November 14, 2017

Soapy Smith according to Roy Fudge, Sept. 17, 1898

Roy Fudge, Canon City and Soapy Smith
The Arkansas Democrat
September 17, 1898
Entire text below
(Click image to enlarge)

Veritable Reign of Terror
Thousands of people were robbed of all they had.
The United States Commissioner ... believed to have been the real head of the gang.

     This is the home-coming interview of Fort Smith, Arkansas local, Roy Fudge who made his stake in the Klondike gold rush as a hotel operator in Canon City in 1897.
     Canon City was first known as Canon Camp, it was later called Canon, Canon City, Canyon, and finally, Canyon City. ... In the winter and spring of 1897-98, Canyon City was the end of the wagon road along the Dyea trail. The site's prominence stems from its location at the south end of the Taiya River Canyon (Dyea Canyon).
     Following is the entire text of the article published in the Arkansas Democrat on September 17, 1898.


Fort Smith Boy Started for Klondike and Located at Canon City, Near Chilkoot.


Does Not Advise Any One to Go Without Money or a Pull With the Canadian Government.

     Roy Fudge, one of the party of three Fort Smith boys who left for the Alaskan gold fields soon after the Klondike craze broke out, is the last to return to his home. To the Fort Smith Times he tells the following story:
     “I located at Canon City and went into the hotel business and made money rapidly. The man who did not make money was in hard lines indeed, for even the newsboys, coined money, some making $25 a day easily. A man with a good team could clear $50 a day without any trouble. Living expenses were high in proportion, of course, and it costs a person fully $10 a day to live comfortably.

"On the Dyea Trail in Spring [1897]"
"in the canyon between Dyea and the Chilkoot Pass"
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

     “Canon City is located at the foot of the Chilkoot Summit and is right on the Chilkoot trail, which was the only trail passable at all times of the year. The peak on the Summit, by the way, is the dividing line between the United States and the Canadian territory. It was also the dividing line between lawlessness and the strict enforcement of the law. The only thing I was ever ashamed of being an American citizen was during my residence in Alaska. ‘Soapy’ Smith and his gang of outlaws held a veritable reign of terror there for a while on the American side, while in the Canadian district everything was quiet and orderly and everybody law-abiding.
     “Gold seekers coming into the country with money or going out with gold dust were held up and robbed by ‘Soapy’ Smith and his men. Few murders occurred, but thousands of people were robbed of all they had. The United States Commissioner, J. U. Smith, was, and is still, believed to have been the real head of the gang. When ‘Soapy’ Smith was killed some weeks ago the sentiment was so strong that Commissioner Smith resigned his position and left the country. It is said that he pulled out with not less than $200,000. Made by extracting ‘protection money’ from the thugs. When one of the outlaws was brought before him for trial he would admit the testimony of friends and then discharge him. ‘Soapy’ Smith was killed by a citizen who was mortally wounded by the outlaw and died later.
     “The Klondike has been greatly exaggerated in every way. While the reports of the gold taken out are correct as to the amounts, the money has all been made by a very few men. The average man has made no big strike. Still work in many of the diggings pays $25 a day. The greatest exaggeration about the country, however has been in reference to the hardships there. Of course there have been cases where the suffering was great, but it has not been general as reported, however.
     “The most horrible thing in my experience was the avalanche which caused the loss of sixty-seven lives last winter. Being at the foot of the Summit, I was one of the first to reach there, and assisted in the work of removing the dead. Sixty-five bodies were taken out then, and two more were found this spring after the snow it cleared off.
     “I shall go back to the Klondike in the spring.” Concluded Mr. Fudge. “If the Skaguay railroad is built it will knock Canon City higher than a kite, and my property with it, but if the scheme falls through, Canon City will make the best town in Alaska. I would not advise anybody to go to the Klondike unless they were equipped with a pull with Canadian authorities and had plenty of money to start out with.”
The statement by Mr. Fudge that Alaska District Commissioner John U. Smith was the "real head" of the Soapy Smith gang is very interesting. This is the first time I have come across this accusation. Mr. Fudge was incorrect that Commissioner J. Smith was in charge ("When one of the outlaws was brought before him for trial...") of the court trails. He kept court records and collected fees but he was not the judge.
     Fudge stated that he planned to return "in the spring" 1899, but Canyon City had been slowing down since July 1898. By the following year the tramways, so important to the trail, were dismantled and moved to Dyea on the coast. It is not known if Fudge returned. 

History of Canyon City: Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Commissioner John U. Smith: August 12, 2017

John U. Smith: page 440-41, 460, 477, 496, 499, 506, 512.

"Why Mamma, that is the man that bought all us kids candy, and now he’s dead!"
—Royal Pullen (to his mother as they saw Soapy lying on the wharf)
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 539.


1832: The first streetcar begins operations in New York City. The vehicle is powered by a horse, with room for 30 people.
1851: Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick is published in the U.S.
1863: Harry Plummer and 3 members of his gang, rob Henry Tilden in Horse Prairie, Montana.
1869: Gunfighter Clay Allison slashes with Osage Indians, killing three, in the Creek Nation (Oklahoma).
1870: Captain Adna R. Chaffee and a detachment of Company I, 6th Cavalry, from Ft Richardson, Texas, battle a band of Comanche Indians in the process of stealing cattle. All the cattle is recaptured, as well as seven horses.
1881: The trial of Charles Guiteau for the assassination of President Garfield, begins. Guiteau is convicted and hung the following year.
1882: Billy “the Kid” Claiborne is shot and killed by Frank “Buckskin” Leslie in Tombstone, Arizona Territory. The previous night, Leslie was bartending at the Oriental Saloon when he was forced to escort Claiborne out, due to his abuse towards other customers. Upon exiting, Claiborne told Leslie that he would get even. The following day, while bartending, several customers warned Leslie that Claiborne was outside, armed with a rifle. Leslie went outside to defuse the situation but Claiborne fired his rifle at Leslie. The shot missed Leslie, who returned fire, hitting Claiborne in the chest and killing him.
1888: Peter Anderson, a bartender at the Palace Theater in Denver, Colorado, fatally shoots blacksmith R. D. Vaughn just outside the front door of the theater. The Palace Theater is owned by Ed “Big Ed” Chase, a partner with bad man “Soapy” Smith in the Tivoli Club, a combination saloon and gaming house.

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