Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Click Here for Today In History

Browse the blog, the archives and the many links for more of the related history. Click on the picture below to read this 1905 news article.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Clarence Darrow aka Gary Anderson

Just so you don't lose track of our friend Clarence Darrow (aka Gary Anderson), he is still out there providing us with great oratory but has left CA for for the friendly confines of Dillon, Montana. Below is Darrow's updated contact information. There should be plenty of miners and unions around Dillon that can benefit from having Darrow in the neighborhood.

Click Steunenberg (aka me) and Darrow (aka Gary) to see us "loafing" at the Idaho Pen the day after the Egyptian Theatre premiere of Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century.

Clarence Darrow changing email/website/phone

Hi Everyone and Happy Holidays,

My wish for all of us is a well funded and prosperous new year in which the country can once again thrive.

Please note:

1. new email address please delete my prior address of

2. new website and domain name
The other domain name of is no longer.

3. new phone number 406-925-0718.

Thanks for staying in touch and for your support and encouragement.

Gary Anderson,CEO
The Clarence Darrow Foundation.
A 32 year-old, 501(c)(3)non profit
public charity dedicated to the
perpetuation of the legacy and
ideals of Clarence Darrow.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Day 1905

This is a repeat of a previous Christmas season post. Perhaps it will become a yearly tradition, as it is one of my favorite passages from Big Trouble. I always know there will be new readers discovering it for the first time and family and friends that won't mind reading it again.

“At noon on Christmas Day, the governor and Belle attended the traditional family dinner at A. K.’s house. The hustling young entrepreneur and his family occupied an imposing Colonial Revival mansion, its great front portico supported by three Tuscan columns, approached by a new cement sidewalk on North Kimball Avenue, where the city’s “quality” clustered in the lee of the Presbyterian Church.”

Photograph circa 2007. In need of further restoration.

“….a gracious A.K. welcomed the boisterous clan beneath his portico. No fewer than thirty Steunenbergs gathered around the heavily laden table, headed by the seventy-two year old patriarch, Bernardus, a shoemaker by trade, a Mexican War veteran who’d come west from Iowa to join his children earlier that year. Seven of his ten offspring were there that afternoon: five sons—Frank; A.K.; Pete, the most raffish of the brothers, a part-time printer who sometimes dealt cards at the Saratoga; Will and John, lifelong bachelors and partners in a shoe store (“Fitters of Feet,” they called themselves) just behind the Saratoga—and two daughters—Elizabeth (“Lizzie”), married to Gerrit Van Wyngarden, a Caldwell contractor who’d built both Frank’s house and the new Caldwell Banking and Trust building, and Josephine (“Jo”), at thirty-four still unmarried, who made a home for John, Will, and Bernardus at her commodious house on Belmont Street, while finding time to repair Franks’ shirts as well. The “plump” and jolly” A.K. played Santa at his own festivities, distributing elaborately wrapped gifts to all the children.”
--Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas

Of course, the family could never imagine that this would be Frank's last Christmas at his brother A.K's, with only five days remaining until the tragic events on December 30th, 1905. A reminder to us all...enjoy the day as you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Click here to see a blog post about the home of A.K. and Carrie Steunenberg.

Click here to see the 1880 Census entries for the Steunenberg family.

Google Street View.

From our family to yours, we wish you a Happy Holidays and a Healthy and Prosperous 2010.

John, Cindy and Caley Richards

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Governor Steunenberg's changing views of Boise and the Capitol building.

January 9th, 2010 will mark the completion and re-dedication of the remodeled and restored Idaho Capitol building. If you are in or around Boise on the 9th, be sure to stop on in for a look see and maybe send me a picture or two. Hopefully, I will get a chance to visit in the spring or summer. See previous blog post from Saturday, September 19, 2009: Capitol Restoration

Watching over the capitol building for 82 years has been the statue of Governor Frank Stueunenberg, dedicated on 12/11/1927. In the real photo postcard above, note the cars in the distance and the lack of any vegetation around the statue in the middle of the round circular area. Click on the photo to enlarge for viewing. We can see the Federal Building to the immediate right and the Egyptian Theatre further up on the corner of Capitol Blvd. (7th Street at that time I believe) and Main Street. As many of you know, the Egyptian is where the premiere of Idaho Public Television's production of Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century took place. You all have supported public television and purchased your DVD of the program...right? Makes a great Christmas gift and you might even see me flash across the screen for a few seconds in a couple of appearances. Straight ahead up Capitol Blvd., in the very far distance, is the faint outline of the Union Pacific Depot.

