September 17, 2012

Charles Spurgeon Moody, Skagway banker.

First Bank of Skaguay
later to become Jeff Smith's Parlor
(Click image to enlarge)

harles Spurgeon Moody: Skaguay banker.

On page 572 of Alias Soapy Smith I make the mistake of trusting an issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (08/05/1898, page 6.)  for the correct initial of Mr. Moody's middle name. They (and I) list it as "F" when in fact it is "S" for Spurgeon. This correction comes from my good friend, Skagway historian and website host of Skagway Stories, Marlene McCluskey, in a post on Mr. Moody from last year, September 13, 2011. At the time of publishing my book I had little luck finding much on Moody. I knew that he was the president of the First Bank of Skaguay, that his first bank building had been sold to Soapy Smith and the Clancy brother's, John and Frank, and that he had been accused of being in league with Soapy.

Marlene found and posted the following on Moody.

C. S. Moody was born in 1867 in Kirkwood Illinois. He came to Seattle in 1889 to work in banking. He then came to Skagway around 1897 and worked with Hawkins to purchase land for the railroad. He and some investors started the First Bank of Skagway which later went broke in 1899. He was involved in some lawsuits after that. He moved to Washington and started another bank and worked as a special deputy state bank examiner for other banks that went under in 1917.

In his book Alias Soapy Smith, Jeff Smith says that some people believed Moody to be one of Soapy's "silent partners." In Seattle, where Moody went in August of 1898, he strongly and emphatically denied the story that he was run out of Skagway by the citizens who thought he was involved with Soapy. He said "All talk detrimental to my reputation was started by my enemies..." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer 08/05/1898, p. 6)

Still, there was no money or gold from Soapy's estate when his wife Mary came to Skagway to claim his effects. Certainly there was a conspiracy to clean out his estate by some. Perhaps Moody was an innocent that was thrown in with the other clan members. In any event, he returned to Skagway for a short time until the bank went under.

Charles Moody stayed in Washington, married and had a family and died on April 28, 1956.

Source: Klondike Centenial Scrapbook, p.94 ad; Minter; Victoria Daily Colonist 6.6.99; Rootsweb posting; Washington death record.

Accused and questioned C. S. Moody, president of the First Bank of Skaguay. was believed to be one of Jeff’s “silent partners.” In Seattle Moody had plenty to say about the accusation. The full text of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer article from my book is as follows.

C. F. [sic] Moody, president of the First Bank of Skaguay, arrived in Seattle Wednesday on the steamer Oregon. Shortly after his arrival he took occasion to make a strong and emphatic denial of the widely circulated story that he was run out of Skaguay by the citizens for the reason that he was accused of concealing in the vault of the bank the dust and nuggets stolen from a Yukoner by one of “Soapy” Smith’s gang.

Mr. Moody avers that he is the victim of a conspiracy and that an attempt is being made by his enemies to ruin his reputation and drive him out of business. He declares, however, that he will continue to be a resident of Skaguay and run his bank just as long as there is such a town. To a Post-Intelligencer reporter, at the Hotel Seattle, yesterday, Mr. Moody said:

“All talk detrimental to my reputation was started by my enemies. The report that I was ordered to leave town by the committee of citizens was a lie…. It was believed that “Soapy” Smith deposited the stolen sack of gold in our bank, owing to the fact that he called at the office on the night the robbery occurred. I appeared before the committee of citizens, told my story and the gold, it will be remembered, was afterward found back of Smith’s saloon.

At the time of his death Soapy has historically been classified as "all but broke." I agree that there were times in his life when he was low on funds but I cannot believe that his reign in Skagway saw a period that he was even close to being low on funds. Skagway was Soapy's private gold mine. When Marlene posted her information on Moody, I responded with the following.

The family of Soapy Smith generally believes that he kept a nice amount of his plunder in Skagway and that the bulk of it was kept with wealthy friends in Seattle and San Francisco. Nothing is known (yet) to have been written down so those "friends" just kept the money. Soapy's wife was sent money on a regular basis and the Smith's bought land in Colorado and Missouri so Mary lived comfortably for most of her days. She swore Soapy was worth about $40,000,000 at the time of his death and that enemies in Skagway robbed the accounts and denied Soapy ever owned any land there (which he did), and the business friends in Seattle and Frisco kept what they had been given to hold. Even if Mary was exaggerating the amount it is probable that Soapy kept large amounts of money in safes outside of Skagway. I doubt there were enough safes in Skagway to hold the cash and gold he was taking in.

Dosen't anyone find it sort of odd that one of the greatest con men in history was involved in the greatest gold rush in history, and yet died supposedly broke?

First Bank of Skaguay
November 30, 2008
October 26, 2009
November 2, 2009

Charles Spurgeon Moody: page 572.

"There was never a better manipulator of the shell game, and Smith could draw a gun as handily as he could deal four aces from the bottom of the deck."
―Detective Sam Howe, Denver police department, Denver Post 11/15/1914, p. 10.


1778: The United States signs its first treaty with Native American Indians, the Delaware Nation.
1787: The Constitution of the United States is signed by delegates at the Constitutional Convention.
1796: U.S. President George Washington's Farewell Address is read before the U.S. Congress.
1862: The Civil War Battle of Antietam takes place, during which more than 23,000 men are killed, wounded, or missing. The Confederate advance is repelled.
1864: The first bank in Montana Territory opens in Virginia City.
1864: John Dolan, accused of various crimes, including theft of $700, is hung by vigilantes in Virginia City, Montana Territory.
1868: The Battle of Beecher Island is fought in Northwest Kansas/Eastern Colorado. Col. George Forsyth and 50 volunteers on Arikaree Creek, west of Kansas' northwest corner are surrounded by a large band of Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Sioux Indians. Forsyth and his men succeed in repulsing Indian charges due to their rapid fire seven-shot Spencer rifles, Forsyth's volunteers are able to kill or wound many of the Indian attackers, including the war chief Roman Nose but are in need of rescue and medical attention. Two of his men snuck through Indian camps to go for help, which comes eight days later, from the 10th Cavalry of “Buffalo Soldiers.”
1872: Phillip W. Pratt patents the sprinkler system.
1879: Two settlers are killed in an Indian raid on Black Range, New Mexico Territory.
1882: Charles Bowles, alias “Black Bart,” robs the Yreka-Redding stage 14 miles outside of Redding California.
1884: The Haskell Institute, which provides vocational training for Indians, is dedicated in Lawrence, Kansas. Twenty-two Pawnee children are enrolled the first day. Within three days eight Cheyenne chiefs enroll another 80 children.

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