Showing posts with label St. Louis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label St. Louis. Show all posts

August 20, 2013

The homes of Mary Eva Noonan, Soapy Smith's wife.

Mary's homes - Mary's photo album
Shelagh Moriarty collection
(Click image to enlarge)

wo wonderful photographs from the Shelagh Moriarty collection. A page from the photo book of Mary Eva (Noonan-Smith) Little, the wife of Soapy Smith, showing the homes she lived in.

The bottom house is the home Mary lived in Denver with first husband, Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith. The top house is the St. Louis, Missouri home of her mother, where she and the three children lived, after Soapy attacked the editor of the Rocky Mountain News in 1889 for mentioning her and the children in the newspaper in an unkind way.

While at Shelagh's home learning about, and photographing her collection, she surprised me with a gift of an original photograph of the Milwaukee home. It was something I was not at all expecting, and I was ever grateful. Thank you, Shelagh.  

Mary Eva (Noonan-Smith) Little
March 17, 2009
May 5, 2010
May 6, 2010
June 14, 2010
June 18, 2010
September 4, 2010
September 10, 2010

May 21, 2011 
August 1, 2011
December 25, 2011
April 12, 2012
April 27, 2012
September 14, 2012
August 9, 2013

Denver house
December 7, 2010

St. Louis house

March 9, 2010
April 11, 2010
June 9, 2010
June 14, 2010
June 18, 2010
June 25, 2010
September 19, 2010
September 28, 2010
November 28, 2010
February 1, 2011
December 25, 2011
January 17, 2012
September 4, 2012

St. Louis: pages 7, 28, 53, 60, 63, 85, 106, 108-09, 115, 139, 147, 149, 172, 281-83, 379-85, 391, 403, 406, 410, 417, 420, 425, 427-28, 436, 443, 448, 473, 495, 599, 503, 545-46, 574, 583-86.

Mary Eva (Noonan-Smith) Little: pages 7, 19, 52, 104-08, 124-25, 139, 146-47, 167, 169-72, 197, 202, 281-82, 379, 407, 410-11, 418-18, 425, 428, 436, 442-44, 448, 451, 486, 495, 498-99, 503, 543-46, 554-55, 584-87, 592, 594.

"In his own home he was Mr. Jefferson Smith, a gentleman above reproach, and to his wife and children the dearly beloved who guarded them from all harm and bountifully provided for their every want, ministering to their happiness in every possible manner. Woe to the man, woman or child who dared bring sorrow to them or allude in any way to a life other than the one they knew."
— George T. Buffum, Smith of Bear City and Other Frontier Sketches, 1906.


1812: The USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides," wins a battle against the British frigate Guerriere, east of Nova Scotia.
1848: The discovery of gold in California is reported by the New York Herald.
1854: The Grattan Massacre, the first armed confrontation between the U.S. Army and Sioux Indians takes place near Ft. Laramie in present day Wyoming as Lieutenant John Grattan, an interpreter, and 29 infantrymen arrive in the camp of Chief Conquering Bear, firing their canon killing the chief. The Sioux attack the troops, killing Grattan and all but one of his men, who escaped to the fort.
1856: Processing condensed milk is patented by Gail Borden.
1864: Colorado Territory rancher, Elbridge Gerry, rides to Denver to warn of an impending Cheyenne attack on settlements on the South Platte River. Resulting troop actions disrupt the Indians plans.
1882: Las Animas County undersheriff M. McGraw is shot and killed by Trinidad police officer George Goodell in Trinidad, Colorado after calling Goodell a pimp and his wife a prostitute in the newspaper. The fight takes place in front of Jaffa's Opera House, where Goodell puts six bullets into McGraw, who dies two days later.
1887: The last Indian battle in Colorado occurs as troop clash with Utes near Rangely, Colorado.
1895: Bad man John Wesley Hardin is shot in the back of the head while playing dice in the Acme Saloon, El Paso, Texas, by lawman John Selman. Hardin is said to have killed between 27 and 44 men.
1896: Lawman Alfred Allee is stabbed and killed in a Laredo, Texas barroom brawl.
1900: Ex-Secretary of State Caleb Powers is found guilty of conspiracy to murder gubernatorial candidate William Goebels in Frankfort, Kentucky.
1909: The first car race to be run on a brick track occurrs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

August 9, 2013

A treasure trove of new photographs!

Carte de visite of
Wife of Soapy Smith
Shelagh Moriarty collection

n 1998 I met my 2nd cousin, Shelagh Moriarty, for the first time, in Skagway, Alaska during the 100th anniversary of Soapy Smith's demise. I met her again in 2012 at the ninth annual Soapy wake at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California. She brought with her a few early family photographs that very much interested me. We promised to get together as she said she had more to share with me, but it was not until August 8, 2013 that we finally kept our commitment.

