December 9, 2015

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.

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