March 25, 2019

Joe Simmons funeral in the Creede Candle newspaper April 9, 1892

Jeff and Joe
Soapy Smith buries Joe Simmons
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892

(Click image to enlarge)

oe Simmons
was a tall, slender gambler known to many as “Gambler Joe” Simmons, a member of the Soap Gang who managed Soapy Smith's Tivoli Club in Denver, 1890, and Soapy's Orleans Club in Creede, 1892. According to William Devere’s poem "Two Little Busted Shoes," Simmons also dealt faro for Soapy in Creede. Simmons and Soapy had worked together in Denver from Soapy's earliest times there, and they were the best of friends.
      When a friend of Soapy's died, a proper send off was provided. The closer the friend, the more lavish the send off. So when pneumonia, the scourge of the camps, fell upon Joe and he died of it on March 18, 1892, Soapy took it hard, openly displaying his emotion. Only a hint of that emotion made the pages of the Creede Candle, March 25, 1892.

Buried by friends
Joe Simmons, an old–time friend of Jeff Smith, died Friday night. On Sunday afternoon he was buried in Sunnyside Cemetery.
      At 3 o’clock the funeral procession of twelve carriages, containing friends, old and new, formed, and in a heavy snowstorm proceeded to the burial place. There, by the open grave, Jeff Smith poured out a tender, touching and manly tribute over the remains of his old friend, two bottles of champagne were drunk to the memory of the dead and the grave closed up.
      It was such a burial as only strong men can give, and all who were there felt the scene and words said bravened them for the day when in the last bite they shall be the vanquished and death the Victor.

Original article
Creede Candle
March 25, 1892

(Click image to enlarge)


My father stated that this was (l to R) Joe Palmer and Joe Simmons
possibly taken in Denver or Creede
(Click image to enlarge)

      Heading up the steep, snowy hill to Sunnyside Cemetery, Simmons’ granddaughter, Beth Jackson, claimed that Joe’s casket slid out of the wagon and had to be lifted back in. Then half way up the hill, the horses could no longer pull their loads through the accumulated snow, so the mourners walked the rest of the way, carrying Joe’s casket and a case of Pomeroy champagne.

October 17, 2008
April 20, 2010
April 7, 2011
April 21, 2011
August 23, 2013
December 22, 2015 

Joe Simmons: pages 33, 89, 131, 210, 214, 225-29, 273, 594.

"Card sharping has been reduced to a science. It is no longer a haphazard affair, involving merely primitive manipulations, but it has developed into a profession in which there is as much to learn as in most occupations."
—John Maskelyne, 1894


1634: Lord Baltimore creates the Catholic colony of Maryland.
1655: Catholic forces win a military victory over the colony of Maryland. The Puritans jail their Governor Stone.
1668: The first recorded horse race in America takes place.
1774: English Parliament passes the Boston Port Bill.
1776: The Continental Congress authorizes a medal for General George Washington.
1813: The frigate USS Essex flies the first U.S. flag in battle in the Pacific.
1856: A. E. Burnside patents the Burnside carbine.
1857: Frederick Laggenheim takes the first photo of a solar eclipse.
1865: The steamship General Lyon catches fire and sinks at Cape Hatteras, killing 400 people.
1865: Confederate forces capture Fort Stedman in Virginia, during the American Civil War.
1877: John Slaughter, a Cheyenne and Black Hills stagecoach driver, is shot and killed by Robert McKimie, of the outlaw Sam Bass Gang as they rob the stage outside of Deadwood, South Dakota. Also there is Sam Bass, Joel Collins, James “Frank” Towle, and either Bill Potts or James Berry. This is the first robbery of the Bass Gang. 17 months later bad man Soapy Smith would later witness the shootout that ended the life of Sam Bass in Round Rock, Texas.
1879: New Mexico Governor Lew Wallace orders the arrest of John Slaughter on suspicion of cattle rustling.
1879: Royal Gorge War in Canon City, Colorado, which had started in the court room, now begins physical violence between the rival railroads of the Rio Grande of Colorado and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe of Kansas. The fight was over ownership and use of the Royal Gorge pass. Bat Masterson was hired to defend the Kansas line, and he did so with 33 armed men, which included Ben Thompson and Doc Holiday. There were a few skirmishes but no causalities in March.
1879: The Army captures Cheyenne Indian Chief Little Wolf and 113 followers at Box Elder Creek, Montana Territory.
1882: Two men raid a mining office in Arizona Territory, killing a mining engineer, but leaving empty-handed. Less than a day later, Deputy Sheriff Billy Breakenridge and three deputies tracked them to a ranch where a gun battle kills one deputy and the two others wounded.
1886: Apache Indian Chief Geronimo meets with General Crook at Canon de los Embudos, Mexico to agree on terms of surrender.
1894: Jacob Coxey and his Army of the Commonweal begin their famous march to Washington. It is bad man Soapy Smith’s poem that is believed to be the suggestion idea for the march.
1898: The Intercollegiate Trapshooting Association is formed in New York City.
1900: The American Socialist Party is formed in Indianapolis.
1901: Cuba discloses a fear of annexation by the U.S.
1902: Irving W. Colburn patents the sheet glass drawing machine.
1905: Confederate battle flags captured during the American Civil War are returned to the Southern states where they came from.
2014: A question involving Soapy Smith appears on the TV game show Jeopardy. The category was “con men.” No one got the correct answer about where he hid a little ball--under a shell.

