Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year from the Richards Family!

Picture taken 12/27/07 from our Christmas week B&B near Sequoia National Park. Standing L to R my sons Joe and Josh, wife Cindy, daughter in law Chrystie & me (John). Seated are my foster grandson Noah, Pug Sooshi and daughter Caley. A rather Motley Crue (Crew).

Contact Sharon and Dan at Sequoia River Dance B&B if looking for a nice place to get away. Great for adults but also dog and kid friendly.

Premier of Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century & Visit to Boise/Caldwell. Read my daily account of the activities by clicking this heading.

I see some bad links on this post from a few years ago. I will have do a little updating. In the meantime, I started with a few new links below to the Idaho Legal History Society webpage.

Logo and below from the Idaho Legal History Society. Yes, of course we love the logo!

Idaho Legal History Society

The Trial of the Century

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Never Know What Might Pop Up On Ebay

All of the items mentioned below in my blog were purchased by me as a lot on eBay.

I find a lot of items related to our family and Idaho history but to find these personal mementos that at one time belonged to my great grandfather, great grandmother and their children was quite a surprise. Typically items such as this would have been retained and preserved. I suspect these got separated somewhere in the course of death, divorce, relocation, estate sales and perhaps even theft. I am always saddened when I see things of a very personal family nature going to the highest bidder and was afraid the same was going to happen here. Love it or hate it, eBay is now the world's garage and estate sale and anything is possible. I had to pay a price but was delighted that I was the high bidder on this one and these items were able to find there way back to the family.

As a side note, many of the documents related to the
Steunenberg administration and Coeur d’Alene mining issues are at the College of Idaho archives.
Other sites of interest include:
If you haven't been to the site yet, your will want to check out Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century. (Many more links of interest are listed here under "resources"). I recommend supporting public television by purchasing the DVD of the program. It was a lot of fun to contribute and I even got a few seconds of on screen fame!
Idaho Legal History Society (some repeats from my blog). The logo you see is of Governor Steunenberg.

In Memorium

This is an original program from Gov Steunenberg's funeral on January 3rd, 1906 with William Borah's oration. I will not scan the full text as the pamphlet is fragile and coming apart.

Click here for the full text of Borah's oration.



Photo of Charles and Major George Steunenberg

A nice cabinet photo of Charles ('Pete') and George Steunenberg, brothers of Governor Frank Steunenberg.
Lightly written in pencil on the back is "Steunenberg Bros"

There is a letter in the COI Archives written by Harry Orchard to Charles (Peter) Steunenberg: 


Although not purchased with the recent lot of items from eBay, this is an earlier picture of a younger George Steunenberg. Interestingly, this picture was also obtained off of eBay from a different seller but in roughly the same geographical area of the Northwest. I am still doing some detective work and back tracking as much as possible.

The Idaho Magazine - 2/1906

The Idaho Magazine
VOL III, February 1906, No. 3. The Magazine & History Publishing Co
804 Idaho St., Boise, Idaho.

As you can probably see, it has had damage from a liquid spilled on it and some pages are sticking together. Someone (not me!) opened it later and tore/lifted print from one of two articles about the governor. You can see the places where the print was removed and or torn off on the second page.

A bit of an Idaho Who's Who on the Contributor List.

I cropped the second page of this article as the rest was not about the governor and if I had tried to get the whole page it would have put that much more stress on an already weak binding.

The Idaho State Historical Society (ISHS)knows nothing about this magazine so it may be a hard one to find. Let me know if you have ever seen it before.

Commemorative Medal given to Governor Steunenberg on 12/12/1900

Commemorative Medal given to Governor Steunenberg on December 12, 1900 at the Centennial Celebration in Washington, DC.

Go to the following book, Celebration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Establishment of the Seat of Government in the District of Columbia. It has information on the governor and the medal. Do a search for Steunenberg to find where the governor is referenced in the book. This confirms that he was at the Centennial Celebration in Washington, DC on December 12, 1900. On pages 183-185 you will see information and a picture of the medal that was given to the governors.

The medal itself is quite heavy and in good shape. Scans are a little fuzzy. The black covering on the case as you can see is worn but the gold lettering with the Governors name is quite strong. The case has a working clasp and some wear to the inside material covering around the back hinge. Hinge is intact and working.

Letters from Assassin Harry Orchard

I have several letters in my collection written to Belle and Julian Steunenberg from Harry Orchard while he was incarcerated in the Idaho Penitentiary. The letters reflect his alleged conversion to Christianity and the the Seventh Day Adventist Church. These did not come to me directly through the family and I cannot vouch for their provenance. 

