Monday, February 25, 2008

Clarence Darrow to Professor Hugo Munsterberg - August 16, 1907..."You consorted and associated with the enemies of the defense...."

Click the pages to enlarge. This is a photocopy courtesy of Boston Public Library.
An interesting letter from Darrow to the Professor. As you may know, forensic psychology was still in its infancy. Munsterberg's examination of Orchard was one of the very earliest examples of its application in the courtroom and certainly created a great deal of controversy. As seen in this letter, Darrow had little use for the good professor or his theories about Orchard's testimony.

I also obtained what should be a 20 page document written by Hugo Munsterberg entitled "Experiments With Harry Orchard." Unfortunately, pages 9-14 and 16-18 are missing and not in the Boston Public Library archives. If anyone has information as to where complete copies of this document or others written my Munsterberg relating to the Haywood trial can be obtained then I sure would be interested in knowing. Thanks, John

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Martyr of Idaho by Frank W. Steunenberg - Uncle Frank's White Book and The Beatles White Album

September 4, 1983
"I want the world to know that when this story is mentioned I want them to be aware of the real hero of this story: my father, instead of the criminal who killed him. " Frank W. Steunenberg"

Click to Enlarge for viewing this old clipping from among my papers.

Martyr comes in two versions. The larger format "white one" and a smaller format light green cover. I have one of each. This white one of my Great Uncle Frank's is much harder to find then even the white album (with a vinyl record for those that remember) of the Beatles and generally sells at a higher price too. Beatles fans know what I am talking about. Being a fan of both, I am always on the hunt for what I call "the white ones". A little goofy I know and I hope Uncle Frank won't mind this boy from the 60's generation comparing the rare nature of his white one to that other white one. Being the forgiving man that he was, I don't think I will be in any hot water.

Though limited, I have very fond memories of my Great Uncle Frank. He is often referred to as Frank Jr. to delineate him as the son of the slain governor. However, Frank was technically not named a Jr. at birth. As with by great grandfather Frank Sr. and my grandfather Julian, he was (in my view as a young boy) a very caring, modest and unassuming man. I saw very little of him later in life...something that one always looks back at with regret. My Great Uncle Frank passed away August 12, 1990. He is survived by his daughters Beth and Alice. I have had the pleasure of spending some time with Beth during my recent trips to Idaho and reminiscing about her father and his brother/my grandfather Julian and our common Steunenberg kinship.

Now I can't wait until all the Beatles fans out there start doing Google and Blog searches and end up here!

Idaho Public Television DVD: Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century

Don't forget to pickup your copy of the DVD. Just go to the IPTV website listed over in the left hand side of this blog or click on and where it says "Purchase the DVD." Only $21.95 for a great historical program and support public television too (no, I don't get a percentage!).

I have added a few new pictures to that section toward the end of the blog and will continue to do so from time to time. If you have anything you would like to add then feel free to send it my way and I will try to accommodate. I still have tons of stuff to work my way through and will continue to post the occasional item of interest. John

Monday, February 18, 2008

"Pop" Frank Steunenberg to his son (my grandfather) Julian

March 16, 1905
Frank Steunenberg to Julian Steunenberg

...."You do not need to take sleeper (train) - I have crossed the continent twice without taking a sleeper and you certainly can ride one night in a chair car or coach."
It seems even as governor, Frank had taken the train to Washington D.C. and sat up all the way! Julian wasn't going to get away with paying for a sleeper car just to come back from Walla Walla/College Place, Washington (State) to Caldwell, Idaho. Click pics to enlarge.

Just over nine months later Frank Steunenberg would be assassinated.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"Harry Orchard Blows Up The Independence Colorado Train Depot"

1986, 48”x48”
Acrylic on Linen
John Boak

This is a painting by John Boak depicting the blowing up of the Independence Depot near Florence, Colorado. John has kindly provided a scan of the painting and permission to publish it on this blog. It is copyrighted material so please contact him to request permission if you intend to use the image. Sadly, a picture is all we have as the original was lost or stolen in New York City in 1988. If you ever see this painting, contact John at the above number or through his website as it would sure be great to see it recovered and back to its proper owner.

