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Alias Soapy Smith

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The Famous Blonger Bros.


June 2006


Soapy's Car Wash

Jeff informs us that Soapy has his own car wash in Whitehorse, Canada. Fine. But does he have his own fake restaurant? Come in today for a free Duffy Burger and fries. Just tell 'em Lou sent ya.

Some Things Never Change, But Some Do

Whenever I hear somebody talking about the good old days when men were well-behaved and women were chaste, I think about Uncle Lou and his cohorts. We have always had our low-lifes and grafters, and the moralists and reformers who want to put them on the path to righteousness. But some things do change. Evidently, there was a time when congress was not made up entirely of millionaires.

Fort Collins Courier, January 4, 1883

Washington Correspondence Denver Tribune.
Ex-Governor Curtin, of Pennsylvania, asked me the other day if it had ever occurred to me that the senate is made up of very wealthy men. I told him it never had, and he said he had never thought about it till then. He seemed to think it was not a very pleasant thought, but he did not explain why. Perhaps he thought that rich men would be legislating all the while for the rich and that the poor would fair badly. Of course it is not an elevating contemplation to think, as he hinted, that it would raise a suspicion in everybody's mind that these senators bought themselves into office. Mitchell, of Pennsylvania, he informed me, is not rich, but "tolerably well to do." I asked him what he meant by "tolerably well to do," did he mean forty or fifty thousand? "Oh, no, not so much as that, but just enough to be one among the solid men of his country town, Wellsboro. I know Dan Voorhees is not rich. He wouldn't be rich more than a year and a half if he had Senator Fair's millions. There are some others that I suspect have not made great fortunes, Lamar, of Mississippi, for one." Mr. Curtin said he would put the seventy-six as representing an aggregate of six hundred millions; but I think he puts the figure too high. The ones reputed as very rich—so rich as to make everybody think of it when they ride past—are Fair, of Nevada, who is supposed to have millions reckoned up and several piles uncounted; his colleague, John P. Jones, who is nearly as much encumbered; Mahone, who owns Virginia and some of the railroads after they get outside of the state; David-Davis who is put among the millions; Warner Miller, of New York, whose manufactures have prospered; John Sherman, whose thrifty speculations in real estate have returned him many dollars for one; Hill, Sawyer, Windon, Pendleton, Saulsbury and all the rest, are rich—there is no doubt about that. It may be that men fit for the senate should prove themselves so by conquering the natural forces and making fortunes. It is hardly worth while to turn them out and select men in their places on a basis of poverty as the essential requirement. The poor will be legislated for in the house, where full two-thirds are without means beyond their five thousand a year while in office; and one-third of these have mortgaged their pay in order to get here. If this two-thirds of the lower branch of congress cannot take care of the poor man's interests, then the poor man must go.

Sorry, dude, hit the road.


Notorious Lives

Lou is included in a new anthology of notoriousness from Salem Press. A bit steep at $250 bucks, though, and the list of lawbreakers is loooong.

Denver Behind Bars: Deputy Tom Clarke

More on Lenny Ortiz' book, Denver Behind Bars: The History of the Denver Sheriff Department & Denver's Jail System, 1858-1956.

Here's a detail from a photo in the book depicting three familiar faces circa 1890: Denver County Sheriff William Burchinell, Deputy Leonard DeLue, and Deputy Thomas Clarke, spelled "Clark" by Ortiz.

Denver Deputies

Tom Clarke

I'm assuming that Deputy Thomas Clark is the same Deputy Tom Clarke, who, in 1923, treated Lou, Kid Duff and Jackie French to a drunken stag party while their jury deliberated.

CAN YOU AND WILL YOU EXPLAIN [Mayor Bailey] why Tom Clarke, your deputy sheriff, was permitted to make honor guests of certain members of this alleged confidence gang and turn over to them a room in the West Side court building for the staging of a wild orgy, when in all justice they shoud be behind bars the same as any other alleged law violator awaiting decision of a jury?

Though identified in the photo above, Ortiz is evidently not familiar with Clarke. Later in the book, when relating the story of the bunko gang and their trial, he naturally concentrates on its relevance to the sheriff's department, and so devotes a few pages to Clarke and his role in the "orgy" — but refers to him as Hal Crain, which is, rather, the pseudonym that Van Cise used for Clarke in Fighting the Underworld. Well, almost, anyway. Van Cise called him Hal Crane. Close.

