Saturday, October 30, 2010

Big Bill Haywood in Silver City, Idaho

Click here for image of Big Bill Haywood in his Silver City days.
As a miner in Silver City, Idaho, Haywood began in earnest his life as an organizer and as a founding member of the Silver City local of the Western Federation of Miner's (WFM). Click on the above link (Idaho State Historical Society Digital Collections) where we see him in his classic pose, head turned to the right, shielding his bad eye from the camera. He right eye was blinded in an accident at the age of nine.

Below we have an overall view of Silver City circa 1900.

Postcard view of Silver City from the collection of John T. Richards

From Big Trouble, regarding Operative 53, who was working undercover for the Thiel Detective Agency:
"In his first report, filed January 13, Operative 53 said that R.J. Hanlon, financial secretary of the Sliver City Miner's Union, complained that Haywood and Charles H. Moyer, the president of the WFM, were 'trying very hard to get the Silver City Union mixed up in the {Steunenberg} affair.' Hanlon said two union officials had telegraphed him the day before to hire John Nugent, a Silver City lawyer and old friend of Haywood's, to defend Harry Orchard. An ex-miner who'd turned to the law after he was seriously injured in a mining accident, Nugent was serving as prosecutor of Owyhee County, where union sympathizers were in the saddle, but Nugent--perhaps seeing a conflict of interest--declined to take the Orchard case. Hanlon and other union members talked of a split between Idaho's 'hotheaded' unionists to the north and more conservative Silver City miners, who were reluctant to become embroiled in 'this mess.'

The Owyhee Nuggett, a Silver City newspaper friendly to the union, reported that the Steunenberg assassination was 'a serious affair in which {the miners} will do well to play 'hands off.' Many Silver City miners, the paper said, remembered Haywood from his days there and regarded him as 'very impetuous' but an honest man in his personal dealings, industrious, and wonderfully devoted to {his} wife.'

As snow blanketed the mining camp, the operative found it 'a hard matter' to get union men to talk about the case. 'When some of them get a little intoxicated,' he reported, however, 'they begin to talk a little.' Over several weeks, he spent more than fifty dollars buying drinks for cold, thirsty miners. Eventually, several told him that the WFM had recently voted to 'clean up' the union's enemies, among them Steunenberg, and that four or five men had been appointed to get those 'damn sons of bitches,' which they'd do if it took a hundred hears."

--Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas

More ISHS Digital Collections
Haywood related documents

Steunenberg Documents

Old Harry Orchard

Silver City/Delamar area map

Be sure to browse all the photographs and documents in the Idaho State Historical Society (ISHS) Digital Collections.

Related Blog post:
Saturday, January 19, 2008

What the Heck is an Emu-Z-Um Anyway? Silver City/Delamar, Idaho, Big Bill Haywood & "Are They Going to Hang My Papa."

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