To say that it was a great visit would be an understatement. I did not know exactly what to expect, but I hoped there would be a few more early photographs of the family that she would share with us. What I found was in the neighborhood of 150 early photographs of the Smith, Little, Moriarty, and possibly the Dalton families dating from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries.

It will take a while, but eventually, I would like to have these photographs posted for the family and friends to enjoy.

Carte de visite (rear)
Wife of Soapy Smith
Shelagh Moriarty collection

The rear of the carte de visite shows that it was photographed in St. Louis where Mary's mother lived. Someone wrote Mammy?? in pencil. Mammy was the name the grandchildren called Mary. Someone questioned if it is Mammy, but Shelagh had other numerous photographs of Mary, and between us there is no doubt that it is her. I am guessing that this photo was taken after Soapy and Mary were married, possibly taken about 1889 when Soapy sent Mary to live with her parents, due to the "war" declared on Soapy by the Rocky Mountain News.

Besides the amazing photographs, there were a couple more interesting discoveries during my visit.
  • FIRST, is the new information that Soapy's daughter grew up used to the finer things, nice clothing, money, etc. This tells us that Soapy obviously pampered his family with lots of money and gifts, which are hinted at in the surviving personal letters in my own collection. 
  • SECOND, is the discovery of possible photographs and identifications of several Dalton family members. It has been passed down through the generations in my family that Soapy's wife, Mary, is a relation to the Dalton outlaw gang. It will be interesting to compare notes with the current Dalton family historians.

Thank you Shelagh!

"I became acutely aware of the need to take old-timers' recollections of long past events with much salt when I attended conventions of my old WWII infantry company forty or fifty years after the war. When discussions arose about certain actions in which several of us were directly involved, none of us could agree on exactly how it went down. And these were important events, life and death matters, that one would expect to become embedded - accurately - in our memories the rest of our lives. I've taken this knowledge into my writing of western history. While often quoting the written or reported recollections of frontier veterans, I do not say or imply that what is said is gospel truth, but leave it up to the reader to accept or reject. "
— Robert DeArment


1678: Indians sell the Bronx to Jonas Bronck for 400 beads.
1790: The Columbia returns to Boston Harbor after a three-year voyage. It was the first ship to carry the American flag around the world.
1820: Robert C. Adams and James Bowe Boisseau duel with pistols over the honor for Ellen Stimpson Peniston, Soapy Smith’s grandmother. Both duelists are killed.
1831: The first steam locomotive begins its first trip between Schenectady and Albany, New York.
1842: The U.S. and Canada sign the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, solving the border dispute.
1848: Martin Van Buren is nominated for president by the Free-Soil Party in Buffalo, New York.
1854: Walden is published by Henry David Thoreau.
1859: The escalator is patented by Nathan Ames.
1865: The Civil War officially ends.
1878: One soldier is wounded in a battle with Bannock Indians in Bennett Creek, Idaho.
1887: Harry “the Sundance Kid” Longabaugh is convicted of grand larceny in Wyoming.
1892: Thomas Edison receives a patent for the two-way telegraph.
1893: Gut Holz, the first bowling magazine in the U.S. is published.
1910: A. Fisher receives a patent for the electric washing machine.

September 4, 2012

A false death report regarding Soapy Smith: Artifact #49.

(Click image to enlarge)

Regarding Chilkoot Pass Hotel
September 7, 2012

rtifact #49 from my personal collection is a very interesting letter due to a rumor that Soapy Smith was killed in Skagway, Alaska just two months before his actual death. There were several false rumors of his death during his life span, and none of them were due to natural causes. It seems many figured if Soapy was ever going to die, he would not go voluntarily.

Below is direct from my book and includes the deciphered text from the letter. Below that is some additional information regarding the letter. I hope you enjoy it.

At the end of April 1898, a rumor of Jeff’s death circulated in the states and reached Mary in St. Louis before it was dispelled. James H. Cronin of St. Louis, saloon owner and Delegate to the city government, was able to calm Mary’s fears with letters he had received from Jeff dated after his reported death. Cronin wrote to Jeff, on the ornate House of Delegates stationary, on May 2, 1898.

Friend Jeff,
Yours of the 19th April, received this morning, and was glad to hear from you, it was reported here that you were killed up there, and your wife was here to see me this morning. She was very uneasy. I showed her the letter I received from you which made her feel better. You stated in your letter that you were Captain of the Alaska Guards. I don’t think you will be bothered very much as war is nearly over, so the papers state. Jeff if you make more money than you can handle why ship it in to me, I will take good care of it.

Answer this as soon as you receive it as we would like to know how you are. I wrote a letter to you about two weeks ago, I guess you have received it by this time. I remain as ever

Yours most sincerely
Jas. H. Cronin

Jeff had once told Mary, “Never believe I’m dead until you see me in the morgue.” This statement did nothing to ease her apprehension when having to wait weeks for communication from him. The mails as usual were taking a long while. Cronin’s letter was postmarked in St. Louis on the day it was dated, May 2, and was postmarked Skagway on May 16—two weeks later.