March 24, 2019

Skagway's Bad Men.

Getting robbed

(Click image to enlarge)

hich of them to hills do you thinks the highest?
Getting robbed of $700 in Skagway, Alaska

Newspaper clipping from the Victoria Daily Colonist, March 11, 1898 telling of the robbery of S. F. Jones and others, upon arrival in Skagway, Alaska.

Passengers by the “Pakshan” tell of wholesale and scientific robbery.
Bad Water Alleged to Be the Chief Cause of the Spinal Meningitis Epidemic.

     It takes a very short time for the enterprising subject of Soapy Smith to separate from his money the luckless sojourner within the precincts of Skagway. Half a dozen of the passengers on the Pakshan discovered this to their cost, and three who returned in disgust with the steamer that had taken them North, unfold a tale of woe which graphically pictures the modus operandi.
     S. F. Jones of Chicago is one of these. He remembers the city at the gateway of the White Pass just $250 worth, while the others are losers to the extent of $700 and $150 respectively. From their reports the bunco man flourishes in Skagway like a green bay tree, and can give the longest kind of odds to his Metropolitan contemporary in the fleecing of the innocent.
     The Pakshan passenger who unwittingly contributed the $700 to the Smith campaign fund was such a lamb as Skagway is glad to welcome. He had barely landed from the steamer when he ran against a very verdant looking party who, open-mouth and gawky, was gazing at the distant hills. This landscape-inspector apologized for getting in the way, and introduced conversation by inquiring:
     “Which of them to hills do you thinks the highest?”
     As the relative altitudes of the mountains in question compared on somewhat the same basis as the new COLONIST and the old post office buildings, the Pakshan passenger replied at once:
     “Why, the one on the right” – the new COLONIST size.
     “Well now, I think you’re wrong,” insisted the interested one. “What’ll you bet that’s the highest?”
     The Pakshan man did not regard it as a betting proposition.
      “It’s nonsense to talk that way,” he said. “It would be betting on a sure thing.”
     “You think so” – the mountain gazer became even more interested. “I’ll just bet you $500 you’re wrong–and will leave it to this man–he seems to know the town–“indicating one who was apparently a resident.
     The new arrival in the city agreed with a laugh, still treating the matter as something of a joke, and imagining that he had run across a decidedly unique but harmless specimen of humanity.
     Of course the citizen agreed with a stranger as to the relative heights of the two mountains, and immediately the proposer of the wage forced $500 notes into the hand of the surprised new-comer. The latter was still looking at the money and trying to collect his senses, when his profitable new acquaintance asked:
     “Now if you have lost, would you have paid up as quick as that. Did you have the money with you to make good, when we made the bet?”
     “Of course I had,” said the unsuspecting lamb.
     An almost before the words had left his lips he found himself looking into the muzzle of an ugly revolver, while the man he has thought so green and comical was demanding in a gruff voice:
     “Well, fork over all you’ve got, and be quick about it. I don’t think you know enough to take care of so much money.”
     This refinement of detail was lacking in the other cases. The victims were simply held up in broad daylight, and gave up their money to escape being murdered. Jones, who was thus relieved of $300, went to Deputy Marshall Rankin and asked for the arrest of the highwayman, whom he knew where to find and could easily and positively identify. The official looked wise, and said it was a very peculiar case, in which he could not possibly act without first writing to Washington and receiving explicit instructions. Then he seemed to see a way out of the difficulty, and suggested that there was a good attorney in town to whom he would introduce the Chicagoan.
     This was how Mr. Jones became acquainted with Mr. Smith, of Skagway, head of the lawless combine and prospective mayor. Soapy’s advice was “not to squeal, but get out as quickly as possible.” Jones replied that he had not been left enough to get out on, whereupon Soapy produced a fifty dollar bill and suggested that the Chicagoan was in great luck to get this much back–following with the admonition that if he remained ten hours in the town he would never have opportunity to move anywhere. Jones says that robbery is conducted on a scientific wholesale principles in Skagway, and that for this reason, as much as because both the trails are blocked, the bulk of the pilgrims are now turning back to go in by the way of the Wrangle. This town he, as well as all the others on the Pakshan, describes as the most orderly as well as most promising place on the northern coast.
     “The United States soldiery are no protection whatever,” says Mr. Jones, “for they are camped three miles up the trail, and are blind and deaf to the lawlessness of the town. Their excuse is that the town is too unhealthy for a place of residence, which is in a measure true. …

Original clipping
Victoria Daily Colonist,
March 11, 1898

(Click image to enlarge)

My thoughts and notes.

