October 25, 2014

Did Soapy Smith donate money to the Union Church?

Skagway, Alaska January 1898
Reverend John Dickey (left)
(Click image to enlarge)


      The photograph above shows the Union Church, with Reverend Robert M. Dickey (far left) and Reverend Grant (next to Dickey) preparing to head into the Klondike, January 1898. The photo was taken by photographer Eric A. Hegg.
      We know by his recorded history that Soapy was very generous with his money when it came to charity and civic projects. Although there are various accounts that Soapy donated funds towards the construction of Skagway's first church, there is no provenance. One big favorable piece of information is that the church was created as a non-denominational church, and these were exactly the ones Soapy is known to have preferred, as they did the most to aid the poor, not caring which denomination the poor catered too. The probable reason there is no proof of Soapy's donation is that there was likely no hoopla made over it. In those early days of Skagway camp, Soapy did not announce who he was. Even when arrested in Juneau, he did so under the name John Rudolph, as he no doubt wished his nefarious activities and criminal record of Colorado, to stay in Colorado, not following him to Alaska. At the time, few knew who he was, and he preferred to keep it that way for as long as he could.
      Dickey is well-known in Alaska and Canadian history for the churches he built. If you would like to learn more about this fascinating old west man of the cloth, you will enjoy Art Petersen's book Gold Fever: A Narrative of the Great Klondike Gold Rush, 1897-1899, The Reverend R. M. Dickey. You can find the book at KlondikeResearch.com

Photograph courtesy of the University of Washington.


(be sure to scroll down after clicking the link)
Rev. Robert Dickey

Rev. Robert Dickey: pages 13, 451-60, 462-63, 513-14, 580.

You see, nobody would touch Soapy after he was shot. … They were just scared to touch him. This woman came down … and she offered one hundred dollars a piece if they’d carry him off, and they did. They took him down to the morgue. Cost her four hundred bucks according to the story…. That was the story that went around. I don’t know how much they got.
— Royal Pullen
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 537.


1812: The frigate United States captures the British vessel Macedonian during the War of 1812.
1853: Paiute Indians attack and kill U.S. Army Captain John W. Gunnison and 7 other men in Utah, Territory. The men and 37 soldiers were a part of a transcontinental railroad survey near Sevier Lake, Utah.
1860: Adventurer Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton is born in Hartford, Connecticut.
1864: The Battle at Mine Creek takes place. The only major battle fought in Kansas occurs at Mine Creek in Linn County, Kansas. The Union Army defeats the Confederate Army, ending the threat of a Confederate takeover in Kansas.
1870: The first U.S. trademark is given. The recipient is the Averill Chemical Paint Company of New York City.
1873: A detachment of Sixth Cavalry from the Indian Territory attack a party of Indian raiders near Little Cabin Creek, Texas, recovering 70 stolen horses and 200 heads of cattle.
1877: Famed Lincoln County War combatant, Dick Brewer, and posse, catch up with Tunstall's stolen cattle in New Mexico Territory, 10 miles from the Texas border.
1878: Cheyenne Indian Chief Dull Knife and 150 of his tribe reach Fort Robinson accompanied by 75 soldiers. The soldiers provide the Indians food, medicine, and blankets.
1881: In the early morning hours, Tombstone, Arizona Territory residents John “Doc” Holliday and Ike Clanton spew threats at one another while in the Alhambra saloon. The following day both face one another in the famed gunfight behind the OK Corral.
1886: the Texas State Fair opens on a section of John Cole's farm in north Dallas. A rival organization, the Dallas Exposition, opens its first fair the following day. Both fairs are successful and eventually merge to form the Texas State Fair and Dallas Exposition, which eventually becomes the State Fair of Texas.
1891: Jacob Walzer, of the "Lost Dutchman Mine" dies without revealing the secret location. People have been hunting for the mine ever since.
1921: Bat Masterson, famed lawman and gambling figure, dies at his desk while writing a column for the Morning Telegraph where he was sports editor in New York City, New York. Masterson was a good friend of Soapy Smith.

October 21, 2014

Skagway's first train.

