June 13, 2016

Wink At Crimes: Repeat voting fraud in Denver 1895

Repeaters get their names to vote under
Rocky Mountain News, April 4, 1895
(Click image to enlarge)

Repeat voting fraud in Denver, Colorado 1895.

     There may be no other 19th century American city in the west that suffered the bane of political corruption like that of Denver, Colorado. No where in the western states did the criminal underworld openly and outright control and rule unscrupulously, without fear and without punishment, than in the Queen City of the Plains. 
    As a matter of course, the one common presence, the scourge of Denver's exploited election process, is none other than Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith. Following is merely one sampling of his involvement in the misdeeds and desecration of the Democratic voting process.
    On April 4, 1895 the Rocky Mountain News exposed something that most citizens in Denver took for granted, election fraud. The election that took place two days previous, on April 2, 1895, was not an honest one. Worse was the fact that the corruption was not all that careful about hiding their actions as no one in the city or state government seemingly cared to launch a real investigation into the crimes committed.
    The crime most noted was that of repeat voting, the process of one person voting numerous times, using the names of those citizens who were deceased.  



No Prosecution of Repeaters or their Rich Backers.


District Attorney Claims no Official Knowledge of corruption.


Police Board Professes Ignorance of Proceedings at the Polls.


Reform Commissioners Fear the Unseen Force and Will Not Interfere.


Jury Wheel and All the Spoken under the Heel of an Unscrupulous Gang.


    It was announced at the office of the fire and police board yesterday that no effort would be made to prosecute the parties guilty of repeating, voting dead men’s names, bribing voters or for any of the nefarious work that characterized the election Tuesday in the Third and Fourth wards. “We are not the public prosecutors,” is the ultimatum of the board. “I don’t know anything about it,” declares District Attorney Whitford [Greeley W. Whitford].
    This attitude is not entirely unexpected after the decision of the special policeman at the polls in the Third on Tuesday that the fact that a white man was attempting to vote a colored man’s name was not “proof.”
    At the headquarters of the gang in the European hotel everything was quiet when the reporter called yesterday afternoon. The “boys” who had visited the oil room the evening before did not leave the place until an early hour in the morning, and consequently were a little late in showing up. Most of them had accumulated a comfortable jag [drunk] with the corporation money paid them for repeating, and this also accounted in part for their tardiness.
    Those who did come to the rendezvous were dreamy-eyed, and they did not care to talk much. All admitted that they had been treated shabbily, and that the $2 a “plug” promised them by Soapy Smith, Dick Carberry, Jim Connors and others, who had charge of the joint, had been reduced. One brilliant thug suggested that they bring suit for the balance.
    “Why, you bloke,” exclaimed a weary, smooth-faced tough, “you’re a fool. Do we want to bother about being in court?”

The name of Dick Carberry may be Richard D. Carberry of the Carberry and Hanley (saloon?).

Prefers Utter Ignorance.

    The fire and police board does not know that ballot boxes were stuffed, that dead men’s names were voted, that the greatest outrages against the sacred elective franchise have been perpetrated. That is, the commissioners say they don’t know. The men who committed the crime are outspoken and with braggadocio tell the details of their sin. They are frank about the matter, because they have been assured by Soapy Smith and Dick Carberry that the fire and police board will shield the criminals and protect them from prosecution.
    “We’re all right, boys,” said one of the hobos yesterday. “You see we’ve got the police board, the prosecutor, the jury wheel and all the spokes.”
    This philosophical remark met with such favor that one bleary-eyed slugger called for the drinks all around and threw a $20 bill on the counter in such a careless fashion that all conversation stopped right there.
    “See here, Bill,” said one of his cronies, “you’ve been a-holding out on us. This ain’t fair. You’ve been a-knocking down for the cracks the rest of us has made.”
    This grave accusation was indignantly denied by Bill, who said that he “won out” $18 in Soapy’s gambling house, now in full blast.
    Kid Gallagher, the prize fighter was the subject of many congratulations. Times have been rather hard with “the Kid” of late and under and upper cuts that delighted those who gathered about the ring, while very pretty and artistic, have not brought in “the stuff.” As a consequence, the Kid has been obliged to pawn his sweater, his punch-bag and all the paraphernalia that make up the stock in trade of the semi-professional.
    Gallagher shook hands all around when he arrived late in the afternoon. He was quite a hero. He had made a record as a repeater, and had been on the go all election day.
    “How much did you make, Kid?” Was the inquiry.
    “Never you mind,” answered the youth. “You fellers all get to the bar and take something with me.”
    The request was readily readily complied with, and then the Kid unbosomed himself.
    “I don’t say, now mind, what I did, but I tell you fellers that it was a good day. I made enough so that I’ve just got my clothes, my sweater and my punch-bag out of soak,” declared the smasher.

