Saturday, February 28, 2009

Archival Cardboard, Wood Screws and Glue. The Idaho Project by Scott Fife-Part II

 Continued from "Big Trouble-The Idaho Project by Scott Fife"

"For the project, Fife borrowed from the classical style of Roman republican portrait busts, and many are larger than life size. By choosing to leave the gray archival cardboard unpainted, Fife evokes the feel of sculptured stone. And the unorthodox, seemingly helter-skelter manner of their display suggests an archaeological find, with its underlying sense of discovery. But these works are far from static statuary. Fife imbues them with a range of emotions and temperaments, including determination, doubt, anxiety, authority, deceit, feigned nonchalance. Some figures engage you directly; others seem preoccupied or look askance. In Fife's engaging interpretations we get a sense of the individual psychology behind each of this case of characters. Exhibited together, they have a haunting presence."--Scott Fife: Full Service Artist by Christopher Schnoor, Scott Fife - Big Trouble The Idaho Project And Shapers Of The 20th Century

I felt the "haunting presence" when I walked into the exhibition for the first time at the Boise Art Museum, particularly with the large, bigger than life sculpted head of my great grandfather, Frank Steunenberg, lying supine in front of the devil himself, one Harry Orchard.

Photo above and in last weeks post comes courtesy of Stephen Lyons of Platform Gallery. Other photos courtesy of Scott Fife and the Boise Art Museum and, along with the following short descriptions, come from Scott Fife - Big Trouble The Idaho Project And Shapers Of The 20th Century unless otherwise noted. I have permission from the artist to use the photographs of his work but reproducing the graphics and text from the book in its entirety requires permission from others that I do not have. Hence, I am not reproducing it here. All rights are retained by the artist.The best reference material does come from the exhibition book Scott Fife - Big Trouble The Idaho Project And Shapers Of The 20th Century. The Boise Art Museum still has a few copies and I am sure they could use the money. So support the arts and mosey on over if you are near Boise or call Jenaleigh (see below) at the BAM or email them at and pick up a copy.
Hi John,
Such an interesting legacy your family has! Thank you for including the Scott Fife exhibition on your blog. The BAM Store does have several copies of the Scott Fife catalogue available for purchase; they are $19.95 per copy.
Thank you,
Jenaleigh Kiebert
Manager, BAM Store
Boise Art Museum
(208) 345-8330 ext. 34

Below are what I believe is the correct sequence of answers to last weeks quiz. Let me know if I get it wrong. Awhile back when I had my first look at the figures, I got about 75% right. Even now, with a copy of the exhibition book Scott Fife - Big Trouble The Idaho Project And Shapers Of The 20th Century, I have to look carefully at some of the unlabeled photographs

Looking at the large photograph and going across from left to right.

President Theodore Roosevelt was among the political figures who took interest in Governor Steunenberg's assassination and the Haywood trial.

James H. Hawley was one of the two leading prosecuting attorneys in the Haywood trial. Hawley served as governor of Idaho from 1911 to 1913.

Governor Frank Gooding was the governor of Idaho at the time of the Steunenberg assassination (this is my entry as Gooding was not included in the descriptions in the book, John).

William E. Borah, a prosecuting attorney in the Haywood trial, handled the cross-examination and provided the final prosecution summary. Borah served in the United States Senate from 1907 to 1940.

James McParland was a detective and specialist in labor unrest whose investigation of the Steunenberg murder led to the prosecution of Harry Orchard and the trials of "Big Bill" Haywood and George Pettibone, unionists implicated in the assassination.

Harry Orchard was the assassin and chief witness for the prosecution, who confessed that leaders of the Western Federation of Miners had masterminded the murder of Governor Steunenberg. Orchard was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Frank Steunenberg was the former governor of Idaho who was assassinated in December, 1905, in retaliation for his aggressive efforts to suppress labor unrest in the Coeur d'Alene mining district of northern Idaho.

Judge Fremont Wood was a former United States Attorney who presided over the "Big Bill" Haywood trial.

William "Big Bill" Haywood was accused of ordering the Steunenberg assassination and was tried and acquitted of Governor Steunenberg's murder in 1907.

