May 23, 2012

Donna Clayson's chat with Soapy Smith

Donna Clayson pays her respects

ersonal friend, as well as a long standing member of Friends of Bad Man Soapy Smith, Donna Clayson is a remarkable woman and a great credit to her community of Whitehorse in the Canadian Yukon as a very valuable volunteer member of the local search and rescue. She has trained and flies in the air with Search & Rescue as a spotter and is training up as Zone Commander, Yukon division. On land patrols she mushes dogs to save lives.

Donna advertised on Facebook that she was heading to Skagway with her daughter and grand-daughter to take the train. I left the comment that she should wave to Soapy as the train passes the cemetery. She promised not only to wave, but to stop by and have a chat with him...and she kept her word as the above photograph will attest.

My daughter Verena and grand daughter Jayden enjoyed the day and it is them that is standing in front of Soapy's parlour ...

Mom Verena and daughter Jayden in front of Jeff Smith's Parlor

... You work so hard at keeping Soapy’s memory alive. It’s quite amazing really that while visiting Skagway that it is Soapy’s ghost that is felt, not Frank Reid or anyone else. While we were at the cemetery two women stopped us to ask where Soapy’s grave was. We told them to look for Jefferson …. and showed them the photo I sent you. They only knew of Soapy’s nickname, not his given name. I’m thinking the gravestone should read “Soapy” in quotation marks. I did indeed have a chat with Soapy like I said I would. If there were any visitors they would have thought I’d lost it but I promised I would stop and chat!

... The metal railing around Soapy’s grave needs attention. The hole the pipe lies in is worn and the pipe falls out. The city of Skagway has done some wonderful work on the cemetery – walkways and trails. Nicely done.

Donna, thank you so much for the kind words and wonderful photos! You make a fantastic point about visitors not knowing where Soapy's grave is because they are not aware of his given name. I can now recall being asked the same question, and I was standing right next to the grave! Your correspondence has pushed action towards remodeling the fence around the grave. The proper people are being contacted for plans, permissions, and prices. I'd like to see the project financed by the Friends of Bad Man Soapy Smith through donations. Your idea of identifying the grave as that of "Soapy Smith" is a great one and can perhaps be incorporated nicely into the fencing. 

Donna Clayson
September 5, 2010

MAY 23
1785: Benjamin Franklin writes in a letter that he has invented bifocals. 
1788: South Carolina becomes the eighth state to ratify U.S. Constitution. 
1827: The first nursery school in the U.S. is established in New York City. 
1846: Arabella Mansfield (Belle Aurelia Babb) is born. She is the first woman in the U.S. to pass the bar exam, though she never used her law degree. 
1867: The outlaw James Gang robs the Hughs and Mason Bank in Richmond, Missouri of $4,000 in gold. The town’s mayor, the jailer and his son are killed in the process as other men are broken out of jail. 
1868: Kit Carson dies during an operation in Fort Lyon, Colorado Territory, at age 59. 
1872: The outlaw James-Younger gang robs a bank in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri of $4,000. 
1873: The Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, Ontario passes a bill creating the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP); a military police like Royal Irish Constabulary, to patrol the border and to keep peace between Indians and traders. In 1920 they are merged with the Dominion Police to form the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). During the Klondike gold Rush they did their best to keep Soapy Smith and the Soap Gang out of Canada. 
1876: Boston’s Joe Borden pitches the first no-hitter in the history of the National League. 
1879: The first U.S. veterinary school is established by Iowa State University. 
1882: Convicted murderer, Jesse Evans, of Lincoln County War fame escapes while on a prison work exchange program and is never heard from again. 
1895: The New York Public Library is created.

May 20, 2012

The Great Gold Rush: A Tale of the Klondike, by William Henry Pope Jarvis, 1913.

A couple of "gentleman" prepare to roll a drunk
"knock-out" drops were often added to victims drinks by the unscrupulous

cott Silver introduced to me, The Great Gold Rush: A Tale of the Klondike, by William Henry Pope Jarvis, Toronto, Canada, The Macmillan Company, April 1913. I found the book very interesting and historically accurate for the most part. The descriptions of Skagway were of course of great interest and to my liking. The author told of a rough and wild new camp where the saloons and gamblers ruled supreme and operated unmolested by the law, which consisted of a body of United States Regulars stationed at Skagway, but did nothing and the deputy United States marshal who made promises, but took little action.

