March 18, 2020

"Pistol balls sped in all directions"

Denver Post, November 11, 1896
The contents of the article
can be read below
(Click image to enlarge)

istol balls sped in all directions

When Soapy Smith left Denver, Colorado for the final time, Bascom remained in Denver and thereafter in the West, never again to work with with his older brother. He continued to find trouble as revealed in a November 18, 1896, letter to Soapy from friend William “Bat” Masterson. He begins gently with salutations, commiseration over hard times, and works up to news of deep concern over Bascom’s doings:
... I have not seen Bascom since he was released after completing the year’s sentence. I hear of him, however, and always in some kind of trouble. He has been arrested twice of late for disturbance and discharging firearms down in the neighborhood of 20th and Market streets, and you know the kind of people who frequent that locality. If I were you I would advise him to leave here, as it is only a question of time until he will get a “settler” and every time the papers speak of him they generally say the brother of “Soapy” Smith, who was last heard of skinning suckers in Alaska. So you see you are not getting any the best of it. ... [1]
Masterson was not exaggerating Bascom’s troubles. The Denver Evening Post lists five charges against him, including vagrancy, drunkenness, disturbing the peace, carrying concealed weapons, and discharging firearms. He was fined a total of $153 and had his “elegant, silver-plated, highly engraved revolver confiscated.” [2] On November 5, 1896, he was in court for stealing a woman’s expensive diamond-encrusted jewelry. [3] According to the Post, Bascom still had some friends in the current administration and received an order to leave town rather than face fines still owed from his October melee. [4] Bascom left for an unidentified destination.

Following is the Denver Post, November 11, 1896 article in it's entirety.



— He Was Not Obliged to Pay $125 Fine Nor Was He Made to Serve a Term In Jail – Rosa Lee had a “pull” and Said So and Then Proved It – The Disgraceful Condition of City Hall Affairs.

     Bascom Smith has made a record for paying $125 in fines to the police court as easily as any “bad man” ever arraigned in that tribunal. He is the brother of the celebrated and smooth fingered “Soapy” Smith, said to be now working the verdant population in the Northwest. Bascom, to some extent, banks on his more astute relative’s reputation and apparently retained the influence which that peculiar Smith family always had on Denver politicians, and he worked the old “pull” to get out of the clutches of the law as recently as November 1.
     A few days preceding the recent election he filled up with Larimer street whiskey, and failing to discover enemies on the thoroughfare he repaired to his apartments. He there commenced a warfare that aroused the neighboring roomers. Pistol balls sped in all directions and some narrowly missed occupants of adjoining apartments. Bascom enjoyed the fight for a while, but was finally arrested by the officers who had been called in by frightened roomers. When the arraigned for trial (illegible) charges continuance was easily secured for several days, while the Smith powers were working with the political machine that controls the police department to settle the affair at small cost and in a manner that would not compel Bascom to pay for his fun like other men. The machine worked in the desired manner after the necessary oil had been applied.
     After several continuances, Bascom stood trial and pleaded guilty and was assessed $25 each for vagrancy, drunk, disturbance, concealed weapons and discharging firearms within the city limits. Men without a “pull” would likely have served the full term required to liquidate the aggregate punishment in the city jail or paid the money over to the police clerk. At best the ordinary lowly carouser who stood convicted on so many charges would have been compelled to do penance to some degree. But Bascom did nothing of the kind. He secured suspension of all the sentences on condition that he would leave town. Before departing if he has gone, he waited until election day arrived and put in on that occasion yeoman service for the Adams ticket. He earned in the one day perhaps $150 for himself, whatever he did with the other fellows.


[Bascom's birth name did not have the last "b" as most newspaper reported]. 
[1] "Correspondence of a Crook," Alaska-Yukon Magazine (Jan 1908) p. 330-331.
[2] Rocky Mountain News, November 3, 1896, p. 8, and Denver Evening Post, November 2, 1896, p. 10.
[3] Denver Evening Post, November 5, 1896, p. 8.
[4] Denver Evening Post, November 11, 1896.

Bascom Smith 
October 4, 2009
August 1, 2011 
May 4, 2012
September 20, 2015
September 22, 2015
March 23, 2019

Bascom Smith: pp 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.

“I 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.


1541: Hernando de Soto observed the first recorded flood of the Mississippi River.
1673: Lord Berkley sold his half of New Jersey to the Quakers.
1692: William Penn is deprived of his governing powers.
1766: Britain repeals the Stamp Act.
1813: David Melville patents the gas streetlight.
1818: Congress approves the first pension for government service.
1834: The first railroad tunnel in the U.S. (Pennsylvania) is completed.
1842: Nashville Franklyn Leslie, more well known as Frank “Buckskin” Leslie, is born near San Antonio, Texas. medical student, Confederate soldier, scout, Indian fighter, barkeeper, shootist, saloon proprietor.
1850: Henry Wells and William Fargo founded The American Express.
1852: Wells Fargo, a subsidiary of American Express, begins operations in the California gold fields.
1859: Cadet George A. Custer receives two demerits for throwing food in the West Point mess hall.
1863: Mexican outlaw Felipe Nerio Espinosa brutally murders prospector Henry Harkens with bullets and an ax. He claims to be seeking revenge for the deaths of relatives killed during the Mexican-American War. Other family members join him, becoming known as “the axe-men of Colorado.” They killed about 32 individuals. Espinosa’s brother is shot and killed by the Colorado Cavalry on April 27, 1863 but Espinosa escapes. On October 15, 1863 Espinosa and a nephew are tracked and shot dead, their heads cut off as proof.
1865: The Congress of the Confederate States of America adjourns for the last time.
1874: Hawaii signs a treaty giving exclusive trading rights with the islands to the U.S.
1878: The outlaw Sam Bass gang robs the Houston and Texas at Hutchins, Texas. Henry “Heck” Thomas, a noted lawman, serving as the express agent at the time, managed to hide $4,000. The robbers got away with a total of $232.80. Soapy Smith later witnessed the shooting death of Sam Bass in Round Rock, Texas.
1879: Lincoln County War combatants, William Campbell and Jesse Evans escape from Fort Sutton, New Mexico Territory.
1880: The Southern Pacific Railroad of Arizona and New Mexico is completed to Tucson, where it connects with the San Francisco and Pacific systems.
1881: Barnum and Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth opens in Madison Square Gardens.
1882: Morgan Earp is murdered, shot in the back, while playing billiards a few minutes before midnight on the 17th.
1882: Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett, finally collects the $500 reward for killing outlaw Billy the Kid in New Mexico Territory.
1883: The Cheyenne Daily Leader (Cheyenne, Wyoming) reports the total number of executions is 37 by the "gunny-sack brigade" and 2 by legal authorities.
1892: Soap Gang member and manager of the Orleans Club, Joe “Gambler Joe” Simmons, dies of pneumonia in Creede, Colorado. The saloons and gaming halls in town close for the funeral.
1898: Formation of Soapy Smith’s private militia, the Skagway Military Company in Skagway, Alaska.
1901: Outlaw Ben Cravens and Bert Welty robbed the B. F. Swartz and Company store at Red Rock Oklahoma. During the robbery postmaster Alvin Bateman is killed. While escaping, Welty is shot and killed by Cravens, whether by accident or on purpose is unknown. Cravens is tracked to the home of Isom Cunningham, northeast of Pawnee, and when a posse confronts him, he shoots and kills Deputy Tom Johnson, then escapes.
1910: The first opera by a U.S. composer is performed at the New York Met.

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