Sunday, May 29, 2011

Harry Orchard's Colt? Who are P.R.Edington & Rev. Marshall F. Montgomery? Is there an Idaho Pen link? Email if you know these names or have any info.

You may remember a previous post regarding a Colt Single Action Army revolver allegedly belonging to Harry Orchard. I was recently contacted by the current owner and have been examining the existing information more closely in an attempt to definitively link the gun to Orchard. Unfortunately, the provenance is rather weak and attempting to locate additional records has proved to be quite a challenge. Hence, I am looking for help.

Pictured Colt comes from Wikipedia.


Many items are often sold from person to person as allegedly belonging to a famous, (infamous in this case) individual. However, value, if primarily based on the items association with that person, can only be established with a clear and documented record of ownership. Sometimes what we want to believe taints our examination and interpretation of the evidence.

From various accounts, we know that Harry had a Colt in his possession at the time of arrest. However, the evidence that this particular revolver belonged to Orchard remains rather thin. After all, that is not "Harry Orchard" inscribed inside the handle and even that would not guarantee authenticity. If ownership can be verified though documentation, articles, descendants, etc., perhaps to an Idaho Pen guard or warden, and better yet directly to Orchard—the provenance would be considerably strengthened.

The following comes from a NYT article written by Oscar King reporting on Orchard's testimony at the Haywood trial:
“The day closed with the evocation by Richardson of the only decent and redeeming incident in the whole monstrous story Orchard has told. That came out under the sneering showing that Orchard has received money, apparently from the State, since he has been in prison. He said he had $115 in all in his eighteen months in jail.”
“Did you send any of it to your wife, your first wife?” sneered Richardson.
“Yes, Sir.”
“How much?”
“About fifty dollars.”
“Where did you get it? Did McPartlan (sic) give it to you?’
“No sir; I sold my watch and locket, my guns, and things I had in my grip. I asked the Warden (this would have been Whitney) if he couldn’t find some one who would advance me $50 and take the thing after the trial. I got it from the Governor” (Gooding).
So maybe Gooding took the gun(s) and other items same as he had taken Orchard's original transcribed confession and hidden it away? The confession transcripts were recently discovered in the possession of Gooding descendants (and are now at the Idaho State Historical Society Archives). What happened to the guns and other items in Orchard's grip that were supposedly sold and taken after the trial?

I have been in contact with the Idaho State Historical Society but there is no documented record currently available to prove what happened to Orchard's revolver, if it was among his belongings stored at the pen, or if a guard or the warden bought or arranged to sell it so Orchard could send the proceeds to his wife (as Orchard reportedly requested.

Below is the description of the revolver that originates from an auction held some years ago, maybe 2003 or so. Click on the page once and then again to enlarge for clearer viewing. Hand inscribed inside the right hand grip of the Colt is " P.R. Edington June 11, 1911." One could reasonably assume that to be a previous owner, with a later owner being Rev. Marshall F. Montgomery . Who are they? What, if any, connection do they have to a chain of ownership leading back to Orchard?

The information in the description is essentially all the evidence we have at this time. The key word is "alleged" as I could take a period Colt, package it with an even better collection of articles, photographs, Orchard's book, etc., and present it as being his revolver. The current seller is not doing that but what about the various owners of this particular Colt over the past 100+ years?

Click on the description & then click again for larger/clearer view.

If you can offer any information or recommendations, please respond by clicking below this post on "comments" (you will have the option to do so anonymously) or email me at: john.t.richards@sbcglobal.net

Orchard on the left...his Colt Revolver in hand? Rehearsing for the real thing. Cabal of Death by Robert Grimmett

The search goes on...

In Memoriam: Private Lewis Simpson (and to all those who have died in all of our wars).

What is Memorial Day?
The Marines
Memorial Day 2010

My great grand uncle Private Lewis Simpson
89th New York Volunteers, Company K
Click on the photos and links.