First locomotive in Skagway
and all of Alaska!
(Click image to enlarge)

July 20, 1898

      It was railroad employee Jesse Murphy who put the final bullet into Soapy Smith's body that sent him to his final resting place, wherever that may be. Twelve days later, July 20, 1898, the White Pass and Yukon Railway ran their locomotive engine up Broadway for the first time.

First passenger cars in Skagway
and all of Alaska!
 (Click image to enlarge)

      No 2 was not only Skagway's first train, but Alaska's. The engine was a small 2-6-0 built in 1881 by Brooks Mogul and purchased by the WP and YR in 1898. It was the railroad's No. 2 until it was renumbered "52" in 1900. The locomotive is restored and on exhibit in Skagway.

First passenger train to White Pass summit
February 20, 1899
 (Click image to enlarge)

On September 10, 1898 the first passenger cars made their way out of Skagway. Five months later the first passenger train brought miners to the White Pass summit and the Canadian border.

Photos courtesy of the University of Washington.


Reid carted an old Smith and Wesson six-shooter, an ancient gun he had used in the rip-roaring days of the west and which he considered the best gun in Skagway. He said it never failed him but its failure finally cost his life.
—Matthew M. Sundeen
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 533.


1797: the U.S. Navy frigate Constitution is launched in Boston harbor. During the War of 1812 it is given the nickname of "Old Ironsides" when people witness a cannon ball bouncing off its side.
1849: The first recorded tattooed man, James F. O’Connell, is put on exhibition at the Franklin Theatre in New York City.
1860: William F. "Billy the Kid" Claiborne is born in Yazoo county, Mississippi.
1866: Construction is completed on Ft. Phil Kearny in Wyoming Territory.
1867: The Medicine Lodge (Kansas) Talks take place. Leaders of the Kiowa, Comanche and Kiowa-Apache Indian tribes sign the peace treaty. Comanche Chief Quanah Parker refuses to accept the treaty terms.
1871: “Coal Oil” Jimmy and 2 other men rob a stagecoach near Trinidad, Colorado Territory.
1872: A penitentiary opens in Laramie, Wyoming Territory.
1873: George A. Custer's command arrives in Lincoln, Dakota Territory.
1876: Chief Sitting Bull's camp on the Big Dry River, Montana Territory is attack by Colonel Nelson Miles. 5 Indians are killed and 2 soldiers are wounded.
1878: “Billy the Kid” and 4 accomplices steal 8 horses from the Grzelachowski ranch in New Mexico Territory.
1879: Thomas Edison invents the electric incandescent lamp. It stayed lit for 13-1/2 hours before it burnt out.
1889: A Butte, Montana newspaper reports that a funeral procession became disoriented in thick smelter smoke and somehow ended up in the Centennial Brewery.
1889: William Alexander is convicted of murdering his business partner, David Steadman in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. He is spared from the sentence of hanging by Isaac Parker, ironically given the moniker of "the Hanging Judge."

October 20, 2014

Two photos of the Soap Gang round up in front of city hall, Skagway, Alaska.

(Click image to enlarge)

Skagway, Alaska, July 9, 1898

      Two photographs taken by the photographers Webster and Stevens, within minutes of one another, in front of the Skagway city hall where members of the Soap Gang were being held after their capture the day after bad man Soapy Smith met his demise on the Juneau Company Wharf in a shootout with the vigilante Committee of 101. Three armed vigilantes or deputy U.S. Marshals can be seen in the door way blocking the entrance. Some of the more radical vigilantes outside, seek to obtain custody of the prisoners to serve their own brand of justice.

Photos courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry, Seattle, Washington.


The criminal element had the advantage of being thoroughly organized and armed, and skillfully led by a man named “Soapy” Smith, who was the uncrowned King of Skaguay. He was not a constitutional monarch, but his word was all the law there was. [Thus,] the criminal element … had things all their own way, until the railroad builders began to oppose them on behalf of decency and order, and to form a nucleus round which the law-abiding element could rally.
— Samuel H. Graves
president of the White Pass and Yukon Railway
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 524.


