April 29, 2021

John Murphy arrested, Murphy's Exchange, Denver 1882

Denver Republican
May 29, 1882
(The article is transcribed below)

(Click image to enlarge)

urphy's place was always under police surveillance, and the proprietor himself was not looked upon with any favor by the officers."

Two of Denver's most notorious saloon and gambling halls of the 1890s were The Arcade Restaurant and Club rooms (saloon and gambling hall) and Murphy's Exchange, aka "the slaughter house," so named for all the deadly violence that occurred there on a regular basis. The first floors were saloons and restaurants while the upper floors, combined together with a stairway, contained the gambling halls. The history of "Murphy's Exchange" plays a major role in the history of Jefferson Randolph Smith II. It was in the Exchange that Soapy temporarily placed McGinty the petrified man on display, and it was where in 1892 Jeff, along with gun-man Jim Jordan, shot and killed gambler Cliff Sparks. In all the books on Soapy and most of the books on the history of Denver I noticed that the name was always known as Murphy's Exchange, but during my research years for the book, Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel I noticed that when Soapy became an underworld power in Denver, the newspapers occasionally called it "Murphy's Exchange," but mostly referred to it as "The Exchange." I figured that the business had changed hands, perhaps numerous times, over the years, and either the new owners kept "Exchange" in the name, or the newspapers used the old name, for interest purposes. In reading this latest newspaper find, I think I understand a little more about the history.
     Apparently, the saloon and it's proprietor, John W. "Johnny" Murphy, had already gained a scandalous history before Soapy's time. It stands to reason that newspapers would refer to
"Murphy's Exchange," which many residents of Denver knew well of. Below is the transcribed text of the article for ease of reading.


The former proprietor of Murphy's Exchange Arrested for a Gigantic Swindle.

An $18,000 Grain Steal Said to Have Been Committed by Rice and Murphy.
      John Murphy, the well-known saloon man, was arrested Saturday at Leadville and taken to Columbus, Nebraska, to answer to the charge of obtaining goods amounting to $18,000 on false pretense. Murphy was charged with this offense some two months ago, but no arrests were made, and it was believed that nothing further would be done in the case.
      Murphy formerly owned the well-known saloon on Larimer street near the Arcade, known, when he kept it, as Murphy's Exchange. Murphy is a young man, and was formerly a brakeman on the Missouri Pacific running into Kansas City. Since he has been in Denver he has made a great deal of money. He drew around him the hardest class of men in the city, and his place became the resort of sluggers, thieves, bunko-steerers and gamblers. Murphy's place was always under police surveillance, and the proprietor himself was not looked upon with any favor by the officers. Notwithstanding the character of his place, his standing in the commercial world was very good, and his credit marked fair in the agency books.

The Exchange and The Arcade
Circa 1890s
     About two months ago he sold out his saloon. The name was changed to “Wesson's,” but the character of the place was not changed. Murphy is said to have received $18,000 for the saloon, and to have severed all connection with it, but in regard to this there is some doubt, and by many he is supposed to be still interested, if not the proprietor.
      Shortly after Murphy's new departure he started in a new business, and set himself up as a grain and commission man. He took as partners J. C. Rice, and a man named Edgar. Of the latter little is known, and he is not concerned in the case to any great extent, to judge from the actions of the Nebraska officers, who say they want him as a witness and not as a defendant in the case. Rice, however, is better known, and was arrested and taken back with Murphy. He was the principal operator in the alleged fraud. After the firm had prepared for business, Rice was sent East to buy wheat. He traveled into Nebraska and purchased large quantities of wheat in a very short time. He offered more money than the market price and obtained all he wanted on Murphy's credit, which was supposed to be good. The grain was shipped here to be paid for a day or two after delivery. The wheat came in by car-loads and was sold by Murphy who pocketed the proceeds. When $18,000 had thus been obtained, the firm suspended with no assets to speak of. The creditors raised a howl, but Murphy did not return any of the money, and if he really possessed any he so disposed of it that it could not be reached by attachments or suits. The creditors exhausted all of their persuasive powers and then tried threats, but these did work, and they finally had Murphy indicted.

