Cathy, first let me say that this sort of discussion is what I have wanted for so long. Soapy deserves it as his history is so far more interesting than most of the historical old west characters of his time.
My book contains several chapters on the shootout on Juneau Wharf, including most of the different versions of how it took place and who shot who. In the end my conclusion follows the reasonable evidence that Murphy shot Soapy while he was down on the ground, wounded and unarmed.
While you seem to want to concentrate on the legend (what people wrote that wasn't true), and why it came to be, I am more interested in the actual historical facts, that which is true. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the legendary stories and report them on my blog. However, I don't let them influence the facts.
Regarding a previous discussion about who you believe killed Soapy I mentioned that make it clear that you believe Reid did. Here's what I am referring to,
"According to The Skaguay News, dated July 8, 1898, city surveyor Frand[sic] Reid did. The newspaper repeated that story, word for word in their next issue on July 15, 1898, adding only updates on what had occurred in the days since, including the results of the coroner's inquest. The nine-man jury of leading citizens found that Smith died of a bullet wound to the heart, "the result of a pistol shot by one Frank H. Reid." These court-appointed jurists interviewed eye-witnesses and made their decisions under an oath of law.
Note: This makes it official. Reid killed Smith, according to a legal finding by a duly established court of law. Second-guessing by anyone outside a court of law over a hundred years later is an academic excercise[sic]."
I believe that after reading the above anyone would logically come to the conclusion that you believe Frank Reid killed Soapy Smith. If this is incorrect then perhaps you might want to rewrite this.
In regards to the legal term of murder little has changed since 1898. I too have discussed the issue with the police and legal representatives. Then as now, shooting a wounded unarmed man who is on the ground is considered murder. Soapy was on the ground and wounded. Once Murphy took Soapy's rifle away he ended the threat to himself and others. Therefore shooting him was technically murder. I'm not saying Murphy would have been convicted. Certainly there are varying degrees of murder considering the situation, however, then, as now, Murphy should have been arrested and held, possibly even made to appear on charges. Those legal details were to be decided by the courts, not the vigilantes.
"He was also not in the same league as the big-time "gamblers" in Skagway, such as George Rice, Lee Guthrie, and Frank Clancy, all of whom owned large gambling houses throughout the North, and all of whom gave their customers a chance of winning. Soapy's operation concentrated on con games and shills along the trails and in the streets. His skill was in the sure-thing games and protection of his gang."
This clearly shows me that you do not understand Soapy Smith and how he and his world operated. Nor do you understand how Rice, Guthrie and the Clancy brothers operated. As I have said to you before, you need to read ALL of my book in order to fully comprehend who Soapy Smith was and how he built his empires. I can understand why you believe as you do because you have only read the Skagway sections of my book. That is a great mistake. You believe, just as many who saw Soapy for the first time in Skagway, that he looked like a common businessman. That was always Soapy's persona. His world was behind the scenes, as a fixer. There are no minutes or records kept in those behind closed doors sessions. They weren't published in the newspapers, except for some of their outcomes. Simply put, you underestimate Soapy.
Jeff: I was going through the Rev. John Sinclair's papers from the British Columbia Archives for another project, and came across a certificate signed by Commissioner Charles A. Sehlbrede certifying... more
Cathy, I do not believe that the derringer given to Rev. John Sinclair was Soapy's for several good and logical reasons. I covered the incident of Sinclair receiving a derringer from Attorney and... more
Okay, its a complicated subject that takes up more than a chapter in my book, but here's a quick preview. Remember, you asked for it. I review both versions of what happened: the theory that Frank... more
Murphy is murderer Jeff Smith,Sat Oct 29 11:19pm
I am interested in legend because I am an anthropologist before I am a historian. I understand that myth influences popular understanding of fact and can so warp the way people "remember" events that ... more
You wrote, "I understand that myth influences popular understanding of fact and can so warp the way people "remember" events that fact and legend very quickly become merged. The bigger the legend,... more
Ah, maybe now I'm beginning to understand some of the basic roots of our inability to speak the same language. You see facts and history as identical: facts being the puzzle pieces that create the... more
Cathy, I don't believe you understand me as much as you think you do. I do not, as you say, see facts and history as identical. In our conversations we are discussing Skagway and Soapy Smith history. ... more
Ah, yes, I think you may deliberately either gloss over or deliberately miss my point. I do NOT use the dictionary definitions of myth and legend in my book. As I said before, I use definitions taken ... more
Hi, Cathy. You wrote, "Ah, yes, I think you may deliberately either gloss over or deliberately miss my point. I do NOT use the dictionary definitions of myth and legend in my book. As I said before,... more
It looks like my earlier answer to your inquiry about an electronic copy of my Chris Shea piece got lost in that long answer I wrote early this morning that disappeared in the ethernet. I don't have... more
PNQ wanted to work in hard copy after it got to a certain stage in the editing process, as do most magazines, books and journals. The best I have is an electronic copy of a final draft. And, like I... more
Point 1: Academic discussions. I got a Doctorate in Philosophy with a specialty in Anthropology. One of the things such a degree confirms upon its recipient is give one license to engage in academic... more
