Friday, April 17, 2009

Smile Because He Lived

Pardon me if I get a bit more contemporary and less historical in this weeks blog post. It has been a difficult time for our family, with the loss of our beloved Sherry-Ann Nichols-Underwood and Gary Ted Osborne within a couple weeks of each other. Both were unexpected losses that came upon us suddenly. I will be posting the memorials, obituaries, a photo or two and perhaps other information as time goes by. You can click on the pictures and/or poems for easier viewing.

My Nephew Gary Ted Osborne, son of my older brother Walter "Gary" Osborne.

L to R: John Richards Jr. (me), Kris Hiemstra (my sister),Gary T. Osborne (our nephew), Russell Osborne (Gary's nephew). Morro Bay, CA 2006

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep

Sherry-Ann Nichols-Underwood
8/17/1944 - 3/23/2009

Our beloved sister-in-law and partner of 17 years to my sister Beckie Osborne Underwood.
Click on the photos and/or poems to enlarge for viewing/reading.

"Sherry-Ann's main forte in this world was to help the needy in anyway she could, with the biggest heart I knew, she would use her great legal and social-working skills to help those that she could. She would have brought every homeless person home if that was possible, and, at the very least, given up everything in her wallet to every woman standing on the corners asking for help! If you want to do something in her name, find the local homeless shelter, battered woman's shelter, food bank, etc. in your community and donate time and/or money to make life a bit better for someone less fortunate! She will know what you have done and how you felt about her." --Beckie Osborne Underwood

A celebration of Sherry-Ann's life is pending at a later date. John

Friday, April 10, 2009

3/23/1900 - Governor Steunenberg of Idaho, Who Gave His Version of the Mine Riots

Governor Steunenberg of Idaho, who gave his version of the mine riots.
Click on the picture to be taken to and enlarge the page to read about the governors testimony.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

"No Divorce Cases Taken Or Work That Will Interfere With The Marriage Relations"
Click image to be taken to footnote viewer.
Title: City Directories for San Francisco, California
State: California
City: San Francisco
Year: 1903

Note "James McParland, Gen'l Supt., Western Division, Denver"
For another article on McParland, click below.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Eveline "Belle" Steunenberg Letter to the Idaho State Prison Board Re: Douglas Van Vlack Execution

Here is a brief letter from Eveline "Belle" Steunenberg, widow of martyred Idaho Governor Frank Steunenbreg, written to the Idaho State Prison Board. Click on the letter to enlarge for reading. As most of you know already, Frank and Belle Steunenberg were my maternal great grandparents.

The letter comes to us courtesy of the Idaho State Historical Society (ISHS) and Amber Beierle, Interpretive Specialist at the Old Idaho State Penitentiary. Thank you Amber for bringing it to my attention and providing a copy.

Amber found the letter while going through the prison file of one Douglas Van Vlack, a prisoner at the Idaho pen who was facing execution for the murder of his wife, Mildred Hook, and two Idaho police officers, Fontaine Cooper and Henry Givens. The letter was apparently written at the request of Van Vlack's parents, Carl and Edna Van Vlack, as part of a final appeal to the Idaho Prison Board to save their son from the gallows. The appeal failed but Van Vlack got the last word when he committed suicide by jumping from the rafters of the cell house the day before his scheduled execution. He crashed to the concrete floor below and died a short time later.

The story of Douglas Van Vlack is quite an interesting one in and of itself and and a well written historical essay with some photographs can be viewed by clicking on: Douglas Van Vlack Kidnaps Mildred Hook in Tacoma on November 23, 1935.

The following is a quote from the above essay:

"In a last-ditch effort, Van Vlack's chief counsel, Robert Ailshie Jr., appealed his death sentence to the Idaho board of pardons. A commutation hearing was held on Monday, December 6 to consider documents submitted by Allshie alleging prejudice and misconduct, and affidavits from a psychiatrist stating Van Vlack was hopelessly and incurably insane. The pardon board turned down Van Vlack's commutation appeal by a vote of two to one and Idaho Governor Barzillia W. Clark chose not to interfere with the execution."

No mention of the letter from Belle Steunenberg in the above or in the few other documents and articles I have located during a brief search. I find the letter interesting in that we have so few documents with Belle's signature so this is a welcomed addition to the collection. Then there is the question of how did she cross paths with the Van Vlack's? Were they neighbors, members of the Adventist Church, maybe they had been familiar with Belle's previous pleas on behalf of Harry Orchard? How did they find each other? Perhaps Douglas Van Vlack or the parents had spoken with Harry Orchard while at the prison? At this point I do not have anything but this brief letter to connect the Steunenberg and Van Vlack names. Please let me know if anyone has more information.

Belle certainly did not take a strong position one way or another regarding the execution of Douglas Van Vlack. From the sounds of the letter, she had not previously known the Van Vlack family. I was a bit surprised that she did not use the opportunity to voice opposition to capital punishment in general and seemed content to let "divine guidance" help the Prison Board make the right decision.

Below are some newspaper articles that come from my site. You should be able to access the specific articles free of charge and to click on the picture to use the viewing tool. However, you will not be able to access or navigate other documents. I will post more as I run across other information.




Inmates of the Idaho Penitentiary 1867 - 1947
is a large PDF file with a record of all the prisoners between the years indicated. Included is an article on pages 12-13 by Rachelle Littau of the ISHS. Rachelle reviews the evidence surrounding Van Vleck's suicide. You may recall that Rachelle gave us a special tour of the Idaho Pen back in November 2007 during our visit to Boise for the premiere of Idaho Public Television's "Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century.

Here we see the #5264 entry for Van Vlack.
5264 Van Vlack, Douglas
File: AR42 / 20072476 / 1052.2-2 / 5264
Year: 19 6 Approx. age: 2 Born: circa 1904
Jurisdiction: Twin Falls County
Crime: Murder in the 1st degree
Notes: Includes photographic material. Related
material in no. 5264 (nos. 5467, 5 48,
5152, 4706, and 4854, also 5 94);
As an added point of interest. Harry Orchard appears twice in the above record of Idaho Pen inmates as #1191 and #1406. Perhaps Amber or Rachelle can shed some light as to why the two different entries. I am guessing that 1191 was while he was held in prison pending trial and for some reason he had to be assigned a new number once convicted.

1191 Hogan, Thomas aka Orchard, Harry; Logan,

Thomas; Horsley, Albert E; Green, Thomas;

Dempsey, Thomas

File: AR42 / 20063158 / 1007.1-5 / 1191

Year: 1906 Approx. age: – Born: circa

Jurisdiction: Canyon County

Crime:Held for trial under charge of assassinating

ex-Governor Frank Steunenberg

Notes: Includes photographic material. Statement

of Harry Orchard January 1906

AR2.7/20072472; AR42/20072470

1406 Orchard, Harry aka Hogan, Thomas; Logan,

Thomas; Horsley, Albert E; Green, Thomas;

Dempsey, Thomas

File: AR42 / 20063160 / 1009.1-4 / 1406

Year: 1908 Approx. age: 42 Born: circa 1866

Jurisdiction: Canyon County

Crime:Murder in the 1st degree

Notes: Includes photographic material.

Statement of Harry Orchard January

1906 (AR2.7/20072472) in file 1191;


And click here for Orchard's 1930 census record.