Here is a a slightly later view. Shrubbery and flowers have been planted around the statue and some of the larger trees along Bannock Street have been removed. Still circa 1930's I would guess?

And here we see the shrubbery around the statue has matured, the Egyptian is now the Ada Theatre (and would change later back to the Egyptian) and cars appear to be from the 1930's-40's.

Above photos from the collection of John T. Richards.

Click here for another view taken from the capitol dome that can been seen on the ISHS webite. Appears from the automobiles and more mature trees to be maybe late 1940's/early 1950's.

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

Coming up soon! Frank's changing views looking toward the Capitol Building over the years.
Other Related Links Below
Idaho Capitol Commission
Welcome To Idaho's State Capitol

Wikipedia - Idaho State Capitol
Territorial Capitol
Arthur Hart Straightens Me Out

Thursday, December 10, 2009



Click on photo to utilize Footnote viewer for reading and enlarging.

Includes an interesting article based on an interview of Eveline "Belle" Steunenberg.

"Nevada Jane" Haywood, the grieving wife at the Boise trial, left Big Bill crying in the end.

--The Chicago Tribune, August 16, 1921

Click on picture for larger and clearer view.

Nevada Jane - Utah Phillips

"I thought the world of that man. But nothing mattered as much to him as the labor movement. For it, he gave up his God, his country, his wife and two children. . .everything!"
--Nevada Jane Haywood


Click on image to enlarge and use Footnote viewer.


Don't you cry now!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Diamondfield Jack innocent, says today's Cassia prosecutor

Jack was saved from the gallows when his death sentence was stayed by the parole board and Governor Steunenberg. He was later pardoned by the parole board and Steunenberg's successor, Governor James Hunt.

Another short article of interest from Steve Crump over at the Times-News Magic
Click on link below.

Diamondfield Jack innocent, says today's Cassia prosecutor

More: Click on the article below to see how Jack makes out after being pardoned and released from prison.


Diamondfield Jack: A Study in Frontier Justice by David Grover

And you might remember David Grover as also the author of Debaters and Dynamiters and a special guest at premiere night (see below).

Monday, June 29, 2009
More of Premiere Night - Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Home / News YOU DON'T SAY:

Click Below:
Bad, bad Harry Orchard became a turkey enforcer

The above article is referencing the recent blog post:
A Lot of Turkeys at the Old Idaho Penitentiary

Sunday, November 22, 2009

1880 Census - Knoxville, Iowa-Steunenberg Family

Click on the image and be taken to my Fold3 Spotlight for enlarging and better viewing.

1880 Census - Knoxville, Iowa-Steunenberg Family

Bernardus and the ten Steunenberg Children are entered on lines 4 through 14 of this 1880 Census document. 4.Bernardus, 5.Delia, 6.William (Will), 7.John, 8.Frank (future Governor), 9.Albert (AK), 10.Charles (sometimes known as Pete), 11.George ("The Major"), 12.Elizabeth (Lizzie), 13.Josephine, and 14.Jennie "Grace."

Under "Profession, Occupation...", Bernardus, William and John are listed as Shoemakers, Delia as a Housekeeper ("Keep House") and Frank as a Typesetter ("Sets Type").
Cornelia Steunenberg

Mother died leaving her family of ten (Cornelia Keppel Steunenberg died 6/5/1876 jr.). Grace, myself, the baby was then nine months old. The brunt of the care of the family and household fell upon the shoulders of Delia, a girl of twenty-two, and the oldest of the children. She used a forty-eight pound sack of flour a week to keep this growing family supplied with excellent homemade bread. She at once assumed the role of mother to the baby. My brothers say she spoiled me and maybe she did, but she made a wonderful substitute for a mother. With the help of the older children, she and my father kept the family together. Father never remarried.
--Grace Steunenberg Crookham, 1945, Keppel Family History

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Officially today KJ6DOV

Kilo Juliet Six Delta Oscar Victor (NATO Phonetic Alphabet)

Shopping for radio equipment and you know what is on my Christmas list now.