Clarke was chief deputy sheriff, and was in charge of the Denver criminal courts, where the juries were always susceptible to his influence. He also ran black gambling and prostitution in town. He was noted as an old friend of Mayor Bailey, with whom he had been a U.S. Marshal. It was to Bailey's office, surely, that Lou had a direct phone line. How far did Bailey and Lou go back? Lou and Clarke? A cozy trio to be sure. Clarke was one of Lou's pallbearers in 1924.

Ortiz concludes his section on Lou and Clarke by noting "This is the only true scandal involving the sheriff in Denver."


Adjutant General Thomas J. Tarsney

As discussed here a short time ago, Tarsney was the commander of the state militia when they came to city hall in 1894, and days later at Bull Hill, near Cripple Creek. Shortly after these events he was tarred and feathered outside of Colorado Springs.

The crime was eventually attributed to members of the El Paso county sheriff's department, and aspersions were cast toward the Denver bunko masters, mine owners and grafters.

Now this, more detail:

Newark Daily Advocate, Aug 8, 1894

A Tarsney Conspirator Makes a Confession.
Tbe Conspiracy to Tar and Feather the Colorado Adjutant General Was [Z-ald] in the County Sheriff's
Deputy Sheriff's Wife Furnished the Feathers.
Sanctioned by the Sheriff.
DENVER, Aug. 8.®Wilson, the El Paso county deputy sheriff, who was captured by Adjutant General Tarsney in Missouri, has made a full confession and given to Chief of Police Armstrong the names of all the men connected with the outrage committed in Colorado Springs a few weeks ago. According to story the men engaged in the disgraceful enterprise were Sheriff Bowers, his deputy sheriff, Bob Mullins, Captain Saxton of Troop A., Sergeant William Bancroft of Troop A, Deputy Sheriff J. R. Wilson. Deputy Quackenboss, Sherman Crumley, "Shorty" Allen, Smith Suelleneger[?] and perhaps one or two others, including a woman. The police now have three confessions: those of Wilson, Parker and a prisoner in the El Paso mmity[?] who is being held as a witness to a murder committed in Cripple Creek. These men will all be brought before the grand jury now sitting in Colorado Springs.
On the day that Tarsney appeared at Colorado Springs for the purpose of assuming the defense of the Bull Hill strikers [...] T. Allen and Smith were the other men in the hotel office. Saxton, Bob Mulhns and the others waited outside. Wilson described the ride out to the open prairie, and said that most horrible threats were made against Tarsney. He was told that he was being driven to a place of execution, where he would be tortured to death. Capfola[?] gleefully told him they would first quarter him and then chop off his head. Tarsney asked for his life, as any man would do under the circumstances. On arriving at the place of torture Tarsney was dragged from the hack by Allen, Bancroft and Wilson and was told to strip. When he was informed that his life would be spared he shook hands with his persecutors and thanked them.

Tarsney was also a founder, along with Gov. Waite, of the populist party in Colorado. He wrote a book, AN APPEAL TO REASON. A PLEA FOR GOLD AND SILVER-NOT ONE BUT BOTH. A page-turner, I'm sure.

The text argues for the coinage of both gold and silver and attacks the Act of 1873, which "demonetized silver," for destroying "one-half of the metallic money of the United States." Tarsney discusses the election of 1896, among other subjects, and the distortions practiced by advocates of the gold standard.

The "demonetization" of silver sent the price of silver, and the value of silver mines, and the number of silver mining jobs, plummeting. I haven't yet found a direct reason to mention the Free Silver movement. Would Lou have opposed it, as owner of a golf mine? It was a major plank in Gov. Waite's platform. There.

One more thing: There was a Private Thomas J. Tarsney at Antietam, as was Mike Belonger, whose service ended there. Col. Neil Dennison and Custer, too. Tarsney was in the 4th Michigan, which also fought at 2nd Bull Run, as did Mike, who was in the 3rd Wisconsin.

Joe served in the 25th Michigan, which was addressed by H.G. Wells prior to deployment.

Leonard DeLue

Speaking of DeLue: We first met him in Fighting the Underworld, as Leon Dean, owner of a private detective agency, and the man who introduced Col. Van Cise, Republican candidate for Denver district attorney, to Lou. The Fixer wanted to contribute to the Colonel's campaign in exchange for a guarantee that the bonds set for bunco charges would remain at $1000, a manageable fee. The Colonel was incensed, and upon his election would commence planning Lou's downfall.

Over time, we have run into Mr. DeLue over and over. During the Cripple Creek strike in 1894, he was a county detective back in Denver, recruiting "deputies" to help break the strike. In 1897, he and Bat Masterson were busting up polling places.

Aspen Weekly Times, April 10, 1897

There were two incipient riots tonight. Shortly after 7 o'clock Deputy Sheriff DeLue attempted to force two men on the judges of precinct 8, third ward, alleging that they were watchers. The judges claimed that the men had not proper credentials, and declined to admit them. DeLue and his two friends then attacked the place. DeLue kicked in the window, while the others tried to break into the door. Somebody called for the patrol wagon, and the officers arrived just in time to prevent a riot.
Shortly after 9 o'clock Bat Masterson and police officer Tim Conners had a shooting match at 1835 Champa street, a polling place. Masterson appeared with a deputy sheriff's commission, and demanded a place in the polls to watch the count. Conners, who had been elected as special constable by the judges, was requested to eject Masterson. He ordered Bat out, and, after some words, Masterson opened fire with his revolver, firing several shots. Conners is said to have replied in kind. Masterson then ran, and has not since been heard from. A number of citizens are scouring the city to capture him. Fortunately nobody was hurt.

In 1916 he gave chase to a Blonger gang member who had killed another at a gang outing in the mountains. Brought back to Denver, the killer eventually received a sentence of one day.

In 1922, after the bunco gang arrests, DeLue claimed that the only two people ever convicted of a swindle in Denver were arrested by him.


Trial News

Scott noticed five "Blonger" additions to Colorado's Historic Newspaper Collection from the Fort Collins Courier. Three out of five are of interest, Here's one:

Fort Collins Courier, March 31, 1923

William Arnett of the federal department of justice, at the request of Lou Blonger, investigated observation room abandoned by Van Cise's operatives.
Leonard DeLue of the DeLue Detective Agency arranged for meeting of Lou Blonger and Van Cise. Blonger offered to take care of the campaign expenses of the district attorney in return for keeping bonds at $1,000.
Confidential letter written by Van Cise to the district attorney at Kansas City, given to chief of police of Kansas City, reached hands of A. W. Duff.
Just before bunko raids last August, seventy bunko men operated in Denver.
Judges in some of Colorado's courts listened to Blonger, fearing underworld power.
Bunko steerers received an additional rakeoff from victim's spoils if they took the lamb to specified banks and to specified tellers in this city.
Detectives were placed on the payroll of the bunko ring at $50 a month, win, lose or draw.
George Sanders, who received a confidential list of the names and descriptions of sixty-five bunko men from the chief of detectives at Colorado Springs, immediately caught a train to Denver and placed the list in the hands of Blonger and Duff.

There's nothing here, I don't think, that isn't in Van Cise's book, but it does paint a pretty succinct picture.

Soapy's Wake

Hi, Gang.

There are twenty-four days left until the 108th annual Soapy Smith Wake. The June issue of the Magic Castle Newsletter arrived in the mail with a full page ad for the event. This is the third year that the event has been held at the Hollywood Magic Castle, by sponsors Jeff Smith and the School For Scoundrels.

Entertainment this year includes two-time National Trick Shot Pool Champion, performing his original act. Brandy LaPlante, "the songbird" will once again sing her captivating songs, accompanied by "Professor" Dave Bourne (from HBO's "Deadwood") as our piano player. Whit Haydn, along with a number of other scoundrels, will be performing the old shell gane and three-card Monte on several levels of the Magic Castle. A Faro table will be set up for play, and attendees are asked (not mandatory) to dress 19th century, and there will be a costume contest for sexiest, funniest, and most authentic. There will also door prizes, and an auction. Jeff Smith will once again speak on new historical finds, and give the 9:15 pm toast, the believed time of Soapy's demise.

The event begins at 7:00 pm (Saturday, July 8th). If you wish to attend, please contact us ASAP. Only a linited number of non-member guests will be admitted.

