December 26, 2015

Soapy Smith sells soap in Phoenix, Arizona, 1883

Soapy's vendors license
Jefferson Smith collection
(Click image to enlarge)


      December 26, 1883 Soapy Smith purchases a street vendors license in Phoenix, Arizona to hawk his prize package soap to the unwary.
      In my collection is a xerox copy of the receipt (photo at top) from the city of Phoenix, Arizona allowing Soapy to work as a soap selling vendor for the period of one month beginning December 26, 1883 and ending January 27, 1884 for the sum of $4.00. The document is signed by Mayor De Forest Porter, Recorder Knapp and Marshal Henry Garfia.
      The information and the receipt showing that Soapy was in Phoenix is not new. The newspaper clipping below, is.

So why didn't I find this before?

      When doing research for the book Alias Soapy Smith the amount of newspapers online, along with the quality of the search capabilities were poor. Over the years more newspapers have been added and the search editors have greatly improved. What will never change is the content of the newspaper themselves. In looking at the article below you will notice that "Soapy" or "Jeff Smith" are absent. this means getting creative. I type in words that such articles might include, such as "soap." While this is a good key word, it also means searching through a ton of soap ads, etc. It's time consuming and most of the time I come up empty handed, but not today. I hit the jackpot.
      The following clipping from Tucson, Arizona was published just three-days into the one month time span of the license. This article is also one of the very few in which the reporter did not publish that the prize package soap sell was a swindle. Did this reporter not realize it was a scam, or was he/she paid off to stay quiet. From what I can tell, Soapy was not arrested during this trip to Phoenix. However, the article does make mention that this is not Soapy's first trip to the city.  

The Soap Man.

Transcription of the clipping: 
Arizona Weekly Citizen
(Tucson, Arizona)
December 29, 1883

The Soap Man.

      This morning a soap man, who has been here before, held forth on Congress Street. Like all of his profession, he is a glib talker, but this time he has a new racket, which he is working for all it is worth.
      Little pieces of soap about an inch long are wrapped up in pieces of paper. He says one-half of them contain greenbacks denominations from $1 to $20. Some of them certainly do contain some currency. You are invited to try your luck for fifty cents; you get soap, if nothing else, and you stand a chance of making $20. To keep the excitement of the crowd at fever heat every once in a while the manipulator of lye-and-grease would unroll the packages, exhibit the greenbacks, and then, picking up several packages, offer to give any man $10 who would pay $10 for them. This offer would excite the laughter of the crowd, and some individual would accept the offer. His astonishment would be great to see that he sold back to the soap man $50 or $60 in clear currency. The trick works well.


Soapy in Phoenix

Phoenix: pages 40-41.

"I was at Circle City when a Skaguay newspaper brought the news…. Though we were almost one thousand miles from the scene of the tragedy, the news came like an electric shock. The single copy of the newspaper was carried off to a big gambling hall, and everybody in town was packed into the place listening eagerly while the story was read aloud. A deep sigh of relief went up when the audience learned that 'Soapy' had 'cashed in.'"
—Harry Suydam
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 583.


1620: The Mayflower, with 102 passengers, arrives at New Plymouth, Massachusetts to create the Plymouth Colony, with John Carver as Governor.
1776: The British suffer a major defeat against the Colonial Army in the Battle of Trenton during the American Revolution.
1859: 173 Texas Rangers and 165 U.S. regulars attack the outlaw position held by Juan Cortina in Rio Grande City. Hand-to-hand combat forces Cortina's retreat.
1861: Confederate irregulars defeat pro-Union Indians at Chustenahlah, Indian Territory.
1862: 38 Dakota Indians are hung in Mankato, Minnesota for their part in an uprising. The mass execution is the largest in U.S. history.
1863: A Denver brothel, the Highland “Aunt Betsy’s” House, is burnt down by a mob of soldiers. Bill Duffield, a soldier is shot and killed by Joseph Kittery when told they could not enter. The following day a mob of soldiers obtained the deceased from inside and then burnt down the brothel.
1865: The coffee percolator is patented by James H. Mason.
1866: Lieutenant Colonel George Crook leads a company of the 1st Cavalry against Indians at Owyhee Creek, Idaho Territory, killing 30 and taking 7 prisoners while losing only one soldier.
1867: A detachment of Company K, 9th Cavalry, near Ft Lancaster, Texas, is attacked by Indians. Three soldiers are killed during the two days of fighting.
1869: Lieutenant Howard B. Cushing with Company F, 3rd Cavalry, from Ft Stanton, New Mexico, along with 28 citizen volunteers, attack a Mescalero Apache Indian village at the old stage stop of Pine Spring in the Guadalupe Mountains of Texas. One officer is severely wounded.
1874: The first commercial buffalo hunt is conducted in Texas by Joe McComb.
1880: Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garret deposits his prisoners, including Billy the Kid, in the Las Vegas, New Mexico, Territory jail.
1883: Soapy Smith purchases a street vendors license in Phoenix, Arizona for selling his prize package soap.
1909: Western artist Frederic Remington dies at age 48 in Connecticut.

