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



  1. Love this picture! I have a copy, too, since it's a Crane family picture. My Great grandfather George Trumbull Crane is third from the left in the back, my Great Uncle Earl Crane is in front on the horse, and my Grandmother Marguerite Crane is in front on the donkey named Old Discovery. Earl wrote wonderful memoirs of his years growing up in Wardner and Spokane. Sadly, he didn't include any stories of your Soapy Smith.

    1. Fascinating, Keddie!
      It's great to get the back-story to that photograph!

      The history of the criminal underworld of Spokane is seemingly missing. I know that it existed, as it is apparent in letters to and from Soapy, but years of searching have turned up very little. Soapy apparently had little or no trouble in Spokane so there is little reason your Uncle Earl would have known who he was, unless he happened to be one of the few who had a run-in with him.

      Thank you for your wonderful contribution!


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