  • I found no information on the steamship Pakshan
  • It is amazing that six of it's passengers were swindled or outright robbed, and even more amazing that none of them got justice. Then again, they sought "justice" from those in the pay of Soapy Smith.
  • The common histories written about Soapy in Skagway mention Deputy Marshall Sylvester Taylor as the lawman working for Soapy, but this news clipping mentions Deputy Marshall Rankin as also being in Soapy's pay.
  • Very interesting and so common for the Soapy to pretend to be a Skagway attorney, handing out free advice, suggesting that the victim leave Skagway while he's ahead. Then turning into a charitable benefactor by handing $50 travel money to the unfortunate dupe. $50 coming out of the $700 the gang had robbed from the new comer.  

"Anyone who gambles today, not only bucks the laws of chance but is likely as well to meet the chicanery of science-using crooks."
Modern Mechanix, 1933


1629: The first game law is passed in Virginia.
1664: A charter to colonize Rhode Island is granted to Roger Williams of London.
1765: Britain passes the Quartering Act that requires the American colonies to house British troops in public and private buildings.
1828: The Philadelphia and Columbia Railway is the first state owned railway.
1832: A mob in Hiram, Ohio tar and feathers Mormon leader Joseph Smith, Jr.
1834: John W. Powell is born. He achieves recognition while conducting an expedition in the plateau country of southern Utah and Arizona north and west of the Colorado River in 1869. A second trip down the Colorado was conducted by him in 1871 and in 1873.
1855: Manhattan, Kansas is founded as New Boston, Kansas.
1868: Metropolitan Life Insurance Company is formed.
1872: Four accused outlaws are lynched in Tucson, Arizona Territory.
1880: The first "hail insurance company" is incorporated in Connecticut, known as the Tobacco Growers’ Mutual Insurance Company.
1882: Vigilantes in Las Vegas, New Mexico post handbills ordering “thieves, thugs, fakirs and bunko-steerers,” to leave town. It is signed “100 substantial citizens.”
1882: Horace Austin Warner Tabor, knowing that his wife would not agree to a divorce, spends a small fortune to obtain a secret decree of divorce, so that he could then marry “Baby” Doe. Tabor marries Doe, only to find out the divorce is not binding, thus his marriage was not either.
1882: The battle of Iron Springs, a shootout between cowboys and the Wyatt Earp vendetta riders, takes place in the Whetstone Mountains in Arizona Territory. Earp makes the claim that he killed cowboy leader Curly Bill Brocius. With Earp is John O. “Texas Jack” Vermillion, who later becomes a member of the Soapy Smith gang in Denver, Colorado, becoming known as “Shoot-Your-Eye-Out-Jack.”
1883: The first telephone call between New York and Chicago is made.
1884: Soapy Smith’s brother-in-law, William S. Light, rides with a legal posse that tracks and kills local Texas outlaw, William Northcott.
1898: The first automobile is sold.
1900: Mayor Van Wyck of New York breaks ground for the New York subway tunnel that will link Manhattan and Brooklyn.
1900: The Carnegie Steel Corporation is formed in New Jersey.

March 23, 2019

Soapy Smith's brother, Bascomb, shoots a man in Seattle, December 4, 1899.

Believed to be Bascomb Smith
Drawing of Bascomb upper right
No provenance for photo
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)

here art thou Bascomb?

The following newspaper clipping is copied from the Seattle Post-intelligencer, December 4, 1899.




Accused of Shooting at an Enemy on the Public Street.

      Bascom Smith, a brother of “Soapy” Smith, the former Skagway bandit, is in the city jail on the charge of shooting at a man named Sam Allen, who stays at the Northern hotel. The alleged shooting took place early Sunday morning on First Avenue, south.
      No one seems to know the cause of the trouble between the two men, though it was stated yesterday that the feud between them originated at Skagway some months ago. Smith is said by the police to be an opium fiend, and an opium pipe was found in his possession at the time of his arrest. He has served a term for vagrancy.

