Sunday, May 3, 2009

Evidence from the Haywood Trial on display at the Idaho Historical Museum ....Not Quite is now

Evidence from the Haywood Trial on display at the Boise Historical Museum.

This display is labeled as " This damaged revolver was used by Harry Orchard to trigger the bomb mechanism which killed Governor Steunenberg. The force of the explosion caused the damage." I do not believe that is exactly correct but it had never registered with me until pointed out by Justice Byron Johnson. It is my opinion that these pieces were most likely non-active parts of the bomb that killed the Ex-Governor. The infernal machine had originally been designed by Orchard as a "time bomb" with an alarm clock and trigger mechanism. However, as he had done on other occasions too, he decided not to use the timing mechanism. Instead, as pointed out by Justice Johnson, he used a vial of sulfuric acid with a cork or stopper, a pin or screw eye in the stopper to which was attached a string or line. The line was attached to Governor Steunenberg's gate. When the gate was opened, it pulled out the stopper, spilled the sulfuric acid on the blasting caps and set off the dynamite. Hence, the revolver parts were not the trigger mechanism. I was in error when I accepted the display label as fact in my post on Saturday, March 7, 2009, Harry Orchard's Colt .45 Single Action Army Revolver. In that entry, I had posted and described the same photograph as above. There is also a 3/8/09 addendum to the same post that I had entered after Justice Johnson had pointed out the discrepancy in the information.

The above is supported by the the photos and trial testimony presented in Debaters and Dynamiters by David Grover and The Confession and Autobiography of Harry Orchard in McClure's Magazine, Volume XXIX, May to October 1907 and various other documents and accounts of the assassination. I will post some pictures after I hopefully recover programs and data from a complete computer crash this past week.

Here is a link to the online book version of The Confessions and Autobiography of Harry Orchard published in 1907. You will want to scroll up one page and should see the picture of the "The Two Steunenberg Bombs.". I have originals of the McClure's Magazine version published in serial format during 1907-08 and the 1907 book among the items in my collection.

In the interest of accuracy, the display labels at the Idaho History Museum should be revised unless other convincing evidence exists to suggest otherwise. I have forwarded my comments to the museum.

Clicking on the picture above will take you to my viewer.

Visit the Idaho Historical Museum when in Boise and check out the trial display and all the other interesting items you will discover.

5/4/09 - UPDATE!
Rachelle Littau, Curatorial Registrar at the Idaho Historical Museum, tells me that the display card has been updated as follows based upon information from Justice Byron Johnson:

Prosecutors presented these revolver fragments as evidence of a prior bombing committed by Harry Orchard. The revolver was used as a triggering mechanism and the force of the explosion caused the damage.

That sounds a bit more like it, as we know the revolver was definitely not the triggering mechanism for the Steunenberg bomb. As long as there is nothing tying it to that particular bomb, then it is reasonable to assume it was part of the other evidence. In preparation for Orchard's testimony, available evidence from other bombings was brought to Boise and Orchard built mock-ups of several of the different types of bombs that he had previously used.

Thank you Byron and Rachelle for providing the additional information. John

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