Edward "Red" Gallagher, a Denver boxer, worked as a tough for Soapy. He followed Soapy to Skagway, Alaska in 1898.
Repeaters in Many Names.

    Jimmie Lewis, another prize fighter, among other illegal acts, was given the names of James N. Seper, 1731 Larimer and of George A. Swanson of 1740 Market street, which he is supposed to have voted.
    “Dutch, the expressman,” a swarthy fellow about 20, was lionized to a great extent because he had voted twenty-two times, at the assembly building, at the Winsor hotel and at the polling place on Sixteenth between Larimer and Market streets.
    Eddie Drain, a jockey, was not far behind, as it was said that he had twenty-five slips of dead men and it was announced by his admirers that he voted every “bloke.”
    Billy Lewis was surrounded by a crowd the moment he entered Carberry’s joint. Billy had told the corporation managers that he would obey instructions. When Billy offered his vote in precinct 5 of the Fourth ward, he was challenged. Did Billy weaken? Not he. He wanted to know why he couldn’t vote. He came very near forgetting the name of the person he was impersonating, but as he held the slip of paper given him in the palm of his hand, he glanced at it and his memory was refreshed. On being told that he was challenged, and the only way that he could be permitted to vote was by taking the oath prescribed by law.
    “I didn’t know what the oath was,” said Billy, “but I told ‘em to let her go. I raised my right hand as the judge told me to, and when he got through reading from the book, I said, “all right.”
    Billy voted under the name of William Jewell, It is claimed.
    The general estimate at Carberry’s yesterday was that the joint had cast 1,000 illegal votes. But it’s a small matter, as the Tramway organ maintained yesterday. McMurray would have been elected anyway.

Facts Can Be Furnished.

    Of course it would be impossible for the fire and police board to obtain any information concerning the crime against decency and law. Has the fire and police board tried? Does the fire and police board need any facts other than those already in the possession of the chief of police?
    At Republican headquarters, the matters of repeating and of all manner of election frauds are received in a jocular vein. “When I bet,” said one of the hangers-on, “I bet on the ‘machine’ and on the money that would be used. I didn’t know just how Graham would use the stuff, and I didn’t care.”
    “Why,” said the secretary of the fire and police board. “of course the board doesn’t care about the evidence. The board has nothing to do with the matter. See the prosecuting officer.”
    District Attorney Whitford was found at his offices in the People’s bank building.
    “What are you going to do about the frauds on election day, Mr. Whitford?” was asked.
    “Why, I don’t know anything about them,” was the answer. “This is the first I have heard of the matter. No complaint has been made that I know about.”
    “Are you making any effort to obtain information or to make an investigation?”
    “Not much that I know of.”
    “Is the fire and police board or the sheriff trying to get at the facts?”
    “Not that I know of.”
    “Are you going to prosecute the parties guilty of the outrages?”
    "Why, I tell you that I don’t know anything about the matter.”
    The fire and police board is not the prosecutor; the sheriff is not the prosecutor.
    Looks as though the thug philosopher who remarked, “We have the police board, the prosecutor, the jury wheel and all the spokes,” had about sized the situation correctly.

All Sing in Chorus.

    It was said yesterday that many illegal votes were also cast in the Second Ward. But what does it matter? “McMurray would have been elected anyway,” Exclaim the gang cuckoos in chorus.
    A magnificent victory it was, and the women and the “sure-thing” men of the bottoms voted the same way. “Soapy” Smith, Ed Chase, Dick Carberry and the others knew what they were about. The women who attended the mass meetings to protest against opening the gambling houses voted the same ticket for “party” that Carberry, et al. voted for “business and do stuff.”
    There will be no arrests, no prosecutions of any nature. The men who stuffed the election are of the toughest class in Denver. How can the police board now help assisting their friends who stood by them so nobly on election day?
    All the ballot boxes were deposited yesterday in the office of the city clerk and two officers detailed to watch and “prevent any tampering with the returns.”