1774: The Continental Congress passes a proclamation that citizens "discountenance and discourage all horse racing and all kinds of gaming, cock fighting, exhibitions of shows, plays and other expensive diversions and entertainment."
1803: The U.S. Senate approves the Louisiana Purchase.
1818: The U.S. and Great Britain establish the 49th parallel boundary between the U.S. and Canada.
1870: The town site of Phoenix, Arizona Territory is established.
1871: Bad man “Coal Oil” Jimmy and two others rob a stage near Vermeho, New Mexico Territory.
1873: Phineus. T. Barnum opens his Hippodrome in New York City.
1877: Dick Brewer, Charles Bowdre, and Doc Skurlock arrive in Las Cruces, New Mexico Territory with arrest warrants for Jesse Evans and his gang.
1880: Charles Earl “Black Bart” Bowles holds up the Redding, California-Roseburg, Oregon stage 1 mile from the Oregon state line. At the conclusion of the robbery he leaves behind an unusual calling card: a poem.
1889: Oil is discovered in Douglas, Wyoming.
1890: General Nelson Miles recommends that the U.S. government turn its abandoned forts and military posts into schools or reservations.
1892: The city of Chicago dedicates the World's Columbian Exposition. Soapy Smith takes his wife in October 1893.
1894: Crawford “Cherokee Bill” Goldsby and his Cook Gang, rob a train north of Wagoner, Oklahoma. The train is crashed into a line of empty boxcars, where it is riddled with bullets. All of the passengers are robbed, including 2 U.S. marshals and 2 railroad security officers.
1903: A Joint Commission made up of Great Britain and the U.S. rules in favor of the U.S. concerning a dispute over the boundary line between Canada and the District of Alaska. The U.S. legally gains the ports along the coast of southeast Alaska that it already possessed.

October 17, 2014

Doc Holiday's "You're a daisy" comment, and Soapy Smith.

(Click image to enlarge)

ou're a daisy."

      One of Doc Holiday's (famed gunfighter dentist) famous quotes was the "you're a daisy" comment he made during the gunfight near the OK Corral. Ever since the film, Tombstone made use of the phrase, a lot of speculation regarding what it means, etc., has been discussed by many. Most do not know that con man Soapy Smith also used the expression, having it published in the news.
      The following comes from my book, ALIAS SOAPY SMITH: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A SCOUNDREL, page 265-66.

"Any politician could recognize the advantage of having Jeff work for his side, or of not having Jeff work against him. Such a one was Lafayette Pence. 'Lafe,' as he was known, had been the prosecuting attorney for Arapahoe County during the 1889 election fraud case. Jeff must have been impressed with his work because in 1890 he hired him for a criminal case. Now Lafe was a Populist Party candidate for Congress, and he wanted Jeff not to work against him. The Populist party platform, however, called for political and social reforms that vastly differed from Jeff’s views on how the political machine should be run. If Jeff did do anything regarding Pence’s campaign, it would be to help him lose. So Jeff refused Lafe’s persistent entreaties to discuss the coming election. But Pence would not give up.
      In August 1894, the DENVER MERCURY, a Republican mouthpiece, looked back to the day before the 1892 election to illustrate Pence tenacity. He was in his horse-drawn buggy when he saw Jeff in his coming the other way.
      To try and follow Jeff was useless, and there was only one thing to do—get by his side and stay there. This Lafe did. He deliberately jumped from his own buggy and at once clambered in the back end of Jeff’s carriage and announced his intention of staying there.
      'Get out, Pence,' said Jeff. 'I’ve got business on hand.'
      'So have I,' responded Lafe.
      'But you are not my kind of people…. I’m against you. Get out.'
      'See here, Jeff,' responded Lafe, 'I’m dead on to you. You are going to come after me with some of those slick tricks of yours and I’m afraid of you.'
      'Slick tricks nothing. Get out!' demanded Jeff.
      'I won’t do it!' said Lafe. 'You can’t lose me. I’ll stay in this buggy…!'
     'I’ll fix you!' said Jeff between his teeth, and suiting the action to the word he whipped his horse into a run, turned corners so quick that the buggy ran on one wheel, but still Lafe clung to the back end like a major.
      Finally Jeff stopped when he saw it was no use and turning to Lafe said: 'Lafe, you are a daisy, ain’t you?'
      'That’s what I am,' answered Lafe.
     'A dead wise fowl,' said Jeff.
      'Correct!' responded Lafe.
      'Suppose I get out and walk?' inquired Jeff.
      'I’ll follow you,' replied Lafe.
      'See here, Lafe,' insisted Jeff, 'you are a game fish, but you’re on the wrong side. I’ve got to help beat you.'
      'Jeff,' said Lafe, looking seriously, 'I’m going to go to Congress, and if I lose sight of you to-day I’m a goner. Now you can adopt any measure you please, I’m with you. I’ll never let you lose me this day if I die trying to keep up.'
      Do what he would Jeff could not shake him off, and after the polls closed and Lafe had swept the field in spite of all that could be done, Jeff said to him: 'Lafe, you are the gamest bird I ever saw, and if you didn’t deserve that election I don’t know of any Populist who did.'
     Col. Smith, in spite of himself, looks pale since Lafe’s return, and if he gets another nomination this year [1894] Jeff swears he will either disguise himself by shaving … or go and hide out where Lafe can’t find him."

