Historically speaking | Roswell Daily Record
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Singapore mining camp clairvoyant Jake meets his Waterloo
By Janice Dunnahoo
Special to the record of the day
New Mexico had its share of mining camps during the Old West days. Exploration was conducted from north to south and east to west across the state. As a result, cities such as White Oaks and Madrid have sprung up, bringing with them the good and the bad.
Many characters made history in these Old West towns with legal and illegal activities, and many stories from those colorful days remain. Here is such a story.
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“Clovis Evening News
“May 31, 1937
“By Pete Burr
“Singapore Jake, thought reader and clairvoyant, who played the mining camps of the west in the 1970s, placed many “spells”, gave advice, which broke many puzzles his clients believed. But when he himself challenged the famous diamond Kelly’s hoodoo, he overstepped the limits of his own psychic powers, lost his reputation, his life, and even went without a funeral.
“For many years, medium Jake followed in the footsteps of miners from New Mexico to Montana. In the mining camps of the old west he was well known. Among his clients were superstitious miners who sought the benefit of his occult powers to help them locate the hidden riches of the mountains.
“The girls from the dance halls also came to see him, asking him for advice in matters of the heart. Their future was disclosed to Jake through the lifelines in their hands or through the crystal globe he peered into. It was one of his most impressive devices for separating the confident and the gullible from their gold dust.
“The players, who were facing what the camps called ‘bad luck’ came to Jake for soothing advice. Invariably, he located the hoodoo, unleashed its victim from strange powers, and once again put it back on the path to fortune.
“If Singapore Jake had any other name than this, no one ever knew what it was. It was common knowledge that Jake had spent years studying the occult sciences in the East and that psychic phenomena were an open book for him. Jake himself may have thought that Singapore was the center of occultism in the Far East and spread rumors of his visit there, which gave rise to his nickname.
“It is quite likely, however, that Jake’s sources of knowledge were the voodoo mystics of African descent who thrived along the New Orleans waterfront, for it was from the lower Mississippi country that Jake was originally from and of whom he sometimes spoke.
“Wherever he got his professional position, it was well established. Jake might well enough go into a trance for a paltry $ 5 if that represented his client’s financial limits. It was a meager restraint, however, and before deigning to accept it, Jake usually made it clear to the boss that “spirits weren’t interested in money in any way,” at the same time expressing his thanks to everyone. wise providence that he himself was not cursed with greed for gold.
“For an ounce of dust, Singapore Jake, with his muscles tense and frozen, could gaze into the distance with eyes strangely penetrating into the mysteries of life.
“It probably occurred to him in a private vision that he could manufacture a drug that would bring him the Kelly Diamond. This gem was famous from the Rio Grande to the Canadian border with a tragic and horrific history. The story goes that many of the frontier men who possessed it died with… (their) boots and their trigger finger a moment behind schedule while the diamond was in… (their) possession.
The diamond had taken its name from a famous Southwestern character, ‘Kin’ Kelly, a player and shooter, who while carrying the stone died amid the smoke and flames in the Rocky Mountain style on the most approved of the time.
Jake conceived an idea regarding the Kelly Diamond, which was owned by Marty McGraw, a Denver hotelier and gamer. Marty laughed at the hoodoo, which would follow the brilliant (diamond), and flashed it on his finger for a few years as he sat with his eyes riveted on the faro layout of his workplace.
“But the Kelly Diamond has finally started to go into her work. First, a player from San Francisco stole Marty’s wife. Then after that he had several thousand dollars stolen and the business was not so good. Jake heard about all of these things, and Marty had a drawn and anxious face when Singapore Jake, all set and ready, blew up Denver from the new copper mining camp in Butte, MT.
“In Marty’s saloon and playhouse heading to his hotel, the two shook hands. Jake was shocked to observe that the diamond was nowhere in sight. Surreptitiously, his hand moved to his waistcoat pocket, where lay a paste replica of the stone. Was it too late?
“Marty, you are in trouble! Singapore says.
“It’s the Kelly Diamond,” Marty said. “The hoodoo works. “
“Let’s see the stone,” Jake said.
“McGraw took it out of his pocket. He was placed in the ring, but he had stopped wearing it on his finger some time ago. Jake took it in his trembling hand.
“‘I can break the hoodoo, Marty,’ he said, ‘but first I have to free the stone from the gold.’
McGraw agreed. With deft fingers, Jake worked the diamond of his soft gold setting with his pocket knife. The gem fell into his palm.
“Marty was looking at him anxiously. The player wanted the hoodoo broken, but something told him not to trust Jake too much, to keep an eye on the stone.
“Jake made some weird gestures, and with one of them, got the paste diamond out of his jacket pocket with one hand. Then he rolled them into his palms, looked up and , as in one of his mystical movements, he ran his hands over his face., (then) he put the two diamonds in his mouth. Then, at the appropriate time, he would use his tongue to keep the real one in his mouth and hand the fake back to Marty with the broken hoodoo.
“That moment never came.
“Just then, a miner who had just been caught cheating in a game of poker in the next room came running in, running banging doors and hitting Jake sprawling on the living room floor. Singapore swallowed. the two stones, the real one and the paste.
“McGraw, not realizing he was in a reinforcement match for a $ 4,000 minnow but still worried about his property, started in Singapore to help him.
But Jake bounced off the floor with staring eyes (and) shouted, ‘I swallowed it,’ and ran off, down the hotel lobby, down the street, around the corner, into a alley, in another, for the livery stable Five minutes later, he left town at a gallop.
“McGraw tracked down the sheriff and told him about his problems. The sheriff walked through Denver, but could not find any trace of Singapore, but learned he had been seen riding north. hired three men to follow him and offered a reward of $ 1000 for Singapore Jake, dead or alive. Hoodoo or not hoodoo, he wanted to get his diamond back, even if he had to open Singapore to get it.
“Thirty miles north of Denver, Jake changed horses at a stage station and continued his flight. During the night he changed horses twice more, and the next morning he struck the north arm of the Platte River and followed it to its source in the mountains.
“But when he left the main track, luck gave up on him as well. Two prospectors, walking along the path behind a donkey, saw Jake heading for the hills. They met the group and told them which direction it was going.
“Late in the afternoon, Jake’s pursuers saw him, pushing his horse up the mountain trail. He was heading for the infamous Three Cross Ranch, a meeting place for traffic officers and horse thieves. This trail ran along a mountain whose base was washed by the clear waters of Lake Scudders, hundreds of meters below.
As Jake’s pursuers pressed him, he pulled a rifle out of the scabbard of his saddle and signaled he would shoot if they didn’t stop. One of the three slipped off his horse, put his rifle in his saddle and fired.
Singapore Jake leaned forward, made a futile effort to keep from falling by grabbing the horn of his saddle, then fell, his body twisting and twisting, into the waters of Lake Scudders below.
“’Here is the Kelly Diamond,’ said the leader of the band. “To hell with stone!” it never brought luck to anyone.
“The waters of Lake Scudders never gave up their dead. In their depths lie the bones of one of the first Western practitioners of the occult sciences, as well as the unfortunate Kelly diamond.
Janice Dunnahoo of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives can be contacted at 575-622-7004 or [email protected]