"Back in New York State, things took a turn for the worse for Lewis. He required a second amputation on his left leg. Some said it was because of contributory negligence on his part: others said there was surgical malpractice in his case. Regardless, the consequences were fatal. Lewis died on May 1, 1863. He was buried at the Methodist church cemetery in Sand Hill. He had never married nor had any children." (From Whither thou Goest by Patrick Simpson).

89th Infantry Regiment (Dickinson Guard)


Lewis was seriously injured at the Battle of South Mountain on Sept. 14th, 1862.

SIMPSON, LEWIS L.—Age, 19 years. Enlisted, September 17,
1861, at Unadilla, to serve three years; mustered in as private,
Co. K, October 21, 1861; discharged for disability, February 5,
1863, at Frederick City, Md.



Click above and below.
"He [Stonewall Jackson] will wake up some morning to find his stonewall all gone to thunder and his soul singing rebel anthems with the Devil and his Angels in Hell."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Boise & Interurban Baseball Team

Written along the bottom: Boise & Interurban Team - Twilight League 1909 - Mason Foto (I think). Unused with no writing on the back.

Every now and then something comes along that lets me return to my baseball card collecting days but with an Idaho connection. Here is a real photo postcard of the Boise & Interurban baseball team. You have read about the Interurban elsewhere on this blog before.

We know Boise, Caldwell and other Idaho towns had baseball teams but I don't know much about the B & I team or twilight league. I am hoping someone can shed some light on this team, who and where they played, etc. Recognize any of these players?

Of course, we know about Walter Johnson from over with the Weiser Kids. Walter was the biggest name in baseball to come out of Idaho. "The Weiser Wonder." Pictured on this link is a card I wish I had but no such luck.

I notice there are only nine guys on the team so I guess in those days you played all the way and fetched your own bats, balls and water.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blogger/Feedburner Problems

I seem to be having some trouble with the automatic Blogger updates delivered by Feedburner. So if you previously entered your email address to get notification of a new post...most likely that is not happening right now. The best option might be to bookmark my site, and/or link it to an icon on your desktop, or just Google search Steunenberg blog. Come back and visit often. Sorry for any inconvenience. John

Update: Played around with the settings and HTML for awhile and seems to have worked this time and I see included the previous couple of posts that had been missed. Not the end I guess. So if you have not yet done so, go on over to the left hand column and sign up where it says "Enter your email address."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lawrence Textile Strike

An old news wire photo of Big Bill Haywood at the Lawrence Textile Strike in 1912.

To Haywood's left (right in the photo) is Joseph James Ettor. Not identified, but I think that is Elizabeth Gurley Flynn to your far right. Anyone recognize the guy on the far left?

5/29/2011: A reader, "Rebecka," believes that might be James P. Thompson on the far left (see comment to this post). After searching for a picture of Thompson, I believe she may be right. He was one of the leaders at the Lawrence strike. Thanks Rebecka!

You see these news photos for sale now and then and I picked this one up primarily because of the Steunenberg name on the back.

Written on the back:
Haywood Wm. D.
2-19-12

February 4, 1912.
William D. Haywood, former president of the Western Federation of Miners, who was acquitted of the charge of murdering ex-Governor Steunenberg of Idaho, address-ing the mill strikers at Lawrence. At his right is J. J. Ettor, leader of the strikers.

Photo-News Department,
American Press Association,
225 West 39th Street,
New York City.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

More Reader Comments, Joe Hill, Unions, Violence/Non-Violence, Harry Orchard, etc.

Below is additional analysis from Richard Myers. Once again, he is providing a lot of information and links that I want to share with readers. I have previously posted some of Richard's comments on this blog and will continue my attempts to provide various viewpoints that are based upon creditable arguments and references. Although Richard and I may come to different conclusions and/or assertions, he has certainly contributed greatly to the discussion.

You will notice that Richard both
cites and contributes to Wikipedia. I believe Wikipedia must be looked at with a critical eye (that is in fact one of its strengths), as anyone can enter information and text on any subject. That being said, I am impressed with the writing, detail and referencing Richard has contributed. I too utilize Wikipedia from time to time and have had a collection of links down in the left hand column of this blog for a couple years. One of these days I will have to start doing a bit of writing and editing there myself.

