December 20, 2009

A postcard to Soapy Smith, 1883-84.

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Postcard to Soapy Smith
circa 1883-1884

One of my favorite tasks is researching documents and letters in my collection and files. Some of these are Xerox copies made decades ago by other family members, my father and his siblings. The machines used to copy letters were not as nice as their modern counterparts and it can be a chore trying to decipher what some of these old copies read.

The following postcard was sent to Soapy (Jefferson Randolph Smith II) from his cousin, Henry Marshall Smith around 1883-1884. Here is the contents of the postcard. Note that I added the proper grammar marks for clearer reading.



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Front of postcard

The front of the postcard has written at the top, "Tranquilla, Jones Co. Ga, Aug 16" and is addressed to "Mr. Jeff R. Smith Jr. Portland, Oregon"











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Back of postcard


The back of the postcard reads as follows. Note that I matched the sentences for better deciphering purposes.

Tranquilla Ga, Aug 16
Dear Jeff: Your first rec’d.
I wrote you a long letter and
directed it to San Francisco.
It seems impossible for my
letters to reach you. Write
me where you will be three
weeks ahead and I will write
you a long letter. Write me
all about the different
countries you have visited
and which you like best. Mittie
(my wife) says please send her
a small bunch of flowers
from each state that you visit

so she wants to press them
in her scrapbook. All the
Smiths in Coweta are well
when last heard from. You
just ought to see my fine
Linton. He can walk now.
Write me at least once a
month. Would give the
world to see you. Write soon.
Your aff
H. M. Smith

The author of the postcard, Henry Marshal Smith is a cousin of Soapy's. Henry's father (Soapy's uncle) is Dr. Columbus Darwin Smith. Henry, born in 1856 was four years older than Jeff and in 1883-1884 would have been about 28. He had 4 children, one of which was named Linton, named in the postcard.


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Sample of 1884 postcard


Note that the 1884 postcard to the right is almost identical to the one used my Henry to Soapy.

Soapy was on the move during this period in his life’s career. He was in Portland, Oregon on August 2, 1882 where he filed a vendors license. 45 days later Soapy filed for a license in Salem, Oregon. New Years Day, January 1, 1884 Soapy was in San Francisco where he was arrested. He was arrested again in February 1884.



I am hopeful someone has more information regarding the contents of this postcard and Henry Marshall Smith.














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