Of special note is the authors descriptions of official corruption. It goes almost without saying that the officials on the American side, in Skagway and elsewhere, were ready and willing to take every bribe within their grasp, but what really caught my interest was the authors descriptions of petty larceny, thievery and highway robbery associated with the Canadian officials in Dawson and the Klondike. Much like the American cowboy, historians for years have described the Canadian officials as near super heroes, whom somehow were able to side-step normal human nature in such a way as to not be able to become corrupted by wealth or power.

Scott knew I'd be interested in the sections that spoke of Soapy Smith. The first mention started on page 33 in chapter 4 (Society in Alaska).

The old lady presiding wore the smile of prosperity, and looked communicative, so John opened conversation. "Been in Skagway long?"

"Just a month."

"Doing well?"

"Sure thing! feed about three hundred people a day. Don't care if the rush never lets up."

"You've got a gold-mine here without the trouble of going to Dawson."

"Sure!--that is if Soapy don't put the whole town out of business. He makes the saloons and gambling-halls pay him royalty now, besides running shows himself; and I guess he'll be after us soon to make us anti-up too."

"I thought Alaska was a prohibition territory, no whisky sold here."

"Yes, that's what they say back East; but when you get up town you'll find every second place a saloon with all the hootch you want to drink, or have money to pay for."

"But how do they get the whisky?"

"Oh, that's easy enough. The hootch is consigned through to the Canadian side in bond; but when it is landed here they drill a hole in the barrel and take out the whisky. They refill the barrel with water, and it is packed over the summit."

"But it costs thirty cents a pound to put the water over the summit!"

"That don't matter--with whisky fifty cents a glass over the bar."

"Don't the officers know this is going on?"

"Sure thing they do; but they 'stand in. There is no graft like a whisky

"Stand in" and "graft"!--the two Australians felt they knew the meaning of the terms, but they had yet to grasp how deep the meaning of "standing in" and "grafting," as understood by officialdom in Alaska and the Yukon, could be.

Chapter 5, entitled Soapy's Little Game, begins with the usual but shorter run-down of Soapy's life of crime. Page 39 contains a paragraph that very much reminded me of the shooting of Clifton Sparks in Denver 1892 by Soapy and Jim Jordan.There is a link at the bottom of this article for those wishing to read a little about the Sparks shooting.

In the Mining Camps of the Western States he later took more radical methods, making many enemies and some friends. When he and his gang wished to exterminate an enemy they would hunt him out in some saloon, gather about him, and play at fighting among themselves. Revolvers would be drawn and shots fired—the man "wanted" would be killed. It would be somewhat hard to find the actual man who fired the fatal shot, and, in any case, a subservient jury would bring in a verdict of "accidental" death.

As seemingly par with most early histories of Soapy, authors seem to feel the need to exaggerate or add events that probably never occurred. I say probably because I can't say for certain that the following episode did not happen just as the author writes it. There are no other examples of locking men in rooms known to me.

On the next night, in the vicinity of Skagway's Sixth Avenue, they wandered into a saloon which had no sign: the question of what its name was did not cross their minds! The air was foul, and floor space not too plentiful. Women stared at them, and "Passed them up." Not so the men. They moved on to the gaming-tables. John threw a coin on to the Black Jack table. To his surprise he won. He speculated again: again he won. Then he remembered the old dodge of letting the novice win a bit at first, so he decided he would keep on until he found himself losing. When he had won twenty dollars he put the money into his pocket, and went on with George to watch a man playing for heavy stakes at roulette. At this table there was never a word spoken, and the gold pieces passed from banker to player, from player to banker, without comment.

While the two were looking on they noticed a man come and stand by the banker, watch the game for a little while, glance shrewdly at them, and go away. Shortly afterwards another man did the same. John and George realized this attention, but said nothing. A third man came along, and bluntly asked them,

"Ever play roulette?"