Despite (or be
cause of) Richard's association with the present day IWW, and mine with the Steunenberg family, we have much in the way of common interests driving our continuing search for the truth. You, the reader, will have to decide how we are doing when it comes to those efforts.

I added the picture of the the Joe Hill book below. Richard also refers to The Corpse on Boomerang Road, which is still on my got to read list. And be sure to check out the Victor Heritage Society website that he contributes to and was kind enough to link to this blog. John

Comments below from Richard:

I am reading an advance copy of the new book about Joe Hill (available next August) by Bill Adler, which is here: http://www.bloomsburyusa.com/books/catalog/man_who_never_died_hc_968

A number of books and plays have been written about Joe Hill. Although they were the products of research, none of them were the result of deep research. Anyone who reads this book is likely to conclude beyond any reasonable doubt that Joe Hill was innocent, and a different man guilty. No other account of Joe Hill’s life has ever achieved this, because no one uncovered the many hundreds of new facts that Bill Adler has uncovered. Bill even traveled to Europe in his research efforts, and the result is a work so remarkable that we can finally set aside speculation and myth about Joe Hill.

This, together with MaryJoy Martin’s impressive research on the Telluride strike (The Corpse on Boomerang Road), lead me to believe that there is much information about all of this history that is yet to be uncovered.

In Telluride, the anti-union forces successfully blamed the union for several murders in which the bodies had “disappeared”. After all the anti-union propaganda, the business community and their supporters (under the leadership of Colorado National Guard and the Citizens’ Allliance) drove all of the union workers and their supporters out of the area.

In at least two cases, the bodies of the “murdered” individuals disappeared because the men simply went somewhere else. MaryJoy found these “murdered” men in history, and they remained very much alive. Once again, this was a result of deep research.

We know that the Western Federation of Miners used violence in Idaho in 1892, and in 1899.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coeur_d%27Alene,_Idaho_labor_strike_of_1892

and,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coeur_d%27Alene,_Idaho_labor_confrontation_of_1899

And, WFM union members (almost certainly without union leadership, because union leadership opposed it) used violence in Leadville, Colorado in 1896-97.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadville_Colorado,_Miners%27_Strike

William Philpott, who researched that strike, saw it as a catalyst for change in the WFM. The philosophical lessons took a while to sink in, but began to permeate the WFM at the turn of the century. It was, in my view, a move away from the early militant concepts and proposals of WFM founder Ed Boyce, and toward a more global concept of union.

In the WFM, Boyce had created a very conservative union, yet one that was very willing to fight.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Boyce

For example, in 1897, Boyce said that “Every (local) union should have a rifle club.” While Boyce was a socialist who clearly embodied both the conservative and radical impulses of the hard rock miners during this period, I believe his proposal to arm 25,000 union men was more of a conservative idea than a radical idea, and I’ll explain the difference below.

As Moyer and Haywood took the reins of the WFM and went through the crucible of union-wide struggle, they began to embrace radicalism moreso than a conservative-based militancy.

The conscious beginning of this turn for the WFM was probably announced in the 1897 proclamation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/November_1897_proclamation

As an explanation of the difference between conservative militancy and radicalism, I will offer the history of the United Mine Workers (who organized coal miners) as an example. The UMWA miners were very militant. But as an organization, the UMWA was never radical. Their battles were the outgrowth of their conservative views and their militant policies. They had participated in the Ten Days War which followed Ludlow Massacre (this was the bloodiest insurrection since the Civil War), the Matewan Massacre in which miners killed a squad of detectives, the Battle of Blair Mountain (this was the largest insurrection since the Civil War), and the little-known but horrific Herrin Massacre, all of this during the period from 1910 to 1925.

