August 28, 2013

Gwyn Bunch on Percy Manson Smith: Money and Soap Talk

  am very happy to announce that I am back into the field of genealogy, using my Family Tree Maker from When the old computer died and I purchased my new one, I was forced to purchase the latest program of Family Tree Maker as the old one I had would no longer load (that's how they get you). In loading the new one I seeming lost about 600 names, along with a lot of information. I called but the person was not helpful. I was so distraught that I gave up adding any new information and lost the drive for genealogy.
      Recently, it was suggested that I contact again, but approaching the problem from a different angle. The plan worked. It appears one of the common problems with loading a new program, with a large family list, is that sometimes the program splits the information up into separate units. I ended up with eight separate trees. It took a little time, but I successfully combined them into one tree, relocating all of my previously "lost" information. What a relief that was!
      So, I am back. One of my first chores is to go through a year's worth of emails from Wikitree, a site for building and correcting family trees. I reintroduced myself and was surprised that most were still there and active.
      A family member, Gwyn Bunch, has been helping me with her family's information on my family tree. Gywn's grandfather, Percy Manson Smith, is a 2nd cousin, once removed, of Soapy Smith's. She sent me the following, very cool, message.

My grandfather born in 1879 wrote a poem and gave it to each of his children along with a silver dollar on Christmas of 1948. It was entitled Thoughts of Yesteryear to my Children of Today I will not try to type it all but just the ending.
"When this tired old body of mine is placed under the sod, I will be listening to hear you say 'There lies one who did his level best.' Money and Soap talk - Guess what they say - One (silver dollar) for each of you to learn what they say. I wonder what great lesson they will teach you and when it will be. If you learn before I leave to go up yonder to that home beyond, tell me and if not when we meet again I will do my best to try and explain."
I think he knew very well about his cousin named Soapy Smith but did not really want to talk about him that much to his children. All these years the family has wondered what he meant by Money and Soap talk and now because of your websites we know what he meant. Praise God. His name was Percy Manson Smith and Terry is his grandson and he is named Terry Manson Hall.


"All the chances are with the man who owns the house. I thought they might as well lose to me as to someone else, and did the best I could to accommodate them."
— “Big Ed” Chase, Denver’s gambling czar.


1609: Delaware Bay is discovered by Henry Hudson. 1774: The first American-born saint is born in New York City. Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized in 1975.
1830: The Tom Thumb is demonstrated in Baltimore, Maryland. It is the first passenger train to be built in the U.S.
1865: Fort Reno (also known as Fort Connor) in Wyoming Territory is established.
1868: Three settlers are killed by Indians in Kiowa Station, Kansas.
1872: James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok stars in the Grand Buffalo Hunt at Niagara Falls, Ontario. Native American and Mexican cowboys present a display of roping and riding in Canada's first Wild West show. The show is a financial failure.
1881: Policeman Morgan Earp is accused of being in league with “Big Ed” Burns, a bunco man and future member of the Soap Gang.
1897: Soapy Smith in Skagway, Alaska sends $1500 to his wife Mary in St. Louis, Missouri.

August 23, 2013

New information on Soapy Smith gang member, "Gambler" Joe Simmons.

Joe "Gambler Joe" Simmons?
  According to my father
  Joe Palmer (sitting) and Joe Simmons (standing)

(Click image to enlarge)

