June 30, 2009

Alias Soapy Smith book ad

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My book ad!

PLEASE NOTE: The book does not come out until late August

June 29, 2009

Cathy Spudes book: Update

On June 27 I reported on a new book about Soapy Smith coming out by author, Cathy Spude. In the last few days she has changed her website around and had this to say on a western forum.

Cathy Spude
Legend and Fact
Sun Jun 28, 2009 09:21

Jeff is right. My next book, the one on Soapy Smith, deals with Smith's last days in Skagway, but more so the creation of his Legend, the evolution of fact into a powerful story and the growth of tourism in Skagway. I have long been interested in the subject. I suspect that Jeff and I will actually differ little in actual content, although I may have found some information about city politics that he may not have had, and I know his access to family sources far exceeds my capabilities. That is why I have waited to see what he has before finishing my book to add to my analysis of local politics and the development of tourism in the decades after J. R. Smith's killing.

I recently decided to change the title of my upcoming book to SOAPY: WHEN FACT BECOMES LEGEND. I mean it to complement, not compete with Jeff's thorough and well-researched biography.

As before, I congratulate Jeff on his and his family's long endeavor to get this important story told.

The adventures of Soapy Smith and Bungalo Bill

The Continuing Adventures of Bungalo Bill
Episode 6 - Find Soapy Smith

A few months ago I posted the above YouTube video by the camera talented Bill Marquardt, a big fan of Soapy Smith. In this #6 episode US Marshal Bungalo Bill sails to Skagway, Alaska "Territory," hoping to head off the confrontation between this infamous con artist and the vigilante mob that is forming against him. Does Ike Clanton's time machine get him there in time? (first shown on the Haunted Saloon, an internet webcast show).

When I traveled out to Wyatt Earp's mine and house in Vidal, California in April I spoke on Earp's connections with Soapy Smith, which was filmed by Bill. He took some of the film footage and made one of his "Continuing Adventure" episodes, which can be seen on YouTube. In this new episode Bill writes,
"Soapy's great grandson reads a letter from Soapy describing his gunfight on a train, and talks of Wyatt Earp and friends." Enjoy.

The Continuing Adventures of Bungalo Bill
Soapy Smith and Wyatt Earp

June 27, 2009

Another Soapy Smith book?

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Cathy Spude's book cover

Author, Cathy Spude is coming out with her own book on Soapy Smith. The book is called, Soapy: Truth Stranger than Legend, 1898 and is due out sometime in "late 2009. " Her book centers around the time my great-grandfather was in Skagway, Alaska where he was killed in 1898. Although his Skagway days are filled with great stories that many books have centered on, there are even far greater stories to expose about the two other criminal empires he built in the lower states from 1884 to 1895, which all will be covered in great detail in my upcoming book, Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel.

From reading Cathy's website page about her book one will quickly see that she does not believe a lot of the stories, or that Soapy Smith was much of an influence in the local power structure of Skagway, calling Soapy a "petty conman." However, he indeed was the leading underworld crime boss of Denver and the "king of Skaguay."

It is my observation that Cathy's goal is to knock the legend of Soapy Smith down a few pegs in order to raise her idol, Skagway vigilante and later appointed deputy US marshal, Josias M. "Si" Tanner, up the latter of hero-dom. Here is what her website says about her upcoming book.

Jefferson Randolph Smith, the Uncrowned King of Skagway in the spring of 1898 saved bartender Ed Fay from a lynching by an unruly band of vigilantes in February;

He organized the first Alaska Guard and a grand memorial Day Parade in May;

He led the Fourth of July Parade, and stood on the podium with Governor Brady, to hear his praises sung;

On July 8, he was gunned down in cold blood by Frank Reid, leading a gang of vigilantes after Soapy's colleagues conned a gold miner out of almost $3,000 in gold dust behind Soapy's saloon. His body lay neglected on the Juneau wharf while the vigilantes hunted down dozens of Smith's gang.

It's a Legend, all of it. Want to learn the Truth? Here it is told, unadulterated, for the first time since it happened over a century ago. Dr. Spude exposes who really ran Skagway between January and July 1898; the truth about the Alaska Guard and the two parades; how the Committee of 101 and the Skagway police force became confused with a vigilante force; how Smith and his friends started a legend and how tourism and town promotion prompted it to grow; and how a petty con man became something of an anti-hero in the wake of a political satire and in the hands of writers eager to discover eccentric characters of the wild old west. Finally, the fascinating truth of Soapy Smith is revealed, without all of the idolatrous hero worship of family and friends.