The Exchange and The Arcade
Circa 1890s

      Mr. Galbreath, agent for the State of Nebraska, arrived in the city Thursday, just too late to arrest Murphy, who had gone to Leadville. Deputy Sheriff Charley Linton was placed in charge of the case, and as he expected Murphy back every day he did not order an arrest until Saturday, when he telegraphed Sheriff Becker to make the arrest and bring his prisoner down. Deputy Linton went out and met Becker and Murphy at Jefferson, where he took charge of the prisoner, and then telegraphed Deputy Sheriff Charlie Farmer to arrest Rice and meet him at the train. This was done, and as soon as Murphy could be driven to his house and obtain a change of clothing he was taken back and placed on board the Omaha train with Rice, in charge of Special Agent Galbreath and Deputies Sackett and Taylor, the two last named being prosecuting witnesses who caused the arrest to be made and paid all the expenses.
      The prisoners not seem to be much alarmed at anything except at the matter of being handcuffed. Their guilt is, of course, to be proved yet, but they have, even if innocent, a hard time before them.
The Exchange
Circa 1930s

 (Click image to enlarge)
The Exchange and The Arcade
Circa 1970s
(Entire block was razed before 1980)

(Click image to enlarge) 

     Very interesting to find out that John Murphy is a swindler. No wonder Soapy and the Soap Gang hung out there.
     It's reported that Murphy "sold" the saloon (May 1882), but the newspaper hints that it may not have been a real sale ("by many he is supposed to be still interested, if not the proprietor."). Apparently, this tactic was more common than I previously believed. Soapy sold his Tivoli Club (Denver) and his Orleans Club (Creede), remaining proprietor of both. I always figured that Soapy sold his Tivoli Club, in order to save the business from his downward reputation. I know for certain, that the Tivoli remained under full control of Soapy.
     There are questions left unanswered, that I hope to find answers to, as I comb the pages of The Denver Republican, such as, did John Murphy go to prison? When did he cease actual ownership of the Exchange, who took it over, and whether there was a legal name change.

Murphy's Exchange

Murphy's Exchange: pages 74, 106, 124, 187, 223, 242, 250-51, 256, 258, 502, 530.

"Lawlessness was rampant, but it did not touch us. The thugs lay in wait for the men with pokes from the “inside.” To the great Cheechako army, they gave little heed. They were captained by one Smith, known as “Soapy,” whom I had the fortune to meet. He was a pleasant-appearing, man, and no one would have taken him for a desperado, a killer of men."
—Robert Service
The Trail of ’98

April 27, 2021

Artifact #82: Soapy's son writes to his son and daughter-in-law, 1938

Artifact #82
Soapy's son (Jefferson R. Smith III)
writes to his son, Joseph Jefferson Smith
Jeff Smith collection

(Click image to enlarge)

our grandfather, a kindly and generous man, a man who lived within the law and fought the enemies of truth."
In late 1937 - early 1938, my aunt and uncle, Thelma Anne Rothmund [1911-1981] and Joseph Jefferson Smith [1909-1977] (Soapy's grandchildren), wrote to Joseph's father, Jefferson Randolph Smith III, (Soapy's son) sending him a copy of the War Cry magazine issue (October 16, 1937) that contained the story by Evangeline Booth, fourth daughter of the founder, William Booth, and how she converted Soapy Smith to religion.
Evangeline Booth is said to have arrived in Skagway in May 1898. Some of the versions have Booth going to Soapy, while others have Soapy coming to her. I am still searching for a copy of the War Cry, so I can only speak on the latter version which is utilized in the book, General Evangeline Booth of the Salvation Army, by P. W. Wilson, 1948, page 129.

Soapy Smith, who owned the saloon, was quite a celebrity. He got his name in Denver where he sold soap at the street corners. Within certain of the packages were wrapped one, five and ten dollar bills, and with this inducement he did a roaring trade. The loaded packages, however, were handed to purchasers who were confederates, and with Soapy Smith they were hunted out of Denver, finding their way to Skagway where, by fair means or foul, they lured prospectors with money on them into a condition where they could be robbed. Soapy and his gang numbering some sixty adherents were a terror to the town. He was a tall dour man and Evangeline watched him during one of her meetings as he stood listening intently to what she was saying.