Silent Key
Cal Steunenberg

Click below:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day & Update on my Mother, Brenda Steunenberg Richards

I have been neglecting the blog a bit in recent weeks. As some of the family already know, my ninety-one year old mother, Brenda Steunenberg Richards, has been quite ill and in a local hospital for about a month. The time and energy usually devoted to writing and research has given way to emotional stress and the need to focus on her recovery. Mother/Brenda has progressed through surgery, intensive care and the direct observation unit at a local hospital. As of yesterday, she has moved to a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility. We continue to see returning flashes of spirit and feistiness as she battles on through a very challenging ordeal. As I speak today, mom is doing as well as one can expect, but with a long ways yet to go before hopefully regaining a reasonable level of strength and independence. At ninety-one, we are always mindful that each day of quality time is a gift that can slip from our grasp in the flash of a moment. Please feel free to email me if you are a family member or friend and wish to have more specific information.

Today is of course Veterans Day. I had planned to review the history of another Steunenberg family Veteran but just haven't gotten there. As always, we must remind ourselves of their many past and present sacrifices. I continue to witness the still evident struggles of some of our Vietnam era vets that trickle in through my office door seeking rehabilitation services. No family is left untouched in some way by the consequences of war and conflict.

I am also reminded again of my Uncle Cal, Sargent Cal Steunenberg, U.S. Army Signal Corp., who served in the Pacific during WWII. You might recall that I had written about his military service and some sixty years as a Ham Radio Operator, W6WFV. At the time of that blog post, the memory of Uncle Cal had rekindled childhood interests in radio that he had sparked in me as a kid. Well, Uncle, perhaps a little late, but I finally made it. I past both the Technician and General class exams last week and currently await the Federal Communication Commission's assignment of my call letters. I am shopping for radios and will hopefully be on the air soon. W6WFV, please stand-by.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


If you haven't visited the Library of Congress website, among the many great items to see are a large collection of panoramic photographs. Above is the famous intersection of Seventh and Main in Caldwell, ID that we have talked about elsewhere on this blog. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Go to the Library of Congress American Memory website and Panoramic Photographs. You can search for many other Idaho locations or any place of your liking. I tried posting the links but they were set by the Library of Congress to be temporary only. You will have to go to the website and do your own search.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Independence Depot Blown-up June 6, 1904

I love it when I find these old cards with a written account of an event on the very day that it happened. Click on the picture to enlarge.

C.C.C. (Cripple Creek Colorado) 6-6-"04 (1904)
Dear Mother:
Think of this dastardly deed. Stella has just written you. Our neighbors are all in here this A.M. and we could not hear how Len was and it was terribly agonizing at last at 8 o'clock John telephoned he was all right. I would help hang such fiends they ought to be tied to a stake and tortured for weeks and I would help do it.

On June 6, 1904, there was a horrific explosion at the Independence Depot. Thirteen non-union men were killed — some of them mutilated — and six more were injured. Sheriff Robertson rushed to the scene, roped off the area, and began an investigation.
--Wikipedia - Colorado Labor Wars

Harry Orchard Blows Up the Independence Colorado Train Depot

Who Blew Up the Independence Depo

Orchard Tells of his Crimes

Address, stamp and postmark from the same postcard.
Mailed from Cripple Creek CO. on June
7, 1904 and arrived Ann Arbor Mich. June 9, 1904.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Lot of Turkeys at the Old Idaho Penitentiary

The penitentiary prisoners, as seen in the photograph from an original 1924 Nature Magazine, raised and tended a large flock of turkeys destined for Thanksgiving tables. Click on the picture to enlarge for better viewing.

