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Alias Soapy Smith

Bascomb Smith's Letter.

A letter from Bascomb Smith to his brother Jeff,
sent from the Denver County Jail in November of 1895.

Courtesy of Geri Murphy

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Denver, Colo. Nov. 18, 1895
Dear Bro Jeff,
I thought I
would write to you / I have
writen Severl times but
never got aney ancer / I gest
Received a letter From
Emie and Eava / it is to
bad Bob Emies Husband
has lost his mind and is
in Jail at Beltan and
our too Sisters are
in a very bad fix / if I was
out or ever get out I could
help them to get along
Som way for Criest sake /
if you can go there or can
do any thing for them do
it for they are in a bad
fix / if I had aney money
I would Send it to them
if it was the Last I had
but I have not got aney
money not one cent
and in a very bad fix
my self / but I may get
out some time and if I do
I will go to hard labor
Rether and to see my own
Blood Suffer for aney thing /
I have lernt a very dear
leson but I think it will
be a good thing for
me / I Saw Mr. Clay
and he said he got
a tellorgram from you /
he said he would do
aney thing he cold to
get me out but you
know how that is / that
may be the last of it /
the Grand Jury found
another Bill agent
me / I will go out to
plead not Saladay [guilty?]
to Salt and Entent
...[to] Kill / I don't Know
how I will come out /
Every thing goes wrong
and it would not
serprise me if I get
in the pen before
they get thrugh with
me / old Deneson was
fired out of office a
day or two ago / he...[won't?]
have the pleasur...[e of]
proscuting me any
way / I said to Clay
that I herd you was
coming back / he said
he would be glad
to see you…[again?] /
the Grand Jury found
a bill agent Sam
Blonger for obtaning
stolen goods / it was
about a check I got him
to get the money
out for me
when you had the
Joint over Solmons
Pawn Shop / the check
was for Six Hundard
dollars / Sopose you
rember it / Bowers and
Jackson won it so they
want me for a witness /
what would you do
if you was around /
I dont Know of aney
more to write so
I will close / from
your Bro Bascom
Smith
Cor County Jail
Denver, Colo. Nov. 18, 1895
Dear Bro Jeff,
I thought I would write to you. I have writen Severl times but never got aney ancer.
I gest [just] Received a letter From Emie and Eava. It is to bad Bob, Emies Husband, has lost his mind and is in Jail at Beltan [Texas], and our too Sisters are in a very bad fix. If I was out, or ever get out, I could help them to get along Som way, for Criest sake. If you can go there, or can do any thing for them, do it, for they are in a bad fix. If I had aney money I would Send it to them, if it was the Last I had, but I have not got aney money, not one cent, and in a very bad fix my self.
But I may get out some time, and if I do, I will go to hard labor Rether and to see my own Blood Suffer for aney thing. I have lernt a very dear leson, but I think it will be a good thing for me.
I Saw Mr. Clay, and he said he got a tellorgram from you. He said he would do aney thing he cold to get me out, but you know how that is. That may be the last of it.
The Grand Jury found another Bill agent [against] me. I will go out to plead not Saladay [guilty?] to Salt and Entent [assault with intent] ...[to] Kill. I don't Know how I will come out. Every thing goes wrong, and it would not serprise me if I get in the pen before they get thrugh with me.
Old Deneson [Col. Neil Dennison] was fired out of office a day or two ago. He...[won't?] have the pleasur...[e of] proscuting me, any way.
I said to Clay that I herd you was coming back. He said he would be glad to see you…[again?]
The Grand Jury found a bill agent [against] Sam Blonger for obtaning Stolen goods. It was about a check I got him to get the money out for me when you had the Joint over Solmons Pawn Shop. The check was for Six Hundard dollars. Sopose you rember it. ["Rev." John] Bowers and ["Prof." Turner] Jackson won it so they want me for a witness. What would you do if you was around?
I dont Know of aney more to write so I will close.
From your Bro, Bascom Smith
County Jail

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Denver Evening Post, January 8, 1896

