Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sign My Guest Book - Don't be shy, stop in and say howdy. Click on the this link & then "Comments."

Click here on "COMMENTS" and pass along information you have about Idaho history that relates to the topics on this blog or just to introduce yourself and say hello. I would love to hear from folks and to make contact with family members and friends interested in our history. Of course, you can continue to email me privately too if that is your preference.

All comments are reviewed for content and any "junk" stuff is deleted prior to public posting.

Scroll to the bottom for the most recent comments and to post your own.


John T. Richards said...

Now don't be so skittish. You won't receive any junk mail and I promise not to pick on you. Go ahead, add your comments about Idaho and Steunenberg history.

greenhat6 said...

Great stuff. Please write a book.

John T. Richards said...

Thanks for the encouragement greenhat6. Hope to do just that some day. John

Peter Steunenberg said...

Wow John - What dedication to the blog. I enjoy each update. Do you have a real job? or is this it??

John T. Richards said...

Hi Peter. Yep, got a day job but sometimes think I should have majored in history or been an archivist! The blog format makes it pretty simple and quick. Fortunately there never seems to be a shortage of material and people sending something or providing a new lead to follow. I have a nice core following of family and amateur and professional historians and never know what might show up next. Thanks for posting to the guest book. Folks seem a bit timid about using it and generally prefer a more private email. Either way is OK with me. Regards, John

Vince said...

Thanks for stopping by my
Boise History site and leaving your link. Although I don't know a great deal about the Gov. one comes across his name, in many articles going back in Boise History.

While researching the first part of this article, I was surprised to find, that he was the impetus, behind the Barber Lumber Company enterprise.

I will visit have lots of history to share. ;) Nice site, BTW. ;)

Vince said...


Was doing a quick search on the net for mining camps, and happened upon a town by the name of Blackbear, Idaho, located up in the mountains above Wallace, Idaho.

Recall you had an image with the name Black Bear on it. Mining camp of 1906?

Also ran across ISHS newsletter with a pic of a Bear Creek, located above Rocky Bar in Elmore County.

The first location seems more likely though.

John T. Richards said...

I don't recall an image off hand with the name Black Bear but will keep an eye out for it. I found that website of the Army Corp. of Eng. about Barber Lumber Co.
Nice resource! Sorry to hear from your recent article that you ran into so many obstacles and no trespassing signs when trying to get into the area. I was hoping to explore there a bit more myself when I get to Boise again and would like to get up close to the original sites/buildings. Glad to see at least part of the area is being preserved and hopefully protected from urban sprawl. John

Revue Guru said...

As one blogspot history buff to another ... very nice blog. You have obviously put in a lot of work on it. I found you while googling the web for history blogs (mainly in the state of Idaho) that I could exchange links with. My "South Fork Companion" is at and it has a link to my "South Fork Revue" web site, where you can learn more about what I'm up to.

John T. Richards said...

Thanks for stopping in to my blog Revue Guru (Evan) and for the complement. A quick glance at your blog and South Fork Revue website tells me I have some great reading ahead of me this weekend. I will get your link posted too, as always on the hunt for other Idaho history blogs and websites. No doubt we will be crossing paths again. John

Anonymous said...

Mr. Richards, what did you mean exactly, when you posted on, that you need to read more than one book? Was anything I said incorrect?

John T. Richards said...

Hello Anonymous.

Thank you for responding to my very brief and momentary comment on and following up with a comment here on my guestbook.

I believe you entered the second comment about Harry Orchard. I was browsing the web and happened to spot the entry. Others can find it by pasting the following link into their browser:

The two entries about Harry Orchard were quite different and, in my opinion, each seemed to be expressing viewpoints rather than factual evidence. We know that Orchard, and the events surrounding the Haywood trial, Steunenberg assassination and the complex issue of capital versus labor, elicit many opinions and emotions in all of us…certainly me included. Although I sometimes fail in my efforts, I try to focus on factual information as much as possible and pay particular attention to the source material of articles, books and periodicals from that period. There was certainly plenty of deceit, coercion and manipulation (and downright law breaking) on all sides to go around. My only point is to look at what we can substantially establish as fact, while viewing with great skepticism the various accounts that have been written by those with an ax to grind, a political agenda or a particular view. As an example, when I read the booklets, "The Class War in Idaho. The Horrors of the Bullpen" 1900) and the opposing view in the "Criminal record of the Western Federation of Miners, Coeur d'Alene to Cripple Creek" 1894-1904 (1904), I do so with the expectation that what I am reading is not necessarily, nor even intended, to be factual.

If we read a book written by Harry Orchard, "The Man God made Again", we get one view as opposed to another book written by Big Bill Haywood, "The Autobiography of Big Bill Haywood." In terms of Haywood’s trial and Orchard’s testimony, "Debaters and Dynamiters" by David Grover, albeit now a bit dated, remains the most in-depth and well documented analysis and "Big Trouble" by Anthony Lukas, although falling a bit short in his final analysis, remains the best documented (in terms of his referencing and footnoting) so that we can assess the sources of the respective authors information. Certainly there are others, many are on my blog and bookshelf and more yet to discover.

None of us, certainly not I, are totally objective in how we view events. Among our own family we have disagreements when it comes to these issues. I believe finding Bill Haywood “not guilty” was the correct verdict based upon the facts presented in the courtroom and under Idaho law. Others say he should have hung for the murder of my great grandfather. I might even agree, but my opinion that Haywood was a co-conspirator, and having the benefit of 100 years in retrospective, is irrelevant to what occurred in that courtroom in 1907. I have written the same elsewhere.

The emotional impact of oppression, murder and manipulation that occurred in this case often taints our viewpoints. After all, we are just human but we must strive to understand what occurred based on the facts as best we can find and document them―and not on statements, hearsay or someone’s opinion. At best, I am able to only sometimes succeed in that regard.

Thank you again for your comment. Please feel free to pass on additional information, links, titles, etc. that would be relevant to this topic.
Regards, John

Anonymous said...

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.


Anonymous said...

I suppose C.D. was far too easy with your background research, but Publius, Cato and Brutus was taken. Yes I am out here; eternal vigilance is the price of my hopeless belief in liberty to borrow from good ol’ Wendell Phillips. I look forward to reading more on your post in the future.Bye the way, I hope I'm not sending too many repeat messages, I mess up alot.

La Jean Greeson said... said...

La Jean Greeson said...

Just viewed your blog on the Indendence Train Depot Explosion. Thanks for your effort. My maternal grandfather's father was nearing the area with his delivery of milk when the explosion occured. He was a very young man and said he had never seen anything so horrible in his life as he helped care for the dead and dying. He, himself, was blown up in a mining explosion near Bisbee in 1931.
January 3, 2010 11:38 AM

Unknown said...

Hey John - just read your post on the bank notes signed by AK ~ did you notice that he signed Steunenburg ~ using a 'u' instead of an 'e'? Whats up??
Peter Steunenberg

John T. Richards said...

Yes, I have noticed that it looks to be more of a "u" than an "e" on both the notes. The two signatures seem consistent but I don't have any others from A.K for comparison. The e's, u's, and n's often run together and are sometimes hard to distinguish. The one letter from A.K. at the COI archives has only a typed signature. I am hoping Al or other kinfolk will have more examples that we can compare. The "burg" instead of "berg" is a mistake I see fairly frequently when others spell the name. I wonder if A.K. had anyone signing notes on his behalf? Interesting!

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

A most interesting blog. Best wishes to you on your efforts. They are obviously very successful already!

Welcome to the Geneabloggers family.

Keeping telling your ancestor stories!

Dr. Bill ;-)
Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"

Sheri Fenley said...

I just love your site. Never a dull moment!

I am looking for information about a place called "The Ada Rooming House" located in downtown Boise on Grove Street from about 1895 to 1917. The owner at the time was a Mrs. Helen Hunt. From newspaper articles of the time it appears that perhaps Mrs. Hunt and her "rooming house" were a bit shady.

Thank you,

Sheri Fenley
Stockton, California

Laura McCauley said...

I was cleaning out boxed of cook books and came across 2 little booklets of recipes. The covers are quite brittle, as are the pages. The title of each booklet is "Favorite Recipes" presented with the Compliments of The Vollmer-Clearwater Co.,Ltd., Lewiston, ID.
Local agent - Nye A. Linherland, Craigmont, ID & McClarin & Hart, Winchester, ID (one booklet), W.L. Lions, Grangeville, ID (the other booklet). I was wondering if you'd know anything about these and if they are of interest to anyone?

John T. Richards said...


My apologies for taking so long to get back to you. It has been a busy and difficult time with the recent death of my mother and illness of my father.

You may have already checked with the Historical Society in Lewiston as that would probably be your best bet. That is in Nez Pearce County.

Most of what I have researched in that part of Idaho was through the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude and the ILO-VOLLMER HISTORICAL SOCIETY INC, PO BOX 61, CRAIGMONT, ID 83523-0061. They should be able to shed some light and might be interested in these items. They have a lot of records and data and were able to assist me when I was trying to pinpoint the short-lived town of Steunenberg, ID. All that is over in neighboring Idaho County.

I will keep your email and my eyes open now that I am back researching again.

Good Luck.

John T. Richards said...


Thanks for checking out my blog.

My apologies for taking so long to get back to you. As I have mentioned to a couple other folks, it has been a busy and difficult time with the recent death of my mother and illness of my father. I have been away from the blog for a bit and not doing much research.

I haven’t put my finger on the Ada boarding house in a quick search of my Boise related publications. I did run across what assume is you on Google when I did a quick search.

I see you already found the ISHS. Always helpful folks there.

I found one brief reference to the Ada Boarding house on my account in an Bureau of Investigation (now FBI) file from 1917. Seem a young man was staying there that may have been involved in poisoning horses.

For early Boise history, my go to person is Arthur Hart, Director Emeritus of the Idaho State Historical Society. I am copying Arthur on this email as maybe he has more information. He has written a lot of books and articles on old Boise. Hello Arthur.

I too would be interested in hearing more about Mrs. Hunt and the Ada Boarding house. I will keep an eye out.



John T. Richards
Idaho Meanderings Blog Spotlights

Kelly said...

Hello John,
My name is Kelly Coles. My Great, Great Grandfather was Frank R. Gooding. You probably have heard of him - Governor of Idaho after Stuenberg, and United States Senator in the early 1900's. I stumbled upon the history of the assassination of your Great Grandfather recently while researching my own "family tree." I just finished Harry Orchard's Autobiography. Very fascinating story indeed. I learned that it was Frank R. Gooding, then Governor, who gave the orders to the Pinkerton crew to take the train to Denver to kidnap the instigators. I've heard they made a movie about the assassination. Do you know how I can get a copy? Do you know if Frank R. Gooding was part of the movie?

I was born in Gooding, Idaho in 1961 - the town my Great Great Grandfather homestead. I was raised in Ketchum, Idaho until moving to Boise 9 years ago. Coincidently, Frank R. Gooding lived in Ketchum in his early years and started the sheep industry, where he became the largest sheepherder in the country. I still own the Ketchum home where I was raised.

I too like Spagetti Westerns, Led Zepplin and Eric Clapton. I'm also a Civil War nut. We have a lot in common. Even our Governors!

All the best, KELLY

John T. Richards said...


Thank you so much for your post to my blog guest book. Yes, I certainly know of Governor Gooding. He was a major player in the investigation and the “kidnapping” of Haywood, Pettibone and Moyer. That remains a hotly contested issue even today.

I had a lot of contact a few years back with Cindy Jones, great granddaughter of Gooding, on the Schubert side of your family I believe. Not sure where you all fit on the family tree. Cindy and I linked up through an Idaho collector (Todd) that was helping sell off some family estate items. As Idaho collectors that had known each other online, he approached me about what was thought to be a transcript of the Haywood trial that the family had found. Through Todd, Cindy and I linked up. Low and behold, when I started asking questions and Cindy described it to me; I knew almost immediately that it was not a trial transcript, but rather the original Harry Orchard confession missing for over a 100 years! You cannot imagine how excited I was! It all made sense, as James McParland, Governor Gooding and others had suppressed release of the original confession. The governor probably tossed it in a drawer and there it stayed among the family belongings.

