October 29, 2011

The Soapy Smith Discussion Forum

There is some interesting correspondence going on right now on the Soapy Smith Discussion Forum. Come on over and check it out. You are welcome to join in (beginners too). Feel free to ask questions, make comments, etc.

Bits to consider
Matt Deach of Skagway informs me: “Frank Reid's gun is owned by Ryan Rapuzzi of Skagway, who I believe lives in Anchorage now.” At this time I have not been able to locate Ryan Rapuzzi. Anyone with information on this is urged to contact Jeff Smith.

Jeff Smith


October 25, 2011

More on Soapy Smith's mine claim in Idaho 1897: artifact #7

$4,000,000 donkey
Wardner, Idaho 1880
(star marks the Bunker Hill mine)

O April 12, 2010 I posted artifact #7, the original 1897 document in my collection in which Soapy won or purchased a 1/8 interest in the silver mine of Phil ORourke in the Bunker and Sullivan Claims in the Slocan District. I published what I knew at the time and this is an update of that information.

The following comes from Alias Soapy Smith, p. 424-25.

For $1.00 Jeff bought from one Martin Murphy his 1/8 interest in a gold mine located about 150 miles north of Spokane. The bill of sale, appearing to be Martin Murphy’s hand, evidences having been written under duress or in something akin to distraction, hurriedness, or inebriation. Words are repeated. The word heirs is misspelled and rewritten, again incorrectly. Punctuation and capital letters appear (or do not appear) in odd places, and the description is not clear, requiring a closing reference to where the claim is recorded. Dictation of the contents could account for confusion and so many anomalies. The document is on stationary from the Grand Hotel, apparently Jeff’s principal residence in Spokane, and is presented as written. Martin began by filling in the date line this way:

Spokane, Wash., Jnury 24th 1897
To all Persons Concerned.

This agreement entered into between Martin Murphy party of the first part and Jeff R Smith party of the second part, For and in consideration of the sum of $1.00 One Dollar, I Martin Murphy do sell transfer assign and sell to Jeff R Smith his heirs heiress assigns and administrators forever. My One eighth interest also the One eighth interest of Phil ORourke’s in the Bunker and Sullivan Claims in the Slocan District more fully described in Dowion and B.B. Records Recorded in the town of Kaslo.
Principal Martin Murphy
Witness Jas. E Walker

Discovering the photo at the top of this post led me to Jim Wardner and his book, Jim Wardner of Wardner, Idaho an autobiography written in 1900 which I found on Google Books.

The book, nor the Bunker Hill Mining Company Records makes any mention of Martin Murphy who owned and handed over his 1/8th ownership in the mine to Soapy. Besides the mining district itself, the only name from artifact #7 that appears in the records is Phil O'Rourke. Jim Wardner wrote the following in his book.

PHIL O'ROURKE: A fitting companion and pardner of Con Sullivan hardy industrious and faithful He had long been a prospector and was thoroughly familiar with the conditions that are necessary to make even a bonanza profitable Such was the outfit that Peck & Cooper grubstaked that discovered the Bunker Hill and Sullivan and began the development of the Coeur d'Alene

Later in the book Wardner writes.

From the evidence of the witnesses this Court is of the opinion that the Bunker Hill mine was discovered by the jackass, Phil O Rourke and NS Kellogg and as the jackass is the property of the plaintiffs Cooper & Peck they are entitled to a half interest in the Bunker Hill and a quarter interest in the Sullivan claims Thus spoke Judge Norman Buck of the District Court of Idaho in his decision of the celebrated case involving the ownership of two claims in the Coeur d'Alene district of Northern Idaho now valued at $4,000,000 and giving direct employment to more than 400 miners.

Rather comical is the first line as it appears that author Jim Wardner is calling Phil O'Rourke a "jackass." However, he actually means a jackass, as in donkey, which is why the photograph at the top has the title, [originally printed on the photo] $4,000,000 donkey.  

Map of Coeur D'Alene mine district
Bunker and Sullivan mine
(Click image to enlarge)

Additional information:

April 12, 2010

Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mine (artifact #7): pages 424-425.

Jeff Smith


October 23, 2011

Soapy Smith's Greatest Hoax: A review

Ashley Smith, a great-great-granddaughter of Soapy Smith
with Sylvester, alias McGinty 1998

I always felt that one of the more interesting stories to come out of my decades of research on Soapy Smith is the information on McGinty the petrified man of Creede, Colorado in 1892. Of that story, perhaps the most important part is that McGinty is still on display in the state where it was last sold in 1895.

Although the old Creede newspapers were pretty detailed about McGinty apparently few of the early biographers were able to find copies of the articles. As so usual, many authors simply made up their own information. A good example of the latter was published in November 1960 in Real West magazine by George Malcom Majors under the title, Soapy Smith's Greatest Hoax.

Soapy Smith's Greatest Hoax

Following is a list of mistakes in chronological order by page.

