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 discourse on philosophic discussions of such matters germaine to one's field of specialty as -- in my case -- myth and legend, and usually, people respect what you have to say (obviously, Jeff Smith excepted). I've written a book on the subject. In my circles, without a similar degree, you will not be able to argue semantics by quoting dictionary definitions with me. [Granted, on your website, in your world, you can do anything you want.] My peers in the academic world, all PhD's, who recommended publication of my book, believe my discussion makes a contribution to the greater discussion of American myth and legend. As you will see, if you do read the book, it is NOT as simple as fact vs. fiction, but there are indeed many shades of gray.
Point 2: Shea's book, TRAGEDY as political satire. Again, I am not going to pre-publish my book on your website, Jeff. If your readers are interested, they can read my book when it comes out. As with any book, it is of course opinion. Just as much of your book is opinion. They can read my reasoning, my "provenance" as you so quaintly put it, and my credentials, and judge for themselves.
Point 3: Jane Haigh's Dissertation. If you have not read her dissertation, you have not firmly grounded yourself in the political context of Denver in the 1890's -- as I earlier asserted you had not. Jane herself admits that KING CON was a light piece, she wanted to do her dissertation about Soapy, and then was not able to find sufficient material about him to warrant one. She ended up writing about political corruption in Denver and had very little to say about Soapy because he played such a minor part in the city's politics.
Point 4. The Skagway Town Site lawsuit. No. Smith had nothing to do with the lawsuit. The testimony was detailed and verbatim and all of the major players in Skagway testified. Smith's name was never mentioned nor even hinted at. I am a skilled historical researcher and I know how to read between the lines. He is not behind the scenes at the townsite controversy. Period.
Point 5: The "provenance" as you so strangely request (its a rather archaic term) for Clancy, Saportes and Hornsby being members of the original citizen's committee that formed to adjudicate the townsite lots in Skagway are a matter of record in the townsite files. There is chain of evidence in these files, combined with the newspaper articles in late December 1897, February 1898 and March 1898 that show a direct connection between the committee that was formed to survey the townsite, sue Bernard for his claim on the townsite, elect a town council, set up a Safety Committee, hear the facts of the McGrath and Rowan murders, and later, issue a broadside to shut down the con men and bunco men. I trace out that chain of evidence and citations in my book. I will not publish those citations in your web site. If your readers are interested, they can get that information in my book or they can spend the several weeks I spent digging it up out of the townsite files and newspapers themselves. Have at it yourself, if you like, or you can wait for my book. However, please don't insult me by accusing me of making something like that up.
Point 5: I have never seen any direct evidence that Allan Hornsby was receiving graft from Soapy. All I've seen are unsupported allegations and unauthenticated legend. Both Hornsby and Saportes protested strenuously that they were deported from Skagway without cause. The more I dug into the first hand accounts, the more I am inclined to believe them. I think both were charmed by Smith, as reporters, they found him good copy, but that they were not as deeply intertwined with his operations as unsupported, unauthenticated (or as you so slyly put it "behind the scenes") legend would have it.
Point 6: King. Again, I speak of legend. The legend calls Soapy the King of Skagway. Not the King of Skagway underworld (I notice you are the one who is doing the modification, not the legend-makers). In my book, I trace out the origin of the term "King," how widely it was used, making its way into the title of books and even up to Howard Clifford 1997 book who had him as the UNCROWNED KING OF SKAGWAY. Not the uncrowned king of the Skagway underworld, but King of Skagway. It is all part and parcel of making him more than he really was. From saying he was head of the parades in Skagway to King of Skagway ... yes, in reality he was a "boss" of a group of con men. That does not make him what the Juneau press in 1907 called Chris Shea, "The King of Skagway politicians."
Smith was reported in a number of 1898 newspapers to aspire to be "boss", even mayor of Skagway. The term King came along later, about the time the "real" "King of Skagway" wrote his political satire.
I don't believe I will scan and send you a PDF file of my Chris Shea piece. Seeing how you tend to violate copyright laws on your website, that would probably get me in trouble with the Pacific Northwest Quarterly. If you don't want to give me a mailing address for a gratis copy of the journal, you will have to go to the PNQ website and order a copy for yourself. You have my email address if you want to send me a snail mail address without publishing it here.
As I re-read your comments, I see again that a lot of our inability to agree has to do with our different focuses. Your focus is entirely on Soapy and his world of vice. My focus is on the larger community, not just Skagway and southeast Alaska, but what I call the larger ecumen of the Progressive Era. There is nothing wrong with having different perspectives revolving around one incident in time. You criticize my lack of attention to details that you have command of. Those details are your expertise and I am happy to concede them to you. I fail to understand why you are not willing to concede my expertise on the greater context of how a society works as a whole from my academic and scholastic background as a historian and anthropologist. Especially when all you have seen is little snippets, casual conversation, and the summaries on websites.
My book is about Soapy's legend, not Soapy himself. It is as much, perhaps more, about the people who created the legend as it is about Soapy. It is about the function of legend and myth in modern American society. It ends by making a plea to keep legend alive and well and recognise its place in our culture as something separate from history.
And for what it's worth, I do hope Howard Blum makes his movie, despite the fact that his book is what I would call a novel.
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
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
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