Not knowing the family or intent, I feared that the confession might end up on eBay or another auction and be locked away somewhere. I knew I could never afford to buy it. Cindy was great, we exchanged messages; I explained to her what had been found, its historical importance, recommended an appraisal and provided a contact at the ISHS. I was very pleased when Cindy informed me of the family’s decision to donate the confession to the ISHS. It just seemed right, since Governor Gooding was instrumental in starting the ISHS. I will always have kind memories of the great grandson of Governor Steunenberg and great granddaughter of Governor Gooding crossing paths by sheer coincidence and such a great discovery coming out of it. In 12/2007, while in Boise for the premiere of Assassination: Idaho’s Trial of the Century, I took a look at the original confession when visiting the ISHS. I also have a photocopy of it in my personal archive. What a treat!

The movie you are referring to is Assassination: Idaho’s Trial of the Century. You can purchase the DVD from the website. I was even invited and made a brief appearance in front of the camera. Generally, I try to avoid such things but would not have missed the experience for anything. Most of the documentary focuses on the trial in the courtroom so not a lot of Governor Gooding per se but he is referenced from time to time. They did a short sequence on the “kidnapping.”

Speaking of Harry Orchard, we had another interesting “happening” in the past month. I just posted a comment about it on my blog.

Great Grandson of Albert Horsley (aka Harry Orchard) Speaks Out

Kelly, please keep in touch. I am always interested in learning more early history related to my family, Governor Gooding and Idaho in general.



Terri Heagy said...

Awesome site, John. Just found it. Thanks for all your work in collecting this vast array of information! I will be spending a lot of time going through everything. I really admire your great-grandparents. I already wrote an email to you before I saw this guestbook site. - Gary Heagy

Terri Heagy said...


I ordered and just watched the Assassination video. It was good. Congratulations on your moment of stardom!

I did find it interesting that the video was sponsored by various unions. That could be why the evil deeds of the unions were downplayed somewhat and there was criticism of the policies of Governor Steunenberg's methods of restoring law and order...

No doubt the mine owners were wrong in many ways in their treatment of the miners, but the governor could not overlook the dynamiting and murders of the unions, even though he had been politically supported by them, belonged to a union, and knew he would incur their wrath.

It was still great to see the reenactment!

Gary Heagy

John T. Richards said...

Thank you for your continued comments and our recent emails. You may have noticed I used one of our emails as a main blog post.

I was pleased (and scared to death!) to get my couple of brief appearances in the program, as no family members were in the mix when the production was initially planned. It was a great project to be involved in. My only criticism is that I would have preferred to see a length of 90 or 120 minutes. There was a lot of great material that ended up on the cutting room floor and additional components of the story that could have been covered. However, the production staff did a great job of working within the time allotted. Maybe there will be another part of the story that will need to be produced in the future.

Anonymous said...

I was born in Nampa and raised in Caldwell. Dad worked at the fire department in the old City Hall building in the middle of Seventh Street, and Mom worked part time at Greenland Drug which was in the Steunenberg Block. We did our banking there in the corner bank, and that is where I opened my first savings account. My parents bought me Big Trouble when it came out, and it renewed my interest in history. I bide time in Texas now, but get back regularly to visit what I still consider home. A few months ago I had lunch in the Acapulco Restaurant and took a copious amount of pictures around my old stomping grounds in Caldwell. I enjoy reading your blog and picking up on the history of my home town.

John T. Richards said...

Great to hear from you and happy to know my blog brings a bit of Caldwell to Texas. Yes, I have often looked at photos of the fire department when it was in the old city hall and town views with Greenlund's Drug store. I would always be interested in any stories or photographs you might wish to share, be it privately or through this blog. Regards, John

Anonymous said...

hello john, i e-mailed you earlierthis week, but did not as of yet, have a reply. i purchased harry orchards gun, holster, book & copies of the court proceedings in 2003. i am interested in selling all, if you know of anyone that is interested in buying these articles. you can contact me at or 701-226-5328. my name is jim wetzel. thanks john

Karrsst12 said...

