Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Independence Depot Blown-up June 6, 1904

I love it when I find these old cards with a written account of an event on the very day that it happened. Click on the picture to enlarge.

C.C.C. (Cripple Creek Colorado) 6-6-"04 (1904)
Dear Mother:
Think of this dastardly deed. Stella has just written you. Our neighbors are all in here this A.M. and we could not hear how Len was and it was terribly agonizing at last at 8 o'clock John telephoned he was all right. I would help hang such fiends they ought to be tied to a stake and tortured for weeks and I would help do it.

On June 6, 1904, there was a horrific explosion at the Independence Depot. Thirteen non-union men were killed — some of them mutilated — and six more were injured. Sheriff Robertson rushed to the scene, roped off the area, and began an investigation.
--Wikipedia - Colorado Labor Wars

Harry Orchard Blows Up the Independence Colorado Train Depot

Who Blew Up the Independence Depo

Orchard Tells of his Crimes

Address, stamp and postmark from the same postcard.
Mailed from Cripple Creek CO. on June
7, 1904 and arrived Ann Arbor Mich. June 9, 1904.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Lot of Turkeys at the Old Idaho Penitentiary

The penitentiary prisoners, as seen in the photograph from an original 1924 Nature Magazine, raised and tended a large flock of turkeys destined for Thanksgiving tables. Click on the picture to enlarge for better viewing.

My understanding is that Harry Orchard assisted with the turkeys although was generally more associated with chickens. A turkey or a chicken, either one seems to fit for Harry.

The men seen in the photograph are not identified. I don't think that is Harry in the foreground but I do see a stripe down the side of the prison issue britches. Let me know if you recognize this person. The faces of the others are not visible. I imagine most of the men are prisoners. The one on the horse doesn't appear to be a guard, but perhaps the man standing in the middle of the road, and seemingly not involved in the work, is one. Hard to tell. I see some good herding dogs out there too.

That looks to be the current "Old Penitentiary Road" that comes off of Warm Springs Avenue leading back to the pen.

More Idaho Penitentiary

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Harry Orchard Sighting?

We have now been researching and debating for over a hundred years the conspiracy theory implicating (or not depending upon your view) Bill Haywood, George Pettibone and Charles Moyer in the murder of Governor Steunenberg. Most everyone, regardless of their view on the above matter, accepts that Harry Orchard/Albert Horsley was the actual bomb maker and murderer. However, another conspiracy theory has floated around from time to time regarding Harry Orchard's true identity. Did Orchard actually spend the rest of his life in the Idaho Penitentiary or was that someone else? Was he given freedom in exchange for his testimony and secretly released and relocated to another part of the country? Such a theory is certainly an intriguing one, right up there with the second shooter on the grassy knoll (Kennedy), but I have yet to come across any evidence to substantiate it--just hearsay. You may or may not be aware that this matter was actually given at least cursory attention by the Bureau of Investigations (today known as the FBI) back in 1918-1921. The documents posted here comprise six letters in an FBI file related to Harry Orchard.

A letter from a S.P.D. Long (top right) dated March 29, 1918 and sent to Sharp & Irvine Co., references and quotes an enclosed letter (but that actual letter is not in the file I obtained). Click on the letters to enlarge for reading. To quote S.P.D. Long:

"Writer requests addressee to forward the enclosed letter to the Governor of Idaho, stating that his reason for asking this favor is 'I don't want any police officer or detective to get wise to where I am at, if they did they may work a trick on me and get the man and the reward too.'

In letter enclosed to Governor of Idaho, writer requests information if there is a reward offered for HARRY ORCHARD, who assassinated Governor Studenburger (sic) and if there is such and the Governor will arrange to pay the reward to me' he can give very definite information about the man Orchard that will lead to his arrest and identification. Writer request the Governor to send him, pictures of the man referenced to, full description mentioning marks and scars if any, all of which will help in the arrest.

Writer informs addressee that he knows this man ORCHARD well stating that 'the Dirty Black hearted cur' is employed by the German Ambassador as a spy, an all around 'bad man' to do England and the United States up and that he is going to do him (ORCHARD) and get the reward of $20,000 (or maybe it is $50,000 j.r.) and 'whack up' with addressees---signed himself 'Your old friend and client-S.P.D. Long.'"

If I am looking at and understanding correctly (no guarantee), this S.P.D. Long is the person that alleges he knows Orchard, wrote the referenced letter to the governor of Idaho and the letter shown and quoted above to Sharp & Irvine Co. Brokers.

Moses Alexander would have been governor of Idaho at the time the letters were written. The other two letters above from 1918 show the follow-up correspondence that took place.

Also included in the FBI file is a letter dated August 16th, 1921 from someone by the name of "Harry Orchard", written on the persons business letterhead and regarding a request for a passport. Two other agency followup letters from 1921 are included. It would seem very unlikely that a notorious killer would go out and establish a business, advertise on letterhead under the name of Harry Orchard and request a passport if in fact he was the person convicted for the murder of Governor Steunenberg and a score of others. In addition, the signature on the letter does not match the signature of "our" Harry Orchard. I have seen a similar letter with the same business name and address before.

The series of reports/letters shown in this post were sent during the years of 1918 and 1921. The issue of Harry Orchard's identify would crop up again in 1939. It is a topic in which Justice Byron Johnson had taken a great interest and first brought it to my attention. See: Was that Harry Orchard in the Idaho Pen?

Although I have seen no substantiating evidence, I try to remain open-minded, follow the trails wherever they might lead and welcome any evidence that might shed new light on these events.

The documents above were all found on where I have an account. You can get limited access to the items I have saved but have to be a paying member to fully navigate the site.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Some excellent comments regarding the "illusive truth"

This is too much good stuff to leave it buried in the guest book where folks don't always check. It is the type of thoughtful and intelligent exchange that I encourage and enjoy receiving. Challenges the thinking a bit. You may want to go check the previous guest book comments. is signed C.D. The first person that makes me think of is Clarence Darrow. Clarence, you out there? Hopefully C.D. and I can connect up more directly sometime. Thank you for you comments. I will probably have more to say later. John

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Sign My Guestbook".

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.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Five Dimes so far.....

I was wrong about not making a dime. I've raked in .50 cents since my posting yesterday! Well, I guess that is .50 cents more then I got for all the thousands of writing and research hours put into this blog.

I am still working out a few kinks but keep subscribing and checking my Boise Examiner site.