"No; at least not often," said John.

"Good game."


"Ever shoot craps?"


"There's a table down at the end of the hall. Care to see it?"

They followed their entertainer to the dimly-lighted rear, where several men were leaning over a table throwing dice. They watched the game a bit, and found it uninteresting. They turned to go, when their new acquaintance made a move to follow—and asked in a hesitating way, "Have a drink?"

George declined.

The fellow pondered a bit, and then said in an ingratiating way, "Would you fellows like to see a big mountain goat I bought from the Siwashes to-day?"

John and George followed the man through a doorway into a cold room where a few candles were burning on a rough table. On the floor lay an immense mountain goat.

"My word!" said George, "what a beauty!"

They stood for some minutes surveying the dead monarch of the mountain crests, their entertainer taking one of the candles and holding it at the animal's head. Suddenly they heard groans, which appeared to come through the doorway at the opposite end of the room.

"What's that?"

The man took a candle and walked to the door, bending his head, as if listening intently. The groans were continued. John and George went over to him. He held the candle in his left hand, and appeared to haul at the door with his right. "Oh! Oh!" came from the room in tones of deepest distress. The fellow handed the candle to John, and then, catching the door with both hands, gave it a mighty wrench. The heavy plank door opened and showed a dark cavity, which drank up the slender light of the candle so effectually that they could distinguish nothing. Cautiously John entered, followed by George. The door was slammed; they were trapped.

"We're caught! Soapy has us," exclaimed George.

John turned, shaded the candle with his hand, and explored the room. It was not large, and it took him but a minute to make a circuit of the four walls.

"We're caught!" was said again.

"But there is no one here: where did the groans come from?" asked John.

"Don't know, if they weren't ventriloquism," replied George.

That seemed likely. John ran and gave the door a kick: it was solid as a wall.

"What will they do with us?" he asked.

"Freeze us to death; we'll freeze quick enough in this atmosphere."

The place was cold, clammy, benumbing. The walls were log; the floor of earth, sparkling with frost crystals; the roof was built of poles. There was no window. Here and there, where the crevices of the logs had not been thoroughly filled, and the air came in, there were patches of frost. They searched for some implement. The room was thoroughly bare—there was not even a billet of wood, let alone an axe, or saw. Things were at a pass. They were both to perish in horrible death. The cold was seizing them. They stamped up and down the room, and shouted. There was, there could be, no answer.

Frenzy came over them. Trapped! To perish of bitter cold! Horrible!... Horrible! To famish as caged animals. They saw their little destiny—to walk, and walk, and walk, and then to lie down and sleep till death, the reality, came. Their impotency galled them. How weak were their arms and strength against these walls of logs!

They marched about for an hour or more, encouraging each other as brave men will.

Then cries were heard faintly from the outside, and new noises, which grew, and continued to grow. A great blow shook the wall, and then another. John shouted; George shouted; the blows were repeated; then they heard voices and shouted again. The door was burst open and in rushed a number of men.

"Come, fellows, out of this, or you'll be cooked!"

It was the voice of Hugh.

They eagerly followed him through the room where the goat was, and out through a side door into the open, where a great glare met them. An outhouse was on fire. Men were rushing about and shouting; but Hugh kept on through the crowd, and the rescued followed him till they reached the safety of the street.

"Now we'd better duck for home," said Spencer. "I go with you"; and through the storm they struggled till they reached the Frau's restaurant.

She had not yet retired, so they called for supper—tea, bacon, and beans. After they had settled down Hugh told his story.

"You see, fellows, after I landed I went over to the Chilkoot to have a look at things there; but after talking to the fellows I reckoned that the White Pass was best for me, so back I comes. I was in the hall to-night with you fellows, but you did not see me; and I thought I would just lay back and see if you would hit the games. Then I kind of got a notion Soapy's men were watching you; so I thought I would watch the whole outfit. I see you go back to the crap-game, and then I see you go into the room with your bunco man—and then I don't see you come out; so I said to myself, you are there for keeps! Now there was with me one fellow I could rely on, so I asked him to keep an eye on that door, and I got out on the street to size up the building. I see towards the rear the wing you went into, so I walks down there, sizing things up. Round on the back side I see a door and a window, but the door had the snow piled up against it—besides, I knew they would not lock you in a room with a window in it, as you could easily kick that out.