Page 14
  • [The photograph on this page is reversed]
  • Mr. Majors writes that McGinty the petrified man was found on May 14, 1892 but where he sourced this date from is unknown. The Creede Candle clearly reports the discovery on April 9, 1892.
  • Majors states that Soapy placed Joe Simmons in control of the New Orleans Club and that Soapy claimed he was getting out of the business. Actually, Soapy never made the claim. He also did not (could not) place Joe Simmons in control of the Club because Simmons had passed away on March 18, 1892, a month prior to the discovery of McGinty. Joe Simmons had been manager of the Orleans Club up until the time of his death, after which, Joe Palmer was made manager of the saloon and gaming house.
  • Majors makes the claim that Soapy had found McGinty on his own silver claim. Indeed, Soapy had several claims around Creede in his name but McGinty was not "found" by Soapy. It was "discovered by J. J. Dore and George W. Lewis and was "purchased" by Soapy for $3,000. This purchase was on paper only as few would have believed McGinty real had Soapy found it himself. Later it is revealed that George Lewis is one of the gang members.

    The story of McGinty is a fascinating one and is covered in detail in my book, Alias Soapy Smith. My book includes the theory of the identification of the corpse that became McGinty.
Page 15
  • The photograph and story indicate that Soapy displayed McGinty inside Bob Ford's tent saloon. There is no accounting for this story. The Creede Herald stated that McGinty was placed into a box and placed on display at the Tortoni tent hotel. The following day, April 15, Soapy left Creede with McGinty and returned to Denver, only retuning to Creede after the June 8, 1892 fire which destroyed the business district.
  • Majors mentions a couple members of the Soap Gang. He includes "'Reverend' Bowers," which is John L. Bowers, "'Fatty' Gray," which is actually John H. Morris but many early writers mistakenly thought that his alias of "Fatty Gray" meant that Gray was his last name. Majors mention of "Tom Crippen" is probably a mistake. The only connection I could find between Crippen and Soapy was that Crippen was the 'lookout" (faro table guard) during a faro game at the Denver Exchange which Bat Masterson managed in Creede. "Slim Cady" is Thomas P. Cady known as "Sure-shot" and "Troublesome Tom." "Daddy Pete" is fiction
  • Majors uses the old biographies to record the history of how Soapy was initiated into the world of crime. Records show Soapy was never a cowboy who lost his pay to a shell man. Old biographies list Jeff's first mentor as a man named Taylor. Majors fictitiously gives him the first name of "Bill." Soapy did start out as a cheap John, one who sells cheap goods for high prices, much like today's jam auctions. His mentor in the business was never named, although one of Soapy's early friends who was retiring from his long career was named John Taylor and it is possible he was Soapy's mentor. How the early biographies could have determined this is unknown.
Page 16
  • Majors describes how McGinty was manufactured, however, like the early biographies he believed that McGinty was man-made. What no one figured out, including myself until a few years ago, is that McGinty was manufactured from a human corpse into a "petrified man." My book goes into great detail about McGinty, including my theory about the original identity of the corpse. Very fascinating stuff.
  • Majors said that McGinty was found on May 14 on page 14. On page 16 he writes that it was found and reported on July 2. Again, the real date reported on the front page of the newspaper was April 9, 1892.
    Page 17
    • Bob Ford was not involved with the petrified man in any way.
    • Ford was kicked out of Creede once, not twice. It happened on April 22, 1892. Ford and Joe Palmer, the manager of the Orleans Club, shot up the town and made a quick exit to escape jail-time. Within a few days they were allowed to return with the promise to behave.
    Page 47
    • Majors uses the old biographies name of "Colonel Stone" for the petrified man. No where in contemporary sources is the name "Colonel Stone" mentioned, except in the old biographies.
    • Majors describes the exhibition of McGinty but it is based on imagination only. He theorizes how Soapy and the gang made money from the exhibition by way of seeing the insides of wallets. Considering that viewing the petrified man in Creede was 25-cents and later, 10-cents in Denver it seems unlikely men would be needing to open their wallets. Change fit into pockets and the hand as it does today. In my book I theorize that Soapy's shell-and-pea men and three-card monte tossers were plying their trade while the customers waited to enter the exhibition. In this way, the victims came to Soapy's men rather than having to go out and steer them in to where the games are being operated.

    Page 59 (Trivia): An "In our next issue" ad by the magazine informs readers to watch for a story on the famous Gillette, Colorado bull fight of 1895. It is believed that Soapy had the saloon and gambling concession just outside the bull ring.

    October 23

    1892: Soapy and five others enter a polling place and forcefully eject the pollsters, placing one of their own in charge, then proceed to allow repeat voters in to cast votes.

    Jeff Smith

    My gratitude goes out to Bob "Buckshot" Bradley for taking the time 
    and effort to place these collectible stories from old magazine in his 
    collection onto PDF format so that my viewers here can read them 
    exactly as they were published. 


    October 18, 2011

    Con Man's Empire: A review

    The final showdown
    Soapy approaches Reid on Juneau Wharf

    July 8, 1898

    In December 1990 Wild West magazine published an article about Soapy Smith by John Guttman. It was called Con Man's Empire and marks the first time an old west history magazine used the Smith family as a source for information. Since then I have been involved with several authors aiding their publications. One common error made by most of them is that they just can't seem to accept all my research even though I use fantastic sources and provenance. Inevitably these authors end up using outdated and incorrect information, even when there is no source or provenance. I do not understand this, and am only forced to deal with it after the fact, which usually makes for hurt and angry feelings. I actually had one author ask me not to correct him/her publicly, to remain silent. That's not how it works here on this blog. If I make a mistake I'll tell you. I've already done it numerous times. If someone else makes a mistake I'll do the same. By the way, none of this has to do with Jon Guttman's article below. I was just making a point about what I have to deal with. Enjoy the article!

