Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 30, 1905 as described by James Hawley at the trial of William Haywood

As I have mentioned previously, I just completed my third or so cover to cover read of Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas. Amazing how much information in packed into those 875 pages (including the notes and index). As I have been reading through, additional items have been highlighted and a few more excerpts and bits of information will continue to appear on this blog when the time seems right. This one seemed appropriate for December 30th.

"Rising now and placing his gnarled hands on the table before him, Hawley wisely forswore any 'flights of oratory.' For one thing, it wasn't his style. And for another, he wasn't feeling up to it. 'The Haywood case has been a very wearing one,' he wrote a friend that week, 'and I have been doing three men's work constantly, and as old age is beginning to tell somewhat on me and as my stomach will not permit stimulents (sic) in the same old way, I feel a little ragged.'"

"But he managed, in eighty-five degree heat, to stemwind for two hours in his down-home 'Honest Jim' manner. 'Gentlemen,' he began, 'I want to say that we are not here to ask for anything except exact justice. We are not here to ask for conviction at your hands of anyone whom we do not fully believe to be guilty.' He and Senator Borah wanted to help the jury 'arrive at a just verdict' in a case 'that we doubt has parallel in the country, a case which has been and is being watched by the entire civilized world.'"

"One of Hawley's great strengths as a courtroom advocate had always been his ability to establish rapport with farmers, miners, and merchants on an Idaho jury. Propped against the prosecution table, as if against a Main Street hitching post, he chatted with them, much as a neighbor does to neighbor. Coming to the terrible events of December 30, 1905, he evoked a small town at Christmastime."
--Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas.

"The days pass and the Christmas season comes with all its thoughtsof peace and good willthe season when men live with their families, when people of the Christian faith rejoice, and if there is ever a time when all thought of fear should be laid aside then is the time. That is the season when love for mankind should rule, and exist if at all. That is the season when men should most feel safe from harm."

"Just as the old year was fadingjust as the new year was about to make its appearancewhen all seems safe and peaceful, Orchard lays his bomb in front of Steunenberg's gate, and that night as the governor hastens home through the dusk to his family, in mind the happy thoughts of the loving greeting in store for him...he is sent to face his God without a moment's warning and within sight of his wife and children."
--James Hawley, July 19, 1907.

Remembering Steunenberg (from our friend Hans Schantz).

Hans also did a nice review of Big Trouble: the Steunenberg Assassination (May 2010).

Morris Hill Cemetery, Boise, Idaho

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas 1905

In the past couple of years at holiday time, I have posted a portion of the excerpt below from Big Trouble. The passage regarding the family gathering at A.K. and Carrie Steunenberg's house is a favorite. I had mentioned that it might become a holiday traditionand it looks like that will be the case.

To make this year a little different from the previous posts, I will expand the excerpt and add a few more comments at the end. The excerpt is chronologically correct in time but a couple of short paragraphs are utilized that are not in the same order of appearance as in Big Trouble.

"The community's general air of well-being was reflected in the bustling jollity of Caldwell's holiday festivities, formally ushered in on Saturday, December 23, with Christmas exercises at three downtown churches. The most impressive were those at the Presbyterian Church, the house of worship that attracted many of Caldwell's leading citizens. Belle Steunenberg had stood proudly among its founders, a teacher in its Sunday School, a doyenne of the congregation, a community leader 'jeweled with Christian graces,' until her inexplicable defection to Caldwell's tiny eight-member Adventist Church when it was inaugurated a year before—an act of such breathtaking betrayal it had left a strong residue of resentment in the front pews."

"To assuage some of the bitterness among Belle's former congregation, the governor still attended an occasional Presbyterian service, though without much enthusiasm. He once confessed to a friend that 'his church attendance, he feared, was prompted more by anticipation of an intellectual treat than spiritual improvements.' He had to concede that the Presbyterians knew how to put on a show. That Saturday, the adult choir's 'Joy to the World' had been followed by songs from the youngest congregants, including a solo by the governor's niece, Grace Van Wyngarden, still pale from her bout with typhoid; a 'Rock of Ages' pantomime by Mrs. Stone's class, the young ladies dressed as the heavenly host, all in gold and silver, with wings sprouting from their shoulders; and finally the smallest child of all, Gladys Gordon, singing a 'rock-a-bye' with the aplomb of a prima donna and 'a clear, sweet voice that sounded to the roof.'"

"Then a portly member, dressed as Santa Claus, pulled up in a sleigh and taking his traditional position in the choir loft, delivered a gay, bantering speech. 'Have all you children been good this year?' he asked to squeals of affirmation. Descending to the foyer, Santa opened his sack, tossing out green net bags tied up with crimson yarn, each containing candy, nuts, and a bright golden orange. All this in the glow of an admirable balsam—which the congregation's men had cut in the crisp air of the Owyhee Mountains—now dressed out in cardboard angels and colored balls and illuminated this year, for the first time, by genuine electric lights."

