Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gun Hunt #2 (and related items/accessories)

I have always had an interest in old firearms but have kept it in the research realm and stayed clear of adding guns to my collecting habits. However, I am unable to resist any longer, the kids are out of the house and maybe I can finally dabble in a few weapons that have a connection to historical events of interest. Besides, I keep telling myself they are a good investment!

To make buying from dealers a bit easier, I am waiting for by Curio's & Relics (C&R) license to arrive from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF). Many of the items I look at are old enough to fit within that category and easier and sometime less expensive to purchase with the C&R license. The investment can be considerable, and well beyond my pay grade, but there are reasonable opportunities to pick up interesting old rifles, fun to be had researching and assembling associated accessories, and to do a bit of plinking without breaking the bank.

I am really an oldie but a newbie so any pointers, suggestions or info on items of interest or for sale is welcomed. Most of my firearms knowledge is out of a book or off the Internet. As a young kid, we went out shooting the 22's now and then and I later actually sold rifles in a store for a period of time. However, my experience was limited whereas some kinfolk are much more knowledgeable and grew up in hunting families. I am just a city slicker.

I laugh about it now as I was like some of the sales people you find at Big 5 (but they have some good deals!) or similar sporting goods stores. The person behind the counter often knows nothing about that rifle they are handing you...and some don't even do a chamber check. At least I knew enough to check the chamber each time but had a co-worker that did not. One day a customer asked to see a rifle and the sales person picked it out of the rack and pulled the trigger. A 30.06 went through the roof (missed the upstairs offices thank goodness), echoed though the store and brought everyone to a chilling stand still. I think both the sales guy and the customer had to go check their pants. Somebody had chambered a round when the counter was left unattended. That was decades ago, initiated immediate procedural changes, and I don't think many stores (hopefully none) leave unattended and unlocked weapons in the rack behind the counter with all the ammo stacked right underneath.

Here are a few items I continue to research and hunt for, with links to photographs, other websites or blog posts. Click on each block of text to open a new link and on the photos to enlarge.

Gun Hunt #1

Information related to Governor Steunenberg's Savage 1895 Rifle. A serial # might let us determine where and to whom it was shipped from the Savage Arms Co. One story I hear is that the rifle was given directly to Steunenberg by Savage and another that it came by way of one or several mine owners.

A Savage 1895 deluxe checkered stock like this beauty but non-checkered version with octogon (not octomom...bad...sorry!) barrel.

Here is one Savage 1895 I am looking at but my price would be in the $2,500-3,500 range. The price on this one is why it has been listed quite a long while. Whoops...update, it's gone but wasn't me.

Not looking for the Savage 1895 .308 anniversary edition unless it is a giveaway price. I typically want the real thing only with the scars and wear of history.

Savage 1899 and its predecessor 1895

Civil War. I have a few musket balls, bullets and odds and ends and am always interested in looking and assembling items similar to those used by my ancestors in the Civil War such at Private Lewis Simpson. Generally too pricey for my wallet but I just can't get myself to go for reproductions.

Documentation on Harry Orchard's alleged Colt Single Action Army or any other guns/weapons he may have owned. I know where it is but am looking for a stronger provenance. No luck so far.

Kurt House was kind enough to take a look at the above Colt for me. Check out Kurt's Old West Collectibles for some nice historical hardware.

Knives, bomb making items, watch, photographs, documents belonging to Harry Orchard and not in the ISHS or other archives.

Springfield Model 1873 Trapdoor (used rather unsuccessfully by General Custer's troops at the Battle of the Little Big Horn).

U.S. Rifle Model 1889 "Trapdoor" from the Spanish-American War. Probably what most of the men in the Idaho Infantry were issued. Desirable would be one that is documented from the 1st Idaho Volunteer Infantry (Idaho boys shown in the photo to the right).

I wonder if Lt. George Steunenberg ever had an Officer's Model Trapdoor? Probably not as were not being produced by 1898 and likely he would have needed a higher rank.

More on Lt. George Steunenberg & the Spanish-American War

Mosin Nagant with Hex receiver, Tula arsenal. Maybe a sniper version too as gives a boost to old eyes. A relatively cheap but fun rifle for those of us without deep pockets. Actually found what I wanted. Poor man's rifle and that works for me.

M1912 Picket Pin and/or other accessories and attachments. I have a nice original picket pin case already that came with an 1897 Krag bayonet used during the Spanish-American War. A surplus seller incorrectly paired many Krag bayonets with Picket Pin cases since they made a perfect size scabbard.

