May 12, 2009

Denver's Taney boarding house

The Taney boarding house as it looked in 1915.

Soapy Smith is listed as living in the Taney boarding house in 1883. This would only be known to someone who bothered to look it up in the 1883 Denver city directory house in the Colorado Historical Society, Denver, Colorado. As there were no exciting facts about the residence it remained just a location factoid for the manuscript. That all changed when I received an interesting email from Karen Cuthbertson a couple of years back.

Karen's great grandmother, 18-years-old at the time, worked as a maid in the Taney and had told her children of an experience involving the infamous Soapy Smith. Karen wrote to me in hopes of finding out if the story was held any water. The dates and location match so there is little reason to doubt it.

It was the summer of 1884 that young Marian Murray arrived in Denver from Central City, Colorado. She was hired as a maid in the boarding house. Although no dive, its clientele was of the rougher sort. Many years later, Marian’s son wrote that it was while employed there that his mother was introduced to Jeff, who “appointed himself as protector and guardian of the innocent young Irish girl … and saw to it that none of the roughnecks in the hotel crowd ever caused her a bit of trouble.” When Marian’s future husband, Ralph E. Cuthbertson, first began to show romantic interests,
he must have had to convince Soapy that he had the most honorable of intentions toward the Irish lass. She [Marian] always said that Soapy Smith was the product of a cultured southern family environment with all the polish of an educated gentleman.

1 comment:

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