June 23, 2011

Soapy Smith: Success vs Failures.

Sometimes while working on one project I accidentally run across the answer to another. For instance, while researching my book I was asked if there was a way to determine the percentage of successful cons as opposed to the times a victim realized they were crime victims and went to the police. All I mostly have are reports and accounts of the unsuccessful occurrences. Readers of my book are able to mainly read the times Soapy and the Soap Gang were caught red-handed, thus it might appear to some that Soapy was not that successful, and that his line of work was not very profitable. We know that is simply not the case.

That somewhat changes now that I came across the newspaper article I published in my book giving record of the very first reported victim inside the walls of the Tivoli Club in Denver, Colorado on June 20, 1889. The Tivoli opened  sometime after February 12, 1888. That means there is close to one year, and four months of successful operations without any newspaper recorded victims. As no record exists of all the times Soapy and his men were successful, a percentage of success versus failures is not possible at this time.

There is always the possibility that for that sixteen months the games in the Tivoli were honest. This is unlikely as Soapy and the boys were very busy swindling dupes everywhere else in the city, why not his own saloon? 

The Tivoli Club's first victim: page 132.

1885: Denver City Council rescinds Soapy’s peddler’s license.
1893: Bascomb shoots and kills “Shotgun Harry” Smith in the Tivoli Club.

Jeff Smith


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Thank you for leaving your comment and/or question on my blog. I always read, and will answer all questions left here. Please know that they are greatly appreciated. -Jeff Smith