U.S. Springfield M1 Rifle..."the greatest battle implement ever devised." --General George S. Patton

And maybe a WWII U.S. Army uniform in slightly used condition such as shown here on my Uncle Cal Steunenberg somewhere in the Pacific War theatre.

In most cases, I will need to settle for just great photographs and and documentation. The NRA Firearms Museum is about as good as as it gets.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Old Boise Courthouse & Jail

Today when we speak of the "old courthouse", one typically thinks of the grand art deco building that served Ada County until 2002. However, at the time of the Haywood trial, the older courthouse and jail built in 1882 stood in approximately the same spot.

You have seen the courthouse before in photographs of the trial and the souvenir postcard that was printed at the time (I have several and you can see one in a link below). However, the real photo postcard pictured below is a rather tough find that I finally added to the collection just recently. It is unused but with a note on the back "Court House & Jail, Boise, Ida. A lot of judicial history was made here in a rather short period of time. It is always nice to acquire a period reminder of a long gone historical site. Click on the photo to enlarge for viewing.

Does anyone have information/records/stories on other trials that took place here or individuals that might have been housed in the jail?

Related Blog Posts
Monday, September 14, 2009"Big crowds here, on account of Haywood trial"

Sunday, March 22, 2009 Governor Steunenberg's Office in the Territorial Capitol Building

Monday, March 23, 2009
Arthur Hart Straightens Me Out

Saturday, March 15, 2008
Would Trade a Mantle, Mays, Koufax or Robinson for a good Steunenberg, Orchard, Siringo or Meldrum

Friday, May 21, 2010
Haywood, Moyer & Pettibone Photographs

Ada County Courthouse-Preservation Idaho

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Everything You Didn’t Know About Clarence Darrow

Click on the following link to for another informative and interesting interview with John Farrell, author of Attorney for the Damned, that was discussed in my July 8th post.

Everything You Didn’t Know About Clarence Darrow

This came to me courtesy of native Idahoan and fellow blogger Tara Rowe. As always, much appreciated Tara. I am happy to know you are still out there and not on total hiatus for the summer.

I sense a new wave of interest, a renaissance of sorts, in regards to Darrow. I have been reading several older books about or by Darrow and look forward to fresh perspectives. Don't tell Justice Byron Johnson or Darrow actor extraordinaire Gary Anderson, but I continue to develop a greater respect and fondness for their hero despite his defense of Haywood and human flaws and regressions. We all need a little redemption later in life and Darrow seemed to have certainly earned his right to it.

Excerpt from the above article:
Interviewer T.A. Frail:
"In Darrow’s day there was open warfare between labor and capital. He stepped into that war in a major way in Idaho in 1907, when he defended Big Bill Haywood and two other unionists charged with murdering a former governor (the name is Frank Steunenberg! jr). You write that, “Of all of Darrow’s courtroom speeches, his summation in the Haywood case was arguably the most brilliant, and dangerous.” In what way brilliant, and in what way dangerous?"

Author John Ferrell:
"It’s brilliant in its eloquence. In those days attorneys and prosecutors could speak for up to 12 hours, or even longer—Darrow, in the Leopold and Loeb case, spoke for three days. The Haywood summation is long, and to the modern ear it tends to wander, but you have to think of him standing in the courtroom and speaking to the jury, and going back and forth over his major themes like a weaver. That speech is amazing, for his ability both to tear apart the prosecution’s case and to draw from the jurors—who were not union men, but were working men—an appreciation for what labor was trying to do."

"It was extraordinarily dangerous because he was using a plea for a client as a soapbox. He made a very political speech, talking in almost socialistic terms about the rights of the working class, and there was a danger that the jury would react against that—as one of his juries later did in Los Angeles. But it was a very small courtroom and the defense table was right up against the jurors; over the course of 90 days he got a very good sense of who they were, talking during breaks, listening to them, watching them as they listened to the testimony. I think it was an informed bet he was willing to make."

(I will add a plug for Darrow at the "first trial of century." You can still pick up a copy of the DVD, catch my 10-seconds of stardom and support public television while you are at it).

Where exactly was the Independence Depot located?

The picture below allegedly shows the spot where the Independence Depot once stood. I have viewed it many times before over the years. The photograph is posted on the Glen Burnie Seventh-day Adventist Church website on the page entitled Harry Orchard, The Man God Made Again.

Does anyone know the exact location on a map, GPS coordinates and/or what other structures/landmarks/mines may be nearby today? I am trying to get a more accurate fix on the site.

From the webpage description: The Independence, Colorado train station was located on this spot in the early 1900s. Harry Orchard planted a bomb underneath the train station platform, set the trip wire about 100 yards out along the railroad track, and when the train came in and the men were congregating on the platform, the train broke the trip wire and set off the bomb.