Original clipping
The Seattle Post-intelligencer
December 4, 1899

 Click image to enlarge

My thoughts and notes

  1. Early family records show that the spelling is "Bascomb," though it is often spelled "Bascom."
  2. The shooting took place on Sunday morning December 3, 1899 on First Avenue, which passes by the Horseshoe Saloon and the Great Northern Hotel, likely "the Northern hotel" where Sam Allen was staying. Both buildings still stand, in what is known as Pioneer Square today.  
  3. The article implies that the trouble between Smith and Allen started in Skagway, Alaska. This is interesting as it is one of a very few indication that Bascomb may have traveled to Skagway to work with his older brother, "Soapy.
  4. Previously, there were newspaper articles that hinted that Bascomb was an "opium fiend" and this clipping states that the police confiscated an opium pipe in his possession when arrested. I think it can be said with enough certainty that Bascomb did indeed smoke opium.
  5. The article states that Bascomb had "served a term for vagrancy." On October 25, 1899 Bascomb was arrested for vagrancy (see Seattle Daily Times news clipping below). This is approximately 39 days previous to the attempted shooting of Sam Allen. I do not know the average sentencing "term" for vagrancy in 1899, but can guess that it would not be more than the 40 days difference between the arrest for vagrancy and the shooting incident.

  6. Seattle Daily Times
    October 26, 1899

  7. Three days after the attempted shooting of Sam Allen, Bascomb was brought before the municipal court, "with a number of minor crimes." Instead of being sentenced to prison he was given twenty-four hours to leave Seattle (see Seattle Daily Times news clipping below). There are no more newspaper accounts of Bascomb being in Seattle. It is believed that Bascomb obeyed the court order to leave the city. Bascomb disappeared from record. Did he leave Seattle? When did he die? Did he die unidentified? One day I hope to find out.

Seattle Daily Times
December 6, 1899

Click Image to enlarge


Bascomb Smith: pages 22, 41-42, 67, 75-76, 88-89, 92, 120-22, 139, 143, 162-63, 165, 167, 169, 176, 178, 182, 214, 247, 264, 273-75, 336, 340, 352, 355, 361, 363, 367, 370-77, 381-86, 391-99, 403-05, 408-09, 412, 420-23, 519, 554-55, 584, 588-89, 594. 

"The confidence man carefully evaluates every stroller or idler, whom he divides into two classes. First is the man whose loyal face or upright posture reveals a puritanical temperament disdaining involvement in any con game whatsoever. Second is the man, perhaps a farmer or industrial worker, who appears sophisticated enough to recognize an ordinary swindle yet ignorant enough to be fooled by a subtler, more involved swindle, a man whose face and air reveal a certain weakness of temperament, a certain latent unscrupulousness which the pitchman detects on sight."
—Eugene Villiod, Crooks, Con Men and Cheats, 1905.


1792: The Humane Society of Massachusetts is incorporated.
1813: The first raw cotton-to-cloth mill is founded in Waltham, Massachusetts.
1821: The Philadelphia College of Apothecaries establishes the first pharmacy college.
1822: The city of Boston, Massachusetts is incorporated.
1836: The siege of the Alamo begins during the Texas Revolution, in San Antonio, Texas.
1839: The first express service in the U.S. is organized between Boston, Massachusetts and New York City by William F. Harnden.
1847: Mexican General Santa Anna is defeated at the Battle of Buena Vista in Mexico by U.S. troops under General Zachary Taylor.
1858: The U.S. Senate approves statehood for Kansas.
1861: President Lincoln secretly enters Washington D.C. to take his office after an assassination attempt in Baltimore, Maryland.
1861: Texas is the 7th state to secede from the Union previous to the Civil War.
1870: The state of Mississippi is readmitted to the Union after the Civil War.
1874: Walter Winfield patents a game called sphairistike, later known as lawn tennis.
1875: J. Palisa discovers asteroid #143 (named “Adria”).
1877: Mormon Elder John Lee is executed by firing squad for his planning of masterminding the Utah Territory Mountain Meadow Massacre in 1857, which resulted in the murder of a 120 Arkansas emigrants bound for California. The Mormons persuaded the emigrants that they could freely pass unharmed if they surrendered their arms. Indians, hired by the Mormons, murdered all but 18 children.
1882: An illegal posse, led by Wyatt Earp out for revenge, has a shootout at Iron Spring, Arizona Territory, with men thought to be the “cowboy’s gang” of Curly Bill Brocius. Earp claims he shot and killed Brocius but later reports indicate the “cowboys” were actually miners, each party believing the other was bad. One of the posse members is John O. “Texas Jack” Vermillion, who later becomes a member of the Soapy Smith gang in Denver, Colorado, becoming known as “Shoot-Your-Eye-Out-Jack.”
1883: Two people are killed by Indians at Point of the Mountain, Arizona Territory.
1883: Alabama is the first state to enact an antitrust law.
1886: Charles Hall completes his invention of aluminum.
1889: President Harrison opens Oklahoma for colonization.
1896: The Tootsie Roll is introduced by Leo Hirshfield.
1904: The U.S. acquires control of the Panama Canal for $10,000,000.
1905: The Rotary Club is founded in Chicago, Illinois.
1910: The first radio contest is held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