Some of these are familiar, but one might wish to explore the nature of the Herrin Massacre to fully understand my point:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herrin_massacre

Throughout, the United Mine Workers remained a deeply conservative union, ever purging radicals such as Alexander Howat of Kansas, out of leadership roles.

Conservative union principles do not preclude violence. During the Ten Days War, thousands of the United Mine Workers torched and dynamited mining camps. Would they have done that if their union philosophy was based in part upon a possibility of future ownership of these very properties by the miners themselves?

In contrast, the Industrial Workers of the World (which the WFM helped to launch in 1905) had a reputation for violence, but that reputation was mostly based upon a reaction to the IWW’s radicalism, and not based upon its militancy, nor on its actual history.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_Workers_of_the_World_philosophy_and_tactics#Violence

How did this play out? Employers were more alarmed by the IWW’s non-violent message, than by more conservative unions’ actual violence.

One clarifying event was in 1928. The IWW was running the strike that started in October of 1927. They said to the miners, if someone is to be killed, let it be one of our men first.

At the Columbine Mine, the state police and mine guards turned machine guns on unarmed pickets, and six were killed. The IWW counseled the angry miners with the words of Joe Hill: don’t mourn, organize.

Josephine Roche of the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company, which operated the Columbine mine, decided it was time to recognize a union. She negotiated briefly with the IWW. But then she made a fascinating decision. Even after the Ten Days War, the Matewan Massacre of Baldwin Felts agents, the Battle of Blair Mountain, the Herrin Massacre, and many other incidents in which the United Mine Workers turned to weapons to resolve disputes, Roche invited the United Mine Workers to return to Colorado to organize Rocky Mountain Fuel Company in place of the non-violent IWW.

My point in all of this: In 1900, Boyce, Haywood, Vincent St. John, and the WFM were beginning to see that violence wasn’t succeeding. They were beginning to think about ideas such as extending industrial unionism to the entire West, and thence, to the entire country. Thus, they formed the Western Labor Union,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Labor_Union

which became the American Labor Union, which became the IWW. Haywood, St. John, and other radicals were evolving into what would ultimately become the IWW philosophy of non-violence, so clearly on display in 1927-28

Initially, the WFM was the biggest industrial department in the IWW.

Here’s another aspect of union philosophy that I consider important to understanding this history.

The IWW preached sabotage, which was then a fancy French word for union tactics which Bill Haywood defined as the “withdrawal of efficiency.” The word sabotage underwent a public conversation, and ultimately, even the IWW distanced itself from the meaning that society put upon the word. But let us concern ourselves with the period immediately prior, from about 1910 to 1914. The American Federation of Labor, and even the Socialist Party, abhorred the idea of preaching sabotage. The Socialist Party evicted Haywood from their executive board in about 1913 for precisely such advocacy. Yet one of the remarkable historical facts related to this appears to be that, in terms of actual property damage, historians have for the most part been unable to trace the use of sabotage to the IWW. It was often said that the IWW preached sabotage, but didn’t practice it; while the AF of L practiced sabotage but didn’t preach it. This was evident in the coal strikes, the railroad srikes, the steel strikes, the automobile company strikes, and many others.

How can we account for this? In my view, we must also understand what the IWW’s actual message was, and why that message resulted in it being so feared by employers.

The AFL had one guiding principle—pure and simple trade unionism, often summarized with the slogan a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. The IWW embraced two guiding principles, fighting like the AF of L for better wages, hours, and conditions, but also promoting an eventual, permanent solution to the problems of strikes, injunctions, bull pens, and union scabbing. This ultimate goal was often referred to as industrial democracy, or the workers’ commonwealth.

The IWW adopted the idea that labor is entitled to all it creates. It preached that employer control of industry is a temporary circumstance. Therefore, why would workers who embraced the IWW philosophy destroy anything significant, if they hoped to one day have worker ownership of those industrial resources?

On the other hand, the conservative unionist philosophy had no such goal. Conservative unionists were content to let employers keep control of the means of production. Therefore, what matter if trains were wrecked, or buildings burned? What did it matter to the WFM miners in Idaho in 1899, still embracing many of the union’s early conservative ideals, if they blew up the Bunker Hill mill?