"Then I looks at the walls, and I see by the end of the logs sticking out that there was a room which had neither window nor door to the outside, and I said, 'That's the cage!' So I ran back to the saloon and asked my friend there if anybody had come out, and he said 'No.' I came to the conclusion that I would make a bluff of going in at the door you came out of. It was no good; a fellow stopped me and said, 'This room is private.' This made me sure you were still there, so I commenced figuring out how I could get you free, and I thought hard. The thing was to get a crowd together; and as a dog fight is no good in Skagway in the middle of the night—especially in a snowstorm—I said to myself, 'Fire!' I remembered a building I took for a wood-shed lying near your skookum house, so I just hunted it up, and after finding there was a lot of wood in it, with some hay, I set a match to it, and got out, taking an axe with me. In five minutes it was going fine, and I yelled 'Fire! fire! fire!' Then it was all easy. I struck the logs with the axe, and yelled there was somebody in there who would get burned; I busted in the door to the outer room, and then the one into where you were locked up—the other fellows following. I don't know what the other fellows around the fire will think you were doing in there; but I guess they won't ask any questions. Fellows don't ask questions in Soapy's town; it doesn't do them much good if they do."

If this is a true story it did not take place in Jeff Smith's Parlor as it was far too small for table games and there was only one small office room most likely used as Soapy's office and possibly as a room for rigged poker games. There is no evidence that locking men in rooms was a tactic used by the Soap Gang, or anyone in Skagway.

Clifton Sparks
August 3, 2011

Clifton Sparks: pages 79, 250-259, 263, 268, 289, 291-92, 502, 507, 529.

MAY 20
1774: Britain's Parliament passes the Coercive Acts to punish the American colonists for their increasingly anti-British behavior. 
1775: North Carolina becomes the first colony to declare its independence. 
1830: The fountain pen is patented by H. D. Hyde. 
1861: North Carolina becomes the eleventh state to secede from the Union. 
1861: The capitol of the Confederacy is moved from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond, Virginia. 
1862: The Homestead Act allowing citizens or intended citizens over 21 to claim 160 surveyed government acres after living on them for five years is signed by President Lincoln. 
1869: The 5th Cavalry, including William F. Cody, return to Fort McPherson, Nebraska after fighting Tall Bull (Indian) and his men. 
1874: Levi Strauss begins marketing blue jeans with copper rivets. 
1875: The International Bureau of Weights and Measures is established. 
1894: Outlaw Doolin gang robs the bank in Southwest City, Missouri. Clifton, Doolin, and Bill Dalton shoot their way out of town. They shoot and kill former Missouri state auditor, J. C. Seaborn as he tries to stop the bandits. Doolin is seriously wounded in the head. 
1898: Rev. John Sinclair arrives in Skagway. He takes some of the most famous photographs of Soapy. 
1899: Jacob German of New York City is the first driver to be arrested for speeding. The posted speed limit is 12 miles per hour. 
1902: The U.S. military occupation of Cuba ends when Cuba gains its independence from Spain.

May 16, 2012

War of 1812: 200th anniversary

id you know it is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812? Yeah, I didn't know either. What do we know about this war? Ok, I don't know that answer either, but I do know that Soapy Smith's grandfather, Dr. Ira Ellis Smith fought in that war so I found this short video which will explain the importance of this anniversary...sort of.

Ira Ellis Smith
August 18, 2011
August 16, 2011
June 26, 2010
September 10, 2009

Ira Ellis Smith: pages 9, 11, 19-20, 594.