December 22, 2015

Joe Simmons shoots W. M. Shuck...or did he?

Taking care of the problem.
(Click image to enlarge)

ambler Joe Simmons

      Not a whole lot known about Joe Simmons. He is mentioned on twelve pages of Alias Soapy Smith. This blog covers post about Joe (link below), including information on his son, directly from his descendants.

      In the book The Reign of Soapy Smith (William Ross Collier and Edwin Victor Westrate, 1935) there is mention of Joe Simmons taking a glancing shot at a man. No source, no details, just a glancing mention! After Alias was published I found this mention in the "local brevities" of the Rocky Mountain News, November 9, 1890.

      W. M. Shuck of Lyons was not struck by Dick Hawkins, as was at first supposed. Mr. Hawkins was not anywhere in that vicinity. Shuck was shot by Simmons, supposed to be proprietor of Soapy Smith's place [Tivoli Club]. The revolver was a 45 Colt. Glancing shot.

      I just found this newspaper clipping below. This is the first mention of the shooting, published in the Rocky Mountain News on the previous day, November 8, 1890. I actually found this by accident. I never found it in past searches using a "search engine" as "Dick Hawkins" is the only name mentioned in the article and I looked under everything but "Hawkins." 

Hawkins and His Gun.

      Last night at about 7:30 the notorious Dick Hawkins, the shell worker who deals faro at the Texas house on Seventeenth and Market streets, got into a dispute with a drunken bobo over a poker game in the house, and to keep up his dead tough game he hit his opponent over the head with a loaded pistol, which went off and the bullet flattened itself against the wall, and caused a stampede in the house. The fellow he hit ran out of the house more frightened than hurt.

Here is the details from these two clippings:

      W. M. Shuck of Lyons, Colorado walked, or was led, into the Tivoli Club and got swindled in a "big hand" (rigged) poker game. When he complained, Simmons hit the man over the head with his pistol. The weapon discharged, but the bullet hit no one, nor went outside the room, becoming a threat to any innocents outside.
      The following day's revamp of the article states that "Shuck was shot by Simmons" in a "glancing shot." This is a far cry from being hit on the head and remaining uninjured.

What's going on?

      Great! In finding the latest clipping I solved a few mysteries, only to open a couple more. It seems pretty obvious to me that the first newspaper reporter was paid off to make the victim out to be a "drunken hobo," in an attempt to belittle the severity of the crime and accompanying violence.
      In the first report the bullet hits no one and even "flattened itself against a wall." Sounds to me like the reporter wanted the weapon discharge to sound like 'just an accident" and that no harm had been done. The victim is said to have run in fright, but not injury. I have read plenty of accounts in which someone is hit over the head with a revolver and do not recall any of them escaping injury. 
      Did Dick Hawkins hit the man with his revolver, or was he getting the blame, to keep Simmons, the manager of the Tivoli Club, from being arrested? Hawkins did deal faro for Soapy but was let go for insubordination. According to what I have read, Hawkins was not a particularly popular person. He ended up robbing the faro table at the Arcade and the Silver Plate club rooms in Denver, and then the Mint club room in Creede.  

Joe "Gambler Joe" Simmons?
Unidentified tin-type
Believed to be Joe Simmons and Joe Palmer
Jeff Smith collection

signed, "from Jeff Smith" and was sent to his daughter Eva around 1892.
Kyle Rosene collection
(Click image to enlarge)

      The Poem, Jeff and Joe was written in 1892 in Creede, Colorado and is based on the death of Joe "Gambler" Simmons and how hard Soapy Smith took it. It is this poem that is responsible for the fallacy that Jeff and Joe were cowboys together when they were young. There can be no doubt that Jeff valued the poem for after his death in 1898 in Skagway, Alaska, a copy of the poem was found in his trunk.