Hi: Neat site. I stumbled on it looking for info on the Washentaw bank. I have a bill signed by the same individuals on your note. Can you make out the signatures? Due to the script, I'm unable to tell what their names are! If you know, I'd be grateful if you'd share that information with me... Thanks!
Mark McNiff

Linda E. Weaver said...


I'm just a lurker on your site, but I wanted to share with you that I enjoy your writing style! It reads like a "conversation" which makes the blog fascinating! Keep up the good work! Sincerely, Linda E. Weaver

John T. Richards said...

Linda, come and "lurk" anytime!

Andrew Fitch said...

Hello John, and greetings from Danville, VA.

I stumbled upon your blog this evening and wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed what I've so far read. My family and I moved to Caldwell in 1970 when I was 12 and one of the first things I remember learning about was Gov. Steunenberg the circumstances surrounding his assassination.

I look forward to reading more here and I'm going to share the link with my parents who still live in Caldwell

John T. Richards said...

Thanks for dropping by Andrew. Hope you and your folks in Caldwell enjoy the blog. Perhaps they are familiar with some of my kinfolk in Caldwell, the Crookham's (Crookham Seed Company). I am way overdue for another visit to Idaho. Regards, John

Anonymous said...

Can you provide the source for the 1900 photo of Silver City?

Bob Sobba said...

I enjoyed your blog. I live in Caldwell and know many of the Crookhams. I was the chief of police here for 18 years before retiring. I wrote a hisory of the Caldwell Police Department and have had a long time interest in the Stuenenberg murder. I am scheduled to make a presentation about it next year at the Wild West History Associations convention in Boise.

John T. Richards said...

Glad to make your acquaintance and happy to hear you have enjoyed the blog. I need to get on there this weekend as work and personal demands have limited my time.

Be sure to say hello for me to any of my Crookham kin you see in Caldwell. Bill and I keep in touch from time to time. I am long overdue for a Caldwell visit.

I would be very interested in your planned presentation at the Wild West History Association. I will have to check the website and/or please let me know if you have other related information or links for the convention.

Regards, John

Bob Sobba said...

In case you didn't see it the Idaho Statesman 9-4-12 had a short article about Harry Orchards family.

John T. Richards said...

Yes, I did see the article and linked it to my blog. Thanks for your interest and your visit Bob. Come back anytime.

The Fairy Tale Genealogist said...

Enjoying your Idaho info. I have a blog on Western States research and I have seen some helpful things on your site. By your "slo" town, CA address I am guessing you live in San Luis Obispo. I am up the road in King City.

Dayna said...

Not sure if my other comment posted so I'm doing it again! Hey, I enjoy your Idaho info. I have a western states research blog and have gotten some good ideas from you. From your "SLO town, CA" address I am guessing you are from San Luis Obispo. I am up the road in King City. --Dayna

John T. Richards said...

Hi Dayna:
Thanks for the blog visit and comment. I would be interested in your blog if you would like to provide a link. Yep, I'm just down the big slab a piece from King City. John

Unknown said...

So glad I found your blog John, I've learned a great deal about our Great Grandfather and the life and times of his family. Thank you for all your time spent in research, compiling data and gathering photographs for this outstanding blog. Keep posting and I'll keep reading.

Laura White Woods
Albuquerque, NM
Granddaughter of Edna Jessie Steunenberg Oldridge

John T. Richards said...

Glad you have enjoyed the blog and discovered more information about the Steunenberg side of our clan. I would certainly like to learn more about Edna, particularly photographs and any bits of information about her birth and early life in Caldwell.
Thanks, John

Anonymous said...

John: I am putting together my presentation to the Wild West History Association convention in Boise this summer. I have read several stories about Belle B. forgiving Orchard for the murder. However I recently read a letter in the file at the Caldwell library about John S. who was five when the assassination occurred. The article was about him retiring from the ministry. He was very vocal about how the media and the Adventist church played up Orchards supposed conversion. He stated that all his mother did was give him a pamphlet from the church and posed for a newspaper photo with him. He was upset that there was little coverage of fathers accomplishments of his father but there was a lot about the conversion and what a "model prisoner" Orchard was. I was interested in your thoughts. Thanks Bob Sobba

RCSobba said...

