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Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith
Birth: Nov. 2, 1860
Coweta County
Georgia, USA
Death: Jul. 8, 1898
Skagway Borough
Alaska, USA

Western Folk Figure, Crime Figure. A native of Georgia, he became known as the "King of the Frontier Con Men" for his many bunko swindles inflicted upon unwary victims all across the American west. He earned the sobriquet of "Soapy" by way of his most infamous swindle, "the Prize Package Soap Sell Swindle", in which, through slight-of-hand, he falsely wrapped money, ranging up to a $100 bill, inside the soap wrappers, and mixed them with pre-wrapped cakes of soap containing no money. He sold these for one dollar each. Associates, working for him, would buy a cake of soap and claim to have found money, in order to induce more sales. He built three major criminal empires, in Denver and Creede, Colorado (1879 to 1896), and then in Skagway, Alaska (1897 to 1898). He had one of the largest bunko gangs in the United States at the time, and was very well known throughout the west. He ran numerous saloons and cigar stores, all with rigged gambling games inside for the unwary to lose their ready cash. He helped rig elections and paid off politicians and police officers in order to maintain his growing power. Strangely, he was well known for his contributions to charity, and one of his good friends was Reverend Thomas Uzzel of Denver, who constantly sought his aid. In Skagway, during the Klondike gold rush of 1897, Jefferson Smith opened a fake telegraph office. For five dollars, miners could send a telegram home. While sending the telegram, the operator asked key questions about the victim's business and finances. The miner would soon find himself in a friendly poker game, in which he would lose any cash on his person (in realty, the telegraph did not reach Skagway until 1900). A vigilante organization arose for the purpose of ridding the city of him and his men. On July 8, 1898, at one of the vigilante meetings, one of the guards, Frank Reid, blocked Soapy Smith from entering and the two shot it out with each other. Smith died that night of his wounds and Reid lasted twelve days before expiring. There is credible information, from the town marshal, that another man actually fired the fatal shot that killed Soapy Smith that night. His legend has grown in the locale, and a ceremonial wake is held in Skagway, and in Hollywood each year on July 8th. (bio by: Jeff Smith) 
Gold Rush Cemetery
Skagway Borough
Alaska, USA
GPS (lat/lon): 59.47396, -135.28915
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jan 01, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 958
Jefferson Randolph Soapy Smith
Added by: Greg Smith
Jefferson Randolph Soapy Smith
Added by: THR
Jefferson Randolph Soapy Smith
Added by: Donald Greyfield
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- Janis•E
 Added: Jul. 8, 2017
Visited your grave site ....
- Linda Davis
 Added: Jun. 11, 2017
Is it true Soapy, that after a man shook hand with you, you could slip a ring off his finger? You were so kind of bad it is true, but, we still remember you, even the good deeds you did for others. You are now a big part of our folk history, Rest in Peace...(Read more)
- Patrick Gooden
 Added: Dec. 7, 2016
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