One evening in their camp among the trees the Salvationist party was warned that Soapy Smith with five of his bodyguard was approaching. It was a case of firearms on both sides. "Leave him to me," said Evangeline Booth, and she met the party. Supper was over, she said, but she would be happy to give them cups of cocoa. They sat and drank the cocoa and the Field Commissioner took Soapy Smith aside. "Why don't you give up this kind of life?" she asked him, and apparently he was impressed. He said that if he surrendered to the authorities it would be death, and she spoke to him of a salvation that means victory over death. Amid the shadows of the forest they prayed together and Soapy Smith departed.

A citizens meeting was held on a long wharf at Skagway. It was decided to clean out Soapy Smith and his gang. Soapy appeared in force and there was shooting on both sides. The town surveyor, Frank Reid, standing to guard the entrance to the wharf, was killed, which was murder, and Soapy was badly wounded. He was operated on by the surgeon in hope that he might live to be hung. But he cheated the gallows. Five years later someone happened to visit his grave. It was fragrant with fresh flowers. A strange man, he had been, and loved, it would seem, by somebody. For the Salvation Army he always had had a fondness. He told Evangeline Booth that his mother had taken him to its meetings as a little boy, and he had been eager to go because they allowed him to clap his hands.
In the book, Salvation Comes to the Last Frontier, by Evan Dowling, 1986, it is claimed that Booth converted Soapy as well as two members of the Soap Gang. My father and his siblings denied Booth's story because of the numerous "errors." One of the big errors was that Soapy’s mother took him to Salvation Army meetings when he was young. Although my father was going by the family history as he had learned it from his grandmother, Soapy's widow, his argument makes perfect sense considering the Salvation Army did not come to the United States until 1880, three years after Soapy’s mother had passed away. 
Back to the letter (artifact #82), ironically, Jefferson had worked for Evangeline Booth as her publicity representative in St. Louis. He adds, "but, dear children be not alarmed as all the allegations are untrue," touching on some of the untrue stories Evangeline Booth told, as well as comparing his father to that of the Salvation Army leadership. His last paragraph is my favorite, even though it shows 100% support for Soapy, which is common in children of famous American bad men. 
I have always spoken to you of your grandfather with deep reverence, and I do the same when I discuss his life with your brothers and sisters, and with my dear father's grandchildren. I want you to believe, as I have often told you, that your grandfather, a kindly and generous man, a man who lived within the law and fought the enemies of truth. I want you to continue to believe that he was everything a good man should be, despite allegations by even so great a woman as Miss Evangeline Booth, head of the Salvation Army, and by a widely advertised writer of a book laveled[sic]: "How to Win Friends and Influence People."
Evangeline Booth


May 15, 2011

Salvation Army and the Tivoli Club: page 173. 

"There is a very easy way to return from a gambling house with a small fortune: go there with a large one."
—Jack Yelton

April 25, 2021

THREE-CARD MONTE MEN: Denver Republican, May 11, 1882.

Denver Republican
May 11, 1882

(Click image to enlarge)

e's just struck old Ellie Perkins for $5."
     Though not directly related to the story of Soapy Smith, this Denver Republican article is a great example of one method the monte tossers had of extracting funds from victims, even from those that don't make bets on the three-card monte game. The sharpers simply move to "plan B."
     I am not familiar with a confidence man named Bill "Missouri Bill" Keyes, or even whether it is a real individual, but I hope to find out soon.
     Below is the transcribed article.


How a Fly Capper, Under the Guise of a Clergyman, Roped in Eli Perkins―A Lie in Two Acts.