    Con Man's Empire

    My review centers only on the mistakes for future historical reference. The goal is an attempt to put an end to repeat mistakes. Jon Guttman's mistakes are honest ones. The mistake he made was reading old biographies written about Soapy and trusting them to be accurate. I did help him with this article but that was some 12-years ago. I don't recall if I saw a rough draft or not. Had I seen the mistakes I know I would have brought them to his attention. I have to give Jon the benefit of the doubt. I also have to commend him for contacting me. I'm impressed with his efforts. In the end, anyone who writes about Soapy can't be all bad.  

    Page 43
    • Jon writes, "Three of Jeff Junior's other brothers were doctors, one a minister, and one a farmer." Jon should have wrote, "Three of Jeff Senior's other brothers were...." Simple honest mistake.
    Page 44
    • Jon listed Soapy's legal talent as "Judge" Norman Van Horn and Syd Dixon. These name were first published in The Reign of Soapy Smith (1935) and are believed to be fictitious. I have spent 25-years researching and that includes reading the Denver and Alaska newspapers, page-by-page. The family has in possession, thousands of Soapy's personal and business letters and documents and I found no "Syd Dixon" listed anywhere. The only "Van Horn" found was the mayor of Denver. By no means is Jon the first to make this mistake and it has continued many times since his article came out in 1990. 
    • A sentence or two later he writes of "Charles Bowers." Again, another old biography mistake. Bowers name was John L. Bowers.
    • Further down the paragraph Jon writes of "Ice Box" Murphy. A great character but believed to be fictitious. There is not a single mention of this name. The only "Murphy" in Denver related to the story of Soapy Smith was the one-time owner of Murphy's Exchange. In Alaska, there was a Jesse Murphy, an Irish railroad worker who became famous for ending Soapy's life.
    Page 44-45
    • At the bottom of page 44 Jon writes about Bob Ford and Creede, Colorado. Authors have painted Ford into a big fish in Creede. Descriptions of Ford's Exchange and his control over Creede's underworld of criminals continue to find their way into print. The problem is that there is no provenance. The Creede newspapers make no mention of a saloon named Ford's Exchange. The only saloon known to have been owned by Ford was merely an unnamed tent-saloon, raised after Creede's business district burnt to the ground. As far as Ford being a crime boss of Creede, again, there is nothing in the way of contemporary print or provenance. He had no "gang" in Creede so it seems very unlikely his control of the camp is plausible.
    Page 45
    • A common and debated mistake was the spelling of Bob Ford's killer. Jon wrote the article in 1990 spelling the killer's name as "Ed O. Kelly" a common made mistake. The correct whole name is "Edward Capehart O'Kelley" but this was not known until 1994 when the O'Kelley family published a book putting to rest all the mistakes. This reminds me of a funny story that has nothing to do with Jon Guttman's article but it does show the audacity of some historians. Soon after the O'Kelley family published their book I had the opportunity to correct the author of another article on Bob Ford which incorrectly spelled O'Kelley's name. This correction was published in the "letters to the editor" section of the magazine, with a rebuttal from the author. He actually implied that the O'Kelley family is misspelling their own name! Again, I wish to make it very clear that the latter little story has nothing to do with Jon Guttman or his article here.
    • Jon writes that after the City Hall War elected officials "who owed nothing to Soapy served him notice that it was time to go." The City Hall War took place in 1894. Soapy left Denver in 1895, not because he was told to, but because he had assaulted John Hughes of the Arcade saloon and was looking at prison time.
    • Somewhere Jon found mention that Soapy had shot and killed Jack Jolly in Butte Montana. I know there is a book or article out there that started this false story. Jon made the honest mistake of trusting it. In reality, Jack Jolly partnered up with Soapy in 1897 during Soapy's very first visit to Skagway, Alaska. I have been researching this story and will be publishing an article about my findings here on this blog in the near future.
    • Jon writes that Soapy arrived in Skagway in October 1897 but ship records and passenger lists peg his arrival as August 22, 1897.
    • Jon reports that Soapy collected $1,500 for the widow of  Deputy US Marshal James Rowan. The truth is that the fund drive collected $424. You have to remember that the year was 1898. That $424 is equivalent to $13,405.30 in today's market.
     Page 46
    • The photograph at the top of the page mistakenly reads that the nine gang members were headed to prison. These men were being deported back to the states (Seattle) as there was not enough evidence to convict them of a crime. Seattle newspapers thanked Skagway not to use Seattle as their dumping ground.
    • Jon writes that Soapy started out in Skagway at John and Frank Clancy's saloon but soon opened two places of his own. Actually, Soapy opened three saloons of his own, plus had a continued partnership with the Clancy brothers in their saloon. In Jon's defense I don't recall if I knew all of Soapy's saloons in 1990. It really doesn't matter who made the mistake. What matters is what's correct.
    • Jon uses the fictitious gang member, Yeah Mow Hopkins, getting it from old biographies. No such name can be found listed anywhere.
    • Jon mentions the murder of a Skagway prostitute (Ella Wilson) that occurred on May 28, 1898. He mistakenly mentions Mattie Silks as a colleague but does say that Mattie accused Soapy and his men of orchestrating the murder. This is a great story and there is much more here than meets the eye. It is covered in detail in my book. Jon mixes up the Wilson murder with the creation of the vigilante handbills of the 101. The murder took place on May 28 but the handbills were made on March 4, over two months previous. The handbills came out due to other murders that took place outside of Skagway but placed at Soapy's door-step. 
    • Jon writes Soapy's private army as the "Skagway Guard" when it should read as the "Skaguay Military Company."
      Jon wrote that the Secretary of War (by letter) authorized Soapy to drill his army at Fort St. Michael. This is a mistake and it is 100% my fault. I know it is because I'm the only person who could have told him this. There is a letter from Secretary of War Alger giving Soapy permission to use the grounds at Fort St. Michael but it turns out the use was for building a hotel not drilling his army. It's another story that's covered in my book.
    • Jon writes that Soapy was 38-years-old at the time of death. Actually, he was only 37. At the time no one in Skagway knew what month Soapy was born in. He was born on November 2, 1860, therefore in July 1898 he was 37. This is an honest and common mistake.
    • Regarding John D. Stewart, the man robbed of his gold, Jon gives one of several mistaken stories. Jon writes that John was attempting to convert his gold into cash and that "Old Man" Triplett led him to Jeff Smith's Parlor. Actually, it was John Bowers and "Slim Jim" Foster who lured John Stewart into the alley beside Jeff Smith's Parlor to meet up with "Old Man" Triplett who was playing three-card monte. They had him win a round but would not pay him unless he could prove he could have paid them had he lost. He went to his hotel and got his gold out of the safe and brought it back. When he showed them Bowers grabbed Stewart's poke and tossed it to Triplett who ran while Bower's held Stewart in place. At one point Stewart actually said he went inside the Parlor but that story was never repeated after several witnesses came forward who witnessed the robbery in the alley. It is my belief that the vigilante's had Stewart say he was robbed on the inside of the Parlor so that they could directly go after Soapy, however, the witnesses recognized Triplett and Bowers so that was enough to show Soapy's involvement.
    Page 48
    • Jon did well with the final gunfight confrontation. In 1990 I was still unclear about who shot and killed Soapy. There were only hints here and there about another shooter and Jon mentions that. It would be years of research before I found the evidence I needed to clearly show that Jesse Murphy was the man who killed Soapy.
    • Jon states that Jeff Smith's Parlor still stands on Sixth Street. It originally stood on Sixth Street. In 1964 it was moved to Second Street where it now resides.

