This blog contains history, photos, etc. related to Idaho from the late 1800's/early 1900's. My mother, Brenda Steunenberg Richards, was born in ID. Much of it pertains to the assassination of my great grandfather, Gov. Frank Steunenberg, the trial of Bill Haywood & grew out of the 100 year commemorations of those events. Along the way I toss in a bit of the Wild West, old guns, radios, military, etc. Your comments are welcomed. If using my images, please just ASK. Thank you.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Frank Steunenberg to son Julian - February 2, 1905
I love this old letter written on original Idanha Hotel letterhead. It
conjures up a picture of Frank sitting down in the Idanha lobby or
perhaps in his room during a visit to Boise. It is more personal in
nature then the letters of government and business and I hesitated a bit
before sharing it with the world. However, it is important to see Frank
Steunenberg not only in the role of governor and martyr, but to get a
glimpse of him as husband and father. Here we see that Frank dealt with
similar issues that most of us as parents have experienced with our
children (a child away at college, behavior, grades, lack of
My grandfather Julian was a bit of an impetuous lad and had not applied himself to his studies while living with the family in Caldwell. He appeared to be slipping down the same road as a student at Walla Walla College. Although Julian went on to a lifelong membership in the Adventist Church,
he was less then enthusiastic (as was his father) about it at this
point in his life and with having been sent away to "that missionary"
school in Walla Walla, Washington.
Steunenberg, by 1905 a very active and devoted member of the Adventist
Church, apparently insisted that Walla Walla College would be the chosen
institution at which young Julian would continue his education. Many of
the Steunenberg’s had been members of the Presbyterian Church and more
closely associated with Dr. Boone and the College of Idaho.
Belle’s conversion to a then new and very small sect of Adventists no
doubt raised tensions within the family and probably to some extent
within Frank’s circle of personal, business and political friends and
this letter, we leave behind the difficult decision making of a
governor and see the sometimes equally challenging role of father and
husband. Unfortunately, I do not have what apparently was a letter
written by Julian to which Frank is responding. Julian's "physical
condition" seems to be interfering with his studies and we see the firm
fatherly advice of Frank basically telling him to get over it! My
guess is that Julian may have already been bitten by the love bug from a
young Francis Beardsley Wood…hence his “physical condition" and lack of
attention to his studies. Francis of course would later become Julian's
wife and my beloveded grandmother. She would help restore stability and
happiness after the shattering experience of his father’s brutal murder
just eleven months after this letter was written.
"Remember, you are but a boy, and if you live, you will have many, many more years of mature life in which not only to plan, but to do."