      The reason why I urge upon every one, however smart, not to put too much confidence in his own smartness, will be seen further on. Yesterday I had to wait several hours at Monmouth, Illinois, a station on the Chicago Burlington and Quincy road. Monmouth has been frequented by three-card monte men for years. I have always known it, have often seen them there, and have often written about them. Well, yesterday they were there again. One of them, with a Canada Bill dialect, wanted to show me some strange "keerds" that he got in Chicago.
     "What were you doing up there?" I asked, knowing that he was a three-card monte man and feeling an interest in his modes.
      "Me and pap," he said, "took up some hogs. We took up a pile of 'em an' made a heap; but pap he got swindled by a three-card monte man. Got near ruined. But I grabbed the keerd, and I'll show you how they done it."
      "Never mind, boy," I said; "I know all about it. I know the whole racket. I'll keep quiet, mind my own business and let you try your monte game business on someone a little more fresh."
      The monte-boy saw at once that I was posted, and soon turned his attention to a good-looking, young and innocent clergyman in the depot. In a few moments I saw that the innocent clergyman had become deeply interested. His interest grew as he watched the cards. There were three ordinary business cards.
      "I believe I can tell which card has Willowby and Hill on it," said the innocent clergyman.
      “All right - but try it," said the monte man, flopping them about.
      “There, that's the one,” said the clergyman, smiling.
      Sure enough he was right.
      "I don't see how your poor father could lose all his money at such a simple game as that," said the clergyman. "why your eyes can see the card all the time."
      "Suppose you bet $5 that you can tell," suggested the monte man.
      "All right; I'll risk it," said the clergyman, "though I don't like to win money that way."
     The card was turned, and of course the poor, unsuspecting clergyman lost. Again he tried it, hoping to get his $5 back, bit lost again. Then he put up his last dollar and lost that. Then, seeming to realize his situation, he put up his hand to his head and walked out of the depot.
     “To think,” he said, “that I, a clergyman, should get caught at this game. Why, I might have known it was three card monte. I've No respect for myself," and he wiped his eyes in acute condemnation.
     "Why don't you complain of the scoundrel?" I said.
     "I would, but I'm a clergyman, and if they should hear of my sin and foolishness in Peoria, I would be ruined. My poor family would suffer for my sins."
     "Then I'd keep quiet about it," I said; "but let it be a lesson to you never to think you know more than other people."
     "But they've got my last dollar, and I want to go to Peoria. I must go there to preach on Sunday," said the innocent suffering man.
     "Can't you borrow of some one?" I asked.
     "No one knows me, and I don't like to tell my name here after this occurrence," said the poor man; half crying.
     "Very well," I said, "hand me your card, and I will let you have $5, and you can send it to me at the Palmer House, Chicago, when you get to Peoria," and I handed the poor man the money.
     A moment afterward I spoke to the agent at the depot about the wickedness of these monte men, told him of how I had to lend the poor clergyman $5 to get home.
     "And you lent him $5?"
     "Yes, I lent the poor man the money."
     "Well, by the great guns!" and then he slung his hat and yelled to the operator:
     "Bill, you know that ministerial- looking man around here."
     "You mean the capper for the three card monte men, don't you? Bill Keyes-Missouri Bill?"
     "Well, by the Great Guns he's the best man in the whole gang! He's just struck old Ellie Perkins for $5. It does beat me what blankety, blankety fools them darned newspaper men are."
         Eli Perkins.

December 14, 2011
March 18, 2010

Three-card monte: 8, 10, 15, 27, 51, 53-55, 59, 69, 75, 80, 91, 121, 141, 248, 360, 467, 472, 526.

"The urge to gamble is so universal and its practice is so pleasurable, that I assume it must be evil."
—Heywood Broun (1888-1939)

April 24, 2021

Was Soapy Smith in Rochester, Minnesota in 1883?

"He invested his $14 and got
two five cent cakes of soap.”
Daily Globe
St. Paul, Minnesota
July 13, 1883

(Click image to enlarge)

id Soapy Smith operate in Rochester, Minnesota in 1883?

Does the newspaper clipping posted at the top, refer to confidence-man Soapy Smith?

“A man came into town to spend the Fourth. He brought $14, with which he promised to buy his wife a lounge. He saw a man putting a $20 gold piece inside the wrapper around a cake of soap, and selling them for $10. He invested his $14 and got two five cent cakes of soap.” (Daily Globe, St. Paul, Minnesota)
My father told me that in the early part of Soapy's career that he used coins, later changing over to paper currency.

It is known that Soapy operated in the surrounding states in 1883, and positively known that he operated in Minnesota in 1892, but there is no solid provenance that this is our Soapy.