    With all the exciting stories you read here on this blog, can you imagine that author Cathy Spude is hard at work writing a book with the intent of proving that Soapy was nothing but a common tin-horn gambler and criminal? There is absolutely nothing common about Soapy Smith! He is the American version of The Man Who Would be King. 

    Jeff Smith

    Special thanks to Bob "Buckshot" Bradley for putting these magazine articles into pdf format so that they can be shared with all of you!


    October 15, 2011

    Frank Reid Falls and the Skagway cemetery.

    Below is nice video of Reid Falls just behind the cemetery. The camera man then walks into the cemetery stopping at several of the graves including those of Frank Reid and Soapy Smith. It is beautiful scenery.

    OCTOBER 15

    1892: Soap Gangster, Jeff Dunbar, reportedly tries to extort money from soiled dove, Flossie Leigh at the Tivoli Club in Denver. When Leigh refuses Dunbar buffalos (hits) her head several times with his pistol.


    From the Newsminer.com in Fairbanks, Alaska I found the following.

    75 YEARS AGO-

    Oct. 12, 1936 — Lee Wakefield, a veteran Alaska packer who was in Seward recently, told of how 40 years ago he and a number of residents of Wrangell ran Soapy Smith out of town and to Skagway. When Soapy Smith and his band of racketeers hit Wrangell, he was invited to move on, and he did so, going to Skagway where residents put an end to his career.

    Here's the problem with it. Soapy's travels to Alaska, beginning in 1896, are pretty well accounted for using newspapers, ship passenger records and his personal and business letters and documents. There is no provenance Soapy ever stopped in Wrangell, let alone tried to make it his home. It was just too far from the Klondike gold fields. Sorry Wrangell.

    Jeff Smith


    October 14, 2011

    Take Him to See the Eagle: A review

    My good friend, Bob "Buckshot" Bradley, over at the True West forum has a collection of old west magazines and finding several articles on Soapy Smith he wanted to know how reliable they are. In asking the question he sent me, in a pdf file, the article, Take Him to See the Eagle by Wilson O'Connor and published in The West magazine July 1964. I not only get to answer his questions, which I enjoyed, but now I have the added pleasure of bringing the whole article to you here on this blog. I hope you enjoy it.

    Take Him to See the Eagle

    Following is my list of historical corrections for the article. They are listed in chronological order by the articles page number.

    Usually in the old magazines there are always mistakes. Remember the magazine called Frontier Times? I just read an article from the Wild West History Association that named at least two old authors who contributed articles to that magazine and others, that were completely made up. In this WWHA article this researcher showed several examples of one author who told the same story in numerous ways just to have variety and to be able to publish the same information several times. It makes me wonder how many stories are out there that we take for granted are true when they really aren't. The good news is that we have technology and eventually every newspaper will be online. It will be easier to prove or disprove stories. I know I hear more people now-a-days question photographs. We need to also start questioning the ones we have always taken for granted as well.