John: I am putting together my presentation to the Wild West History Association convention in Boise this summer. I have read several stories about Belle B. forgiving Orchard for the murder. However I recently read a letter in the file at the Caldwell library about John S. who was five when the assassination occurred. The article was about him retiring from the ministry. He was very vocal about how the media and the Adventist church played up Orchards supposed conversion. He stated that all his mother did was give him a pamphlet from the church and posed for a newspaper photo with him. He was upset that there was little coverage of fathers accomplishments of his father but there was a lot about the conversion and what a "model prisoner" Orchard was. I was interested in your thoughts. Thanks Bob Sobba

John T. Richards said...

Hello Bob. Thank you for your inquiry and comments. I had noticed a while back on the Wild West Association website that you had a presentation planned at the WWHA convention coming up in Boise.

I believe the John S. (there is a brother of the Gov. named John) you reference is actually Frank W. Steunenberg, the youngest son of Gov. Frank & Belle S. Sometimes referred to as Frank Jr. (I will use that notation), he was five years old at the time his father was murdered. Frank Jr. later attended Walla Walla College, graduated in 1924 and entered the Adventist ministry. He has two surviving daughters.

Belle was of course a devoted Adventist by the time of the assassination. Gov. Frank, as near as I can determine, was not—but at the very least tolerated and accepted Belle’s zeal for Adventism. It was clear spousal agreement had been reached that the children would be reared in the Adventist church although my grandfather Julian, the eldest child, was somewhat resistant. He relented, attended Walla Walla College circa 1903-05, met my grandmother Francis, a family with deep roots in Walla Walla and the college, and was indeed an Adventist for life. No doubt, as an outgrowth of her faith, Belle expressed forgiveness toward Orchard and did have some contacts with him in prison. The nature and frequency of those has always been hard to determine. Perhaps in person, perhaps correspondence and the provision of religious literature no doubt occurred. I am not sure if my grandfather Julian ever visited Orchard in-person but he may have stopped by the prison at the prodding of his mother. Grandpa Julian never spoke about it as those events were taboo around the kitchen table or house.

Although Frank Jr. was indeed later upset about the attention given to Orchard and lack of given his father, Frank Jr. had had contributed to Orchard’s story with his book, Greater Love in 1952. In this small book, he focuses on Orchard, his alleged conversion and forgiveness. The Steunenberg family and Gov. are not the focus—Orchard is. Toward the end, Frank Jr. mentions a 1911 letter that Orchard wrote to my grandfather Julian “who was not at the time a Christian.” I do have a couple 1909-1911 letters from Orchard to Belle and one to Julian (missing a second page). They are posted on my blog. I recovered these (for a price of course) with several other items.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Letters from Assassin Harry Orchard

Frank Jr.’s later book (1974), The Martyr of Idaho, was a part of his effort to correct what he then realized had been the glorification of Orchard while his father was relegated to a footnote in history. The book borrows and expands on the family related history mentioned briefly in Greater Love, and takes a more personal and family focus both pre and post assassination. Orchard is minimized and there is no discussion of forgiveness, just a mention of God’s judgment. In the text portion covering the bombing, Orchard is hardly mentioned by name and usually referred to as one of the gangsters, murderer, the arrested man, thug”, etc. Here is a new article that came out shortly after publication of the book.

I would be very interested in a copy of the letter from the Caldwell Library if you have one or I will contact the library. I am not aware of nor have I ever seen any photo of Orchard with Belle or other Steunenberg family members. I have heard that Orchard declined any pictures with Belle or Julian based upon his not being worthy of such.

I will continue to give this more thought and browse my on archives for any relevant facts. Please keep me posted on your progress and preparation for the presentation in July.
With Regards,
(Having some problems with the lower part of Blogger going dark and the Guest Book does not as yet accept links. Going to enter my response as a general post today).

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy this website!

Do you know this: The first Steunenberg lived in Nijbroek/Terwolde (in the Netherlands) about 1600. His name was Jan Steunenberg. He had two sons: Jan and Peter.

There still is a farm called Steunenberg! (See Google maps)

Please go on with your blog!

Marianne Steunenberg

John T. Richards said...

