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.

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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