I am going to add the names of the Twelve Jury Members that were sculpted in miniature and are shown in front of Judge Wood and William Haywood. The names were not included in the exhibition book.
1. Thomas B. Gess, Foreman
2. O.V. Sebern
3. Finley McBean
4. Samuel D. Gilman
5. Daniel Clark
6. A.P. Burns
7. H.F.Messecar
8. Lee Schrivener
9. J.A. Robertson
10. Levi Smith
11. George Powell
12. Samuel F. Russell

Did you get all 12 jurors right? Ok, I confess I cannot identify the jurors. I do know that number six from the left in the picture above, the one in the middle, sure looks like Al Kiler to me. Al played a juror in the production of Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century. Maybe Al is actually a little older then he let on.
BTW, have you picked up your copy of the Idaho Public TV DVD yet? Another chance to support public television and the arts. Click on the link above.

"The most remarkable aspect of that dozen was their relative homogeneity. All were or had been farmers. Nine still tilled the land, while one was a real estate agent, one a building contractor, and one a foreman of fence construction. Eight were Republicans, three were Democrats, and one was a Prohibitionist. All but one were fifty years old; most were in their late fifties or their sixties. All wore beards, chin whiskers, or mustaches, or a luxuriant combination of the three."
--From Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas

Eugene V. Debs was a militant American labor rights activist who wrote about the arrest of William Haywood.

Clarence S. Darrow was the famed Chicago attorney who was hired to defend the Western Federation of Miners leader "Big Bill" Haywood.

George A. Pettibone, a union activist and member of the Western Federation of Miners, was accused of conspiring to assassinate Frank Steunenberg. He was acquitted in 1908.

Edmund F. Richardson (in front of Pettibone) was the attorney who, along with Clarence Darrow, let the defense in the trial of "Big Bill" Haywood.

Ethel Barrymore was a Hollywood actress who took an interest in the trial and came to Boise, Idaho, to view the proceeding.


Charles Moyer is not seen in the large group photograph or may be sitting directly behind George Pettibone.

Another picture from a different angle that comes courtesy of Stephen Lyons, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Platform Gallery in Seattle, WA. If I understand correctly, Platform is where Scott is based.

Here are a few other websites for further reading.

Cast of Characters -Scott Fife's eccentric portraiture

POPULIST APPEAL - Scott Fife's Steunenberg Trial Exhibit

Tacoma Art Museum (Leroy is often hanging around in the lobby)

Boise Art Museum (Find the Idaho Project under "Exhibitions" and then Past Exhibitions").

Monday, February 23, 2009

Big Trouble-The Idaho Project by Scott Fife

Photos courtesy of Scott Fife & Platform Gallery. All rights retained by the artist. Click on the photo to enlarge.

I am not getting much posted this weekend (Monday is still my weekend) but have been going through the piles of paper, copies, pictures, articles, etc that relate to family history and these events. All those piles and boxes seem to proliferate no matter how much filing I do. In the course of my digging, I found and followed-up on a few emails, old requests and investigative trails. More proliferating! While sorting, I spotted some pictures of Scott Fife's Big Trouble: The Idaho Project that I had seen at the Boise Museum back in 2007. I had put him over in the left hand side column for later posting and finally now getting there.

Today, we are just going to start with a picture. Click and enlarge the the one above and see if you can name each of the cast of characters that were involved in some way with the assassination of Governor Steunenberg and the trial of Bill Haywood. Hint...that is the top of the assassinated governor's head, my great grandfather, facing the camera. Sitting here now, I still sense the rather uncanny feeling that came upon me as I first walked into the room and spotted Frank "laying" there. Just to right (the small little heads) are the twelve jurors. If you are really good, you can name each of the jurors. Can you name the other figures?

Next week, or when I get to it, a little more about the artist, the medium and the subjects of this most fascinating artistic project.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Legal History Lesson from 1901

From my copy of--Penal Code of State of Idaho, 1901.
The Commissioners' Certificate inside the book is composed of three names of interest:
Frank Martin, Attorney General, who served under Governor Steunenberg.
W.M. Ruick, U.S. Attorney for Idaho during the Steunenberg administration. Prosecuted William Borah in the Timber fraud case.
Alfred A. Fraser, a former associate of Borah who was on his defense team during the September 1907 Timber fraud trial.

Dated Boise, Idaho, this first day of November, 1901

I would have liked to be a fly on the wall if Governor Steunenberg and these three were ever in the same room together.