I congratulate you on obtaining your degree. I do not disrespect that, however, your degree does not come with the right to change definitions form the acclaimed Oxford dictionary. In the long run... more
My point about Jane Haigh's dissertation goes back to your earlier assertion that you had grounded yourself in the political context the times. Then you say you have not read Jane's dissertation. I... more
One more bit on Jane Haigh. I reviewed Jane's book, King Con: The Story of Soapy Smith . It is filled with errors throughout and no new information. She published, and THEN decided to do the research ... more
Recently I have noticed your same superior attitude in some other people with degrees. It came from a blog I found on history. Someone had written a post in which I had some very interesting and... more
Sigh ... I once read something someone said to Chris Shea when he repeated asked the same question over and over. The person being questioned ended up replying something to the effect, that he could... more
Ok, Cathy I'll try one more time. I originally brought up the very academic Oxford dictionary definitions to you for the words legend and myth because of what you wrote. For instance, in a previous... more
Jeff: Thank you for explaining in more detail your position on the derringer. I think I now understand. In Sinclair's papers is a letter to his wife dated July 18, 1898 and continued on July 19,... more
Cathy, You are welcome, but I didn't really explain things in more detail, I merely copied and pasted the information from my book. Soapy's executor of his estate was John Clancy. A vigilante lawyer... more
Hi Jeff: Sorry to take so long to reply to your kind explanation. I have been preoccupied with other business. Hmmmm...I read in the July 2, 1898 issue of the Skaguay News that John Clancy went to... more
You mention that John Clancy was in Dawson when Soapy was killed. I'm not convinced he was out of town for the fourth of July or for the July 8 gunfight. According to his son, who could be wrong,... more
Oops. My apologies. I see I did say John Clancy, when of course, I meant FRANK. The June 2, 1898 issue of the Skaguay News says that FRANK is leaving for a trip to Dawson. Considering how long it... more
Cathy, I surely hope you are not making all these mistakes in your book! Six of the seven council members were forced to resign, not all seven. You probably should read my book again. I hardly think... more
All seven of the city council members were forced to resign. If you say otherwise in your book, you are wrong. I do refer to your book often, and do find mistakes in it. The new city coucil that was... more
Cathy, I did a maximum amount of research regarding the history of Skagway and Soapy's time there. There are bound to be mistakes made but here is what I have. You wrote, "All seven of the city... more
In later issues of both the Skaguay News and of the Daily Alaskan, it becomes clear that all SEVEN members of the city council were forced to resign. A new city council election was called on July... more
You wrote, "In later issues of both the Skaguay News and of the Daily Alaskan, it becomes clear that all SEVEN members of the city council were forced to resign. A new city council election was... more
I don't want to get into a long list of errors, some of which are minor and don't really matter. Some are major, and will come out in my book. Some could launch long, heated discussions, and maybe... more
Cathy, Once again I assumed you were right. You wrote, "One that comes to mind immediately is your assertion that Soapy was in Skagway in November of 1897. You base this on the single 'fact' that a... more
For Your Consideration, Jeff: SOAPY TIMELINE, SKAGWAY (Mostly taken from Jeff Smith’s Alias Soapy.) August 22, 1897: Soapy arrives in Skagway on the Utopia (Smith, Alias, p. 345). September 14, 1897: ... more
Congratulations Cathy! You may have finally caught a mistake I may have made. It's a good possibility and I'll look into it. You mention that Soapy "didn't get his permission to open a business on... more
The fact that these three gentlemen were in Skagway earlier than Soapy is documented in the Skagway Lot Location files on file in both the Skagway Public Library and in the Alaska State Archives in... more
I note in this post symptoms of what I talked about in another post regarding "reading between the lines" and "assuming." You can talk all you want but knowing your past history I can't take your... more
Jeff: The trouble with these very long, multi-subject postings is that we lose track of who said what when. Can we make a "rule" to try to stay polite? And to try to break the threads into single... more
You wrote, "The trouble with these very long, multi-subject postings is that we lose track of who said what when. Can we make a "rule" to try to stay polite? And to try to break the threads into... more
Can I ask you politely not to revive the old argument about who said what to who about the Tanner revolver? I think it will just cause a fight again. Let's move on from there. I will state plainly... more
Cathy, I know it's an embarrassing and sore point with you but I bring up the history of what you told me about the Selmer revolver because it is a good example of how you have made great mistakes in ... more
Jeff: In the interest of keeping this dialogue going, as I asked before, lets try to be cordial. Insulting the Tanner family in talking to me is not being cordial. In my mind, if the Tanner family... more
Cathy, I am a historian. There are certain rules historians are encouraged to abide by. Naturally one of these is to keep opinions and facts separated. You can freely have opinions but you must... more
Perhaps you don't understand the nature of peer review. I don't believe they have it for the big national presses, only for the academic presses (but I could be wrong). I believe for a press like... more
One reviewer knew my book. That is great. However, it was only one, not all your reviewers, thus my conclusion has to remain the same. What review and testing process your book went through means... more
Ah, Jeez... I just spent almost an hour making replies, and then lost it all. Maybe I should do this little by little! I don't think I'm going to rewrite my book on your webpage, Jeff. In order to... more
Yes, I look forward to what your book says, but I will need to do the additional research due to your habit of "reading between the lines." This reminds me of a little story. There's a gentleman on a ... more