April 10, 2010

Sam Steel spies on the Soap Gang.

(Click image to enlarge)
A spies note
courtesy of the University of Alberta

One of the blog sites I "follow" is The Sir Samuel Steele Collection which is sharing what it finds during the processing of the Steele collection. If you read my book then you know that Steele's notes to his superiors are responsible for disclosing that J. M. Tanner knew that Jesse Murphy was the man who shot and killed Soapy and not Frank Reid. That makes the Steele Collection site worthy of "following" and it has not been in vain. The above note was posted on that site and is most worthy of being repeated here.

Soap Gang in the Yukon

One of Sam Steele’s duties while policing the Yukon was keeping control over the gangs and ne’er do wells that were attracted to prosperous Dawson City during the Gold Rush. The image above is of an undercover report addressed to Sam Steele that provides notes on the gamblers and criminals of the area. Many traveled through Skagway, Alaska and were members of the infamous Soapy Smith’s gang.

Fred McArthur

Clever pickpocket, & member of Soapy Smith gang. Generally found at Bonnifield’s.
Jack Kerwin

One of the leaders of the Bull Hill riots in Colorado. Several murders were committed & valuable property destroyed by this gang. Is also considered a dangerous hold-up. Working on roulette wheel in Monte Carlo.

Tommy Deering

Has served several short sentences for robbery & petty crimes, lives with woman in alley

The report goes on for another few pages, profiling criminals with such names as ‘Hobo Kid,’ ‘Kid Kelley,’ and ‘Cherokee Bob.’ While I know that I shouldn’t condone the deeds of these (alleged) criminals, their cleverness is impressive!

As a last remark, if you’re wondering who wrote the note at the top right corner, it was done by Harwood Steele, Sam Steele’s son. As I mentioned in a past entry, Harwood went through many of his father’s papers and wrote notes on the items. Sometimes it was only a classification, other times background information on the person and their relationship to the Steeles, or (most helpfully!) the date of the item.

At this time none of the names are recognized members of the Soap Gang, however it should be noted that the list of men who worked for Soapy is not complete by any means. It was a secret organization.


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