"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 from lengthy academic studies, which you will have to read in the context of my book. My entire book deals with what the meanings of the words are. I am not going to repeat the entire book here on your website. It is not as simple as 'fiction vs. fact' like you seem to want to make it."
If your peers tell you to jump off a bridge...
Naturally I believe it is a great mistake to ignore the definitions from an academic dictionary such as the Oxford. So some "academic studies" change the definition, does that mean you must follow? This will surely confuse many of your readers.
Yes, I do believe it is as simple as "fiction vs. fact." Thus far, all I see is that you are trying to convince everyone that "fiction" IS "fact," which of course would lead to the idea that Soapy Smith's history is mostly fiction. That won't happen.
"No. The Soapy Smith Tragedy was intended as a political satire. I believes it was interpreted as a joke by many of the contemporaries who read it, but it was written as satire by Chris Shea, a politician (not by H. B. LeFevre, as you have erroneously stated elsewhere). Newspaper articles written elsewhere, some in Skagway, some in Denver, some in other places, were not written as fiction, but again as satire."
Readers need to know that those comments are purely your own theory, and not based on any facts (fact vs. theory).
"Have you read Jane Haigh's PhD dissertation on political corruption in Denver? She concluded that Soapy was a minor player."
Jane's book, King Con: The Story of Soapy Smith was merely a rehash of outdated information from old biographies. Much of the Denver underworld information was due in part to the Blonger website, the successors to Soapy's empire in Denver, however, I have not had the pleasure of reading her PhD dissertation. I will ask her if your latter statement is true, that she believes Soapy was a minor player in Denver.
"Now, the FACT that you did not once cite the townsite files for the city of Skagway (National Archives, Record Group 49, Records of the General Land Office, Division K, Documents Relating to the Skagway Townsite, 1898 - 1908) indicates that you do not understand the single most important political issue in Skagway during the months of 1897 - 1899. No one could be called the King of Skagway if he was not in some way involved with the Skagway Townsite Lawsuit, which began as early as August 1897. Testimony in the lawsuit was gathered throughout March and April 1898, and all of the most important people in Skagway were involved in the townsite. The complete absense of Soapy and his operatives indicate that he had very little power over issues that of vital, lasting significance to Skagway and the people with real power in the community."
Cathy, Soapy was an underworld figure, a "fixer." He was behind the scenes. Apparently you do not understand how underworld politics works. I am certain that Soapy had his hand in the workings of the proceedings. He had his hand in everything that interfered, or could interfere, with his growing empire. Dealing with the White Pass and Yukon Railway and their interference with his empire is most likely what got him killed.
"Oh, that's right. You think Allan Hornsby, Billy Saportes, and Frank Clancy were Soapy operatives. Again, I disagree. I think Soapy had arrangements with these men that were similar to those he had with corrupt politicians in Denver, but that does not make them Soapy's operatives, any more than one could call Bat Masterson, Ed Chase, or Chief Brady Soapy operatives. Rather, Soapy was at best a colleague of these men, at worst, a tool. Hornsby, Saportes and Clancy were, in the beginning actually members of what became known as the Committee of 101, prominent citizens of the community, and had agendas outside anything Soapy was interested in, and I believe that is how the first two came to be involved in the meeting at the Klondike on July 8. "
Allan Hornsby, the newspaper man, was receiving graft from Soapy. Billy Saportas, reporter, became closely entwined with the workings of the Soap Gang. He was the man who warned Soapy that the vigilantes were spoiling for a fight. That pretty much makes these men under Soapy's thumb don't you think? Bat Masterson and Ed Chase were good friends and supporters of Soapy's. Chief Brady was instrumental in aiding the release of Soapy's men when they were imprisoned. The methods and operations of a political machine is a complicated process.
Do you have any provenance that Hornsby, Saportes and Clancy were, in the beginning actually members of the Committee of 101?
"King or, more properly, "boss" of the underworld in Skagway -- I might concede that. But King of Skagway? No. As you will see in my up-coming book, that is the stuff of legend, and cannot be authenticated, when primary historical documents are carefully examined."
Cathy, who cares what they called him? So a newspaper called him "king." The idea was that Soapy was in control of Skagway's underworld, which in turn controlled the politics of Skagway that might eventually interfere with the hugely profitable gambling houses, saloons, brothels and bunco operations. It's the way Soapy operated in Denver. It's the way he operated in Creede, and it's the way he operated in Skagway. That same formula continued for many decades, and in many ways, still does. I enjoy watching HBO's Boardwalk Empire. Although fictional and of the roaring 1920s era, the methods of political operations and the underworld's control of it are pretty much the same, minus technology.
"If you haven't seen it, you might look at my PUBLISHED piece on Chris Shea entitled "Christopher C. Shea,'King of Skagway,' Progressive Era Mayor and Game Warden in Alaska." (Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Winter 2007/2008 Volume 99 Number 1, pp. 16-29."
I would like to read it. Is there anyway you can digitally send the article? (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"My point is, for you, the story ends with Soapy's death. For me, as an anthropologist and folklore specialist, the story begins with his death."
Not at all. My book did not end with his death. In fact there are 4 chapters in the book related to post-death. After 650 pages I was forced to conclude the book, but my website and blog take over for all that post-death history. Anyone looking at the archives of my blog will see many posts related to post-death articles that extend to the present day. I know, coming from your own words, that you have "been watching" my blog so how can you possibly make the above "point?"
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
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... more
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
Am I really missing the point? Jeff Smith,Sat Nov 5 1:13pm
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