Actually, Ed Fay's name was John. The Seattle newspapers mistakenly reported that his name was Ed. The "Guard" was called the Skaguay Military Company. Cathy states "It's a legend, all of it. Want to learn the truth?" Yes, it is legend, but I wonder if Cathy understands this word. She uses it as if it meant untrue, fictional, or unwarranted. Some of it is, but most of it is true--and there is more, ...so much more. There usually is not just reason but good reason for legends. The Greek and Trojan War was though to be just a legend--until the city of Sparta was discovered by an amateur anthropologist.

Her last statement above sort of irks me, "without all of the idolatrous hero worship of family and friends." As she knows no other members of my family I have to assume she is talking about me. I certainly do not hero worship my great-grandfather. I state several times on the main website that "I don't pretend that Soapy was one of the good guys." I will admit it is a lot of fun having a bad guy as a descendant and like I write on the home page of the website, "If you have a skeleton in the closet, you might as well make it dance." To be honest I don't need to MAKE it dance as Soapy's history does a pretty good job dancing all by itself. I'm not proud of what Soapy did, I'm proud of what he left behind. As I write on the website, "He left his mark on history, so we won't become one." Because I knew my every word would be scrutinized, That by being a descendant, I would be considered automatically biased by the historical community, I had to be above suspicion of falsifying or hiding bad deeds and over-playing the good deeds. My publisher, also an Alaskan historian, has made sure I stuck to my goal of writing an unbiased account of a very complex man.

Cathy and I do not see eye-to-eye on either Soapy nor Tanner and we've had a few personal disputes in the past. The following is my opinion about her coming works and I thought you should know where Cathy is "coming from," especially if you are a member of Friends of Bad Man Soapy Smith, or just a fan in general. Cathy is in the process of writing Tanner's biography as well as several novels in which Tanner is a strong secondary character , no doubt saving the day in each one. If you read her website page devoted to her research on Tanner and the Tanner Chronicles, you will quickly see that she believes Tanner was the real political power in Skagway, as well as it's savior in 1898. It's phrases about Tanner like, "the man who truly owns Skagway, the man who bought and paid for her with his soul ..." that have me imagining thunder pounding and angels singing at his every footstep. Needless to say I do not share her opinion.

Some of the comments on her website I disagree with: Note: all instances here are dealt with in greater detail in my manuscript, Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel.

  • law and order committee leader Si Tanner to revive the citizens group they called "The Committee of 101"
There is evidence that Tanner was a member of the vigilantes (Committee of 101) but none that he was ever a leader. He was appointed as one of four guards at the entrance of the Juneau Company Wharf the night Soapy was shot dead. Cathy once told me that as leaders of the 101 Tanner and Reid opted to guard the Wharf entrance from Soapy and his gang rather than attend the meeting, the most important meeting to date in Skagway. Seems to me that the "leaders" would want to be inside, making the important decisions rather than letting the regular members run the show. In reality, Tanner was just a member. It is not even known if Soapy knew who Tanner was when he brushed right passed him, not acknowledging him, as he walked down the wharf boardwalk towards the meeting and his death. It is known that gang member , W. Jackson pointed his pistol at Tanner after Soapy was shot, and in court records testifies that he did not know Tanner. Tanner became known when he was shoed in as temporary and later officially appointed as deputy US marshal.

