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.

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