Ace of Spades
       Belonger Genealogy * True History * The Blonger Gang * Sam's Posse       

Alias Soapy Smith

Search for
The Famous Blonger Bros.


August 2008


Still on the burner, we'll take a look at Mike's pension file, and the Battle of Antietam.

Bucket Shops

Also waiting for scrutiny, some information forwarded by Soapy Smith, notes from a Chicago Board of Trade investigation into bucket shops. The material comes courtesy of David Hochfelder, author of Where the Common People Could Speculate: The Ticker, Bucket Shops, and the Orgins of Popular Participation in Financial Markets, 1880-1920. Though the Blongers aren't mentioned by name, the Denver information likely concerns shops run by the boys, precursors of the big store operation Lou was running in 1921.


A Flying Blonger?

Scott thinks this is a typo, and he's probably right — but... Two references, both unavailable but for the snippets provided:

US Air Services, 1919, page 33: "New York City, first; JM Knight, Severy, Kansas, second; AC Blonger, Boise, Idaho, and HD Snodgrass, Jenks, Oklahoma, third and fourth."

Aeronautical History, page 16, 1928: "... represented in the conference by RB Bevier and CFB Roth; second, JM Knight, Severy, Kansas; third and fourth, a tie, AC Blonger, Bureau of Highways, ..."

Lou's little brother Marvin, as it happens, had a daughter Abbie Caroline Blonger (Kervin), born 1875. She would have been 44 in 1919 — and named Kervin. Marvin and his family spent the better part of their lives in Colorado, Montana and Utah, ending up in California.

What's it mean? Who knows? Another AC Blonger? Who knows? Two typos or bad OCR transcriptions? What are the odds?



The book Leadville, by Lewis A. Kent, at 200 pages, was published in 1880 as a promotional guide to the booming mining town. Though most of it consists of a description of the various mines, there is a bit of history, beginning with the three hundred or so miners who lived there in 1877. A couple of things of minor interest cropped up.


Ever wonder why con men are called bunks? Why con games are called bunko, or bunco games?

The capitalist who has not visited the carbonate metropolis, or does not do so in 1880, will look back upon a blank chapter in the history of his chances for remunerative investments.
That there is no buncombe in these suggestions, alike intended for the poor and rich, let your acquaintances now living here bear witness to the writer.

An etymology, courtesy of wikipedia:

From Buncombe, a county in North Carolina. On 25 Feb 1820, Felix Walker, a US Congressman (whose territory included Buncombe County, NC) gave a rambling speech on the Missouri question with little relevance to the current debate. Walker refused to yield the floor, informing his colleagues that his speech was not intended for Congress but that he was "speaking for Buncombe."

US Grant

Gen. U.S. Grant was on the board of the Chrysolite Mine. Grant was said to be an old family friend of the Belongers. This is from the Armstrong account:

Also, before the Civil War, in Galena, Illinois, Ulysses Simpson Grant, then engaged in farming, wood hauling and the leather business was heard to say that Mike Belonger was the best dance-fiddler on earth. H.B. Chamberlin, of Shullsburg, Wisconsin — an ex-soldier musician, heard Ulysses Grant say those words many times.

Sam runs for mayor

The only Blonger mention regards Sam's loss to W.H. James in the mayoral race of 1879. James replaced the town's first mayor, the renowned Colorado entrepreneur H.A.W. Tabor, and won the election thirteen votes shy of a majority over Sam and the three other candidates, A.B. Miller, Thomas Starr and Dr. R.T. Taylor.

P.A. Kelley

In the same election, one P.A. Kelley was elected marshal. I've heard that name before. When two men were lynched in Leadville in November of that same year, this note was pinned to one of the miscreants as he twisted in the wind:

"Lot theives, bunko steerers, footpads, thieves and chronic bondsmen, for the same and sympathizers of the above class of criminals. This is our commencement and this shall be your fate. We mean business. Let this be your last warning, particularly "Cooney" Adams, Conner, Collns Hogan, Ed. Burns, Ed. Champ, P. A. Kelley and a great many others, who are well known to this organization. We are seven hundred strong."

Might this missive have convinced the Blongers to seek greener pastures?

Al Updegraff

Finally, in that same election, one A.K. Updegraff was appointed town attorney. That name is familar too...

Two years later, in 1881, Jim Masterson and partner A.J. Peacock were running the Lady Gay saloon in Dodge City. Unfortunately, Jim didn't think much of their bartender, Al Updegraff, who was Peacock's brother-in-law. A dangerous feud soon developed between Masterson and the other two.

Warned by a mysterious telegram that his brother might be in danger, Bat Masterson, who was dealing faro for Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, headed for Dodge, and no sooner had he stepped off the train than he found himself in a gun battle with Peacock and Updegraff. The bartender ended up with a bullet in his lung.

Fort Collins Courier, May 5, 1881

A. Updegraph, a Dodge City bartender, was fatally wounded a few days ago by Bert Masterson, an Arizona tough.

Though Updegraff in fact survived the wound, Bat was summarily run out of Dodge, along with his brother Jim and Charlie Ronan, who were both implicated in the shootout, known as the Battle of the Plaza. The Dodge City Times of April 21, 1881 noted that "Jim Masterson and Charley Ronan have gone west to grow up with the country."

By the following year, Ronan would be known as a member of Marshal Sam Blonger's posse in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque Morning Journal, March 8, 1882

They are Nipped For Once and Will be made to Suffer the Penalty of Their Foolishness.
Monday night J.M. Lewis and C.W. Soper, two mixologists, went out for the purpose of having a little fun. Their idea of fun seemed to be to fill up their skins with bad whisky and fire their revolvers in the air just for the fun of hearing the report. Marshal Blonger heard the reports and deputizing L. H. Blonger and Charlie Ronan went in pursuit of the men. They followed them, braving the heavy wind and sand which filled their eyes and faces, to their room, in an adobe building in the northwest suburbs of the city. As soon as the officers came up to the house the two "funny" men commenced firing at them through the window and the officers returned the fire, at the same time getting at a safe distance from the improvised fort. As soon as they retreated the two fellows rushed out, uttering the nearest they could to Apache war whoops, and firing their guns at Marshal Blonger's party, who returned the fire. Soper and Lewis escaped under cover of the storm and darkness, but they were arrested yesterday, and brought before Judge Sullivan who placed them under bonds of one thousand dollars each to appear for examination this morning. This promiscuous shooting and spreeing lawlessness will have to be stopped and these fellows will receive a just punishment.

Updegraff died of smallpox two years later.


August 2008



Genealogy - History - Gang - Posse - Evening Review
The Grafters Club - Novelty Emporium - Blonger Bros. Fake Restaurant