Rochester, Minnesota
August 1883
One month after the soap swindler was there
Courtesy of Minnesota Digital Library

(Click image to enlarge)

"No wife can endure a gambling husband, unless he is a steady winner."
—Thomas Robert Dewar

April 20, 2021

‘Soapy’ Smith opened up a shell game on the pass, October 1, 1897

‘Soapy’ Smith opened up a shell game
The Philipsburg Mail
Philipsburg, Montana
October 1, 1897

(Click image to enlarge)

alk about hard times”

Below is the transcribed article clipping from The Philipsburg Mail (Philipsburg, Montana), October 1, 1897.

“Talk about hard times,” said Mr. Harris, “one could scarcely believe there was such a thing any where in the land after seeing the apparent prosperity among the people of Sheep Camp. Any man you may meet is prepared to change a $100 bill, and big gambling games are constantly going on. A fellow who is known in many parts of the country as ‘Soapy’ Smith opened up a shell game on the pass and in a few days he captured enough ‘suckers’ so that he pulled out when we did with $20,000 in cold cash. One-half of his winnings were scooped from two brothers who had spent the past three years in the Klondike and were on their way home to make their families happy when they fell victims to the ‘sure thing’ game and went broke. 
Interesting to note that "Mr. Harris" knew about the amount of money (actually $30,000 not $20,000) taken in by Soapy, Jack Jolly and Jerry Daily. The story of Soapy's profit during his first 23 days in Skagway. The earliest newspaper accounting I could find occurred in September 1897 so it is possible that "Mr. Harris" read about Soapy's success and pretended to be a first-hand witness. My first hint that led me to question "Mr. Harris," is how a miner would have so much information on Soapy's operation, including the fact that "One-half of his winnings were scooped from two brothers ..." Great story though!


"Someone once asked me why women don't gamble as much as men do, and I gave the common-sensical reply that we don't have as much money. That was a true but incomplete answer. In fact, women's total instinct for gambling is satisfied by marriage."
—Gloria Steinem

April 13, 2021

Soapy Smith arrested in Spokane, Washington July 29, 1897

Spokesman Review
July 29, 1897

(Click image to enlarge)

e objected to the word vagrancy."

When the Excelsior docked in San Francisco on July 14, 1897, excitement spread quickly when each passenger disembarked with a reported average of from $30,000 to $90,000 in gold. The same occurred on July 17 when the Portland docked in Seattle. I have always felt that Soapy Smith was in Seattle at the time, perhaps even down on the docks welcoming the Portland and all that gold to Seattle. That he caught the first boat to Alaska. 
Although he may still have been in Seattle on July 17th, he was in Spokane on July 28, 1897, where he was arrested. This arrest may have been the reason Soapy did not leave for Alaska until August 14, 1897.
Yesterday's arrests included Charles Ross and Jeff ("Soapy") Smith, both charged with vagrancy. At the latter's request he was booked for disorderly conduct as he objected to the word vagrancy.


"The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket."
—Ken Hubbard

April 7, 2021

Uncrowned King of Skaguay, San Francisco Examiner, February 25, 1898

The Uncrowned King of Skaguay
The San Francisco Examiner
February 25 1898

(Click image to enlarge)

t was in good old times. Every man had moneyunless he met "Soapy."


Soapy Smith had been traveling around the Pacific Northwest since 1896. For the most part he remained an unknown, successfully keeping his past identity from the newspapers. That began to change once he settled in Skagway, Alaska and made a noise for himself. Newspaper reporters researched who "Soapy" Smith was, and published their findings in their newspapers, and as the Klondike gold rush was on everyone's minds, the newspapers capitalized on the "uncrowned king of Skaguay." The San Francisco Examiner found a copy of Soapy's cabinet card (see below) taken in Denver and had an artist draw Soapy for publication with an article on Soapy.
     As the newspapers of the states increased their publications on Soapy Smith, exposing his crimes, as well as those of his gang, the growing concerns of the citizens of Skagway were that the Klondikers coming to, and going from, the gold fields, may choose another route, by-passing Skagway all-together. Skagway witnessed how quickly the neighboring town of Dyea died, and they had no wish to be victims of the same fate. In the coming five months Soapy worked diligently to retain his power, his popularity with the Skagway residents, and improve relations with the newspapers, especially those on the west coast, Tacoma, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
     Below is the transcription of the
San Francisco Examiner article pictured above.

Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith
Circa 1890
Jeff Smith Collection

(Click image to enlarge)




Rules the Sporting Fraternity at the Gateway of the Gold Fields and Thinks He Would Be the Best Man to Preserve Peace in the District.


      “Soapy” Smith, one time known as Jeff, gambler, politician, “sure-thing” man, has added to his other titles that of “Shah of Skaguay.” He also longs to be called "Chief.” In the Boom town at the entrance to White pass, "Soapy" is a power and a prominent citizen. The sporting fraternity own allegiance to his cause and when the place is incorporated will further his ambition to be Chief of Police.
     It was Smith who saved the neck of Fay, the bartender who recently shot United States Deputy Marshal McGowan [sic: "Rowan"] and another man. Vigilantes would have lynched Fay had "Soapy" not gathered his forces and prevented the execution.
     The story of the career of the would-be policeman teems with tales of adventure. He is known all along the Pacific Coast as a most desperate gambler. It was, however in Colorado that he first achieved prominence. The memory of "Soapy" Smith lingers in Denver like the recollection of a bad dream. Is almost impossible to ascertain when "Soapy" came to Denver or Whence, but out of the tangle of rich anecdotes of his earlier career there rises a picture which is indelible.
     It was in good old times. Every man had money
unless he met "Soapy." Up Seventeenth street from the Union Depot there streamed a throng of people. In the midst of them stood "Soapy" on a box. He had soap to sell; it was not plain, ordinary soap, fit only for the washing of dirty hands or soiled linen. It was, on the contrary, very remarkable soap. "Soapy" touched the soap and lo! there was an inner wrapping of crisp bank notes around every bar. The eyes of the spectators bulged out. What was the use hunting over the hills for deceptive silver mines? Here was a fortune close at hand. “Soapy” had just a few left for sale. Under his magic touch a bar was seen to be enfolded in money. With eager eye fixed upon the tempting treasure, the spectator passed his hard-earned cash to the magician and grabbed the potent bar. Upon opening the outer wrapper, breathing short and quick the while, he foundjust soap; but it was a very good soap. That was one thing to be said of "Soapy." He was always conscientious and in little things and was far above petty tricks. Other people bought soap and "Soapy's" business came to be profitable and he devoted himself to it till greater ambitions inspired him to more original endeavors.
     "Soapy" became very proficient in the shell game and in all the various schemes of the high class bunco man. For many years he enjoyed power and influence in Denver, for his political relations and the authority he welded in the downtown districts gave him immunity from police interference. Year after year he flourished, buncoed visitors, conducted a gambling-house and made his name a by-word and a synonym. He made fortune after fortune and spent it all in riotous living and in good deeds, for it must be ever said of "Soapy" that no hungry man ever asked aid of him and was refused. Smith left Denver in 1896, driven out at last by the women empowered with the suffrage. He went to New Orleans, was imprisoned there for vagrancy and finally drifted to the Pacific Coast.

The following comes from the book, Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel.

The article correctly exposed Jeff’s past in Denver, including a detailed exposé of the prize soap sell racket. But even in this damning article, the reporter apparently felt compelled to include that Jeff also had a good side. ...
     ... Jeff’s infamous past had caught up with him. Too soon every Skaguay resident would know his full identity. An obviously powerful friend in San Francisco, known only as “John,” wrote to Jeff about the article and to warn him about a “squealer” thought to be in Skaguay. This interesting and colorful but long and somewhat repetitive letter has been shortened; otherwise, with a few assists, it appears as written.