Subsequent to September 11th, 2001, many look at the painting and see not the often forgotten terrorist act of Harry Orchard from over 100 years ago, but rather the more recent tragedy of the Twin Towers that remains etched forever in our consciousness. Although the two events are unrelated in size, scope and international impact, they nonetheless are connected through time and intent. The Independence Deport depicts one of the earliest examples of the indiscriminate use of a massive explosion to kill large numbers of people. The goal…kill and maim as many as possible for the purpose of creating fear and terror and striking a blow to the “enemy.” The same was true then as it is now but of course we live in a world today where the tools of destruction are many times more deadly. I am reminded of the connection between these two events as I read the book Terrorism in the 20th Century by Jay Robert Nash (1998). The first chapter begins with the assassination of President William McKinley, the terrorism of Harry Orchard and the open warfare in the Rocky Mountains and other mining areas of Idaho and Colorado. The books ends with a discussion of more recent terrorist attacks instigated by groups such at the PFLP and the those led by the "publicity-seeking" Osama Bin Landen. The final paragraph of the book:

“As the twentieth century closes, the shadows of faceless terrorist lengthen throughout all countries. Until governments and law enforcement agencies develop better warning systems, improved technologies, and make the conscious decision to wage total war upon terrorists and their powerful organizations and sponsors, victims will continue to fall in records numbers.”

September 11th, 2001 was just around the corner when this book was written. It provides a good overview of terrorism through the years beginning with the likes of Harry Orchard and his supporters to the present day Osama Bin Laden and his radical followers. However, some of the books factual content here and there could probably be debated.

Below is a link to an essay by Jennifer Karey that compares and contrasts the events of 1904 and 2001 as we see them in John Boak's painting. I have been trying to contact Jennifer so if anyone runs across her then please let me know.


Above are some additional pictures of the aftermath of the explosion. Courtesy of Mark Boardman.

The West magazine. October, 1969

I have quite a few of these old magazines. Let me know if you want to see the rest of this article as happy to oblige. This article was written by Robert Grimmett, the author of Cabal of Death, a book I recommend to anyone with an interest in Harry Orchard and the labor and mining issues of that period. Click on the above pics to enlarge.

Now go back up and take another look at John Boak's painting from the event that occurred on June 6th, 1904 and then take a look at this photo below from 9/11/2001. I think no more need be said. John

Above from
Good pics but as usual don't even waste your time looking at the comments section on the above site.

Friday, February 8, 2008

"Bad Man" and/or "Hair Trigger" Bob Meldrum

Remember seeing this RPPC of mine elsewhere on the blog? This is from my mother's (Brenda Steunenberg Richards) old photo album and was used by Idaho Public Television on their website and also in the article A Case for Murder highlighted in the previous blog entry. At the foot of the stairs on the far right is Warden Whitney from the Idaho penitentiary and just to his left is a fellow by the name of Bob "Bad Man" Meldrum. Of course Harry Orchard is to Meldrum's left and up toward the top of the stairs is the more well known Charles Siringo.

So with the likes of Orchard and Siringo, what could be so bad about Bob? Anthony "Tony" Lukas described Bob pretty well.

Excerpts from Big Trouble...