—Soapy Smith


William Arnett

Yesterday's article introduced us to yet another grafter, W.H. Arnett:

William Arnett of the federal department of justice, at the request of Lou Blonger, investigated observation room abandoned by Van Cise's operatives.
Leonard DeLue of the DeLue Detective Agency arranged for meeting of Lou Blonger and Van Cise. Blonger offered to take care of the campaign expenses of the district attorney in return for keeping bonds at $1,000.

That was in 1923. A little digging finds him right under our noses — that's him to the left of DeLue:

Denver Deputies

The federal department of justice, of course, became the FBI. The men in this picture, however, were Sheriff Burchinell's Denver deputies circa 1890.

The Aspen Weekly Times, Jan. 9, 1892, names Burchinell's deputy appointments, including Clark/Clarke and Arnett.

Where It All Went

Lou was a rich man.

Fort Collins Courier, March 31, 1923

Victim Assumes Bunko Case Costs
DENVER, April 23.—J. S. Peck, Kentuckian, called "the most unrelenting Nemesis of the bunko men," lived up to his name when he filed answer in the District court, stating that he would stand for costs of the trial of Lou Blonger, who, he charges, fleeced him out of $17,000 in July, 1921.
Several months ago Peck filed suit stating that he would push charges against Blonger and four of his retinue, A. W. Duff, J. H. French, A. B. Cooper, and Grover Sullivan, regardless of what their fate might be at the hands of the West Side court jury.
When Peck brought his suit, Lou, on his own behalf and for the sake of his four cohorts, announced through his attorney's that he would not stand trial unless the plaintiff, Peck, offered to stand costs of the proceedings.

You can do that?

Fort Collins Courier, April 2, 1923

Aged Member of Convicted Bunko Ring Pleads Age and Health To Get Bond, But Is Refused; Sureties Released For All
By Associated Press
DENVER; April 2.—Lou Blonger, alleged head of the nationally known band of bunko men convicted here last week, was denied his release on bond today. His attorneys maintained that if he had to remain in jail his life would be jeopardized.
Blonger has been prominent in the business life of Denver for thirty-five years. In addition he has been charged with being the "brains" of Denver's underworld. He is facing a possible total sentence of 30 years in the penitentiary on the charges upon which he was found guilty last week in connection with the confidence game ring.
Sworn statements of three physicians were presented to the court asserting Blonger, who is 74 years old, was in poor health and that further confinement might result fatally. Blonger's attorneys declared they were ready to put up any sum demanded by the court.
At the same time he denied Blonger's application for bail, Judge Dunklee released the sureties on the bonds of all the defendants in the general conspiracy case.

By Associated Press
DENVER, April 2.—While the Denver county grand jury investigating alleged attempts to bribe the jury which convicted twenty members of a nationwide confidence band here last Wednesday remained adjourned Sat. until Monday, attorneys for the convicted men made their first definite move in the litigaton intended to reverse the verdict.
Preparatory to filling [sic] a motion for a new trial, counsel for the prisoners ordered a complete transcript of the case. The trial, which lasted two months. [sic] The transcript covering about 3,500 pages of legal arguments and evidence will be made available to the attorneys at a price of approximately $4,000.
The grand jury investigation resumed Monday is expected in official circles to be followed by a sensation that will surpass even the dramatic story of the confidence ring from its capture last August to the conviction of its members last Wednesday.
Prominent men of social and political leaders have been linked with the activities of the bunko men in the past few days.
The United States government Saturday made first claim to vast tax sums alleged to be due by members of the ring as a result of their failure to pay incme local, general and special taxes in recent years. A lien was filled [sic] by the government upon the first of the twenty from whom the government and city and county, the district attorney's office and other officials propose to collect taxes. The government alleged A. W. Duff, against whom the lien was filed, owed $85,000 in taxes.
The nationwide ramification of the so-called "war" against "con men" was reported to have been the subject of conferences in the district attorney's office Saturday which were participated in by Thomas Lee Woolwine, district attorney of Los Angeles.
Walter Byland, one of the convicted twenty, was twice summoned to the district attorney's office, during the deliberations. Reports were that there was a possibility that Byland might turn state's evidence to testify against other bunko men here and in other cities, but District Attorney Philip F. Van Cise was reluctant to discuss the report.