oseph Simmons' time as a friend and member of Soapy Smith's Soap Gang is short on information. As manager of the Orleans Club in Creede, Colorado, and perhaps the Tivoli Club in Denver, obviously indicates how important he was to the outfit.When he died of phenomena in 1892 Soapy took it very hard, openly weeping in public.
      The information I published in Alias Soapy Smith came from newspapers, previously published works, and a relative. In 1988 I made the acquaintance of Beth Jackson, Simmons' granddaughter. She was able to supply me with some very helpful family history, which aided in the telling of his story.
      At the start of August 2013 I received an inquiry from a genealogist named Christine, who was helping a client look up his family history, which included Joe Simmons. The client turned out to be David Jackson, Beth Jackson's son. I was saddened to learn of Beth's passing in 2002.
      Christine was very helpful in helping David find what she could about his great-grandfather Joe. They both were kind enough to share their findings with us here.
      The 1870 Census indicates that Joseph Simmons was born about 1855 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to the parents of Henry and Jalia Simmons. However, according to a document in the possession of David Jackson, and filled out by Joe's son, William, it shows Joe Simmons may have actually been born in 1850.
      Joe was one of five children, Elizabeth, William, John and James. In 1870, if the Census is correct (many times they were not) Joe was about age 15 and lived with his parents and siblings in Hazel Green, Wisconsin.
      Joe married Anna Christina Hanson sometime between 1873-1876. Anna was born about 1854, possibly in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. In 1873, at about age 19, she migrated to the United States. Joe and Anna gave birth to William Edward Simmons on February 2, 1876 in Denver, Colorado. Sometime after Joe died, March 18, 1892, Anna remarried William H. Sisk. She is listed as Anna Sisk in the 1911 city directory for Pueblo, Colorado as a seamstress. The 1930 Census indicates Anna and husband William were still married and living in Alamosa, Colorado. David Jackson stated that his mother, Beth Jackson, was born in Alamosa in the 1920s, so it can be assumed that William, son of Joe and Anna, lived there as well.

The children of William Edward Simmons
John, William, Charlie, Wilson Simmons
circa 1915
Beth Jackson collection

      In later years, son, William reported on a census document in Denver that his father had been a brewer in the mid-west. It is not known if Joe's son, William, ever learned about his father's times and adventures working with America's most famous nineteenth century confidence man and bunco boss.
      It is believed that William Edward Simmons, Joe's son, passed away in 1954.

William Edward Simmons and family
March 17, 1912
(left to right) Charlie, William Edward, William, Ester R. Simmons
1732 Pearl Street, Denver, Colorado

Beth Jackson collection


Joe Simmons
October 17, 2008
April 20, 2010
April 7, 2011
April 21, 2011

Joe Simmons: pages 33, 89, 131, 210, 214, 225-29, 273, 594.

"In my childhood I saw Soapy Smith putting on his lucrative soap act in the streets of Denver, with a gullible mob milling around his “pitch” and eagerly shoving money at him. I have no clear memory of him, but to youngsters all through the Rocky Mountain region his name was as familiar as that of Santa Claus."
— Lemuel F. Parton, New York Sun, February 15, 1935


1838: Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in Massachusetts, one of the first colleges for women, honors its first graduates.
1842: Explorer John C. Fremont carves his name in Independence Rock, Wyoming.
1858: "Ten Nights in a Barroom," a melodrama about the evils of drinking, opens in New York City at the National Theater.
1868: Three members of the 31st Infantry are killed by Indians near Fort Totten, Dakota Territory.
1868: Eight settlers are killed by Indians between Pond Creek, Kansas and Lake Station, Colorado Territory.
1873: Outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez is involved in the “Tres Pinos Massacre.” He is believed to have killed 42 men. On March 19th 1875 Vasquez is hung in San Jose, California, for the murders.
1877: Texas Ranger John Armstrong shoots and kills Jim Mann, and pistol-whips Hardin into unconsciousness, before arresting him for the murder of Deputy Sheriff Charles Webb in 1874.
1882: Two murderers are lynched from a tree in Globe, Arizona Territory.
1892: The printed streetcar transfer is patented by John Stedman.
1945: Lawman Elfego Baca dies at age 80 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

August 22, 2013

Jeff Smith's Parlor restoration part 23: Interlocking moose.

Nicole Peters works on the two interlocking moose.
Photo courtesy of KGRNHP

he following courtesy of the Skagway News, August 9, 2013.

Taxidermy specimens undergo treatment in
preparation for reinstallment in Soapy’s parlor