    Take Him to See the Eagle

    Page 16:

    • Soapy did not have a "Texas drawl." He had only been in Texas for 2-3 years. Perhaps a southern drawl as he was born and raised in Georgia.
    • "Jimmy" Stewart is incorrect. His real name was John Douglas Stewart.
    • The shootout on Juneau Wharf took place on July 8 not July 21.
    • John Stewart was 54 not 21-years old.
    • Soapy was never a cowboy.
    • Somehow the author thought wooden blocks played a part in the prize package soap sell racket. This is the first I ever read anything like this.

    Page 17:

    • Texas Rangers did not run Soapy out of Texas for manslaughter and bunco games. Once he organized his first real bunco gang (believed to have been in Fort Worth) he began traveling around the west.
    • It wasn't until 1880-83 that he setled down in Denver and built his first empire. This is also where his first recorded charities began.
    • The article jumps over a huge amount of history to 1892 when he built his second empire in Creede, Colorado and then jumps another huge hurdle to 1897 missing a lot of fantastic history.

    Page 18:

    • I laughed at the author for writing that the Klondike was "near" Skagway. If you call 800 miles "near."
    • Skagway was not Alaska's largest town. In fact Soapy arrived about two weeks after it had been founded so it certainly was not large at the time.
    • Jim Clancy is another mistake in identity. The real name(s) are John and Frank Clancy, two Seattle saloon owners who came to Skagway and partnered up with Soapy. Soapy didn't shoot him, seize his saloon, or even threaten him. This is all from the author's imagination. The Clancy's had a small saloon and with Soapy's backing they added on and became Clancy and Company, Soapy being Company. Soapy opened 3 other saloons and gaming halls. Jeff Smith's Parlor (photo on page 16) was Soapy's podium. It was too small to have any gambling and not much alcohol choices. It was his soap box to pose and appear to be an upstanding citizen. The evilness took place in his other establishments.
    • Soapy's gang, known as the Soap Gang, normally did not adhere to robbery. They were confidence men. Occasionally they did get out of hand but Soapy kept a good reign as possible on the violence. There is no evidence that his men ever murdered for money.
    • There is a quote from February 15, 1898 that the author uses. Yes, 8 dead were found on the White Pass. These men froze to death and were not murdered or robbed. Then the author adds his own fiction to it by adding that "every night there are ten to fifteen murders." This is not from the now famous February 15, 1898 account.
    • John (Jimmy) Stewart was from British Columbia not Seattle.
    • Frank Reid was not an assayer and did not know John Stewart.
    • The photo at the bottom of page 18 was taken AFTER Soapy was killed. These are some of the men that were deported from Skagway by the vigilantes.

    Page 19:

    • The articles version of the robbery of Stewart is bogus. In my research I was able to chart when Stewart arrived in Skagway by boat and when he went into the Klondike to mine. I have the day he came back to Skagway, what hotel he stayed in, including his signature in the hotel register, along with all the official court paperwork that includes everything known about the robbery. He was robbed, but he wasn't attacked. He lost his money at three-card monte and the buncos grabbed his poke and ran before he could figure out that he had been swindled or had time to refuse to pay up his losses. Naturally, there is no justification for what they did, but at least let's hear the true story.
    • Con Kennedy? No such person in Skagway's list of residents. The only lawman in town was Sylvester S. Taylor the deputy U.S. Marshal. Taylor was indeed under pay from Soapy. Taylor did indeed do little as possible to help Stewart. Stewart went to the packer who brought him into town as that was the only person he knew. From there the U.S. Commisioner, five miles away at Dyea was notified.
    • All the stuff about Stewart being shot at and evicted from his hotel is made up.

    Page 59:

    • Frank Reid was not appointed anything by the federal government. When Skagway was founded there were basically two gangs operating and positioning for power. The bunco men under Soapy's leadership and the real estate grifters (also called "lot jumper"). The bunco men won the fight for control of Skagway and the realestate grifters did ther best to get the power back. Reid had worked as a bartender for Soapy in the Klondike Saloon. Reid had himself appointed "City Engineer" and joined the real estate grifters to sell properties he didn't own. Stewart never went to Reid. There was no reason to.
    • Reid did not start the vigilante organization, the committee of 101. Some authors have written that he was a leader but this is simply not true. He was only a guard the night of the gunfight. The 101 was formed by members of the real estate grifters and other citizens to rid Skagway of Soapy. The citizens that were a part of the 101 probably wanted justice but the realestate grifters were looking to retake control of the city for themselves. After two men were murdered on the trail the vigilante's put the blame on Soapy and posted handbills warning the bunco men to leave Skagway. There was and is no evidence or reason to think that Soapy's men would resort to killing people. That sort of crime catches the eyes and ears of the federals which were just over in Dyea. Soapy organized his own committee, calling it the Law and Order Society of 317. He posted handbills too, which warned the vigilantes that their violent tactices would not be tolerated. The vigilante's went back into hiding. BTW, this all happened BEFORE Stewart was robbed.
    • The story of Stewart and Reid setting up a plan of action, going into Jeff Smith's Parlor, confronting and grabbing Bowers, Reid saving Stewart in the saloon, all fiction.
    • Yeah Meow Hopkins appears in many of these invented stories. There is no record of any such person.
    • The robbery and gunfight can be read on Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shootout_on_Juneau_Wharf and explains in more detail than I can here.
    • No Stewart didn't get married in Skagway.
    • Here's a biggie! Frank Reid did not kill Soapy. Reid shot him but the final bullet that killed Soapy was fired by Jesse Murphy, one of the other three guards. It's a long story that rings of murder! Buy the book! Click here: http://www.soapysmith.net/id50.html

    Well, I hope that answers your questions Bob. Please feel free to ask more if you are confused about anything. Oh, did I mention to BUY THE BOOK! Well, in case I didn't then let me mention it now, BUY THE BOOK!

