December 29, 2009

Judith Ries, descendant of Ed O'Kelley

I received a nice email from Judi Ries, author of Ed O'Kelley: The Man Who Murdered Jesse James' Murderer, 1994. I've known her for about 20 years now.

She writes,
I have barely scratched the surface of your book, but in browsing through it last evening, I was surprised to see a St. Louis connection via Mary Smith, Soapy’s…uh…er…hmmm…ah…Jeff’s wife, and that she lived at 915 Locust Street . That address is in the heart of downtown St. Louis, about nine blocks west of the Mississippi River …hardly a residential area any longer, by any stretch of the imagination!! For many, many years the building housed a rather elegant several-story tall department store known as Scruggs, Vandervroot & Barney, but I don’t know what is there now. We seldom go downtown because there is so much riff-raff down there, making it not safe at all to just stroll around. We do occasionally go down to some of the riverfront events near the Arch, but seldom go into the downtown shopping area.

Okay, now, set me straight on this: Jefferson Randolph (“Soapy”) Smith I was your great-grandfather, and he was the father of John Randolph Smith (your grandfather) who, in turn, was the father of your own father, Jefferson Randolph Smith II. This, of course, makes you JRS III, the father of JRS IV…right?? In our own family, we have five John Vernon Knowles members – my grandfather, father, brother, nephew, and great nephew, so I understand very well how confusing all these people with the same name can be!!

I can tell that it is going to take quite a while to read the entire book but I’m looking forward to it!!

Judi Ries

I wrote back,

Hi, Judi.
Happy New Year Judi

I figured you might take an interest that Soapy (Jeff) was in St. Louis. I always call him "Soapy" because it confuses people on my website and blog as my name is Jeff. Genealogy can get the best of one when names are passed down. Here is the proper line.

* Jefferson Randolph ("Soapy") Smith II (his father was also name J.R.S.) is my great-grandfather.
* Jefferson Randolph Smith III (Soapy's son) is my grandfather.
* John Randolph Smith is my father
* Jeffrey Owen Smith is me
* Jefferson Randolph Smith is my son

In genealogy if a generation skips passing down a name to their children then the name starts all over again. My grandfather (Jefferson R. Smith III) did not name any of his nine children "Jefferson Randolph Smith," therefore when I named my son Jefferson Randolph Smith he starts out as "I" again. That's the rules. There are members in my family who insist on being the IV, VI and so on but this only confuses the genealogy as people assume that if you are the "IV" then your father has to be "III."

I am glad you are enjoying the book. Keep me posted as I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have.

Jeff Smith

p. 246.



  1. Jeff
    My Name is Troy Combs. How can i get hold of Judith Ries? I have some questions and I hope info for her pertaining to her book, Ed O'Kelley. Thanks

    1. Hello, Troy.
      Hi sent Judith a copy of your comment. I will let her contact you. I wish you all the luck!


Thank you for leaving your comment and/or question on my blog. I always read, and will answer all questions left here. Please know that they are greatly appreciated. -Jeff Smith