December 22, 2014

The ever-escaping "Slim-Jim" Foster.

Three-card monte
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ohn H. Foster alias "The Kid"

Not to be confused with W. E. "Slim Jim" Foster, both were members of the Soap Gang in Skagway, Alaska in 1898. John H. Foster ran the Grotto Saloon. He was placed on the Skagway City Council to assist with Soapy's empire. After Soapy was killed at the shootout on Juneau Wharf, Foster and other city council members were forced to resign and leave the city. He is recorded here as still getting into trouble and trying to escape the law, 25-years after the demise of his old boss!

John H. "The Kid" Foster was one of the gang members in Skagway, Alaska. Soapy had him placed on the Skagway City Council. After Soapy's death he was deported out of Skagway and joined the Blonger Gang in Denver. He was sent to prison with the rest of the Blonger Gang when they were rounded up in 1923. The newspaper story below is from 1923 and tells of his attempted escape from prison.

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.

Source: Fort Collins Courier (Fort Collins, Colorado) May 18, 1923.

John H. Foster: page 80, 518, 563.

I have seen American citizens deliberately plundered before the marshal’s eyes in dens kept for that purpose…. I had to pay the marshal $20 after he had recovered stolen property, before he would make a return to the court commissioner, as he threatened to turn it back to the thieves unless I did so.
—Lewis Levy, commissioner for parks, Tacoma, Washington.
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 512.


1775: The Continental naval fleet is organized in the American colonies under the command of Ezek Hopkins.
1807: The U.S. Congress passes the Embargo Act, designed to force peace between Britain and France by cutting off all trade with Europe.
1856: Captain Richard W. Johnson and Company F, 2nd Cavalry, from Camp Colorado attacks a Comanche Indian camp along the Concho River in Texas. Two soldiers are killed and two wounded. Three Indians are killed and three wounded. Thirty-four horses are captured and a Mexican captive is recovered.
1864: During the Civil War Union General William T. Sherman sends a message to President Lincoln from Georgia, which reads, "I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah."
1872: Texas Jack Omohundro, who is appearing with Buffalo Bill in a stage show, The Scouts of the Prairie, in Chicago, Illinois, falls in love with Giuseppina Morlacchi, an Italian dancer in the show.
1877: The American Bicycling Journal is published.
1877: The Sam Bass gang robs a stagecoach heading towards Fort Worth, Texas. Soapy Smith would later witness the shooting death of Sam Bass in Round Rock, Texas.
1878: Outlaw Billy the Kid surrenders to sheriff George Kimball in Lincoln County, New Mexico Territory, but escapes a short time later and heads for Las Vegas, New Mexico Territory.
1887: “Big Ed” Burns is the defendant in the first recorded court case of the shell game in Los Angeles, California. He soon leaves for Colorado where he joins the Soapy Smith gang.
1888: Annie Oakley appears in the stage show Deadwood Dick: or the Sunbeam of the Sierras.
1890: 294 members of Sitting Bull's Indian tribe surrender in Cherry Creek, South Dakota.
1894: The U.S. Golf Association is formed in New York City.
1900: The Sherman Tunnel in Wyoming, on the Union Pacific line is completed.

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