Here's a couple of statutes:

Habeas Corpus.
Section 5740. Who may Prosecute Writ: Every person unlawfully committed, detained, confined, or restrained of his liberty, under any pretense whatever, may prosecute a writ of habeas corpus, to inquire into the cause of such imprisonment of restraint. (There it is just as written in the 1901 Idaho Penal Code. Was there any reason such a writ could or should not have been prosecuted in the Haywood trial?)

And one of my favorite sections...
Miscellaneous Offenses Relating to Live Stock
Section 5078. Failing to Dip:
The owner or owners or controller of any sheep or the deputy sheep inspector or person appointed by him who shall fail to dip said sheep as required by the provisions of Chapter XVII of the Political Code relating to sheep shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not less then three hundred dollars nor more then five hundred dollars or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not less than two months nor more than six months, or by both fine and imprisonment.

Governor Steunenberg owned a large herd of sheep but I am not aware of his having ever been prosecuted for "failing to dip." W.M.Ruick probably would have tried if he had the opportunity. Is this code section still in the Idaho Penal Code?

Photo postcard from my collection, Caldwell, Idaho, circa 1907.

I hope they have had their dip!

The Idaho Legal History Society

An email from our friend Susie Boring-Headlee, of Chief Judge Winmill's office, reminded me of the Idaho Legal History Society (ILHS) and their continuing efforts to document and preserve the legal history of the State of Idaho.

For those of us in the Steunenberg family, you got to love the ILHS logo (reproduced here with permission) adopted in 2005, the 100th year marking the assassination of Governor Frank Steunenberg. Soon thereafter, the ILHS formally introduced itself by sponsoring the December 2006 issue of The Advocate, the official publication of the Idaho State Bar. That edition was dedicated to the events leading up to and including the Haywood trial and contains many interesting articles.

In 2007, the society co-sponsored the play,
The Gate on 16th Avenue. I had the pleasure of attending that event along with my guest, Katie Forsythe, winner of the 2006 Idaho State History Day competition and National Jamestown award for her project, "The Explosive Mining War of 1899: Taking a Stand in the Coeur d'Alenes."

The society went on to actively support former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Byron J. Johnson and his drive toward the successful production of Idaho Public Television's (IPTV) Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century. I again had the pleasure to participate is a small way both on and off camera in an event that I shall never forget. The premiere of the program took place at the old Egyptian Theatre in Boise on November, 7th, 2007. Don't forget to pick up your copy of the DVD.

As the above indicates, the society has certainly played an important role in promoting the examination of historical events, with the initial focus having been on the assassination of Governor Steunenberg in 1905, the subsequent trial of William Haywood in 1907 and what we have learned, or perhaps not learned, from those lessons now over a 100 years later. The ILHS has also been gracious enough to post a couple of my somewhat imperfect but sincere writings on their website.

In the more recent December 2008 edition of The Advocate, again sponsored by the ILHS, you can read a number of completed oral histories from individuals that have played important roles in the legal history of the State. Of course, I had to immediately go to the one from our friend, former Justice Byron Johnson. I learned something new about Byron
--> -->that he had pitched for the Harvard varsity baseball team. Pretty impressive that he beat Yale, even if it was only a 5-hit shutout and not a no-hitter. Pitched a few shutouts in the courtroom too so I am told.
So take a look at the ILHS website, review the annual report, what they have done, what they continue to do and what they want to do in the future
-->and then consider becoming a member. I neglected not doing so sooner but will certainly do so now.
You may click on the form below, print and complete it and forward with the membership fee to the Idaho Legal History Society.
Thanks, John

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

"The operatives did not always take great pains to disguise their surveillance. Late in January, Haywood noticed a red-haired man loitering outside the office. When Haywood and Moyer boarded a streetcar, the red-haired man waited until the last moment, then leaped on too. When the two union men got off to take in a cattle show at the stockyards, their tail alighted. Returning to the office, they looked out the window and, sure enough, there was the red-haired man leaning against a building. Weeks later, Haywood's wife said Bill had told her, 'his footsteps were dogged,' because 'those fellows in Idaho would try to implicate him.'

One day, a 'fat fellow' calling himself Hynes begin hanging around the WFM office, notably the room where the Miner's Magazine was edited. He came into Haywood's office and asked for the monthly financial report. What in the world, Haywood wondered, could this man want with a financial report? When the stranger left, Haywood had him followed, and he went straight to the Pinkerton offices in the Opera House Block. At Haywood's suggestion, the Miner's Magazine ran a photograph of the operative in its next issue. He sent a complimentary copy to McParland—'as a valentine,' he said."