Itjen up to his old tricks in creation of moose battle

By Katie Emmets

     After almost 40 years, Martin Itjen’s animals will be returned to Jeff Smith’s Parlor Museum — with makeovers.
      Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park artifact conservation intern Nicole Peters spent the season preparing and stabilizing the seven stuffed animals located in the original Jeff Smith’s Parlor Museum. For three months, she treated a husky dog, a grey wolf, two winter ermine, a white-tailed deer, two bull moose and one full moose skull. While on display in the original museum, the moose skull was outfitted with electrical sockets and had light bulbs for eyeballs.
      Peters said park conservation department officials found tags on some of the animals indicating local taxidermist Percy Colton prepared all of the animals in the 1930s.
      “These were definitely some of the more uncanny objects I’ve treated in my conservation career,” Peters said with a laugh.
      Though she has never worked with stuffed animals before, she has worked with a lot of Native American artifacts containing fur. Both the animals and Native American artifacts are considered ethnographic materials, which means they give information about the specific cultures they came from.
      “The two aren’t so unrelated,” she said. “Both are dealing with fur pelts and organic materials.
      The treatment of the animals required a two-step process, which included surface cleanings and stabilizations.
      While performing the surface cleaning, Peters went through each specimen inch-by-inch, lifting up its fur and vacuuming out dirt dust and grime.
      Because Peters is familiar with the use of arsenic in the form of pesticides and insecticides for taxidermy treatment, she had to be prepared for the possibility of coming in contact with the chemical, though she wasn’t certain if it was used or not.
     “The use of pesticides and insecticides is so prevalent in the history of preservation, so when I approach organic or taxidermied specimens, I know I have to proceed with caution,” she said.
      When treating the animals, Peters wore a fitted respirator, a lab coat that was washed every day and Nitrile Gloves that are three-times more puncture resistant than rubber gloves. She also used a variable speed, highly efficient particulate air (HEPA) filtered vacuum cleaner. In order to be considered HEPA by United States Government standards, the filter must be able to remove 99.97 percent of .03 micrometer-sized particles in the air that passes through it. This filter was especially helpful to Peters because the vacuum was able to collect all loose arsenic particles that were airborne from after agitating the fur.
      Halfway through the treatment, the Alaska State Museum in Juneau allowed Peters to use its X-ray fluorescence spectrometer to test the specimens, and the tests came back positive for arsenic.
      But Peters ensured that the chemical would not harm anyone admiring the animals up close.
      “They are not off-gassing, and particles are only actively airborne if agitated,” she said. “There is no risk of museum visitors ever being harmed by them.”
      After the surface cleanings, Peters stabilized the animals by securing and repairing any loose or damaged areas.
      “The white-tailed deer didn’t have eyes, which made it unable to be exhibited,” she said. “So I sculpted eyes and installed them.”
      Each specimen took a different length of time to treat according to each one’s conservation needs, Peters said.
      Maintenance worker Si Dennis Jr. fabricated wooden housing units for each animal and when they were finished, Peters wrapped each in polyethylene sheeting and sealed them. They will be stored in the maintenance building until they are installed in Jeff Smith’s Parlor Museum in 2014.
      The original museum was started by Martin Itjen in 1935. Along with having a museum, Itjen also gave tours of Skagway in street cars.
      In a time where roadside attractions and bizarre museums were declining, Itjen brought the concept to the north, said KGRNHP Curator Samantha Richert.
      “They mostly died at the turn of the century, but we’re pretty remote up here, so it worked,” Richert said. “And there was really nothing like (the museum and Street Car tour) in the world. It was like an early Alaskan version of Disneyland.”
      Along with the diorama of animals, the museum also had animatronic figures of people that moved and lit up.
      Richert said some of the animals were missing parts of their bodies when Itjen acquired them, so he had them altered to look more realistic.
      “The story we’ve heard is that someone brought Martin Itjen the skulls of the two moose locked together and he constructed a mount to display them,” she said.
      Richert said the moose were given fake bodies and moose hides were hung over them.
      “If you look at the actual mounts, there’s a cabinet door that got sawed in half and what looks like a chunk of wall that got cut off of a gold rush building,” she said. “If he lived in today’s era, he would have used a lot of duct tape.”
     But the moose weren’t the only ones he had altered.
     Richert said the husky’s skin doesn’t hang naturally on its nose and the white-tailed deer was manipulated to look like a mule deer, as white-tailed deer don’t live in Alaska, and Itjen was going for an Alaskan scene.
     Though the deer most likely came from out of state, Richert said it’s likely the other animals were found close to Skagway.
      “I can’t really speak to what the animal population was around here 80 years ago, but my guess is that most of those animals were sourced very close by,” she said. “If not on this side of the pass then the other side of the pass, but not very far.”
      Peters finished her work on the animals last month and Richert said the park was lucky to have her as part of its team.
      “We’re really fortunate Nicole took an interest in doing this work,” she said. “When we pulled the moose out of the storage unit and it was so dirty I thought, ‘how are we going to get this clean?’ but Nicole said she really wanted to do it.”
      This is Peters’ second year as a conservation intern at KGRNHP. In 2012, she prepared and stabilized two automatons that were in the original Jeff Smith’s Parlor Museum. Though she will be attending Buffalo State’s Art Conservation program this fall for two years, she plans to return to Skagway in the winter of 2015 for more gold rush conservation.