March 22, 2019

The Swindling of James Kelliher's Grandfather by Soapy Smith

Soapy's three warehouses
Drawing by Brenda Wilbee

(Click image to enlarge)



“My grandfather and a bunch of other Irishmen
who had
come up from Australia won out over his hijacking of goods.”
James Kelliher

       According to James Kelliher, his grandfather, some of his brothers and about 2 dozen others, had come up from the gold fields in western Australia to the Klondike to dig for gold. In Skagway, Alaska they were preparing to carry at least 2,000 lbs (required by the Canadian government) over the border at the White Pass summit. According to James, Soapy Smith had a storage area on the American side of the border, where miners could (for a fee) store their goods until they were ready to hit the trail up the pass summit.
      The swindle, James says, was that the miners were told "one price given at "check in" much much higher at "check out." His grandfather and brothers, "all tough and experienced and armed decided, 'hell no.'"

James continues,

"... and one night went to the warehouse with pack animals. Comrades armed with rifles on buildings. Someone, maybe my grandfather who was 6'-4," 250 lbs -- big man for the times -- pulled the lock and hasp off the door. One of the guards ran to where Soapy was playing cards, 'Soapy, they're stealing their stuff!' As he is laying his cards down and getting ready to deal with this, he asks, 'Who is it?' 'It's them Irish Australians.' He sits back down and says, 'Let them go, they been killing British soldiers for years, it ain't worth it.'"



      It's a great story, and very well could have been one of Soapy's scams. If the story is true, then it likely took place in Skagway proper, and not at one of the summits. There were no "warehouse" size structures at either summit, but there were a number of them in town. There is a belief that Soapy owned three buildings near the water front that could have been used for a storage swindle. Brenda Wilbee of Skagway penciled the above drawing from a photograph showing 3 black buildings that supposedly belong to Soapy Smith while he was there. “It's inscribed on the photograph itself, 'Soapy Smith's Black Buildings.'”
      Not in defense of Soapy, but this sort of swindle was also a common tactic used by a number of the greedy merchants in Skagway who could have used a warehouse for storage and then raised the price to retrieve the supplies from the warehouse. It is well-known that there were merchants who took advantage of the fact that the stampeders were in a hurry to get to the fields, or to get back home to their families. Stampeders who knew that they were being cheated, often accepted their losses and moved on, as waiting for law and order to run its course in Skagway, also meant having to remain in Skagway for a hearing, which could take days, even weeks. This little certainty was injected into the conversations by the cheating merchants as well as Soapy and the members of the gang, to discourage victims from staying in town and lodging a complaint with the deputy US marshal, five miles away at Dyea. 
      There are three basic types of people who went up to Alaska and Canada for the Klondike gold rush.
  1. The stampeders and miners, those who planned to strike it rich in the gold fields.
  2. The merchants, who planned to strike it rich supplying the stampeders and miners.
  3. The confidence men (Soapy's ilk), who planned to strike it rich by swindling the stampeders coming and going, to and from, the port cities of Skagway and Dyea.
      I am interested in learning how James' grandfather knew it was Soapy Smith who had cheated him. How did the grandfather learn that Soapy was inside a room playing cards? How did the grandfather know of the conversation that took place ("Let them go, they been killing British soldiers for years, it ain't worth it")? Did he go into the card game room? Did someone come out of that room and tell him what Soapy had said?
      Is it possible that the grandfather did get price gouged, but adapted a more interesting ending to tell others back at home? In my book, Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel, I included a newspaper reporters opinion about the stampeders that gave up their journey before ever reaching Dawson and the gold fields. He wrote that rather than trudge home with a story of quitting in defeat and failure, of choosing to give up, some of these "cheechakos" (a person newly arrived in the mining districts of Alaska or northwestern Canada) concocted a fictional account to preserve their reputations back home. Tales of being robbed, or perhaps even being swindled by the greatest con man of the era, "Soapy" Smith, rather than being thought of as a "loser," these unsuccessful prospectors became heroes back at home, battling the "king of the bad men" for life and property. Do understand that I am not implying that this particular story did not actually occur. I cannot make that call. I can have my doubts, but in the past 34 years I have on more than a few occasions discovered that my doubts were incorrect. I keep all stories I encounter as provenance can emerge to prove, or disprove, a narrative. In fact, this story came to me from James Killiher fourteen months ago, in November 2017.