--Excerpt from Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas
--Photos from collection of John T. Richards, Jr.


Click on the picture for larger view at

TO WELCOME THE TROOPS-Governor Steunenberg and Party Arrive


I sure would like to share information and make friendly contact with some of Harry's kinfolk. I know there is a connection to a Taylor family that I ran across a long time back in Oregon, Utah, etc. I did make contact a few years ago with one of Orchard's Horsley/Fraser/Hunter kin. You can email me at

4/6/1906 - Harry Orchard

Thursday, February 12, 2009


President Lincoln will be joining Governor Steunenberg today in Steunenberg Park in front of the Idaho Statehouse. I look forward to hearing more about the festivities and perhaps seeing some pictures in the Idaho Statesman.
--Photo courtesy of Joe Richards taken during Inauguration week in Washington D.C. 2009.

Idaho's Abraham Lincoln Statue
“Presented to the State of Idaho by the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic of Boise.”

Bicentennial: Boise to rededicate oldest existing Lincoln monument in the West

The Abraham Lincoln Blog-Idaho Lincoln Statue Moving to the State Capitol

Lincoln Statue may be Oldest in the West

Abraham Lincoln Blog

The Gettysburg Address (Library of Congress)

Obama Urges Americans to Follow Lincoln's Example

Late Update! Lincoln Now Gazes Downtown (you can get a peek at Governor Steunenberg in the backgroud gazing upon the capitol building.
Welcome Mr. President!

Steunenberg Statue

From the inscription plate:
"Frank Steunenberg, governor of Idaho, 1897 to 1900. When in 1899 organized lawlessness challenged the power of Idaho, he upheld the dignity of the state and forced 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."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Wash Bench Made by Harry Orchard?

I received the following photos and information from Doug White, a resident of Caldwell, ID. I have combined a couple of emails from Doug with the information on the above pictured "wash bench." I also made an inquiry to the Idaho State Historical Society (ISHS) regarding a guard named Lavender, and they confirmed that an M. W. Lavender was in fact a guard at the prison. The ISHS provided a photo of Lavender and several other guards and granted permission to publish that photo on this blog.
From Doug White:
John, very nice website on your great grand father!
Being an Idaho native of Idaho natives - Mingers and Slaters of Mayfield and various other parts, I am very interested in the history of the area. As a boy, I grew up in Boise on the bench.The first house I lived in was on Broxon just south of Overland. An old couple lived across the street from us named Lavender. Her name was Maude and his name was Mister Lavender. ;) That was all I was ever allowed to call him, so I don't remember his first name. Mr. Lavender did work at the prison - I believe as a guard. So there is the connection. Rachelle could probably confirm this.Anyway, to make a long story short, Maude gave my mother a "Wash Bench" some time in the 80's I believe. The bench was supposedly made by Harry Orchard and given to Maude.
Please review the attached photos. Could there be any way of tracking back to know if this was actually made by Harry? Are there prison records that would tell us anything about the bench being made, taken out of the prison or such?
I think it would be great if you would post this stuff on the blog. It is very interesting how much information comes around from this kind of exchange. Just curious, as you are about what has happened before us.
Thanks again, Doug" 
2/9/09: update from Doug: I did find some information on the Lavenders. His first name was Merrit and he died in May of 1968. Maude died August of 1980.

 --Photo from The Man God Made Again by Harry Orchard & Leroy Froom. I note that Orchard and Froom  forgot to include "mass murderer" in the caption under the photo. If anyone has more information or similar examples of Orchard’s carpentry or any items of interest, please let me know. Perhaps the warden's daughter still has her chair?

Below are a couple more photos of the wash bench. As you can see, it is well worn and was for day to day practical use. Doug said he "grew up in Boise on the bench.” I thought he meant this bench but I later learned from him that there is an area above and south of downtown Boise called "the bench." Learn something new everyday! We know that Orchard learned carpentry skills while in prison and made various table, chairs, boxes, etc. Although no way to know absolutely for sure, with the provenance confirming the link to M. W.Lavender, it is reasonable to assume that this could very well have been made by Orchard. It would not be the first Orchard item given to or otherwise acquired by a guard or prisoner at the pen and surfacing later.

