June 16, 2016

Tom Cady rules over Dyea, Alaska

"Troublesome Tom" P. Cady
Denver Post, March 3, 1902
(Click image to enlarge)

roublesome Tom Cady

    Years ago, while researching for Alias Soapy Smith, I came across the name Tom Cady as being Dyea's underworld boss. Previous to the publication of my book some historians gave Cady's name as an indication that Soapy probably had no control in Dyea. None of these historians had connected Cady as a member of the Soap Gang in Colorado, where he was known as "Sure-Shot" and "Troublesome Tom." My book covers quite a bit about Cady, as well as Dyea.
    I came across the following from the Morning Oregonian, May 10, 1898.

A "sure-thing" operator named Keady is held at Dyea on a charge of stealing about $2000 worth of silk and other merchandise while it was in transit to the summit. The marshal is very reticent about the robbery, and it is suspected that other and more reputable persons than Keady are implicated in it.

    The fact that the marshal was said to be "very reticent about the robbery" indicates that he was probably under the pay of the bunco men.

U.S. Marshal's office
Dyea, Alaska
Note sign regarding telephone service between Skaway and Dyea.
(Click image to enlarge)

    Tom Cady, sometimes spelled "Kady" or "Keady," was known in Colorado as “Sure-Shot” and “Troublesome Tom.” As a member of the Soap Gang he operated shell games for Soapy. He was known for his nasty temper and habit of carrying a 12-inch dirk. He followed Soapy to Creede, Colorado in 1892 and then back to Denver after that town's silver rush faded. Accompanied Soapy to Mexico in the 1894 in effort to recruit a private army for the President of Mexico. Cady became a prime suspect with Soapy in the 1892 shooting death of gambler Cliff Sparks. He followed Soapy to Alaska and became Dyea’s underworld boss. It is not known when Cady left Alaska, but it surely happened soon after Soapy was killed in July 1898.
  • January 12, 1899: Cady did return to Denver, where he was arrested, along with others in a theft case. 
  • June 9, 1899: Cady is mentioned in Denver newspapers regarding his wager on the Fitzsimmons-Jeffries boxing bout.
  • December 19, 1901: In a Dallas, Texas theft case a "Tom Cady" pleaded guilty. He spent five-days in jail and a $10 fine.
  • February 18, 1902: A comical article published in the Denver Post indicates that Cady plans to return to Denver, using Wolfe Londoner, Denver's old mayor.
  • March 3, 1902: The Denver Post announces Cady's death in San Francisco, California on February 26, 1902. Because it is linked to the same joke from February 18th, this may be a false death report, common among the bunco men running from the law.

Tom Cady (link 1) (link 2)

Tom Cady: pages 79, 210-11, 229, 251-52, 253-57, 260, 264, 362, 450.

I had seen a carpenter pause at Tom’s three-legged stool that day, watch the game for a moment, then slowly slide his tool bag from his shoulder to the ground, put $5 on the table and pounce upon one of the shells. He lost this five and two more, called the shell man a thief and demanded his money back.
     "Yes," said the man, with his cold eyes fixed upon the top of the mountain. "I presume that’s what you wanted with my money—to give it back."
San Francisco Call, 09/04/1898.


1858: In a speech in Springfield, Illinois, Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln stated that the slavery issue had to be resolved. He declared, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
1867: Indians and the 3rd Cavalry do battle in the Gallinas Mountains, New Mexico Territory.
1868: Four members of the 1st Cavalry are killed by Indians while on mail escort in Toddy Mountains, Arizona Territory.
1880: Jim Tyler and Matthew Gray are indicted in Tyler, Texas for their involvement in the Sam Bass gang and the Eagle Ford train robbery of April 4, 1878. Tyler is not captured until July 21, 1881.
1890: The second Madison Square Gardens opens.
1881: John E. Wilcoxon, more commonly known as “Jim Moon,” is shot and killed by gambler, bunco man, Clay Wilson, in the Denver, Colorado Arcade Cafe, saloon, and gaming house.
1897: The U.S. government signs a treaty of annexation with Hawaii.
1898: The first issue of the Klondike Nugget is published in Dawson, Yukon.
1903: The Ford Motor Company is incorporated.
1906: An act of congress is signed by Theodore Roosevelt, which combines Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory into a single state, called Oklahoma.

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