      “Like I said this was a word of mouth story--so the wording and the placement may not be exact--how it was related back--not sure--again as you say--and this kinda fits in--reputable business informed by a watchman--and so it goes-- understand your desire for proof--I too am a historian--did my graduate work at Kansas. not sure we will get the answer. Do know that after the Klondike he went on to Nome [Alaska] where he was a recognized miner among miners both at Council and in the Kougarok. Unfortunately, he passed in 1936 I believe and my father in 1987.”

"The only difference between the inmates and the guards
is, the inmates got caught."


1622: Indians attack and kill 347 colonists in the James River area of Virginia.
1630: The first legislation to prohibit gambling is enacted in Boston, Massachusetts.
1638: Anne Hutchinsoon, a religious dissident, is expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1733: Joseph Priestly invents carbonated (seltzer) water.
1765: The Stamp Act is passed. It is the first direct British tax on the American colonists, and is repealed on March 17, 1766.
1775: Edmund Burke presents his 13 articles to the English parliament.
1790: Thomas Jefferson becomes the first U.S. Secretary of State.
1794: Congress bans U.S. vessels from supplying slaves to other countries.
1822: The New York Horticultural Society is founded.
1858: James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, age 20, is elected village constable of the Monticello Township, Johnson County, Kansas.
1863: A stagecoach is attacked by Indians near Eight Mile Station in Tooele County, Utah Territory. Passenger Judge Mott takes the reigns and outruns the attackers after the driver is killed and another passenger is wounded.
1871: William Holden of North Carolina becomes the first governor to be removed by impeachment.
1872: Illinois becomes the first state to require sexual equality in employment.
1873: Bad man John Wesley Hardin along with 12 others, busts into the Gonzales, Texas and relieved it of all its prisoners. Hardin later claimed vigilantes were planning on lynching the prisoners.
1874: The Young Men's Hebrew Association is organized in New York City.
1875: Silver is discovered in the Pinal Mountains of Arizona Territory.
1877: 3 civilians are reported killed near Fort Clark, Texas.
1877: Gambler Charley Harrison is shot and killed by gun-slinging gambler James H. Levy during a duel just outside of the Senate Saloon in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
1881: Outlaw George “Big Nose George” Parrott, the leader of a gang of rustlers in the Powder River region of Wyoming is lynched by vigilantes for killing two peace officers. His hide was made into a pair of shoes.
1882: Congress bans polygamy.
1882: Wyatt Earp and his posse shoot and kill Florentino Cruz during a “vendetta ride.” With Earp is John O. “Texas Jack” Vermillion, who later becomes a member of the Soapy Smith gang in Denver, Colorado, becoming known as “Shoot-Your-Eye-Out-Jack.”
1883: Apache Indians kill three people at the Total Wreck Mine in the Whetstone Mountains, Arizona Territory.
1886: Abilene, Kansas turns on electric lighting for the first time. A local newspaper writes "time will tell whether it will be to the interest of the city to use the same to any extent."
1886: Seattle, Washington turns on electric lighting for the first time.
1903: Niagara Falls runs out of water due to a drought.

March 21, 2019

More on the October 1, 1897 Soapy Smith saloon brawl in Seattle.

Horseshoe Saloon
circa 1900-1910

(Click image to enlarge)

More details of the October 1, 1897 Horseshoe Saloon brawl.

      Up until this post, the details of this saloon free-for-all, what had actually occurred, and why, have been largely unknown. An article dated October 2, 1897 in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer gives a much better picture of the altercation from the previous day.


Knives and Pistols Drawn and Fierce Oaths Used.


“Soapy” Smith said to Have Used the Knife – Eddie Gaffney Gets Mixed Up in It Accidentally and Whips Smith’s Partner, Dugan – Mayberry Had Just Returned From St. Michael on North Fork.

      The Horseshoe saloon was the scene of a bloody fight last night. Knives and pistols were drawn, glasses and spittoons thrown and fierce oaths used.
      It was a fight such as might be expected in a mining camp, and the wonder is that no lives were lost, as death lay in the deadly thrust of the knife which entered the arm of Elmer Mayberry, a well-known sporting man, and also tore open the coat of Eddie Gaffney, the well-known athlete.
Horseshoe saloon
March 14, 1899
note the large horseshoe sign
University Washington Digital collection