My understanding is that Harry Orchard assisted with the turkeys although was generally more associated with chickens. A turkey or a chicken, either one seems to fit for Harry.

The men seen in the photograph are not identified. I don't think that is Harry in the foreground but I do see a stripe down the side of the prison issue britches. Let me know if you recognize this person. The faces of the others are not visible. I imagine most of the men are prisoners. The one on the horse doesn't appear to be a guard, but perhaps the man standing in the middle of the road, and seemingly not involved in the work, is one. Hard to tell. I see some good herding dogs out there too.

That looks to be the current "Old Penitentiary Road" that comes off of Warm Springs Avenue leading back to the pen.

More Idaho Penitentiary

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Harry Orchard Sighting?

We have now been researching and debating for over a hundred years the conspiracy theory implicating (or not depending upon your view) Bill Haywood, George Pettibone and Charles Moyer in the murder of Governor Steunenberg. Most everyone, regardless of their view on the above matter, accepts that Harry Orchard/Albert Horsley was the actual bomb maker and murderer. However, another conspiracy theory has floated around from time to time regarding Harry Orchard's true identity. Did Orchard actually spend the rest of his life in the Idaho Penitentiary or was that someone else? Was he given freedom in exchange for his testimony and secretly released and relocated to another part of the country? Such a theory is certainly an intriguing one, right up there with the second shooter on the grassy knoll (Kennedy), but I have yet to come across any evidence to substantiate it--just hearsay. You may or may not be aware that this matter was actually given at least cursory attention by the Bureau of Investigations (today known as the FBI) back in 1918-1921. The documents posted here comprise six letters in an FBI file related to Harry Orchard.

A letter from a S.P.D. Long (top right) dated March 29, 1918 and sent to Sharp & Irvine Co., references and quotes an enclosed letter (but that actual letter is not in the file I obtained). Click on the letters to enlarge for reading. To quote S.P.D. Long:

"Writer requests addressee to forward the enclosed letter to the Governor of Idaho, stating that his reason for asking this favor is 'I don't want any police officer or detective to get wise to where I am at, if they did they may work a trick on me and get the man and the reward too.'

In letter enclosed to Governor of Idaho, writer requests information if there is a reward offered for HARRY ORCHARD, who assassinated Governor Studenburger (sic) and if there is such and the Governor will arrange to pay the reward to me' he can give very definite information about the man Orchard that will lead to his arrest and identification. Writer request the Governor to send him, pictures of the man referenced to, full description mentioning marks and scars if any, all of which will help in the arrest.

Writer informs addressee that he knows this man ORCHARD well stating that 'the Dirty Black hearted cur' is employed by the German Ambassador as a spy, an all around 'bad man' to do England and the United States up and that he is going to do him (ORCHARD) and get the reward of $20,000 (or maybe it is $50,000 j.r.) and 'whack up' with addressees---signed himself 'Your old friend and client-S.P.D. Long.'"

If I am looking at and understanding correctly (no guarantee), this S.P.D. Long is the person that alleges he knows Orchard, wrote the referenced letter to the governor of Idaho and the letter shown and quoted above to Sharp & Irvine Co. Brokers.

Moses Alexander would have been governor of Idaho at the time the letters were written. The other two letters above from 1918 show the follow-up correspondence that took place.

Also included in the FBI file is a letter dated August 16th, 1921 from someone by the name of "Harry Orchard", written on the persons business letterhead and regarding a request for a passport. Two other agency followup letters from 1921 are included. It would seem very unlikely that a notorious killer would go out and establish a business, advertise on letterhead under the name of Harry Orchard and request a passport if in fact he was the person convicted for the murder of Governor Steunenberg and a score of others. In addition, the signature on the letter does not match the signature of "our" Harry Orchard. I have seen a similar letter with the same business name and address before.

The series of reports/letters shown in this post were sent during the years of 1918 and 1921. The issue of Harry Orchard's identify would crop up again in 1939. It is a topic in which Justice Byron Johnson had taken a great interest and first brought it to my attention. See: Was that Harry Orchard in the Idaho Pen?

