December 7, 2017

The criminal history of Harry Gilmore, alias Jim Jordan.

Harry Gilmore
Alias Jim Jordan
age 48-54

Rocky Mountain News
April 19, 1894
(Click image to enlarge)

ho the hell was Harry Gilmore?

     We are all mere "students" of history. When I published my book, Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel, there was a limit to time and resources I had available to work with. I could not spend the time researching every person Soapy Smith knew. These days I have more time and resources at my disposal. Thus, as a result, I am coming across new and interesting historical information. Today's article regards a con man Soapy knew, named Harry Gilmore, alias "Jim Jordan."
     In Alias Soapy Smith I describe him as an opposition figure of "Troublesome" Tom Cady, standing at Soapy's side in Denver on October 11, 1892, the day gambler Cliff Sparks was shot and killed in Murphy's Exchange. The Denver newspapers report that his name is Jim Jordan, alias Harry Gilmore, and I accepted that at the time. A more thorough search indicates it is likely the other way around, his real name being Harry Gilmore, alias "Jim Jordan." Who shot and killed Sparks was never determined, and the murder remains a mystery, though throughout the rest of his life newspapers gave Gilmore credit for the deed when reporting on him.
     The shooting of Sparks indirectly caused problems for Soapy six years later in Skagway, Alaska, when brothel proprietor Mattie Silks arrived in town. Her husband, Corteze “Cort” Thomson, was a friend and business partner of Gilmore's and for a brief time was also implicated in the shooting. As told to a Seattle reporter, Silks accused Soapy of plotting to murder her.
     While Alias Soapy Smith contains much more detail about Gilmore, the above information summarizes what I knew about him, until very recently. Research of Gilmore in a Denver newspaper suggested that I should try to pick up his trail and follow it. That pursuit led to a landfill of new information about this criminal. For some of the following newspaper listings, the "Harry Gilmore" cited may be about some other criminal using this name. However, all of the listings suggest one and the same person based on details known about the man and the criminal nature of his crimes.

  • 1840-1846: Newspapers vary on Harry Gilmore's year of birth. In 1894 the Rocky Mountain News stated he was 48 years old, where as the Morning Star (Washington, D.C.) states that he was 78 at the time of his death in 1918.
  • September 15, 1876: Gilmore is incarcerated for burglary and larceny. Jamestown Journal (New York).
  • October 18, 1876: Gilmore is in police court for "larceny of gas pipe from J. F. Reardon; [sentenced to] six months in jail." Evening Star (Washington D.C.).
  • Unknown date prior to 1881: Gilmore was injured in "A trespassing operation [that] was unsuccessful," and as a result, "there is a silver plate in Gilmore's head to-day." November 8, 1886, Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois).
  • March 14, 1881: Gilmore shoots and kills George McBride. Daily Illinois State Journal (Chicago, Illinois).