  • "Soapy" Smith, a notorious conman from Denver who had taken up residence in Skagway, and taken advantage of contentious judicial and police jurisdictions, thought he could take over both the city council and the local police force, the "Safety Committee." For the next five months, Tanner's people kept the petty gamblers and con men under control.
As stated above, Tanner was not a leader. By no means did the vigilantes control the gamblers or Soapy and the con men. In fact, Soapy had control of the police and the city council, of which all were forced to resign their posts after Soapy's death, minus one.
  • Smith, bearing a rifle and a revolver, brushed past the unarmed Tanner. Reid, holding up his Winchester rifle, wouldn't let the leader of the gang advance down the wharf.
Frank Reid had a pistol, said to be borrowed, but not a Winchester rifle.
  • As an an experienced lawman, Si Tanner became a logical member of the law and order committee appointed by Skagway's city council in November 1897. At first this ad hoc police force had little to do. That would all change when Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith and his gang came to town.
I have no records or newspaper articles showing that the "committee" was appointed by Skagway's city council. As far as them having nothing to do until after Soapy arrived, well he was already there, and had been since near the time of Skagway's founding.
  • "Soapy's" man Van Tripplett [Triplett] stole the poke in the yard behind Smith's saloon.
Actually, the poke was stolen in the ally alongside the Parlor.
  • Tanner sent for U.S. Commissioner Charles Sehlbrede in nearby Dyea. Separately, and then together, they warned Smith to return the gold.
I have no record of who contacted Sehlbrede, nor that Tanner was there or involved with warning Soapy to return the gold.
  • Tanner deputized a dozen men, and they began to round up the Smith gang.
More of a clarification than a mistake; Tanner was ordered by Sehlbrede to deputize men and hunt up the gang. The point being that Tanner was not in control, Sehlbrede was, after Soapy died.
  • When one "Slim Jim" Foster escaped his place of imprisonment in the Burkhard Hotel, Tanner assisted in his capture, calmed a crowd bent on a lynching, and assured the U.S. Army, which had "come to the rescue" that martial law was not needed.
At the point of sounding petty and repitious, details mean everything. According to the newspapers and two witnesses, Tanner did not "assist in his [Foster's] capture," or assured the US Army martial; law was not needed. Again it was Sehlbrede.

On her page, Who Killed Soapy? Cathy can thank me for leading her to the little information she does have on Soapy's real killer. Again, my maniscript, Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel goes into the Gunfight on Juneau Wharf in massive detail.

Cathy and I vastly differ in regards to how we view Soapy Smith, and her idol, J. M. Tanner, much as many historians do with Wyatt Earp and the gunfight on Fremont Street, behind the OK Corral. Because of this I look forward to future debates as it is how we learn.

June 24, 2009

Denver plaque "honor" Soapy Smith

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Soapy Smith plaque

Friends of Bad Man Soapy Smith member and very good friend, "German Pete" and his wife, "Minnesota Maureen" returned recently from a trip through New Mexico and Colorado. They stopped in Denver for a few days and email me to suggest a few Soapy related spots in the city. While taking some photographs of the area around Seventeenth and Larimer, a well known corner in the history of Soapy and crime, Pete came across this plaque. At this time I am not sure if the plaque is encased in a wall or right on the sidewalk.

It reads...


In the 1880s and 1890s Denver was the nation's headquarters for "con" men, a dubious honor that it maintained into the early years of the 20th century.

The most famous con man was "Soapy" Smith who sold $5.00 bars of soap from 17th Street, claiming that some had one hundred dollar bills inside the wrappers.

More to come...

June 20, 2009

Soapy Smith's third grave marker

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The third marker over Soapy Smith's grave

I recently found the above photograph of Soapy's third grave marker, believed to have been erected in 1927 by a Tom Kearney of St. Louis, who sent a telegram and $50 to upgrade Soapy's wooden marker which was in great need of replacing due to the many names that had been carved into it and chunks of wood striped from it as souvenirs. Pullen had the cement marker (shown above) placed onto the grave and placed the old wooden marker into her hotel museum, where in 1973 John Randolph Smith (my father) purchased the marker at auction of Pullen's museum.

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Tom Kearney

Tom Kearney, a fan, or possibly an old member of the Soap Gang, sent Harriet Pullen the above photograph and signed it

"St. Louis, Mo. 9/23/1929
To an old friend Harriet Pullen
Tom Kearney"

June 18, 2009

"Soapy Smith" letter by Hiram Folsom, June 5, 1898

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Letter by Hiram Folsom
June 5, 1898

