November 30, 2016

Skaguay, Alaska Wharves, 1898: A new acqusition for my collection.

White Pass and Yukon Railway
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)

Circa 1898

      I am very proud to share my latest acquisition to my collection. Mounted on the original board and entitled Alaska Scenery. White Pass and Yukon Railway. It is dated 1898 by the photographer Harrie C. Barley. Note that the original spelling of Skaguay, whereas it was changed to "Skagway." 
      I purchased it as it is a perfect view of the Juneau Company Wharf (second wharf from the left) and the location where the shootout on Juneau Wharf took place. I zoomed in as close as I could get to the entrance of the wharf at State Street, the fight having took place about 60 feet into the entrance.

Juneau Company Wharf
(zoomed in)
Note the railroad tracks along side the wharf
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)

Note the train tracks on the beach, to the right of Juneau Wharf. Every day, the tide completely covered the tracks and sometimes made it's way as far as Third Street.

Entrance to Juneau Wharf
(zoomed in)
Soapy Smith was killed 60 feet from the entrance
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)

The End of Soapy Smith
By Andy Thomas


Photographer H. C. Barley (also known as Harrie C. and Harry C.) was hired as the company photographer for the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad in the spring of 1898. He worked for two years documenting the construction and early operation of the 110-mile narrow gauge railway which ran from Skagway, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Barley was known for his daring, often risking his life to get the perfect photograph of the construction of the railway. Some construction crews refused to work when Barley was nearby due to the extreme risks he took. He said, "Put me close enough to the blast and I'll stuff the echo." In one of the first accidents at the Rocky Point blasting site, Barley was struck by a rock from the detonation and was unable to walk for a week. Originally from Denver, Colorado, Barley made Skagway his home after relocating north. His first photography studio in Skagway was on Fourth Avenue between Broadway and Spring Street. He later relocated it to the corner of Broadway and Fourth Avenue. He served for a brief period on the Skagway City Council and was a member of the Skagway Elks Lodge. Barley also photographed in the Atlin, British Columbia, area during the gold rush in 1899-1900. Barley died of tuberculosis at his home in San Francisco on November 22, 1909, shortly after the Klondike gold rush. Source Archives West.

Juneau Company Wharf (note: the posts are not in any order of importance. There are several pages of posts.)

Juneau Company Wharf: pages 9, 12, 530-32, 535, 538, 546-51, 554, 564, 575, 595.

"He had an unconquerable aversion to making money by honest means and loved the art of fleecing his prey and then arranging it so his victims earnestly thanked him for his services."
Alias Soapy Smith, Introduction.


1782: The U.S. and Britain sign preliminary peace articles in Paris, France, ending the American Revolution.
1803: Spain completes the process of ceding Louisiana to France.
1804: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase goes on trial accused of political bias. He is later acquitted by the U.S. Senate.
1835: America’s most famous literary icon, Samuel Langhorne Clemens is born in Florida, Missouri. Best known for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 1876 and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1885, both written under the moniker “Mark Twain.”
1875: A. J. Ehrichson patents the oat-crushing machine.
1878: The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe lay railroad tracks crossing Colorado's southern border into New Mexico Territory, the first tracks into New Mexico.
1879: Outlaw Billy the Kid meets with rancher John Chisum, at Bob Hargrove's saloon in New Mexico Territory, to talk about recent rustlings.
1881: Judge Wells Spicer of Tombstone, Arizona Territory, officially states that the Earp’s and Doc Holiday were justified in their actions, which led to, and include the gunfight behind the OK Corral. In another matter bad man “cow-boy” Johnny Ringo is arrested for having robbed a poker game in August 1881.
1884: At nineteen-years-old, Elfego Baca, arrests a cowboy in New Mexico Territory for disturbing the peace. When friends of the cowboy attempt to “teach Baca a lesson,” he shoots and kills the foreman.
1887: Outlaws Robert Leroy “Butch Cassidy” Parker and the McCarty brothers, stop, but fail their attempt to rob the Denver and Rio Grande express near Grand Junction, Colorado. The stubborn express guard refuses to open the safe in the mail car and rather than kill him, the gang allows the train to continue on their way, leaving the bandits empty-handed.
1892: Bank robber Oliver “Ol” Yantis, a member of the infamous Doolin Dalton Gang, succumbs to his wounds after a gunfight with Deputy US Marshal Tom Hueston near Orlando, Oklahoma, the previous day. the lawmen trailed Yantis to his sister’s home outside of Orlando. The two lawmen demanded his surrender. Yantis walked out as if giving up but drew a revolver and fired. The lawmen returned fire, hitting Yantis in the leg and stomach. The lawmen took the wounded Yantis to a hotel in Orlando, where he died on this day. Yantis is the first of the Doolin Dalton gang members to fall. Hueston would later be killed during another shootout with the Doolin Dalton gang members in Ingalls, Oklahoma, during the Battle of Ingalls. It is believed that Soapy Smith’s wife Mary was a cousin of the outlaw Dalton’s.
1897: Thomas Edison's motion picture projector has its first commercial exhibition.
1897: The Rocky Mountain News reports that bad man Soapy Smith is “in New York organizing a Klondyke [sic] expedition to start from the East in February (1898).”

November 29, 2016

An Act of Kindness: The gift of a 1924 Photograph of Soapy Smith's Grave.

1924 Photo of Soapy's 2nd grave marker

(Click image to enlarge)

oapy Smith's grave, 1924.


