Saturday, November 27, 2010

No Neckties Allowed #4 - Governor Steunenberg, Sheriff Harvey Brown & other stuff

I hope everyone is enjoying a nice Thanksgiving weekend and getting some quality time with friends and family. For those that are Boise State fans, there is unfortunately nothing I can say to relieve your pain and suffering.

This is my fourth "No Neckties Allowed" entry that I started awhile back. These entries comprise an informal smorgasbord of information and contacts from recent weeks.

First up today are some links from our friend Gary
Eller, who continues his good work of finding, preserving and recording historic Idaho music. Check it out, as you can sample the music and his CD's are available to purchase for folks on your holiday list.

The Idaho Songs Project

Early Songs of Southern Idaho and the Immigration Trails

The Idaho Songbag available from the Idaho Humanities Council

J. Anthony Lukas & Big Trouble - A look back

Dark Destinations (the
old Idaho Pen)

As some of you know, Harve Haskell has been in contact with me from time to time regarding his interest in Frank Steunenberg, the assassination, and the connection to Sheriff Harvey Brown of Baker County, Oregon. Now if that sounds familiar, it is, because Harve and Gary Dielman (see Saturday, November 20, 2010 post) are each writing about the eerily similar murder of Sheriff Brown shortly after the end of the Haywood trial. I am guessing there may be a friendly competition between Gary and Harve as they continue researching and writing their respective books. Apparently they already know each other but I will do my best not to reveal any pre-publication secrets unless they have provided permission to do so. Mums the word.

Here is a sample of a recent email exchange between Harve and me, posted with his permission. I thought others might be interested in some of the information. My answers are interspersed throughout the email in red. These are just our informal emails so don't hold us too accountable for spelling and punctuation.

From: harve haskell
Sent: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 8:48 AM
To: john richards steunenberg family
Cc: harve haskell
Subject: information re: Franks' children

Dear John:

Greetings! It has been awhile since our last communication. Progress is slow, but hopefully thorough.

To that end, I suppose the information is probably right under my nose somewhere, however I cannot readily locate it, and I am currently righting the Chapter on the last few days of the Governor as seen and experienced through his own eyes and thoughts. It is a time of great reflection obviously as I'm sure it would have been if he had been that sense of impending doom.

I cannot seem to locate all the information on the names, dates of birth, etc. of all his children. Did I read that he had five? I believe that the girl Frances was born August 8, 1892.

The five children of Frank and Eveline “Belle” Steunenberg are:
1. Julian Pope Steune
nberg (my grandfather) born July 1, 1886, Knoxville, Iowa and died Feb. 11, 1966 in Ventura, CA. Married Oct. 18, 1906 in Caldwell, ID to Francis Beardsley Wood.

2. Felix Steunenberg born Dec. 13, 1888 Caldwell ID. Died May 1894 Caldwell, ID.

3. Frances L. Steunenberg born Aug. 12, 1892, Caldwell, ID. Died Aug. 1956 in Stockton, CA

4. Frank Willis Steunenberg (sometimes referred to as Frank Jr.) born Mar 1, 1900 in Caldwell, ID. Died Aug 12, 1990.

5. Edna Jessie Steunenberg born Sep. 25th, 1902 Caldwell, ID. She was an adopted child by Frank and Belle in 1905. Died on Jan 1, 1981 in Sonoma, CA. Married Herbert Oldridge (date unk).

I know that Julian was the eldest son, but do not know his date of birth. Based on the testimony, that I could make out, he appeared to be somewhere between 16 and 18 when this occurred, is this correct?

Julian was about 19 at the time of the assassination and nearing 21 at the time that he testified in June 1907.

I know that Frank (Jr.) was born after Julian and attended Walla Walla College. Was that the same institution Ju
lian attended as referenced in that letter from Frank Senior where he sends money to Julian to return home on the train?

Yes, Julian attended Walla Walla College and that is where he met my grandmother Francis. We have a lot of historical connections to the development of Walla Walla College on my grandmothers side (Maxon/Wood Family). Julian’s brother Frank attended later and graduated 1924 and went into the ministry. Julian did not complete college after his father was assassinated. He married my grandmother soon thereafter and they were lifelong SDA’s. Most are gone but there are still a couple of SDA family members living today.

I believe I have made out most of the correct wording in the letter but am not exactly sure what the first sentence says. It appears to say "Herewith (pay, fare, pan ?) to (Huntington?)

Yes, “Herewith” and I have assumed that to be referencing Huntington Oregon, near the Oregon/Idaho border, a major train route and as you know no doubt, in Baker, County!

However, to me, when taken in context with the rest of the letter it does not quite make sense. I get the sense that t
he majority of the $25. is for something else, something more important, say tuition? But also, it is not clear to me whether the reference of the $3.00 fare regards the entire trip from place of departure to Caldwell, or just from Huntington home?