Left: Assassin Harry Orchard's letter to Julian Steunenberg (eldest son of murdered Ex-Governor Frank Steunenberg and my grandfather).

This 3/25/1909 letter is actually on an 11" X 14" size paper but all the text was within 8 1/2 by 11 format for scanning. This letter appears to be missing a second page. The remaining three letters are 8 1/2" by 11".

Left: September 26th, 1909 letter to Belle Steunenberg, wife of murdered Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg.

This letter and the one below are what appears to be two of the same letter. 

This first one appears to be a rough draft with various written corrections.

I cropped this portion of the second page.

And this one is a more neatly typed final version of the letter above.
So we have four letters with two of those being different drafts of the same letter. Again, all saved for sending on the web and I have higher resolution available. 

Unfortunately none have Orchard's hand signed signature although that was a fairly common practice. 

Read more about Orchard's alleged salvation in the Adventist Magazine Gleaner: (No longer an active link). Please feel free to comment or provide any information you might have regarding Harry Orchard, Frank Steunenberg, other Steunenberg family members or related items and events.

All of the scans/photos on this site are the property of the author and permission to copy or publish is required along with appropriate referencing as to the source.

Idaho's Trial of the Century

Reflections on the Haywood Trial Verdict
July 28th, 1907
John T. Richards Jr.
Great Grandson of Governor Frank Steunenberg

