|Letter to Mary from Jeff R. Smith II|
February 15, 1897
Jeff Smith collection
Soapy Smith's letter to wife Mary, dated February 15, 1897 reads, in a large pen hand,
Feb 15th 1897
This far on my journey to the North
God bless you
A quick note from husband to wife, written on Russ House stationary (San Francisco). It is not known where Soapy obtained the stationary. It is possible he had it on him, or obtained it in Spokane. It is even possible that having stationary from other locations, was used by confidence men as a misdirection of the cons place of residence. It was also common for saloons to carry stationary for it's patrons, and I will guess that they collected stationary wherever they could get some, not necessarily linked to their saloon, let alone their city. Though a seemingly short letter, it is known that Soapy was continually going back to St. Louis to be with he wife and children.
|The Russ House|
courtesy of San Francisco Library
(Click image to enlarge)
On July 15, 1897, the S.S. Excelsior docked in San Francisco with more than a ton of gold. Word of the treasure ship brought huge crowds, and word steadily spread across the country. But on the evening of July 16 when Seattle learned that the far richer S.S. Portland was bound for its port, the city was electrified. The great gold rush Soapy had been waiting for was on. Soapy predicted the rush, in an earlier letter to his wife, Mary. Soapy was moving about the country, but it is believed that Soapy was in Spokane at the time (280 miles from Seattle). It is very possible that he made his way to Seattle to witness the arrival of the Portland. By August 20, 1897 Soapy was docking in Skagway, Alaska aboard the Utopia.
Owl Club, Jan 15, 2015, Nov 7, 2016,
The Russ House: p. 425.
"Jeff Smith, usually called 'Soapy,' made the statement publicly yesterday that he 'will cast as many fraudulent votes as I want to.' Said he, 'and there is no — — law can prevent me.'"
—Rocky Mountain News
–Alias Soapy Smith, p. 264.
1801: The city of Washington, D.C., is placed under congressional jurisdiction.
1827: New Orleans holds its first Mardi Gras celebration.
1867: Dr. William G. Bonwill invents the dental mallet.
1875: Stone Calf's Cheyenne Indians surrender and return two females, Catherine and Sophie Germaine, they had kidnapped from a wagon train in Kansas in 1874.
1879: John Martin is shot and killed by gambler David Stubblefield at the Palace Theater. Stubblefield is sentenced to serve ten-years in prison. He is pardoned on July 2, 1880, and dies three days later. The Palace was described as “a death-trap to young men, a foul den of vice and corruption.” In 1887, the Palace owner, Ed Chase partnered with bad man Soapy Smith in opening the Tivoli Club, a saloon and gaming house.
1883: Oscar Hammerstein patents the first cigar-rolling machine.
1885: Bad man Soapy Smith signs the hotel register at the Charpiot in Denver, Colorado. He lists his residence as Longmont, Colorado.
1887: Wichita County Seat War turns violent as seven armed men from the neighboring town of Leoti ride into Coronado attacking citizens and shooting two before armed citizens are able to fight back, killing three of the attackers and wounding a few. No one is ever convicted for the murders. Records indicate John O. “Texas Jack” Vermillion was in Coronado at the time. Vermillion is famous as one of Wyatt Earp’s vendetta riders, and as a member of the Soapy Smith gang.
1892: Alaskan Indian Chief Kowee of the Auk Tlingits tribe dies. He is most famous for leading Joe Juneau and Dick Harris to large gold deposits in July 1880 that started a gold rush that year, on land that would later become Juneau, Alaska. Indians were not allowed to make mining claims so they did not profit from the rush.
1896: The Charlotte Observer publishes a photograph of an X-ray made by Dr. H. Smith. The X-ray shows a hand and all its bones.
1896: A mob breaks into the Wichita Falls, Texas jail and lynches Foster Crawford and Elmer “Slaughter Kid” Lewis for the murder of banker, Frank Dorsey during a robbery of the City National Bank two days previous. A clerk was also wounded by the two outlaws before fleeing with about $2,000. A company of Texas Rangers, led by Captain W. McDonald, pursued and captured the outlaws, placing them in the jail where the mob overran the jailer.
1909: Jim “Killin’ Jim” Miller shoots and kills Gus Bobbitt in Ada, Texas. Miller was arrested on March 31, 1909 near Fort Worth. The murder led to a lynch-mob hanging of Miller on April 19, 1909.
1930: Famed female gambler Alice “Poker Alice” Ivers dies.