Dick Wood is an Alaskan historian, collector and merchant dealing in all things Alaska. I first met Dick a number of years ago when he first advertised the following letter and its accompanying collection of personal artifacts. I questioned the authenticity of the ribbon story (paragraph 3 below). I think some of you will find this an interesting read. I quote from Dick's eBay auction.
     Here is an important collection of material from Juneau Judge Hiram Folsom's estate. Included is a genuine piece of Soapy Smith memorabilia, with the important historical context of scandal between Soapy Smith and the U.S. Commissioner’s office in Juneau. The highlight of the collection is a letter from the young, newly hired attorney Hiram Folsom, Alaska Department of Justice, to his wife back home. She was waiting for him to get settled in Alaska before she would join him in Juneau, where they would make their home for a number of years. The 6 page letter was written on the stationery of the "Department of Justice, Office of the United States Commissioner, Territory of Alaska, J. Y. Ostrander, U. S. Commissioner."
     The letter is dated June 5, 1898, from Juneau. In the letter Judge Folsom states: "I have just returned from the world renowned Dyea and Skaguay.... I became acquainted with the notorious 'Soapy Smith' of Skagway the 'Mayor' as they call him. He is at the head of the gamblers fraternity. He took quite a fancy to me and asked me to locate there and said he would bring me lots of business. He bestowed upon me a red, white and blue badge- one of his most courteous and favored acts. Many people talk against him but want his assistance. He is a model of his kind. Generous, frank and faithful to his friends; a college man, refined in his manner, and intelligent."
     The red, white and blue badge came pinned to the letter. The pin is now in the lap desk. This patriotic badge that Soapy himself gave Judge Folsom is included!
     It's not surprising that Soapy wanted to take Hiram Folsom under his wing. In Melody Webb's book "The Last Frontier: A History of the Yukon Basin of Canada and Alaska" (page 145), she states "When one of his [Soapy's] bartenders killed a deputy marshal and another man, Soapy adeptly hid his employee but headed a subscription drive for the deputy's widow. Then he convinced the United States Commissioner, a good friend, to deputize ten guards to escort the accused murder (sic) to a steamer ready to debark. To no one's surprise, the man escaped while in their custody." Webb, in her fine book, further discusses the corruption, including that of the U.S. Commissioner, that allowed Soapy Smith to operate.
     So, Soapy was in cahoots with the very law officials in Juneau that should have been working to stop his criminal activities in Skagway.
     The letter also has other interesting observations, such as the statement that “About 400 men are building the railroad (Most people think it is a fake). I do too.”
     A great lot of early Alaska history. Genuine Soapy material is so rare that even in Skagway there is very little.

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The entire lot offered

     Also included in this collection is the Hiram Folsom Family lap desk. It's in poor condition but would look great when restored. The original purple felt writing surface is intact (maybe the letter was written on it), and the wood is lovely rosewood veneer.
     In the desk is a Rexall fountain pen that says "Elf-Filler", and some sewing things.
     A gem tintype album with 22 gem tintypes of people. Inside front cover says "Edith Jacka by her friend Evadne A. Shirly". Title page by album manufacturer "Lovewell's Gem Album, 198 Maine St, Stockton, Cal." At the end of the album is written "Edith Jacka, Stockton". Perhaps the Folsom's were from Stockton before moving to Juneau.
     A cabinet card portrait of Hiram Folsom by Lanier of San Francisco. Another portrait of a well dressed man (with a mining pick in his tie) by Winter & Pond of Juneau. Folsom had mining interests in Juneau and perhaps this man is one of those partners. A SF cabinet of a woman (Mrs Folsom?), a picture of a family outing by a waterfall, a picture of people in Juneau at Folsom's office(?), A picture of the interior of the Folsom home (Tlingit baskets on top of the china cabinet). An 8 X 10 (mounted 11 X 14) by W. H. Case titled in the negative "RES'D H. H. FOLSOM, JUNEAU, ALASKA".
     A pair of silhouettes of the Folsoms (4X5). A great photo of a baby in a wicker stroller with parasol on the dock in Juneau (6X8, corners off).
     An early Juneau photo album with 21 snapshots, including Tlingit Indians in a canoe, fishing at Sheep Creek, interior of their house, corduroy road, cows, ladies on a boat with a large box camera, a family outing, people along a trail that looks like it could be what we call Perseverance Trail today.
     Judge Hiram Folsom's fur hat.
     Three days after this letter was written, my great grandfather, John Wood, passed through the NWMP check point at the top of the Chilkoot Pass on his way to the Klondike. A few weeks later Soapy Smith was killed.
My issue with the "patriotic ribbon" listed was in Dick's original listing years ago in which he said it was one of the ribbons Soapy had given out to people in Skagway, however the ribbons known to be given out were full of text and this ribbon offered has none. Dick took my word for it and changed his description. He is adamant that Soapy gave this ribbon to Folsom, stating that Soapy ran out of his custom ribbons and began handing out regular red,white and blue ribbons, which is very possible.

June 17, 2009

A Soapy Smith movie?

Ron Silva, one of the reviewers for the Alias Soapy Smith manuscript had this to say to my publisher.

