July 21, 2021

Comparing Soapy Smith's Leadville sterioviews

Harrison Ave.
Leadville, Colorado
July 21, 1880
Luke and Wheeler photographers

(Click image to enlarge)



 
S THAT SOAPY'S PARTNER IN CRIME?

Those who have read Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel, you may recall seeing the photograph (#6A) below, in the first photograph section of the book.
 
 
Soapy Smith and his partner in crime
Harrison Ave.
Leadville, Colorado
July 21, 1880
Luke and Wheeler photographers
Kyle Rosene collection
 
 (Click image to enlarge)
 
Soapy sent the above sterioview card to his sister. He wrote on the back
 
This is a crew of freighters we met in Leadville on the 21st of July 1880 in the morning on the day that Gen Grant arrived. You can see my photo by looking between the two wagons next to the man with the apron and his sleeves rolled up. (Soapy is between the two men, or in the rear, 3rd from the left) JRS. In other writing Soapy tells his sister Eva that the former president (1869-1877) is on horseback in the background. If you look closely you can see Grant on a very blurry horse.  

It is Leadville, Colorado, July 21, 1880, the day ex-president U. S. Grant arrived in the city. There is a parade in his honor and a photographer(s) Luke and Wheeler set up a sterioview camera to take some photographic mementos of the day's celebration.
     Notice the similarities to the photograph at the top of the post? This is because they were both taken by the same photographer, on the same day, close to the same location, one picture being taken before Grant passed by, and one taken afterwards. It is believed that the photo with Soapy was taken first, and the photographer quickly moved his equipment out of the street, for the passing of the parade, and then set up his equipment in the street once again, for another photograph, in which a large crowd took up their place in front of the camera. It is guessed that much of the crowd paid in advance for a copy of the sterioview. 
 
 
Soapy Smith and his partner in crime
Close-up
Harrison Ave.
Leadville, Colorado
July 21, 1880
Luke and Wheeler photographers
Kyle Rosene collection

 
     So, is Soapy possibly in both sterioviews? Below is a closeup of the latest Leadville sterioview card. It shows Harrison Avenue looking south. The Tabor Building, Clarendon Hotel building are seen on the left, and the Union Restaurant is across the street on the right.
 
Harrison Ave.
Leadville, Colorado
July 21, 1880
Luke and Wheeler photographers

  (Click image to enlarge)

     The close-up below appears to show Soapy's unnamed partner in crime, but I do not see Soapy himself. My guess is that now that Grant has passed by, Soapy is back to working the crowd for profit.
 
 
Close-up of crowd
Soapy's Partner?
Harrison Ave.
Leadville, Colorado
July 21, 1880
Luke and Wheeler photographers

 










Soapy Smith in Leadville
 










Leadville, Colorado: pages 10, 36-37, 75, 77-78, 116, 123, 134-35, 144, 152, 176, 189, 192, 219, 225, 292, 297, 347, 349, 420, 509, 594. 





"There are very few honest people up in that country," Said Bascomb last night. "I was told that my brother had $80 in cash in his clothes when he died, also that he owned several lots in Skaguay, a half-interest in Clancy’s saloon which was taking in probably $200 a day and an interest in the White Pass Trail.

The widow never got anything out of the estate. The money was gone and there was no trace of the lots, as they had never been recorded. Even a letter of thanks from the secretary of war could not be found and nearly everything in Jeff’s room had been stolen."
—Bascomb Smith











July 7, 2021

Frank Reid's revolver

Frank Reid's revolver
Smith and Wesson Safety Hammerless
Or New Departure
aka "Lemon Squeezer"
Courtesy of
Margaret Tibbets and
Mike McLucas

(Click image to enlarge)




 
 
 
 s this Frank Reid's revolver?
One key point in favor of it being Reid's is that Leslie Butler, as executor of Reid's estate, held legal claim to it.