    CHICAGO, March 13.—George McBride, a hostler, in the employ of William B. Simpson, was shot and killed by a well known thief named Harry Gilmore, in front of the Wabash Avenue Pavilion today. Simpson had been on a spree last night, and McBride was sent from his home to hunt him up, and found him in the Pavilion in company with Gilmore. McBride tried to get his employer away, but Gilmore interfered and called McBride names, whereupon McBride invited him outside to settle the matter with fists. When they started out Gilmore was handed a pistol by the bartender. When Simpson saw the pistol in Gilmore's hand he tried to stop the fight, and McBride said he had no intention to fight unarmed against Gilmore. The latter said he had no intention to let his adversary off so, and leveling the pistol over Simpson's shoulder, sent a ball through McBride's temple, killing him instantly. Simpson, the owner of the saloon and the bartender were arrested, but Gilmore escaped.
  • March 15, 1881: "A dispatch from Fort Wayne [Indiana] says Gilmore is well known in that city, where it is thought he murdered Corner [Connor?] Webb, three years ago." Evening Leader (Chicago, Illinois). 
  • June 6, 1881: Gilmore is spotted in Chicago, entering the brothel where his mistress, Monte Hamilton, lived. Police searched the brothel, but Gilmore was not found. Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois).
  • Unknown date: Gilmore serves "a two year’s sentence in Fairfield, Iowa for some three-card monte business." November 8, 1886, Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois).
  • 1884: Gilmore is sighted in Portland, Oregon, but disappeared before he could be captured.  November 7, 1886, Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois).
  • November 7, 1886: Gilmore is captured in Chicago by Sergeant Max Kipley and Detective Costello as he emerged from a resort in Calhoune Place. Gilmore is described as "small and elegantly dressed." The paper also wrote that at the time of the murder in 1881 Gilmore was a "young appearing man, with luxurious black hair and beard. As he trembled in the clutch of the officers in his old haunts this morning, he was a man grown prematurely old. His hair and beard were white as snow, and he bore other evidence of having waged brisk war with fear and remorse during the five years that elapsed since the murder he is said to have done. The prisoner denies that he is Gilmore, and says the case is one of mistaken identity." Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois).
  • November 8, 1886: Old acquaintances of Gilmore identify the man being held at Central Station in Chicago as Gilmore. The newspaper identifies him as a three-card monte tosser. Details of Gilmore's escape after the 1881 murder are published. Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois).
         The facts concerning the escape of Gilmore at the time he murdered McBride have never been made public. The crime, which was a most cold-blooded one, was committed in the Wabash Avenue Pavilion, at Nos 542 and 546 of that thoroughfare. After Gilmore shot his victim through the head, he fled to the disreputable house kept by Mav Willard, a block north of the resort. There he had a woman named “Monte,” who was so called because of her relation to Gilmore, who was himself a three-card monte man. He remained there but a few hours, when he was taken on the West Side in a cab and “planted” in the house of a friend of his on Monroe street. There he remained about two weeks, when some of the police “stoolies” betrayed his hiding place, and Captain Buckley and four detectives went over to the house to get him. The officers went to the house next door to that in which Gilmore was hiding, and he was made aware of their presence. When they found their mistake, Gilmore was ready to make a desperate resistance; but a delay at the door gave him a chance to open a window and jump to a shed twenty feet below. As he stood on the sill, one of the officers caught sight of him, and as the murderer jumped a bullet was sent after him. It missed. Gilmore escaped around to Peoria street, thence north to Madison street, where he was lost sight of by the Chicago detectives until yesterday. When he disappeared from sight on Madison street, Gilmore took a car, rode to the Washingtonian Home, and there entered himself as a patient suffering from alcoholism. As such he remained for three weeks, when he sees an opportunity offered of leaving town.
         Since leaving here he has had some adventures. He has been in every State in the Union, almost, and did a two year’s sentence in Fairfield, Iowa for some three-card monte business. Two years ago his wife was in Chicago trying to make arrangements with the friends of the murdered man to drop the prosecution. Gilmore was then in California, and everything was about completed, when a [illegible word] occurred, and the negotiations fell through.
  • December 4, 1886: Gilmore is arrested in Chicago on five charges of larceny, falsely representing himself as an inspector for an insurance company, in which he stole four watches and gold jewelry. Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois).
    December 10, 1886: Pleads not guilty for the 1881 murder of  George McBride. Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois).
  • January 22, 1887: Gilmore is sentenced to 3 years in prison for larceny (see Dec 4, 1886). Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois).
  • January 26, 1887: Trial begins for the murder of George McBride (1881). Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois).
  • January 28, 1887: Gilmore is convicted of murdering George McBride (1881) and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Evening Star (Washington, D.C.).
  • July 10, 1892: The governor of Illinois pardons Gilmore for the murder of George McBride as Gilmore is reported to be dying of consumption. Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois).
  • Unknown date: Harry Gilmore is first reported using the alias of "Jim Jordan."
  • October 11, 1892: Gilmore, alias "Jim Jordan," is a key suspect in the shooting death of gambler Cliff Sparks, along with Soapy Smith and Thomas Cady. All are acquitted of the murder. Rocky Mountain News, (Denver, Colorado). See blog post of August 3, 2011.