Delighted to have you visit the blog. I do know a little about my Steunenberg and Keppel kinfolk roots and keep a file of information and clippings related to that part of the family, their origins in The Netherlands and immigration to America. Yes, I have heard of the Steunenberg farm and hope to visit those places some day. Please keep in touch as I would love to hear more. Regards, John

rwatkins said...

Excellent site. Thanks for putting this together. A lot of good stuff. I enjoyed seeing Frank's Savage and Orchards colt. Still haven't seen everything but I will. I was born in Caldwell Idaho about a 100 yrs after Orchard. I have been to 16th and Dearborn and lived by and visited canyon hill cemetery and Franks S. grave often. This event has always intrigued me. I copied the Jan 6th 1906 Caldwell paper that reports "A Cowardly Crime"

John T. Richards said...

rwatkins, thanks for stopping in. Yes, Frank's Savage and Orchard's alleged Colt are two very interesting items. Getting information on the Savage has been rather difficult as the rifle is in possession of a Cousin that keeps it under wraps. As to Orchard's Colt, I am reasonably confident in the provenance but a lot of further study is needed to beef it up.

Glad you found the blog useful. I would love to hear more about your family connections to Caldwell. Regards, John

Unknown said...

I'm looking for anything about the Triumph Mining, or North Star Mine in Hailey.. Love your work , Glad I found it

Mary Sue Megchelsen Chatfield said...

I heard of Gov. Steunenburg from my grandfather, Karl Megchelsen, during my growing up years. I am descended from Charles and Nancy (Keppel) Megchelsen who settled in Keokuk, IA. Bill Crookham had mentioned your blog to me the last time he visited Iowa. Just happened upon your blog today and am finding it very interesting reading!

John T. Richards said...

Mary Sue:
Great to hear from you. I know right where you fit in the family tree as always have my genealogy records and still copies of Keppel Family History Holland to America. Bill and and I had discussed his Iowa trips and you specifically with great fondness. He had shared some information about the original home sites. I will have to get it out again as may have a few questions for you. So much to research and so little time to do it! Thanks for visiting my blog. Let's keep in touch.
Cousin John

SMANDY said...

The South Fork Companion blog led me to your blog, and your blog led me to the book "Big Trouble" which I just finished reading and very much enjoyed-- so thank you for your part in that! I also appreciated your follow-up post, "A Good Hanging Spoiled" on the Idaho Public Television website. It is good to hear your representative perspective on behalf of the family. I agree with your conclusions about the governor's decisions in 1899 and the jury's decision in 1907. I am interested to hear your perspective on Steve Adams. While reading "Big Trouble" I found myself sympathizing with him and hoping he wasn't guilty (though I don't conclude that he was entirely innocent of other acts of labor violence during the era). Is it possible that he might have been wrongfully drawn into the case by an over-zealous McParland? I didn't feel like the book really answered the question of whether he was or was not involved in Governor Steunenberg's murder. Thanks for the blog-- I always enjoy reading your posts.

Anonymous said...

Hello. I was told of your blog via the FB Boise History page. I'm working on an historical novel regarding the Haywood trial and its precursors, and am just beginning to delve into my research. Thankfully there is much available to help me make the book more historically accurate, including your site. Wishing you a good new year,
Helen Faith

Pappy Boyington Veterans Museum said...

How do we get permission to use your photos. And if you give permission can we restore them so they have better detail? We have an in house restoration person.


John T. Richards said...

Sorry a little slow getting back to you as a recent computer crash. You are welcomed to use images. I only ask for a synopsis in advance of how to be used, which images, the source for each be identified with the name & URL of this blog and a copy of any final product be provided to me. Images may not be used for resale or profit. I look forward to hearing about your project.
Thank you, John

Unknown said...

Bob Lehmann, retired minister of the gospel:May 24, 2017
At the age of four, I sat alone in the evening meeting at a Campmeeting where Leroy Froom
preached "Salvation by Grace" using the story of of Harry Orchard and how Belle Steunenberg was used of the Lord to teach him the blessed hope, and how she worked to influence the State decision to commute Harry's sentence to Life imprisonment. I was deeply impacted and moved to embrace that same hope, becoming a worker in the church they loved. I have never forgotten and have utilized the story to teach grace in a way not dissimilar to Leroy Froom's. I see that through it all, Belle and Harry will likely one day meet those influenced for the Lord by how they themselves responded in those crisis times. God be praised for bringing good out of it all.