      The two men actually became friends, writing back and forth when Lafe became a congressman. In June 1894 Soapy wrote Lafe that he would support him if he would consider running for Governor of Colorado. Lafe declined the offer.


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.


1777: American troops defeat British forces in Saratoga, New York, in the turning point of the American Revolution.
1835: The Texas Rangers are established as an organization with the primary duty of suppressing violent Indians and the rerouting of Mexican marauders back to Mexico.
1858: Boulder, Colorado Territory is founded.
1862: Thirteen buildings are destroyed by fire and three residents are killed when Quantrill's Raiders strike Johnson County, Kansas. They then steal wagons from teamsters a few miles south of Shawnee.
1864: The Sisters of Providence open an Indian boarding school at St. Ignatius Mission, Montana Territory.
1865: Kansas representatives for Apache, Kiowa, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians sign a treaty with U.S. Commissioners.
1877: Brigadier General Alfred Terry meets with Sitting Bull in Canada to discuss the Chief’s return to the U.S.
1881: It is reported that rustlers shoot up Gayleville, Arizona Territory.
1888: National Geographic Magazine is published.

October 16, 2014

Soapy Smith's first grave marker, 1898-1910

circa 1898-1910
(Note the three American flags)
Courtesy of University of Washington
(Click image to enlarge)


      At top is a photograph of Soapy Smith's first grave marker. Note the three American flags on his grave. Soapy was very patriotic, so it is possible that they were placed there by a friend. He had five known markers. I own the second one, but the first one is not believed to have remained on the grave for very long, as there are not many photos of it, and none of the known photographs show much wear, damage, or graffiti, as the second marker shows in photographs of it. That fact may mean the marker did not survive very long. The first oddity to me, is the fancy curved lettering. Soapy died pretty much a hated man in Skagway 1898. In fact, his grave was dug just outside of the cemetery grounds, out of respect to the others buried there. Those who liked him, or were loyal associates and friends, were forced to hide their feelings, lest they be accused of being in league with the confidence man/crime boss and forced to leave town. Yet, his marker is nicer than many of the others seen in the cemetery in that period, which may possibly be the result of such a short survival life for the first marker.
      The photograph was taken by an unknown photographer, probably an early tourist, sometime between 1898-1910. It is not known when this marker was taken down, removed, or destroyed. Soapy's second marker was ripped out of the ground in 1919 during a major flood in the cemetery, and placed in the Harriet Pullen House (hotel) 'museum.' It had many years of people carving their names and graffiti onto it so it can be assumed that it remained over the grave for a number of years prior to the 1919 flood. Guessing, that if it survived on the grave for ten-years, then the first marker was removed about 1907? Again, the fact that there are very few photos of the first marker, and none of those show wear or damage, indicate that it probably came off of the grave pretty early. Personally, I am guessing about 1901 at the latest.
      I made mention of the 1919 flood. This also washed away Soapy grave! If you visit Soapy's grave today, you will see a reproduction of the second grave marker planted in the ground. I had the reproduction made, as the marker on the grave at the time was a horrid looking, rusting metal marker. If you face the marker and turn your head to the right, you will see a large gully. It is within that gully where Soapy's original grave was located.
      Click HERE for more on all five of Soapy's grave markers.
Photo courtesy of the University of Washington


It is true that if you go up against his game you will certainly lose your money, but it is a process of painless extraction. I may as well acknowledge an imperfect sympathy for those who let themselves be swindled in the persuasion that they have themselves a sure thing.  [San Francisco Examiner]
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 493.