I can see a movie script coming out of this MS. Perfect for HBO too.

My dream ...

June 16, 2009

Need some help here...

If you are using Internet Explorer I sure could use some input...

Can you see the two columns of text items in the sidebar to the right? I can see everything when I use Foxfire but just recently found that all my sidebar items do not appear when I use IE. I am trying to find out if anyone else using IE can see the sidebar items. Thank you very much for your help.

June 15, 2009

Soapy Smith: Chief of Police?

"Soapy" Smith's desire to be Chief of Police of Alaska may be merely his expression of belief in the old idea that getting a thief to catch a thief is good detective policy. If there is any virtue in this scheme it follows that the bigger the first thief, the quicker the second will be caught. Then with "Soapy" in the former role there would be absolutely no show for escape. I have known "Soapy" for many years. There was never a queerer compound. He is genial and generous, enjoys a fight, pays his debts, gives his last dollar to whoever wants it and steals the first dollar the next man is rash enough to expose to view. I cannot regard it as probable he will attain the honor he seeks. He is asking too much. If the people in a community not beyond the vigilance committee period refrain from hanging him he should regard their consideration as a distinguished favor.
The San Francisco Call, February 27, 1898.

June 13, 2009

Song - The Ballad of Soapy Smith

When I was young my mom used to buy me the strangest records that I absolutely loved. Everything from the complete radio broadcast of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, to famous moments in recorded history from Thomas Edison, etc. The company, Folkway Records sent catalogs to my mom and she always let me pick a couple out for myself. In 1981 they came out with the album, Southeast Alaska Folk Tradition, Vol. 2: Stampede and Settlement, 1898-1941. My mom bought it for my dad because it had to do with the Klondike gold rush and there was a Soapy Smith song on it. Actually, the song was part of a mix of two readings and the whole section is called, Stampede: Stroller White's Account / Diary of a Stampeder / Soapy Smith (medley). The "medley" is actually called, The Ballad of Soapy Smith written by Al Oster in 1962. Many years ago I recorded the song from a record onto a cassette tape. It was not a professional job by any means but it got the job done and I still have and listen to that old cassette tape periodically.

Thanks to Smithsonian Folkways - Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage , I was able to purchase a perfect download of the 4:30 minute composition for $0.99.

I hope you enjoy it...

June 12, 2009

Rebirth of the train to Creede, Colorado

The logo for the Wagon Wheel Gap Route

I remember well the day, October 7, 1982, when the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad closed down in Skagway, Alaska. Many thought it meant the end of tourism and possibly even the town itself. After a few years few believed the railroad would ever run again but in 1988, under new owners, it did just that.

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First passenger train to Creede
February 1892.

The Denver Rio Grande Railway lost no time extending their tracks from Alamosa, Colorado to Wagon Wheel Gap and Creede. This line continued after the silver boom was over up until the 1970s. Mine car rail service stopped in 1985 and the rails sat quiet for fifteen years.

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Lonely tracks along the scenic Rio Grande river. Across the river is the original stage road.

In the year 2000 a group of rail fans joined together and created the Wagon Wheel Gap Route with the goal of reopening a steam engine line for tourists from South Fork to Creede. They ran into legal resistance from the majority of Creede residents and the city council but forges ahead spending untold fortunes on restoring an original steam engine and several cars. The tracks wood needed replacing as well as other repairs.

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Beautiful scenery

As many of you know there has been a law suit against the Foundation by the ex-Mayor B.J. Myers & a few citizens in Creede attempting to overturn the rail line purchase by the Foundation from Union Pacific. This suit has been going on for over three years and has drained the foundation of tens of thousands of dollars that was needed to be put into the rebuild of the line not into lawyers pockets. This case was carried through local courts, to federal courts and into the Surface Transportation Board.

Finally in May 2005 it was reported on the website that the organization had won their court case and were planning on future projects for the coming summer. However, without reason the posts suddenly cease after July 3, 2005 and although the website is still up no updates to it have been recorded. I wrote to the site via the email address given but have yet to receive a reply. I wrote again today hoping to hear an update. Hopefully someday visitors will once again be able to arrive in Creede by steam locomotive.