Jeff. Smith's Parlor museum restoration

February 4, 2009 (Part 1)
February 19, 2009 (Part 2)  
March 31, 2010 (Part 3)  
August 7, 2010 (Part 4) 
February 11, 2011 (Part 5) 
April 5, 2011 (Part 6)
May 8, 2011 (Part 7)
May 17, 2011 (Part 8)
November 20, 2011 (Part 9)
March 21, 2012 (Part 10)
March 30, 2012 (Part 11)
June 20, 2012 (Part 12)
August 8, 2012 (Part 13)
August 29, 2012 (Part 14)
September 1, 2012 (Part 15)
September 26, 2012 (Part 16)
October 4, 2012 (Part 17)
December 6, 2012 (Part 18)
December 16, 2012 (Part 19)
March 11, 2013 (Part 20)
May 6, 2013 (Part 21)
May 27, 2013 (Part 22)

"Captain Jeff R. Smith, Captain Co A, 1st regiment National Guard of Alaska, recd [received] a communication directly from President McKinley yesterday, notifying him that an order had been issued to make out and forward commission for officers and enrollment of men in Co A Skaguay Guards. Capt Smith was not advised whether the services of himself or men would be required in the coming unpleasantness. We can only suggest that if the president thinks he is going to have any real warm work, a few men like Jeff Smith would be a comfort."
Daily Alaskan, April 27, 1898


1485: The War of the Roses ends with the death of England's King Richard III, killed during the Battle of Bosworth Field. Bad man Soapy Smith’s 11th great-grandfather, John Clifford, an Englishman, fought and died during the War of the Roses, at the Battle of Towton in 1461.
1762: Ann Franklin becomes the first female editor of an American newspaper when she is made editor of the Mercury of Newport in Rhode Island.
1775: The colonies are proclaimed to be in a state of rebellion by England's King George III.
1846: the United States annexes New Mexico Territory.
1851: The schooner America beats the Aurora off the English coast to win a trophy that later becomes known as the America's Cup. It is the oldest active trophy in international sport.
1865: A patent for liquid soap is received by William Sheppard.
1869: Hays City Sheriff Wild Bill Hickok shoots Bill Mulvey, a drunken ex-cavalryman shooting up the Kansas town.
1878: Sallie Chisum records in her New Mexico Territory diary, “Two candi hearts given me by William Bonney….”
1879: Vigilantes break-out two convicted murders from the Phoenix, Arizona Territory jail and lynch them in the main plaza.
1897: Soapy Smith arrives in the new camp of Skagway, Alaska for the first time.
1902: President Theodore Roosevelt is the first president to ride in an automobile.
1906: The Victor Talking Machine Company beginso manufacturing the Victrola, a hand-cranked record player.

August 20, 2013

The homes of Mary Eva Noonan, Soapy Smith's wife.

Mary's homes - Mary's photo album
Shelagh Moriarty collection
(Click image to enlarge)

wo wonderful photographs from the Shelagh Moriarty collection. A page from the photo book of Mary Eva (Noonan-Smith) Little, the wife of Soapy Smith, showing the homes she lived in.
      The bottom house is the home Mary lived in Denver with first husband, Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith. The top house is the St. Louis, Missouri home of her mother, where she and the three children lived, after Soapy attacked the editor of the Rocky Mountain News in 1889 for mentioning her and the children in the newspaper in an unkind way.
     While at Shelagh's home learning about, and photographing her collection, she surprised me with a gift of an original photograph of the Milwaukee home. It was something I was not at all expecting, and I was ever grateful. Thank you, Shelagh.  