Joe Simmons (there are numerous posts, scroll)

Joe Simmons: pages 33, 89, 131, 210, 214, 225-29, 273, 594.

There is not a man on the Denver police force who did not breath a sigh of relief when he read that “Soapy” was dead. It was bound to come, and all realized that, but the question bothering the police officials was how long “Soapy” was to go about killing other men.
Rocky Mountain News
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 584.


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.

December 18, 2015

Blood Feud: Soapy Smith vs the vigilantes.

Rewarding moments as a "talking head"
(Click image to enlarge)

Soapy Smith vs the vigilantes.

      My "talking head" Soapy Smith episode airs January 13, 2015 on the American Heroes Channel (formerly known as The Military Channel).

      Yukon GOLD RUSH War Premieres Wednesday, January 13 at 10/9c This epic GOLD RUSH showdown pits legendary conman Jefferson "Soapy" Smith and his loyal "Soap Gang" against town organizer-turned-vigilante Frank Reid and the Committee of 101, in a battle to bring justice to the lawless Alaskan Frontier.

      Bill the Butcher vs. John Morrisey. The Hatfields vs. the McCoys. Soapy Smith vs. Frank Reid. These are the rivalries that defined American history, as foes became fatalities in the ultimate street fight for honor, power, and pride. AMERICAN HEROES CHANNEL (AHC) digs deep into these epic vendettas and more in BLOOD FEUDS, an all-new, original series centered around our nation's most iconic rivalries. Premiering Wednesday, January 6 at 10/9c on AHC, BLOOD FEUDS features six action-packed stories chock-full of simmering tensions, brutal struggles and bitter hatred - from racist street gangs battling for territory to former friends turned mortal enemies.
      Brought to life using dramatic recreations, expert interviews, and heart-pumping storytelling, each 60-minute episode of BLOOD FEUDS features some of the most compelling characters, action-packed conflict, and adrenaline-fueled showdowns from our nation's past.


The first night they slept near the lake and remained in hiding all the next day. Saturday night, almost famished with hunger, they hit the trail again and came down to the slaughterhouse with the hope of escaping by boat or of getting back to friendly cabins. It seemed too risky to attempt to pass the lines of armed patrolmen, however, and shortly after 2 o’clock they started back up the trail. Tripp, who is an old man, was tired out and refused to go back. His companions expostulated with him for an hour, but he stuck to his declaration that he “would rather be hung on a full stomach than die of starvation in the ____ ____ mountains.” So he was at length permitted to return.
Daily Alaskan
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 564.


1787: New Jersey becomes the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
1796: The Monitor of Baltimore, Maryland is published as the first Sunday newspaper.
1856: Lieutenant James Witherell of Company C, 2nd Cavalry, and two officers from the 8th Infantry, battle with a party of Apache Indians while scouting by the Rio Grande from Ft. Clark, Texas. 
1862: The first orthopedic hospital, the Hospital for Ruptured and Crippled, is organized in New York City.
1865: Slavery is abolished in the United States with the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
1894: Soapy Smith and John Bowers are arrested in Denver on complaint from Thomas Moody. Soapy pays a $300 bond to get them out of jail.
1898: A new automobile speed record is set at 39 mph.
1899: President McKinley commutes the sentence of Soap Gang member “Slim Jim” Foster in the robbery of John D. Stewart in Skagway, Alaska, after one year due to his having contracted consumption.
1903: The Panama Canal Zone is acquired 'in perpetuity' by the U.S. for an annual rent.
1912: The discovery of the Piltdown man in East Sussex is announced. It will be proved a hoax in 1953. Bad man Soapy Smith had a petrified man found in Creede, Colorado 1892. It was not proven to be a hoax until 2012, when it was determined that the corpse was intentionally mummified.

December 15, 2015

Klondike Saloon token sells for ...

First saloon in Skagway, Alaska
One historian believes the man standing is Frank H. Reid.
(image: San Francisco Chronicle, August 21, 1897)

Hammers to highest bidder for $680.00!