June 11, 2009

Researching Soapy Smith's saloon

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Soapy Smith's saloon
as it looks today

ne of the newest blogs I found interest in and now "follow" (see right sidebar), comes from Michael Richman, and is called, Commencing to Get Ready to Begin. Michael is a new intern for the Anchorage branch of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. He prefers the title, "Cultural Resource Aid" as an intern is generally not paid and he is. His job is to research several buildings in Skagway, Alaska, including Jeff Smith's Parlor. He writes,

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Parlor, right side

My first project in to do research on a the Jeff Smith's Parlor Museum. Originally this building was a saloon and gambling spot run by Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith, probably the most famous person in the history of Skagway although he only lived there for just under two years. My job is to show the distinguishing characteristics of this historic building and present it to the Park so they will preserve and restore it. If you have any questions just google Soapy Smith and Martin Itjen and you will learn more than you ever wanted to about what I am reading in these next couple of weeks.

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Parlor, left side

So I have a draft of that proposal type thing due June 15, pretty damn professional for a bullshitter like me, but hopefully I can pull it off. The good thing about this first project is there is already a ton of research on this topic availible to me, so my job is just to put it all togehter in a concise and formal manner.

So that's what I am doing. If you got any other questions (why would you, right?) just leave a comment under this post and I will clear it up for you.

ote, Michael's post above is entitled Nerd Pictures. Mind you he is a young "hip-hop" sort but in reading his blog I can't help but think he is not a happy camper. You have to read about his encounter with a female "nerd" in the historical archives! I believe he is a "nerd" in denial. Come out of the closet and embrace your nerd brothers and sisters Michael! We strongly believe here on this blog that two "nerds" should be allowed to marry one another. In his response to a comment I left on his blog, I will say that he agrees with me that the Parlor should be devoted to Soapy rather than a museum to those after him, but readily admits he has no say in the decision.

All said and done Michael's blog is one I will watch and report on as long as he is working with the restoration project of Jeff Smith's Parlor ... even if he won't click my blog "follow" button.

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Jeff Smith Parlor
back side

June 10, 2009

Manuscript update

Thought I'd give an update on my manuscript. Everything is running on schedule at the moment. All the photographs that needed permissions are completed. The final working design of the cover has been handed in to the printer. The reviewers are handing in periodic corrections and suggestions and two historic authors, Robert DeArmond and Bob DeArment, have sent in fine comments about the book which will find their way onto the back cover when it is published.

I am actually sort of numb. I have so many projects going that I seem to have lost my excitement regarding the publication. I know it is because I am so busy. Along with pre-publication jobs, I am also planning and beginning to implement post production projects. The "cut-off" date is June 30 and I have a feeling that once the manuscript is turned in to the printer the excitement will overflow within me once again.

My projects:

  • Last read through for small missed mistakes.
  • Designing back cover.
  • Working with artist on last minute piece that may or may not be completed in time.
  • Design and publish flier for pre-sales at Soapy Wake at Magic Castle.
  • Add book sale page to website and blog.
  • Plan book signings.
  • Implement advertisements.
  • Produce "one minute" video trailer.
  • Go on Oprah (wishful thinking).
  • Answer Speilberg's phone calls (more wishful thinking).
  • Convince rest of family members not to hate me for telling the truth.

June 9, 2009

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rom the pages of the Alaska Searchlight [Juneau] August 21, 1897.

Training for the Klondike - Before going to the Klondike it is necessary for the tenderfoot to be specially equipped physically to stand the rigors of the cool atmosphere, hardship and probable hunger. For those who contemplate making the trip to round up all the gold that lies concealed under the Arctic circle the following rules in hygiene are suggested:
  • Spend two hours a day in the "zero" room of a cold-storage warehouse.
  • Keep your head cool
  • If you play cards at all, confine yourself to freeze out.
  • Give your friends a cold stare when you greet them.
  • Bathe in water in which ice is floating.
  • Partake sparingly of the following menu once every other day:
  1. Ice
  2. Cutlets of dog
  3. Snowflake muffins
  4. More Ice
  5. Tallowla la mode
  6. Lard frappe
  7. Some more ice
  8. Frosted pine cones
  9. Fricassee of icicle
  10. Chipped iceberg
  11. Sperm candle chilled
  12. Glacier puffs.
After a month of this diet, two more months should be spent in fasting. If at the end of that time you still yearn for sudden wealth you will be in condition to go, barring, of course, accidents and sickness. If you do go, before starting don't forget to take in a sufficient number of coal oil cans in which to convey your wealth.