DENVER, April 2.—The convicted bunko men probably will have to pay the cost of their own trials, it was indicated Satuday when it was announced that the state was preparing to file liens agianst property of the alleged confidence men. The trial to date has cost the state approximately $50,000.
Under the law a man convicted of crime must pay the cost incurred by the state in his conviction.
The district attorney plans to levy upon the property of the twenty men convicted this week and also to sieze collateral alleged to be owned by the defendants which has been put up tp guarantee their bonds.


William Arnett and the Tarsney Outrage

I'll try and make this quick. There's more here.

This all started back in June of 2004 when we found an article about Lou accompanying some detectives to Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs Weekly Gazette, August 16, 1894

Yesterday Peter Eales and Detectives Duffield, Harris and Lew Blonger came down and as usual landed in Oldtown. The usual batch of warrants that usually follows Eales's advent to this county have failed to materialize, up to date.

So many questions... Was saloonman, gambler and con man Lou a Denver detective? If so, why did his biographies never state this? Why didn't Van Cise know? And if not, why was he traveling with them? What was in the Springs? What crime had been committed?

That was 2004, and we have found a few answers since then. Despite the fact that in dozens of relevant articles there has only been one other Blonger reference, the closing of their saloon in 1894, Lou's connection to the events in question is becoming increasingly clear, and his influence in the 1920s easier to understand.

Now one more article brings this story full circle. Follow me here:

1888: Sam and Lou finally settle in Denver. By now we know they were associates of Masterson, Earp and Charlie Ronan. They had both served, at least, as marshal of New Albuquerque, had been members of the Rocky Mountain Detective Association, and had been private detectives. Their credentials as lawmen are clear.

They begin a career in Denver of saloons, gambling halls and policy shops. Their competition includes Ed Chase, Bat Masterson and Soapy Smith, who appears to be the primary bunko fixer at the time.

1892: The Blongers strike it rich at Cripple Creek. They probably did well at mining before the Forest Queen, but she was a rich strike. Their influence increased. Col. Neil Dennison, who had served at Antietam, as had Mike Belonger, is a partner. He would later serve as deputy district attorney and judge in Denver.

Tom Clarke, Leonard DeLue and W. H. Arnett are sworn in as deputies to Sheriff Burchinell. Clarke would go on to reign over the West Side court, and give Lou a drunken bash as the jury deliberated his case. DeLue. later owner of his own detective agency, would eventually introduce Lou to Van Cise, the man who would end his criminal career. Arnett would go on to the department of justice, and assist Lou during his trial.

Populist Davis H. Waite becomes governor of Colorado, partly as a reformer, and as a backer of the return of silver money. He is a founder of this reform party, along with Thomas Tarsney, himself a veteran of Antietam.

1894: Waite decides to clean up Denver by installing his own police board. But the old board refuses to step down, and the state supreme court isn't interested in ruling on the matter without an actual case. So Waite makes one by illegally calling in the militia to forcibly remove the old board from their offices. He does not, however, send the troops in under their commander, General Brooks. He instead gives his confidant Adjutant General Tarsney the mission.

The boys at city hall, however, are ready. Inside the fortified building are cops, firemen, politicians, sheriff's deputies, and scores of thugs, bunks and gamblers deputized for the occasion, and all armed to the teeth. Waite, and Tarsney, were threatening all their livelihoods, and they answered the call.

The event was a standoff. Waite and Tarsney were not interested in a bloodbath. The case now found its way to the court, which ruled in favor of Waite, but admonished him for his method.

So, Hamilton Armstrong is appointed police chief, a post who would again occupy at the time of Van Cise's investigation into Lou's affairs. The cops and firemen are fired, the gambling halls closed, including Blonger's and Soapy's Tivoli. The gamblers, of course, got along. Peepholes and lookouts, along with rudimentary methods of hiding the evidence, allowed many to continue business without much fear of prosecution. Others moved their halls to the suburbs, some of which were happy for the commerce.

The con man on the street, of course, continued his livelihood, though perhaps more warily.

