November 28, 2017

Artifact #58:

(Click image to enlarge)

efferson R. Smith, was commissioned an officer of the U.S. Volunteers of the War with Spain.
Artifact #58

Transposition of artifact #58.
June 26, 1936
(A.G. 201
Smith, Jefferson R.
(5/28/36) ORD

Major General E. T. Conley,
The Adjutant General,
Washington, D. C.

Dear Major General:
     Your letter to Honorable James R. Claiborne, House of Representatives, requests additional information regarding our belief that my father, Jefferson R. Smith, was commissioned an officer of the U.S. Volunteers of the War with Spain.
     I am enclosing copies of a number of papers. At the same time we are making additional search for more of them bearing on this matter. We have several clippings from California newspapers which speak of my father being named a captain of U.S. Volunteers. However, we feel this would throw no light as to official records.
     We thank you very much for the kindly interest you have shown in this matter.

Very truly years,
Jefferson Smith.

123 Adele avenue,
Ferguson, Missouri.

John Randolph Smith
the author's father
grew up at 123 Adele Ave.
     (Click image to enlarge)

     This is an interesting and tough one to properly decipher. Jefferson Randolph Smith III, the 49 year old son of bad man "Soapy" Smith attempted to get official military recognition for his father, "elected" Captain of the Skaguay Military Company.
     It would appear that the son (this authors grandfather) wrote to his Missouri representative, James Robert Claiborne, in 1936. Mr. Claiborne wrote to the Adjutant General of the Army, Major General Edgar T. Conley and Conley wrote back to Rep. Claiborne on May 28, 1936 requesting more information. On June 26, 1936 Jefferson wrote his response (above) to Major General Conley.

Deciphering the document:

At the top of the letter is the following
(A.G. 201
Smith, Jefferson R.
(5/28/36) ORD

"A.G." is likely the initials for "Adjutant General." The number "201" may be a letter/document number for filing purposes. The name of who the letter is addressed to, the date of the letter and "ORD." I looked online trying to find the abbreviation for 1936 military purposes but had no luck. I did find military abbreviations but cannot be certain they are the same. Following are what I located  

  1. Operation Ready Date.
  2. Order
  3. Operational Requirement(s) Document
  4. Office of Research and Development.

Note: the two long oval stains are from a paperclip.
     Jefferson was hoping that in locating the original copies of the minutes and volunteer roster Soapy had sent to President McKinley, along with the positive response from the War Department, that the government might honor Soapy with acknowledgement of (attempting to) serve his country in time of war. The documents were eventually found but as the Skaguay Military Company was never officially accepted by the military, it could not be given official honors.
     Jefferson spent much of his life trying to clean up the negative stories about his father and this series of letters to the Adjutant General was most likely part of this attempt. The first known attempt was in 1919 with the release of the American black and white silent film, The Girl Alaska. It is believed to be the first motion picture that portrayed a mention of Soapy on film. The film was shown at a local theater in Ferguson, Missouri and it caused the son, a newspaper man and political power in St. Louis, Missouri, personal anguish and supposed loss of respect. Jefferson hired the legal firm of McCarthy, Morris and Sachritz to take up a legal battle of written letters meant to eliminate objectionable parts from the film, or he would sue for malicious libel. The film company, George Kleine Motion Pictures offered to cut offensive scenes out but later reneged on the offer. The one copy of the film that exists at the Library of Congress does not appear to be that offensive and may be one of the copies with the objectionable scenes cut out.

CONLEY, Major General Edgar Thomas Conley (Adjutant General)

Edgar Thomas Conley made assistant to the Adjutant General on June 1, 1933, and was appointed The Adjutant General on November 1, 1935 and remained in that position until 1938. He probably took a personal interest in the Smith letters and research of the Skaguay Military Company as he himself was a Lieutenant when he joined Company G, 21st Infantry, and went to Cuba during the Spanish American War. On July 1, 1898, Conley was cited for gallantry in battle at Santiago, Cuba, in which he was awarded the Silver Star.


CLAIBORNE, James Robert (House Representative, Missouri)

James Robert Claiborne, a Representative from Missouri, was a lawyer in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1933 he was elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-third and Seventy-fourth Congresses (March 4, 1933-January 3, 1937).


General search of blog for "Skaguay Military Company
(Note: there are numerous posts. They are not in any particular order of importance.) 

Skaguay Military Company: pages 79, 471, 486-90, 494-95, 498-502, 505, 510, 514-15, 595.

"The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones."
— William Shakespeare.


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.

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