But in 1900, the WFM was beginning to put its hope into the industrial union philosophy of a federation in opposition to the AF of L. They were beginning to hope that through organization, they might realize a new era of industrial democracy.

Some of that process is revealed here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_federation_competition_in_the_United_States#Western_Federation_of_Miners_forms_the_Western_Labor_Union

Bill Haywood renounced violence as a union policy sometime during this period. This was a practical consideration, because violence didn’t work; it came with too high a price. We don’t know exactly when Haywood first renounced violence, but Arno Dosch certainly recorded that this was true by 1913, and at that time it appeared to have been the case for some years. It was certainly a formative process, perhaps resulting from Cripple Creek and prison in Idaho, but (in my view) there isn’t any real evidence to prove he hadn’t been troubled by the backlash against union violence much earlier.

http://www.workerseducation.org/crutch/others/dosch.html

The WFM paid a price for its violent history in more ways than one. With allies of the employers such as Governor Peabody, Bulkeley Wells, Sherman Bell, and (perhaps the most deadly anti-union agent, because he operated a vast secret network of labor spies) James McParland, it was not difficult for union detractors to foment or initiate any sort of violence, and have the WFM blamed for it.

Of course, we may never know Harry Orchard’s complete role in all of this. But (in my view) the 1903-04 WFM strike was a period of history ripe for union busting, simply by using the tools that spymasters (such as McParland) had refined during prior decades. For background, one might read:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_spies

And in those incidents related to the 1903-04 WFM strike which actually resulted in courtroom appearances and testimony -- that is, the attempt to derail a train, Major Ellison’s testimony about violence perpetrated by the National Guard, and the trials of Steve Adams -- put together with the research about framing the union in Telluride, and the Pinkerton depredations recorded in the Pinkerton Labor Spy and other sources,http://www.rebelgraphics.org/wfmhall/history.html

I think it likely that the WFM was more victim than perpetrator in Colorado.

Certainly, Orchard was a tool. But whose tool?

The history of the WFM is a conservative union committing violence, gaining little thereby and sometimes paying a high price, joining and leaving the AF of L, flirting with radicalism, becoming enmeshed in some very dramatic and controversial history, and then, ultimately, embracing conservatism again and rejoining the AF of L. The radicals from the WFM (Haywood, St. John, others) moved to the IWW, and eventually through splits and purges, the IWW became a more pure vision of their radical philosophies.

The IWW engaged in fiery rhetoric and, with just a few exceptions, conducted strikes which were remarkable for their lack of violence.

Much of the character of the WFM just prior to, and after, the 1905 birth of the IWW, therefore, was the result of a struggle of ideas.

The WFM was accused by spymaster McParland and others of having an “inner circle” that operated in secrecy, but when the secret operations that we DO know about point more toward guilt by the railroad and Mine Owners Association detectives, the National Guard, and the Pinkertons than toward the union, is it not open to question whether the union really conducted such cloak and dagger operations at all?

The union was heavily infiltrated by McParland’s agents (as was the United Mine Workers during the same period.)

The violence carried out by and against all of the unions in U.S. history can be roughly compared, and secret operations were much more the practice of anti-union forces, in my judgment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-union_violence

and,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_violence

The WFM’s membership received reports of income and expenditures at each annual convention. Any questions about activities were open to discussion by any member. How could the union hope to keep such endeavors from being discovered, if they really did occur?

Well, certainly, some level of secrecy was possible. Ideas to keep scab workers away from the mines were undoubtedly considered, and acted upon. But if we focus on what was perhaps the most significant event in the Colorado strike, the explosion at the Independence Station (which was never investigated), all of my research tells me that we don’t have any more evidence and motive pointing at the union, than we have pointing at the employers and their allies.

If we judge it solely on the basis of who benefited, it was most definitely not the union.

