Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A.B. Chase Pump Organ-Did it Belong to the Steunenberg Family?

I have had this pump organ over in the left hand margin of the blog where you might have spotted it already. The current owner has it for sale and it is advertised as previously belonging to Governor Steunenberg. A few kinfolk have heard from me individually and we have exchanged information and ideas regarding its origins. I am putting the organ up as a main post in a last effort to see if someone may be able to suggest or provide other information---be it family related, something about A.B. Chase pump organs and/or perhaps estimates of value.

This pump organ
may have belonged to Frank & Belle Steunenberg in Caldwell, ID and/or later one of their children. However, I have not been able to establish any provenance to the governor or Caldwell except what is written in the note below. The connection is a bit stronger to Walla Walla/College Place, WA. The forty-five year old note from a previous owner indicates the organ was purchased in or around 1920 from a relative of Governor Steunenberg that was living in Walla Walla at the time. Both Frank Jr. and Julian Steuneneberg, sons of the slain governor, were residing in Walla Walla during the early 1920's. A specific name of the "relative" is not given in the note. My mother Brenda has a recollection of the fun she had pushing down pedals on a piano or organ but does not remember where or when. She would have been only about two years old in 1920.

I suspect that the organ may have been acquired through my grandmother Francis, Julian's wife, as that side of the family was very involved in the early years of Walla Walla College and specifically with the music department. My grandmother Francis and her grandmother (Caroline Maxson Wood) played and taught piano and probably the organ too.

From the note that has been retained by the current owner:

"History of
this A.B. Chase organ, patented about 1878 made in the U.S.A. 1888. Once owned by the former governor of Idaho. Was bought in 1920 in College Place, a suburb of Walla Walla, Wash.; from a relative of ex-governor Frank Steunenberg. During a period of labor unrest between a mining union & mine and, about 1898 Mr. Steunenberg, then acting as governor of Idaho, was assassinated by Mr. Harry Orchard on Dec 30, 1905, as Mr. Steunenberg was taking a walk one summer (I believe that is what it says and of course it is incorrect as was winter with snow on the ground) evening outside his gate near his home. Mr. Orchard was tried, convicted & sent to a local penitentiary for life, but was later pardoned."
"July 4- '64

This organ was also owned until recently by
Lin W. Haines
R.R. 1, Salmon Arm, BC

If you have read or seen anything about a pump organ in the family or know something about A.B. Chase organs then please let me know. It may have been in Caldwell, ID (c. 1900) and more likely College Place/Walla Walla
, WA (c.1920). I have more pictures that have been provided by the seller but the main details are shown here.

Price: $10,000....well $9, 999.00 to be exact. Way out of my league but fun to speculate anyway.

1 comment:

Chris Chernobieff said...

I thought I would leave you a link to the History of the A.B.Chase ppiano company. Hope you find it useful?