      On eBay, I came across a 1924 Alaska scrap book from the Peoria, Illinois Life Insurance Company. The scrap book contained 140 photographs, including a photo of Soapy Smith's (my great-grandfather) and Frank Reid, one of two men who shot and killed Soapy. Soapy killed Reid, but not before Reid was able to shoot Soapy twice, once in the left arm and once in the left thigh. 
      I considered buying the scrapbook, but at a total price of $51.40 including the shipping) I decided to opt out. I sent a message to the seller, "internetstore61021," letting him know that if he didn't sell the book, that I would be interested in the two photos, if he was willing to sell the scrapbook piecemeal. His name is Charles, and he sent back a message that he might consider that, but also kindly offered to scan both photos and send them to me for $5 including the shipping. That was indeed a very generous and kind offer, and I responded with the following.

1924 Photo of Frank Reid's grave

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"Thank you very much for the offer. Very considerate. I will pass though. The smaller marker is my great grandfather's grave. I collect original photographs of his grave, which a lot of tourists photographed. Believe it or not, I own that marker! Attached is a photograph of it. Glad you were able to sell the album as a whole. ~Jeff"
I kindly declined as I have many scans of Soapy's grave markers and was seeking actual photographs. Soapy's grave was (and still is) a popular stop so there are lots or old photographs out there. Then another buyer placed a bid and won the whole scrapbook. I figured that was the end of that, but seller internetstore61021 wasn't ready to end the conversation just yet.
Charles: "The photo you sent has graffiti....that is horrible. what kind of turd does this?"
Jeff: "Yes, there is a lot of graffiti. This was common on wooden markers, especially of well-known characters, which is why you often see cages around the markers."
Charles: "I contacted the purchaser. and told him about the grave marker."

The name of the buyer is Dennis and he wrote back to the eBay seller the following.

"Everybody collects something different. I collect White Pass & Yukon Route railroad (or Skagway, AK; Lake Bennett, B.C., Carcross/Whitehorse Yukon Territory photos) which is why I bid on the scrapbook and he is welcome to the photos of his grandfather's headstone. Tell him if he (or you) runs across White Pass pictures prior to the World War II era to keep me in mind."

Page from the 1924 album

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      For the price of the postage Charles sent me the two original photographs. A very nice story about how some sellers and people go above and beyond, AFTER already having made his sale. It doesn't get much better than that!
      Thank you eBay seller Charles (internetstore61021) and buyer Dennis! Here is the link to Charles' eBay store.

Close-up of Soapy's marker
photo-shopped to see better

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Soapy's 2nd grave marker as it looks today.

What we can learn from this photograph.

Being that the trip to Alaska was taken in 1924, it is proven that the second grave marker was sitting upon the grave at that late date. I used my photoshop skills to bring out what details of Soapy's marker can be seen. There is plenty of graffiti and missing slivers from the top, as can be seen today. The marker is being held up by rocks and the bottom shows that it has been broken. Soapy's original grave was washed away in a 1919 flood and it is guessed that the marker survived, and placed in the ground near the gully that held the original grave.


1) The history of Soapy's grave markers
2) Charles' ebay store.

"Poor Smith [Soapy] thought he made this [the following] proverb truer to the facts of life, I am told, by revising it to read, ‘The way of the transgressor is hard … to quit.’”
— Reverend John Sinclair


1869: Texas Outlaw Samuel “Bob Hays” Hassells is shot and killed. He is identified as one of the men who robbed the post office in Separ, New Mexico Territory in October 1869. A posse of lawmen cornered the gang at the Diamond A ranch, and Hassells was killed during the ensuing gun battle.
1872: Modoc Indians, refusing to move off their homelands, to Oregon's Klamath Reservation, fight back against Captain Jack Jackson and 38 members of the 1st Cavalry.
1878: After 14-years of use, Fort Rice, Dakota Territory, is abandoned. It was never attacked by Indians.
1888: Jacob “Sleepy Jake” Kasenhelm and two other Denver con men are arrested in San Francisco, California for trying to swindle a man of $3,200 in the purchase of a machine that makes gold coins out of burmese metal. Soapy Smith robbed this confidence man by way of a fake highway robbery as the two men walked discussing business.

November 19, 2016

Sam Meyer and Soapy Smith, Denver, Colorado

Inside Sam Mayer's Diamond Palace
1638 Larimer Street, Denver, Colorado
Circa 1882-1892
Courtesy of Denver Public Library Digital Collection

(Click image to enlarge)

am Mayer and the Diamond Palace

      Sam Mayer, a jewelry merchant who owned the Diamond Palace at 1638 Larimer Street, Denver, Colorado, had an apparent business relationship with bad man Soapy Smith.
      According to the Creede Candle April 8, 1892, Soapy Smith, seeing the end of Creede's silver boom, and eight days after his brother-in-law, William Sydney "Cap" Light, shot and killed Reddy McCann, sold the Orleans Club saloon and gambling house to Sam Mayer.

Outside Sam Mayer's Diamond Palace
1638 Larimer Street, Denver, Colorado
Circa 1882-1892
Courtesy of eBay

      At the end of October in 1893 Mayer's name pops up again, signing a petition asking that the city of Denver allow Soapy to continue his street sales (swindles).
      Soapy had learned that a petition signed by twenty-six merchants in the vicinity of Union Depot had been presented to the fire and police board. Requested were stricter measures against confidence men and bunco steerers along Seventeenth. Two days later, on Monday, October 30, 1893, Soapy appeared before the board. Claiming the petition was not unanimous and that he could secure a counter petition, he was allowed to circulate one, but in the meantime, he was ordered to stop all street activity with which he was associated. The following day Soapy's petition was complete. It was not exactly a counter petition as it pertained to one site, not a general vicinity, but its twenty-three signatures showed impressive support. Dated October 31, 1893, it was addressed, 

“To the Honorable Fire and Police Board of the City of Denver, Colo.”

