September 25, 2009

Letter to Soapy Smith from Tombstone, Az. 1882.

(Click image to enlarge)
Letter to Soapy Smith
Jefferson Randolph "Little Randy" Smith collection


A
bove is a letter written to Soapy Smith from Tombstone, Arizona in 1882 using stationary from the Russ House, famous for partner Nellie Cashman.

From the 1960s through the 1980s my father and his siblings shared Xerox copies of their inherited collections a few pieces at a time and sending them via the postal service, Unfortunately these copies were often very poor. The above letter is an example.

In late 1882 (most likely December) Soapy Smith, was in Fort Worth, Texas where he wrote known confidence man and good friend, John T. Waller. On December 24, 1882 Waller responded with a letter from the Russ House in Tombstone, Arizona.


Dec. 24, 1882.
Friend Jeff

I received your card. I shall not stop in El Paso. You never said what you had been doing. Can you not take time to write a letter and give me the news. I am afraid that you will get busted before you get home. If so send me word & as long as I have a dollar you can have half of it. I am doing a good business here. I sold $82.75 yesterday. I took in $43.50 last night, & it was so cold that I came very near freezing. I shall only stay here 2 or 3 days longer. I got in here last Wednesday. I saw Taylor & and girl on the stage that day, going out. I wish you a Merry Christmas & a happy new year. Address Colorado City, Texas.

Yours truly
John T. Waller.



(Click image to enlarge)
Envelope for the above letter
Jefferson Randolph "Little Randy" Smith collection.

Note: The envelope is paired with the stationary and the cancellation stamp is from Tombstone, addressed to Soapy in Fort Worth, Texas.



T
he letter indicates at least two known confidence men and friends of Soapy's were operating in Tombstone. The "Taylor" mentioned in the letter is believed to be John Taylor, a con man thought possibly to have been Soapy's first mentor.

Waller does not mention any legal entanglements with the local city officials. In fact, Waller appears to have been doing quite well in Tombstone. $82.75 and $43.50 may not seem very successful in today's terms but using an inflation calculator, Waller took in the equivalent of $3,457.68.


The Russ House as it looks today
(Nellie Cashman Restaurant)
Tombstone, AZ.








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