 1884....
     Billy Allen’s career after Leadville was long and adventurous. Researcher Gary Roberts has traced him to Garfield County, Colo., in 1887, where he served as an Army scout during the Ute troubles. Afterward, he worked as a fireman in Pueblo and later as fire chief in Cripple Creek. By 1900 he was participating in the Klondike gold rush and was appointed a deputy U.S. marshal. The manager of the insurance underwriters of Colorado once described the popular Allen as “a strong, brave, determined man.” He died in the Old Soldiers’ Home in Orting, Wash., on March 21, 1941, at age 82.

(The above text comes from the article, Spitting Lead in Leadville, by Roger Jay and originally appeared in the December 2003 issue of Wild West magazine. [http://www.historynet.com/spitting-lead-in-leadville-doc-hollidays-last-stand.htm])

Five years later, Allen is working as a bartender during a special train trip picnic to an out of city park named Logan Park. Allen ingrained himself into the criminal affairs of the Soapy Smith gang when he joined in a melee known as the Logan Park riot.

      On Sunday, July 21, 1889, the destination of one such outing was Logan Park. The trip was heavily promoted, though by whom was not exactly clear. Advertised as "a dazzlingly beautiful spot for a day’s picnic adventure," in reality, Logan Park was far from beautiful, far from home, and far from the law. For Jeff and the Soap Gang, it was a dazzling opportunity with a captive audience...
     The bartender Billy Allen became interested, and joined in the row, ostensibly, to quiet matters, but his appearance was like waving a red flag at an infuriated bull. Grasping a couple of beer glasses, he began to strike right and left, believing in the Irish tactics of hitting every head he saw…. Rocky Mountain News, July 22, 1889.
Two and one-half years later Allen is in Creede, Colorado where he gets involved with Soapy's brother-in-law, William Sydney "Cap" Light, in a shooting scrape that ends in the death (probable murder) of faro dealer Reddy McCann.
     The official story goes something like this. At 4:15 a.m. on Thursday March 31, 1892, “Reddy” McCann, a faro dealer from the Gunnison Exchange, was drinking heavily in the Branch Saloon and causing a ruckus. Earlier somebody had been shooting out windows and lights near the section of Main and Wall streets. McCann was believed to have been doing the shooting. It was Deputy Marshal Light’s job to disarm the hip-pocket brigade, as the men who carried guns into Creede were called, so Light, under the influence of alcohol himself, entered The Branch Saloon accompanied by William Allen and approached McCann. The story appeared on page 1 of the April 1, 1892, edition of The Creede Candle:


Reddy McCann Shot and Instantly
Killed by Captain Light.

     It is said that Light went into the place and was told by McCann that no — — — could take his gun away from him; that one word led to another until finally the deputy slapped McCann in the face; that following the slap came the guns and that Light was forced to shoot in self-defense.
     Sheriff Delaney had previously taken two guns from McCann at different times, the latter time getting a sore hand as his part of the struggle.

     McCann was a faro dealer at the Gunnison Exchange. He came to Jimtown from Salt Lake and had been in the camp about six weeks. …
     At the inquest, Mr. Schwartz, a friend of McCann, testified as follows: “At 4:15 a. m. Mr. McCann, deceased, went into Mr. Murphy’s saloon and stepped up to the bar. In a few minutes Captain Light and William Allen entered the place and began to talk with Mr. McCann, and in my opinion both were under the influence of liquor at the time and they began joshing one another, and Captain Light slapped McCann in the face, knocking a cigar out of his mouth, and I saw them both reaching for their guns, and I dropped behind the counter and I do not know who fired the first shot. After the shooting was over I got up and found McCann laying [lying] on his back on the floor and the barkeeper and I walked up to him and he told us these two words, “I’m killed!” We sent for the doctor at once. We picked him up and laid him on the table, where he expired about fifteen minutes later. I was too excited to tell how many shots—about five or six I judge.”
     William Allen testified: “My residence is Jimtown, Colo., occupation, bartender. After I came off watch this morning at 4 a. m. Mr. Light and myself went over to Mr. Long’s saloon to take a drink, and there met Mr. McCann. He and Mr. Light began to talk. I walked over to the stove and I heard a few words of tussing [cussing?]. Saw Mr. Light slap the cigar out of McCann’s mouth and McCann drew a gun and commenced firing at Mr. Light. Then Mr. Light began firing at McCann. Then I saw McCann fall. Mr. Light turned and walked out.”
     To district attorney: “I did not go into the saloon alone. Mr. McCann was standing against the bar when we entered. Can not tell who spoke first, McCann or Light. They seemed like friends to me when they met. Did not think Light was angry when he slapped McCann. McCann drew … first and he fired first. Can not tell who were present when the firing began, only Dave Allen, myself and Captain Light. Myron Long was attending bar at the time.