MAY 16
1866: The U.S. Congress authorizes the first 5-cent piece to be minted. 
1868: President Andrew Johnson is acquitted by one vote during a Senate impeachment. 
1870: Ten workers on the Kansas Pacific Railroad are killed by Indians in Colorado Territory. 
1888: The first demonstration of recording on a flat disc is demonstrated by Emile Berliner. 
1888: The capitol of Texas is dedicated in Austin. 
1900: Lawman Jesse Tyler leads a posse after cattle rustlers near Thompson, Utah. Believing that they were riding into an Indian camp, Tyler and deputy Sam Jenkins dismount and approach the camp, but the occupants turn out to be a band of rustlers led by Harvey Logan of the Wild Bunch. The lawmen realizing the mistake try to escape but both are shot and killed by Logan. The rest of the posse flees the scene, returning for the bodies of Tyler and Jenkins 2 days later.

May 15, 2012

Is this Soapy Smith?

Soapy Smith?
price: $500

ack on April 28, 2012 I posted the above portrait by artist Bill Cummings of Soapy Smith and mentioned that there was one minor problem with it and asked if anyone knew what it was? No one responded so I will give the answer.

It's not Soapy Smith...

The artist apparently found one of the sources that list Soap Gang member, William Saportas, in the photograph below, as being Soapy, but it was taken AFTER Soapy had died in the shootout on Juneau Wharf. Yes, Saportas can be confused with looking sort of like Soapy but no contemporary accounts list him as so.

Nine members of the Soap Gang await deportation from Skagway

Even historian Dr. Jane Haigh nearly made this mistake, publishing the face of Saportas on the cover of her book, stating that it was Soapy. Lucky for her I brought this to her attention before it was published but Dr. Haigh could not let go of the similarity, so she wrote in her book in the caption under the photo above that Saportas was "pretending to be Soapy." However, other photographs of Saportas look pretty much like the one above so her conclusion is incorrect.

William Saportas
April 28, 2012
July 2, 2011
May 7, 2011 
April 1, 2010

William Saportas: pages 89, 450, 471-75, 506-07, 516, 532, 566, 572-74, 590.

MAY 15
1602: Cape Cod is discovered by Bartholomew Gosnold. 
1862: The U.S. Congress creates the Department of Agriculture. 
1863: Osage Indian warriors kill Confederate officers at Drum Creek, Kansas. 
1872: The Sante Fe Railroad reaches Wichita, Kansas.
1872: Buffalo Bill Cody tracks and kills four Indians who committed depredations near North Platte, Nebraska. 
1876: “Snowshoe Thompson,” the famed skiing mail carrier of the High Sierras dies. He is Norwegian born, Jon Torsteinson who changed his name to John Thompson and became famous in 1856 when he delivered mail between Placerville, California and Carson City, Nevada on skis in three days carrying a sixty pound sack of mail. He continued the same route for 20-years. 
1880: Three settlers are killed by Apache Indians at Kelly's Ranch, New Mexico Territory. 1882: Doc Holliday is arrested in Denver, Colorado at the request of an Arizona peace officer and charged with the murder of Florentine Cruz. The Governor of Colorado refuses to extradite Holliday to Arizona.
1883: With permission from the Mexican government U.S. troops attack Chato's camp, Sierra Madres, Mexico. 
1895: Soapy and Bascomb are arraigned and charged with assault to kill, John Hughes. Upset, Soapy goes drinking in Denver saloons with gunman and Soap Gang member, Joe Palmer. They were, in the words of the Times, “as jolly as a pair of pirates.” Soapy is arrested twice that day for carrying guns.

May 13, 2012

Soapy Smith and the Spanish-American War.

Would he have stayed?

MAY 13
1607: Jamestown, Virginia, is settled as a colony of England.
1648: Margaret Jones of Plymouth was found guilty of witchcraft and is sentenced to be hanged by the neck.
1821: The first practical printing press is patented in the U.S. by Samuel Rust.
1846: The U.S. declares that war already existed with Mexico.
1848: Louis C. Blonger, Soapy’s successor in Denver, is born.
1885: First mention of the alias “Soapy” Smith in a newspaper.
1854: The first big American billiards match is held at Malcolm Hall in Syracuse, NY.
1864: The Battle of Resaca commences as Union General Sherman fights towards Atlanta during the American Civil War.
1865: Sergeant Crocker of an all-black Union unit dies at White's Ranch, Texas and is the last recorded death of the Civil War.
1867: Confederate President Jefferson Davis becomes a free man after spending two years in prison for his role in the American Civil War.
1870: An Indian attack on a Kansas Pacific Railroad crew near the town of Kit Carson, Colorado Territory kills eleven and wounds nineteen. 500 head of livestock are driven away.
1873: Ludwig M. Wolf patented the sewing machine lamp holder.
1877: Gunman Wild Bill Longley is arrested in Louisiana and taken to Giddings, Texas where he is tried and sentenced to hang for the murder of Roland Lay.
1880: Thomas Edison tests his experimental electric railway in Menlo Park.
1898: Wild Bunch member, Joe Walker, is killed with another man by a posse seeking cattle rustlers near Thompson, Utah. When the two bodies are brought in, the town of Thompson turns out to cheer, thinking that the other man was Butch Cassidy, but the corpse was that of Johnny Herring, an outlaw who bore resemblance to Butch.