Meanwhile, miners were on strike in the Cripple Creek mining district. That would include the Forest Queen, which sits near the foot of Bull Hill, where the strikers had fortified their position. The sheriff in El Paso county requested the militia's intervention, but when Tarsney arrived, he found the strikers well-behaved, and that Sheriff Bowers just wanted help serving arrest warrants. Waite withdrew the militia.

And then the Strong Mine blew up. The army of deputies Bowers was recruiting in Colorado Springs began to swell. Men arrived from all over the state. In Denver, Leonard DeLue and others recruited over a hundred men, who took a special train to Cripple Creek. Many were ex-cops, ex-firemen, and ex-special deputies, looking for a fight, and paid by the mine owners, many of whom were prominent Denver men.

On arrival, a skirmish occurred, and two men were killed, a deputy, and a striker. The forces retreated. The militia was again on its way to the region.

A few days after the first battle, the deputies massed again and started for the fortifications on Bull Hill. From across the valley came the militia, and the deputies backed off.

Later, with the militia camped, the deputies once more started for the hill, and they passed by Tarsney's troops without interference. At this, General Brooks apparently took command and rode in front of the deputies, sending them back. Shortly thereafter, the strikers capitulated, surrendering their arms to the militia. There leaders, of course, had absconded to foment trouble in other mining regions, but the sheriff was now free to serve his warrants. The special deputies, however, were in Colorado Springs and out of a job.

Several days later, Tarsney returned to Colorado Springs to serve as attorney for the strikers who were facing charges. That night, he was summoned to the hotel lobby to take a phone call. Men waiting there took him by force to a hack, drove him to the country, threatened hi with execution, then tarred and feathered him. He was left to wander across the prairie to a distant farmhouse.

This was the crime that led to Lou's visit. But this was not Detective Eales' first trip to Colorado Springs. He had in fact been in town only a few days before, with Duffield, after the capture of former "special deputy" Joe Wilson. Under the care of Eales, Wilson had admitted complicity in the so-called Tarsney Outrage, and implicated Bowers and the El Paso County sheriff's department in the crime as well.

Now, returning to the Springs, Eales was accompanied by detectives Duffield and Harris, and mine owner "Lew" Blonger too. Or was that detectives Duffield, Harris and Blonger?

Then the Aspen Weekly Times made this insinuation:

As the confessions criminate officials and prominent men in Colorado Springs it is now conceded that the affair was concocted by General Tarsney's political enemies. It illustrates the methods of the republican redemption League, the moving spirits of which are such men as Soapy Smith, Burchinell and the rest of the gang at Denver and Colorado Springs.

Looking for background on Arnett, I found this article accusing Arnett and others of complicity in a crime. But again, what crime? It took some digging:

Cripple Creek Morning Times, Oct. 6, 1898

(By Charles H. Berry, President of the City Republican League
No plainer words were ever written than the following, from the pen of Chas. H. Berry, who is at the present time chairman of the Republican league of this city. It is a bitter denunciation of the Wolcott crowd, and the Springs gang, the outfit that is at present time endeavoring to defeat the fusion ticket in this county. Mr. Berry's words will be read with great interest. They follow:

Published September 8.
Colorado Springs, that very law-abiding and godly town that will not tolerate licensed dram shops, that always points the way for us Cripple Creek heathen to follow, that sits wrapped in its mantle of egotism and self congratulation and tells those legislators it was able to purchase, that we of the Cripple Creek district are incapable of self-government, that we are not respecters of law and order, that we are anarchists and rioters, and that life and property would not be safe if we were intrusted with power, has again come to the front with an outrage that is a disgrace to the name of this fair state. And the ringleaders and perpetrators of that outrage are the very ones who have always pointed the finger of scorn at us and lamented our cussedness and ignorance.

Remember here that Sheriff Bowers, in Colorado Springs, along with his deputies, many recruited in that city and Denver, and the mine owners who were also in the Springs and Denver, had come down hard on the miners of the Cripple Creek district. It sounds like this dynamic was a normal part of relations between Cripple Creek and the Springs.