Friends of McCann recognized that they would not be heard in Creede so they went to newspapers in other towns to publish their version of the affair. Their story was accepted. In Light's obituary some of that story tarnished his image as a lawman.

The painted fairies [showgirls] from all over the West flocked in and they made the place hum for a few months. A bartender named [William] Allen became enamored of one of these angels whose beauty had not been seriously marred by the excesses of the camp. He had as a rival Red McCann. The eventual quarrel followed and the girl agreed to take the man whose nerve showed up to the best advantage in a Creede shooting scrape. Captain Light was a friend of Allen’s, and to him he confided the story. That night they started out to do their daily kalsomining, and before entering a saloon they met McCann and a party of friends whose hilarity was such that they all began shooting off their guns in the air. The chambers were emptied and they all went into the saloon to liquor. McCann and Light exchanged words and the latter, always calm and composed, irritated McCann to such an extent that he pulled his empty gun on Captain Light. With that the deputy marshal nailed him, and before his gun quit smoking five cartridges had found a resting place in some vital part of McCann’s anatomy. An inquest was held, but before the verdict was announced Light had left the camp. —Rocky Mountain News, December 27, 1893

These two accounts indicate that the story told at the inquest was a cover-up for the murder of an unarmed man. Four months later on July 22, 1892, in Pueblo, Allen was arrested and transported back to Creede to face a murder charge. He was suspected of possibly firing his gun at McCann as well. He was standing at the roulette table with McCann between him and the bar. Light was near the door facing McCann. According to some reports the shot which killed took effect in the victim’s left side, the one toward the roulette table, could not have come from Light’s gun.
     The friends of McCann in Creede had apparently been pushing for justice but four days later Allen was released owing to a want of witnesses.

     This is the last Known information on William J. Allen's connection to Soapy Smith and the Soap Gang. It is known that Allen did go to the Klondike, but I have not located him in Skagway, or associated with Soapy Smith.


William J. "Billy" Allen
Circa 1895
Courtesy Regina Peck Andrus (g-granddaughter of W. J. Allen)

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William J. "Billy" Allen
April 23, 2017










William J. "Billy" Allen: pages 142, 214-216.





"Games of chance are traps to catch school boy novies and gaping country squires, who begin with a guinea and end with a mortgage."
—Author Unknown










November 12, 2021

Close-up of spot where shootout on Juneau Wharf took place.

Entrance to Juneau Company Wharf
Close-up
Taken from the air
1936

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lose-up of the entrance of Juneau Company Wharf, 1936
Where Soapy Smith met his demise, July 8, 1898.



Full Photograph
1936

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Taken from an airplane in 1936 the photograph shows the ruins of the Juneau Company Wharf where Soapy Smith was killed on July 8, 1898. The entrance to the wharf is at State Street and 1st Avenue, where a memorial marker now resides. It appears that a blockade of sorts has been erected to keep people off of the derelict wharf. According to stories told by locals, the blood stains from the shootout remained on the wharf and were a popular point to show visiting friends and family. I circled in red the general vicinity where the shootout between Soapy, Frank Reid and Jesse Murphy took place. 







 









Juneau Wharf
Nov 29, 2008

Dec 23, 2008
Jun 02, 2009
Nov 01, 2009
Feb 16, 2011
Apr 23, 2011
Mar 01, 2011
Apr 19, 2012
May 02, 2012
Feb 23, 2014
Oct 14, 2014
Nov 30, 2016
May 17, 2017
Aug 16, 2017











Juneau Wharf: pages 9, 12, 530-32, 535, 538, 546-51, 554, 564, 575, 595.





"There is but one good throw upon the dice, which is, to throw them away."
—Author Unknown










November 7, 2021

Color version of Web of Arachne located in Turkey.


Web of Arachne
Oil painting from Turkey
by "V. Lenp___???"

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OPY OF WEB OF ARACHNE?

 
 
 
 
 
A gentleman from Ankara, Turkey contacted me wishing to sell me an oil painting of the Web of Arachne (by Fernand Le Quesne) that he purchased at auction.

Web of Arachne
Oil painting from Turkey
Close-up

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There are slight differences between the black and white and color versions. Besides different artists, I caught the difference when I placed the photos side-by-side (see attached photo). The names of the artists are different, but the most tell-tale difference is the center of the large web on the far right of the paintings. Looking closer at details, such as the foreground details, like the grass and plants shows a lack of detail seen in the original. I am guessing that the artist may have been a student artist, or possibly an artist painting and selling works as their own. Could this copy possibly be evidence that the original was in color?


