August 24, 2017

Soapy Smith in court: The US Commissioner journal for Dyea, Alaska, 1898; Part 6.

Sylvester S. Taylor arrested
Deputy U.S. Marshal

"Wilful neglect of official duty"
Courtesy Alaska State Archives
(Click image to enlarge)

The legal journal of the U.S. Commissioner Court
Dyea, Alaska; part six of eight parts.

     The following is part six of a series of articles regarding the journal of legal proceedings regarding Soapy Smith and the Soap Gang in Skagway, Alaska, started by U.S. Commissioner John U. Smith. On this case Commissioner Smith has been replaced by Charles Augustus Sehlbrede.
    On Friday, July 8, 1898, Soapy Smith was shot and killed in the shootout on Juneau Wharf. It was discovered that Deputy U.S. Marshal Sylvester S. Taylor was in league with Soapy Smith and his gang. Following is the transcription of the events listed on page 436 compiled by Commissioner Sehlbrede.

The United States Commissioners Court for the District of Alaska at Dyea

United States vs S. S. Taylor - Violation Sec 636 (1852) OC [Oregon Code]

July 15, 1898
     Complaint charging defendant as United States Deputy Marshal with wilful neglect of official duty sworn to by J. D. Stewart, filed.

July 15, 1898
     Warrant issued and placed in hands of United States Deputy Marshal J. M. Tanner for service.

July 15, 1898
     Defendant arrested and brought before the court, and being advised of the nature of the charge against him, and of his right to the aid of counsel, defendant waived examination.
     Whereupon it is adjudged that the defendant be held to answer for the crime of wilful neglect of official duty.
     It therefore appearing to me that the crime of wilful neglect of official duty has been committed and that there is sufficient cause to believe the defendant S. S. Taylor guilty thereof, I order him to be held to answer the same and I have admitted him to bail in the sum of five thousand dollars.
     Commitment issued and with the defendant delivered to United States Marshal James M. Shoup.

C. A. Sehlbrede
United States Commissioner.

* A very special thank you to Art Petersen who located and copied the pages of the journal.

Commissioner's Journal: part 1.
Commissioner's Journal: part 2.
Commissioner's Journal: part 3.
Commissioner's Journal: part 4.
Commissioner's Journal: part 5.
Commissioner's Journal: part 7.
Commissioner's Journal: part 8.

Sylvester S. Taylor: pp. 508-12, 520, 527, 562, 575-76, 580-81.
John Douglas Stewart: pp. 55, 80-82, 91, 434, 525-28, 532, 547, 553, 558, 562-63, 565, 567, 574-75, 577-79, 581, 585, 595.
U.S. Commissioner Charles Augustus Sehlbrede: pp. 506-07, 514, 520-21, 527, 529, 533, 537, 542, 544, 547-48, 550, 553, 557, 562-63, 566-67, 570-71, 575, 577.
Josias M. Tanner: pp. 82, 459, 500, 530, 533, 535, 541, 544, 547-49, 551, 562, 564, 566-71, 575-79, 582.

"Men who had known Soapy were still living, and the Smith siblings were able to question some of these witnesses. In the 1960s they tape-recorded interviews with a number of old-timers who had known Soapy. As a young boy, the author recalls several meetings and interviews in the den of the family home. Too young to be allowed in at such times, I would “hang out” just beyond a set of saloon-style swinging doors and listen."
Alias Soapy Smith, page 7-8.

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