April 15, 2010

Artifact #9: Soapy Smith's unsigned check trick.

(Click image to enlarge)
Unsigned check sent by Soapy
was it a trick?

In August 1896 Soapy was in Spokane, Washington. From that location it appears Jeff attempted to defraud mining investor, J. Hugh Bauerlein, of a claim. Jeff sent Bauerlein of the Denver Stock & Mine Exchange an unsigned check for $2,500. Hoped for, probably, was that Bauerlein would not know who "Mr. Jeff R. Smith" was and send back the claim papers and unsigned check for for the missing signature. Once received Soapy would sell the claim to an unsuspecting victim for a profit.

The printed check Soapy sent (see above) is dated August 13, 1896 to pay J. Hugh Bauerlein $2,500 "at sight" (immediately). The draft is from the First National Bank of Denver which was indeed Soapy's regular bank he used, however, it is not believed he had any funds in the bank at the time.

Bauerlein did not fall into the trap, responding on his letterhead stationary back to Soapy. See below:

(Click image to enlarge)
Bauerlein's response

The contents of Bauerlein's letter to Soapy is as follows.

Newlin’s Gulch Gold Camp, Aug 13, 1896

Mr. Jeff R. Smith
Spokane, Washington

My dear sir,

Your registered letter with enclosed check for $2500 (not signed) received. I herewith return the same to you for your signature.

A big strike has just been made in the adjoining property owned by the “Covade” company.
I am pleased to learn that you have been so successful. I am sure you will be well pleased with the investment you are making with me.

Yours truly J. Hugh Bauerlein

You can return it to me signed, to room 4 “Denver Stock & Mine Exchange” care of “Covade Mountain Gold Mining, Tunnel & Milling Company.”

How or if Jeff pursued the matter is unknown.

"Newlin's Gulch gold camp"

Newlin Gulch obtained its name from early resident, William C. Newlin who settled there in the 1860s. He had brought some of the first Shorthorn Cattle into the Pikes Peak Region, driving them, some 30 cows and one bull, all the way from Minnesota. He homesteaded S.W. of the settlement of Pine Grove, and ran his cattle on the open range.

The Newlin Gulch gold mining district was centered about four miles S.W. of Pine Grove, (Parker), on the Newlin Gulch. Some mining operations in the Newlin Gulch area began in the mid 1880s, ceased, and resumed again in the late 1890s. In early 1898 mining equipment was set up and operations were begun at several locations along the gulch. Several small placer claims were made and numerous companies were formed to exploit the gold finds. As late as 1910 one mine, the Muldoon, was still in operation, employing 22 men. However, the water supply proved to be inadequate and the yield too low, so the gold fields were abandoned.

Although several promising placer deposits were found during the years previously mentioned, a large scale production was never achieved. During succeeding years, there were sporadic attempts at working the diggings, particularly during the great depression of the 1930’s. The last reported operations were in 1941.

The Parker Mining District area is no longer accessible and as January 2009 was said to be soon at the bottom of the Rueter-Hess Reservoir. During the earth work for the Rueter-Hess reservoir, one of their earth moving machines fell into a collapsed tunnel of one of the old mines.

pp. 416-17.
Parker history.org


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