    Bob has sent me several other magazine articles on pdf files that I plan to review. Watch for them! I'd like to thank Bob "Buckshot" Bradley for his work in placing the articles on pdf files and sending them to me.

    Jeff Smith


    October 13, 2011

    Soapy Smith and Boardwalk Empire, part 2

    Front page of the Rocky Mountain News
    October 16, 1892

    Once again I watched HBO's Boardwalk Empire (episode 3, season 2) and continue to see so many similarities with Soapy Smith's empire in Denver. One example in this episode I especially enjoyed involved a violent outburst in a public restaurant. In the program, crime-boss "Nucky" and his Irish lover take a corrupt politician out for a nice dinner. In the same restaurant are leaders of his rising competition. Something happens that irritates Nucky into showing his anger. He makes a scene violently upsetting the dinner table of his competition. The program viewers see things from Nucky's point of view as his anger builds during the scene, from happy-go-lucky to red-hot mad. The scene had me thinking of the numerous recorded times that Soapy attacked somebody in a public place. In some of these instance there seems to be no rhyme-or-reason to his actions and some historians, not knowing the underlining reasons, have attributed such actions to simple drunkenness. As far as recorded history goes, I, as a historian, and must continue the "burden" of relying only on the facts. The Rocky Mountain News has reported most of the accounts where Soapy disrupted the general peace in a public place by starting, or getting involved in a brawl. Rarely are we given a complete and detailed report from his point of view.

    Boardwalk Empire, although fictional, takes a personal view through the eyes of the bad guy character, "Nucky" Thompson, clearly defining and showing his personal and business reasons and feelings for each of his outbursts and reactions. In watching the program it is easy for me to substitute "Nucky" for Soapy which gives me the opportunity to understand and even explain some of Soapy's public outbursts and why he reacted the way he did. Please don't confuse my interest for condonement. I'm merely trying to see his life through his eyes.

    I posted pretty much the same post on my personal Facebook page as well as the official Facebook group page for Boardwalk Empire. Strangely, they did not see my passion and excitement in the similarities between the two men and era's as worthy of others to read, and deleted my post. 

    The political cartoon at the top from the front page of the Rocky Mt. News, October 16, 1892. Soapy is the bearded one. His name is written on his sleeve. He and the Republican ring map out capturing the vote in a coming election. It will involve fraudulent registration, stealing ballot boxes and buying votes. Below is a trailer for season 2.

    Boardwalk Empire: October 4, 2011

    Jeff Smith


    October 10, 2011

    Tribute video to Soapy Smith

    I want this t-shirt!

    In the mean time enjoy this very short video made in honor of Soapy Smith...

    Jeff Smith


    October 8, 2011

    New books featuring Soapy Smith

    There is very honestly, and simply no better book on the market than Alias Soapy Smith. However, like myself, there are collectors out there who collect everything, historically correct or not. I offer a look at the two latest books I'v located that contain Soapy Smith within their pages.

    Outlaw Tales of Alaska: True Stories of the Last Frontier's Most Infamous Crooks, Culprits, and Cutthroats
    Author: Heaton, John
    Publisher: Two Dot Books
    Publication date: 2010
    Series: Outlaw Tales
    Pages: 197

    The following comes from the advertisements for the book. 

    Author: Description: Taking a break from his academic work, history professor Heaton relates the tales of a dozen crooks and desperate characters from Alaska's early days. Readers will meet "Soapy" Smith, the underworld boss of Skagway; the murderous Klutuk of southwestern Alaska; the legendary (and sometimes generous) Blue Parka bandit; and Fred Hardy, the first murderer to be hung in the Territory of Alaska. Heaton's book offers readers the best of two worlds: It's fact-checked to academic standards, but written for a general audience. Any reader interested in Alaska history or true crime will find this book a delight. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com) -- Book News

    Fans of shoot-’em-up books and movie Westerns, as well as history buffs, will enjoy these short biographies about the baddest of the bad villains and desperadoes on the Alaskan frontier. Massacres, mayhem, and mischief fill the pages of Outlaw Tales of Alaska. Readers will find themselves panning for gold with dry gulchers and claim jumpers, ducking the bullets of murderers, plotting strategies with con artists, and hissing at lawmen-turned-outlaws. A refreshing new perspective on some of the most infamous reprobates of the Last Frontier, this book also includes historic, black-and-white photos.
    -- Globe Fearon Co

    Massacres, mayhem, and mischief fill the pages of Outlaw Tales of Alaska. Pan for gold with dry gulchers and claim jumpers. Duck the bullets of murderers, plot strategies with con artists, hiss at lawmen turned outlaws. A refreshing new perspective on some of the most infamous reprobates of the Last Frontier.
    -- Globe Fearon Co
    I tried to contact the author, Professor of History, John Heaton of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks but he has not responded as of this post. This book has one chapter of 17 pages devoted to Soapy Smith. I was not able to read any of the chapter but I did note that in the index, which I was able to see, had gang member, John Bowers spelled as Charles Bowers, and it included non-existant person and gang member, Syd Dixon, two common mistakes when using older biographies as a source. I was not able to view the books sources for Soapy Smith but the University of Alaska, Fairbanks is also where King Con author, Jane Haigh teaches so I fear Professfor Heaton mistakenly used her book as a main source. That would explain the two index mistakes. If this is the case then I would not suggest using this book as a source.