1701: The Collegiate School is founded in Killingworth, Connecticut. The school moved to New Haven in 1745 and changed its name to Yale College.
1829: The Tremont Hotel, considered the first modern hotel in the U.S., opens in Boston, Massachusetts. 170 rooms rented for $2 each per day, which included four meals.
1859: Violent abolitionist John Brown leads a raid on Harper's Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia).
1869: A hotel in Boston became the first in the U.S. to install indoor plumbing.
1881: Citizens of Phoenix, Arizona, Territory demand that Apache Indians in the area be removed or put to death.
1884: Armed with a Winchester rifle, Marshal Bill Tilghman forces a group of drunk and disorderly cowboys out of Dodge City, Kansas.
1890: The Indian, Kicking Bear, is escorted off the Standing Rock Agency in South Dakota by the U.S. Army.

October 15, 2014

Broadway and Bond (Fourth) Street in Skagway, Alaska, early June 1898.

Broadway and Fourth Streets
Skagway, Alaska
June 1898
(Click image to enlarge)

kagway, Alaska, June 1898.

Broadway and Bond (renamed Fourth) street, one month before the demise of the town's underworld boss "Soapy" Smith, during the Klondike gold rush. Not many people know of Alaska as being 'western history,' but towns there equaled those of their western state peers in roughness and violence.

Courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry, Seattle


I beg leave to state that I have no gang, and that I have not been ordered out of Skaguay, or any other place, and that I expect to live here as long as I see fit to. I have taken the side of law and order here time and time again, and all reports like the one enclosed are base falsehoods. I helped a lot of citizens stop a murderous mob from hanging a man that no one knew whether guilty or not, and thereby caused the dislike of some of the members of the murderous outfit. I acknowledge I have been in the saloon and gambling business for a number of years, and when all games and saloons were placed under strict police surveillance. And I have never had any trouble in my place of business; was never convicted of any crime in my life, and don’t think that I am being treated right. ...

Respectfully yours,
Called “SOAPY.” 

—Alias Soapy Smith, p. 491.


1860: 11-year-old Grace Bedell, writes to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, stating that he would look better if he were to grow a beard.
1879: Bandits rob a train in Las Vegas, New Mexico Territory of $2,000 in bills and time checks.
1880: The day after their victory over Victorio's Apache Indians, the Mexican militias are cheered in the streets of Chihuahua City, Mexico, as they parade waving 28 scalps.
1883: The U.S. Supreme Court blocks part of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 which allowed for individuals and businesses to discriminate based on race.
1892: The U.S. government announces that land in western Montana is open for settlement. The 1.8 million acres were bought from the Crow Indians for 50 cents per acre.
1892: Soap Gang member, Jeff Dunbar, tries to extort money from a prostitute named Flossie Leigh, at the Soapy Smith’s Tivoli Club in Denver, Colorado. When Leigh refuses to pay up, Dunbar strikes her upon the head several times with his pistol.

October 14, 2014

Juneau Company Wharf, Skagway, Alaska 1898-1899.

(Click image to enlarge)

kagway, Alaska
Juneau Company Wharf

      I came across some interesting wharf photographs from the University of Washington archives. The top photograph was taken after May 1898 by photographer H. C. Barley. He titled it Skaguay Alaska 1898. Note the original spelling for Skagway, with a "u". It was the U.S. postmaster who decided on his own, that Skaguay should be spelled Skagway, changing the "u" to a "w." Although the change was immediate, in regards to the post office, many residents refused to change over, and the Skaguay spelling can be found on documents, postcards, photographs, and letters, into the early 1900s.


In May 1898 the White Pass and Yukon Railway tracks were being laid. Note the rails in the above photograph, going out to the wharves. Everyday, high-tide covered the rails (see photograph below).