May 11, 2012

Soapy Smith and the Johnstown Flood of 1889.

The Great Conemaugh Valley Disaster
Flood and Fire at Johnstown, Pa.
(subtitled) Hundreds Roasted Alive at the Railroad Bridge
Published by Kurz and Allison Art Publishers, 1890
(Click image to enlarge)

he Johnstown Flood of 1889 has been the subject of many books, films, songs, a national park, a museum, and even made into an episode of a 1947 Mighty Mouse cartoon, the difference being one with a happy ending. The real event did not have a cartoon ending. At the time the flood was responsible for the largest American civilian death toll ever recorded.

The South Fork dam, 14 miles from Johnstown, Pennsylvania fell into disrepair and recent heavy rains filled the reservoir far higher than the engineers who built the dam had ever intended. Warnings were sent by telegraph but they were ignored. On Friday, May 31, 1889 the water began overflowing and then the dam suddenly collapsed, unleashing 20,000,000 tons of water into the Conemaugh River Valley, destroying everything in its path. Before the flood hit East Conemaugh, train engineer John Hess tried to warn the residents by tying his train whistle down and racing to town ahead of the wave but there was not enough time to get to safety for many. When the water reached the town, the wave was cresting nearly 40 feet high. 2,209 people drowned, crushed by debris, or were burned in fires caused by the blockage of debris at the Old Stone Bridge (see picture at top). Johnstown was devastated.

In the aftermath, people around the country rallied to help the survivors and later to rebuild the town. The flood provided the newly formed American Red Cross under the leadership of Clara Barton with its first test. Barton and her staff of 50 doctors and nurses arrived in Johnstown five days after the flood. 1,376 miles away in Denver, Colorado Soapy Smith read about the disaster and jumped to attention to aid those in need. The following comes from my book.

Jeff read newspapers. They gave him political weather reports, listed prospective visitors, revealed opportunities for assisting politicians with their problems, and measured “Soapy Smith’s” level of exposure to public view. At one time Jeff employed a clipping service to gather news articles about him from major newspapers around the state. Two of the last photographs taken of Jeff, one standing at the bar in his saloon in Skaguay and the other on horseback there, show him in possession of what appear to be newspapers. He was also interested in national affairs, including natural crises such as poverty, hunger, and epidemics and in man-made disasters. In these cases, he often responded by opening his pocketbook to make contributions and often encouraged his friends and others to do the same. The disastrous Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flood of May 31, 1889, was one of the worst natural disasters of its kind. After heavy rains, the 1852 dam 14 miles above the river valley town gave way and sent a 20-foot high, debris-filled wall of water roaring down the narrow valley. The catastrophe was of astonishing scale. In moments, Johnstown was completely destroyed, and over 2,000 people were dead, including over 100 entire families and nearly 400 children. The disaster was on the minds of everyone and in their conversations. Jeff and friend John Kinneavy each gave fifty dollars out of their saloon businesses to aid the victims and their families, which in contemporary dollars amounts to $1,479. The Denver Chamber of Commerce appointed a committee to solicit donations, and a list of those donating was published in the News. Of over 200 donations, 18 were for more than $50. In September 1888 Jeff gave $10, or $296 today, to a subscription being taken for yellow fever victims in Jacksonville, Florida, no small amount for victims 1,475 miles away.
Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel
page 133

Johnstown National Memorial
Johnstown Flood Museum
Wikipedia: Johnstown Flood

Johnstown Flood donation: page 133.