Mary Eva (Noonan-Smith) Little
March 17, 2009
May 5, 2010
May 6, 2010
June 14, 2010
June 18, 2010
September 4, 2010
September 10, 2010

May 21, 2011 
August 1, 2011
December 25, 2011
April 12, 2012
April 27, 2012
September 14, 2012
August 9, 2013

Denver house
December 7, 2010

St. Louis house

March 9, 2010
April 11, 2010
June 9, 2010
June 14, 2010
June 18, 2010
June 25, 2010
September 19, 2010
September 28, 2010
November 28, 2010
February 1, 2011
December 25, 2011
January 17, 2012
September 4, 2012

St. Louis: pages 7, 28, 53, 60, 63, 85, 106, 108-09, 115, 139, 147, 149, 172, 281-83, 379-85, 391, 403, 406, 410, 417, 420, 425, 427-28, 436, 443, 448, 473, 495, 599, 503, 545-46, 574, 583-86.

Mary Eva (Noonan-Smith) Little: pages 7, 19, 52, 104-08, 124-25, 139, 146-47, 167, 169-72, 197, 202, 281-82, 379, 407, 410-11, 418-18, 425, 428, 436, 442-44, 448, 451, 486, 495, 498-99, 503, 543-46, 554-55, 584-87, 592, 594.

"In his own home he was Mr. Jefferson Smith, a gentleman above reproach, and to his wife and children the dearly beloved who guarded them from all harm and bountifully provided for their every want, ministering to their happiness in every possible manner. Woe to the man, woman or child who dared bring sorrow to them or allude in any way to a life other than the one they knew."
— George T. Buffum, Smith of Bear City and Other Frontier Sketches, 1906.


1812: The USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides," wins a battle against the British frigate Guerriere, east of Nova Scotia.
1848: The discovery of gold in California is reported by the New York Herald.
1854: The Grattan Massacre, the first armed confrontation between the U.S. Army and Sioux Indians takes place near Ft. Laramie in present day Wyoming as Lieutenant John Grattan, an interpreter, and 29 infantrymen arrive in the camp of Chief Conquering Bear, firing their canon killing the chief. The Sioux attack the troops, killing Grattan and all but one of his men, who escaped to the fort.
1856: Processing condensed milk is patented by Gail Borden.
1864: Colorado Territory rancher, Elbridge Gerry, rides to Denver to warn of an impending Cheyenne attack on settlements on the South Platte River. Resulting troop actions disrupt the Indians plans.
1882: Las Animas County undersheriff M. McGraw is shot and killed by Trinidad police officer George Goodell in Trinidad, Colorado after calling Goodell a pimp and his wife a prostitute in the newspaper. The fight takes place in front of Jaffa's Opera House, where Goodell puts six bullets into McGraw, who dies two days later.
1887: The last Indian battle in Colorado occurs as troop clash with Utes near Rangely, Colorado.
1895: Bad man John Wesley Hardin is shot in the back of the head while playing dice in the Acme Saloon, El Paso, Texas, by lawman John Selman. Hardin is said to have killed between 27 and 44 men.
1896: Lawman Alfred Allee is stabbed and killed in a Laredo, Texas barroom brawl.
1900: Ex-Secretary of State Caleb Powers is found guilty of conspiracy to murder gubernatorial candidate William Goebels in Frankfort, Kentucky.
1909: The first car race to be run on a brick track occurrs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

August 16, 2013

Helen Marie (Moriarty) Lynch, RIP

helagh Moriarty has informed me that Helen Marie (Moriarty) Lynch passed away on Friday August 9, 2013.
     Helen was as grandchild of Soapy Smith. Her mother, Mary Eva Smith II was Soapy's only daughter. I have very little information on Helen, so please, I encourage family members and friends of Helen to share their thoughts, memories, or life of Helen.

ADDENDUM: Since writing this post in 2013 I have joined and found more information.

