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.

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