      Oh how I would have loved to have this token, but it is just a tad over my budget. I will have to be satisfied with having a digital one.
     The following is from Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel.
      Another saloon in which Jeff is believed to have had a controlling interest was the Klondike. Located in a tent near the northeast corner of Broadway and McKinney (5th Avenue), it was advertised under the proprietorship of Ira Coslet [sic?] and Ward. By the end of December they moved the saloon to a two-story structure at the corner of Broadway and Holly (6th Avenue today) and added “Music Hall” to the name. A December 31, 1897, Skaguay News advertisement billed the Klondike as “the largest and best equipped place in Skaguay,” with “Scotch and Irish Whiskies, fine wines and all the leading brands of cigars.” It had clubrooms for gambling and furnished rooms upstairs for lodging. A dance hall and theater were connected with free entertainment every night.
     Frank Reid is believed to have been a bartender at the Klondike when it was only a tent, and that this is where Jeff and Reid first met. On July 8, 1898, Jeff fired the rifle shot that eventually killed Reid.
      Soapy Smith is believed to have had a connection to the Klondike Saloon, perhaps even owing an interest. He could have taken an interest of the business as part of a protection racket or by attaching his gambling business. Considering that the Klondike was the first saloon in Skaguay (now spelled Skagway), it is reasonable, at the very least, to assume that he met and knew owners Cosslett and Ward. It is likely that Soapy centered his gambling activity around the saloon. Old timers in Skagway claimed that Soapy held an owing interest in the Klondike. Frank H. Reid, one of the vigilantes who shot Soapy during the gunfight on Juneau Wharf, worked as a bartender at the Klondike Saloon, and this is probably where Soapy and Reid met.

The token (side A)
The Klondike Saloon
Cosslett and Ward

      The image at the top of this post shows two men next to the Klondike Saloon. I would guess that these are Cosslett and Ward, the proprietors. However, author M. J. Kirchhoff believes that the man standing is Frank Reid.
      Skaguay News man E. J. Stroller White reports of one shootout that took place at the Klondike Saloon. His account is published in Alias Soapy Smith, pages 441-42.
One night a man was killed in the Klondike Saloon and the stranger who did the shooting fled to the street, pursued by a crowd of enraged friends of the deceased.” White had been sleeping underneath the printing press in The News building when five shots were fired after the man “just as he passed the printing office.” Two of these hit the sidewalk, but three flew into the building. The next morning White secured “several sheets of boiler iron with which to surround” his sleeping area.

The token (side B)
There's always "the other-side-of-the-coin."
Cosslett and Ward


Klondike Saloon: pages 439, 441, 456-57, 531.

It was not generally known how many were included in Smith’s gang. Dr. Whiting and Keelar, the “Money King,” later compiled a list of the roughnecks who were supposed to have belonged, and both those men were in a position to judge fairly well. There were 192 names on their list, all of them suggestive of the underworld and many of them unprintable. The sobriquets range from “Soapy” Smith and the “Lamb” to “Moon Face Kid,” “Slim Jim,” “Blackjack Doctor,” “The Queen,” “B. S. Jack….”
—Clarence Andrews
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 564.


1791: The first ten amendments of the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, are ratified by the state of Virginia.
1815: Jane Austen's Emma is published.
1854: The first street cleaning machine is put into operation in Philadelphia.
1863: The first U.S. bank robbery is committed by lone postal employee Edward W. Green, who held up a bank in Malden, Massachusetts.
1869: Deputy John Thomason and three other men surround the Samuel family farmhouse in Clay County, Missouri in search of outlaws Frank and Jesse James. The men are in hopes of collecting a $3,000 reward for the brothers but they are not there.
1877: The Dodge City Times of Dodge City, Kansas reports that “Sheriff Bassett has been appointed by Mayor Kelly to assist Marshall Ed Masterson in preserving order and decorum in the city.”
1877: Thomas Edison patents the phonograph.
1880: Outlaw Charles Bowdre states in a letter to J. C. Lea of Fort Sumner, New Mexico Territory that he is running and is thinking about turning Billy the Kid over to Sheriff Pat Garrett in return for his freedom.
1881: Charles Earl “Black Bart” Bowles robs the Downieville-Maryville stagecoach four miles from Dobbins, California. At the conclusion of the robbery he leaves behind an unusual calling card: a poem.
1883: Marshal Henry Brown kills gambler Newt Boyce in Caldwell, Kansas.
1890: Chief Sitting Bull, Indian leader of the Hunkpapa Teton Sioux, is killed by Indian police at his home in a remote corner of the Standing Rock Reservation in Grand River, South Dakota along with 11 other tribe members, allegedly while resisting arrest.
1901: Outlaw and Wild Bunch member Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan is captured in Jefferson City for the shooting of Knoxville policemen William Dinwiddle and Robert Saylor.

