Jefferson R. "Soapy" Smith (1860)
Famous (or infamous) outlaw and con-man who left Colorado on unfriendly terms with the law and showed up in Skagway, Alaska at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. He was quick to organize his own gang of brutes to fleece the miners for as much as he could in this lawless gold-rush town. Along with many other money-making schemes, "Soapy" convinced the adventurous miners that he was telegraphing their messages to families back home in California or Seattle from his Dominion Telegraph Service. He then shared "replies" from home requesting money. The money he promised to wire home went straight into his own pocket, as no one realized that the "wires" for his telegraph went a few feet out into the water and stopped. On July 8, 1898, a group of 101 angry men finally came after Soapy, furious that his gang had taken over $2000 from one miner. The town surveyor, Frank Reid, faced a drunken Soapy in a gun-duel at the docks, and Soapy was killed instantly. Reid died a few days later. No one celebrates Reid much anymore, but there is an annual remembrance of Soapy every year on July 8 in Skagway. To many he is as famous as Butch Cassidy or Billy the Kid.
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This page presents short biographies of more than 200 famous Americans drawn from our unit, "The 50 States." These personalities are arranged by theme.
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|Gutzon Borglum||Walt Disney||Jabez Gorham|
|Matt Groening||William Hanna||Marsden Hartley|
|Winslow Homer||Peter Hurd||Hank Ketcham|
|Bill Mauldin||Jackson Pollock||Howard Pyle|
|Norman Rockwell||Charles Schulz||Gilbert Stuart|
|Frank Lloyd Wright||Andrew Wyeth|
|Phineas Taylor "P.T." Barnum||Clyde Barrow||John Wilkes Booth|
|Butch Cassidy||William "Buffalo Bill" Cody||Davy Crockett|
|Jesse James||Evel Knievel||Harland David "Colonel" Sanders|
|Jefferson R. "Soapy" Smith|
|Benny Benson||Sitting Bull||Cesar Chavez|
|John Dewey||Geronimo||Crazy Horse|
|Jesse Jackson||Chief Joseph||Martin Luther King, Jr.|
|Queen Lydia Liliuokalani||Russell Means||Osceola|
|Elizabeth Peratrovich||Sacagawea||Chief Washakie|
|Booker T. Washington||Jack Wilson Wovoka|
Pioneers and "Firsts":
Politicians & Activists:
|Hank Aaron||Andre Agassi||Danny Ainge|
|Johnny Bench||Yogi Berra||Paul "Bear" Bryant|
|Dale Earnhart||Lou Gehrig||Eric Heiden|
|Michael Jordan||Evel Knievel||Phil Knight|
|Joe Reddington||Mary Lou Retton||Picabo Street|
|Jesse Ventura||Jerry West|
Writers & Poets: