August 24, 2017

Soapy Smith in court: The US Commissioner journal for Dyea, Alaska, 1898; Part 5.

George Wilder arrested
"Assault with a dangerous weapon"
Courtesy Alaska State Archives

(Click image to enlarge)

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

     The following is part five 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 On this case Commissioner Smith has been replaced by Charles Augustus Sehlbrede.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. Seconds after the shooting stopped the Soap Gang rushed forward to aid their fallen boss. George Wilder was accused of threatening J. M. Tanner with a "dangerous weapon." Following is the transcription of the events listed on page 432 compiled by Commissioner Sehlbrede.

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

United States vs George Wilder - Violation Sec 536 (1744) Oregon Code

July 9, 1898
     Complaint charging defendant with the crime of assault with a dangerous weapon sworn to by J. M. Tanner, filed.

July 9, 1898
     Warrant for the arrest of defendant issued, and J. M. Tanner appointed by the court to serve the served.

July 15, 1898
     Defendant arrested and brought before the court, and upon being asked his true name stated it to be George Wilder, and being by the court advised of his the nature of the charge against him and his right to aid of counsel, waived examination. Whereupon it is adjudged that the defendant George Wilder be held to answer for the crime of assault with a dangerous weapon. It therefore appearing to me that the crime of an assault with a dangerous weapon has been committed, and that there is sufficient cause to believe the said defendant, George Wilder 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 placed in the hands of United States Marshal James M. Shoup.

C. A. Sehlbrede
United States Commissioner for Alaska at Dyea.

* 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 6.
Commissioner's Journal: part 7.
Commissioner's Journal: part 8.

George W. Wilder: pp. 92, 268, 272, 338-39, 353, 471, 554, 564-67, 575-76, 579, 582.
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.

Jeff Smith's Parlor had his name in large letters across the front facade of the building. This was Soapy's personal podium, the place where he stood at the bar at shined as the "respected businessman, law abiding citizen, and patriot." I guess you could say that the false front extended into the inside of the Parlor as well. Old timers referred to the Parlor as "the real city hall."
—Jeff Smith


1814: Washington D.C. is invaded by British forces, setting fire to the White House and Capitol buildings.
1852: Famed confidence man Frank Tarbeaux is born in Boulder, Colorado. He is best known for dressing and portraying the part of a “rube” (an easy mark), so that players of his three-card monte games think they have a better chance of winning against someone not very intelligent or successful. It’s based on the assumption that few people want to gamble with a person who looks like they win a lot.
1853: The first convention of the American Pharmaceutical Association is held.
1857: The business district of Columbia, California is razed by a two-day fire.
1861: Denver, Colorado southern gambler Charley Harrison, proprietor of the Criterion saloon, battles with Union soldiers who forced their way into the establishment. A melee erupted which damaged the saloon. Later in the evening shots were fired into the soldier’s barracks wounding two. The Criterion was surrounded by soldiers and a canon. Harrison was arrested. He sold the Criterion after the trial.
1866: Infantrymen capture two Indians in the San Francisco Mountains, Arizona Territory.
1868: General Philip Sheridan reports that Indians have killed 20 citizens and wounded many in Kansas. He advocates the Indians' forcible removal to reservations.
1869: The patent for the waffle iron is awarded to Cornelius Swarthout.
1874: Cheyenne Indians kill six government surveyors in Meade County, Kansas, known as The “Lone Tree Massacre.”
1877: Corteze D. “Cort” Thomson wins a 125-yard foot-race against Sam Doherty at the Denver, Colorado fair grounds. Among the betters was Thomson’s lover, Denver brothel madame Martha A. “Mattie” Silks, who won a large cash prize betting heavily on her man to win. The following evening, while the couple rode in a carriage, Thomson was wounded by a bullet grazing his neck. The attempted assassin was never identified. In 1892 Thomson is involved with bad man Soapy Smith in the shooting death of gambler Cliff Sparks. In 1898 Silks accuses Soapy of planning her murder.
1881: Bunco-men “Big Ed” Burns and Mat Mahaim get into a shooting affray in Benson, Arizona. Burns’ is arrested after shooting Deputy Sheriff McComas in the leg. A mob burns the gambling furniture of the con men and forces them out of town. Burns is taken to Tombstone for trial. Burns would later join the Soap Gang as a long-standing member, following Soapy to Alaska.
1891: Thomas Edison applies patents for the kinetoscope and kinetograph.
1895: Three days of bullfighting opens in Gillette, Colorado in which Soapy Smith is believed to operate the gambling concession.
1896: Lawman Heck Thomas shoots and kills outlaw Bill Doolin as the two road towards each other on a road outside Lawson, Oklahoma. It is believed that the wife of bad man Soapy Smith (Mary Noonan) is related to the Dalton family.
1912: Alaska becomes a U.S. territory.

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