  • January 3, 1893: In San Francisco Gilmore, Horace Black, "Kid" McCoy and William Edwards rob Wachhorst's jewelry store of a "large quantity of diamonds" valued at $7,000. April 19, 1894, Rocky Mountain News, (Denver, Colorado).
  • February 11, 1894: Gilmore is arrested in Denver along with con man Frank Salter alias "Plunk." The capture of a local criminal who had letters on his person leads to the fact that Harry Gilmore, alias "Jim Jordan," is the leader of a gang of robbers in Denver. Police corruption is suspected as Jordan is released for no apparent reason. Orders are given to rearrest Jordan on vagrancy and suspicion. By the time Gilmore was arrested, a bond for his release had been made out. Gilmore is believed to be a "go-between for the holdups" that have been occurring in Denver for several months. Rocky Mountain News, (Denver, Colorado).
  • March 12, 1894: A Chicago newspaper publishes an article stating that "Thomas Jordan, who is under sentence of death in Colorado for killing a watchman at the Grant smelter and whom Governor Waite has refused to pardon, is said to be Harry Gilmore, ..." [could this be just a simple mistake, or could it be an attempt to pass on Gilmore's identity to a convicted man awaiting execution?] Rocky Mountain News, (Denver, Colorado).
  • April 1, 1894: A San Francisco sheriff wires Denver police to hold Gilmore until they can arrive and take him back to California for defrauding Len Foster out of $4,000 in the summer of 1893. Gilmore's accomplice is Corteze “Cort” Thomson but there is not enough evidence to charge Thomson with being a co-conspirator in the crime. At some point while in California, Gilmore is also arrested on a burglary charge. Rocky Mountain News, (Denver, Colorado).
  • April 15, 1894: In San Francisco, Gilmore partner Horace Black, who is in jail, informs on Gilmore and confesses their Wachhorst diamond robbery. Gilmore is in jail in Denver awaiting the arrival of San Francisco police officers to arrest and return him to California to stand trial. San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California).
  • April 19, 1894: A snag in Gilmore's extradition occurs. Denver police had arrested and held Gilmore at the request of Sheriff O'Neil of San Francisco for the diamond robbery in that city, and a private detective was sent to collect Gilmore. However, upon arriving to take charge of his prisoner, the detective was told that Gilmore had been released. California Governor Markham was notified by wire, and a war of words ignited between him and Colorado Governor Waite. The detective was ordered to remain in Denver and follow Gilmore until the tangled legal mess could be unraveled. Rocky Mountain News, (Denver, Colorado).
  • May 13, 1897: In Columbus, Ohio, along with other men, Harry Gilmore is arrested, using the alias "Murnan Creet," while defrauding numerous bicycle dealers throughout the state. Cleveland Leader (Cleveland, Ohio).
    The plan is a new one and brilliant in its simplicity. One of the men called up Schoedinger & Fearn by telephone, gave the name of a retail dealer, ordered a few pairs of bicycle tires, and said he would send a boy for the tires and the bill. In a few minutes the boy appeared and got the tires. The trio, of course, skipped before the monthly bills were rendered.
         From the extensiveness with which the men had operated it is believed that they bagged at least $10,000.
  • June 13, 1899: Denver police receive information from Seattle, Washington, that Gilmore is "wanted for working the gold brick swindle." Gilmore, J. R. Green and J. F. Gray "bilked a farmer at Walla Walla, Washington out of $8,000 recently." Rocky Mountain News, (Denver, Colorado). See blog post of December 3, 2017.
  • February 4, 1901: In Denver, Gilmore, alias "Jim Jordan," is identified as the "chief bunco man" among the gang being financed by Kittie Fitzgibbons. Others in the gang living at the Belmont hotel are Kid Cunningham, alias Thorne, Annie Piggott, May Sloan, George Barrett,  Chris and Charlie, known as "the Swedes," "Sleepy" Jake and Ike Cohen. Rocky Mountain News, (Denver, Colorado).
  • December 21, 1902: Gilmore, alias "James Carlisle," is arrested at a race track in New Orleans as a "dangerous and suspicious character." The newspaper makes mention that he had been arrested in Salt Lake City, Utah, and El Paso, Texas (winter of 1901). Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana). According to the December 22, 1902, San Francisco Chronicle, Gilmore was convicted and sentenced to five years in San Quentin for a swindle in Stockton, California.
  • February 3, 1905: Gilmore, alias "J. C. Martin," is arrested in Dayton, Ohio. Denver Post (Denver, Colorado).
  • August 19, 1905: Gilmore, alias "Jim Jordan," is a key witness in the Pollock diamond robbery in Iowa. Daily Nonpareil (Council Bluffs, Iowa).
  • February 1, 1907: Gilmore is identified and sought for check forgery. Morning Star (Washington, D.C.).
  • May 5, 1908: In Denver Gilmore and a young female are arrested for larceny and burglarizing $600 worth of furs from the store owned by J. Neilsen. Gilmore was working as a waiter in the Mining Exchange saloon so he was released on personal recognizance. Denver Post (Denver, Colorado).
  • June 7, 1908: Gilmore is rearrested in Denver and held pending instructions from several law police departments in the East. In St. Joseph, Missouri, the inspector of detectives recognized Gilmore as "Charles O'Hara," brother of "Cat" O'Hara, serving a life sentence for the murder of a saloon proprietor. Authorities in Omaha, Nebraska, are seeking Gilmore on a charge of forging or passing a U.S. postal order. Rocky Mountain News (Denver, Colorado). 
  • January 4, 1909: In New Jersey Gilmore is charged with four counts of grand larceny as a boarding house thief working what the newspaper calls the "furnished room game." He enters a plea of non vult, or "no contest," and at age 70 is sentenced to 8 years in prison. The newspaper writes, "The aged offender, now a cripple and forced to use a heavy cane." Jersey Journal (Jersey City, New Jersey).

