June 18, 2010

Artifact #14: 1898 letter to Soapy's wife Mary (Skagway, Alaska).

(Click image to enlarge)

Soon after Soapy was killed the widow, Mary went to Skagway with her oldest son, Jefferson. The trip was to last just a few days but that turned into 20. While there the following 3 page letter arrived on August 15, 1898 while Mary was still in the city.

The contents of the letter are as follows.

St. Louis, Mo.
Aug 4 – 98

[letter page 1]
My Dear Mollie
I received your most welcome letters and was more than glad to hear of you getting along so fine. And hoping you will continue so until you arrive safe in old St. Louis again. I fear you will be left Skagway before this reaches you but presume you will make arrangements to have your mail forwarded to some other point. – Well as to the news I don’t know of anything new only every body is well. Eva is out at Zacks. I only saw her once since you left. James and myself chase the duck most every day or night. He says grandmama is always broke so we manage not to go dry. All is getting along fine. I was in to see the old lady today and didn’t have a chance to talk to her. Big Nell was on hand I seen

[letter page 2]
the old lady the day she got your letter. She was telling me all about. I had nothing to say. [undecipherable name] was over enquiring [sic] for you. Yesterday was his birthday. He was celebrating just a little. I am strictly decent after being off the track for 5 days. How is that- But it is all off now. I’m not going to try to explain how glad I am knowing you are all O.K. The St. Louis Star gives you a write up Jeff also of the 2nd I have it will keep it for you. The Ceattle [Seattle] paper of the 28 July also has a piece you can see it or have I suppose. I am glad to hear that Jeffie is standing the trip so well. Hopefully yours will continue so. Criss was down on Locus Street with another new [undecipherable] a night or two ago. I didn’t see them. I am not in it at all. Neither is Andy so there is no kick coming to me. Don’t you think the same.

[letter page 3]
The old lady was telling me a great story about Hanna. She got mad. Certainly I was ignorant of everything. It has been raining here ever since you left almost and the weather now is about as fine as ever you seen it in every part of the U.S. I only hope it will continue so. Benn called on us while I was writing this. I asked him if [undecipherable] had heard from you any more. He said he had not but if you stopped at Victoria B.C. You might. Write so you must have posted Benn before you left. How is that.
Well I don’t know of any thing of interest to say only try and write as often as you possibly can. Hoping you and Jeffie is all O.K. I remain yours. Ever the same – Jack

P.S. I am glad to hear you was not sea sick. That is more than you could say in you was in St. Louis Ha Ha J.P.

(Click image to enlarge)

Mysteries abound in this personal family/friend letter. Some of the names are known and some are not.

  • Who is Jack P? From the conversation it appears that he is an old friend of the family, perhaps a one-time member of the gang as he swears he's not involved in anything that will "kick" back to him.
  • James is Soapy's youngest son.
  • Eva is Soapy's daughter.
  • "Big Nell" ?
  • Criss ?
  • Andy ?
  • Hanna ?
  • Benn ?


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