John T. Richards said...

Dear Bob, thank you very much for your comments. We, and many others, may have widely disparate opinions regarding Orchard's eventual sentence, truthfulness, motivations and salvation...but over the years I have had many very positive and respectful discussions with family members, clergy, legal scholars, historians, etc.....some being members of the Seventh Day Adventist church, other faiths, or agnostics and atheists. We even heard from a great grandson of Orchard's several years ago. The story of my great grandparents, Frank and Belle, and assassin Harry Orchard, still resonates today and elicits many different opinions. I am always amazed that all these years later, and I guess probably the foreseeable future, we continue the search for an ever elusive truth. Thank you for visiting my blog.

Unknown said...

I live at 1406 Everett (bought in 2006). Somewhere I have a photocopy of a photo of the place right after the second story burned (in 1889, maybe?) The house is listed as built in 1886. If I find it, I'd be happy to scan it and send off to you.

Pauline said...

I am delighted to find this blog! My RIDDLE family came to Idaho in abt. 1904/05 to work on the new post office bldg. in Boise. My grandfather was so taken by the Boise valley that he moved his family, his parents & sisters to Caldwell. I'm interested in learning more about Caldwell history in the early 1900s.

Pauline said...

I am delighted to find your blog! I was born & raised in Caldwell as was my father. The Riddle family moved to Caldwell in abt. 1905.

John T. Richards said...

Pauline, thank you for dropping in for a visit. I hope you find some photos and information of interest. I have not been as active on here as in previous years but still post occasionally. Please do not hesitate to ask if you need assistance and/or questions answered. I would always be interested in knowing more about your family history and experiences in Caldwell too. With Regards, John

Rick Just said...

Hi, this is Rick Just. I write a daily blog called Speaking of Idaho, available on Facebook and other places. I just wanted you to know that I bump into your blog once in a while when I'm doing research. Good job!

John T. Richards said...

Hi Rick. Thanks for dropping by. I do catch your blog from time to time and when you share posts on other Idaho FB groups. I am not real active with this blog at the moment but still throw something up now and then. Stop on by anytime. John

Unknown said...

Not sure if this reached you yesterday when I sent it as anonymous, so am trying again. Please use my yahoo email (, not gmail, to reach me.
I'm writing a novel based on the lives of my ancestors, including Andrew (Andy) Johnson, the fellow who arrested Harry Orchard. He was my mom's hero--when she read "Big Trouble," she told my sister to hide it from me because she didn't want to me to read the nasty things said about my great grandfather. Apparently for years he tried collecting the reward, and she truly believed he'd earned it. I found a January 15, 1906, news article about Harry's indictment, which stated, "The most important witness today was Andy Johnson, a Boise officer who talked with Orchard several times before and after his arrest. He had a collection of exhibits connected with the case." Until McParland came to town, Andy seems to have been included in the inner circle of the investigation. I hope to find more source docs before I decide how to portray him in my novel. I think he would have agreed with you that Harry's sentence shouldn't have been commuted to life.
Thanks for all your research!

Unknown said...

My Mom (Louise Sund at the time) and I stayed at the Saratoga when we came to Caldwell in May of 1956. I was 9 years old and since we had come from rainy Oregon, when I opened the blinds to see the sun shining I screamed in delight! We came to visit Mom's Dad (Wilford Olson) as he was dying of cancer at the VA Hospital in Boise. We ended up staying in Caldwell. My Dad sold our house in Oregon and came later. I was born in Caldwell in 1946 and we left for Oregon when I was about one year old or so. I shall never forget the Saratoga Hotel and its' "bright, sun shining moment"!

Brenda (Sund) Watson
New Kuna resident from Dallas, Texas

fortboise said...

And then I stumbled on to this 11 years later, and am so glad for all the effort you've put into this over the years. Thank you for doing it, and keeping it up! (My entry point was the "Interurban Car in Caldwell" post. Glorious image featured.)