Web of Arachne
Original by
Fernand Le Quesne
Colorized

(Click image to enlarge)


The print that Soapy purchased hung in Jeff Smith's Parlor so we know that without any question that Fernand Le Quesne painted The Web of Arachne at some point previous to 1898. Ads for the print and others like it, are reported to have sold at the Columbian Exposition in 1893, so it's likely that Le Quesne painted it at some point before the opening of the fair. Guessing that he started painting by age 20, it is conjecture that the The Web of Arachne was painted sometime between 1876-1892. But when did artist "V. Lenp???" paint it?



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Web of Arachne
Oil painting from Turkey
Rear of frame

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The story of how I "discovered" Soapy Smith's connection to the Web of Arachne is very interesting. Go down to the links below "Web of Arachne" and you can read about it.
 







"The better the gambler, the worse the man."
—Publius Syrus











November 3, 2021

Soapy Smith rescues his future wife, Mary Noonan from an attacker, 1885.

A NEGRO'S NERVE.
Rocky Mountain News
November 4, 1885
Courtesy of NewsBank

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 ary swoons over her rescuing knight. 

In telling of the incident that occurred the first time she met Jefferson Randolph Smith II to her children and grandchildren, Mary Eva Noonan said that she "swooned over her rescuing knight." One fact that she chose to omit from her reciting the story of how Soapy" Smith, her future husband, rescued her honor, was that the attacker was a black man. Not that it matters, except to the accuracy of the history.

As Mary told it, she had finished her singing performance at the Palace Theater in Denver, Colorado, when she was approached by Jefferson Randolph Smith II, notoriously known as "Soapy." In her rehashing of the story she did not mention exactly where the incident took place and future books on Soapy assumed that the scene took place at the Palace Theater. The newspaper article states that the attack took place at John Kinneavy's saloon, a friend of Soapy's, located on the corner of Sixteenth and Holladay (later named Market) Streets, about two blocks from the Palace Theater.

Though the photo-copy of the newspaper article is not very good, I am able to share the entire article as I have a better copy in my files that I obtained in the 1980s-90s while researching through the Rocky Mountain News on microfilm, for the book, Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel. Below is the full text of the article.


A NEGRO'S NERVE.

He Tackles a White Woman and Gets the Worst of It.

     About 10 o'clock last night T. Smith, a gambler, was sitting in a back room attachment to John Kinneavy's saloon, corner of Sixteenth and Holladay streets, with a lady friend, a colored man entered and without saying a word seized Smith's companion about the neck and kissed her, Smith naturally took umbrage at this and drawing a revolver struck the Negro over the head with it, inflicting a slight cut in the forehead. As the pistol, which was loaded, struck the negro's head, one barrel went off and the neighborhood was aroused. Smith skipped out, as did also the negro, who's name proved proved to be Arthur Jackson. Captain captain Swain was at once at on the scene and caught Jackson as he was running across the street and took him to the city jail. Arrived here he washed the blood from his face and it was found that he was only slightly hurt. Smith subsequently gave himself up and he is in being retained at police headquarters.
     Colored men who know the man Jackson give him anything but a good name, saying that he has a weakness for attacking white women in the same manner as he last evening assaulted the woman who was with Soapy Smith.
     The report of Smith's pistol caused a good deal of excitement for a few moments, but it soon died down when it was learned that no one was hurt.


The newspaper defends Soapy's actions as he is innocently conversing and flirting with Mary when Arthur Jackson assaulted her. In Mary's telling, when Soapy crashed his gun down upon the attackers head, his revolver went off at the same time, and so much blood gushed from the man's head, that Soapy believed he had shot Jackson. Thinking he had killed Jackson, Soapy fled the saloon. The attacker recovered from his wounds, and Soapy was fined $5 for "disturbance" (Rocky Mountain News, November 6, 1885).


Mary Eva Noonan
colorized
wedding photograph
February 1886
Jeff Smith collection








 

 









Arthur Jackson attacks Mary Noonan: pages 104-105.





"A number of moralists condemn lotteries and refuse to see anything noble in the passion of the ordinary gambler. They judge gambling as some atheists judge religion, by its excesses."
—Charles Lamb, Essays of Elia, 1832










October 28, 2021

Artifact #88: Soapy Smith's son speaks with Annie L. Williams about a manuscript on his father.

Artifact #88
Letter
June 20, 1944
Jeff Smith collection

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few days ago you called me and told me you had a manuscript based on the life of Jeffrey Smith"

     Artifact #88 is a typed response letter from the famed New York drama and motion picture agent, Annie Laurie Williams to Soapy Smith's son, Jefferson Randolph Smith III.