Click image to enlarge
      Only for the interference of Gaffney Mayberry would probably have been killed and either Jeff Smith, a Denver sporting man, or his companion, Jimmy Dugan, also of Denver, would now be in the city jail charged with murder.
      The role was divided into two acts. During the first Mayberry gave Smith a good beating and Gaffney saved Mayberry from being ripped open with a knife, alleged to have been carried by Dugan. The second act took place after everyone supposed the trouble was quieted, and ended in Dugan being whipped by Gaffney. A cut in Gaffney’s coat near the shoulder tells the story of why he used his athletic ability on Dugan, as Gaffney says he would have been a fit subject for a doctor if he had not seen Dugan’s uplifted hand with a long and murderous looking knife.
      The row started over a grudge Smith has for Mayberry, and was ushered in by a few oaths and a throwing of glasses. Smith claims that Mayberry was the aggressor, and Mayberry says that Smith insulted him and then threw the first glass, which he caught and threw back. The glass missed Smith and struck a young man named Foote, nephew of Judge Foote, of San Francisco, squarely in the back, but did not injure him.

Click image to enlarge
      Mayberry has been up the Yukon River as far as Fort Yukon. He left Seattle two months ago and returned last evening on the North Fork. After reaching the city Mayberry commenced renewing acquaintances with his friends in Seattle and eventually found himself in the horseshoe saloon, on pioneer place. While he was standing at the bar Jeff Smith and Jimmy Dugan came in. Smith is known all over the country as “Soapy” Smith, and has recently arrived in Seattle from Skaguay, where he has been recognized as the king pin gambler and “smooth man.” Dugan is especially well known in Denver, and is said to have been a deputy sheriff. Smith looks more like a farmer than a clever sport, and Dugan is an honest appearing fellow with black curly hair. Smith achieved notoriety as a “gun man” by killing the editor of the Denver newspaper. He always carries a “gun.”
      Mayberry, who used to live in Denver and is well acquainted with Smith, asked him to step up and take a drink. Mayberry says that Smith refused, adding an insulting remark. Mayberry supposed that Smith was joking and did not give the matter any attention. Smith and Dugan passed along to the other end of the bar, and a moment later Eddie Gaffney and a friend walked into the saloon. Mayberry greeted Gaffney and asked him to take a drink. Gaffney said he was only drinking “light stuff.”
      “Everybody come up and have a drink,” said Mayberry. “It is Klondike money.”
      Smith stood at the bar and a glass of beer was placed in front of him. According to Mayberry’s account, Smith suddenly picked up his glass and threw it at Mayberry, who caught it and threw it back. Smith dodged and the class struck a young fellow named Foote in the back. No sooner had he thrown the glass than Mayberry let go his right at Smith’s face and caught him under the eye. Smith was not slow in getting to work, and in a minute there was a hot fight in progress. The saloon was in an uproar and business was suspended. Mayberry was giving Smith more than the law allowed and Dugan rushed in to help out his friend. Mayberry realized that something had happened when he felt the point of a cold steel inter his left arm, on a level with his heart. Again the knife ripped his clothes over his bowels.
The entrance to the Horseshoe
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      Gaffney saw that Mayberry’s wife was in danger and went at Dugan. He grabbed him with all the strength he has acquired in bicycle riding and wrestling, forcing his heavier antagonist back and away from Mayberry and Smith. Mayberry being left alone with the notorious “Soapy,” got him down on the floor and, according to the best obtainable version, made him give up. Mayberry allowed Smith to get up and Gaffney released Dugan. The men were bloody and in places the floor was sprinkled with red stuff. Broken glass was sprinkled around, and one of the big glass doors on the side of the room opposite the bar was smashed into splinters.
      Mayberry’s friends Saw that blood was trickling from his left arm, and a casual investigation showed that he had been stabbed. Someone looked at his trousers near the waistband and found that the cloth was ripped open in three or four places. While the crowd was discussing the merits of the “scrap,” and one was telling the other. “Well, you see it was this way.” Gaffney walked into the toilet room to wash himself. Something told him that a person was behind him and he glanced up just in time, he says, to see a man at his back with his hand upraised. In that hand was a long, dangerous and knife. The man who held the knife had curly hair. It was Dugan. Quick as a flash Gaffney turned, and as he did so the knife came down. Gaffney thought it was all day with him, but he dodged as best he could, and the murderous blade only ripped open his coat from the back of the shoulder downward a short distance.
      Before Dugan could recover Gaffney hit him in the face and knocked him against the wall. Following up his advantage Gaffney got a half Nelson, and held Dugan so he could not use the knife. About this time Mayberry showed up on the scene and seeing Gaffney in trouble let a spittoon fly at Dugan’s head. It missed the mark and smashed up against the wall. According to Gaffney he and Dugan worked out of the toilet room during their struggle and were in front of the entrance to the cafĂ© when Gaffney caught sight of a man with a “gun” in his hand.
      “Get into the room for your life,” said Gaffney to Dugan, forcing him back. Dugan, who had been forced to let the knife drop, allowed himself to be pushed through the door. Mayberry was with them and refused to allow the man with the revolver to enter. The man with the gun was Jack Thompson, and for a moment it looked as if there would be a wholesale shooting. One man who sold the trouble said that three guns were in sight when he came to the conclusion that it was time to step out.
      But climax lasted for five seconds and closed by good judgment getting the better of hot temper. Gaffney let go of Dugan and left the saloon with friends. Mayberry was finally coaxed away and taken to Dr. H. D. Klein’s office in the Bailey building, where his wounds were dressed. They were not dangerous. Smith and Dugan remained at the saloon a while nursing the big bumps on their faces. Smith claimed that Mayberry started the row by throwing a glass at him and Dugan said he was washing his head when someone hit him with a spittoon.
      The real cause of the trouble is said to be a dispute about money matters between Mayberry and Smith.
      Mayberry refused to make any complaint, so detectives Cudihee and Meredith, who did not see any part of the trouble, did not make any arrests.