  • Harry Gilmore
    "Age 70"
    likely age 63-69
    Jersey Journal
    January 7, 1909

  • April 13, 1911: A Harry Gilmore is given six months in the San Francisco county jail for petty larceny in the hold up of G. F. Fillippi. San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco).
  • April 11, 1918: Harry Gilmore dies. Morning Star (Washington, D.C.).  
  • _______________

    BALTIMORE, Md., April 10.—"Old Jim" Jordan, international confidence man, died in Baltimore today at the age of 78. Jordan was a "de luxe" card sharper, working especially the big transatlantic liners. He had killed two men in his day and was generally feared by the police. His real name was Harry Gilmore.

     So ends the recently collected, chronological data for Harry Gilmore, aka "Jim Jordan," and a host of other alias.' No stories are known about what kind of a "card sharper" he was except that he was considered to be of the "deluxe" variety. He probably did not have the polished manner, guile, and nerve of a Soapy Smith, but Gilmore approached being like Soapy in at least a couple of ways: his inveterate pursuit of criminal enterprise and his ability to evade law enforcement and short change the justice system. These are not qualities to be praised. In fact, they're not even qualities, except in how they express a wildness of spirit that refused to submit. 

Harry Gilmore, alias "Jim Jordan:" December 3, 2017
Cliff Sparks: August 3, 2011

Harry Gilmore, alias "Jim Jordan:" pages 250-55, 257-58, 507, 520.
Cliff Sparks: pages 79, 250-59, 263, 268, 289, 291-92, 502, 507, 529.

"There are two types of people in this world, good and bad. The good sleep better, but the bad seem to enjoy the waking hours much more."
—Woody Allen


1787: Delaware is the first state to ratify the U.S. constitution.
1796: John Adams is elected the second president of the U.S.
1836: Martin Van Buren is elected the eighth president of the U.S.
1863: George Ives, a member of the “innocents” outlaw gang, robs and kills Nick Thiebalt in Ruby Valley, Montana Territory.
1869: The James-Younger gang robs the Gallatin, Missouri bank. John W. Sheets, a former captain in the Union Army, is shot and killed by Jesse James. The robbers ride away with about $700.
1871: The town of Kit Carson, Colorado Territory is surrounded by thousands of buffalo, who are ranging 200 miles farther west than usual. The Indians of the region say that it is a prediction of a bad winter.
1874: Twenty-six Indians surrender to Captain Keyes and the 10th Cavalry at Kingfisher Creek, Indian Territory.
1874: Four men rob the Tishomingo Bank in Cornith, Mississippi. Newspapers and some historians say it is the work of the James-Younger gang.
1875: John Clark brings the first flock of sheep into Arizona Territory.
1878: The first train to enter New Mexico Territory comes from Colorado via the Raton Pass.
1888: Buffalo Bill Cody visits Cheyenne, Wyoming.

December 3, 2017

Buncoed Jay: Denver Evening Post, June 12, 1899

Article transposed below.
(Click image to enlarge)

Denver Evening Post, June 12, 1899



Police Notified to Look Out for Harry Gilmore.




Gilmore Is Heading This Way After
Having Parted $6,000 From It’s
Owner—Aided by Two Accomplices
All Are Well Known in Denver. Where
Gilmore Once Stood Trial for Murder.


