May 4, 2021

Artifact #84: Letter informing Soapy's son of the death of his aunt, Emma Lu Smith, 1915

"Your Aunt Emmie Lu died"
Artifact #84-Letter
Jeff Smith Collection

 mma Lu "Emmie" Smith
(Abt. 1867 - May 3, 1915)

My great-grandaunt, Emma Lu Smith, the oldest sister of Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith, was born in Coweta County, Georgia around 1867. She was ten years old when her mother passed away in Round Rock, Texas in 1877.

(l to r) Emma Lu, Maurice Gregory Moriarty, Eva Katherine
Previous to May 1915.
Temple, Texas
Michael Moriarty Collection

In 1880 her residence, along with her father and siblings, minus "Soapy," was Belton, Texas, and she was still residing there when she met and married
Robert Gardner on July 2, 1890. Gardner played a noted role in helping Soapy's grandchildren in researching their grandfather. The fact that Emma's sister, Eva Katherine Smith, author of the letter (artifact #84), married Soap Gang member William Sydney Light, and so it is believed that Emma Lu Smith's husband, Robert, may have also been a member of the gang as well. By 1900 she had made Temple, Texas her home. The death date of her husband, Robert Gardner, is unknown at this time, but it is believed that he passed away before Emma, as Eva Katherine makes no mention of Robert. At some point, Emma Lu moved to Waco, Texas before Eva's son brought her to live with her sister in Temple, Texas. Emma passed away on May 3, 1915.

Emma Lu Smith
Michael Moriarty Collection

Below is the transcribed contents of the letter.

Temple Texas.
Dear Nephew,
Your Aunt Emmie Lu died the 3rd of May, she spoke of not hearing from you, and certainly loved you all, my son Jefferson went to Waco and brought her home with him, hoping the change would help her, and indeed she did get better for a short time, then she relapsed into the same old state of [undecipherable]. It is indeed hard for us to bear. I have not been able to let you know before now. I hope you are all well. With much love, your Aunt.
Eva K. Light. 

Artifact #84-Envelope-front
Jeff Smith Collection

The envelope is addressed to Jeff Smith, "Times" [St. Louis Times], St. Louis, MO. It is postmarked in Temple, Texas on May 13, 1915, at 2pm.

Artifact #84-Envelope-rear
Jeff Smith Collection

The rear of the envelope and some figures, probably written by Soapy's son, Jefferson Randolph Smith III. It appears to be in dollar amounts. For what is unknown.

In most betting shops you will see three windows marked "Bet Here," but only one window with the legend "Pay Out."
— Jeffrey Bernard

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