      I knew "knives" were used, but this is the first account that specifically names "Soapy" as having a knife in his hands. The grudge between Soapy and Elmer Mayberry, a sporting man from Denver who apparently knew Soapy. That both Soapy and Jimmy Dugan were "whipped," losing this fight. The intensive details of the action as it took place, from start to finish. The details of the wounds obtained by each of the combatants. The details of Dugan's attempt to stab Gaffney in the restroom were especially interesting. Jack Thompson, the man who drew a gun on Gaffney as he was exiting the restroom, is very probably, James Thompson, a member of the Soap Gang from Denver.
      Note that Soapy "achieved notoriety as a 'gun man' by killing the editor of the Denver newspaper." This is not accurate, as they speak of the 1889 beating Soapy gave John Arkins of the Rocky Mountain News (Denver).

Original clipping

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December 22, 2009
April 25, 2011 
December 3, 2015

Horse Shoe Saloon: page 443, 502.
Jimmy Dugan: page 443.
James Thompson (Jack Thompson): page 365.

"I don’t mind a man cheatin' at poker as long as he ain't cheatin' me."


1788: Most of New Orleans, Louisiana is destroyed by fire.
1790: Thomas Jefferson reports to U.S. President George Washington as the new secretary of state.
1826: The Rensselaer School in Troy, New York is incorporated. The school later becomes known as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is the first engineering college in the U.S.
1851: Yosemite Valley is discovered in California.
1859: The first Zoological Society is incorporated in Philadelphia.
1868: The Sorosos club for professional women is formed in New York City by Jennie June.
1879: Per the agreement with New Mexico Governor Lew Wallace, outlaws, Billy the Kid and Josiah "Doc" Skurlock surrender to Lincoln County Sheriff George Kimball.
1882: Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Warren Earp ambush and kill Frank Stilwell, member of the Clanton gang at Tucson, Arizona. Soapy Smith knew Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Members of the Earp gang later join the Soap Gang.
1883: Four settlers are reported killed in an Apache Indian raid led by Chato, Chihvahua, and Bonito, 12 miles southwest of Fort Huachuca, Arizona Territory.
1890: General George Crook dies of heart failure at age 61 while lifting weights. General William Sherman called him "the greatest Indian fighter and manager the Army of the United States ever had." Indian Chief, Red Cloud said, "He, at least, never lied to us." Crook had spent his last years campaigning for Indian rights.
1890: Bob and Emmett Dalton are arrested for selling liquor to the Indians of the Osage Nation at Pawhuska, Indian Territory. This is the first known criminal act of the outlaw Dalton Gang.
1891: A Hatfield marries a McCoy, ending the 20-year long family feud in West Virginia.
1898: A U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry finds that the battleship Maine was destroyed by a submarine mine. This is the cause of the Spanish-American War and the reason Soapy Smith created the Skaguay Military Company, his private militia. It’s real reason for creation is thought to be used as a legal force against Soapy’s enemies.
1902: Three Park Avenue mansions are destroyed when a New York subway tunnel roof caves in.
1905: Sterilization legislation is passed in Pennsylvania, but is vetoed by the governor.
1906: Ohio passes a law prohibiting hazing by fraternities after two fatalities.
1906: Creede, Colorado madame, Lillis Lovell dies, with an estate worth $40,500.
1907: U.S. Marines land in Honduras to protect American interests during a war with Nicaragua.
1910: The U.S. Senate grants ex-President Teddy Roosevelt a yearly pension of $10,000.
1916: Cole Younger, the last of the outlaw James-Younger gang, dies of a heart attack.