MAY 11
1792: The Columbia River is discovered by Captain Robert Gray. 
1858: Minnesota is admitted as the 32nd U.S. state. 
1872: Passengers on a Kansas Pacific train protest against the senseless killing of buffalo from railroad cars. 1889: Robbers unsuccessfully attempt to steal $28,000 in gold and silver in the Arizona Territory. During the attack two members of the 24th Infantry Regiment took heroic action to fend off the robbers. Sergeant Benjamin Brown and Corporal Isaiah Mays (both black soldiers) received the Congressional Medal of Honor for their bravery. Eight soldiers are wounded and eight of the attackers are arrested. 
1894: Workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company in Illinois go on strike.

May 9, 2012

Eat, gamble, drink: Soapy's little paradise in Fairbanks, Alaska

ast year at this time, May 6, 2011 I came across a picture on Google of the Soapy Smith Pull Tab store in Fairbanks. I posted searches and asked people in Fairbanks if anyone had ever heard of this place but never received a single response. As you can see I found the place. Naturally, it's next door to the Soapy Smith Pioneer Restaurant, which I already knew about. Something told me to check around the restaurant and see if the store was there and sure enough it is. Looking at the Google map, in order you can eat, go next door and gamble, and then continue on to the Mecca Bar and drink.

Colorized Smith's, circa 1867-1869.

The Jeff. R. Smith Family (1867-1869)
(l to r) Eva K., age 2-4, Emily D., age 30-32, Jefferson R., Sr., age 36-38, Jeff. R. II, age 7-9
Original photograph: Kyle Rosene Collection
Colorization by Gary Sheaf

The original photograph
(Click image to enlarge)

he final piece by Gary Sheaf is complete. He had a bit to repair in this case and he did a wonderful job at it don't you think?

I had asked Gary for a little information about himself and his hobby and here is what he had to say.

Hi Jeff

Here is the photo; I repaired the damage to it, before colourizing. I also added some carpet to fill out the image. I did some research on clothing colours for this period and I hope I have got the look right.

Annelie and Gary Sheaf

I have attached a photo of me and my Wife Annelie; I'm English and she is Welsh and we live in Swansea, Wales with our two boys Jacob (8) and Joel (just turned 1, it's been a busy week) my eldest; Josh (21) lives away. You might have detected a 'J' theme with their names! We thought it would be cute! gets confusing when we get angry with one of them! Annelie is a Drama teacher in a 'comprehensive' School for 11 to 16 year olds and I work as a Manager for Social Services delivering community mental health day services. I have trained in commercial illustration and currently enjoy oil painting sea scapes. In my younger days I lived in the US for 4 years working on ranches which fed my interest for the Old West. Learning Photo shop has sparked an interest in working with old photos, colourizing them, or indulging in a bit of fantasy (time travel) by adding myself to well known photos.

I hope you like this photo Jeff, if you would like to make any changes to it, please don't hesitate to let me know.


Don't need to change a thing Gary, it's perfect!

Note the part where Gary mentions the "J" theme in the name. Smith family members should recognize that same theme with the children of Soapy Smith's son, Jefferson Randolph Smith III. He had decided not to name a boy Jefferson Randolph Smith but named all the children with names beginning with the letter "J." Interesting to note, that the rules of genealogy insist that when there is a break in the generation of passing down a name, you are required to start over, thus when I named my son Jefferson Randolph Smith, he is starting all over thus he is the 1st or "Sr." 

Gary Sheaf's work
April 30, 2012
April 27, 2012
April 22, 2012 

1502: Christopher Columbus leaves Spain for his final trip to the Western Hemisphere. 
1754: The first newspaper cartoon in America shows a divided snake "Join or die" in The Pennsylvania Gazette
1785: Joseph Bramah patents the beer-pump handle. 
1825: The Chatham Theatre opens in New York City. It is the first gas-lit theater in the U.S. 
1879: Construction begins on Fort Assiniboine, south of Havre, Montana Territory.