October 16, 2014

circa 1899-1910
(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.

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