December 9, 2015

The Taking of One-Eyed Riley in 1898

A faro game

Is it true? 

One of those great stories from the Klondike gold rush that I have yet to find provenance on.

One unforgettable night a small-time faro fiend named One-Eyed Riley went on a winning spree that was phenomenal. It began at midnight in Bonnifield’s Bank Saloon [in Dawson, Canada]. Riley, starting with picayune bets, couldn’t seem to lose, and was soon betting the limit and winning. The word spread down Front Street and by morning, when he left Bonnifield’s to get breakfast, hundreds were following in his wake. After eating, he began a tour of the Front Street resorts, betting the limit in each, and continuing to win. He broke the faro bank in Bill Jenkins’s Sour Dough Saloon and closed down Joe Cooper’s faro game in the Dominion. At the Monte Carlo a succession of dealers was thrown against him, but he bested them all until a celebrated faro dealer named Shepherd was roused out of bed to come and stop One-Eyed’s onslaught. Finally, as it always does, the luck changed, and, after losing several bets in a row, Riley called it quits. Counting up his winnings, he found that he was ahead $28,000. In great haste to get out of the north country, Riley paid a dog-driver $1,000 to take him over the winter trail to Skagway where he could get a boat home. Hundreds cheered his departure, but several months later they learned that at Skagway he had encountered some of the minions of the crooked gambler Soapy Smith and had lost his entire fortune in a dice game. 

From Knights of the Green Cloth: The Saga of the Frontier Gamblers (1982) by Robert K. DeArment, p. 189


"He was a character the like of which will probably never be seen again in the history of the country. He left a few friends who will regret his death, but the majority of people who knew him were relieved when they heard that he had been killed. The evil which he did will live a long time after him, and his bunco record will be a monument which will last all ages." (Rocky Mountain News)
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 582.


1793: The American Minerva, the first daily newspaper in New York City and was founded by Noah Webster, begins publication.
1803: The 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is passed by Congress. With the amendment Electors were directed to vote for a president and a vice-president rather than two choices for president.
1835: Mexican General Santa Anna surrenders to 200 Texan volunteers commanded by Ben Milam after four days of fighting and more than 200 of his men killed, and as many wounded. The fighting took place in San Antonio de Béxar, which was about 400 yards from the Alamo compound. Santa Anna signed papers of capitulation, giving the Texans all public property, money, arms and ammunition in San Antonio.
1848: Joel Chandler Harris, author of Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit is born.
1861: Pro-Confederate Indian tribes drive out pro-Union Creek Indians from the area around Bird Creek, near present day Tulsa, Oklahoma.
1866: Nelson Story rides into Virginia City, Montana after completing the first cattle drive covering 2,500 miles from Texas with livestock for sale.
1867: The territorial capital of Colorado is moved from Golden to Denver.
1869: The Denver Pacific Railroad reaches the depot site that will become Greeley, Colorado.
1879: Thomas Edison organizes the Edison Ore Milling Company.
1884: Levant M. Richardson received a patent for the ball-bearing roller skate. Soapy Smith purchases a large order of skates during this year.
1886: 18-year-old Cherokee Indian outlaw, Silas Hampton, robs and murders Abner N. Lloyd, near Tishomingo, Oklahoma Territory. Hampton was arrested and tried before Judge Isaac Parker. He was hung on October 7, 1887.
1897: Wild Bunch outlaw member Will Carver, the Ketchum brothers, and Ed Cullen attempt to rob a Southern Pacific train at Stein’s Pass, New Mexico but are driven off.

December 6, 2015

The Shooting of Dick Riddle, 1895

Location of the Mint Saloon (yellow hi-lite)
(yellow hi-lite)
Birdseye view map of Houston, Texas 1891
(Click image to enlarge)

