Saturday, July 26, 2008

Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century. Read more about the trial, the players & related events in history on "Footnote.Com." See previous post.

As you can see, I am still playing around with Theoretically (it has been a little quirky) you should be able to go to my link in the previous post and access any of the images I have saved. For those with automatic email notifications, when I enter a new post you may get an email with no image and just a never ending uploading circle. Not sure why that is or may be a way for footnote to control secondary links. Just delete the email as it looks like you found your way here.

I have found to be a pretty good research tool as my comfort level improves and I get more familiar with the website and various tools. I have located a lot of newspapers articles, the occasional picture, Haywood trial accounts, Idaho and Colorado mining and labor and some interesting Bureau of Investigation (later became the FBI) files. I will keep at it for awhile as only scratched the surface and will at least get my one month memberships worth.

To access some of my findings, go back to the previous post and click on "My Discoveries on Footnote" or the larger number you see. There are several pages of images so you will want to find the "Next" button just above the first image. Excuse any repeats as I seemed to have uploaded a couple extra IPTV DVD images and can't get them off of there. Oh well, more free advertising for public television and maybe a few more DVD sales.

Found on

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Below is the link to the "Footnote" website that I am using on a trial basis. It appears to be pretty good for research and locating files, images, newspapers, etc. For this blog, everything will generally be Idaho, Steunenberg and Haywood trial related. I just started with it and saved a few items that you can click on and view as long as my subscription is active. That may only be a short period of time as have not yet decided if I will pay the additional fee to continue more long term.

I cut and pasted my picture and profile from this blog into "Footnote" so skip that part as is the same. "Annotations" are items I saved with a label or comment, "Connections" are usually related items and "Spotlight" is any specific item that one wants to bring attention too. Today it is an article dated exactly 101 years ago (byline 7/20/1907 Boise, ID) from the Haywood trial. If you want to see all the items then just click on the "14" (or whatever # it is at the moment). The number will increase as more is added.

If you have been using "Footnote" or did previously (or even if this is your first visit) then I sure would appreciate some feedback. Thanks, John

Friday, July 18, 2008

Still on the Trail of Jack Simpkins............ Disappearing Dynamiter - What Happened to L. J. "Jack" Simpkins?

This is the forth recent post (see June 21, June 28 and July 13 or click on the links in the text below) related to Harry Orchard and more specifically his partner and co-conspirator Jack Simpkins. Evidence indicates Simpkins was in Caldwell, ID at the same time as Orchard but disappeared shorty before or after the murder of Governor Steunenberg. Simpkins was never again seen and little or no information has surfaced in the ensuing 100+ years.

The following article comes from True West Magazine and was written for the July 1988 edition by David Grover, author of Debaters & Dynamiters: The Story of the Haywood Trial. As you may know, David participated as an expert commentator in the production of Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century. It was with great pleasure that I had the opportunity to meet and chat with him following the premiere at the Egyptian Theater on November 7th, 2007 in Boise. You can see a picture among those at the end of the blog that shows my coveted copy of Debaters & Dynamiters (The Haywood Trial, Notable Trials Version) that I taken to get signed by David and other production participants.

Click on each page to enlarge.

To read the text of David's interview for the IPTV program, click on David Grover Interview.

Was Simpkins murdered to be silenced or did he somehow fade into the population never to heard from again? Perhaps he committed suicide as mentioned briefly in a small hidden article in the New York Times on 6/19/1907. See: On the Trail of Jack Simpkins - A Suicide? Or was he connected in some way with the alleged identify switch that was described my a Mr. O'Reilly in letters discussed in my June 21st post, Was That Harry Orchard In the Idaho Pen? We really don't know and may never know for sure. I do not believe any switch occurred or that anyone but the real Harry Orchard/Albert Horsely spent all those years in the Idaho pen until his death in 1954. Simpkins, a member of the executive committee of the Western Federation of Miner's (WFM), was probably in Caldwell to keep an eye on Orchard and make sure he accomplished the objective―assassinating my great grandfather. However, I imagine Simpkins exited the scene quickly before getting any blood directly on his hands and to avoid arrest.

Justice Byron Johnson expressed some skepticism about Harry Orchard's testimony because of it's "flawlessness" and that perhaps he was giving the wrong or not the whole story about Simpkins. With the utmost respect, I disagree with Byron on that point in terms of the overall accuracy of Orchard's testimony although undoubtedly there are some minor points of dispute or omission. Yes, Orchard had definitely been interviewed, interrogated, rehearsed and deposed as much as any witness in history. Probably so much so that it did often sound like he was reading a "narrative" what with all the repetition of his statements, the original written confession, McClure's magazine publication of it in serial form and the then soon to be released book The Confessions and Autobiography of Harry Orchard. Intelligent, calm, cold and calculating―that was Orchard both when it came to committing murder and giving testimony. He stood up incredibly well to the lengthy cross examination by Elliott Richardson. I do wish that Darrow had been given the opportunity to handle the cross examination and get more of a crack at Orchard but in the end it probably made little difference. Richardson was certainly no slouch in terms of his own legal skills.