Independence Depot Blown-up

"Unspeakable Crime Perpetrated"

Friday, July 8, 2011

Clarence Darrow, Equal Opportunity Defender By KEVIN BOYLE

American Iconoclast
By Andrew E. Kersten
Illustrated. 306 pp. Hill & Wang. $30.

Attorney for the Damned
By John A. Farrell
Illustrated. 561 pp. Doubleday. $32.50.

Clarence Darrow in 1902.

Excerpt: ‘Clarence Darrow: American Iconoclast’ (July 10, 2011)

Excerpt: ‘Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned’ (Google Books)

I have cut and pasted the full article below or you can click on the link to see the original.

Clarence Darrow, Equal Opportunity Defender
Published: July 8, 2011

Early on the evening of Oct. 28, 1893, 25-year-old Patrick Prendergast came calling at the home of Mayor Carter Harrison of Chicago. The maid asked him to wait in the foyer while she fetched His Honor. But he ran past her and headed down the hall. The commotion drew Harrison out of his library. There was a confrontation. Words were exchanged. Then Prendergast pulled out a revolver and shot the mayor dead.

By the end of the year Prendergast had been convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death, even though it was clear to everyone that he was, in the gentle words of a police superintendent, “mad as a March hare.” His family decided to file an appeal. To carry the case they hired a 36-year-old lawyer who, until a few months before, had been Chicago’s assistant corporate counsel. So Clarence Darrow began his long career as America’s greatest criminal attorney by defending the man who had murdered his boss.

From there the roster of notorious clients grew. There were the union militants Eugene Debs, Big Bill Haywood and John J. McNamara; a sprinkling of Communists and anarchists; a handful of corrupt politicians; some homicidal socialites; a host of mobsters; one world-famous architect; and a few people accused of truly heinous crimes: charming young Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, who had killed a child just to see if they could get away with it. Then there were the African-American physician Ossian Sweet, who had dared to move into a white neighborhood in 1920s Detroit, and a Tennessee schoolteacher named John Scopes, who had the audacity to believe that the world wasn’t made in six days. Four decades of courtroom battles — one trial of the century after another. The best of them turned into great dramas of systemic injustice and human frailty, with Darrow always at the center, basking in the spotlight.

He’s never really surrendered it. Leopold and Loeb made it to Hollywood in 1959, with Orson Welles as Darrow, Scopes the next year, this time with Spencer Tracy in the lead. More recently, there’s been a spate of books on Darrow’s most spectacular cases, from J. Anthony Lukas’s “Big Trouble,” on the Haywood trial, to Simon Baatz’s dramatic “For the Thrill of It,” yet another account of Leopold and Loeb. The first major biography appeared in 1931, with some help from Darrow himself, then in the twilight of his career. At least three more have been published since then, including Irving Stone’s classic “Clarence Darrow for the Defense,” a marvel of story­telling, if not always accuracy.

In their fine new biographies, both entitled simply, if unimaginatively, “Clarence Darrow,” Andrew E. Kersten, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and John A. Farrell, the author of “Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century,” do their part in fleshing out the record. Both draw on a recently unearthed cache of Darrow correspondence. And Farrell, in particular, had scoured the country for additional sources. But neither makes any major revelations.

In their telling Darrow is still the dutiful son of a free-thinking father. Shortly before his 30th birthday, he fled small-town Ohio to make his way in the brutal world of late-19th-century Chicago. Representing Patrick Prendergast was a major coup, even if his client did end up on the gallows. But it was his fight to free Eugene Debs, charged with conspiracy for his role in the 1894 Pullman strike, that made Darrow famous. For the next 15 years he was organized labor’s Great Defender, fierce champion of a working class battered by the power of industrial capitalism. Then, in 1911, he was accused of bribing a juror on behalf of union officials about to be convicted of mass murder. Darrow managed to stay out of prison, but the scandal shattered most of his ties to the labor movement.

So, in his mid-50s, he started over. He took to the lecture circuit, slashing away in the years to come at religion, criminal law, capital punishment, Prohibition and the meaning of life. And he shifted his practice to the defense of civil liberties, civil rights and the occasional psychopath. The turn only increased his celebrity. By the 1920s he had become “the attorney for the damned” — the phrase was Lincoln Steffens’s — equal parts idealist, cynic and showman: a perfect folk hero for the modern age.