--guard photos courtesy of ISHS
I am posting the complete panel of guard photos. Interesting to get a look at the prison guards of yesterday. Perhaps you know someone in this group? Where is the mace, stung guns, batons, face shields, bullet proof vests, etc. that we see on "correctional officers" of today. At least they do have bow ties for protection!

Thank You Doug for sharing this interesting item.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Seventh and Main Street-Caldwell, Idaho

The following is another of my occasional excerpts from Big Trouble: A Murder in a Small Western Town Sets Off a Struggle for the Soul of America by J. Anthony Lukas. I have included a couple of photos and some additional comments.

"From the doctor's office, the governor crossed the street to his bank, the Caldwell Banking and Trust Company. That crossroads--Seventh and Main--was the heart of Caldwell's business district and its most prestigious intersection. To the north, at the end of Seventh Avenue, loomed the Union Pacific--Oregon Short Line depot, to the south, the site of the new renaissance city hall, for which ground was soon to be broken. The four corners in between boasted the Saratoga Hotel, the Caldwell Banking and Trust Company, the First National Bank, and the Odd Fellows Building."

Seventh & Main

The Steunenberg Block, including what was the Caldwell Banking and Trust Company, remains on the corner as shown in the period postcard at the top of this post and more recently in the Google street level view above. You can click and hold your mouse button on the Google map and rotate it 360 degrees to view each corner of the intersection as it is today. The OSL Depot was recently restored and is used for community events. The Saratoga Hotel tragically burned down in 1990 and is now a parking lot with a group of small stores/businesses. The "renaissance city hall" would have stood at the opposite end of Seventh Street facing the train depot (see postcard below). The city hall was long ago demolished to make room for an extension of the street in a growing community. Gone too is the original First National Bank that sat on the corner across Main Street from the Caldwell Banking and Trust. Although I am not positive, I believe the original "Odd Fellows" building remains in the form of what is now the Alondra Clothing store.

Right, looking from the direction of the OSL depot, you can see the city hall building as it once stood at the opposite end of Seventh Street.

Wide angle shot from Big Trouble courtesy of the Caldwell Public Library and various reproductions of the same photograph are available online. It was taken in 1905, a few months before the Governors assassination. The Caldwell Banking and Trust is on the left, having not yet been expanded to form the Steunenberg Block. The Saratoga Hotel is on the right in its original chateau style before an upper floor was added. The new city hall building, perhaps not yet completed, would have been in the distance directly in the middle of Seventh Street behind the band. This intersection, the bank and the Saratoga were often pictured on souvenir china as were scenes and buildings from towns and cities across the country. I have collected several pieces here and there over the years.

"In the middle of Seventh Avenue, north of Main, stood the bandstand at which the eighteen-piece Caldwell Cornet Band--the ultimate expression of community pride in turn-of-the century America--under the baton of its "musicologist," Professor A.T. Gordon, performed each Friday evening from April through November. With snow banked up on all sides, the bandstand didn't look inviting that night. But the governor relished soft summer evenings when the whole town turned out, tapping their feet to the rat-a-tat-tat of the snare drums, singing along with those grand old patriotic airs. The setting sun glinted off the brass tuba, casting shimmers of golden light along Main Street, gray heads, nodded over their knitting in camp chairs set against the bank's wall; sheep men, drowsy with beer, gawked from the windows of the Palace saloon."
--From Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas

Today, as with many old downtown areas, Caldwell struggles to preserve and enhance its past as urban sprawl, shopping malls and big box stores become the more readily available and preferred destinations for growing populations. Although not without controversy and debate, I am happy to say that that the city near where where I reside, San Luis Obispo, has been able to develop a vibrant business community while maintaining many of the historical aspects of our downtown, anchored by the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolusa along San Luis Creek. I hope Caldwell is able to realize some of the same success with the Indian Creek project and beyond.

Related post on the Caldwell Banking & Trust Company, go to "Automatic Teller Bank".

So does anyone have some answers to the questions below in Caldwell, Idaho-History and Questions?

Sunday, February 1, 2009


This is a summary of the Haywood trial and not guilty verdict that is part of an article spread over pages 1, 2 and 3 in the Chicago Tribune 7/28/1907. Click the image and go to my viewer for easier reading. I have hundreds of annotations, spotlights and full articles saved on on this site. I post only a very small sample of those from time to time on this blog.