"Meldrum was widely known as Hair Trigger Bob because of his habit of shooting men-armed and unarmed-on the smallest provocation. The wooden grips on his .44 Colt revolver bore fourteen notches, each representing a man he had taken down. A cocky little fellow-barely five food six and 140 pounds, with icy gray eyes glaring above a flamboyant mustache-he was especially truculent when drunk, which was often. He suffered no penalties for his gun play since most of it had been performed in the employ of law enforcement agencies or corporate clients. Formerly the town marshal of Dixon, Wyoming, a community notorious for its six-shooter free for alls, he worked of late for Colorado mine owners. Indeed, notches thirteen and fourteen were added to his gun during the Telluride skirmishing. He'd also teamed for a time with the notorious gunman and sometimes Pinkerton, Tom Horn. Meldrum was thus a classic example of that romantic but often misunderstood figure exemplified by the protagonist of Owen Wister's The Virginian, the seemingly free-spirited gunfighter who, in his lethal defense of property rights, played such a large role in imposing a new industrial and corporate order on the rambunctious West."

Continuing from Big Trouble with Haywood, Pettibone and Moyer en route to Idaho on the "kidnap special" train from Colorado...

"and Bob Meldrum, now (Buckeley) Well's orderly-cum-bodyguard. Once again, as at Telluride, Meldrum was putting his gunslinger skills at the disposal of the West's new corporate order. As he swung aboard the train, Haywood, Moyer and Pettibone recognized Hair Trigger Bob as their old adversary, a desperado ready at any moment to put a bullet through them."

"Haywood had plenty of opportunity to study Meldrum. Each of the prisoners, still in handcuffs, was watched closely at all times (even when he went to the toilet, it being feared that the fugitive might succeed in squeezing out the toilet window). Although guard assignments shifted, Meldrum seemed to keep his pale eyes on Haywood. "I never say a human face that looked so much like a hyena," Haywood recalled. ”His eyes were deep set and close together. His upper lip was drawn back, showing teeth like fangs."

And Meldrum and Siringo, working for the same side this time, meet up at the Idanha...

Picture to the right of the Idanha and Charles Siringo. From Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas.

"At times the spacious lobby (of the Idanha) didn’t seem large enough to contain all the gunslingers in the prosecution camp. One day, two of the deadliest-Charlie Siringo and Bob Meldrum-confronted each other by the mahogany bar. Hawley had imported Meldrum and his sidekick, Rudie Barthell, ostensibly under subpoena as prosecution witnesses, actually as insurance against federation "thuggery” or other contingencies. Ten years before, as sheriff of Carbon County, Colorado, Meldrum had pursued a gang of horse thieves headed by "Kid" Curry, while the Pinkerton's sent Siringo to infiltrate the bunch. Unaware of the desperado’s identity, Meldrum had almost killed Siringo. Now, as they eyed each other grimly, Meldrum's hand jumped toward his revolver pocket. "I've felt worst about not getting you than any man I ever missed," he growled. "It's all right, Bob," said Siringo. "I call it all off." Ultimately, they downed a whiskey together." (Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas, 1997).

As we can see, the shades of law and order were often difficult to distinguish in those days. Governor Gooding, Hawley, McParland and others had agreed to put the likes of Meldrum and Siringo on the payroll to counter any threats of labor violence. At times it was difficult to determine who was the greatest threat and who exactly represented law and order!

Here is a picture of Bob Meldrum's actual Colt courtesy of collector/dealer Kurt House. Kurt is another history buff as well as gun collector/seller that I ran across in my travels. We struck up a conversation and I found out he was a Bob Meldrum collector and had acquired one of Meldrum's Colt's for his collection.

From Kurt's description:

"This fancy, silver, engraved, ivory griped sidearm of Bob Meldrum's is a good example. Meldrum caused the demise of about 15 victims, was finally convicted of one charge and served in the Wyoming Penitentiary. This Single Action was sold to Hibbard, Spencer and Bartlett, Chicago, Illinois and shipped March 10, 1904 with four other guns without mention of engraving, although experts agree it was engraved by Cuno Helfricht of the Colt factory. It is silver plated, .45 caliber, with carved ivory steerhead grips, and is inscribed on the butt with initials "RDM." It was the property of Robert "Bad Bob" Meldrum who served in various capacities as a mine security guard, lawman, Pinkerton agent and hired gunman in Telluride, Colorado and around Baggs, Wyoming" (And as we know, Boise, Idaho too!). Kurt House Collection, Paul Goodwin Photo.