  • Birth: 7 OCT 1927, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
  • Death: 9 AUG 2013 West Bend, Washington, Wisconsin, USA.
  • Married to Robert John Lynch.
  • They had seven children.
Her obituary:
Helen Marie Lynch (nee Moriarty) of West Bend, entered eternal life on August 9, 2013. She passed away at home peacefully, and in the presence of her loving family.
     Born in Milwaukee on October 7, 1927, to Michael and Mary Eva Moriarty. Helen attended St. Robert Catholic Grade School, and graduated from Holy Angels Catholic High School in Milwaukee, where she was captain of the women's basketball team. Graduated in 1945.
     Beloved wife of Robert Lynch for nearly 60 years, and cherished mother of Mary Pat (David) Roth (West Bend), Mike (Brown Deer), Katie (Mike) Kranjac of Oak Creek, Jeannie (Wess) Kry of Burlington, Dennis (Lynn) of Plymouth, MN, and Jimmy (Karen) of Whitefish Bay. Proud grandmother of Ryan Thomas, Mariana, Joey and Michael Roth, Kevin and Robin Wolk, Tyler and Jennie Kranjac, Lauren, Danny, Andrew and Jamie Kry, Sarah, Jon and Sam Lynch, and Ben Lynch.
     Nothing was more important to Helen than God and family, and she made a wonderful home for her husband and children. She will also be greatly missed by numerous nieces, nephews and friends. Preceded in death by her parents, her sister, Geraldine (Sister Mary St. Maura-BVM), and her brothers Greg, Mike, John and Paul Moriarty.
     A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, August 13 at St. Frances Cabrini (1025 S. 7th Ave.) with Father Enrique Hernandez presiding. Private interment Holy Angels Cemetery of West Bend. Visitation will be at the CHURCH ONLY on Tuesday, August 13 from 12:00 pm until time of mass (2:00 pm). In lieu of flowers, memorials to Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. (9730 W. Bluemound Rd., Suite 200, Milwaukee, WI 53226) are appreciated.
Her Find-A Grave profile.

August 13, 2013

The grave of the Mary Eva Smith's (mother and daugher): Soapy Smith's wife and daughter.

Smith-Little-Moriarty marker
Shelagh Moriarty collection

oday's photographs are from the Shelagh Moriarty collection. They show the Moriarty memorial marker above the graves of the family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They include Mary Eva (Noonan-Smith) Little (September 3, 1872 - December 11, 1947), the widow of Soapy Smith. Beside Mary is her and Soapy's daughter, Mary Eva (Smith) Moriarty (July 4, 1888-1974).
      Note that I put July 4, 1888 and not "1890" as shown on the marker in the photograph. Shelagh tells me Mary was very insistent that she was years younger than her actual birth date. Another new interesting bit of information Shelagh shared, was the fact that Mary was born in Denver, Colorado. Previously, it was believed that she had been born in St. Louis, Missouri, but if she was born in 1888 then it makes sense that she would be born in Denver as Soapy did not send wife Mary to St. Louis until after his assault on Rocky Mountain News editor, John Arkins, July 29, 1889. 

Graves of
Mary Eva (Noonan-Smith) Little and Mary Eva (Smith) Moriarty

Special thanks to Shelagh Moriarty for sharing her collection with us.

Mary Eva (Noonan-Smith) Little
March 17, 2009
May 5, 2010
May 6, 2010
June 14, 2010
June 18, 2010
September 4, 2010
September 10, 2010
May 21, 2011 August 1, 2011
December 25, 2011
April 12, 2012
April 27, 2012
September 14, 2012
August 9, 2013

Mary Eva (Smith) Moriarty
March 31, 2010 
September 4, 2010
September 10, 2010
May 21, 2011

Mary Eva (Noonan-Smith) Little: pages 7, 19, 52, 104-08, 124-25, 139, 146-47, 167, 169-72, 197, 202, 281-82, 379, 407, 410-11, 418-18, 425, 428, 436, 442-44, 448, 451, 486, 495, 498-99, 503, 543-46, 554-55, 584-87, 592, 594.

Mary Eva (Smith) Moriarty: pages 108, 167, 197, 418.

