January 9, 2021

Artifact #70: The Illustrated Police News, the funeral of Joe Simmons

The Illustrated Police News
Law Courts and Weekly Record
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)


 
rtifact #70
A Gambler's Funeral. The First Piano in Creede. "Cap" William Light, Bat Masterson, and Bob Fitzsimmons.

 
     Though seeming just a newspaper with a story on Soapy Smith in Creede, Colorado, this issue is much more than that. It's important as an artifact because it was obtained and saved by "Soapy" Smith himself, known for keeping everything he could find that published his name. This is artifact #70 from my personal collection. 
     The Illustrated Police News was a very popular weekly illustrated newspaper published in England and in the United States (between 1860-1904) making it one of the earliest tabloids. It featured sensational and melodramatic reports and illustrations of crime.
     We start this article on page 3 and 13 as this is obviously the main reason Soapy obtained and saved this issue. It deals with the death of "Gambler Joe" Simmons in Creede, Colorado on March 18, 1892 of pneumonia. Simmons had been a long-time friend of Soapy's, as well as a key member of the Soap Gang. He managed the Tivoli Club in Denver and came to Creede to manage Soapy's Orlean's Club. He is also known to have dealt faro. When Simmons died, Soapy took it pretty hard, openly displaying his emotion. Both Creede newspapers, a poet, and the Illustrated Police News wrote of Soapy's mourning. 
     At the grave site, Soapy gave the eulogy.

      The man whom we have just laid to rest was the best friend I ever had. You all knew him. Did any of you ever know him to do a thing that wasn’t square with his friends? No. I thought not. Neither did I. The best we can do now is to wish him the best there is in the land beyond the range, or the hereafter, if there is any hereafter. Joe didn’t think there was and I don’t know anything about it. Friends, I ain’t much of a speaker. But Joe was my friend and all he wanted was for us to gather at his grave and drink his health when he was gone. Let us do it.
     Twelve bottles of Pomeroy were then opened and each of the assemblage took his glass in hand while Smith said: “Here’s to the health of Joe Simmons in the hereafter, if there is a hereafter.” The glasses were drained. Then all joined hands around the grave and sang “Auld Lang Syne.” 
 
An artist for The Illustrated Police News successfully caught the emotion shared at Joe Simmon's funeral in the drawing shown below.
 
 
 
Page 13 - close up
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection

 (Click image to enlarge)
 
 
 
Page 13
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection
 
 (Click image to enlarge)
 
"Have no preachin' at my send off. Just drink my health."
 
The first and primary reason Soapy saved this issue was the story about the bural of his friend, Joe Simmons. The Illustrated Police News copied the story, A Gambler's Funeral, from the Creede Chronicle, March 22, 1892. Following is the article.