Photograph taken in 1899 showing high tide.

 Photographs courtesy of the University of Washington, digital archives.


The following link will open a new window for additional research. Remember to scroll.
Juneau Company Wharf

Everything is orderly now, but there is a character there now by the sobriquet ‘Soapy Smith’ and he seems to have the gambling element completely under his control.
—Alaska Governor John G. Brady
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 523.


1865: The stagecoach to Helena, Montana Territory is established.
1865: Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians sign a treaty with U.S. Commissioners at a camp on the Little Arkansas River, Kansas. None of the parties of the treaty abide by it.
1879: Thomas Edison signs an agreement with Jose D. Husbands for the sale of Edison telephones in Chile.
1880: Apache Indian chief Victorio and twenty-eight of his men are killed in Mexico during a battle with Mexican troops lead by Colonel Joaquin Terrazas in the Tres Castillo, Mexico. Earlier in the summer Victorio and his band had been chased out of the Candelarias by two thousand U.S. troops along with a hundred Texas Rangers.
1882: Arizona bad man Johnny Ringo, is found dead in Turkey Creek Canyon, Arizona Territory. It is reported as a suicide. Some said he was murdered.
1887: Thomas Edison and George E. Gouraud reach an agreement for the international marketing rights for the phonograph.
1889: A Wyoming grand jury fails to indict anyone for the slaying of rustlers Jim Averill and Ella Watson alias “Cattle Kate.”
1890: Future U.S. President, Dwight David Eisenhower is born in Denison, Texas.

Town of Dyea, Alaska, 1897

(Click image to enlarge)

yea, Alaska 1897 covered in a layer of campfire and fireplace smoke, was located five miles from Skagway where Soapy Smith went. Dyea was founded first but the docking for ships was too unmanageable and Dyea died out, along with much of its early history. I found this photograph online at the University of Washington. The original is very poor in visibility, so I took the liberty of using photoshop to "clean" it up.

      Years ago, while researching for my Soapy book (Alias Soapy Smith), I came across the name Tom Cady as being Dyea's underworld boss. Up until my book was published, several historians gave Cady's name as proof that Soapy probably had no control in Dyea, but none of them had connected Cady as a member of the Soap Gang in Colorado, where he was known as "Sure-Shot" and "Troublesome Tom." My book covers quite a bit about Cady, as well as Dyea.

Courtesy of University of Washington Digital Collections. 


The following links will open new windows for additional research. Be sure to scroll.

Tom Cady

Dyea: pages 13, 79, 414, 430, 432, 434-35, 440, 442, 450-51, 455, 460, 466, 470, 473, 477, 481-82, 489, 492, 495-96, 499, 506, 513-14, 520, 527-28, 550-51, 562, 566, 569-70.
Tom Cady: pages 79, 210-11, 229, 250-51, 253-57, 260, 264, 362, 450.

"The only certainty is that nothing is certain."
— Pliny the Elder


1492: Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer, sights Watling Island in the Bahamas, believing that he had found Asia while attempting to find a Western ocean route to India. The same day he claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain.
1792: The first monument honoring Christopher Columbus is dedicated in Baltimore, Maryland.
1860: Inventor Elmer Sperry is born. During his lifetime he will hold patents on more than 400 inventions. The most important being the Sperry Automatic Pilot.
1870: Horace Greeley visits Greeley, Colorado, the city named in his honor.
1870: Robert E. Lee dies peacefully in Lexington, Virginia at age 63. Lee is most famous as a confederate general during the American Civil War.
1872: Indian chief Cochise and General O. Howard sign a peace treaty in Arizona Territory.
1878: Eight cowboys from Dallas County get into a shootout with Deputy Sheriff Tom Gerren in Lewisville, Texas. One of the cowboys is shot in the hip and two horses are killed.
1882: The Tombstone Epitaph reports that bad man Johnny Ringo is drunk in Galeyville, Arizona Territory.
1892: In celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Columbus landing the original version of the Pledge of Allegiance is first recited in public schools.
1895: the first amateur golf tournament is held in Newport, Rhode Island.