"I love telling my guests about your book because I love the book!"
― Charity Pomeroy, Skagway Alaska Street Car Tour


1784: The U.S. Legislature meets for the final time in Annapolis, Maryland.
1846: The U.S. flag is raised in Los Angeles, California.
1859: 2nd Dragoons under Lieutenant Ebenezer Gay battle Indians at Devils Gate Canyon, near Box Elder, Utah.
1860: Phoebe “Annie Oakley” Moses is born. She is famous for touring with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show as a sharp-shooter and trick shot. She was named "Little Miss Sure Shot" by Indian Chief Sitting Bull.
1866: Troops battle and kill thirty-three Indians and wound forty more at Skull Valley, Arizona Territory. One enlisted man is reported killed.
1867: Under the Gaslight, by Augustine Daly, opens in New York City.
1876: The Reciprocity Treaty between the U.S. and Hawaii is ratified.
1868: Captain Fredrick Benteen of the 7th Cavalry reports three Indians killed and ten wounded near the Saline River, Kansas.
1889: The patent for a coin-operated telephone is issued to William Gray.
1896: Montpelier, Outlaws Butch Cassidy, Bob Meeks and Elzy Lay rob the Montpelier, Idaho Bank, of $7,165.
1907: The first motorized taxicab opens for business in New York City.

August 9, 2013

A treasure trove of new photographs!

Carte de visite of
Wife of Soapy Smith
Shelagh Moriarty collection

n 1998 I met my 2nd cousin, Shelagh Moriarty, for the first time, in Skagway, Alaska during the 100th anniversary of Soapy Smith's demise. I met her again in 2012 at the ninth annual Soapy wake at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California. She brought with her a few early family photographs that very much interested me. We promised to get together as she said she had more to share with me, but it was not until August 8, 2013 that we finally kept our commitment.

      To say that it was a great visit would be an understatement. I did not know exactly what to expect, but I hoped there would be a few more early photographs of the family that she would share with us. What I found was in the neighborhood of 150 early photographs of the Smith, Little, Moriarty, and possibly the Dalton families dating from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries.
      It will take a while, but eventually, I would like to have these photographs posted for the family and friends to enjoy.

Carte de visite (rear)
Wife of Soapy Smith
Shelagh Moriarty collection

      The rear of the carte de visite shows that it was photographed in St. Louis where Mary's mother lived. Someone wrote Mammy?? in pencil. Mammy was the name the grandchildren called Mary. Someone questioned if it is Mammy, but Shelagh had other numerous photographs of Mary, and between us there is no doubt that it is her. I am guessing that this photo was taken after Soapy and Mary were married, possibly taken about 1889 when Soapy sent Mary to live with her parents, due to the "war" declared on Soapy by the Rocky Mountain News.
      Besides the amazing photographs, there were a couple more interesting discoveries during my visit.
  • FIRST, is the new information that Soapy's daughter grew up used to the finer things, nice clothing, money, etc. This tells us that Soapy obviously pampered his family with lots of money and gifts, which are hinted at in the surviving personal letters in my own collection. 
  • SECOND, is the discovery of possible photographs and identifications of several Dalton family members. It has been passed down through the generations in my family that Soapy's wife, Mary, is a relation to the Dalton outlaw gang. It will be interesting to compare notes with the current Dalton family historians.

Thank you Shelagh!


"I became acutely aware of the need to take old-timers' recollections of long past events with much salt when I attended conventions of my old WWII infantry company forty or fifty years after the war. When discussions arose about certain actions in which several of us were directly involved, none of us could agree on exactly how it went down. And these were important events, life and death matters, that one would expect to become embedded - accurately - in our memories the rest of our lives. I've taken this knowledge into my writing of western history. While often quoting the written or reported recollections of frontier veterans, I do not say or imply that what is said is gospel truth, but leave it up to the reader to accept or reject. "
— Robert DeArment


1678: Indians sell the Bronx to Jonas Bronck for 400 beads.
1790: The Columbia returns to Boston Harbor after a three-year voyage. It was the first ship to carry the American flag around the world.
1820: Robert C. Adams and James Bowe Boisseau duel with pistols over the honor for Ellen Stimpson Peniston, Soapy Smith’s grandmother. Both duelists are killed.
1831: The first steam locomotive begins its first trip between Schenectady and Albany, New York.
1842: The U.S. and Canada sign the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, solving the border dispute.
1848: Martin Van Buren is nominated for president by the Free-Soil Party in Buffalo, New York.
1854: Walden is published by Henry David Thoreau.
1859: The escalator is patented by Nathan Ames.
1865: The Civil War officially ends.
1878: One soldier is wounded in a battle with Bannock Indians in Bennett Creek, Idaho.
1887: Harry “the Sundance Kid” Longabaugh is convicted of grand larceny in Wyoming.
1892: Thomas Edison receives a patent for the two-way telegraph.
1893: Gut Holz, the first bowling magazine in the U.S. is published.
1910: A. Fisher receives a patent for the electric washing machine.

