October 17, 2014

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

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ou're a daisy."

One of Doc Holliday'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.

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