1893 petition
page one
artifact #110
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)

We, the undersigned, business men of Seventeenth St. [now operating in the City of?] Denver, would respectfully state that we have known Jeff R. Smith for a number of years and we state that we know Mr. Smith to be an honorable gentleman, a man of his word, and of the most strict business integrity, and we desire to see him continue business at his old stand at the corner of Seventeenth and Market streets.

D. May, May Shoe and Clothing Co.
James B. Belford
Charles M. Graff
Denver Collateral Bank, 1400 17th
Geo Stevenson, 1412 17th
Thos Morrison, 1420 17th
The Schivenfeld Mercantile Co., Cor 17th and Blake
A. Badenhof, Vice Presdt
Union Hotel, G. N. Beard, Prop.
C. W. Bowman, 1520 17th
Geo B. Fisher, Cor 17th and Wazee
W.J. Rosenthal, 1526 17th
F. Goodman, Wholesale Tobacco, 1507 and 1509 17th
Weil Bros, Wholesale Liquor dealers, 1631 Blake
Royer and Shynock, Hardware, 1750 Larimer
Inter Ocean Hotel.
Nathan L. Baker, Editor Mercury.
August Endhink, 1414 17th
St George Hotel, 1529 17th
Davis Turner, Prop.
Ramon Solis, Solis Cigar Co.
F. Spalti, owner Block, 17th and Blake
S. Wachtee and Co., 1717 Larimer
Sam Mayer, 1638 Larimer
Wm Deutch, owner Block, 17th and Market
Andy Keeley, McPhee and McGinnity, 18 and Wazee
Thos. F. Begley, 1417 Larimer

      The fire and police board, knowing Jeff very well, questioned the validity of the signatures on the document. A clipping cut from an unidentified source reveals Jeff’s hopes in his attempts to manipulate the board.

In the suave, affable manner, which so highly distinguishes the proprietor of the Tivoli Club, he told the board that he was only too anxious to accede to its wishes and would instruct his corps of assiduous assistants to discontinue their attentions to those gentlemen of simple habits who so eagerly desired to witness the operations of Mr. Smith’s club-rooms. He impressed on the board, however, the fact that his lieutenants never tried to affect Denver citizens with their persuasive eloquence, but confined their efforts to visitors whose dress and actions betrayed their rustic occupations.
      The colonel naively questioned [discussed?] the genuineness of the signatures to the petition, and the board adjourned the hearing of the case until he could prove the truth of his assertion.

      Sam Mayer, still located at 1638 Larimer, signed the petition. Soapy Smith and Denver historians will surely recognize several other prominent names in the petition. The original handwritten document resides in my collection, and can be viewed in its entirety below.

1893 petition
page two
artifact #110
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)

      Mayer Jewelers remained in business in Denver for 124 years, closing in 2004. Sam Mayer, known as Mr. Sam, started Mayer Jewelers in 1880. The 1891 city directory list jewelry and also "pawn," which maybe where a connection was made with Soapy Smith as jewelry and other valuables won in swindles were sold to Sam's store. Louis Hellerstein purchased the store in the 1920s, and his family ran it until closing in 2004.

Sam Mayer: pages 218, 285.

"There is little doubt that towards the end, he sincerely began to think he was the man he wanted everyone to believe he was. (talking about Soapy Smith)"
Alias Soapy Smith, page 17


1794: Britain's King George III signs the Jay Treaty, resolving the issues left over from the American Revolution.
1850: The first life insurance policy for a woman is issued to 36-year-old Carolyn Ingraham, purchasing the policy in Madison, New Jersey.
1856: Lieutenant Walter Jenifer and a detachment of Company B, 2nd Cavalry, are on a scout from Fort Mason, Texas, when they attack a band of Comanche Indians near the Llano River.
1861: An attempt to take Indian Territory by Confederate forces fails in a battle at Round Mountain.
1863: President Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of a national battlefield cemetery in Pennsylvania.
1872: Fort McKeen, Dakota Territory, is renamed Fort Abraham Lincoln.
1873: Outlaw James Reed, the first husband of outlaw Belle Starr, and two accomplices, rob the Watt Grayson family of $30,000 in the Choctaw Nation.
1879: Vigilantes force their way into the Leadville, Colorado jail and lynched two prisoners. A note of warning was pinned to one of the corpses.
1880: Corteze D. “Cort” Thomson loses a foot-race in Greelet, Colorado for a $250 side-bet. Thomson is the lover of Denver brothel madame Martha A. “Mattie” Silks. In 1892 Thomson is involved with bad man Soapy Smith in the shooting death of gambler cliff Sparks in Denver. In 1898 Silks accuses Soapy of plotting to murder her.
1881: Virgil Earp testifies at the gunfight behind the O.K. Corral hearings in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.
1887: The Montana Central Railroad line, between Helena and Great Falls Montana, is completed.
1893: The first newspaper color supplement is published in the New York World.
1895: The "paper pencil" is patented by Frederick E. Blaisdell.

November 9, 2016

At A New Mining Camp (Creede, Colorado) By Richard Harding Davis, 1892

(Click image to enlarge)

by Richard Harding Davis, 1892.

      In 1892 author Richard Harding Davis took a trip to the new silver boom-town of Creede, Colorado. In the same year, he published The West From a Car Window, Harper and Brothers, New York. His chapter, At A New Mining Camp, remains one of the best descriptions of early Creede.

