January 31, 2011

Soapy Smith's life insurance policy, 1888-1889: Artifact #26

(Click image to enlarge)

In Denver April 2, 1889 S. A. Sheppard, the local agent for the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company of California wrote out a Life and Accident policy receipt to Soapy.

The overcrowded, under-staffed Denver courts also worked to Jeff’s advantage. Most businessmen and travelers could not afford to wait around for a hearing. More often than not, they accepted their losses and left the city. Occasionally, however, victims would become enraged over their loss and react violently. Jeff and his men were always alert for this possibility and kept “strong arms” at the ready. On Wednesday July 8, 1888, Jeff swindled two men who reacted with their fists. “A ‘soap’ man and two grangers [farmers] got into trouble yesterday morning, in which the grangers, as usual, got the worst of it.” Jeff always operated with steerers and boosters who were capable of physically handling unruly victims. In this instance, though, it appears Jeff alone battled the two grangers. Jeff no doubt learned early on about the inflammatory danger of bunco work. To protect himself, everywhere he went he carried concealed weapons. Once married, he also protected himself and his new family with life and accident insurance. One policy from the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company of San Francisco dates from November 29, 1888, to November 29, 1889. –Alias Soapy Smith, p. 118.
The document reads as follows.

To whom it may concern:

This certifies that general accident policy No. 9510 was issued to Jeff R. Smith for $5,000 Death Insurance and $25 weekly indemnity. That on the 29th day of November 1889-item was issued. Renewal receipt number 4292 renewing said policy from Nov 29, 1888 to Nov 29, 1889.

That this policy and renewal receipt was issued by the Pacific Mutual Insurance Co of California and is now in full force and effect until Nov 29, 89 in favor of Jeff R. Smith.
S. A. Sheppard

I have to wonder why Soapy wanted a receipt for the remaining 7 months of the policy. Did he lose the original receipt? Did he fear for his life or was he just making sure his new family was cared for in the event of his death? Did he get hurt and wanted coverage? Could it be that he was planning on defrauding the California based insurance company? There is still documents within the family that remain uncovered so perhaps one day soon we will have the answers.  

Life insurance policy: page 118.


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