"For the next few days, he (Harry Orchard) tried to get a fix on the ex-governor's schedule. He didn't catch up with him until Christmas day, when he saw him with his family on his way to his brother A.K. Steunenberg's house for the holiday dinner."

“At noon on Christmas Day, the governor and Belle attended the traditional family dinner at A. K.’s house. The hustling young entrepreneur and his family occupied an imposing Colonial Revival mansion, its great front portico supported by three Tuscan columns, approached by a new cement sidewalk on North Kimball Avenue, where the city’s 'quality' clustered in the lee of the Presbyterian Church.”

"Although Frank, A.K. and their wives certainly ranked among Caldwell's first families, they were less self-assured than they appeared. In a town that had long cherished the notion of unrestrained opportunity, the uncomfortable specter of social class reared its head. When James Munro, a clerk in the Steunenberg bank, married Estella Cupp, the eldest daughter of the town's most prominent real estate broker, the Tribune called them 'the popular young society people'—a frank recognition that a 'smart set' was coalescing in this nominally egalitarian community. A Young Man's Dancing Club invited the socially active young people to occasional soirees at Armory Hall."

"Some of Caldwell's new elite never quite felt they belonged. During a prolonged stay in the nation's capital, Frank Steunenberg shied away from the fashionable dinner parties to which he was invited. 'Why,' he told a friend more eager than he to see how the smart set lived, 'to accept one of these invitations means the wearing of an evening costume and what a pretty figure I would cut!'"

"A.K. Steunenberg had a thick sheaf of credentials. But consider his reaction as a guest of Bob and Adell Strahorn, the most worldly members of Caldwell's inner circle, at their summer home in northern Idaho. 'You can imagine my consternation when I 'butted' into a regular dress suit card party,' A.K. wrote his wife. 'I was the only one who did not wear a white front and a claw hammer. And to make matters worse they played a game called 500 I think I had never played before. Being like a fish out of water anyhow that did not tend to give me any reassurance...I sailed in and got through without making any very bad breaks or spilling my coffee. The ladies were perfectly lovely and seemed to try and relieve my embarrassment and I guess the men did too...The main theme of conversation at the card party was the help problem...not being able to procure help of any kind.'"

“None of these insecurities could be detected that Christmas afternoon as a gracious A.K. welcomed the boisterous clan beneath his portico. No fewer than thirty Steunenbergs gathered around the heavily laden table, headed by the seventy-two year old patriarch, Bernardus, a shoemaker by trade, a Mexican War veteran who’d come west from Iowa to join his children earlier that year. Seven of his ten offspring were there that afternoon: five sons—Frank; A.K.; Pete, the most raffish of the brothers, a part-time printer who sometimes dealt cards at the Saratoga; Will and John, lifelong bachelors and partners in a shoe store (“Fitters of Feet,” they called themselves) just behind the Saratoga—and two daughters—Elizabeth (“Lizzie”), married to Gerrit Van Wyngarden, a Caldwell contractor who’d built both Frank’s house and the new Caldwell Banking and Trust building, and Josephine (“Jo”), at thirty-four still unmarried, who made a home for John, Will, and Bernardus at her commodious house on Belmont Street, while finding time to repair Franks’ shirts as well. The “plump” and jolly” A.K. played Santa at his own festivities, distributing elaborately wrapped gifts to all the children.”

"'After it got dark, I (Orchard) went up to his residence and took a pump shotgun with me and thought I would try to shoot him when he was going home...I was there an hour or so before I heard him coming home, and he come soon after I got up there but he got in the house before I got my gun together.'"
--Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas

What we now know would be the final family gathering on Christmas that would include Frank, was fortunately not tainted by this bungled assassination attempt on Christmas dayyes, even the ex-governor walking home with his family on Christmas day did not dissuade the beast from trying to slay its pray. Of course, the family could never imagine that this would be Frank's last Christmas at his brother A.K's, with only five days until the tragic events on December 30th, 1905, when past assassination failures would finally end in a tragic and dastardly success.

Recently, I mentioned I was in the process of a complete cover-to-cover read of Big Trouble againperhaps my third time through. I remember the first read years ago and the perseverance that was required to slog through the twists, turns, and digressions so common to the writing style of J. Anthony Lukas. I found this third read to be much more pleasant, even relaxingwith the side stories and the national and global issues of labor and capital to be of greater interest. No longer was I rushing through to reach only those portions more specific to our family or the trial.