     My only ideas of a new mining camp before I visited Creede were derived from an early and eager study of Bret Harte. Not that I expected to see one of his mining camps or his own people when I visited Creede, but the few ideas of miners and their ways and manners that I had were those which he had given me. I should have liked, although I did not expect it, to see the outcasts of Poker Flat before John Oakhurst, in his well-fitting frock-coat, had left the outfit, and Yuba Bill pulling up his horses in front of the Lone Star saloon, where Colonel Starbuckle, with one elbow resting on the bar, and with his high white hat tipped to one side, waited to do him honor. I do not know that Bret Harte ever said that Colonel Starbuckle had a white hat, but I always pictured him in it, and with a black stock. I wanted to hear people say, "Waal, stranger," and to see auburn-haired giants in red shirts, with bags of gold-dust and nuggets of silver, and much should I have liked to meet Rose of Touloumme. But all that I found at Creede which reminded me of these miners and gamblers and the chivalric extravagant days of '49 were a steel pan, like a frying-pan without a handle, which I recognized with a thrill as the pan for washing gold, and a pick in the corner of a cabin; and once when a man hailed me as "Pardner" on the mountain-side, and asked "What luck?" The men and the scenes in this new silver camp showed what might have existed in the more glorious sunshine of California, but they were dim and commonplace, and lacked the sharp, clear-cut personality of Bret Harte's men and scenes. They were like the negative of a photograph which has been under-exposed, and which no amount of touching up will make clear. So I will not attempt to touch them up.

Early Creede
(note the protection from lot jumpers sign)
The West from a Car Window, 1892, by R. H. Davis

     When I first read of Creede, when I was so ignorant concerning it that I pronounced the final e, it was on the date line of a newspaper, and made no more impression upon me then than though it were printed simply Creede. But after I had reached Denver, and even before, when I had begun to find my way about the Western newspapers, it seemed to be spelled CREEDE. In Denver it faced you everywhere from bill-boards, flaunted at you from canvas awnings stretched across the streets, and stared at you from daily papers in type an inch long; the shop-windows, according to their several uses, advertised "Photographs of Creede," "The only correct map of Creede," "Specimen ore from the Holy Moses Mine, Creede," "Only direct route to Creede," "Scalp tickets to Creede," "Wanted, $500 to start drug-store in Creede," "You will need boots at Creede, and you can get them at 's." The gentlemen in the Denver Club talk Creede; the people in the hotels dropped the word so frequently that you wondered if they were not all just going there, or were not about to write Creede on the register. It was a common language, starting-point, and interest. It was as momentous as the word Johnstown during the week after the flood.
     The train which carried me there held stern, important-looking old gentlemen, who, the porter told me in an awed whisper, were one-third or one-fifteenth owners of the Pot-luck Mine; young men in Astrakhan fur coats and new top boots laced at the ankles, trying to look desperate and rough; grub-stake prospectors, with bedding, pick, and rations in a roll on the seat beside them; more young men, who naively assured me when they found that I, too, was going to Creede, and not in top-boots and revolvers and a flannel shirt, that they had never worn such things before, and really had decent clothes at home; also women who smoked with the men and passed their flasks down the length of the car, and two friendless little girls, of whom every one except the women, who seemed to recognize a certain fitness of things, took unremitting care. Every one on the crowded train showed the effect of the magnet that was drawing him — he was restless, impatient, and excited. Half of them did not know what they were going to find; and the other half, who had already taken such another journey to Leadville, Aspen, or Cripple Creek, knew only too well, and yet hoped that this time —

Creede's first court house
The West from a Car Window, 1892, by R. H. Davis

    Creede lies in a gully between two great mountains. In the summer the mountain streams wash down into this gully and turn it into a little river; but with the recklessness of true gamblers, the people who came to Creede built their stores, houses, and saloons as near the base of the great sides of the valley as they could, and if the stream comes next summer, as it has done for hundreds of years before, it will carry with it fresh pine houses and log huts instead of twigs and branches.
     The train stopped at the opening of this gully, and its passengers jumped out into two feet of mud and snow. The ticket and telegraph office on one side of the track were situated in a freight car with windows and doors cut out of it, and with the familiar blue and white sign of the Western Union nailed to one end; that station was typical of the whole town in its rawness, and in the temporary and impromptu air of its inhabitants. If you looked back at the road over which you had just come, you saw the beautiful circle of the Wagon Wheel Gap, a chain of magnificent mountains white with snow, picked with hundreds of thousands of pine-trees so high above one that they looked like little black pins. The clouds, less white than the snow, lay packed in between the peaks of the range, or drifted from one to another to find a resting place, and the sun, beating down on both a blinding glare, showed other mountains and other snow-capped ranges for fifty miles beyond. This is at the opening of Willow Gulch into which Creede has hurried and the sides of which it has tramped into mud and covered with hundreds of little pine boxes of houses and log-cabins, and the simple quadrangles of four planks which mark a building site. In front of you is a village of fresh pine. There is not a brick, a painted front, nor an awning in the whole town. It is like a city of fresh card-board, and the pine shanties seem to trust for support to the rocky sides of the gulch into which they have squeezed themselves. In the street are ox-teams, mules, men, and donkeys loaded with ore, crowding each other familiarly, and sinking knee-deep in the mud. Furniture and kegs of beer, bedding and canned provisions, clothing and half-open packing-cases, and piles of raw lumber are heaped up in front of the new stores — or those still to be built — stores of canvas only, stores with canvas tops and foundations of logs, and houses with the Leadville front, where the upper boards have been left square instead of following the sloping angle of the roof.

