May 2, 2013

Is this Jeff Smith, our "Soapy?"

A fantasy piece showing Soapy Smith running the
prize package soap sell racket on a city street
(created by Jeff Smith)
(Click image to enlarge)

ne might think that a common name like Jeff Smith would be a researchers nightmare. In using the newspaper archives I do run into numerous Jeff Smith's but seemingly few criminal ones. That does make my search a little easier but none-the-less there are many instances in which I have no provenance that a Jeff Smith mentioned in a newspaper article is our Smith. I give you two examples.


Jeff and Charles Smith were fined yesterday for carrying concealed weapons, the former $25 and the latter $20.
 Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho), May 13, 1896

This first one is not really the best example but I decided to keep it in my files along with a clear note that it may not be Soapy Smith. There has been a previous clue that Soapy went to Boise several times, including July 3, 1895 when the Statesman reported a Jeff Smith being arrested, but still, the Jeff Smith mentioned may very well be another bad man of the same name. The name Charles Smith caught my eye. It is simply a guess that this could be Soapy's younger brother, Bascomb Smith, or even gang member, John Bowers, who some historians believe went by the name of Charles at times.


Alleged White Cappers Acquitted.

Special to the Kansas City Times.
Marshall, Mo., Feb. 9.—Jeff Smith, Hary [probably Harry] Hight, Hardin Baily, John Dickerson, John Harbolt and John Simms were tried today for white-capping the McGinnis brothers of this county ten nights since, but were turned loose on account of insufficient evidence. The men who did the deed were masked.
Kansas City Times, February 10, 1895

Once again I want to make sure you understand that this may not be Soapy. Times were tough for him in 1895 but would he have turned to outright masked robbery if he and the boys were desperate? Another interesting "maybe" for the files.

Soapy possibly in Boise, Idaho: April 3, 2013

"The day I stop making mistakes is the day I stop learning."
—Miley Cyrus


1776: France and Spain agree to donate arms to American rebels fighting against the British during the American Revolution.
1853: Franconi’s Hippodrome opens at Broadway and 23rd Street in New York City.
1863: Confederate General "Stonewall" Jackson is wounded by his own men in the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia. He dies 8 days later.
1865: President Andrew Johnson offers a $100,000 reward for the capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
1873: The first legal hanging takes place across from the schoolhouse in Yuma, Arizona Territory.
1875: Isaac “Hanging Judge” Parker arrives in Fort Smith, Arkansas as the new judge.
1885: Good Housekeeping magazine begins publication.
1887: Hannibal W. Goodwin applies for the patent for celluloid photographic film, which later will be used for making movies.
1890: The territory of Oklahoma is created.
1902: A Trip to the Moon, the first science fiction film is released. It was created by magician, George Melies.

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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