 
 
 
     When it comes to Soapy Smith I am very cautious in believing what I hear. It's even worse when it comes to Soapy's guns. Over the last 40 years I have seen so many "this is Soapy's gun," and very few make any sense. In those decades I do not recall seeing one of Reid's pistols. This one has worthiness. As an honest historian I cannot, in good faith, say that "this gun is positively Frank Reid's gun," as that would be presumptuous of me. However, I am more inclined to believe that this gun is indeed Reid's.
     Some time ago I received an exciting comment on one of my posts, from Margaret Tibbets.
      I’m so excited to find your site. Can’t wait to buy your book. I’ve been researching Soapy for an article about Leslie Butler, a friend of Frank Reid who was an important early Oregonian. Leslie managed Frank’s estate and owned the gun Frank used purportedly to kill Soapy Smith. Leslie’s daughter wrote an account of her summer in Skagway and included her account of Soapy’s death. I have a copy of this unpublished document written in 1925. She and her sister sat at Frank’s bedside singing hymns to him for the 10 days before he died at the Hospital.
     Leslies’s great-grandson, Mike McLucas, is an old family friend. I got interested in this story while researching Leslie Butler and his contributions to Oregon history.
     I would love to be in touch. I enjoyed finding your website.

Regards
Margaret Tibbets
     Leslie Butler is listed twice in my book, Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel, as being Frank Reid's executor of his estate, appointed by Reid himself, but this is the first account that the two men were friends. The following is from Alias Soapy Smith.
     Four days before his death, Reid made a will dated July 16, 1898. It directed, first, that his “body be decently buried” and that when his executor, Leslie Butler, had “sufficient funds in hand, [he] pay all funeral expenses and the expenses of my last sickness.” And “Second, I give and bequeath unto my brother, D. U. S. Reid, now in Eugene, State of Oregon, the sum of One (1) Dollar.” Third, his executor was directed to manage his “rights, title and interest” in a one-sixth interest in and to a 39-acre tract of land “fronting on Skaguay Bay” and to “sell and dispose of [it] in trust for the presiding Pastor or Board of church Directors of the Presbyterian Church Society. And fourth, he directed that his “personal estate … be sold” and that the proceeds “given to the president of the Women’s Relief Corps of the Town of Skaguay” for its “use and benefit.” The 27 items left by Reid, including the real estate, were valued at $487.40, and Commissioner Sehlbrede ordered them sold for cash on August 3, 1898. Disbursements do not appear in the Skaguay Probate record, but presumably they were distributed as requested. Reid’s possessions were listed in detail, down to one pair of shoes and a clothes brush. However, his pistol is not mentioned. Apparently Tanner, who picked it up the night of the shootout on the wharf, still had it.
Note that Reid's pistol is not mentioned in the estate. As Tanner (Josias Martin "Si") took possession of Soapy's rifle, and that Tanner picked up Reid's revolver moments after the shootout on Juneau Wharf had taken place, I guessed that Tanner retained possession of Reid's gun. Tanner did hand over Soapy's rifle to Soapy's son and widow, so, perhaps, as there were no relatives of Reid's coming to Skagway, and that
Leslie Butler was the executor of the estate, Butler was legally entitled to Reid's revolver, which is pretty good evidence towards any provenance that the revolver shown in this post did indeed belong to Frank Reid.
     The story of ladies singing at Reid's bedside is recorded in Mabel Pearce Reed's book, Skagway Memories:1897-1901 (1988). However Mabel, a Skagway pioneer, inserts her mother into the story as one of the singers.
Reid had been known to have a very colorful vocabulary, he did a lot of swearing and using foul language, so Mama was surprised when he asked for the ladies quartet from the church to sing for him as he lay dying. Mama sang alto in the quartet and said they sang every afternoon until his death.It is not unrealistic to believe that there may have been numerous ladies volunteering their vocal services.
     Margaret Tibbets added more to Leslie Butler's personal history, previously unknown and unpublished.
      I first became interested in Leslie Butler after talking to Mike one spring after I made a trip to Maupin, Oregon to speak at the funeral of one of my favorite teachers. I spent a wonderful spring afternoon relaxing along the Deschutes River talking with Mike and his wife Gloria. Mike is the most wonderful conversationist and story teller.
     During our conversation we began discussing the history of the area... I was amazed to hear about Leslie Butler and the important things he did in early Oregon. From starting the first Bank in the Columbia Gorge to sitting on the first State Highway Commission... his work to help establish the Dornbecker Hospital for Children and in establishing the State Tuberculosis Hospital in Salem, and his patronage of the Boys Farm Home in Corvallis, Mr. Butler was at the center of some of the most important initiatives in Oregon between 1900 and 1940. As a child growing up in Indiana, he even saw Abraham Lincoln speak. And then there was this tale of the Klondike Gold Rush, Soapy Smith, and Frank Reid! As you can imagine, as an amateur historian and a banker, I was mesmerized!
     Further research revealed Leslie had been one of the first Chairmen of the Oregon Banker’s Association, an organization I belong to. I spoke to Linda Navarro, the current President of the association, and she shared that they still have a portrait of Leslie Butler on display in their office! Leslie was one of the most well thought of men during the early 1900s in Oregon.

