February 10, 2010

Ed Burns, Soapy Smith and Leadville, Colorado




Ann Parker over on her blog, The Silver Rush Mysteries, posted a nice piece on "Big Ed" Burns while he was in Leadville, Colorado. She posted a great quote on Burns from the Carbonate Chronicle, February 1880.

. . . His strength was something terrible, and his deep chest was a human embodiment of Hercules . . . but with all his massiveness of frame he was agile and quick as a ballet dancer. Standing by the bar in a saloon he prided himself upon the fact that he could kick a man’s hat off with a single sweep of his foot. . . .

Burns did anything to make money, and as he seldom had the cash to engage in any of what are termed square gambling schemes, he earned a precarious livelihood by “skingames.” The old Theatre Comique was his favorite haunt. In a little side room known as “the joint,” many is the honest miner whom Big Ed robbed by dice, bunko or crooked poker. A cabinet of mineral specimens in one corner was always the pretext under which the victim was enticed into the den, and the gigantic form of the swindler did not make it desirable for the “sucker” to kick very loud or long.

. . . Might was right, muscle was master, and wherever brute strength was needed, Big Ed was called upon. The quieting effect that his massive form had upon a crowd, was something not readily expressed in words, and when he leaped into a wrangling circle of men, flung a chair out of the window, and said: “Let there be peace,” the silence was painful.

Thank you Ann!

Fans of Soapy might know that Burns has a history of association with such notables as Wyatt and his brother Virgil Earp in Arizona. In fact it was Burns who warned Wyatt of threats being made to the Earp's by the "cow-boy gang." Later in Denver and Creede, Colorado Burns joined the Soap Gang and followed Soapy to Alaska and joined his private army, the Skaguay Military Company.











pp. 43, 77-79, 101-02, 120, 176, 210, 405, 487, 489, 571.











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