Early photograph of Creede

(Click image to enlarge)
     It is more like a circus-tent, which has sprung up overnight and which may be removed on the morrow, than a town, and you cannot but feel that the people about you are a part of the show. A great shaft of rock that rises hundreds of feet above the lower town gives the little village at its base an absurdly pushing, impudent air, and the silence of the mountains around from ten to fourteen thousand feet high, makes the confusion of hammers and the cries of the drivers swearing at their mules in the mud and even the random blasts from the mines futile and ridiculous. It is more strange and fantastic at night, when it appears to one looking down from half-way up the mountain like a camp of gypsies at the foot of a caƱon. On the raw pine fronts shine electric lights in red and blue globes, mixing with the hot, smoky glare rising from the saloons and gambling-houses, and striking upward far enough to show the signs of The Holy Moses Saloon, The Theatre Comique, The Keno, and The Little Delmonico against the face of the great rock at their back doors, but only suggesting the greater mass of it which towers majestically above, hidden somewhere in the night. It is as incongruous as an excursion boat covered with colored lights, and banging out popular airs at the base of the Palisades.

Early Creede tent saloon

(Click image to enlarge)
     The town of Creede is in what is known as the King Solomon district; it is three hundred and twenty miles from Denver, and lies directly in the pathway of the Great Divide. Why it was not discovered sooner, why, indeed, there is one square foot of land in Colorado containing silver not yet discovered, is something which the Eastern mind cannot grasp. Colorado is a State, not a country, and in that State the mines of Leadville, Aspen, Ouray, Clear Creek County, Telluride, Boulder, Silverton, and Cripple Creek, have yielded up in the last year forty million dollars. If the State has done that much, it can do more; and I could not understand why any one in Colorado should remain contentedly at home selling ribbons when there must be other mines to be had for the finding. A prospector is, after all, very much like a tramp, but with a knowledge of minerals, a pick, rations, a purpose, and — hope. We know how many tramps we have in the East; imagine, then, all of these, instead of wandering lazily and purposelessly from farm-house to farm-house, stopping instead to hammer at a bit of rock, or stooping to pick up every loose piece they find. One would think that with a regular army like this searching everywhere in Colorado no one acre of it would by this time have remained unclaimed. But this new town of Creede, once known only as Willow Gap, was discovered but twenty months ago, and it was not until December last that the railway reached it, and, as I have said, there is not a station there yet.
     N. C. Creede was a prospector who had made some money in the Monarch district before he came to Willow Gap; he began prospecting there on Campbell, now Moses Mount, with G. L. Smith, of Salida. One of the two picked up a piece of rock so full of quartz that they sunk a shaft immediately below the spot where they had found the stone. According to all known laws, they should have sunk the shaft at the spot from which the piece of rock had become detached, or from whence it had presumably rolled. It was as absurd to dig for silver where they did dig as it would be to sink a shaft in Larimer Street, in Denver, because one had found a silver quarter lying in the roadway. But they dug the shaft; and when they looked upon the result of the first day's work. Smith cried, " Great God!" and Creede said, “Holy Moses!" and the Holy Moses Mine was named. While I was in Creede that gentleman was offered one million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for his share of this mine, and declined it. After that my interest in him fell away. Any man who will live in a log house at the foot of a mountain, and drink melted snow any longer than he has to do so, or refuse that much money for anything, when he could live in the Knickerbocker Flats, and drive forth in a private hansom with rubber tires, is no longer an object of public interest.

Courtesy of the Denver Western History Department

(Click image to enlarge)
     But his past history is the history of the town. Creede and his partner knew they had a mine, but had no money to work it. So they applied to David S. Moffatt, the president of the Rio Grande Railroad, which has a track to Wagon Wheel Gap only ten miles away, and Moffatt and others formed the Holy Moses Mining Company, and secured a bond on the property at seventy thousand dollars. As soon as this was known, the invasion of Willow Gap began. It was the story of Columbus and the Qgg. Prospectors, and provisions with which to feed them, came in on foot and on stages, and Creede began to grow. But no more mines were found at once, and the railroad into the town was slow in coming, and many departed, leaving their posts and piles of rock to mark their claims. But last June Creede received a second boom, and in a manner which heaps ridicule and scorn upon the scientific knowledge of engineers and mining experts, and which shows that luck, chance, and the absurd vagaries of fate are factors of success upon which a prospector should depend.
     Ralph Granger and Eri Buddenbock ran a butcher shop at Wagon Wheel Gap. "The" Renninger, of Patiro, a prospector with no tools or provisions, asked them to grubstake him, as it is called when a man of capital furnishes a man of adventure with bacon, flour, a pick, and three or four donkeys, and starts him off prospecting, with the understanding that he is to have one-tenth of what he finds. Renninger asked Jule Haas to join him, and they departed together. One day the three burros disappeared, and wandered off many miles, with Renninger in hot and profane pursuit until they reached Bachelor Mountain, where he overtook them. But they liked Bachelor Mountain, and Renninger, failing to dislodge them with either rocks or kicks, seated himself to await their pleasure, and began to chip casually at the nearest rock. He struck a vein showing mineral in such rich quantities that he asked Creede to come up and look at it. Creede looked at it, and begged Renninger to define his claim at once. Renninger, offering up thanks to the three donkeys, did so, and named it the "Last Chance." Then Creede located next to this property, shoulder to shoulder, and named his claim the "Amethyst." These names are merely names to you; they mean nothing; in Colorado you speak them in a whisper, and they sound like the Standard Oil Company or the Koh-i-noor diamond. Haas was bought off for ten thousand dollars. He went to Germany to patronize the people in the little German village from which he came with his great wealth; four months later Renninger, and Buddenbock, who had staked him, sold their thirds for seventy thousand dollars each; a few days later Granger was offered one hundred thousand dollars for his third, and said he thought he would hold on to it. When I was there, the Chance was putting out one hundred and eighty thousand dollars per month. This shows that Granger was wiser in his generation than Haas.