     Annie Laurie Williams, the agent who sold Margaret Mitchell's “Gone With the Wind” to David O. Selznick for the film, Opened her career and firm in 1929, representing some of the most important American authors, including Margaret Mitchell, Harper Lee, John Steinbeck, and Lloyd C. Douglas.
     Jefferson Smith apparently had written a manuscript and offered to send it to Williams' agency. Unfortunately, I do not know the location of that manuscript. Likely, it is still in family hands somewhere. The letter is addressed to Jeffery Smith, 136-31- 58th Avenue, Flushing, L. I., (Long Island, New York). In 1942, two years before this letter, records show that Jeff still lived in Missouri. The next address is a Los Angeles, California one, in 1952. Jeff kept outsiders in the dark in regards to his father. He held "behind-the-scene" political and newspaper positions that he feared would be jeopardized if certain people were to find out who his father was. In 1946 Jeff's daughter, Joy Roberta Smith, got married in New York. It is possible that Joy lived in New York in 1944 and that Jeff used her address as a mailing location, in order to keep his life as the son of a famous bad man on the quiet, if the manuscript deal went sour. Also take note that Annie Williams mentions Jeff as going "back to Texas." Jeff may have listed his residence as "Texas." As part of this attempt to hide his identity Jefferson used the names "Jeffrey" to identify both himself and his father, while hiding his and his father's real identities.     

Below is the text of the letter.
 
June 20, 1944
 
A few days ago you called me and told me you had a manuscript based on the life of Jeffrey Smith and if I were interested you would let me read it. I am interested and hope you can come in and bring the manuscript and talk to me before you go back to Texas. If I don't happen to be in my sister Pamela Barnes will talk to you and you can leave the manuscript with her.
 
Sincerely yours,
Annie Laurie Williams (signature and typed)
 
 
Annie Laurie Williams

 (Click image to enlarge)








 









Jefferson Randolph Smith III
 











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






"One of the healthiest ways to gamble is with a spade and a package of garden seeds."
—Dan Bennett








October 26, 2021

Artifact #87 Soapy Smith's sister, Emmie Lu Gardner writes to her brother's son.

Artifact #87
Letter side A
Jeff Smith collection

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t is quite interesting to know you are living in a haunted house."
 
Artifact #87 is a response letter from aunt Emmie Lu Gardner, (Soapy Smith's sister), age 45 to Jefferson Randolph Smith III, (Soapy's son), age 25. It's a typical "keeping up with the family" type letter. Below is the transcribed text. 

Waco Texas
Dec 11th. 1912

Dear Jeff:
 
     Your most welcome letter was received a few days ago was very glad to hear from you. It is quite interesting to know you are living in a haunted house, and yet there's lots of people who firmly believe in ghosts. I received a long letter from cousin Nellie Kate Smith of Newnan Ga they are all well. The weather is very bad has been raining for about 4 weeks and still raining. I hope it will clear up. Received a card from Temple They are all well. I hope you will be able to secure a good position your chances seem very favorable at present. I am glad to know that you all well and enjoying yourselves. With love and best wishes to all. your Loving Aunt.

Emmie Lu Gardner
927 Franklin St.

     This is the only mention that the Smith home in 1912 was haunted. Being an adamant historian I am not really one who trusts most ghost stories, but if any household could be haunted, I would guess that the family of Soapy Smith would be one of them.
       Nellie Kate Smith (1868-1950) of Newnan, Georgia was the daughter of Ira Ellis Caspar Wistar Smith and Caqtherine Romanze "Kate" Edmundson. Newnan (Coweta County) is where Soapy Smith was born and raised until 1876-77.
     Temple, Texas is where Soapy's surviving family members lived, his father, Jefferson Randolph Smith II having died there in 1902.
 

Artifact #87
Letter side B
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)

The envelope below is addressed to "Mr. Jeff Smith, St. Louis, Mo." At the lower left is "C" (care of) "St. Louis Times, Editorial Department." Jeff worked as a newspaper editor for much of his adult life.
 
Artifact #87
Envelope
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)




Emmie Lu Gardner
1867-1913


Jefferson R. Smith III
age 25

(Click image to enlarge)
 
 
Nellie Kate Smith
1868-1950

 
(Click image to enlarge)











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





"I bet on a horse at ten-to-one. It didn't come in until half-past five."
—Henny Youngman












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

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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
California
 
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

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Inside portion of brochure
drawings of San Francisco sites
Jeff Smith collection

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Rear and front portion of brochure
Photographs of San Francisco
Jeff Smith collection

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Jefferson Randolph Smith III
 










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