Esmond House, 43 Sixth Street
San Francisco, Cal., Feby. 25 1898
Jeff Smith, Esqr.
Chief Police, Skaguay, Alaska:
Friend Jeff:—Today’s San Francisco Examiner gives you quite a good send off with a large picture of you. It seems by this able sheet you will be the next or first chief and if so I am glad of it, so you can regulate some of the wolfs that’s in our line of calling. They must have some man of judgment to regulate them or they will break up any place they go. There is one in particular, who is strickly out for himself and I here he is in your town (Skaguay); he will undermine you or any one else in order to gain his own point. I tell you Jeff he Dutch or John Rennels would put you and everyone else in jail to have the graft himself. If he had his way in this city while with me he would have had many of the gang drove out or put in the workhouse. You will always find him sneaking around talking to officers and telling other people[’s] bisness to them. Jeff he … is beyond a doubt one of the most dangerous men in the country and avoid[s] any principle. The only friend or God he knows or acknowledges is the mazuma and to reach that he will stop at nothing, he has not a charatable or Honorable hair in his head. When I had to drop him from the pay roll he got drunk like any cheap guy on 5¢ beer—large glasses, and combined with old McCormick to write me and the police department up through a pettifogging attorney here [—] he with McCormick in their letter given to the Daily Call newspaper claimed that I had the Chief of Police right and was given him the chief money. Now I and everyone else knows this to be true that Rennels and McCormick are the guilty ones—…. Such people ought to be in the sewer. You can rest assured he is your enemy. He has roasted you to me more than once and told me what smart capers he cut while in Denver, Col.
     There was nothing bad enough he did not say about you he can give you plenty of taffy while there is money in it but he is full of deceit, if you touch his pocket you can find out where his Dutch heart is if he has any. There is only one thing to do with him to keep him on the walk [—] drive him out of town for you or anyone else can not do a thing he will not tell officials to get into favor. I learned that deceitful rascals faults at my own expense. Why Golden Gaggers and others would have driven him from here a pauper only for me, and he repaid me well for my favors shown him by writing up the police dept and saying I was giving them percentages. … They put some of the gang on the tramp, but I am living well and eating the same and no trouble on my mind, for I am O K and treated all as I would wish to be treated myself. …McCormick, Atkins and others … are dead letters here as well as many other places. Their pedigree is ahead of them in many citys. Any information or anything I can do for you here I will do cheerfully in the way of ordering anything you might want. Hoping I may have the pleasure of hearing of you been elected Chief and with best wishes I remain
Your Friend and well wisher.

[P.S.] This is no heresay. The cop, the attorney who wrote the article and Billy Atkins who was there listening to Dutch getting McC to do it all tell me Dutch is to blame for all.

San Francisco Examiner article, Feb 25, 1898: page 463-64.

"In a bet there is a fool and a thief."

April 4, 2021

Jesse Murphy mentioned as shooting Soapy in The Dyea Trail, July 9, 1898

Skaguay Rises in Righteous Wrath
The Dyea Trail
July 9, 1898

(Click image to enlarge)

 man named Murphy had done his best to kill Soapy."
An extremely rare opportunity slid by me in an eBay auction listing for the July 9, 1898 (Vol. 1,No. 26) issue of The Dyea Trail (Dyea, Alaska), which sold for $406.00.
     This 8 page weekly publication measuring app. 12"x18" was started on January 12, 1898 and was one of two weekly newspapers in Dyea (the other being The Dyea Press). The inner pages (3-6) are printed on slightly smaller paper (10¾"x17"). This Newspaper only lasted about a year, roughly coinciding with the peak and ebb of the Klondike gold rush. There were 5,000 to 8,000 inhabitants in 1898 but by 1900 the town had dwindled to just 250, and by 1903 it had become a ghost town.
     This issue is important because it is the first report of Soapy's death from the shootout on Juneau Wharf, in Skagway, five miles away. Being published the day after the gunfight, it contains the earliest mention of Jesse Murphy shooting Soapy. The Skagway newspapers make no mention of Murphy having fired a single shot. I really hated not being able to get it.
     Unfortunately, the photographs used by the eBay seller are too poor to transcribe properly. 

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(Click image to enlarge)
"Midway Saloon"
The Dyea Trail
July 9, 1898
"Renie Baker, Proprietress"
(Click image to enlarge)
(Click image to enlarge)
(Click image to enlarge)
(Click image to enlarge)


"I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all."
Ecclesiastes 9:11