All the Best
Margaret Tibbets

Mike McLucas
Leslie Butler’s great-grandson
showing Reid's revolver (open position, ready to load, unload, or clean)
Smith and Wesson Safety Hammerless
Courtesy of Margaret Tibbets and
Mike McLucas
     Mike McLucas, the great-grandson of Leslie Butler, has the revolver Frank Reid used to wound Soapy Smith (pictured). Margaret continues 
The gun is a 5 shooter, called a lemon squeezer because of the way safety is on the end of the gun and must be squeezed to pull the trigger. You have to have a strong grip and hand to squeeze the safety and pull the trigger.

Margaret adds

What Mike learned as a child supports what you say…. Frank Reid had trouble getting off his shot and his was not the fatal wound. Mike had no idea who shot him. But he was told a 45 wax the fatal bullet wound.

     Previously, the only known information on Reid's revolver came from Matthew M. Sundeen and Clarence L. Andrews whose versions were published in The Alaska Sportsman (November 1947), under the title, The Real Soapy Smith, by Andrews
     Three of the four men on guard were reportedly unarmed. Clarence L. Andrews, writing in a 1947 article, identified himself as a Skaguay resident who knew Commissioner Sehlbrede and Tanner as a deputy US marshal and who listened to the stories of the men of Skaguay for five years. Andrews wrote that Reid’s weapon “was a .38 Smith & Wesson,” and the newspapers reported that it was a .38. Years later Matthew M. Sundeen, age 33 in 1898, wrote that, 
 
Reid carted an old Smith and Wesson six-shooter, an ancient gun he had used in the rip-roaring days of the west and which he considered the best gun in Skagway. He said it never failed him but its failure finally cost his life.

Mike McLucas
Leslie Butler’s great-grandson
Reid's revolver
Smith and Wesson Safety Hammerless
Courtesy of Margaret Tibbets and
Mike McLucas


The Smith and Wesson Safety Hammerless
     The Smith and Wesson .38 Safety Hammerless models were produced from 1887 (1888 for the 32) to just before World War II. They were chambered in either .32 S and W or .38 S and W with a five-shot cylinder. They were most often produced with a 2-inch, 3-inch, or 3.5-inch barrels; but some 6" barrelled versions are known to exist.
     These top-break revolvers were designed for fast reloading and concealed carry as the hammer was internal and would not snag on drawing the revolver from a pocket. They were known as "The New Departure" to reflect the company's new approach to designing revolvers.
     Minor design changes were made to these revolvers over the years, resulting in several different design models, as termed by collectors. The first model was manufactured from 1887 to 1902. The .38 was based on S and W's medium frame, while the .32 was based on the smaller sized "1½" frame. [Wikipedia: Smith and Wesson Safety Hammerless]
Shooting the Smith and Wesson Safety Hammerless
 
 

 








Frank H. Reid: 
May 1, 2017 










Leslie Butler: pages 577, 585. 
Frank H. Reid: pages 10, 439-41, 447, 477, 529-42, 544, 547-53, 555, 574, 576-77, 579, 585.





"Casinos and prostitutes have the same thing in common; they are both trying to screw you out of your money and send you home with a smile on your face."
—V. P. Pappy










July 2, 2021

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"A dollar picked up in the road is more satisfaction to us than the 99 which we had to work for, and the money won at Faro or in the stock market snuggles into our hearts in the same way."
—Samuel Clemens ("Mark Twain")