August 22, 2011

Soapy Smith helps his friends, no matter where they are.

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Here is artifact #39, another item and story that did not make the pages of my book.  This is an original carbon paper copy that was signed and sent to Soapy Smith. The date of the letter is August 15, 1896 and Soapy is in Spokane, Washington, "bunco heaven," according to the Spokeman Review. This would be a little over 2 months since Soapy returned from his first trip to Alaska. This is the day before the major discovery of gold is discovered in the Klondike starting the gold rush.

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Attorney, R. W. Patterson of Portland, Oregon is writing a response letter to Soapy for help in locating another attorney in Spokane that can help two suspected thieves, Betz and Moore, escape the charge of buncoing $80 from the Oliphant and Company and $200 from some other unknown victims of Portland. Betz and Moore are most likely members of the Soap Gang that were arrested in Spokane and brought back to Portland by two detectives. Betz and Moore hired an attorney named Hume, who is probably W. T. "Billy" Hume who later defended the Soap Gang after Soapy's death. The strong point of defense is that Betz and Moore were not charged with a "crime" in Spokane, but merely detained and ordered to leave the city. Patterson believes that if Soapy can get Soapy to find the Spokane district attorney who agreed with and allowed the "order to leave the city" and have him sign an avidative then Hume and Patterson will most likely get the two men freed. Very interesting letter showing just how attornies helped Soapy and the boys manipulate the courts.

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W. T. "Billy" Hume: page 578.

1897: Soapy arrives for the first time in Skagway, Alaska.

Jeff Smith


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