Kersten concentrates on the idealism. Darrow was an iconoclast, he says, “dedicated to smashing the structures and systems of social control that impinged on the liberties and freedoms of average people.” It’s a fair characterization. But he pushes it a bit too hard, stressing Darrow’s political passions — even the ones that now seem hopelessly arcane, like his deep interest in who controlled Chicago’s streetcar lines — while sliding past those parts of his career that were less than principled. Kersten frames Darrow’s penchant for representing murderers and other criminals, for instance, as the only way he could underwrite his political work. And he doesn’t even mention some of Darrow’s more unseemly efforts, like the case of the good ship Eastland, when labor’s beloved lawyer mounted a defense of the steamboat’s chief engineer, whose negligence had been a cause of the drowning deaths of 844 working people out for a day of fun on the Chicago River.

Farrell has no such compunctions. He agrees that Darrow had core principles. “He was Jefferson’s heir,” he says, “his time’s foremost champion of personal liberty,” raging against the concentration of wealth and power that had accompanied the nation’s industrialization. But Darrow also thought of the law as blood sport. He shamelessly seduced juries with his common man routine — the rumpled suits and suspenders, the gentle country drawl — and his extraordinary closing statements, which he packed with philosophy, poetry and cheap emotions meant to make men cry. Those were the benign manipulations, Farrell argues. In some of his biggest cases Darrow bought the testimony he needed. And when he was apparently caught in the act in 1911, he hired as his counsel the most ruthless criminal lawyer he could find — a flashy-dressing, hard-drinking, anti-union conservative — because there was no point in confusing means and ends.

A similarly callous streak ran through Darrow’s personal life. He divorced his first wife because she wasn’t sophisticated enough; married his second because she doted on him; then took a mistress 21 years his junior. He cheated on his law partners too, handing them work he didn’t want to do and pocketing fees they were supposed to share. And for all his radicalism, Darrow loved a big payday: according to Farrell, he took on Leopold and Loeb, two sons of privilege, primarily because their parents offered him a $65,000 retainer.

Once the deal was struck, though, he gave them a brilliant defense, the horror of their crime buried beneath layers of psychological theory and wrenching appeals for mercy. When he was done, the tears came streaming down his face, because he meant every word he said. That was vintage Darrow, his onetime partner Edgar Lee Masters wrote, “with his young, old heart and . . . his infinite paradox,” inspiring, enraging, and in Farrell’s engrossing biography, marvelously alive.

Kevin Boyle, who teaches history at Ohio State University, is the author of “Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age.”
A version of this review appeared in print on July 10, 2011, on page BR12 of the Sunday Book Review with the headline: Equal Opportunity Defender.

(If you didn't figure out who the "boy" was in the previous post, you now have your answer after reading the above. jr)

Monday, July 4, 2011

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776 — and many years later a lawyer is born.

I hope everyone has been having a great weekend. In and around the barbecuing, baseball games, family gatherings and fireworkstake a moment to read and think what it is all about.

If you have been paying attention, you should know the "boy" in the excerpt below.

"The Fourth of July in Farmington began with a fanfare from the town's brass band, resplendent in gold and white, rumbling down Main Street in a wagon pulled by a four-horse team. Later, in a shady grove by the river, there'd be fried chicken, iced lemonade, a baseball match, fireworks at a recitation of the Declaration of Independenceand always a lawyer over from the county seat to deliver the patriotic oration.

The boy would see the lawyer's horse and buggy at the hotel in the morning, and think 'how nice they were, and how much money a lawyer must make.' When the visitor got up to speak, the boy noticed his 'nice clothesa good deal nicer than those of farmers and other people who came to hear him talkand his boots looked shiny, as if they had just been greased.' He talked very loud, 'and seemed to be mad about something, especially when he spoke of the war and the Bridish (sic), and he waved his hands and arms a great deal.' On he went in the midday sun, about the flag, and the G.A.R., and because our people were such great fighters,' and how they must be 'ready to fight and to die' for that flag. The farmers clapped their hands and said the lawyer was 'a mighty smart man' and 'could talk louder than anyone we had ever heard.' The boy thought 'what a great man he was, and how [he himself] should like to be a lawyer.'"

above from Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas (p. 300-301)

Again this year I am posting the Declaration of Independence. See below. Nothing I could write would top it.

Read it if you haven't...Read it again if you have.

Click on the image below to use my viewer to examine and navigate this document.

Transcribed version located on last years post: The Declaration of Independence.

More food for thought...

Merciless Indian Savages

Interpreting the Declaration of Independence by Translation (Spanish, French, Italian, etc.)

Thomas Jefferson and the American Symphony

Wikipedia - Thomas Jefferson

Wikipedia - Declaration of Independence