Another interesting but tragic event in 1907, with a Haywood Trial and perhaps Jack Simpkins connection, was the murder of Sheriff Harvey Brown of Baker County, Oregon. The sheriff happened to be in Caldwell at the time of the governors assassination and assisted with the investigation. He was scheduled to testify at the Haywood trial when he too was blown up by a dynamite bomb planted at the gate to his home. Sound familiar? perhaps the missing Jack Simpkins had information about or some involvement in that crime too. Read more about it at: 1907 Bomb Murder Of Sheriff Harvey Brown.

Jack Simpkins may have lived out his life hidden somewhere in South America far out of the limelight and under a different name. If their is anyone that Mr. O'Reilly came across that was connected to the murder, it it more likely to have been Jack Simpkins rather then Harry Orchard. I think Judge Johnson and I agree on that point. See the June 28th post: Judge Byron's Johnson's take on those letters...was it the mysterious and missing L.J. "Jack" Simpkins? No direct evidence exists to support either theory.

Click here to again view the full text of Byron's interview with IPTV: Byron Johnson Interview.

Be it dead or alive―Haywood, Moyer and Pettibone certainly did not want McParland to have any chance to question Simpkins regarding the inner workings of the executive committee of the WFM. Either killing Simpkins or paying him off and hiding him away were the available options. Had McParland been given a chance to work on Simpkins as he did Orchard, the corroborating evidence that was missing from the Haywood trial might well have been available and we would know more about the role of all the participants (or at least have more testimony and information to debate) leading up to that evening of December 30th, 1905.

So Jack Simpkins remains an enigma. What exactly was his level of knowledge and participation in this story? Where and why did he disappear never to be seen or heard from again? We may never know all the answers but we have all seen examples of information coming to light many years after a crime has been committed...even 100+ years later. It is what keeps Judge Johnson and I and other amateur historians and sleuths looking for that one shred of evidence―a faded letter or memory―that might shine some light on the dark and mysterious role Simpkins played in my great grandfathers murder.

Jack Simpkins....Still a Wanted Man!

As of this writing, I was referred by one county coroner's office jurisdiction to another in Colorado regarding the existence of any 1907 records related to the small New York Time's article in the previous post alleging Simpkins suicide. If any of my Colorado friends can dig anything up related to Simpkins then have at it. When and if anything is found you will find it here on the blog.

**As a courtesy that I always try to extend, I have attempted to contact David Grover and True West magazine but have not received any response and/or objection to the use of this material for educational purposes on this blog. The material is over twenty years old and I am not aware of any copyright issues for non-commercial educational use. If any are brought to my attention then I will be happy to remove the offending portion.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

On the Trail of Jack Simpkins - A Suicide?

New York Times, June 19, 1907. This small mention in the NYT was not very definitive. Anyone have more information? It looks like the trail will be taking me to the coroner's office in Fort Collins, Colorado to see what kind of records were kept in 1907. I will let you know what I find.

And that is again the Pinkerton wanted poster from Big Trouble shown on the right.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Woman Suffrage by Governor Frank Steunenberg, Harper's Bazar, May 26, 1900

I previously posted the text of the following article that I had found online. See Sunday, January 6, 2008: Woman Suffrage in Idaho by Governor Frank Steunenberg

Subsequent to the above post, I was able to locate and purchase this very hard to find original of Harper's Bazar from May 26, 1900 containing the article. The cost was a bit over the 10 cents cover price! It is in exceptional condition for its age. The state of Idaho, and I am happy to say Governor Steunenberg, were very progressive in terms of the suffrage movement. Check it out and if you would like a higher resolution scan of it just let me know.

Also see: An Introduction to the Woman's Suffrage Movement

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Idaho Public Television "SONG" Page

Hello All. Hope you are gearing up for a fun but safe 4th of July weekend. What with all the fires raging in our state (CA), I would just as soon folks leave the fireworks alone and go only to the professionally staged shows. Undoubtedly we will still have more fires sparked by the unsafe and careless use of fireworks around our tender dry brush. Be careful out there.

This is just a quick note to let you know that Idaho Public Television (IPTV), courtesy of web guru Rick Penticoff, has added a new page to the Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century website. Thanks to the continuing efforts of Gary Eller and a few friends (see individual song credits), you will want to visit the new "Songs" page. Here you will see a sampling of historical music related to the assassination and trial, some of which has been previously mentioned on this blog. It has been fun and gratifying to follow along with Gary as he continues to preserve and record historical music. For more information, check out the Bona Fida/Pickle Butte website. No doubt I will be doing a more detailed entry later down the road and I bet we can expect an album from Gary and the gang in the not too distant future.

So take a listen and while on the IPTV site don't forget to order up your copy of the DVD if you have not yet done so. I reckon a lot of folks have already as I see that the regular link from the "Assassination" page for purchasing the DVD is not currently active. That might be because they ran out of DVD's (a good thing!). However, do not despair as you can still go to to place an order. A new batch is due in and scheduled to be available for shipping August 5th. Only $21.95 and you don't have to pay twice that amount to put gas in the tank to get to the theater. Better get your order in quick!

Enjoy the music.