June 8, 2009

Soap Gang robs Jack Dalton

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Jack Dalton (4th from left) and his Dalton Post

Member, Shellie sent in another great item that she found at the McBride Museum,Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Check out their gallery with 142 photographs from the Klondike gold rush era.

She was kind enough to send me the above photograph link and related text accompanying it, dated June 9, 1898.

Dalton Post was a trading post built in 1895 by Jack Dalton close to the First Nation village of Neska-ta-heen. The North-West Mounted Police also had quarters there. Thompson describes the interior of the trading post in April, 1898 "-the shelves being piled high with calicoes, and ginghams, shoes, hats, tin pans, plates, and cups, while from the roof-beams depended kettles, pails, steel traps, guns and snowshoes." During the summer of 1898, Dalton Post was robbed of several thousand dollars, while Jack Dalton was away on a guiding trip. Members of Soapy Smith's gang, from Skagway, were blamed for the incident.
Gregory Skuce

It currently is not known for certain if any of the Soapy Smith gang were working inside Canadian boundaries. However, it is known that many crimes were laid at Soapy's doorstep in which he could not have possibly been involved with. Hopefully more information will surface.

More information on Jack Dalton

June 7, 2009

Likeable links

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Member Shellie sent in another great link, Juneau GenWeb Project over at Ancestry.com. She pointed out to me "Ships Comings and Goings," which has a mention of the steamer Utopia that plays a substantial part in the Alaska history of Soapy Smith. The link has some great resources for Alaskan history that are worth taking the time to browse.

Here are some interesting excerpts I found there, coming from the pages of the Alaska Searchlight.

December 17, 1894 - The steamer Mexico arrives, Frank Clancy is a passenger. In the same issue.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Coon are now engaged in the saloon business in Seattle having purchased a finely fitted up establishment from Mr. Frank Clancey. The location of Mr. Coon's saloon is on Washington street, between Third and Fourth street.

ou might recall that on June 3, 2009 I posted some 1897 film footage of the steamer Queen loading and departing Seattle, Washington for the Klondike. This link Shellie sent me has the arrival of the Queen in Juneau, Alaska seven days later.

August 14, 1897 - The steamer Queen came into parrot Tuesday evening with 300 tourists on board and seventy-one miners and others bound for Skaguay and Dyea. The cabin passengers were: B. M. Garside, B. Hall, J. A. Pearce, D. M. Wasson, Miss C. B. Atkinson, Allan R. Jay, E. J. Rosen, Geo. H. Sewell, John Richards, Alex Dunn, H. J. Coates, E. Rice, A. G. Schuatz, Jas. Allmash, John McIllree, George Service and fifty-five second class. The steamer was delayed at this port on account of a strike among the longshoremen who demanded fifty cents an hour for their services. The Queen sailed for Skaguay Wednesday evening.

In that same issue. The steamer Alki arrived with an “F. Clancey” on boarded bound for Skagway. This is most likely our Frank Clancy again

Here is the excerpt Shellie knew I would enjoy seeing.

August 21, 1897 - The steamer Utopia, Captain O'Brien, came into this port Thursday on its way to Skaguay. There were about 100 Yukoners on board and a full cargo of freight and livestock.

The facts and previously unpublished information regarding Soapy Smith’s association with Captain O’Brien and how Soapy very well may have saved his life, are reconstructed in detail in my book, Alias Soapy Smith, The Life and Death of a Scoundrel.

One last excerpt from the August 21, 1897 Alaska Searchlight I wanted to share with you.

Notes from Skaguay - Quite a number of mama-boys have lost their grip and are selling their outfits at a sacrifice.

Thank you Shellie!

June 6, 2009

Quick quotes...

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The Soapy Smith gang in Denver often posed as wealthy merchants and tycoons of the mining industry while scouting for prey in the lobby and saloon located in the Windsor Hotel on the north-west corner of Larimer and Eighteenth streets.

The city seems to be overrun with “bunko men,” highway robbers, common thieves and cutthroats. Their tricks are seldom made known to the public, except in cases of a very glaring nature where secrecy cannot be maintained, and if anything, the boldness of their operators has become much greater and their scene of operations much extended. In nine cases out of ten the victim himself pleads for secrecy, for be it known, these are men caught in these nets who would rather die than be found out.

~Rocky Mountain News, Aug. 29, 1880

June 5, 2009

Radical change

Please excuse the clutter. I saw this new template and could not resist using it. Nothing should have been lost in the transfer. I hope you like and enjoy the new look.