     The police have been notified to look out for and arrest Harry Gilmore, alias Jim Jordan, a gold brick swindler, well known in this city.
     Gilmore is now wanted in Seattle, wash., Where he and two accomplices are alleged to have buncoed a farmer out of $6,000 by the tin-box scheme.
     This is as old as the hills, yet it works with remarkable frequency. The scheme is to find an unsophisticated man with considerable money and engage him in conversation which may lead to the subject of the financial standing of some bank in which the victim has his money deposited, this fact being previously acertained by the “bunco man.”
     One of the “con” men also has some money in the same bank, or at least he says he has, but feels that the money is not safe, as he has heard that a run was about to be made. The victim does not like to lose his money, and the bunco man suggests that they both withdraw their accounts and thus save the money. At this stage of the game the “con” man says he has taken a great liking to the victim and says he would like to put his money in the same place with him. He suggests a tin box, and by his talk induces the victim to purchase the box and only one key. They meet the next day, and the bunco man as a bag of paper, on the top of which are several bills, to make it appear like a bag of money.
     He had a friend or two with him at the meeting and he and the victim place their money in the box, the victim to retain possession of it all the time. The boxes locked with the treasurer inside and the victim puts the key in his pocket. The “con” man then engages the victim in conversation and has him write a receipt, which necessarily compels him to put the box down on a table or chair. While he is engaged one of the accomplices who has brought a box with him which is just like the one the victim brought, grabs the box with the money and it and substitutes the empty one. As soon as the exchange is made the bunco men lose no time in getting away to “keep a business appointment,” and the unsuspecting victim carries home his empty box and deep down in his heart he wishes he would never hear from the men again.
     He changes his mind, however, when he gets home, and while he has a chance of counting the other man’s money while no one is looking he takes out his key to open the box. He finds that the key will not turn the lock, so he waits until the next day when he was to meet his kind friend. The friend, of course, does not show up, and the victim breaking open the box discovers that it is empty. Then the victim hurries to the police and wants the bunco men arrested.
     It was this scheme that Gilmore, alias Jordan, John R. Green, Alias Crooked Face Green, and J. F. Gray worked on a farmer at Walla Walla.
     All three of these men are well known in Denver as they worked on Seventeenth street during the latter part of the eighties and early nineties.
     Gray and Green are under arrest, but Gilmore got away and is supposed to be coming toward Denver. Gilmore alias Jordan, was once tried here for murder. In 1892 Cliff Sparks was shot and killed in Murphy’s Exchange on Larimer street. Several people were arrested for the killing, including Soapy Smith, Tom Keady and Gilmore, who was going under the name of Jordan. Smith and Keady got out of the trouble at a preliminary hearing, but Jordan had to stand trial and was acquitted. Previous to this he had been sentenced to 30 years in Joliet for murdering a hostler, and after serving 10 years of the sentence, was released.
     He and his pals worked many bunco tricks here, and they were in jail on numerous occasions, but were never convicted.
     The police here are keeping a lookout for Gilmore, and if he comes this way he will be landed in jail.
     As the Denver Evening Post indicates, John R. Green and J. F. Gray were arrested by the Walla Walla, Washington police. Several weeks later it is discovered that Green is wanted for murder.
     John R. Green, Alias Crooked Face Green is unknown to me, however, as this robbery occurred in Washington state, John Green may be con man and imposer Harry Green. Harry Green is the gentleman who Soapy became very angry with for using the name "Jeff R. Smith" in Washington, April 1898. I could not locate anything more on "John R. Green."
     J. F. Gray: I could not locate anything on "J. F. Gray." Is it possible this is John H. Morris, alias John H. Gray, T. J. Gray, "Fatty Gray?"
      Harry Gilmore, alias Henry Gilmore, Jim Jordan, "Gambler Jordan," is listed in my book Alias Soapy Smith, as Jim Jordan being his birth name, as listed in the 1892 Denver newspapers. In this instance an 1899 Denver newspaper states the opposite. I began to do some more digging and found that Harry Gilmore was likely his real name. I also found out a lot more about Gilmore's criminal history. See blog post for December 3, 2017.

James Jordan: August 3, 2011.
Harry Gilmore, alias "Jim Jordan:" December 3, 2017

Harry Gilmore, alias Henry Gilmore, Jim Jordan, "Gambler Jordan": pages 250-55, 257-58, 507, 520.

"It has ever been my experience that folks who have no vices, have very few virtues."
—Abraham Lincoln


1818: Illinois becomes the 21st state.
1828: Andrew Jackson is elected the seventh President of the U.S.
1833: Oberlin College in Ohio opens as the first coeducational school of higher learning.
1835: In Rhode Island, the Manufacturer Mutual Fire Insurance Company issues the first fire insurance policy.
1864: Gold is discovered near Confederate Gulch, Montana Territory.
1866: Completing the first Texas to Montana cattle drive Nelson Story, his cowboys, and herd arrive in the Gallatin Valley near Bozeman. The drive covered 2,500 miles.
1881: Dave Rudabaugh escapes jail and a death sentence by tunneling out of the San Miguel County, Colorado jail.
1881: John “Doc” Holliday is arrested, but acquitted, for firing a pistol inside the city limits of Tombstone, Arizona Territory.
1883: Outlaw William E. “Mormon Bill” Delaney rode into Bisbee, Arizona Territory with John Heath, Daniel Kelly, and others, where they rob a store killing four people, including a woman. Delaney stationed himself outside the store and was witnessed shooting down two men and may have killed the woman.