The pictures are from Kurt's 2008 Calendar of "Significant Colt Single Action Revolvers." Each month highlights a Colt of historical significance.

You can contact Kurt through his web page and/or email if interested in purchasing one of these great calendars.



More Meldrum:

Museum of Northwest CO. (scroll down for Meldrum)

Tom Horn's friend Bob Meldrum

9/15/2008 - From blog reader "Corn Chips Pie".
Just read your blog entry on Bob Meldrum, and thought you might be interested to know (if you don't already) that Thomas Pynchon's most recent novel, the 1085-page behemoth "Against The Day," focuses on the mining troubles in Colorado of a century ago. Good old "Hair-Trigger" Bob Meldrum is a character in the novel, though not a major one.

More Pics of Meldrum's Colt courtesy of Kurt House. You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

True West Magazine: A CASE FOR MURDER

Having gone through a couple of Blogger's own format changes and "updates", this and various pages became rather fragmented but still here. I cleaned it up a bit and one day I will get back here to perhaps redo the page. Photo's don't enlarge as they had been doing. 

Mark Boardman
"Mass bombings, revenge and labor upheavals come to a head at a murder trial 100 years ago"

This is an article written by Mark Boardman for the June 2007 edition of True West Magazine. Mark and True West have kindly provided their permission to allow it to be published on this site. Following the article is a letter to the editor that I wrote to thank Mark and to point out a few minor corrections. As we know, some corrections can be simple factual details and others fall more into the realm of interpretation. The complete letter was edited by True West (understandable as I was pretty long winded!) but I have included most of the content here. I did edit out some comments that I have already made elsewhere. You may recognize a few of the pictures as Mark had requested my input and some photographs. Thank you Mark for adding your part to the exciting events that have taken place in the past year. I will be back to comment more later. Click on each page/pic to enlarge for reading.

A couple extra pics provided by Mark. One showing the Independence Depot from the back side after the explosion from the bomb planted by Harry Orchard. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 "scab" miners killed and scores maimed. The other shows the troops moving in to restore order. (All pictures and the above article are provided and published courtesy of Mark Boardman and True West magazine). Check out the website at:

Letter to the Editor
May 19th, 2007
True West Magazine
I want to thank Mark Boardman for writing the article, A Case for Murder, published in the June edition of True West magazine. Mark and I had come across each other through that marketplace of the world–eBay–where we found ourselves bidding and driving up each others prices on some mining and labor memorabilia from around the year 1900. One thing led to another and we started emailing and discovered our mutual interest in the Steunenberg assassination and Haywood trial. I have a personal interest–being the great grandson of Governor Steunenberg–but I also have a broader fascination with all of the historical and legal aspects of those tragic times in the history of the West.
It was mentioned in the article that “he (Governor Steunenberg) caved to the pressure and decided not to run for re-election.” Yes, the governor’s democratic/populist coalition had disintegrated so rather then run again for a third term as governor, he pursued an unsuccessful bid for the 1900 democratic nomination to the U.S. senate. The talk was that he was positioning for another run in 1907. We shall never know.

In regards to William Haywood having “went to Moscow voluntarily”, the record shows that Haywood was convicted in 1918 along with other leaders of the IWW for conspiring to undermine the war effort. He spent a year at Leavenworth Prison before being released pending appeal of his sentence. Rather then face a court system that had been fair and just to him in 1907, Haywood chose to flee the United States in 1921 for exile in Russia where he died in 1928.
Under the “Trial on Exhibit” column on page 41 Mark mentions the Idaho State Historical Society (ISHS) Museum and their exhibit of trial artifacts. An interesting exhibit it is and I always feel a bit eerie as I look down at the tools of terror that ripped into my great-grandfather–shredding the skin from his bones as his children looked on. You can visit the ISHS website at here.