June 4, 2009

The Tivoli Club, alias "the slaughter pen"

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("the slaughter pen")


"Open day and night
Wines, liquors, and cigars

Headquarters for gentlemen
First class goods and First class attention."

Played a Missourian for $45.
Willliam Johnson, a tall, gawky Missourian, on his way to the Puget sound country, fell into the hands of bunco steerers yesterday and was relieved of $45. The old bank-draft game was played on Johnson after he was enticed into one of the gambling rooms over the Tivoli saloon, Seventeenth and Market streets.
Rocky Mountain News, July 14, 1893.

The photograph above shows the Denver, Colorado property and building built and owned by William Deutsch. To date I have been able to find out little about this structure. However, I have plenty of information regarding one of it's tenants, Jefferson "Soapy" Smith leased the rooms at 1337 (downstairs) & 1339 (upstairs) Seventeenth street on the south-east corner of Market street (marked with the arrow) for his saloon and gambling den. between 1888 and1895. Due to the swindles and violence that occurred in the confines of the Tivoli, the Rocky Mountain News referred to the club as "the slaughter pen."

Grand stories of the Tivoli Club and it's bloody history will be detailed in the soon to be released, Alias Soapy Smith The Life and Death of a Scoundrel, available in August 2009.

June 3, 2009

S.S. Queen 1897 film footage

"Loading baggage for the Klondike, No. 6."

The film footage above was filmed by Thomas Edison, Seattle, Washington. Edison was actually in Seattle working on another project when the news of the Klondike gold rush hit Seattle by storm. Although the title film shot indicates that the footage was filmed on October 25, 1897, historians firmly believe the film was mislabeled and that it of the steamship Queen filmed on August 6, 1897.

"S.S. Queen leaving dock."

The steamship Queen leaves the wharf at Seattle, August 7, 1897. As above, the film was mislabeled.

What's so important about the Queen?

It was July 26, 1897, just nine days after the steamship Portland arrived in Seattle with its “Stacks of Yellow Metal,” the Queen anchored in deep water near Mooresville (Skagway, Alaska) and asked Captain Moore for permission to unload passengers and supplies onto his land. The Queen’s Captain Carroll did not know whether his passengers were entering the United States or Canada as the area was claimed by both countries.

The above films were made after the Queen had returned from Skagway for more stampeders. When the ship arrived in Skagway the second time around, Soapy Smith was there ready to hand over $1,500 to be sent to his wife in St. Louis. A short time later Soapy took passage aboard the Queen and landed in Seattle with nearly $20,000 on him, all net profits from swindling the gullible in Skagway.

Records show that a "J. Murphy" also took the Queen to Skagway in 1897. It is possible that this is Jesse Murphy, the man who killed Soapy Smith on July 8, 1898.

(Special thanks to the Library of Congress.)

June 2, 2009

Entrance to Juneau Wharf

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Entrance to Juneau Company Wharf

The above photograph is one I recently found. It was only marked as "View of Skagway from a wharf." There is enough cause to believe that this is the entrance way to the Juneau Company Wharf from State street. This means that about 50 feet behind the man who took this undated photograph, is where Soapy Smith was gunned down in 1898. This also means that this is, thus far, the closest photograph taken to the location of the "Shootout on Juneau Wharf."

State street is the path Soapy and about seven members of the Soap Gang took from Jeff Smith's Parlor on Holly avenue (six blocks up State street). Soapy stopped the gang at this entrance and told them to stay put while he approached the four guards on the dock alone, which was probably a tactic to prevent a fearful and violent response by the guards who were out-numbered.

June 1, 2009

Likeable links...

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Friend Shellie sends me all kinds of great stuff and today's link is no exception. It comes from the Library of Congress and is called Meeting of the Frontiers. What makes this site so special is that it is a joint website in association with the Russian State Library in Moscow and the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg, considering Alaska is filled with so much Russian history.

This site is another example of a simple looking website filled with little nooks and crannies of seemingly hidden information. Although the main objective of the site is the joint history of Alaska and Russia there is a goldmine of information, artifacts, documents and photographs on the Klondike gold rush era history by paying special attention to the links inside. Some of these link pages are so vast that they might encompass a few days to get through them properly. Although I found no information (a first) directly about Soapy Smith, I did find several special photographs that I saved for future post topics. Good hunting.