Although I have seen no substantiating evidence, I try to remain open-minded, follow the trails wherever they might lead and welcome any evidence that might shed new light on these events.

The documents above were all found on where I have an account. You can get limited access to the items I have saved but have to be a paying member to fully navigate the site.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Some excellent comments regarding the "illusive truth"

This is too much good stuff to leave it buried in the guest book where folks don't always check. It is the type of thoughtful and intelligent exchange that I encourage and enjoy receiving. Challenges the thinking a bit. You may want to go check the previous guest book comments. is signed C.D. The first person that makes me think of is Clarence Darrow. Clarence, you out there? Hopefully C.D. and I can connect up more directly sometime. Thank you for you comments. I will probably have more to say later. John

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Sign My Guestbook".

Let me first state unequivocally: I admire your extensive desire to apprehend the illusive truth presented to us through historical documentation and to present your findings in an apparently professional, unbiased fashion. You do credit to Idaho, historians everywhere and your felled ancestor.

Now, in regards to your post, I must admit a bit of confusion on my part when you state explicitly that you try and “focus on factual information as much as possible and pay particular attention to the source material of articles, books and periodicals from that period (my emphasis).” Yet only a few lines later you apparently refute your own statement when you write that “while viewing” such source material, you do so with “great skepticism (regarding) the various accounts that have been written by those with an ax to grind, a political agenda or a particular view” and that the information from such material may “not necessarily” be “factual.”

Job Harriman of course was a prominent leftist activist who even ran as a Vice Presidential candidate for the Socialist ticket and the “Criminal record of the Western Federation of Miners, Coeur d’Alene to Cripple Creek” was compiled under the vigilant gaze of the Mine owners Association of Colorado, so I agree that at least those two sources are bound to be slanted. Grover and Lukas share your intense desire to be professional as good historians are, passing as little judgment as possible on events seen as long since settled.

Yet here I find myself asking you- are they settled? If regular American citizens were more informed about the events which led up to the “bull pens,” if they were educated more completely about the Colorado labor wars in the 1880s and 90s and especially about Ludlow, how would that change current dialogues about labor and management? If high school reading included titles such as Germinal or The Harbor (or The land of Plenty) and not Animal Farm, 1984 or the incomplete reading of The Jungle, would the public hold different opinions? Most of the resources available that you rely upon from the time period were unabashedly supportive of the Capitalist Class, which directly controlled such entities as the “mainstream” press and publishing agencies, the National Guard, Federal troops, the Courts and the police and private investigation agencies.

What am I saying to you? Do I think your blog is pushing an agenda? No. Are you impartial? Yes. Will anything which transpires between you and I through this blog change one iota of what people think and do in the future? Maybe. And that’s why I’m interested in your work. You have a great deal of dedication to your craft and that is commendable, but remember that just because there are (at least) two sides to every argument, it doesn’t mean that both have equal merit. What happened in that Court room in 1907 has been going on for centuries, right up to the current Supreme Court case: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The powerful must continually extend their influence or risk stagnation and death, while the weak must struggle to maintain their rights to freedom from fear and want, and even, as the mothers and children in Ludlow discovered, simply to stay alive.

At the end of the day, I think your research is interesting and view you as a colleague despite anything else. All the best in your future work.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Five Dimes so far.....

I was wrong about not making a dime. I've raked in .50 cents since my posting yesterday! Well, I guess that is .50 cents more then I got for all the thousands of writing and research hours put into this blog.

I am still working out a few kinks but keep subscribing and checking my Boise Examiner site.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


April 2020 Update: Unfortunately, the COI has completely closed its archives in Sterry Hall and placed the "Steunenberg Family Collection" (formerly The Crookham Papers) in storage. There is no campus archives at the current time.Several years ago the documents had been removed from offline and remain so. No explanation or plans have been announced. Archivist Jan Boles has retired. 

Fortunately I have scans of all the Steunenberg Family Documents that had originally been placed online.