Cronin was correct in stating the war would soon end. On May 1, 1898, while Jeff was parading his militia around Skaguay, American Commodore George Dewey was annihilating the Spanish fleet at the battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines, the turning point in the [Spanish-American] war. News of the victory may have eased tensions in the states, but up in Skaguay Jeff did not stop fueling patriotic fervor, and citizens still followed him.
Alias Soapy Smith page 503

 (Click image to enlarge)

James Cronin was a St. Louis saloon owner turned politician (Democrat). Although he used stationary from the House of Delegates I could not find what office, if any, he may have held in 1898. The envelope, however, is printed with either Cronin's living quarters or one of his saloon addresses, "n.e. corner of 12th and Walnut Streets" [see photo below: Artifact-#49-Envelope-A]. Another saloon mention reads, “Jim Cronin's tavern at 21st and Market Streets in St. Louis” [from Abe Slupsky: an unforgettable character, by Martin Fischer: see here]. From what I could determine from the newspapers, he remained in the saloon business while in office. In April 1901 he was elected Speaker of the House of Delegates [St. Louis Republic, April 7, 1901], but by September the Republic noted him as being the “ex” speaker. Later newspapers list him as "Justice." 

I could not find any other major mention of him in other newspapers, but it is obvious the St. Louis Republic did not have a lot of respect for the man.
Genial Jim Cronin was doubtless the most amusing occupant of the Speaker’s chair in the history of local legislation. Cronin was the chief buffoon. The blazing brilliancy of his diamond stud was not the only radiance which shone in those days from the rostrum. There was also the Cronin beaming smile and blithe humor, which transformed the Speaker’s duties into a vaudeville stunt and parliamentary forms into a joke.
St. Louis Republic, May 10, 1903

 (Click image to enlarge)

The envelope above shows the Chilkoot Pass Hotel in Skagway as the mailing address for Soapy. He may have lived here for a time, or just paid to use the hotel as a mail center. It is believed that Soapy used several addresses as living quarters, in order to keep victims, the law, and vigilantes from knowing his location other than Jeff Smith's Parlor. Surely, this was to prevent any attempt on his life, which was not unwarranted with several attempts being made during his lifetime. I could not find anything on this hotel but I am including a note to several of the key Skagway historians in hopes of learning something.

The last news article I could find in regards to James Cronin was dated 1904 in which he was mentioned as the brother of Frank Cronin, indicted on charges of running a policy swindle [St. Louis Republic, January 14, 1904]. I could find no more mention of James Cronin from that date onward. 

(Click image to enlarge)

James H. Cronin
The St. Louis Republic
April 6, 1901

Artifact #49: page 503.

"Soapy" Smith, the autocrat of Skagway, set up an extensive network of spies and confidence men throughout the north that prefigured the secret police systems established by the great dictators of the 20th century."
―Pierre Berton, Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush, 1896-1899


1609: English navigator Henry Hudson begins exploring the island of Manhattan.
1781: El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula, California is founded by Spanish settlers. In English it translates as "The Town of the Queen of Angels." It is later shortened to Los Angeles.
1825: New York Governor Clinton ceremoniously empties a barrel of Lake Erie water into the Atlantic Ocean to consummate the "Marriage of the Waters" of the Great Lakes and the Atlantic.
1833: Barney Flaherty, age-10, answers an ad in the New York Sun becoming the first newsboy.
1877: Lieutenant William Clark offers $100 to anyone at Camp Rogers, Nebraska who would kill the Indian, Crazy Horse. 400 Indians and eight cavalry units depart in search of the wanted Indian.
1879: Apache chief Victorio attacks a company of 9th U.S. Cavalry camping in Ojo Caliente, New Mexico Territory, killing eight troopers and escaping with more than forty cavalry mounts.
1881: General Eugene Carr engages White Mountain Apache Indians in Arizona Territory, killing six scouts and twelve Apache Indians, including the prophet Nakaidoklim. The Indians retaliate by attacking Fort Apache.
1882: Thomas Edison's Pearl Street electric power station begins operations in New York City. It is the first display of a practical electrical lighting system.
1885: The Exchange Buffet opens in New York City. It is the first self-service cafeteria in the U.S.
1886: Geronimo and the Apache Indians surrende in Skeleton Canyon, Arizona to General Nelson Miles.
1887: Sheriff Perry Owens and a posse arrive at the Blevins family ranch near Holbrook, Arizona Territory intending to serve a murder warrant on Andy Blevins. The large Blevins family was combatants in the on-going Graham-Tewksbury Feud, a range war. Before the day was through Sheriff Owens had shot and Andy Blevins, John Blevins, Moses Roberts, and 16-year-old Sam Houston Blevins. Only John Blevins survived.
1888: George Eastman registers the name "Kodak" and patents his roll-film camera. The camera took 100 exposures per roll.
1894: 12,000 tailors go on strike in New York City protesting poor working conditions, known as the “sweatshop.”