The Mint Club

The following paragraph deals with the robbery of the Mint Club gambling house by one of Soapy's one time faro dealer Dick Hawkins. A complete history with details of the robbery can be found here.
     At the time I visited Creede it was quite impossible to secure a bed in any of the hotels or lodging-houses. The Pullman cars were the only available sleeping-places, and rented out their berths for the night they laid over at the mining camp. But even in these, sleeping was precarious, as one gentleman found the night after my arrival. He was "mistaken for another man who had picked up a bag of gold-dust from a faro table at Little Delmonico's, and who had fled into the night. After shooting away the pine-board facade in the Mint gambling-house in which he was supposed to have sought shelter, several citizens followed him on to the sleeping-car, and, of course, pulled the wrong man out of his berth, and stood him up in the aisle in front of four revolvers, while the porter and the other wrong men shivered under their blankets, and begged them from behind the closed curtains to take him outside before they began shooting. The camp was divided in its opinion on the following morning as to whether the joke was on the passenger or on the hasty citizens.
     A colony of younger sons from the East took pity upon me, and gave, me a bunk in their Grub Stake cabin, where I had the satisfaction of watching the son of a president of the Somerset Club light the fire with kerosene while the rest of us remained under the blankets and asked him to be careful. They were a most hospitable cheerful lot. When it was so cold that the ice was frozen in the tin basin, they would elect to remain in bed all day, and would mark up the prices they intended to ask for their lots and claims one hundred dollars each and then considering this a fair day's wages for a bard day's work, would go warmly to sleep again. It is interesting, chiefly to mothers and sisters — for the fathers and brothers have an unsympathetic way of saying, "It is the best thing for him" — to discover how quickly such carefully bred youths as one constantly meets in the mining camps and ranches of the West can give up the comforts and habits of years and fit into their surroundings. It is instructive and hopeful to watch a young man who can and has ordered numerous dinners at Bignon's, composing a dessert of bread and molasses, or to see how neatly a Yale graduate of one year's standing can sweep the mud from the cabin floor without spreading it. If people at home could watch these young exiles gorge themselves with their letters, a page at a time, and then go over them again word by word, they would write early and often; and if the numerous young women of New York and Boston could know that their photographs were the only bright spots in a log-cabin filled with cartridge-belts, picks, saddles, foot-ball sweaters, patent-medicine bottles, and three-months-old magazines, they would be moved with great content.
Creede's first piano

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     One cannot always discern the true character of one's neighbors in the West. "Dress," as Bob Acres says, "does make a difference." There were four very rough-looking men of different ages sitting at a table near me in one of the restaurants or "eating-houses" of Creede. They had marked out a map on the soiled table-cloth with the point of an iron fork, and one of them was laying down the law concerning it. There seemed to be a dispute concerning the lines of the claim or the direction in which the vein ran. It was no business of mine, and there was so much of that talk that I should not have been attracted to them, except that I expected from their manner they might at any moment come to blows or begin shooting. I finished before they did, and as I passed the table over which they leaned scowling excitedly, the older man cried, with his finger on the map:
     "Then Thompson passed the ball back to me — no, not your Thompson ; Thompson of '79 I mean — and I carried it down the field all the way to the twenty-five-yard line. Canfield, who was playing full, tackled me; but I shook him off, and — "
     I should have liked to wait and hear whether or not he made his touch-down.
     The shaft of the Last Chance Mine is at the top of the Bachelor Mountain, and one has to climb and slip for an hour and a half to reach it. A very nice Yale boy guided me there, and seemed as willing as myself to sit down in the snow every ten minutes and look at the scenery. But we saw much more of the scenery than of the mine, because there was more of it to see, and there was no general manager to prevent us from looking as long as we liked. The trail led over fallen logs and up slippery rocks caked with ice and through drifts of snow higher than one's head, and the pines accompanied us all the way with branches bent to the mountain-side with the weight of the snow, and a cold, cheery mountain stream appeared and disappeared from under long bridges of ice and mocked at us for our slow progress. But we gave it a very close race coming down. Sometimes we walked in the cold, dark shadows of the pines, where hardly a ray of sunlight came, and again the trail would cross a landslide, and the wind brought strong odors of the pine and keen, icy blasts from the snow-capped ranges which stretched before us for fifty miles, and we could see Creede lying at our feet like a box of spilled jackstraws. Every now and then we met long lines of burros carrying five bags of ore each, with but twenty dollars' worth of silver scattered through each load, and we could hear the voice of the driver from far up above and the tinkle of the bell as they descended upon us. Sometimes they made way for us or halted timidly with curious, patient eyes, and sometimes they shouldered us promptly backward into three feet of snow. It was a lonely, impressive journey, and the wonderful beauty and silence of the mountain made words impertinent. And, again, we would come upon a solitary prospector tapping at the great rock in front of him, and only stopping to dip his hot face and blistered hands into the snow about him, before he began to drive the steel bar again with the help which hope gave him. His work but for this ingredient would seem futile, foolish, and impossible. Why, he would ask himself, should I work against this stone safe day after day only to bore a hole in its side as minute as a nail's point in the front of a house, and a thousand rods, probably, from where the hole should be? And then hope tells him that perhaps the very next stroke will make him a millionaire like Creede, and so he makes the next stroke, and the next, and the next.    

