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.

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