November 28, 2017

Artifact #58:

(Click image to enlarge)

efferson R. Smith, was commissioned an officer of the U.S. Volunteers of the War with Spain.
Artifact #58

Transposition of artifact #58.
June 26, 1936
(A.G. 201
Smith, Jefferson R.
(5/28/36) ORD

Major General E. T. Conley,
The Adjutant General,
Washington, D. C.

Dear Major General:
     Your letter to Honorable James R. Claiborne, House of Representatives, requests additional information regarding our belief that my father, Jefferson R. Smith, was commissioned an officer of the U.S. Volunteers of the War with Spain.
     I am enclosing copies of a number of papers. At the same time we are making additional search for more of them bearing on this matter. We have several clippings from California newspapers which speak of my father being named a captain of U.S. Volunteers. However, we feel this would throw no light as to official records.
     We thank you very much for the kindly interest you have shown in this matter.

Very truly years,
Jefferson Smith.

123 Adele avenue,
Ferguson, Missouri.

John Randolph Smith
the author's father
grew up at 123 Adele Ave.
     (Click image to enlarge)

     This is an interesting and tough one to properly decipher. Jefferson Randolph Smith III, the 49 year old son of bad man "Soapy" Smith attempted to get official military recognition for his father, "elected" Captain of the Skaguay Military Company.
     It would appear that the son (this authors grandfather) wrote to his Missouri representative, James Robert Claiborne, in 1936. Mr. Claiborne wrote to the Adjutant General of the Army, Major General Edgar T. Conley and Conley wrote back to Rep. Claiborne on May 28, 1936 requesting more information. On June 26, 1936 Jefferson wrote his response (above) to Major General Conley.

Deciphering the document:

At the top of the letter is the following
(A.G. 201
Smith, Jefferson R.
(5/28/36) ORD

"A.G." is likely the initials for "Adjutant General." The number "201" may be a letter/document number for filing purposes. The name of who the letter is addressed to, the date of the letter and "ORD." I looked online trying to find the abbreviation for 1936 military purposes but had no luck. I did find military abbreviations but cannot be certain they are the same. Following are what I located  

  1. Operation Ready Date.
  2. Order
  3. Operational Requirement(s) Document
  4. Office of Research and Development.

Note: the two long oval stains are from a paperclip.
     Jefferson was hoping that in locating the original copies of the minutes and volunteer roster Soapy had sent to President McKinley, along with the positive response from the War Department, that the government might honor Soapy with acknowledgement of (attempting to) serve his country in time of war. The documents were eventually found but as the Skaguay Military Company was never officially accepted by the military, it could not be given official honors.
     Jefferson spent much of his life trying to clean up the negative stories about his father and this series of letters to the Adjutant General was most likely part of this attempt. The first known attempt was in 1919 with the release of the American black and white silent film, The Girl Alaska. It is believed to be the first motion picture that portrayed a mention of Soapy on film. The film was shown at a local theater in Ferguson, Missouri and it caused the son, a newspaper man and political power in St. Louis, Missouri, personal anguish and supposed loss of respect. Jefferson hired the legal firm of McCarthy, Morris and Sachritz to take up a legal battle of written letters meant to eliminate objectionable parts from the film, or he would sue for malicious libel. The film company, George Kleine Motion Pictures offered to cut offensive scenes out but later reneged on the offer. The one copy of the film that exists at the Library of Congress does not appear to be that offensive and may be one of the copies with the objectionable scenes cut out.

CONLEY, Major General Edgar Thomas Conley (Adjutant General)

Edgar Thomas Conley made assistant to the Adjutant General on June 1, 1933, and was appointed The Adjutant General on November 1, 1935 and remained in that position until 1938. He probably took a personal interest in the Smith letters and research of the Skaguay Military Company as he himself was a Lieutenant when he joined Company G, 21st Infantry, and went to Cuba during the Spanish American War. On July 1, 1898, Conley was cited for gallantry in battle at Santiago, Cuba, in which he was awarded the Silver Star.


CLAIBORNE, James Robert (House Representative, Missouri)

James Robert Claiborne, a Representative from Missouri, was a lawyer in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1933 he was elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-third and Seventy-fourth Congresses (March 4, 1933-January 3, 1937).


General search of blog for "Skaguay Military Company
(Note: there are numerous posts. They are not in any particular order of importance.) 

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

"The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones."
— William Shakespeare.