The $3 as I view it is just Huntington to Caldwell and would seem to be the appropriate amount for that relatively short distance. The rest of the money would be for the greater portion of the fare and expenses.
3/16/1905 - Letter from Governor Frank Steunenberg ("Pop") to son Julian

Additionally there is a reference to a Mr. Oleustaurm (sp.?) allotting Julian a certain amount of fund, as though he were in charge of the balance. Do you know of this man? Was he a headmaster, or College Dean?

I have not researched Mr. Oleustaurm (never been quite sure on the spelling) to any degree. I assumed it was a railroad official that the governor may have known and would bill him for any extra cost based upon Julian having the letter. It seems the $25 check may have actually been written payable to this person.

I would so much appreciate any help or direction you can give me here. I am also trying to place this letter within a time frame. Was it written perhaps in Julian's first year away at College, and if so, what was the name and locale of the College?

It is postmarked March 16, 1905, so some nine months prior to the assassination. Appears to perhaps be a Spring break of sorts for Julian and he is coming home from Walla Walla College/College Place, WA through Milton, OR (another stop on our family history trail), Pendleton and Baker City to Huntington and home to Caldwell.

If there is an obvious source of reference on your website for all this information (including names and dates of birth of children), I would greatly appreciate your steering me in the appropriate direction.

Let me know anything else and eventually I will get back to you. Thank you for your comments regarding a desire for factual accuracy. I may share these questions and answers on my blog. If I do that, do you want me to keep you name confidential so the source of the questions is not revealed? Regards, John

Thank you so much for your continued assistance and support on my project. I believe that I have discerned, or at least have a good working theory as to what finally happened to Jack Simpkins and who murdered Harvey K Brown.

Best Regards, Harve Haskell

From: John T. Richards Jr. []
Sent: Sunday, August 22, 2010 3:56 PM
To: harve haskell
Subject: Frank Steunenberg letter


Here is another personal though politically pertinent letter written by Frank Steunenberg on 1/12/1890 to the family in Iowa. He had been elected as a representative to the Constitutional Convention for Idaho in early 1899. I think it gives you a flavor of his dry humor, lack of formality and down to earth nature (my interpretation of a few of his personality characteristics).

On November 5, 1899, the citizens had voted to ratify the State Constitution and on July 3rd 1890, President Harrison signed it into law and Idaho became a state.

I have attached the four page penned letter first followed by a three page transcribed version. This is in the COI archives but not online. You might want to check with Jan Boles regarding other letters and photos that are not yet posted as a part of the online collection. Please reference the COI archives if you use any of this material.

(The above photo is just a teaser. I will post the complete four page original and three page transcribed version soon as another COI Archives Spotlight, jr).

As for Sheriff Brown, I keep looking but is not much out there.


From: John T. Richards Jr. []
Saturday, August 14, 2010 2:36 PM
harve haskell

FW: questions re: steve adams testimony (?) at George Pettibone Trial


You raise many interesting questions on which I am not sure I can shed much in the way of new information. Poor Sheriff Brown, although right there in Caldwell from the very beginning after my great grandfathers assassination, has been relegated but to a footnote in history. I too have attempted to find out more about him in past years but only run across bits and pieces including this Oregon Genealogy web page that has been around for years. I took another try at it using my account. You probably have already, but you might want to browse my "Spotlights." Most relate to the Haywood trial and Steunenberg.

The mysterious Jack Simpkins in another player that I believe was more deeply involved in this matter then we shall ever know. Although Orchard gave a detailed and chilling account, I believe he still carried a few secrets to his grave.

A few specific links are below:

Sheriff Harvey Brown Charges Bomb to Miners

Is Simpkins in the toils?

Idaho Detective (Sheriff Harvey Brown) Bomb Victim

May be a victim of Idaho Miners' Union

Steve_Adams_who_may_repudiate_his confession

I made a few notes in red below interspersed with your email. You have brought Sheriff Brown and Steve Adams back up on my radar screen. I will keep my eyes open. As you indicated, historical information can get so overwhelming that sometimes I forget stuff that is sitting right under my nose. I have so many documents, copies and notes that keeping up is impossible. While being asked for information, photos, news accounts, etc. for the Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century project, my blog became a reasonably quick and easy way that I could start posting some items as I found them and not have to go dig though files and boxes each time. However, the blog is only a small sample!

If you ever want to see this wonderful 1906 court docket pictured at the links below with some names you will recognize, just go over to the College of Idaho, Smylie archives in Sterry Hall and mention to Jan Boles, archivist, that we been in contact and he will be happy to show it to you along with any of the other Steunenberg documents (although most of them are online for viewing).

1906 Criminal Docket Cover

Docket spine with title

Court Docket Names

Photos of the docket courtesy of Jan Boles, COI Archives

You should be able to open and view all the above links at but navigation will be restricted.

Harve, how would you feel about me sharing some of our correspondence on my blog? I am ok whichever way you might feel about it.

Keep me posted on the progress with your book.


From: harve haskell []

Sent: Friday, August 06, 2010 2:08 PM
To: john richards steunenberg grt grnson
Cc: harve haskell
Subject: questions re: steve adams testimony (?) at George Pettibone Trial

Dear John:

I may be looking in the wrong places, but if I am I think I've looked in ALL of them.

