March 25, 2014

Soap Gang member "Slim Jim" Foster in 1923.

The con man Foster
Alias "Slim Jim," "The Kid," "W.E.," "J.H., and "W.F. Foster"
handcuffed to other members of the Soap Gang, aboard the steamer Cottage City
(Click image to enlarge)

oster was one of the men who led unfortunate miner John Stewart down the alley beside Jeff Smith's Parlor (Soapy Smith's saloon) in Skagway to a waiting three-card monte game, in which Foster grabbed Stewart’s gold sack and tossed it to the monte game operator, Van "Old-Man" Triplett who ran away with it.

After Soapy's death Foster was arrested with the other members of the Soap Gang and placed in a room on the second floor of the Burkhard hotel. A blood-thirsty mob was just outside clamoring for a lynching. Fearing for his life Foster escaped by crashing out a second story window where he was nearly hanged by those who caught him. At trial, he was fined $1,000 and sentenced to a year in prison with an additional six months for assaulting Stewart.

Upon returning to Denver, Foster worked for the Blonger confidence gang. He was arrested with Lou Blonger and nearly the entire Blonger gang in a huge sting operation on August 26, 1922. Prior to the raid, Foster was working with con men, J. K. Ross and Arthur Cooper in extracting $50,000 from C. H. Hubbell, who said he was arranging to hand over the entire sum when the three were arrested (Denver Post, September 6, 1922).

Foster was released on a $5,000 bond, dropped down from $11,000. He returned to the court on time, one month later (October 28, 1922) and had his trial. Upon being found guilty, Foster attempted to escape hiding in a locker. That information is included in a story on Foster published seven months later, in 1923.

Foster as he looked after 1898
Published in the Rocky Mountain News
August 27, 1922
(Click image to enlarge)

Bunko Man, Heavily Guarded, to Visit Dentist-Teeth Hurt

DENVER. May 17.—False teeth and jail victuals, according to the officials of the district attorney’s office, are the responsible for a court order issued today permitting J. H. Foster, convicted bunko man, to leave his cell at the county jail.

Foster is to start visiting a dentist to have a new plate made. He will be the first of the twenty convicted men to appear on the city’s streets since the trial.

“I’ve got to have a better fit, if I’m going to chew this jail grub,” is Foster’s complaint.

Foster, alias the Kid, according to Deputy Sheriff Jim Marshall, will be accompanied to the office of a dental specialist in the Metropolis building by an armed guard.

Special precautions are necessary, according to Marshall, because it was Foster who hid in a small closet the day the twenty bunko men were being led to their cells after the jury verdict had been returned.

Foster was missed from the line and a search was made for him immediately. He was found hiding in the locker, possibly intending to make a break for freedom before he was missed. Marshall declares that he is determined to keep close watch on the man to prevent any possible attempts at escape in the future.
Fort Collins Courier (Fort Collins, Colorado) 
May 18, 1923

I was not able to find any more information on Foster. 

"Slim Jim" Foster 
September 8, 2009
October 31, 2010

"Slim Jim" Foster: page 80, 92-93, 471, 475, 525-26, 554, 564-67, 569-70, 575-76, 579, 595.

You may lend “Soapy” Smith $100 or more at any time and be certain to get your money back with interest sooner or later, all without a scratch of the pen. [San Francisco Examiner]
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 493.


1634: Lord Baltimore creates the Catholic colony of Maryland.
1655: Catholic forces win a military victory over the colony of Maryland. The Puritans jail their Governor Stone.
1668: The first recorded horse race in America takes place.
1774: English Parliament passes the Boston Port Bill.
1776: The Continental Congress authorizes a medal for General George Washington.
1813: The frigate USS Essex flies the first U.S. flag in battle in the Pacific.
1856: A. E. Burnside patents the Burnside carbine.
1857: Frederick Laggenheim takes the first photo of a solar eclipse.
1865: The steamship General Lyon catches fire and sinks at Cape Hatteras, killing 400 people.
1865: Confederate forces capture Fort Stedman in Virginia, during the American Civil War.
1877: John Slaughter, a Cheyenne and Black Hills stagecoach driver, is shot and killed by Robert McKimie, of the outlaw Sam Bass Gang as they rob the stage outside of Deadwood, South Dakota. Also there is Sam Bass, Joel Collins, James “Frank” Towle, and either Bill Potts or James Berry. This is the first robbery of the Bass Gang. 17 months later bad man Soapy Smith would later witness the shootout that ended the life of Sam Bass in Round Rock, Texas.
1879: New Mexico Governor Lew Wallace orders the arrest of John Slaughter on suspicion of cattle rustling.
1879: The Army captures Cheyenne Indian Chief Little Wolf and 113 followers at Box Elder Creek, Montana Territory.
1886: Apache Indian Chief Geronimo meets with General Crook at Canon de los Embudos, Mexico to agree on terms of surrender.
1894: Jacob Coxey and his Army of the Commonweal begin their famous march to Washington. It is bad man Soapy Smith’s poem that is believed to be the suggestion idea for the march.
1898: The Intercollegiate Trapshooting Association is formed in New York City.
1900: The American Socialist Party is formed in Indianapolis.
1901: Cuba discloses a fear of annexation by the U.S.
1902: Irving W. Colburn patents the sheet glass drawing machine.
1905: Confederate battle flags captured during the American Civil War are returned to the Southern states where they came from.
2014: A question involving Soapy Smith appeared on the TV game show Jeopardy. The category was “con men.” No one got the correct answer about where he hid a little ball--under a shell.


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