May 20, 2010

"Big Ed" Burns in Leadville, 1879.

The following newspaper clipping includes Soap Gang member "Bid Ed" Burns. It is clearly reminiscent of the battle between the vigilante Law & Order Society of 101 and Soapy Smith's Committee of 317 in Skagway, Alaska in 1898, 19-years later.

Deseret News
November 26, 1879

LEADVILLE, Col., 22—At one o’clock on Monday morning 45 masked citizens forced Sheriff Watson to surrender to them a prisoner named Charles Stewart, a notorious footpad, who had threatened to kill the man who had him incarcerated as soon as he should get out. Stewart was 20 years old, begged piteously for his life and for time to write to his mother at Conneautville, Penna., but was only allowed time to say a brief prayer and was then hanged. The mob then took Ed. Frodsham, and although he struggled furiously, hung him in a workmanlike manner that indicated familiarity with the hangman’s trade. Frodsham has been jumping lots, driving off occupants by force, and conducting himself in a generally objectionable manner. The following note was pinned to his back:

"Notice — To all thieves, bunko steerers, footpads and chronic bondsmen for the same, and sympathizers of the above class of criminals:
This is our commencement and this shall be your end. We mean business. Let this be your last warning. Particularly Cooney Adams, Conner, Collins, Hogan, Ed Burns, Ed Champ, P. A. Kelly, and a great many others who are well known to this organization. We are 700 strong."

P. A. Kelly, who has been accused of taking bribes while city marshal, and Jim Bush have been warned to leave or share the same fate. The "Thugs" and bad characters have also banded together and claim that having 750 names enrolled they will immediately begin avenging their comrade’s death and will punish every one of the vigilantes who executed them. They have already threatened to burn the town, and have sent notices to some people suspected of having been concerned in the hanging, to leave.

The Chronicle and the Herald forces have also been ordered to quit those papers having advocated extreme measures to check the outlawry and crime which have been decidedly on the increase of late.

"Big Ed" Burns: p. 43, 77-79, 101-02, 120, 176, 210, 405, 487, 489, 571.


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