    The book retails for $14.95 but I was able to find used copies at around $5.72.

    Goin' Up to Cripple Creek
    ISBN-10: 097997237X
    ISBN-13: 978-0979972379
    Author: Raymond Walter Seibert
    Publisher: Advanced Concept Design
    Publication date: October 2009
    Pages: 346
    Fiction / Historical

    From the publishers website I'm guessing that this is a self-published historical fiction novel/love story. Here is what the description and advertisement had to say.

    Goin' Up To Cripple Creek is historical western fiction of the Colorado, Cripple Creek Mining District, and the men who established it, and mined its gold. The time period is from the discovery and settlement of this alpine valley, through the establishment of the town of Cripple Creek, to the fires of 1896. This is the first work in The Gold Trail Series. Filled with action and romance, it is a well researched and historical fiction of an exciting time. Starting with the settlement by Levi Welty, and the discovery of gold by Bob Womack, it tells the story of the establishment of the District. A vivid picture of the community, inner workings, and social life emerges. A young mining engineer, Steven Marks, arrives from abroad and is robbed of his money on the road into the new town. With the help of kindly, hard drinking Bob Womack, he is able to establish himself with employment at Guyot's Assay Office, where he becomes acquainted with Winfield Scott Stratton. He meets and falls in love with the independent Elizabeth Yates, who owns a restaurant on the main street. She has made an enemy of Soapy Smith, and a tangled relationship with Steven is complicated by the arrival of her first husband. As the city grows, bad elements of greed, and intemperance, tear the social fabric of the close knit early town. Purged by fire, a community is brought together. -- Advanced Concept Design

    A work of historical fiction features the lives of the men and women who established the town of Cripple Creek, Colorado, and mined its gold.

    Historical western fiction of the Cripple Creek Mining District, and the men who established it, and mined its gold. The time period is from the discovery and settlement of this alpine valley, through the establishment of the town of Cripple Creek, to the fires of 1896. This is the first work in The Gold Trail Series. Filled with action and romance, it is a well researched work of an exciting time. Original. Exciting, well researched, historical romance of the Colorado, Cripple Creek Mining District from 1890-1896. From the first settlers to the Great Fires of 1896, using historical facts from every reasearch source that could be found, all the main personalities of The District are included and interwoven with a love story that will touch the heart. -- In the Affirmative Pub
    I have not read this book and I can't really critizise fiction novels. I would hope no one would use one as a historical source. I found the book to retail for $15.95 but I was able to find copies for as low as $3.49.

    Jeff Smith


    October 6, 2011

    Artifact: #40: Soapy Smith, Bat Masterson and John Kinneavy meet Chicago Herald reporter, John W. Postgate 1892.

    (Click image to enlarge)

    In February-March 1892 Soapy Smith was in control of silver boom-town Creede, Colorado. John W. Postgate a senior reporter for the Chicago Herald came to Creede for a firsthand article on the new camp. Soapy introduced himself to John and no doubt gave a first rate tour of the camp with introductions to its leading citizens, including Soapy good friends and associates, John P. Kinneavy and "Bat" Masterson. Some time after returning to Chicago and publishing the article Soapy sent John a couple of letters. Below is the return response from John Postgate.

    My dear Smith:

    Just returned from Minn and find two letters from you. I will see the business manager tomorrow about 25 copies daily for two months. I will communicate with you directly. I am glad that the articles sided the camp, and that you are all still on the boom. I don’t know what you mean by “The cave of the cliff dwellers.” I had no notes on anything of the sort. If it is anything good get someone to write it and forward me. Regards to Keneavy [sic], Masterson & others.

    Yours truly,
    John W. Postgate

    [On the rear John wrote]
    Should you come across anything interesting at any time would be pleased to hear. J.W.P.

    Photo found in Neely's history of the Parliament of religions and
    religious congresses at the World's Columbian Exposition

    By F.T. Neely, (Edited by Walter R Houghton) 1894.

    (Click image to enlarge)

    John W. Postgate was born in England, August 10, 1851. He studied reporting in London, making it his career. He came to the United States in 1874 where he began working for American newspapers such as the Chicago Inter-Ocean and the Chicago Tribune. I located the information about his impressive newspaper reporting career in the Who’s who in New York City and State, Issue 3 by Lewis Randolph Hamersly page 1056.

