December 14, 2008

Modus operandi...

A very interesting and typical modus operandi of the Soap Gang. In 1894 Soapy Smith took on the title of "colonel." It was very common to use different last names for obvious reasons. In my opinion, "Colonel Johnson" in the newspaper article below is in fact Soapy, and the steerers are members of his bunco gang. Enjoy!
A Rio Blanco Stockman Pays $360 to see the Colonel.

The moral cleanliness claimed to have been inaugurated in Denver by the populist administration, chief of which was the driving out of bunco men and gamblers, will hardly be vouched for by Mr. Bainbrich, a well-known stockman who lives near Craig [Colorado], as the following from the Denver Republican shows:

"He said he came to Denver Saturday morning and about dusk met two men near the Albany hotel, who stopped him to enquire about what would be the probable result of the late election in Rio Blanco. A word led to a conversation and soon Bainbrich and his street acquaintances were like old friends.

"The strangers talked mining to the ranchman, as such strangers are prone to do on occasions of that kind, and then one told him about the splendid gold ore specimens that were in the safe of his friend, Colonel Johnson. If Bainbrich would accompany them to the colonel’s office they would give him some of the specimens. Bainbrich went.

"The 'colonel' is never in, and he was not in on Saturday evening. To kill times while waiting for him, bunco steerers always play poker with ranchmen. Bainbrich’s bunco steerers roped him into a game. When they showed down on the last pot played the Rio Blanco man was minus $160 cash and a $200 check and he hasn’t seen the colonel nor the specimens yet."
New Castle News, November 17, 1894. Page 4.

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