BLONGER NOT GUILTY
THE STORY OF A BUNCOED CATTLEMAN'S CHECK.
JEFF SMITH'S BROTHER GOT MOST OF THE CASH ON IT AND THERE IS NO CHARGE AGAINST HIM—BLONGER TOOK A PART IN THE TRANSACTION BUT IS NOW FREE.
For the second time within a fortnight Samuel H. Blonger, the well-known saloon keeper, has issued victorious after an interesting seance with the district attorney's office. After several continuances he yesterday, through his counsel, Messrs. Ward & Welkey, managed to force his trial on the charge of receiving a stolen check. The history of the case is interesting. The check which was made payable to S. H. Wolcott of Catskill, New Mexico, was given on the Colorado National Bank by the Union Stockyards company. Its amount was $600, and represented a sale of cattle which Wolcott had made.
The Catskill cattle man was unfortunate in not being able to suddenly vanish from Denver before losing his check. Unfortunately, on the morning of January 31, 1894, Wolcott made the acquaintance of the "Rev." Joe Bowers of bunco fame. "Joe" steered the New Mexican to Jeff Smith's gambling house, where Wolcott was quickly fleeced out of his $600 check. The same day Bascomb Smith, on behalf of his brother Jeff, visited Blonger's saloon at 1644 Larimer street, and requested Mr. Blonger to cash the check. As he did not transact business with the Colorado National Mr. Blonger declined. He, however, directed Smith to Edward E. Quentin, then cashier of the State National Bank, who, he said, had previously collected gambling debts for him (Jeff Smith). Smith called on Quentin, who accomodated him, and after having ok'd the check presented it at the bank and received face value.
After deducting $20 for his courtesy, Mr. Blonger alleges that Cashier Quentin advanced the balance, $580, to Bascomb Smith.
Blonger was in no manner connected with the transaction, and at no time had Wolcott's check in his possession, yet, during yesterday's trial, Quentin testified that Blonger had guaranteed the paper. The latter never heard of Wolcott's check after Mr. Quentin had it cashed until six months later, when Wolcott's partner began to make inquiries about it of Cashier Quentin.
His recent indictment on such a very flimsy charge was a great surprise to Mr. Blonger. He urged a speedy trial, confident of acquittal, but was obliged to submit to two continuances. When the case was called yesterday before Judge Johnson, the absence of District Attoney Whitford was noticeable; he did not care, evidently, to prosecute. The trial was brief and farcical. At the completion of the state's testimony the court ordered the jury to return a verdict of not guilty and Mr. Blonger was discharged. He was not even compelled to make the least defense personally, nor were any witnesses examined on his behalf.

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Rocky Mountain News, January 9, 1896

District Attorney Assures His Honor That He'll Institute Charges.
Bascom Smith, Indicted for Assault to Kill, Was Promised Office.
Was to Be Made Patrolman for Turning State's Evidence Against the Blonger Gang.
Prosecutor Charged With Turning Felons Loose on Honest Citizens.
Never before has the Arapahoe county gang been stirred up as it was yesterday by the bold words of Judge Johnson in commenting upon the corrupt practices which he found existed in the criminal division, at least, of the district court. There were conferences on all sides and all sorts of caucuses, but they availed nothing. Appeals to the judge himself elicited the reply that if an investigation was not at once instituted and the criminal practices stopped instanter the actual details would be given publicity and the result would be disastrous to the gangsters who have held bold and brazen sway at the court for a long period of time.
Probably as a direct result of the exposures Bascom Smith was the first victim. Direct charges were made in the open court that the district attorney has promised Bascom immunity from punishment if he would give certain testimony before the court on the trial of Sam Blonger. The evidence was given as promised by Smith and yesterday the indictment against the latter was brought up in court, and much to Smith's astonishment the assistant district attorney refused to carry out the plan which Smith claimed had been agreed upon. As soon as the attorneys for the prisoner saw the trend of affairs they asked for a continuance so that any possible mistakes might be rectified. This was also objected to and so the cat was let out of the bag.
Could Prove the Charge.
Judge Hilton arose and addressed the court, saying that certain information had come to him regarding the action of District Attorney Whitford in the case and that this information was susceptible of proof. Immunity from punishment was not the only bait held out toward his client, but a situation on the police force was to follow release from prison.
"Mr. Smith," said Judge Hilton, "has been approached by the district attorney and his officers during the last two or three weeks and has been informed that if he would testify to certain facts against the Blongers that in this matter a nolle contendre would be entered.
"I understand that this is a serious charge and only repeat it as it comes from the mouth of my client. Furthermore, he has been labored with persistently to the end that he should testify to certain facts if he would assist in the prosecution of the Blongers; he was promised immunity if he would testify. He did testify and we have every reason to believe that he testified in the case yesterday to facts that were only true."
Visited by Whitford.
Mr. Walkey followed and stated that he had information from a reliable source that Smith had been visited not only be the employes of Mr. Whitford, but that that official had himself visited the prisoner at the county jail on Monday night and had promised that in consideration of certain testimony a nollo contendre would be entered in the case which was pending.

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Aspen Weekly Times, March 7, 1896

A DENVER SUICIDE
Denver, March 6.—Jessie Smith, mistress of Bascom Smith, brother of the notorious "Soapy," committed suicide this morning by taking morphine. She had a few minutes before received a note from the county jail from Smith, who is a prisoner there in which he had upbraided her for some supposed neglect.

 

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