You may not need it, but in case you have missed the links, I am using a main post for a little promotion of the College of Idaho archives. There you will find the George L. Crookham, Jr. Papers, a collection of Steunenberg administration documents and family letters related to the Coeur d'Alene mining issues, Harry Orchard and the assassination of Frank Steunenberg.

Non-family folks, might ask...what's the Crookham-Steunenberg connection? Well that goes way back to 1900, when Jennie "Grace" Steunenberg married George Lenox Crookham, Sr. Grace was the youngest sister/sibling of Governor Frank Steunenberg and George was the founder of the Crookham Seed Co. in Caldwell. Each had a great interest in their community and family history. Grace completed the detailed work of an early genealogy of the Steunenberg/Keppel family lines that still serves as an invaluable tool today. Fortunately, Grace and George held on to to all the letters, documents, diaries and other items in their possession from the Steunenberg administration and family. Their son, George Jr., went on to be head of the Crookham Seed Co., took up the reins of family historian and was very active in local politics and the community. He had a knack for story telling and writing about the local family history that I wish I could match--but can't. Fortunately, I am glad to say that I got in on at least one of Cousin George's historical bus tours of Caldwell. Wish I had done a few more. George Jr. and Bernice Crookham, had two children, William "Bill" Crookham and Judy Crookham Krueger. Cousins Bill and Judy have carried forth the interests in our family history, and through their efforts, the many documents that survived the years have come to rest at the COI Archives (see below) and remain for our research and enjoyment today.

Documents from the administration of Idaho Gov. Frank Steunenberg (1-28-1897 to 12-27-1900)
  • Steunenberg family letters (1-8-1904 to 1-13-1906)
  • Correspondence from Idaho Gov. F.W. Gooding and Albert E. Horsley/Harry Orchard to Charles B. Steunenberg (4-17-1908)
The Crookham Papers comprise the largest known private collection of documents from the administration of Frank Steunenberg, fourth governor of the State of Idaho (1897-1901).
Gov. Frank Steunenberg (1861-1905) was a pivotal figure in the labor strife in the late 1890s in the northern Idaho mining district known as the Coeur d’Alenes. The district had previously experienced violence in the early 1890s, soon after Idaho achieved statehood. At that time, after the Idaho National Guard was called in along with federal troops, order was restored but peace was not: it was more of a cease fire. The mass arrests, and the herding of men into temporary enclosures known as “bull pens,” resulted in simmering resentment among the laboring class.

By the end of the decade, disputes over wages and working conditions erupted into rioting and bombings. Gov. Steunenberg, himself a member of the typographical union, was forced to declare martial law and call in troops in hopes of controlling the violence. However, the Idaho National Guard was on duty in the Philippines, so Gov. Steunenberg had no recourse but to send a request to President William McKinley for federal troops. The soldiers ordered to Idaho, the Army’s Twenty Fourth Infantry Regiment, were members of one of four black units in the service. Called Buffalo Soldiers, these were the troops who once again made mass arrests, confining hundreds of miners and their supporters in the hated bull pens.

This labor unrest in both Idaho and Colorado became known as the Mining Wars. Miners eventually returned to work, but certain labor elements carried a lingering grudge against Gov. Steunenberg for his actions. After retiring from office, Frank Steunenberg resumed his business interests in Caldwell. Five years later, on December 30, 1905, he was mortally wounded when he opened the side gate to the yard of his home triggering a dynamite bomb. He died soon after, but family members immediately assumed the crime was an act of revenge by lawless elements from North Idaho.

Captured within hours and confronted with overwhelming evidence, a former miner named Albert E. Horsley (also known as Thomas Hogan and Harry Orchard) soon confessed to being the bomber. Ensuing events resulted in the arrest in Colorado of a trio of officials of the Western Federation of Miners. Extradited to Idaho under questionable legal procedures, these three men, implicated by Orchard as conspirators in the assassination of Frank Steunenberg, would be incarcerated in Boise for nearly a year and a half before their trials began. During this 16-month period, WFM officers William (Big Bill) Haywood, Charles H. Moyer, and George A. Pettibone would become household names as a feeding frenzy of press interest brought international attention to Boise.