he shooting death of Dick Riddle
Houston, Texas, December 4, 1895

There are so many events, with so much available information, in my great grand-father's adventurous life and even though I spent 25-years researching it, there is still so much I can not locate, hence this blog, for new information when it surfaces.
      The general story synopsis is that Soapy Smith and W. R. “Dick” Riddle go into John O. Dalton’s saloon and gambling house in Houston, Texas with the purpose of killing Dalton. Things go awry and Dalton kills Riddle in self-defense.
      One of those hard to research events was the shooting of gambler Dick Riddle by gambling room proprietor John O. Dalton above the Mint Saloon in Houston, Texas on December 4, 1895. Soapy Smith came in with Riddle and it is commonly believed that the two, plus possibly another accomplice, planned the murder of Dalton. In my private collection is a newspaper clipping that Soapy himself saved, about the incident, from an unknown newspaper and date. The details, especially why, get murky from here. I won't go into the details I already published in Alias, but rather will center on the new information I've uncovered.
      One of my new finds is the first newspaper reporting of the shooting, published the day after the incident, in the Houston Daily Post, December 5, 1895. The other articles I have copied in my files and used in Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel were published in the days following, and led me to believe that the fight took place on December 5th. Riddle passed away on the afternoon of the 5th, and in this clipping he reported to still be still alive, with hope of a full recovery. 

Houston Daily Post, December 5, 1895
Digital copy

Courtesy of the The Portal to Texas History

(Following is the transcription of the newspaper clipping)


By John O. Dalton, in the Rooms of the Latter.


Riddle Receives Two Serious Wounds, But His Condition Not Considered Dangerous.

      "Dick" Riddle, a well known gambler of Houston, was seriously, but not fatally shot, about1:45 o'clock yesterday afternoon in a gambling house, No. 503 [508?] Travis Street, over the Mint saloon. The shooting was done by John O. Dalton, also a gambler.
      Dalton states that he and Riddle have heretofore been friends, that at the time of the trouble Riddle came into the gambling house, and when he extended him the customary greeting, passing the time of the day, that Riddle replied with a [undecipherable word]. He says he saw a pistol in Riddle's hand, and he procured one, but not until Riddle, had fired at him. He then shot at Riddle, the only two balls fired taking effect.
      Officer Cliff Ellison was in a restaurant near by when he heard the shots, rushing in, he arrested Dalton, who was taken to the city calaboose.
      Riddle was removed to his home, corner if State and Sabine street, where he is resting under the care of Dr. J. J. Burroughs. One ball took effect in the right shoulder, struck the collar bone and lodged in the neck. The collar bone was broken. This prevented him being almost instantly killed. The other ball passed through the right loin from the front, coming out behind. Br. Burroughs says the wounds are not necessarily fatal, but that the wounded man was not in a condition to be operated on yesterday so that the bullet in his neck could be removed.
      The pistol used by Dalton was a 45-caliber Colt, very long, while that found on Riddle was a small derringer.

     Interesting to note that Soapy is not mentioned in this first article. Soapy becomes one of the primary players in later articles. Although this article seems pretty cut and dry about what happened, later articles written about this incident tell different stories, as do those who witnessed the fight.

The Mint Saloon
503 or 508 Travis Street (near Prairie Ave.)
Dalton gambling house is located in
one of the red hi-lite squares
Sanborn Insurance map 1896
(Click image to enlarge)

      One of the exciting pieces of information extracted from the newspaper clipping is the address of the Mint Saloon. Unfortunately, it is one of two places in the digital copy that are unclear. I could not decipher if it reads "503" or "508." Feel free to scroll back up and check out the fourth line of the main story and let us know what you see?

afternoon in a gambling house, No. 503 [508?]

      I checked the Sanborn maps and hi-lighted both addresses. Wondering if one or both of the buildings might possibly still stand, I decided to check Google maps "street view" (see below) 

Travis Street looking towards Prairie Avenue
As it looks today
Transparent yellow squares mark
503 Travis (right) and 508 Travis (left)
Courtesty of Google maps
(Click image to enlarge)

      The "street view" map shows that the building at 502 Travis Street is still standing (see Sanborn map) but that the structures at 503 and 508 are no longer there. I created and placed yellow transparent building squares in the approximate locations of 503 (right) and 508 (left). I was not able to find any information about the Mint Saloon, or new information on John O. Dalton and Dick Riddle.

  • The fight took place at 503 or 508 (bad copy) Travis Street, above the Mint Saloon.
  • The incident occurred on December 4, 1895, not December 5, 1895 as reported in other newspapers.
  • More details on the fight itself.


John O. Dalton: pages 399-402, 530.

"No one questioned his bravery. He was fearless. Threatened with violence, he was quick to anger and as quick with his revolver, which was always at the ready. He feared neither policeman nor any foe. He was in the gravest sense of the words a bad man to cross."
Alias Soapy Smith, Introduction.