Then we have the Idaho assassination. Why did Harry Orchard make no effort to leave town, or even to hide the evidence in his hotel room? Did he perhaps believe the “authorities” wouldn’t question his activities, because after all, he had been their man?

I know that there is more history to be uncovered; perhaps some day much of this will be clear.

richard myers

Well, can't resist a short comment. I am pretty much with you Richard until that last paragraph. Maybe Orchard really did want to get caught or believed he could pull it off and keep everyone fooled. Even if you believe that he did not think authorities would question his activities (but of course they did), he must have known that the Steunenberg family and influential friends would surely see that justice was carried out. Of course that just raises more question than answers. jr

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Old Idaho Pen

A nice picture tour of the Idaho Pen. The audio maybe not. It has been over three years already since my last trip and I am longing for some cell time.

You may want to crank up or turn off the music according to tastes. I prefer a quiet walk through the pen so I can hear Harry's ghost and he can hear me.

Harry Orchard, #1406.

(You may not see the frame below on email updates. Come directly to the blog for viewing).



Related blog posts:

Was that Harry Orchard in the Idaho Pen?

Ballad of Harry Orchard

Saturday, May 14, 2011

James McParland, Pinkerton Detective, Dies

6/2/1919 - James &&<span class=
I am moving a few more pics up from the unarchived depths of the blog. You may have seen these elsewhere before. As you can see, these relate to Pinkerton Detective James McParland. Click on the above photo to use my Footnote.com viewer and to see some of my other "Spotlights."In the upper left corner we see McParland with hired gun and body guard Charlie Siringo. Other hired hands were the likes of Bob "Bad Man"Meldrum, Rudy Barthell and D.C. Scott. All received their marching orders from McParland and/or Governor Gooding. Which side of justice these guns actually represented is still being debated.
Collier's Magazine, 1907
Pinkertons by Birth

Other links/posts:
KIDNAPPED!

Bio of James McParland

The Overthrow of the Molly Maguires

Execution of the Molly Maguires

Meldrum & Siringo

Gunfighters in Boise

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Feliz dia de la madre (translation by Caley)

Click on each picture to be taken back to a previous blog post.
Saturday, May 1, 2010: A Note from Mom - May 1992

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Reader Viewpoint

The following comes from blog reader Richard Myers and is published with his permission. Richard and I have exchanged a few emails and he has a keen interest in historical and contemporary labor issues. His comments and theories are too interesting not to share.

Other viewpoints and comments are encouraged and can be directed to me at: john.t.richards@sbcglobal.net

I have a theory to propose to you. Imagine for a moment that Harry Orchard was an agent against the WFM all along, and his big mistake was going rogue when he assassinated Governor Steunenberg, possibly due to some personal animosity over the 1899 strike.

If this theory was true, it would be necessary to somehow demonstrate, IF he actually perpetrated all that he confessed to, then Orchard was complying with the motives and instructions of the Pinkertons, the Mine Owners Association, and/or maybe the Colorado National Guard when he blew up the Vindicator, killed all of those miners at the Independence Station, etc.

But there seems to be a big hole in this theory, at least for the moment.

What would, say, the National Guard have to gain from violence carried out against the Vindicator, against the miners at the Independence Station, etc.?

At first it doesn’t seem at all plausible. But please read on...

I have uncovered a report of testimony from two (well, actually three) militia members, one of them a major, which in my view could be the key to cracking the behind-the-scenes story of the Cripple Creek Strike wide open.

This was published in The Public, a Chicago newspaper, on November 5, 1904:

Further light on the miners' troubles in Colorado (p. 372) alluded to above has been shed by two members of the Colorado militia, one of them a commissioned officer. The officer, Major Francis J. Ellison, has sworn to the following affidavit, made public at Denver on the 29th:

State of Colorado, City and County of Denver—Francis J. Ellison, being first duly sworn, upon his oath deposes and says: That on the 12th day of December, 1903, at the request of Adjutant General Sherman M. Bell, I went to the Cripple Creek district on special military duty, and from that time have been continuously in the service of the State, both in the Cripple Creek district and in the Trinidad district. When General Bell first sent me to Victor I offered him certain evidence in regard to the perpetrators of the Vindicator explosion, which he has failed to follow up. but which would have led to the arrest and conviction of the men who are responsible for the placing of that infernal machine. At about the 20th of January, 1904, by order of the adjutant of Teller County military district, and under special direction of Major T. E. McClelland and General F. M. Reardon, who was the Governor's confidential adviser regarding the conditions In that district, a series of street fights were commenced between men of Victor and soldiers of the National Guard on duty there. Each fight was planned by General Reardon or Major McClelland and carried out under their actual direction. Major McClelland's instructions were literally to knock them down, knock their teeth down their throats, bend in their faces, kick in their ribs and do everything except kill them. These fights continued more or less frequently up to the 22d of March. About the middle of February General Reardon called me into Major McClelland's office and asked me if I had a man in whom I could place absolute confidence. I called in Sergeant J. A. Chase, Troop C, First Cavalry, N. G. C., and, in the presence of Sergeant Chase, he stated to me that, owing to the refusal of the Mine Owners' Association to furnish the necessary money to meet the payroll of the troops, it had become necessary to take some steps to force them to put up the cash, and he desired me to take Sergeant Chase and hold up or shoot the men coming off shift at the Vindicator mine at 2 o'clock in the morning. I told General Reardon that I was under the impression that most of these men caught the electric car that stopped at the shaft house so that such a plan would be impracticable. He then said to me that the same end could be reached if I would take the sergeant and fire fifty or sixty shots into the Vindicator shaft house at some time during the night. Owing to circumstances making it impossible for Sergeant Chase to accompany me, I took Sergeant Gordon Walter of the same troop and organization, and that same night did at about 12:30 o'clock fire repeatedly into the Vindicator and Lillie shaft house. Something like sixty shots were fired from our revolvers at this time. Afterwards we mounted our horses and rode into Victor and into the Military Club, reporting in person to General Reardon and Major McClelland. The next day General Reardon directed me to take Sergeant Walter and look over the ground in the rear of the Findlay mine with a view of repeating the performance there, but before the plan could be carried out General Reardon countermanded the order, stating his reason to be that the mine owners had promised to put up the necessary money the next day, which, as a matter of fact, they did. General Reardon, in giving me directions regarding the shooting up of the Vindicator shaft house, stated that Governor Peabody, General Bell, he himself, and I were the only ones who knew anything about the plan.

Maj. Ellison's affidavit is corroborated by the affidavits of Sergeants Chase and Walters, whom he mentions.

Louis Freeland Post, The Public, November 5, 1904, page 487

Did you catch the part where Major Ellison’s orders from his National Guard superiors were “to take Sergeant Chase and hold up or shoot the men coming off shift at the Vindicator mine”?

The source is available from Google Books.

If true (and I don’t have any reason to doubt its authenticity), this could mean:

o The National Guard readily committed unprovoked violence, both physical assault and with gunfire, in part for apparent monetary and political gain during the Cripple Creek Strike. Yes, some of us strongly suspected this sort of thing from all the related history, but testimony to that effect from a commissioned officer seems very significant.

o The leadership of the Colorado National Guard seemed to have had no qualms whatsoever about killing innocent miners for their own purposes.

o So who then was really behind the Vindicator explosion, the Independence explosion that killed thirteen, etc.? Bell apparently saw no reason to pursue an actual investigation of the Vindicator explosion. Why? Did he already know who was responsible?

o We know that Harry Orchard received money from detectives, and once boasted of being a Pinkerton agent. Was he a solid agent for them all along, meaning that perhaps the detectives/National Guard used him for assorted provocations throughout the strike, and he only made the big mistake when he went rogue in killing Governor Steunenberg? And,

o Governor Peabody may have been in on at least some of the details of grossly illegal activity by the Colorado National Guard. (!)

This history does get interesting, and I expect there is much more to uncover.

best wishes,
richard myers
Denver, Colorado