Big Trouble
reminds me that we need to look beyond ourselves, our own families, our political parties, our religions, our next election, our corporate board rooms and union halls...our own self interests
and take a more national and global view of what is good for the United States of America, the world and mankind. And I do not mean by only looking and listening to twenty-four hour cable news, the constant badgering of political pundits, reading books written seemingly overnight to enhance a momentary fame or fortune, or communication only by way of the Internet, twitter, or even blogs. Fortunately, we don't use dynamite to assassinate or military might to squash dissenting views as often as was the case in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but electronic media of all types, with little or no personal restraints and no common decency or courtesy, has become an even more far-reaching weapon. Its use in the war over political and personal ideology seems to be raging and has even been linked to murder and suicide.

Do I want governmental or other regulation of the news media or Internet? Absolutely not, as it is the first amendment and freedom of speech that sets us apart from the despots and fascists in the world and that our best young men and women have died to protect. These still relatively new tools provide tremendous opportunities for communication, education, debate, commerce, and research that enhances our lives
—even when we sharply disagree. But lest we become increasingly self-destructive, we must heed the words "do no harm."

During this holiday season, and for all seasons, we should enjoy, value and respect not only our own families and their differences
but find it in our hearts to extend the same courtesies to all of the global family of man (woman, child) where others are willing to do the same. We know not everyone willbut that does not mean that we should not.

So in these sometimes difficult times, we hope you are able to draw strength and love from your friends and family
and carry forth that love into the world as you go about the business, the pleasure and the challenge of life.

From our family to yours, we wish you a Happy Holidays and a Healthy, Prosperous and Peaceful 2011.

Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century on Public Television

12/31/1905 - Assassinated with a dynamite bomb
( Spotlight)

Click here to see a blog post about the home of A.K. and Carrie Steunenberg.

Click here to see the 1880 Census entries for the Steunenberg family.

Google Street View of A.K. Steunenberg home (give it a minute to load).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Haywood, Moyer, Pettibone are now being tried for their lives!

This is a postcard that I am moving up from the unarchived section at the bottom of the blog.

Postmarked July, 29,1907. Hand written on the front it says:

"Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, July 24th, 1907
Dear K. This is the scene of the great mining riots for which Haywood, Moyer, Pettibone are now being tried for their lives. Yours, Bill"

And as we know, four days later, on July 28th, before this postcard reached its destination, the jury found Haywood not guilty.

Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century

The Trial of Bill Haywood

The Idanha Hotel-Witness to history

Clarence Darrow Digital Collection (including Haywood trial transcripts).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Browsing the Library of Congress photographs

Caldwell, ID
About this photo-Library of Congress

Boise, Idaho
About this photo-Library of Congress

George Pettibone-Bill Haywood - Charles Moyer
About this photo-Library of Congress

Clarence Darrow (still my favorite Darrow photo).
About this photo-Library of Congress

William Edgar Borah with wife, Mamie McConell Borah (enlarged thumbnail photo as larger photo not available online).
About this photo-Library of Congress

Silver City, ID
About this photo-Library of Congress

Going to Work
About this photo-Library of Congress

Five miners in lead mine, possibly in the Coeur d'Alene region of Idaho.
About this photo-Library of Congress

Famous DeLamar mine and mill
About this photo-Library of Congress

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


John Lennon was assassinated 30 years ago today. If you receive automatic email updates, you will need to click on the link and go to my blog to see the video below.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Remember Pearl Harbor

Now and then I have to wander a bit and include other historical events of great significance. Of course, we had Steunenberg's and other kinfolk in WWII and some I have mentioned elsewhere on this blog. The following is from Your navigation of the site will be limited unless you are a subscriber. However, you can still get a look at quite a few pages. 
Remember Pearl Harbor: On December 7, 1941 Japanese forces attacked US Forces at Pearl Harbor, HI
On December 7, 1941, the United States suffered the most shocking military defeat in its history at Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. The Japanese surprise attack caused over 3,000 casualties and sank or damaged many ships including all eight battleships anchored in the harbor. Though the attack severely incapacitated the US Pacific fleet, it united a previously divided America and committed a nation to war.

See more about the Pearl Harbor Attack and WWII (since Ancestry gobbled up, these links are no longer active.

    Interactive USS Arizona Memorial
    Leave a tribute to a World War II Hero.
    Pearl Harbor Muster Rolls - Free during December
    Personnel assigned to ships based at Pearl Harbor.
    A Narrative of Events During the Attack
    Spotlight from the World War II Diaries.
    'Attack on Pearl Harbor' Footnote Page
    See documents and more about the Pearl Harbor Attack.

Explore the entire World War II Collection