January 29, 2011

Soapy Smith's lot on Main Street, Creede, Colorado 1892, Artifact #25

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Another artifact from my personal collection (#25). I hope you enjoy it. Please remember that all my artifacts are numbered and I am posting them in order of number and not by date or excitement, so although you might possibly not find this particular item of great interest, know that there are over 100 more coming that are very exciting.

On January 30, 1892 Soapy purchased his first lot of land in Creede, Colorado, the new silver-boom camp. The seller was a man named W. J. Kurt. of Saguache county, located southwest of Creede. Soapy also claimed Saguache county as his residence. The document is a Quit Claim Deed filled out by Notary Public, S. E. Vanhordeen or possibly "Van Orden."

The following comes from Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel.

One lot located and being on what is now known and designated as the school section. And being twenty-five (fronting, feet in, ?) on what is now known as Main Street by the depth that is arranged for lots in the block in which it is situated. The (crossed out word) possession of said lot being transferred together with the delivery of said lot.

From Denver in early 1892, when Jeff first decided Creede was a good relocation bet, he sent a man there to reconnoiter a potential invasion of the Soap Gang. A few gambling house proprietor friends were also dispatched. Back came a hand-drawn map of the Creede area on Denver and Rio Grande Co. railroad stationary. It consists of a crude layout of the land, mines, and owners. At the top is written, “Last chance / every thing / takin and Develope / more or leasse.” [see artifact 16 – link this] The map seemed to show little possibility of obtaining real estate in Creede, but looks could be deceiving.

Jeff and his men arrived in Creede sometime after October 4, 1891 and before February 2, 1892. On January 30, Jeff purchased a town lot from a W. J. Kurt for $100. Five days earlier, on January 25, 80 acres of state land in Creede, leased to a V. B. Wason as “school land,”  was reported subleased illegally to squatters. Not known is where Jeff was when he purchased the lot, but 3 days later on February 2, 1892, Jeff was in Creede to file a non-payment action on a check for $750.   –Alias Soapy Smith, p. 201.

"School land": “The 1875 Enabling Act for the Territory of Colorado authorizing the admission of Colorado as a state upon adoption of a state constitution, provided that two sections of every township would be ‘granted for the support of common schools.’ The Act provided that the lands be sold ‘only at public sale’ with ‘the proceeds to constitute a permanent school fund’ the ‘interest of which to be expended in the support of common schools.”

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Creede, Colorado flood of 1892

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Creede Lease: page 201.


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