August 15, 2009

Ned Parker alias "Banjo"

Nearly all the members of the notorious Soap Gang had their own criminal pasts and unique histories before signing up with Soapy Smith. Ned "Banjo" Parker was a confidence man and horse-thief. The following is the earliest accounting I have of "Banjo."

From the Daily Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas) February 1873.

HORSE-THIEF CAPTURED.

A Missouri Confidence Man Caught — Fort Smith Officers Catch the Bird.

The boarders at the Central house, in this city, yesterday morning were treated to a little scene resulting in the arrest of a noted confidence man and patent medicine swindler. The principal actor in the play was a man named Ned Parker, from Springfield, Mo., where he stopped recently. While there he took a fancy to a pair of horses and a buggy, belonging to a well known citizen of that place named A. Stoughton. The fancy man had not the "wherewith" to buy the coveted horseflesh, and so concluded to appropriate them and skip out. He managed to get the horses all right, and from Springfield he went to Greenfield, Mo., where he was followed. From Greenfield he went to Fort Smith, but there the Missouri officers lost the trail and put their papers into the hands Frank Taylor and W. H. Johnson, United States marshals for that district, who, as the sequel proves, were too much for the confidence man. The marshals left Fort Smith and went to Ozark, which place the horse-thief visited but two days before. From Ozark the officers followed close on the heels of the fugitive, through Dover,Roseville and Clarksville to Little Rock, they arriving here two days after Parker reached the city, he having arrived Friday and the officers Sunday. On arriving here the officers quietly proceeded about their work, and at length the search was rewarded by capturing the bird at the Central house. The marshals saw Parker standing in front of the hotel, walked up and obtained the "drop" on him before he was aware of their presence. Taken completely by surprise, he did not offer the least resistance, but surrendered himself, and turned all the property over, making a clean breast of the whole affair. the swindler is about five feet eleven inches high, light complexion, and weighs about two hundred and twenty-five or thirty pounds, and would no doubt have made a desperate fight for liberty if he had not been captured by surprise. Mr. Stoughton is to be congratulated on the recovery of his horses, while Messrs. Taylor and Johnson, as skillful officers, should receive the thanks of the people. The officers, with their prisoner, leave for Fort Smith this morning.


"Banjo's" time with the Soap Gang is dealt with prominently in my book.

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