      “Can a feller buy a stack of blues in here, to-day?”
      “Not to-day, pardner.”
      “What’s the matter?”
      “Well, Joe Simmons is being buried to-day and the house is closed until after the funeral.”
      “Who was Joe Simmons?”
      “How long have you been in camp?”
      “Came in on the afternoon train.”
      “Thought so. Well Joe Simmons was Jeff Smith’s best friend. This is Jeff’s house and not a card will be turned or a drink sold until Joe’s remains have been carefully planted. You can slide up to the bar and gulp one to Joe’s health beyond the range, but your money don’t go.”
      The above conversation took place at the Orleans Club in this camp, Sunday afternoon. The inquiring party was a miner fresh from Leadville. The man who responded was the bar keeper at the Club.
      After the drink, the mixologist waxed talkative. “I’ve known Jeff Smith,” he said, “for a number of years, but I never saw him knocked such a twister as when he found out that Joe had to die. Down in Texas years ago both of ’em was kids together. They went to an old log schoolhouse and helped each other to annoy the teacher and get a little learning. Then they went to punchin’ cows and worked for the same outfit, afterwards graduating into the Texas Rangers. They ran together, swore together, yes and I guess they skinned many a sucker together too, but they never gave a friend dirt.
      Well Joe comes into camp when he hears the boom is on and went to dealin’ for Jeff. He finally got sick—pneumonia—and Friday night a few moments before 12 o’clock, Jeff goes up to his room. Joe was dyin’ and Jeff knowed it, but he tried to give him a stall that he was looking all right.”
      “Don’t lie to me, Jeff,” says Joe, “I know I’m dying. My last chip will be cashed in very soon and I want to say good-bye to you. You won’t have no preachin’ at my send-off, will you? No. Good. Just lay me out and wish me good health on the other side of the range. If there is another side and any health there. Good-bye, old pard, I’m off!”
      “Them was the last words Joe spoke, and Jeff came down to the saloon and cried like a baby. He says to me, ‘Chick [William], the whitest man on earth just died,” and I know what he meant. But there goes the funeral procession."
     Joe Simmons was one of the best known gamblers in the West. He had been Jeff Smith's school-day friend, and the last wishes of his friend were a sacred trust to him. Accordingly the funeral and the services at the grave [illegible due to missing newspaper pieces] ... mountain side above Creede w ...[illegible due to missing newspaper pieces] perhaps
[illegible due to missing newspaper pieces] the remains of an erstwhile human being were being consigned to their last resting place.
     At 2 o'clock the funeral cortege left the undertaker's. A wagon containing the deceased was in advance. Next followed the only hack in town, containing Jeff Smith, John Kinneavy, Hugh Mohan and a Creede Chronicle reporter. Ore wagons containing fifty friends of the departed followed.
     A blinding snow-storm was in progress, but the horses plodded on up the steep hill side. When half way up the mourners were forced to get out and walk to the head of the hill, as the horses couldn't stand the strain.
     Finally the cemetery was reached. Six mounds of earth, ominously close together, marked it. A gaping oblong hole had been dug beside the last mound. When the box had been taken from the improvised hearse it was lowered into the grave. Every head was uncovered, and Jeff Smith, standing at the foot of the grave, thus addressed the throng:
     "The man whom we have just laid to rest was the best friend I ever had. You all knew him. Did any of you ever know him to do a thing that wasn’t square with his friends? No. I thought not. Neither did I. The best we can do now is to wish him the best there is in the land beyond the range, or the hereafter, if there is any hereafter. Joe didn’t think there was and I don’t know anything about it. Friends, I ain’t much of a speaker. But Joe was my friend and all he wanted was for us to gather at his grave and drink his health when he was gone. Let us do it."
      Twelve bottles of Pommery were then opened and each of the assemblage took his glass in hand while Smith said: “Here’s to the health of Joe Simmons in the hereafter, if there is a hereafter.” The glasses were drained. Then all joined hands around the grave and sang “Auld Lang Syne.”
     It was a strange and weird sight. The snow was falling in thick heavy clouds, and for a single moment the sun came out above the crested cliff's and glinted on the glasses, giving a new sparkle to the wine that toasted the obsequies of the dead sport. Sorrow for the nonce was drowned by an offering to Bacchus.
     The dirt was filled into the grave and the cortege returned to town. In a few moments funeral goers were busy again with cards and chips and the Orleans Club opened for business. 

Below is page 3, where the story, A GAMBLER'S FUNERAL, is located.
 
 
 
Page 3
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection

 (Click image to enlarge)
 
 
The next picture and story of some interest to Soapy is on pages 9-10, and has to do with the arrival of the first piano in Creede.

"The first piano in the new camp.
A great reception at Creede, Col., for a new music maker—The instrument that is doing all-day and all-night duty in a dance hall."
 