Courtesy of Western Mining

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    If ever I own a silver mine, I am going to have it situated at the base of a mountain, and not at the top. I would not care to take that journey we made to the Chance every day. I would rather sit in the office below and read reports. After one gets there, the best has been seen; for the general manager of the Last Chance Mine, to whom I had a letter of introduction, and indeed all the employees, guarded their treasure with the most praiseworthy and faithful vigilance. It was evident that they were quietly determined among themselves to resist any attempt on the part of the Yale man and myself to carry away the shaft with us. We could have done so only over their dead bodies. The general manager confounded me with the editor of the Saturday Night, which he said he reads, and which certainly ought to account for several things. I expected to be led into a tunnel, and to be shown delicate veins of white silver running around the sides, which one could cut out with a penknife and make into scarf-pins and watch guards. If not, from whence, then, do the nuggets come that the young and disappointed lover sends as a wedding present to the woman who should have married him, when she marries some other man who has sensibly remained in the East — a present, indeed, which has always struck me as extremely economical, and much cheaper than standing-lamps. But I saw no silver nuggets. One of the workmen showed us a hole in the side of the mountain which he assured us was the Last Chance Mine, and that out of this hole one hundred and eighty thousand dollars came every month. He then handed us a piece of red stone and a piece of black stone, and said that when these two stones were found together silver was not far off. To one thirsting for a sight of the precious metal this was about as satisfying as being told that after the invitations had been sent out and the awning stretched over the sidewalk there was a chance of a dance in the neighborhood. I was also told that the veins lie between walls of porphyry and trachyte, but that there is not a distinctly marked difference, as the walls resemble each other closely. This may or may not be true; it is certainly not interesting, and I regret that I cannot satisfy the mining expert as to the formation of the mine, or tell him whether or not the vein is a heavy galena running so much per cent, of lead, or a dry silicious ore, or whether the ore bodies were north and south, and are or are not true fissures, and at what angle the contact or body veins cut these same fissures. All of this I should have ascertained had the general manager been more genial; but we cannot expect one man to combine the riches of Montezuma and the graces of Chesterfield, One is sure to destroy the other.
     The social life of Creede is much more interesting than outputs and ore values. There were several social functions while I was there which tend to show the happy spirit of the place. There was a prize-fight at Billy Woods', a pie-eating match at Kernan's, a Mexican circus in the bottom near Wagon Wheel Gap, a religious service at Watrous and Bannigan's gambling-house, and the first wedding in the history of the town. I was sorry to miss this last, especially as three prominent citizens, misunderstanding the purpose of my visit to Creede, took the trouble to scour the mountain-side for me in order that I might photograph the wedding party in a group, which I should have been delighted to do. The bride was the sister of Billy Woods's barkeeper, and "Stony" Sargeant, a faro-dealer at "Soapy" Smith's, was the groom. The Justice of the Peace, whose name I forget, performed the ceremony, and Edward De Vinne, the Tramp Poet, offered a few appropriate and well -chosen remarks, after which Woods and Smith, who run rival gambling-houses, outdid each other in the extravagant practice of "opening wine." All of these are prominent citizens, and the event was memorable.

The Orleans Club
far right, under flag
The West from a Car Window, 1892, by R. H. Davis

     I met several of these prominent citizens while in Creede, and found them affable. Billy Woods fights, or used to fight, at two hundred and ten pounds, and rejoices in the fact that a New York paper once devoted five columns to his personality. His reputation saves him the expense of paying men to keep order. Bob Ford, who shot Jesse James, was another prominent citizen of my acquaintance. He does not look like a desperado, but has a loutish apologetic air, which is explained by the fact that he shot Jesse James in the back, when the latter was engaged in the innocent work of hanging a picture on the wall. Ford never quite recovered from the fright he received when he found out who it was that he had killed. "Bat" Masterden[sic] was of an entirely different class. He dealt for Watrous, and has killed twenty-eight men, once three together. One night when he was off duty I saw a drunken man slap his face, and the silence was so great that we could hear the electric light sputter in the next room; but Masterden[sic] only laughed, and told the man to come back and do it again when he was sober. “Troublesome Tom" Cady acted as a capper for "Soapy" Smith, and played the shell game during the day. He was very grateful to me for teaching him a much superior method in which the game is played in the effete East. His master, "Soapy" Smith, was a very bad man indeed, and hired at least twelve men to lead the prospector with a little money, or the tenderfoot who had just arrived, up to the numerous tables in his gambling-saloon, where they were robbed in various ways so openly that they deserved to lose all that was taken from them.

The following paragraph talks about the shooting between Soap Gang member Joe Palmer and the "Louisiana Kid" just outside of the Orleans Club.
     There were also some very good shots at Creede, and some very bad ones. Of these latter was Mr. James Powers, who emptied his revolver and Rab Brothers' store at the same time without doing any damage. He explained that he was crowded and wanted more room. The most delicate shooting was done by the Louisiana Kid — I don't know what his other name was — who was robbed in Soapy Smith's saloon, and was put out when he expostulated. He waited patiently until one of Smith's men named Farnham [Joe Palmer], appeared, and then, being more intent in showing his skill than on killing Farnham, shot the thumb off his right hand as it rested on the trigger. Farnham shifted his pistol to his left hand, with which he shot equally well, but before he could fire the Kid shot the thumb off that hand too.
This is a very early version that has Palmer's thumbs being shot off. The Louisiana Kid escaped death and capture, simply disappearing. According to newspaper accounts the "Kid" also received several wounds in the gunfight. It is believed by this author that the Kid met his demise during his attempt to escape, and his corpse became the petrified man McGinty.   