    "Bat" Masterson
    February 17, 2011
    December 26, 2010
    August 21, 2010
    May 25, 2010
    April 13, 2010
    March 12, 2010
    October 30, 2008

    John Kinneavy
    January 6, 2011
    December 30, 2010
    September 16, 2010
    September 16, 2010
    June 27, 2010
    October 21, 2009
    March 18, 2009

    "Bat" Masterson: page 74, 80, 84, 97, 103, 173, 176, 219, 223-25, 232, 419, 422-24, 435, 443.
    John Kinneavy: page 73, 95-96, 104, 133-34, 149-50, 154, 160-61, 172-73, 191, 201, 203, 207-08, 214, 218, 226, 232, 245, 248, 376, 388, 594.

    Jeff Smith


    October 4, 2011

    Boardwalk Empire and Soapy Smith

    Have you had the pleasure of seeing the HBO show Boardwalk Empire?

    Just watched the 2nd episode of season 2. I love the show. I suggest that fans of Soapy Smith might enjoy watching it as well. Although the show takes place in 1920 during prohibition there is a striking similarity in method and operation that mirror those of Soapy's empire in Denver, Colorado during the 1890s. The show is actually helping me imagine the how's and why's of Soapy's political and underworld methods. In fact, certain instances in Soapy's life that were just mere facts have now become alive for me.

    The shows town boss is Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (played by actor Steve Buscemi), an underworld boss and fixer much like Soapy. It doesn't do the imagination any harm that his love interest is an Irish lass, much like Mary Eva Noonan, Soapy's wife.

    Currently, the show is dealing with Nucky's involvement in election fraud, voter intimidation, theft of ballot boxes and bribery. This episode gave me a new outlook and respect for the history of Soapy's election fraud involvement of 1889. Nucky is arrested by a new state prosecutor wishing to make a name for himself. This is where the differences between the show and Soapy's history differ. When Soapy and his men were arrested in Denver they often were reported in the newspapers as having the run of the jail, coming and going from their cell as they pleased, much as if they were not prisoners at all. Soapy's associates who were found guilty of crimes and sent to the State prison in Canon, Colorado found themselves quickly and mysteriously released with a pardon.

    There are sites on the net where you can watch Boardwalk Empire from the very beginning. The show, in my opinion, is well worth the effort. Check out the trailer below.

    Jeff Smith


    October 3, 2011

    Soapy Smith's grave washed away, 1919

     (Click image to enlarge)

    Most visitors to Soapy Smith's grave in Skagway, Alaska do not realize that his remains are not actually there, or that today's marked grave is where he was originally buried. As one faces Soapy's marked grave, one need only to turn their gaze to the right to see where the real grave once held the resting remains of Jefferson Randolph Smith II. That bush and tree filled gully one sees is the result of a fast flowing torrid of water in September 1919 that robbed his earthly remains, washing them out to sea. Vigilantes killed Soapy but it was mother nature who permanently exiled Soapy from Skagway.

    The above photograph shows the damage done in the 1919 flood to the tracks and bridge of the White Pass and Yukon Railway. The photo and the accompanying story come from our friends at the Skagway Historical Society.  

    This major flood happened in Skagway in September 1919. This is when the train tracks crossed the Skagway River and ran on the west side of the river and then crossed back to the east side up the way.

    "Passenger Trains Between Skagway and Whitehorse Stopped by Flood

    Last Friday rain started to fall in torrents in the mountain surrounding Skagway and by the following morning the Skagway river was a raging flood, filled with trees and driftwood, that carried all before it. Four bents were washed out of the railroad bridge near the car shops and eleven bents out of the railroad bridge at four mile post. The weather reached the decking of the first bridge and the driftwood pilling up against it threatened at one time to cause the whole structure to go out, but a flat car with a derrick aboard was put into operation and the trees and logs hoisted over the bridge and dropped into the stream below. The government bridge across the Skagway river at Twenty –Second street was damaged to the extent of having the center span carried away.

    At the height of the flood there was a White Pass train stranded between the first and second bridges, but since then the first bridge has been repaired sufficiently to get the train into the yards shops.

    After the rain started to fall it continued to pour down almost without cessation until yesterday afternoon, when it commeneed to let up, and the weather was reported to be clearing and river falling.

    Section men from Carcross, Pennington, Bennett, Log Cabin, Summit and Glacier were rushed over to Skagway to assist in the work of controlling the flood and are still there.

    Yesterday afternoon a telephone message was received here from General Manager II. Wheeler at Skagway, saying that the Skagway river was threatening the track near Boulder and asking that a work train be made up here and rushed over with a load of sacked gravel to use in checking water’s inroads. The train, consist of an engine and three flat cars left here at 7 o’clock this morning to load 500 sacks of gravel at the 98 mile post.

    A train was run from Whitehorse Tuesday and the passengers and mail transferred at the washout. They connected with the Princess Alice, which sailed from Skagway Wednesday night. There have been no train since then and it now seems probable there will not be until Saturday or Sunday.

    There is a lot of perishable and other freight for the interior now in Skagway which cannot be moved until regular train service is resumed, which will likely be first of next week.

    Whitehorse Weekly Star, Friday, September 19, 1919


    Jeff Smith


    October 1, 2011

    Soapy Smith in Canadian cartoon, Emily and Alexander.

    There is a cartoon in Canada called Emily and Alexander and Soapy Smith appears in the episode entitled, Klondike Mice.

    1891: Soapy “sold” the Tivoli Club.

    Jeff Smith