Almost one year ago on May 12 2009 I posted a story on Denver's Taney House in which Soapy lived in 1883. I recently received an e-mail from Tom Taney, the great-great nephew of the builder and proprietor of the Taney. I knew what his email pertained to before I opened it. Here is what Tom had to say.
Hello Jeff Smith,
I googled "Denver Taney House" tonight and ran across your blog entry concerning that establishment and its connection to your great-grandfather. My name is Tom Taney, and I have a bit more information about the Taney Boarding House. I thought it may be of interest to you.
The Taney House was built by a great-great uncle of mine who immigrated from Ireland. I believe his name was Patrick, but I am not sure. I will look up his name and send that information later. I do know he changed his last name from Tannian, what it had been in Ireland, to Taney at Ellis Island. He did so in an attempt to associate himself with the family of Roger B. Taney, a former chief justice of the US Supreme Court. He was no relation but thought the name may help him climb the social ladder in America a bit quicker if others thought he was. He moved to Denver, made money, got married, and established the Taney House. It is referred to as a hotel, as opposed to a boarding house, in my families stories. He and his wife had only daughters, so he sent back to Ireland and paid for several of his nephews to immigrate to Denver. One of those nephews was my great-grandfather. He changed each nephew's last name from Tannian to Taney when they immigrated to the US. The Taney House was also Denver's Pony Express stop. I will investigate names, dates, and any other stories associated with the Taney House and forward them as I learn more.
Thank you for your blog entry, I did not know of Soapy Smith, nor his connection with the Taney House. You also posted a better picture of the Taney House than I had seen before. It would sure be nice to find a picture of it when it was in better shape.
It is a great pleasure to meet you. I love that story of the maid working for the Taney House, and now there is more to the history thanks to you. I love looking into the different places I know Soapy stayed. I had the fortune to be able to stay in four of them. I await more information. Let me know when you have exhausted your search and I will post the story. I agree, a photo of the House in its glory days would be interesting to see. Trust me, they are out there. One suggestion is to perform a save search on eBay for "Taney House." Do this on Google searches as well. It might take years to find something but sooner or later it will pop up. I have found so much that way.
By the way, the Taney is listed on page 57 of my new book, Alias Soapy Smith:The Life and Death of a Scoundrel.
Tom is not finished with his search and I hope he keeps us posted.