First off, let me say these are my views and are not necessarily shared by other family members. Governor Frank Steunenberg was a loved and respected member of our family who was brutally murdered. Even today, the emotional scars and disagreements remain from those events of 100+ years ago. I was obviously not around at that time but am forever linked through the documented record of history and the even stronger links of our family. To give a little perspective on where I am in the family chain, my grandfather was Julian Steunenberg, the eldest son of the governor. Julian was home from college for the holidays at the time of his father’s assassination on December 30th, 1905. Julian later testified briefly at the trial regarding Harry Orchard’s presence in Caldwell. Orchard had seen the young Steunenberg in town and, under the guise of having an interest in purchasing sheep, inquired about the whereabouts of his father. I believe Julian/my grandfather carried the scar of that conversation throughout life and to his grave. My mother is eighty-nine years young Brenda Steunenberg Richards, youngest child of Julian and Francis Steunenberg. She was born in Caldwell and, along with my father John Sr., resides not far from me here in San Luis Obispo County, CA.
As an amateur historian, I try to separate myself as much as possible from the personal biases and emotions in an attempt to be as objective and as factual as possible when researching these events. Sometimes I am successful in that regard and at other times, I am not. Now, over a hundred years later, the events still trigger debate among our family as they do among all those with an interest in law, labor and the history of the west. My historical studies, my views and my biases are all reflected in the following comments.
On Orchard’s Confession
Before I get to the verdict, let me say up front that I believe Harry Orchard was generally truthful in his confession. I have read the original confession given to James McParland; the Harper’s magazine published version, Orchard’s book The Man God Made Again and many associated accounts, documents and opinions. There may have been details that were tainted, enhanced or left out but in general, I believe he was telling the truth. Did Orchard confess due to the influence of James McParland or to save his neck or because of a religious conversion? Probably all of the above but that does not change the basic facts that he was the bomb maker that murdered my great grandfather and Haywood along with Petibone and Moyer were co-conspirators. Haywood was certainly the most radical of the group and espoused violent tactics throughout his involvement in the labor movement. Even Darrow, a firm supporter of labor but with just as firm a belief in non-violence, found it difficult to reconcile the vastly differing viewpoints that existed between himself and Haywood.
In terms of Orchard’s much debated religious conversion and whether it was genuine or contrived–I have always viewed it as a moot point as he will be judged by a far greater entity then this mere mortal. Perhaps it was Charles “Pete” Steunenberg, brother of the fallen governor, who found the perfect blend of religion and punishment. Pete said something to the effect that if Harry Orchard had found religion then the sure fire way to guarantee he kept it was to keep him right there in the Idaho penitentiary! His letter published in the Idaho Statesmen raised a public outcry and served to snuff out a near successful attempt by Gooding, Hawley and others to obtain Orchard’s release.
One matter on which much of our family probably does agree is the post-trial treatment of Orchard during the long years he spent at the Idaho penitentiary. He became a trusty, had his own cabin outside the prison walls, was given freedom to roam about as he pleased and was photographed with governors and their children and grandchildren. As he grew older, Orchard was written about and pictured in the press as the nice old grandfatherly type. I cannot think of any mass murderer ever receiving such favorable treatment in the history of the American prison system! One can argue whether Orchard should or should not have swung from the gallows but to go from a wanted poster to a poster child for Idaho was and is a tough pill to swallow for our family and friends. Frank Steunenberg never had his opportunity to grow old or to enjoy being a grandfather to my mother Brenda or his other grandchildren. Were it not for that dastardly deed of Harry Orchard on the evening of December 30th 1905, he would have most likely lived to see some of his great grandchildren–perhaps even this one.
The Jury Verdict
All the above being said, the verdict finding Haywood not guilty was the only verdict that the jury could reach under the then and still existing law in Idaho. I am not a lawyer but I believe Judge Byron Johnson and I agree on this matter. As a side note, I would like to thank Byron for spending some time with me back in March 2007 during my visit to Boise and Idaho Public Television (IPTV) for inviting me to make an appearance on their program “Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century.” I hope that Byron and I might someday have an opportunity to discuss the ethics of one Clarence Darrow. But alas, I cannot pick on just Darrow, as ethical considerations were not a very high priority in those days and there were few among the defense or prosecution teams, the camps of labor and capital or in Idaho State Government that were not tainted in some way by questionable practices. Byron would be pleased to know that my recent readings have focused a great deal on his hero Darrow and I have mellowed a bit in my views.
The “not guilty” verdict in the Haywood trial was not an O.J. Simpson moment in history. This was NOT jury nullification and there was no evident tampering or payoffs (not to say that such efforts were not made). This trial was essentially over before it started when Steve Adams recanted his confession, as that would have served as the legally required corroboration of Orchard’s testimony. Without Adams, it is questionable if the trial should have even gone forward. If the case had been of lesser importance, and without the accompanying publicity, Judge Fremont Wood probably would have tossed it out.
Just like with the jury in that Boise courtroom in 1907, the law was also carried out as best it could be by Governor Steunenberg during 1899 in the Coeur d’Alene. Neither instance was without controversy. Influence pedaling, payoffs and questionable ethical procedures were evident on all sides. Idaho was a young state and we must evaluate these events against the law, the politics and the ethical guidelines (or lack thereof) that existed at the time and not the standards and law practices that exist today.
My great grandfather’s murder was a brutal senseless killing as were all those carried out by “dynamite” Harry Orchard. Orchard’s use of explosives as a terrorist tactic in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s provides an historical lesson that remains all too real and applicable well over a century later. I grieve not only over the cold bloodied murder of my family member–but for all of the death, mistreatment and suffering inflicted upon miners and other members of the so-called working class.
In July of 1907 twelve Idaho citizens, mostly farmers, withstood the greatest media blitz of the times and came back with the only verdict they could under the law. It certainly would have been easier and more popular in their home state to have done otherwise. Ultimately, even though found not guilty, the violent tactics of Big Bill Haywood were exposed and his influence diminished. Years later, he would flee to Russia, a fugitive from the very justice system that had served him so well in that Boise courtroom.
If Haywood had been found guilty and hanged, he would have become a martyr and a spark for further violence in Idaho and around the country. Governor Steunenberg died a martyr for law and order in 1905–a direct result of the murderous and revengeful views espoused by Big Bill Haywood. The processes, legal procedures and resources in place at the time were not always perfect and all sides suffered and made mistakes–but the decisions of Governor Steunenberg in 1899 and that Idaho jury in 1907 had to be made. In the end I believe each made the right decision and that the Governor would have felt proud that twelve fellow citizens followed the law…in that jury room…on July 28, 1907…in his beloved state of Idaho.
Lessons Learned
We cannot envision where we are going in our future unless we first look back at where we have been in our history. The suffering on all sides of the battle between labor and capital was intolerable by any standard of decency–but perhaps unavoidable at a time when law and order in the West was still in its infancy. A small number of greedy mine owners and zealous labor leaders took advantage of a group of miners who merely wished to make a reasonable, respectable and safe living for themselves and their families. Instead, they became the pawns in a bloody battle that cost many their lives and resulted in the revenge assassination of a resolute governor that believed in the necessity of establishing and maintaining law and order. None, the governor included, could claim sainthood–but all were the victims of a minority few who were driven by power, greed and violence.
It has now been one hundred years since the end of the Haywood trial. We cannot stand immune from the events of 1899-1907 as evidenced by the subsequent periods of labor unrest and violence that have occurred in the decades following that verdict on July 28th, 1907. Such clashes shall continue in the future if we allow greed in the boardrooms and legislative halls to prevail, the gap between rich and poor to grow, the flames of ethnic discontent to be fanned–and we fail to heed the historical lessons from a century ago in the state Idaho.