1898 Alaska’s Legendary Soapy Smith w/ Catherine Spude

Catherine Spude, author of “That Fiend in Hell: Soapy Smith in Legend”, tells the story of the renowned huckster and murderer Soapy Smith, known in history as the “King of Skagway”. She also helps separate the fact from the fiction and dispel some myths about the most notorious man in Alaskan history.

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2 Comments on "1898 Alaska’s Legendary Soapy Smith w/ Catherine Spude"

  1. Hello, Erik.
    I tried to post the following on your AudioBoom page but even after joining AB, my comment would not take.

    I am Jeff Smith, author of Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel (2009), as well as a great-grandson. I have known Cathy Spude for about 20 years. She is wonderful in archeology but when it comes to Soapy Smith, she has a personal vendetta, an ulterior motive for downplaying Soapy’s real history. It is actually more of a hatred, mainly because Soapy takes center stage over her favorite historical interest in Skagway history. She intentionally ignores quite a bit of sourced history and provenance, which are well-established, coming from not only newspapers, but thousands of his personal and business letters and documents, many of which concur with newspaper accounts.
    My research for the book spans 25 years, and continues. The sourced story of Soapy is found in my book. Trust me, his criminal and political power goes far beyond that of any other confidence man of Soapy’s era. Far more exciting, powerful and successful than Cathy let on. For instance, she implied on your show that Soapy only had one saloon in Skagway, when personal letters show that he had interests in a total of three saloons. The stories she attempted to downplay, such as his involvement in the John Fay (not Ed Fay) murders are very true and well-sourced. Couldn’t help but notice that she ignored some of the most exciting parts of Soapy’s history in Skagway, such as the 101 vigilante handbills and Soapy’s response handbill from the Committee of 317, which shut down the vigilantes for a time. Then she failed to mention the Skagway Military Company that Soapy created, with him as captain. Soapy sent the paperwork (I own the originals) to President McKinley and the Governor of Alaska, offering his services not only in Cuba, but in Alaska, patrolling (controlling Skagway, Dyea, and the trails. Then there’s the death of Soapy by the hand of Jesse Murphy. My book has so much provenance on this shooting by Murphy, that the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and the Skagway Historical Society have accepted my research. Research that Cathy once claimed was hers, and later admitted to me on my blog that she just copied my research. She ignores so many established sources and records in order to make others believe that Soapy’s history is mostly mythical. I challenge you to read my book and then decide for yourself!

    1) I found so many fabrications, mistakes, and accusations in Cathy’s book, about me and my research, that I felt obligated to to create a blog about it. You will find it very interesting (http://thatfiendinhell.blogspot.com/).

    (2) Copies of Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel, can be found here: (http://klondikeresearch.com).

    (3) My Soapy Smith website: (http://soapysmith.net).

    (4) My Soapy Smith blog, an extension of the book ( http://soapysmiths.blogspot.com)

    • Hi Jeff. I’m happy to have you as a guest to talk to you about your research, whenever you have some time.

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