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This Day in Georgia History

July 08, 1898

Soapy Smith Died

Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith was born in Coweta County, Georgia. His family moved west after Reconstruction, where Smith became notorious as a con man. His most famous con - and the one that earned him his nickname - was to sell small bars of soap claiming some had one-hundred dollar bills in them. One bar always would - one he would “sell” to an assistant, who would open it and rejoice loudly - thus encouraging others to buy bars in hopes of getting lucky. Smith spent time in several places in the west, performing con games, before finally ending up in Skagway, Alaska, where he was shot and killed on July 8, 1898.