Two days later the Rocky Mountain News published the names of the known repeaters

    At the repeaters‘ rendezvous, the following record is given out lawlessness, and the men who did the repeating have been paid by the money of the corporations on the basis of having done this "work:”

1 —Billy Mahan, pugilist, voted thirteen times.
2 —Billy Lewis, pugilist, voted twenty-two times.
3 —Jimmy Lewis, pugilist, voted twenty times.
4 —Kid Lewis, pugilist, voted seventeen times.
5 —"Dutch,” expressman, voted nineteen times.
6 —Ed Train, alias Mayberry, voted twenty-one times.
7 —Jack Verome, machinist, voted six times.
8 —Billy Lerou, blacksmith, voted three times.
9 —Dan Closkey, painter, voted four times.
10—Ike Meyer, bartender, voted three times.
11—John Davis, brakeman, voted five times.
12—Lon Brown, brakeman, voted four times.
13—Billy Ketchin, fireman, voted seven times.
14—Jerry Black, calciminer, voted two times.
15—Joe Martin, clerk, voted two times.
16—Pat Mullene, driver, voted two times.
17—McLeod, “tout,” voted six times.
18—Evans, “tout,” voted three times.
19—Berkley, "tout," voted four times.
20—Robinson, “tout," voted six times.
21—Ed Smith, no occupation, voted eight times.
22—Sam Zeigie, no occupation, voted three times.
23—John Ricker, no occupation, voted six times.
24—Mike Reynolds, no occupation. voted seven times.
25—Dave Patterson, gambler, voted eleven times.
26—Claud Hilder, gambler, voted five times.
27—Baxter, gambler, voted four times.

All the parties above named were of those who were assigned to vote electors’ names on Larimer street, at the Windsor hotel, on Arapahoe street and in Jimmy Doyle’s own Precinct on Sixteenth near Market.
   Of course the list is incomplete, but the district attorney, who “doesn’t know,” might with diligence add to the number of those who are now known to have committed election day crimes. Diligence is necessary, as the perpetrators of the outrage have, many at them, already left the city with the “swag” which they received for this day's work.

The list of names contains only one recognizable name, that of Ed Smith, probably the boxer "Denver Ed" Smith, a pugilist working for Soapy. Known for his boxing history, but known to Soapy fans as having had an altercation during the Logan Park riot in 1889. The odds increase a tad as there are four other "pugilists" listed.

(Click HERE for the April 6, 1895 RMN article)

"He devoted his God-given talents and abilities to the pursuit of the fast buck by employing every swindling scheme then known to man."
Alias Soapy Smith.


1777: The Marquis de Lafayette arrives in the colonies to help in their war against the British.
1789: Ice cream is served to General George Washington by Mrs. Alexander Hamilton.
1825: Walter Hunt patents the safety pin. He sells the rights for $400.
1865: While in Idaho Territory, Indian Chief Crazy Horse sneaks into the Sioux camp being relocated to Fort Kearney, Nebraska, to plan an escape.
1865: Ex-lawman and camp boss Sumner “old Pink” Pinkham is shot and killed in a duel with con man J. Ferdinand Patterson in Idaho City, Idaho.
1866: The 14th Amendment of the Constitution, designed to grant citizenship to and protect the civil liberties of recently freed slaves, is passed by Congress. It is ratified on July 9, 1868.
1868: The Thirteenth Infantry, under the command of Captain J. L. Horr, with a group of Indian scouts, engaged hostile Indians, killing three, at Twenty-Five Yard Creek, Montana Territory.
1877: Nez Perce Indian Chief Joseph starts off with 250 warriors, 450 women and children, and 2,000 horses, in an attempt to make it to Canada after talks break down when a band of his younger warriors kill eleven settlers.
1878: A posse led by Texas Ranger captain June Peak and Sheriff W. F. Eagan corner the Sam Bass gang near Salt Creek in Wise County, Texas. A gun battle ensues in which Arkansas Johnson is killed and others are wounded. Bass, Barnes, and others manage to escape on foot after the posse captures their horses.
1882: Oscar Wilde speaks at the Tabor Grand Opera House in Denver, Colorado for two nights.
1887: Railroad tracks of the St. Paul and Manitoba Railroad cross the eastern boundary of Wyoming.
1888: Congress creates the Department of Labor.
1898: The Canadian Yukon Territory is organized. The Yukon separates from the Northwest Territories and is given separate territorial status, two years after the discovery of gold in the Klondike. Dawson City, with 30,000 residents, becomes the capital.
1904: Oklahoma City Police Officer Joseph Burnett shoots and kills Edward Capehart O’Kelley during an arrest which developed into a brawl. O’Kelley had been only recently released from prison after serving time for the murder of Robert Ford in Creede, Colorado 1892. It is believed bad man Soapy Smith talked O’Kelley into killing Ford.

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