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.

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