February 14, 2015

Strawberry envy: Soapy Smith and Lafe Pence

Soapy Smith
Strawberry envy
(Click image to enlarge)

trawberry envy: Soapy Smith and Lafe Pence

Soapy gave his personal affairs a very low profile, especially from his enemies and competition who would target his private life if they could. Additionally, he did not want his new wife to suffer embarrassment because of him. So Soapy kept his married life completely separate from his business affairs. Even neighbors did not know exactly who lived next door. One neighbor of the Smiths was Lafayette “Lafe” Pence, an attorney and resident of Denver since 1885. Later on, after Soapy had become somewhat notorious, in an 1894 interview, Pence said of his neighbor,

"I lived next to him for a couple of years and it took me a year to find out who he was. I used to notice him carrying home an armful of strawberries when I would have to be content with wishing for some, but I supposed he was some prosperous merchant or banker."

To the very end, Soapy protected his family from his enemies and public exposure. At the time of his death, the majority of those who knew Soapy did not know he had a wife and children.

This story can be found on page 105 of Alias Soapy Smith.

Strawberry story: page 105.
Lafe Pence: pages 105, 174-75, 179, 188-89, 265-66, 292-93, 312-14, 332-334. 

With the sports with whom he associated Smith was easily chief. He was clear-headed and willing to fight if necessary to maintain his supremacy. In a big mass-meeting held in Skaguay early this year he was chosen Captain of a military company to fight the Spaniards, and the company offered its services to President McKinley. If they had been accepted, not a man would have welched on going to the front.
—R. M. Eddy
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 590.


1778: The United States flag (“stars and stripes”) is carried to a foreign port, in France, for the first time, flown aboard the American ship Ranger.
1803: Moses Coats receives the patent on the apple pare device.
1849: The first photograph of a U.S. President, James Polk, is taken while in office by Matthew Brady in New York City.
1854: Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson receive the patent for the repeating revolver (The Volcanic).
1859: Oregon is admitted to the Union as the 33rd state.
1862: New Mexico and Arizona Territories are admitted into the Confederacy as territories.
1874: Missouri Governor Silas Woodson announces a $2,000 dead or alive reward for each of the bandits (Younger and James gang) who robbed the Iron Mountain Railroad at Gads Hill. The governor of Arkansas offered a $2,500 reward and the United States Postal Service added another $5,000 for a total reward of $17,500.
1876: Alexander Graham Bell files a patent for the telephone. It is officially issued on March 7, 1876.
1882: Samuel “Doc” Cummings is shot and killed by Jim Manning at the Coliseum Variety Theatre. Drinking heavily, Cummings pulled a gun on Manning, but Manning and bartender David King were able to pull their revolvers and shoot first. Cummings staggered out of the saloon and died.
1884: Theodore Roosevelt's wife and mother both die within a few hours of each other.
1884: Soapy Smith is arrested in San Francisco, California for operating the prize package soap sell racket.
1889: Oranges from Los Angeles, California are shipped back east for the first time.
1899: The U.S. Congress approves voting machines for use in federal elections.
1903: The U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor is established.
1904: The "Missouri Kid" is captured in Kansas.
1912: The first diesel engine submarine is commissioned in Groton, Connecticut.
1912: Arizona is admitted to the Union as the 48th state.

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