We have had our Jim Marshall, our Bob Mullen, our Tom Clark and our Pete Eales, but, thank God! we have never tarred and feathered any man, nor have we tried to prevent the peaceful assembly, by force of arms, of any body of men who were engaged in a lawful pursuit. We have our open saloons and our tenderloin district; Colorado Springs has both, only they are not known by that name. We have many of the vices incident to mining camps, but as yet we have never done anything to bring lasting disgrace to our beloved state.
Yesterday in the strictly moral town above mentioned, a gang of the paid hirelings of the Republicans, under the leadership of Senator Wolcott's chief lieutenants, committed an act, that in any other county in the state of Colorado would send them to the penitentiary. Prominent in that unlawful action were Tom Clark, formerly one of Jim Marshall's hired hold-ups in the city; Glen Duffield, an ex-detective of Denver; William Arnett, another ex-detective of Denver; John L. Russell, ex-chief of police of Denver; Chief Gathright of Colorado Springs; F. W. Howbert, collector of internal revenue, and witnesses say Sheriff W. S. Boynton, although Mr. Boynton denies it. Behind the outrage were I. N. Stevens, A. B. Seaman, Richard Broad, D. C. Webber and Senator E. O. Wolcott. Unfortunately but one of the Wolcott ruffians was killed and he was probably only employed as a common thug.
What a beautiful morsel Colorado Springs would have had to roll under her aristocratic tongue, had this outrage occurred in Cripple Creek. As it is, now mark the prediction, she will try to place all the responsibility for the trouble on Silver Republican delegates from this city.

Now, this is 1898, four years after the Tarsney affair. The article, though, still seethes with the tensions generated by the Tarsney assault — for which many in Colorado Springs, out of prejudice or political gain, first blamed the striking miners.

The crime in question, though, occurred on September 7, 1898. In Colorado Springs, as I understand it, a meeting of the Silver Republicans from Cripple Creek was underway in an opera house. The re-monetization of silver, as you will recall, was an issue apparently embraced by the working man of the mining districts. They supported Teller for senator.

At 4:10 in the morning, a group of about seventy-five men surrounded the opera house and began shooting at the twenty-some men inside, who were armed as well. The attack was credited to the so-called Wolcott-Stevens faction, called McKinleyites, loyal to Senator Wolcott and under the direction of Springs Sheriff Boynton and Police Chief Gathright. Leading the operation was an ex-detective from Denver, W. Loomis. Also involved were familiar names Sam Emerich, Glen Duffield, William Arnett and Tom Clark. These men eventually arrested the men inside, who were from Cripple Creek.

The two groups had competing leases on the space, and when it became apparent that the silver men would not leave, the men from Denver were brought in to remove them by force if neccessary. A Wolcott man, an ex-cop from Denver named Harris, was killed in the shootout.

Simon Guggenheim, running for governor, took care of Harris' widow and orphans. The McKinleyites were called the political enemies of Guggenheim. Guess he showed them.


Getting the word out

Scott found a blog entry, commenting on a Fox Sports writer, linked to Lou's Wikipedia entry as background on confidence.

Ida May

We received this new picture from Joan Doeckel Lehan of Mike Belonger's daughter Ida May, standing with her husband Adam Whitechurch.

Adam and Ida May

Detective Lou

Colorado Springs Weekly Gazette, August 16, 1894

Yesterday Peter Eales and Detectives Duffield, Harris and Lew Blonger came down and as usual landed in Oldtown. The usual batch of warrants that usually follows Eales's advent to this county have failed to materialize, up to date.

You know, I have gone back and forth for years on the meaning of this passage. Did it mean that Lew Blonger was a detective, or that he was traveling with them? Upon yet one more reading, I have decided the correspondent indeed included Lou with the detectives. If he had not, he would have said "Detectives Duffield and Harris, and Lew Blonger." No? Of course this means only that the author believed Lou to be a detective. Or perhaps that Lou was acting as a private detective, on behalf of the Mine Owners Association, most likely. The men he was with, however, were Denver city detectives, and Lou was, in fact, party to the parties some said were behind Tarsney's assault.

And I guess that's my point. Ya figger I made it yet?

Vigilante Justice

On the lookout for W. H. Arnett, I picked up another, less fortunate, Bill Arnett. This story takes place in a Montana mining camp in 1862, and concerns an interesting application of frontier justice, as told through the diary entries of two brothers named Stuart, from Granville Stuart: Forty Years on the Frontier, 1925 Arthur H. Clark Co.