     A piano came into the new Colorado camp boom city of Creede a fortnight ago, the "advance courier," as the Daily Crusher declared in a column article on the subject the next day, "of a long line of musical instruments which will make these mountain fastnesses ring with melody, and create a symphonous accompaniment to the everlasting music of the resonant steel discs of the saw mill up Poverty Gulch. The piano has come to stay. It is set up in a dance hall, where its tired strings are nightly hammered by a long-haired virtuoso, who sweeps out the corks in the early dawn, places the 'dead drunks' tenderly under the wooden bunks in the retiring rooms, and acts as tout for his rendervous when the stage whirls in the afternoon."
     There is much of open violation of law in Creede, and as the Crusher's rival, the Prospector, stated in its issue, "the midnight air is rasped by the assassin's bullet. Shootings are common enough, and there is not much of police protection. There is, however, an association of bearded, reputable, determined men, who never fail to receive respect from desperadoes when they find themselves compelled to resort to the vigilantes' ultimatum. Invitations to leave the camp are promptly complied with. 'You have twenty-four hours in which to leave town,' wrote a committee of this kind once in Cheyenne's active days. 'Gentlemen,' came the brief and scholarly response, in fine Italian hand, 'gentlemen, if my mule doesn't buck I'll not need more than twenty-four minutes.' An intimation of a public desire here is sufficient to meet with prompt obedience."
 

 
Page 9 - close up
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection

 (Click image to enlarge)
 
 
 
 
Page 9
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection

 (Click image to enlarge)
 
 
Below is page 10 where the story is located.
 
 
Page 10
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection

 (Click image to enlarge)
 
 
The third story Soapy would have taken interest in is on page 11. It's just three sentences long, having to do with his brother-in-law, William Sydney "Cap" Light, who was a member of the Soap Gang, and a deputy marshal in Creede, Colorado in 1892.
 
The first murder at Creede, Col., occurred March 31. Capt. Light shot and killed McCann, a gambler, in Long's saloon. Light has disappeared.
 
A fourth story makes mention of Soapy's friend, William B. Masterson who was also in Creede.
 
W. B. Masterson, who has been at Creede, Col., managing the sporting house of Watrous, Banninger & Co., a rich Denver firm who opened a branch at Creede, has returned to Denver. It is said that the bar receipts of the Creede branch house averaged $600 a day. Masterson has been living a quiet and uneventful life at Denver for the past ten years, serving most of the time as a deputy sheriff of Arapahoe county. He has never been a desperado in the sense of other men with whom his name has been connected. He doesn't stand accused of train robbery and  such like deeds of lawlessness. But many is the man who did commit these deeds that he has met and vanquished. He has been in nearly every rough town of the west since 1872 as a gambler "on the inside" as the sports term it, and he has come through many a shower of bullets unscathed and has never, it is said by those who know his career most intimately, been the aggressor in a shooting scrape. Masterson, when men have been against him to do him, has simply not taken the worst of it.
 
Below is page 11, where the two briefs are located.
 
 
 
Page 11
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection

 (Click image to enlarge)
 
 
 
The final story Soapy would have taken interest in is on page 6, and having to do with middle weight boxing champion Robert "Fitz" Fitzsimmons. It was in Denver in 1891 that Soapy and members of his Soap Gang swindled the famous boxer out of cash and diamonds in a "big mit" poker con. The story is much too long and does not contain anything about Soapy and Denver, but may be of interest to sports historians and fans. 
 
 Below is page 6 and 14, where the story is located.


Page 6
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)
 
 
Page 14
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection

 (Click image to enlarge)
 
 
The remaining pages of the Illustrated Police News is filled with various stories and graphics of interest. There seems to be something for everyone's interest. Enjoy.
 
 
 
Page 2
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection

 (Click image to enlarge)
 
 
 
 
 
Page 4
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection
  
(Click image to enlarge)
 
 
 
 
Page 5
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection
  
(Click image to enlarge)
 
 
 

 
 
Page 7
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection

 (Click image to enlarge)
 
 
 
 
 
Page 8
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection

 (Click image to enlarge)
 
 


 
Page 12
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection

 (Click image to enlarge)
 

 
 
 
 
Page 15
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection

 (Click image to enlarge)
 
 
 
 
 
Page 16
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
Artifact #70
Jeff Smith collection

 (Click image to enlarge)
 
 
 
 
 
 








Joe Simmons:
 










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





"It can be argued that man's instinct to gamble is the only reason he is still not a monkey up in the trees."
                                                                           —Mario Puzo, Inside Las Vegas













No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for leaving your comment and/or question on my blog. I always read, and will answer all questions left here. Please know that they are greatly appreciated. -Jeff Smith