1869: Texas Outlaw Samuel “Bob Hays” Hassells is shot and killed. He is identified as one of the men who robbed the post office in Separ, New Mexico Territory in October 1869. A posse of lawmen cornered the gang at the Diamond A ranch, and Hassells was killed during the ensuing gun battle.
1872: Modoc Indians, refusing to move off their homelands, to Oregon's Klamath Reservation, fight back against Captain Jack Jackson and 38 members of the 1st Cavalry.
1878: After 14-years of use, Fort Rice, Dakota Territory, is abandoned. It was never attacked by Indians.
1888: Jacob “Sleepy Jake” Kasenhelm and two other Denver con men are arrested in San Francisco, California for trying to swindle a man of $3,200 in the purchase of a machine that makes gold coins out of burmese metal. Soapy Smith robbed this confidence man by way of a fake highway robbery as the two men walked discussing business.

November 27, 2017

Artifact 57: Receipt for Skaguay Military Company.

(Click image to enlarge)

ype writing receipt
Skaguay Military Company.

     Not a whole lot to research and explain here. "Soapy" Smith paid Dr. Lewis Garrison $10.50 to type up "8 copies of the minutes, enrollment, letters," for the meeting(s) held for the formation of Soapy's private army, the Skaguay Military Company. The original minutes, enrollment, letters that Soapy had typed up can be seen HERE. Thus far, all I could find on Dr. Garrison is a mention in a story on Skagway, Alaska resident, Peter Winfield Sparks that appeared in the February 28, 2014 edition of the Skagway News.

Winfield Sparks bought property in Skagway as early as 1898, “this indenture made between Christ Ludwig and H.W. Reinhart….according to the plat thereof made by Frank H. Reid, civil engineer, recorded this 19th day of April, signed by Christ Ludwig, witnessed by Paul L. Lovell and Lewis Garrison.

I own one of the original copies, the one sent to Alaska District Governor John G. Brady. Another family member owns another copy. A copy resides with the National Archives. The other five copies are missing. If it still exists, one should reside in the Alaska Governors collection as one copy was sent to Alaska Governor Brady.

General search of blog for "Skaguay Military Company
(Note: there are numerous posts. They are not in any particular order of importance.) 

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

"Even villains are human. You do a good job bringing Soapy's human qualities to life. We all sin and come short of true goodness."
— Carol Buchanan, author


1779: The College of Pennsylvania is renamed the University of Pennsylvania, the first legally recognized university in America.
1839: The American Statistical Association is founded in Boston, Massachusetts.
1862: George Armstrong Custer meets his future bride, Elizabeth Bacon at a Thanksgiving party.
1868: Cheyenne Indian Chief Black Kettle and his wife are killed by troopers led by George Armstrong Custer, despite flying the American flag, during the Washita Massacre.
1885: Fire, starting above the Junction Saloon in Dodge City, Kansas, destroys a block of the business district, including The Junction, the Opera House, the Long Branch and Bob Wright’s store, are gutted. It is rumored that the prohibitionists intentionally set the fire, and while the embers still smoldered, Wright shot three bullets into Mike Sutton’s home, a leader among the anti-saloon crowd. He later claimed that he was firing at a prowler trying to get into Sutton’s house.
1887: U.S. Deputy Marshall Frank Dalton, the oldest of the famous outlaw brothers, is killed in the line of duty near Fort Smith, Arkansas. Dalton and Deputy J. R. Cole went to the Cherokee Nation to arrest Dave Smith on horse stealing. Dalton stepped up to the tent that contained Smith and his cohorts, and was immediately shot by Smith. Deputy Cole returned fire, killing Smith, but was then shot and wounded by one of the other men inside the tent. Cole escaped, believing Dalton was dead. Dalton, however, was still alive, and engaged the outlaws in a short gun battle. One of Smith's cohorts was wounded, and a woman who was in the camp was killed during the crossfire. Frank Dalton was killed by two additional rifle shots by from Will Towerly. One wounded man was captured but Towerly escapes unhurt. Towerly flees to his family's home near Atoka in Indian Territory where he is later killed by lawman Bill Moody.
1889: Curtis P. Brady is issued the first permit to drive an automobile through Central Park in New York City.
1894: A gambler’s petition signed by Denver businessmen starts losing signers when it is learned that famed confidence man Soapy Smith is behind the petition. His response to the Rocky Mountain News is, “I beg to state that I am no gambler. A gambler takes chances with his money, I don’t. I had nothing to do with the businessmen’s petition, and under no circumstances would I sign such a document. Hoping that the clergy will kindly leave me out of that “class…”

November 26, 2017

George Brackett's Cutter and Frank Clancy's hack.