On August 21, they tell us of the arrival of three men:

On the fourteenth inst., three men arrived at Gold creek from the lower country. They had six good horses, but very little in the shape of a traveling outfit. One of them, B.J. Jermagin, had no saddle on the horse he rode, but only some folded blankets strapped on the horseís back in lieu of a saddle. The other two men showed they were on the gamble and one of them William Arnett, kept his belt and revolver on and rather posed as being a "bad man". The third, C.W. Spillman, was a rather quiet reserved pleasant young man, of about twenty-five years, he being the youngest of the three.

And then:

August 23. I have lost three hundred dollars staking a man to deal monte for me in the past three days. Think I will take Granvilleís advice and quit gambling. Js
Our monte sharps are about to take the town. Getting decidedly obstreperous in their conduct.

Aha! Even in 1862, bunko gangs were inclined to take over a town or camp.

On the 25th, two men came to town claiming the sharpers had stolen their horses, and asked for assistance in arresting the gamblers.

Their names were Fox and Bull. Bull had the gun. They slipped quietly into town in the dusk of the evening and meeting me inquired if the three men above described were there. Upon being informed that they were, they stated that they were in pursuit of them for stealing the horses on which they had come from the vicinity of Elk City. They requested the cooperation of the citizens in arresting them. I assured them that they would have all the assistance necessary and went with them to look for their men. They found Spillman in Worden and Companyís store and bringing their shotgun to bear on him, ordered him to surrender, which he did without word. They left him under guard and went after the other two, who had just opened a monte game in a saloon. Arnett was dealing and Jermagin was "lookout" for him. They stepped inside of the door and ordered them to "throw up their hands". Arnett who kept his Coltís navy revolver lying in his lap ready for business instantly reached for it, but before he could raise it, Bull shot him through the breast with a heavy load of buckshot, killing him instantly. Jermagin ran into a corner of the room, exclaiming, "Donít shoot, donít shoot, I give up" He and Spillman were tied and placed under guard till morning.

And finally the application of justice, a classic example at that. I can just see Henry Fonda.

August 26. Proceedings commenced by burying Arnett who had died with the monte cards clenched so tightly in his left hand and his revolver in his right that they could not be wrenched from his grasp, so were buried with him. Jermagin plead that the other two overtook him on the trail and gave him a horse to ride and that he no knowledge of the horses being stolen, and what saved him, was Spillman saying that he and Arnett had found him on the trail packing blankets and a little food on his back and that they gave him a horse to ride on which he strapped his blankets. On this testimony Jermagin was acquitted and given six hours to leave the country and it is needless to say he left a little ahead of time. Spillman who was a large, fine looking man was found guilty and sentenced to be hung in a half hour. He made no defense and seemed to take little interest in the in the proceedings. When I asked him if he had any request to make he said he "would like to write a letter". He was furnished with writing material and wrote a letter to his father stating that he was to be hung in half an hour; that keeping bad company had brought him to it, begged his fatherís forgiveness for bringing disgrace upon his family and concluded by hoping his fate would be a warning to all to avoid evil associates. He wrote and addressed the letter with a hand that never trembled and when asked if there was anything else he wished to do said, "No". Although the time was not up he said he was ready and walked to his death with a step as firm and countenance as unchanged as if he had been the nearest spectator instead of the principal actor in the tragedy. It was evident that he was not a hardened criminal and there was no reckless bravado in his calmness. It was the firmness of a brave man, who saw that death was inevitable, and nerved himself to meet it. He was hung at twenty-two minutes past two oíclock August 26, 1862. He was buried by the side of Arnett in the river bottom just below town.


Soapy's Wake

Soapy's Wake

Hi gang!

Well it's that time of year again! Here is the poster for the 108th anniversary wake being held at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. Contact me if you are interested in going. Please be advised that only a limited number of guests can go, so it is first come first serve!

Go to to see the "fun" money for faro gambling and the soap wrapper.

If you would please find the time to go to'Soapy'%20Smith

Once there please leave a message/though and flowers, or a number of other neat items, like cigars, etc.

Also, at the bottom of the page please do the poll on whether you think Soapy is famous or not. Thank you guys!!


Jeff Smith
great grandson of Jefferson Randolph ("Soapy") Smith, II
President, The Soapy Smith Preservation Trust
Member, The Soapy Smith Collection

June 2006



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