1790: U.S. Congress moves from New York to Philadelphia.
1821: Grandparents of bad man Soapy Smith, Dr. Ira Ellis Smith and Ellen Stimpson Peniston marry in Petersburg, Virginia.
1865: The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, abolishing slavery in the United States.
1866: Indian Chief Red Cloud observes the decoy tactics of the Ogalala Sioux Indian braves Crazy Horse, Yellow Eagle, and High Back Bone two miles from Fort Kearny. Warriors taunt soldiers who are out guarding woodcutters, getting the soldiers to lead a chase, and then the Indians attack in mass from the rear. Two soldiers are killed and Red Cloud is convinced that if a large number of soldiers were to be lead out of the fort, a thousand Indians would wipe them out.
1870: Silent-screen actor William S. Hart is born in Newburgh, New York. He is raised in the Dakotas. He is most famous for his western films, starting in 1915, in which he sought authenticity.
1875: The Indian Bureau in Washington, D.C. sets the deadline of January 31, 1876 for all Indians to be on reservations or be considered hostile and treated accordingly.
1876: Jack McCall is convicted in Yankton, Dakota Territory for the murder of James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok and sentenced to hang on March 1, 1877.
1876: The city of Anaheim, California is incorporated for the second time.
1877: Thomas Edison demonstrates the first gramophone with a recording of himself reciting the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
1881: Outlaw Wood Hite dies after being shot by Dick Liddell the previous day. Both are members of the James-Younger gang, hiding from the law, along with Jim Cummings, Robert and Charley Ford, in Ray County, Missouri. Hite accused Liddell of planning to sell him out to the law, and pulled his gun. Liddell was faster.
1883: Ladies' Home Journal begin publication.
1884: The construction of the Washington Monument is completed after 34 years.
1886: The first Kansas, Nebraska and Dakota train arrives in Topeka, Kansas.
1889: Jefferson Davis, the first and only president of the Confederate States of America, dies in New Orleans, Louisiana.
1907: The worst mine disaster in the United States kills 361 people in Monongah, West Virginia.

December 3, 2015

Horse shoe Saloon, Seattle, Washington 1897.

Inside the Horse Shoe Saloon
circa 1900-1910
(Click image to enlarge)

he Horse Shoe was THE place for Klondikers to socialize and drink in Seattle.

(The follow comes from Alias Soapy Smith p. 443)

"Gold rush Seattle had become notorious for wide-open gambling and prostitution. Like the old clunker ships that were given new life and sent to Alaska, old buildings and warehouses were remodeled into saloons and gambling dens. By day, Seattle bustled with activities associated with outfitting and transportation. By night, according to one newspaper headline, it became 'a hot town' that catered to the needs of a largely transient population. One of the amusement houses in which Jeff spent his nights was the Horse Shoe Grill Room and saloon located at 914 Front Street [located in Pioneer Place, known today as Pioneer Square]. This place was to Seattle what the Arcade was to Denver, making it a popular destination among Seattle’s leading gamblers and underworld figures. On October 1, 1897, a sizable affray erupted between two groups of men, one of whom was Jeff. Denver’s Rocky Mountain News reported what was known of the confrontation."

Latest information on the fight, March 21, 2019

The newspaper story
 (Click image to enlarge)
(The above clipping is translated below)

Jeff Smith and Jimmy Dugan Badly Beaten Up in a Saloon Row.

Special to The News. SEATTLE, Wash., Oct. 1. —Jeff Smith, Jimmy Dugan and Elmer Maybury, formerly a Denver sport, engaged in a fight to-night in the Horse’s Shoe saloon, during which Maybury was stabbed once in the arm and his clothes cut several times. Ed. Gaffney, a local athlete, who took Maybury’s part, narrowly escaped a deadly thrust from Dugan’s knife. Smith and Dugan were badly beaten up. An old grudge on the part of Smith toward Maybury was the cause of the row. The saloon floor was covered with blood. A plate glass mirror was broken and guns were in sight all around.

The following day, October 2, 1897 the evening edition of the Seattle Daily Times had obtained and published a little more information.


Alaska Gamblers Have a Lively Scrap in the Horseshoe Saloon.

Some broken plate glass mirrors at the Horseshoe saloon, on Front Street, tell of one of the warmest and most exciting barroom fights Seattle has seen for some time. Last night blood was sprinkled freely over the floor and broken beer and wine glasses were scattered around. No shots were fired, but it was not the fault of one of the participants. Knives were drawn and freely used, but beyond a few slashes in the clothing of one of the participants and a slight stab in Elmer Mayberry’s arm no damage was done.