Continuing coverage kept the world riveted on the Haywood trial in 1907, an event known in later years as “The Trial of the Century.” Key players included Idaho Senator-elect William Borah for the prosecution and Clarence Darrow of Chicago for the defense. Haywood, although found not guilty by the jury, would never shed the taint of suspicion engendered by the trial. In the years to come the increasingly radical tactics he adopted as a labor organizer kept him in hot water with federal authorities. Eventually defecting to Soviet Russia to avoid prosecution, he died in Moscow in 1928, a hero of the Communist Party. Orchard died in the Idaho State Penitentiary in 1954.

For the next seven decades this saga simmered on history’s back burner. Over the years a few scholarly works addressed aspects of the western mining wars, but it remained for author J. Anthony Lukas in the late 1980s to recognize the overarching significance of ex-Governor Steunenberg’s murder in Caldwell, Idaho. The recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for Common Ground (1986), Lukas was sensitive to situations in American history that illuminated class differences. From 1989 to 1996 Lukas investigated the events and tensions surrounding the western mining wars. The result was Big Trouble: A Murder in a Small Western Town Sets off a Struggle for the Soul of America (1997).

As he explained in “The Making of Big Trouble,” (published posthumously in Idaho Yesterdays, Vol 41, No 2, 1997), Lukas met George L. Crookham, Jr. (1907-1999), as the result of a tip given him as he was pursuing research at the Idaho State Historical Society Library in 1989. Crookham, a nephew of Frank Steunenberg, was chairman emeritus of the Crookham Company in Caldwell. (This family business, founded by George L. Crookham, Sr., in 1911, continues to specialize in vegetable seed production.) Crookham in 1964 had become guardian of the documents the Governor had saved when he left office in 1901, as well as family correspondence relating to the traumatic events of December 30, 1905. Upon meeting Lukas, Crookham gave him free reign to examine what had become an historical bonanza. Lukas became the first professional writer to see these documents, which proved to be the catalyst for the rich imagery contained in the opening paragraphs of Big Trouble’s chapter one.

In the “Notes” section of Big Trouble (p. 755), Lukas refers to the “Papers of George Crookham, in possession of George Crookham, Caldwell, Idaho.” This on-line collection comprises the core of that collection and retains the title Lukas gave to it.

The Crookham Papers were donated to the Robert E. Smylie Archives at Albertson College of Idaho in Caldwell in February, 2006. The donation was made on behalf of the members of the Steunenberg and Crookham families by George Crookham’s son and daughter, William “Bill” Crookham, of Caldwell, and Judy Crookham Krueger of Corvallis, Oregon. Family members had met in Caldwell in September, 2005, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Frank Steunenberg.

Albertson College of Idaho is publishing this on-line selection from the Crookham Papers in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of “The Trial of the Century.” Annotation of the entries will continue. Eventually the entire collection will be available on-line. We solicit your comments, questions, additions, and corrections.
Jan Boles, Archivist
The Robert E. Smylie Archives
The College of Idaho
2112 Cleveland Blvd
Caldwell, ID 83605

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Couple of Personal Notes I Received Regarding the Frank Steunenberg Assassination & Haywood Trial Historical Events/Projects of 2005-2007

Here are a couple more items I am bringing up from the unarchived depths of the blog. These are two letters/personal notes that I received from Magistrate Judge Gaylen L. Box and Former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Byron Johnson.I really appreciated, and will always treasure, the notes and many other kind comments from those involved in these projects.
This above is a nice letter and personal note received from Judge Box after our correspondence in regards to the December 2006 issue of The Advocate (for display purposes I have joined a short second page with the first page of the letter).
Although I must say I was a little intimidated coming up against Justice Johnson for the first time, I quickly found out how interesting and comfortable it is meeting with Byron and talking about the history of these events. Thank you again Byron for all your work and dedication in bringing the production to a reality. Click the following and be taken to the IPTV website and a transcript of Justice Johnson's Interview.

See related letter from Peter Morrill, General Manager of IPTV, and my signed copy of Debaters and Dynamiters on the following post: More of Premiere Night - Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century