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July 2006


Soapy's Wake

Hi, gang-

Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith

9:15 pm, July 8th

Please join the Smith family in remembering, perhaps the most infamous confidence man of the 19th century. Although, called a "wake," this is by no means a sad affair. We are remembering a legend on the day he was shot down. There are two places to attend, if you wish to remember him in person, At the Eagles Hall in Skagway, Alaska and the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California. If you can't make either then please raise a toast at 9:15 pm.

The actual phrase our family uses in the toast came from a story my father told me. An old timer, who knew Soapy, was visiting the widow at the family home in St. Louis during the mid 1900's. He became intoxicated as they remembered old antidotes about Soapy. In a lull moment of the conversation, he raised his beer glass and said, "To Soapy's ghost!" We have been using that phrase every year since the first "wake" in 1974. So if you would join us please...

...To Soapy's Ghost!



New to The Professional Thief, by Edwin H. Sutherland, University of Chicago Press, 1937. That's a year after Fighting the Underworld, upon which he relies for information specifically regarding Lou.

The book's source, however, is a professional thief. In the chapter on mobs, Lou's organization is noted as having thirty-five men using the same payoff joint in Denver — but that's just the ones Van Cise caught. The number might have been sixty or more at peak.

Lou is also credited with keeping every last one of his associates out of prison for over twenty years — until the bitter end. Other fixers are noted as having been less effective, and less trustworthy.

Lou's long friendship with the unnamed William Pinkerton is mentioned, and their yearly meetings in Hot Springs to discuss business of every kind.

Soapy's Wake

Check out the festivities at Soapy's Wake.


Soapy's Book on his great-granddad is coming down the pike. Visit his site for more info.

Here's more pics from Soapy's wake.

"Special" Deputies

Not sure who W.S. Stratton was, but the deputies were those that came from Denver to fight the miners at Bull Hill, and some of whom tarred Gen. Tarsney in June. The Springs got more than they bargained for after the strike was over and the deputies were unemployed.

Aspen Weekly Times, October 6, 1894

The plot to tar and feather W.S. Stratton of Colorado Springs, because he would not be longer bled by some of the disreputable scoundrels who were deputised by the sheriff of El Paso county to fight the miners of Cripple Creek, ought to open the eyes of the people of that city and they ought to insist upon ridding the community of that dangerous element at once, says The Mining Review. Notwithstanding the recent declaration of the grand jury that the most desperate characters in the whole world had congregated at Cripple Creek, we have believed that by far the worst and most dangrous class was at Colorado Springs. The fact that fifteen bicyles were stolen from visiting wheelmen there in one day, proves that the grand jury, in their eagerness to find criminals at Cripple Creek.

July 2006



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