Text transposed below

(Click image to enlarge)

rackett’s Cutter and Clancy's Hack
Seattle Daily Times
April 2, 1898


1898 Gaff Cutter
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A cutter is one of several types of sailboats, typically a small, but in some cases a medium-sized, watercraft designed for speed rather than for capacity. Traditionally a cutter sailing vessel is a small single-masted boat, fore-and-aft rigged, with two or more headsails and often a bowsprit.

Various 19th century hacks
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The Hack or Passenger Wagon was the coach builder's smaller, less-embellished version of the late nineteenth-century public transportation vehicles used for short distance travel in rural areas.

Frank Clancy and his brother John were partners in the saloon business with "Soapy" Smith in Skagway. George Brackett owned the Brackett Wagon Road. So, without further explanation enjoy the following transposition of the above newspaper clipping.




The First Road Conveyance to Appear at Skagway.


     Frank Clancy is taking the first hack to Skagway. Therefore it follows, according to some people’s way of thinking, that Clancy is a hero. There is always a certain amount of celebrity attaching to first things, and the big-hearted dance hall manager of Skagway is getting his share. Three months ago if Clancy had taken a hack to Skagway he would have been laughed at, because hacks would have been useless. Now that the snow is gone along the broad avenues of Skagway town hacks will be in demand, and there will be more to follow Clancy’s vehicle shortly. This hack episode recalls that hacks were not the first up-to-date vehicles to peer at Skagway. Mr. George Brackett of wagon-road fame took the first cutter to Lynn Canal ports, and it was a “dandy.” It cut quite a figure about town and along the ice road of Skagway River during the winter. Brackett’s cutter, however, passed without comment, because it came as a matter of course. It was a necessity, a luxury and a big wagon road advertisement combined. As naturally has come Clancy’s hack. It will be a necessity during the summer months between the landings and the hotels and business places at Skagway. The real honor for first things in the traveling line that Skagway belongs with the Brackett family.
     Mr. Brackett presented Skagway’s first church society with an organ, the gift probably being the first thing in the musical line of its kind to appear at the Lynn Canal metropolis. Brackett’s cutter was a stylish affair in use for conveying the family and friends on pleasure jaunts and business trips in and about the city.
At this writing the organ donated by Brackett remains a mystery.

Frank Clancy: April 16, 2011, December 27, 2010, June 24, 2010, April 14, 2010, August 20, 2009, July 4, 2009, June 7, 2009, October 5, 2008.
George Brackett: May 14, 2013, June 29, 2011, April 1, 2010, April 3, 2010.

Frank Clancy: pages 455, 461, 471, 515, 521, 552-53.
George Brakett: page 519.

"Saluting the memory of Soapy Smith, forever inseparable and significant to the Old West history of the Mile-High City."
—Robert Bandhauer


1716: The first lion to be exhibited in America goes on display in Boston, Massachusetts.
1789: U.S. President Washington sets aside this day to observe the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.
1825: The first college social fraternity, Kappa Alpha, is formed at Union College in Schenectady, New York.
1832: Public streetcar service begins in New York City.
1853: William Bartholomew “Bat” Masterson, a good friend of Soapy Smith’s, is born in County Rouville, Quebec, Canada.
1856: Capt William R. Bradfute of Company G, 2nd Cavalry, from Ft Mason, Texas attack a party of Comanche Indians along the Concho River. One soldier is wounded, four Indians are killed, two wounded, and six horses captured.
1867: J. B. Sutherland patents the refrigerated railroad car.
1869: The last stagecoach between Denver and Cheyenne is run as the Denver Pacific Railway to Denver, Colorado Territory is completed.
1884: Montana's Northern Cheyenne Indian reservation is created from the Crow reservation by executive order of President Chester A. Arthur.
1886: One thousand men are employed as laborers by the Rock Island Railroad in Hutchinson, Kansas.
1891: First building in Bachelor, Colorado is constructed.
1891: Denver and Rio Grande Railroad extends narrow gauge track to Creede, Colorado.
1898: In a series of editorials titled “Unpunished Denver Murders,” The Denver Evening Post places Bascomb Smith’s shooting of Harry Smith on the list at number 10. Bascomb is the younger brother of bad man Soapy Smith.

November 24, 2017

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

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

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



How “Soapy” and His Gang
Display Patriotism.




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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Mar 23, 1908

Dear Jeff:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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