Here is my dilemma: Sheriff Harvey K. Brown stated that he was supposed to testify at "the trial" upcoming some time after September 1907. I have found written reference to the fact that the Defense was paying him for his testimony in the Steve Adams Trial in Coeur d 'Alene. I have only found two references to trials for Steve Adams. One was prior to the murder of your Great Grandfather. The other is a passing reference to another trial for Adams after the Haywood Trial. However I can find no record of the trial of Steve Adams in Northern Idaho after Haywood's Trial which I know took place because after he recanted his testimony against the WFM leaders i know that he was to be prosecuted for "related" crimes.

The first trial is referenced in Big Trouble beginning with the last paragraph on page 500 and goes for several pages. Adams was tried in Feb 1907 (before the Haywood trial) in Wallace for the murder of alleged claim jumpers Fred Dyer and Ed Boule (not charged in the current trial). It resulted in a hung jury. It was at this trial that Adams recanted his previous confession to the murder of these two men. There was at least consideration given to refilling the charges and requesting a change of venue away from Northern Idaho. Adams was also wanted in Colorado for crimes committed there. As far as I know, he was never extradited to CO to face charges but I could be wrong on that count. I have seen only brief references that there was a second attempt to try Adams in Northern Idaho (post Haywood Trial) but it also resulted in a hung jury.

While in Wallace, McParland met Sheriff Brown who was there with Steve Adams uncle, James Lillard. Brown was not there to testify. McParland, through his newfound connection with Sherriff Brown, then launched an effort to influence Lillard to encourage Adams to “come clean.” I would assume that Sheriff Brown’s reference to upcoming trials could only mean the Pettibone, Moyer and Orchard trials. Of course, we know Pettibone was found not guilty and charges against Moyer were dropped.

Adding to my confusion is the Trial of George Pettibone in January of 1908. It would seem more likely that this was the trial Sheriff Brown was referencing that he was supposed to testify at for the Prosecution. But by September 30, the date of his death the Haywood Trial was over, he had been acquitted. I can find NO Trial Transcript of Pettibone's Trial other than he was tried in January 1908 and acquitted as well in March 1908.

I have not seen a trial transcript anywhere. Just the various brief references that he was tried and acquitted.

It would seem common sense that if Steve Adams had confessed implicating the Big 3, which we know he did, and also led Jas. McParland and Gov Gooding to the burial site of the "Hellfire" Bombs Pettibone had given him for another assignment, which then helped to support his confession, that if he then recanted his confession they could/would still put him on the stand read his confession, he could deny the truth, but the State could shore it up by the fact that part of his confession was proven by the Pocatello discovery that Adams led them to himself.

Adam’s actually recanted only that part of the confession related to the two claim jumpers that he was accused of murdering. Interestingly, under cross examination, he stated for the record at his trial that the rest of his confession was true.

I can sense that at different times (Haywood Trial, Pettibone Trial) Either/ or the Prosecution and Defense felt there was some value in Harvey Browns testimony about what Steve Adams told him on his extradition to Idaho from Baker City. It is known that Brown encouraged Adams to come clean. Some part of their conversation was important to both sides.

Conflicting information was reported that Brown would testify at: A. Steve Adams Trial in North Idaho, which I believe was held in January 1908. or B. Brown would testify at the Pettibone Trial, which also started in January of 1908. The timing of his execution on September 30, 1907 suggests one or the other wanted him out of the way by Trial time.

Brown was in Wallace to attend the trial but did not testify. I would like to find out more specifics about whether Brown was in fact going to be called to testify at Pettibone’s, Moyer’s and/or Orchard’s trial.

But here is something else that does not add up: If Adams testimony, or recanted testimony, was not used at Haywood's Trial why would they introduce it into Pettibone's Trial where Sheriff Brown then might be necessary to testify about he and Steve Adams private conversation on the way to Boise???

There was probably a fleeting hope that Adams, still under some threat of extradition to Colorado, would come clean, boost the prosecution and get a guilty verdict against Pettibone. Although Haywood had been freed, such a verdict against Pettibone would stain and cripple Haywood and the WFM even more.

I am hoping/praying you have any answer to any of the above that will help clarify some or any of this. Brown was certain that this is the reason for his death and said so in a death bed statement. He knew he had been followed closely in the prior weeks of his death. He had received a threatening letter postmarked Colorado in which he was told if he didn't leave the country(Idaho) and if he testified that he was a dead man.

One cannot say with certainty, but we have an established history of threats, intimidation and murder during that period. There is no reason to doubt Sheriff Brown’s feelings about the subject, just as my great grandfather felt the same although did not share it to any extent with family.

Any Ideas, thoughts, guesses, John?

Sincerely Yours, Harve Haskell

(I look forward to following Harve's progress with his research and book. If anyone has information, opinions and/or comments regarding Sheriff Brown, please let me know or post as a comment to this entry, John).

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