Sunday, May 29, 2011

Harry Orchard's Colt? Who are P.R.Edington & Rev. Marshall F. Montgomery? Is there an Idaho Pen link? Email if you know these names or have any info.

You may remember a previous post regarding a Colt Single Action Army revolver allegedly belonging to Harry Orchard. I was recently contacted by the current owner and have been examining the existing information more closely in an attempt to definitively link the gun to Orchard. Unfortunately, the provenance is rather weak and attempting to locate additional records has proved to be quite a challenge. Hence, I am looking for help.

Pictured Colt comes from Wikipedia.

Many items are often sold from person to person as allegedly belonging to a famous, (infamous in this case) individual. However, value, if primarily based on the items association with that person, can only be established with a clear and documented record of ownership. Sometimes what we want to believe taints our examination and interpretation of the evidence.

From various accounts, we know that Harry had a Colt in his possession at the time of arrest. However, the evidence that this particular revolver belonged to Orchard remains rather thin. After all, that is not "Harry Orchard" inscribed inside the handle and even that would not guarantee authenticity. If ownership can be verified though documentation, articles, descendants, etc., perhaps to an Idaho Pen guard or warden, and better yet directly to Orchard—the provenance would be considerably strengthened.

The following comes from a NYT article written by Oscar King reporting on Orchard's testimony at the Haywood trial:
“The day closed with the evocation by Richardson of the only decent and redeeming incident in the whole monstrous story Orchard has told. That came out under the sneering showing that Orchard has received money, apparently from the State, since he has been in prison. He said he had $115 in all in his eighteen months in jail.”
“Did you send any of it to your wife, your first wife?” sneered Richardson.
“Yes, Sir.”
“How much?”
“About fifty dollars.”
“Where did you get it? Did McPartlan (sic) give it to you?’
“No sir; I sold my watch and locket, my guns, and things I had in my grip. I asked the Warden (this would have been Whitney) if he couldn’t find some one who would advance me $50 and take the thing after the trial. I got it from the Governor” (Gooding).
So maybe Gooding took the gun(s) and other items same as he had taken Orchard's original transcribed confession and hidden it away? The confession transcripts were recently discovered in the possession of Gooding descendants (and are now at the Idaho State Historical Society Archives). What happened to the guns and other items in Orchard's grip that were supposedly sold and taken after the trial?

I have been in contact with the Idaho State Historical Society but there is no documented record currently available to prove what happened to Orchard's revolver, if it was among his belongings stored at the pen, or if a guard or the warden bought or arranged to sell it so Orchard could send the proceeds to his wife (as Orchard reportedly requested.

Below is the description of the revolver that originates from an auction held some years ago, maybe 2003 or so. Click on the page once and then again to enlarge for clearer viewing. Hand inscribed inside the right hand grip of the Colt is " P.R. Edington June 11, 1911." One could reasonably assume that to be a previous owner, with a later owner being Rev. Marshall F. Montgomery . Who are they? What, if any, connection do they have to a chain of ownership leading back to Orchard?

The information in the description is essentially all the evidence we have at this time. The key word is "alleged" as I could take a period Colt, package it with an even better collection of articles, photographs, Orchard's book, etc., and present it as being his revolver. The current seller is not doing that but what about the various owners of this particular Colt over the past 100+ years?

Click on the description & then click again for larger/clearer view.

If you can offer any information or recommendations, please respond by clicking below this post on "comments" (you will have the option to do so anonymously) or email me at:

Orchard on the left...his Colt Revolver in hand? Rehearsing for the real thing. Cabal of Death by Robert Grimmett

The search goes on...

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