August 7, 2013

Soapy Smith's dagger?

n July 19, 2013 a dagger, said to have belonged to Soapy Smith, sold at auction for $1,600. The 10" dagger blade is nicely engraved with the words "KLONDIKE BEAR TOOTH," a very interesting, and possible nickname for the knife that a one-time owner gave it. The handle appears to be bone or antler, and is crudely inlay engraved with "Soapy." An accompanying placard indicates that the dagger came from the Antler's Bar Collection in Wasilla, Alaska. It reads,

      “Soapy” Smith was a miner in Leadville, Colo. When the big gold rush to the Klondike started in 1896, Soapy moved to Skagway. There with a few armed thugs, he took over the entire town. He ran Skagway from his bar called “Clancys.” Soapy all the towns gambling, prostitution, and elicit activities. In a dispute over control, in 1898, he and Frank Reid shot each other. They both died as a result.

      Could this have actually belonged to Soapy? Probably not. He did not put his name on any other artifact known thus far, plus it is unlikely he would have put "Soapy" on the dagger. Just like today, few smart criminals put their names on their weapons, in the accidental case in which the weapon is left behind at a crime scene. There's nothing worse than having your name where the police will easily find it. Another commonality is that he did not like to be called "Soapy." Most likely, if he would have put any name on the dagger, it would have been "Jeff," or "Jefferson Smith."

Click photo to enlarge

      I searched and found nothing about the "Antler's Bar Collection" in Wasilla, Alaska, and in fact, could not find the history of a any bar that had been named "Antler's" in that town. If the lack of provenance isn't already enough, the dagger came out of one of the most notorious old west collections in recent times, that of the defunct city museum of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where former mayor, Stephen R. Reed, had grand plans to build an old west museum, using city funds. When the city went bankrupt, it was forced to auction off the collection and it quickly became apparent, as historians gazing upon the auction catalog, realized that very few of the "historical artifacts" had reliable provenance, and that many of the items, like the law badges, were obvious fakes. Apparently ex-Mayor Reed did not know what he was doing when he purchased the antiques, thus the city was separated from it's money for a bunch of faked items manufactured by crooks. The town of Harrisburg is bankrupt, but luckily for them, that although the collection quickly gained fame for it's faked artifacts, the auction still realized a great return as gullible buyers with deep pockets purchased such infamous, and likely not authentic, items as Teddy Roosevelt’s rifle, Wyatt Earp’s revolver, George Custer's bowie knife, Doc Holiday's dentist chair, and of course, lot 5213, Soapy Smith's dagger.

Harrisburg auction, Live


"Liars when they speak the truth are not believed."
— Aristotle


1782: George Washington creates the Order of the Purple Heart.
1789: The War Department is established by Congress.
1870: Ten settlers are killed during Indian raids in Arizona Territory.
1880: The Battle of Rattlesnake Springs, Texas begins. Black soldiers of the 10th Cavalry and the 24th Infantry fight Apache Indian leader, Victorio, and 125 to 150 followers. They had left the Mescalero Reservation of New Mexico, in order to return to their former reservation. The Indians were defeated, and fled into Mexico. On October 15 Mexican forces killed Victorio.
1880: Soapy Smith registers at the Hotel Granite in Central City, Colorado.
1881: The outlaw James Gang, including Jesse and Frank James, Charley Ford, Wood and Clarence Hite, and Dick Liddell, rob a train near Blue Cut, Missouri. This is Jesse James' last robbery before his death.
1885: Five Apache Indians are killed and fifteen captured by soldiers near Sonora, Mexico.
1888: Theophilus Kannel receives a patent for the revolving door.
1891: The outlaw, Harry “The Sundance Kid” Longabaugh is arrested in Canada on a charge of animal cruelty. The charge is dismissed.
1896: Soap Gang members, John Bowers and “Red” Gibson are arrested for vagrancy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The police confiscate their tools of the trade, which include false whiskers, saps, and revolvers.