id Soapy operate in Cleveland, Ohio?
My publisher, Art Petersen, came across an interesting newspaper clipping while researching Mollie Walsh. The article was published in the Paystreak (Sandon, British Columbia) on October 23, 1897. It was originally published in the Cleveland Leader on August 17, 1897.
So, is this Soapy Smith or another confidence man? Hard to say with certainty. It depends on when the occurrence actually took place. Soapy did a lot of traveling around the eastern states, including New York, about this time; however, on August 17, 1897, he was around 2,500 miles from Cleveland on-board the steamer Utopia heading to Juneau and Skagway, Alaska.
PLUCKING THE INNOCENT.
A Willy Fakir Who Was “Done” by the Farmers.
“No,” said the soap fakir to a group of people that had gathered around him, according to the Cleveland Leader, “there is no use talking to me about the innocence of the countrymen. He may buy a gold brick occasionally or sign a blank cheque and lose his farm, but, as a rule, he can take care of himself just as well as the next one, and generally a little better. If I knew as much as some farmers I would not be in this business, and you can gamble on that.
“Why, say, do you know what happened to me the last time I was down in the country? I got pinched, that’s what I done. I got my satchel out in front of the hotel in a little town about 30 miles from here and began to do a few tricks to draw a crowd.
“After I’d made an egg disappear and pulled a few knots open for them, I says: ‘Now, gentlemen, I’m going to show you a trick that nobody else on earth has ever attempted. You see my hat here? Well, we’ll imagine for the time bein’ that it’s a flower pot. Out of this hat I’m goin’ to make a bush grow up, and when I’ve done that I’ll make every leaf on it turn into a $5 note.’
“What? Did I do it? Of course I did! But, say, do you know what come of it? Blamed if they didn’t arrest me and fine me $15 for raisin’ bills, which the Justice of the Peace said was ‘contrary to the stetoots made and provided.’
“Well, I sort of had a hankerin’ to know whether they done it in good faith or just because they thought I was easy pickin’ and what do you think I found out? Why, the people of that town hadn’t paid any taxes for eight years. They’d actually been runnin’ things by pluckin’ just such innocent fellows as me.
“Now, gentlemen, there’s a $1 bill in one of these little packages. Who will give me 10 cents now for the first choice?”
* Special thanks to Art Petersen for sharing the article, and to Linda Gay Mathis for locating the Cleveland Leader.
"He accomplished his dominance by eliminating chance from his games. In turn, he emptied the pockets of his victims and bluffed them into silence and submission."
—Alias Soapy Smith, p. 15
1862: Gold is discovered in Grasshopper Creek, Montana. The camp of Bannock is erected nearby. Confusion over the boundaries requires the camp location be listed as being in Oregon Territory, Idaho Territory, and Montanan Territory.
1864: In what is known as the Battle of Killdeer Mountain, General Sully and his forces attack Indian Chief Sitting Bull's camp on the Little Missouri River, Dakota Territory.
1865: The American Dental Association proposes its first code of ethics.
1866: The metric system is recognized by Congress for the standardization of weights and measures in the United States.
1867: Lieutenant Colonel George Custer is arrested. His pending court-martial is for desertion, for over marching his troops, and for cruel treatment of deserters.
1867: seven soldiers die of Cholera in one day in Fort Wallace, Kansas.
1868: The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is enacted. The amendment guaranteed due process of law.
1874: A band of horse-thieves is caught in Caldwell, Kansas, by a posse led by Under Sheriff John Davis.
1878: Charles Earl “Black Bart” Bowles robs the Quincy-Oroville stage in California, for a second time.
1878: The Grant County Herald in New Mexico Territory erroneously reports that outlaw Billy the Kid is killed in the McSween battle of the Lincoln County War.
1880: Apache Indian Chief Victorio begins a two-week-long series of raids in the Eagle Springs region of Texas.
1884: Famed Denver brothel madam “Jennie Rogers” is arrested for vagrancy and “being a professional morphine taker.” She sentenced to ten days in jail.
1893: Soapy Smith writes a letter to the editor of the Denver Times stating that there are “no bunco men on lower 17th Street.” He signs the letter, “alias Soapy Smith.”
1895: Deputy U.S. Marshal John Garrett is shot in the leg and chest, by Rufus Buck, as he exits a store in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. It is the beginning of the Buck Gang’s 13-day spree of robberies, assaults, rapes, and attempted murder. The gang is eventually captured, all six men are found guilty of rape, and are executed July 1, 1896.
1896: The city of Miami, Florida is incorporated.