In addition to the many items at the ISHS, I would also direct readers to the Albertsons’ College of Idaho archives where now online is the largest available collection of papers and letters from the Steunenberg administration. Go to: (offline). Click on the upper left links under George L. Crookham Jr. Papers and you will be able to access many letters and documents related to the mining disputes in the Coeur d’Alene.

One correction I would like to offer is in regards to Mark's article is the information citing the Steunenberg monument located on the grounds of the now restored Oregon Short Line Depot at 7th and Main Streets in the city of Caldwell. The granite monument holds bronze relief portraits commemorating Governor Frank Steunenberg and his brother A.K. (not Ansel) Steunenberg. I have a hunch Mark saw “Ansel” in another document that I know had an incorrect citation. The initials A.K. actually stand for Albert Keppel. This monument was dedicated by the Steunenberg family and City of Caldwell in September of 2005–not by James Hawley in 1929. It carries the inscription “Make a mark, then stand aside.”

James Hawley did dedicate the Steunenberg statue that was created by artist Gilbert Riswold. It stands facing the capitol building in Boise and was formally dedicated by Hawley and others in a ceremony on December 11, 1927. It carries the following inscription: “When in 1899 organized lawlessness challenged the power of Idaho, he upheld the dignity of the state, enforced its authority and restored LAW AND ORDER within its boundaries, for which he was assassinated in 1905. Rugged in body, resolute in mind, massive in the strength of his convictions, he was of the granite hewn. In grateful memory of his courageous devotion to public duty, the people of Idaho have erected this monument.”

Correctly cited was the third monument–the large granite stone that marks the governor’s grave and the Steunenberg family plot at Canyon Hill Cemetery in Caldwell. I visited all these sites in 2005 and again this past March 2007 when I was in Boise to film a segment for Idaho Public TV’s production of the Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century. Look for that programs release in November of this year. For information go to:

If you have information, comments or questions related to these events, please feel free to contact me at:

Thank you to Mark and True West for providing us with a most interesting article during this 100th anniversary of the “Trial of the Century.”

John T. Richards Jr.

Los Osos, CA

Saturday, February 2, 2008

"The Weiser Wonder"

"It was wild country in those days. Whenever I go to the movies and see a picture showing so-called "hard-boiled westerners", I just think of Idaho back in 1906 and wish some of those Hollywood directors had been with me up there." -- Walter Johnson

This is a semi-pro baseball card of Walter Johnson-c 1906-1907 as a member of the Weiser Kids baseball team in Weiser, Idaho. Wish I could say this was my card but it's just a picture of one that sold recently. I am looking for the same but it will have to be at a more bargain price. The card is very rare as Johnson did not spend much time in Weiser, having quickly grabbed the attention of pro scouts. He also grabbed the attention of Clarence Darrow and others from the trial, with the train trip to Weiser or to the nearby games in Boise or Caldwell becoming a favorite break from the tension in that Boise courtroom. Darrow, suffering a bit of withdrawal from not being able to see his favorite Cubs (Chicago) was known to sneak off for a day at the ballpark. He found doing so a much more desirable pastime then preparing for his next trial argument. Although one would never know it from the quality of his oratory, Darrow tended to fly by the seat of his pants in the courtroom. This is not a criticism but rather an indication of his great talent. He appreciated great talent too and certainly Johnson provided it on the baseball diamond in the little town of Weiser, Idaho. 

This same picture of Walter Johnson was used in Big Trouble and is shown below with the accompanying caption:
"Walter Johnson is shown here in the uniform of the Kids of Weiser, seventy-five miles northwest of Boise, for whom he pitched in 1906-1907. Darrow and the trial's press corps flocked to his games. Soon the feats of this sensational young pitcher attracted major league attention, and before the trial was over, he'd been snatched up by the Washington Senators" (from Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas).
For further reading, you might want to check Walter Johnson: Baseball's Big Train by Henry W. Thomas