Saturday, January 19, 2008

What the Heck is an Emu-Z-Um Anyway? Silver City/Delamar, Idaho, Big Bill Haywood & "Are They Going to Hang My Papa."

Gary Eller (aka Pickle Butte) was looking for the long ago published labor balladAre They Going to Hang My Papa” written by Owen Spendthrift. Well low and behold he found a copy of the original music with a picture on the front of Henrietta Haywood--Bill Haywood’s young daughter. This is a very interesting old ballad which carried a political and labor message and appealed to one’s heartstrings by using the image of little Henrietta pleading for her father’s life. Whether it was truth or propaganda depends upon your view. You might remember that during the trial Clarence Darrow did a masterful job of using the whole Haywood family by having them attend every day with the sweet young daughter and invalid appearing wife "Nevada Jane" in full view of the jury. William Borah wanted to counter with a similar staging of the Steunenberg's but the widowed Belle Steunenberg would have nothing of it. She attended only part of one day and the children were nowhere to be seen. Julian, the governor's eldest son and my grandfather, appeared very briefly when called to testify regarding Harry Orchard's presence in Caldwell. The ballad was released not long after Haywood’s arrest (aka kidnapping) and distributed during the Haywood trial. At least that is my understanding and maybe others have more information. I have only seen one other original piece of this music before selling at a rather high price to a collector. Attached are some pictures courtesy of Gary. You can click on the pic to enlarge it.
So where did Gary uncover this gem..the ISHS, COI, BSU or UI Archives? Nope…this piece of history comes to us courtesy of the Emu-Z-Um. Now I thought “E” meant I was going to Google search and find a museum website with everything neatly scanned and available for my perusing. Well I had to use the phone instead and had a delightful conversation with Jack and Belva Lawson, the Emu-Z-Um owners. Jack and Belva don’t have no fancy electronics, scanners, computers or the like around their place although they had a little help getting a website going for advertising purposes. No email or surfing the web themselves. In fact, I imagine the only thing not old that gets into the Emu-Z-Um is a youthful paying customer. I picked up vibes of a confused look on some faces when I started talking about putting them up on my blog--but they graciously went along.
Another couple of nice items in Jack and Belva'a collection are two miner’s union ribbons from Silver City and Delamar that date to the Steunenberg/Haywood era and are in remarkable condition. These are highly sought after items that are rarely seen in this condition. Wonderful!
As often happens during these excursions, I also found out that they have a framed certificate or proclamation signed by Governor Steunenberg. Jack did not know the particulars but would welcome anyone to come in, take a look and get a few pictures. If someone does then I sure would be appreciative of a copy and maybe more specifics in terms of what exactly this document relates to. They also have a newspaper article published at the time of Governor Steunenberg’s assassination.
I have a hunch that you just never know what you might find at the Emu-Z-Um and it will on the top of my “got to visit” list during the next Idaho excursion.
Jack and Belva are delightful folks and gave me permission to use the attached photos that Gary took during his visit and to give out some information regarding this most interesting of places. Gary, thank you for your great sleuthing.
For more information on the Emu-Z-Um, go to the following site where you can find directions and also read an article written by Tim Woodward from the Idaho Statesman.
First verse from “Are They Going to Hang My Papa”
“Comrades can you tell me what flag it is that waves,”
The speaker thus addressed a motley crowd,
“Where law protects the millionaire to be obeyed by slaves?”
Rose a murmur then in chorus long and loud.
The meeting was assembled, the miners all were there.
Many protest resolutions had been read,
Through that tempest of confusion came a child with golden hair,
And sobbing, thus so pleadingly she said:
“Are they going to hang my papa? He is innocent, I know.
He never could do any wrong, he is so good and true.
It surely will kill dear mamma, and break by heart in two.
Are they going to kill my papa?” plead this babe with eyes of blue.”
I think I got that right. Here is a link to a NY Times article from May 5, 1907 that mentions the song being sung during a parade/protest/meeting on the streets.
Thank you to Jack and Belva at the Emu-Z-Um.
We hope Gary Eller and John Larsen might soon be doing a recording of "Are They Going to Hang My Papa."

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