The Orleans Club
A few weeks later
Jeff Smith collection

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     This is, of course, Creede at night. It is not at all a dangerous place, and the lawlessness is scattered and mild. There was only one street, and as no one cared to sit on the edge of a bunk in a cold room at night, the gambling-houses were crowded in consequence every evening. It was simply because there was nowhere else to go. The majority of the citizens used them as clubs, and walked from one to the other talking claims and corner lots, and dived down into their pockets for specimens of ore which they passed around for examination. Others went there to keep warm, and still others to sleep in the corner until they were put out. The play was never high. There was so much of it, though, that it looked very bad and wicked and rough, but it was quite harmless. There were no sudden oaths, nor parting of the crowd, and pistol-shots or gleaming knives — or, at least, but seldom. The women who frequented these places at night, in spite of their sombreros and flannel shirts and belts, were a most unpicturesque and unattractive element. They were neither dashing and bold, nor remorseful and repentant.

The Denver Exchange
The first location

     They gambled foolishly, and laughed when they won, and told the dealer he cheated when they lost. The men occasionally gave glimpses of the life which Bret Harte made dramatic and picturesque — the women, never. The most uncharacteristic thing of the place, and one which was Bret Hartish in every detail, was the service held in Watrous and Bannigan's gambling-saloon. The hall is a very long one with a saloon facing the street, and keno tables, and a dozen other games in the gambling-room beyond. When the doors between the two rooms are held back they make a very large hall. A clergyman asked Watrous if he could have the use of the gambling-hall on Sunday night. The house was making about three hundred dollars an hour, and Watrous calculated that half an hour would be as much as he could afford towards the collection. He mounted a chair and said, “Boys, this gentleman wants to make a few remarks to you of a religious nature. All the games at that end of the hall will stop, and you want to keep still."

Watrous and Bannigan's gambling-saloon
Known as The Denver Exchange

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     The clergyman stood on the platform of the keno outfit, and the greater part of the men took the seats around it, toying with the marking cards scattered over the table in front of them, while the men in the saloon crowded the doorway from the swinging-doors to the bar, and looked on with curious and amused faces. At the back of the room the roulette wheel clicked and the ball rolled. The men in this part of the room who were playing lowered their voices, but above the voice of the preacher one could hear the clinking of the silver and the chips, and the voice of the boy at the wheel calling, "seventeen and black, and twenty-eight and black again and — keep the ball rolling, gentlemen — and four and red." There are two electric lights in the middle of the hall and a stove; the men were crowded closely around this stove, and the lamps shone through the smoke on their tanned upturned faces and on the white excited face of the preacher above them. There was the most excellent order, and the collection was very large. I asked Watrous how much he lost by the interruption.
     "Nothing," he said, quickly, anxious to avoid the appearance of good; " I got it all back at the bar."
     Of the inner life of Creede I saw nothing; I mean the real business of the place — the speculation in real estate and in mines. Capitalists came every day, and were carried off up the mountains to look at a hole in the ground, and down again to see the assay tests of the ore taken from it. Prospectors scoured the sides of the mountains from sundawn to sunset, and at night their fires lit up the range, and their little heaps of stone and their single stick, with their name scrawled on it in pencil, made the mountains look like great burying -grounds. All of the land within two miles of Creede was claimed by these simple proofs of ownership — simple, yet as effectual as a parchment sealed and signed. When the snow has left the mountains, and these claims can be worked, it will be time enough to write the real history of the rise or fall of Creede.

(articles are not in order of importance. There is more than one page of posts)

Creede: pages 11, 63, 73, 75, 77, 79, 82-84, 87-89, 90, 94, 131, 137, 183, 197-235, 236-42.

"Throughout his adult life, and long after his death, his daring crimes along with his good and charitable works were reported regularly in newspapers across the Western states. His life had been dense with exploits and his death shot full of controversy. His was a spectacular and devious life. For some twenty years, Soapy Smith was the top “sure-thing” man of the West, and no one would prove more slippery."
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 17


1857: The Atlantic Monthly began publishing. Its first issue featured the first installment of The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table by Oliver Wendell Holmes.
1865: Soldiers from Fort Owen, Montana Territory ship 12,000 pounds of cabbage to mine workers.
1871: The White Mountain Indian Reservation is established in Arizona Territory.
1872: A fire destroys about 800 buildings in Boston, Massachusetts.
1875: Indian inspector Watson makes the recommendation that all Sioux be forced onto reservations by January 31, 1876.
1881: Bill “Russian Bill” Lintenburn and Sandy King, arrested for dealing in stolen cattle, are grabbed by masked vigilantes from a Shakespeare, Montana hotel where a makeshift court was in session. The men were hung in the lobby of the hotel and left hanging for the townspeople to see.
1882: “Marshal Bat Masterson received a severe bat on the head from a cane in the hands of a drunken man yesterday whom he was in the act of arresting.” Trinidad Daily Democrat
1886: Soapy Smith (Denver) receives a letter from John Morgan, proprietor of the Board of Trade clubroom in Leadville, Colorado, about a stolen gaffed faro dealing box. He wanted Soapy to keep his eyes out for it, in Denver’s pawn shops, but not to let anyone know that it was gaffed as he feared losing his reputation and that of his gaming house.
1889: J. M. Kallin of Montgomery, Alabama is ejected from a Burlington train at Barr station for having a counterfeit ticket he had purchased from one of Soapy Smith’s fake ticket brokers on Seventeenth Street, Denver, Colorado.
1890: Joe “Gambler Joe” Simmons, proprietor of the Tivoli Club is reported to have wounded W. M. Shuck of Lyons, Colorado with a glancing shot from his .45 Colt. The reason is unknown.
1898: Trials begin for Soap Gang members, Bowers, Jackson, Triplett, Foster, Wilder and Taylor for the robbery of John D. Stewart.
1906: U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt left for Panama to see the progress on the new canal. It was the first foreign trip by a U.S. president.