There were five men in the fight, according to the most reliable account. “Soapy” Smith, Jimmie Dugan and Jack Thompson were lined up against Elmer Mayberry and Eddie Gaffney. Smith returned a few days ago from Skagway with considerable money made at gambling. Mayberry was formerly his partner and returned with Dugan from St. Michaels last night on the North Fork. The trouble was over some money matters and the fight started when Smith threw a beer glass at Mayberry. They mixed up, with Mayberry getting the better of it. Dugan started in to stab Smith and Gaffney then took a hand in the game. After the first fight was over Dugan tried to stab Gaffney and Thompson drew his gun. They were finally separated by friends. The police arrived after the fight, but as Mayberry made no complaint no arrests were made.

The latter news clipping appears to contain some errors. No record of arrests or other details could be found. As no known grudge existed between Jeff and Maybury, the fight might have been over “turf,” in which a local gang did not appreciate Jeff’s presence. What is certain is that Jeff now had enemies in Seattle.

Except for Soapy, little is known of the combatants

  • Jimmy Dugan: A "James Dugan" was arrested in Tacoma, Washington for robbing a tenant of the Windsor House in March 1898.
  • Jack Thompson: Could this be James Thompson, a member of the Soap Gang in Denver? There is a Jack H. H. Thompson mentioned in Alaska Adventures: Wyatt Earp and Friends, by Howard Clifford, 2000. The book states that he was active in Alaska and Klondike development. He sent his regards to Wyatt via a letter to Soapy. No such letter has yet to be located. Thompson publicly countered reports of starvation in Dawson and Fort Yukon in the pages of the Seattle Daily Times (February 1898).
  • Elmer (Maybury) Mayberry: N/A
  • Eddie Gaffney: A Seattle athlete. I found nine articles on this sport from September 1896 to January 1898, ranging in competitions from horse racing to bicycle racing and wrestling.

Horse Shoe Saloon token

Horse Shoe Saloon token and 1896 ad

Pioneer Place (known as Pioneer Square today)
The Horse Shoe Saloon is located on the right
A delivery wagon (beer?) is parked at the front entrance
Postcard, circa 1903
Jeff Smith collection
(click image to enlarge)

The Horse Shoe saloon
Postcard, circa 1903
Jeff Smith collection

Close up
Note the horse shoe shaped sign over the entrance
Postcard, circa 1903
Jeff Smith collection

Pioneer Place, March 14, 1899
The Horse Shoe can be seen to the right
copyright University Washington Digital collection
(Click image to enlarge)

Close up
Arrow points to the Horse Shoe entrance.
The horse shoe shaped sign shows that it was lit by electric light bulbs
copyright University Washington Digital collection
(Click image to enlarge)

Horse Shoe Saloon
Eddie Gaffney


Horse Shoe Saloon: page 443, 502.
Jimmy Dugan: page 443.
James Thompson (Jack Thompson): page 365.

"Soapy Smith had his faults but there are many men in Denver who were at one time hungry and looking for a dime, who will remember that his heart and purse were always open to the poor. Perhaps the good lord will remember all those little kindnesses as well as will the beneficiaries."
Denver Times
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 591.


1818: Illinois becomes the 21st state.
1828: Andrew Jackson is elected the seventh President of the U.S.
1833: Oberlin College in Ohio opens as the first coeducational school of higher learning.
1835: In Rhode Island, the Manufacturer Mutual Fire Insurance Company issues the first fire insurance policy.
1864: Gold is discovered near Confederate Gulch, Montana Territory.
1866: Completing the first Texas to Montana cattle drive Nelson Story, his cowboys, and herd arrive in the Gallatin Valley near Bozeman. The drive covered 2,500 miles.
1881: Dave Rudabaugh escapes jail and a death sentence by tunneling out of the San Miguel County, Colorado jail.
1881: John “Doc” Holliday is arrested, but acquitted, for firing a pistol inside the city limits of Tombstone, Arizona Territory.
1883: Outlaw William E. “Mormon Bill” Delaney rode into Bisbee, Arizona Territory with John Heath, Daniel Kelly, and others, where they rob a store killing four people, including a woman. Delaney stationed himself outside the store and was witnessed shooting down two men and may have killed the woman.