Monday, December 26, 2011

"To my friend, Jos. A. Labadie from Clarence Darrow."

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays and preparing for 2012. I am taking a couple extra days off and enjoying a a bit of quiet time after a busy but great Christmas with family.

This appears to be a fairly early Darrow portrait, perhaps pre-Haywood trial? Click here for direct link to the photograph (you may need to enter an ID and password to open a guest account).

Labadie Collection, University of Michigan

Friday, December 23, 2011

Calendar souvenir plate complements of Steunenberg Mercantile Company..... Steunenberg, Idaho

Below is an email in regards to a recent discovery from fellow Idaho collector Mike Fritz. I made a couple additions/deletions but pretty much just cut and pasted my email note. Mike tells me a friend from Colfax, WA purchased this plate about ten years ago at an antique mall in Spokane. He has been trying to get it back to Idaho ever since and finally worked a trade. Thanks Mike for sharing this great find and the photos of the plate.

From: John T Richards
Sent: Saturday, December 10, 2011 9:36 AM
To: 'Mike Fritz'
Subject: Steunenberg
Finally getting back to you as my weekdays tend to be busy and long so Saturday mornings are usually my quiet time for research and emailing.

As far as I have ever been able to determine, the family never had any direct connection to the town or any of the businesses there other than by name. John P. Vollmer no doubt had previous dealings at one time or another with Gov. Steunenberg and/or his banking and business oriented brother A.K. Steunenberg. Hence he came up with the name. There definitely was a Steunenberg Mercantile Company operating in the town during its short existence but this is the first item I have seen identified as such. With the exception of a couple period maps (readily available) showing Steunenberg, I have no other collectible remnants of the town. There does exist some very rare postmarks from the short lived Steunenberg post office. I know of two, had made a bid for one through a postal auction (lost!) and have continued to search.

I always hoped for a photo-postcard showing the mercantile, hotel and post office but no such luck to date. Hence, your discovery of the plate is very exciting. We do know that the Mercantile survived the 1908 fire that destroyed the hotel and next door “soft drink” establishment & lodging house.

Wednesday, May 27, 1908
“Located across the street from the hotel was a large general merchandise store operated by J. C. Noel that was threatened with destruction. The front of the building was severely scorched and the heat was such that some panes of glass were broken” (see link below or click here: 1/6/2009 – Fire at Steunenberg Idaho).

The plates have no direct family connection, the governor did not eat off them (post-assassination) nor any other family members that I know of. However, I am ecstatic to know that such items do exist with the Steunenberg name. At least the Mercantile spelled the name right. The U.S. Post Office got it wrong…burg instead of berg…a common error but you would think the USPS would have double checked a governors name. I would love to know where this postmark/cancellation stamp ended up. Probably was destroyed when the post office was closed. Mark Metkin provided this scan of the "Steunenburg" postmark from his collection. You will see it on on a couple of other posts too.

I don’t want to pry unnecessarily, but of course I am very interested where you found the plate, who owned it before, any known provenance, do you have, or did the seller, more than one, etc. I see it is dated 1911/12 for the calendar. In essence, the plates were ordered/manufactured earlier (maybe 1910) and the post office and town was gone by the very date indicated on the plate. If a supply of the plates existed, they may have been sold in Ferdinand after the remaining businesses were moved back over the tracks. As with maps, the town continued to appear for 2-3 years even though it no longer was there.

No doubt it goes without saying that I would always be interested in acquiring a plate or any related items from the town. With your permission, I would be happy to post a photo of the plate on my blog and credit you as the finder/owner (or keep confidential if that is your preference). I might just cut and paste this email into a blog entry with the two photos or any others that you might want to provide.

You may have seen some of the links below already but I believe these are all or most of my flurry of blog posts in 2009 related to the town.

Thanks for sharing the news about this great find Mike. I will keep digging for info and now have plates in my sights!

Regards, John

So if any of you reading this blog find a Steunenberg Mercantile Co. plate in grandma's attic or basement...let me know! Merry Christmas everybody. Be sure to read Christmas 1905/2011 if you haven't yet.

Although I am not aware of any direct connection of the plate to our family (except the name), it raises some interesting, albeit remote, possibilities. We had Steunenberg kin roaming all over between Spokane, Walla Walla/College Place and Medical Lake WA, Milton and Roseburg, OR and back and forth to all parts of Idaho. A.K. and Frank were involved in the establishment of the First National Bank of St. Anthony and others in Paris and Glenn’s’ Ferry, Idaho and Wallowa and Vale, Oregon. Steunenberg items have occasionally shown up at antique shows and with collectors in the Eastern part of Oregon. And I am still trying to track down the origins of this old pump organ that may have been in Idaho, Oregon, and/or Washington and ended up in British Columbia.

You just never know what might pop up next. See the accompanying posts below about one auction lot of several items that I was able to bring home to the family:
In Memoriam
Photo of Charles and Major Steunenberg
The Idaho Magazine 1906
Commemorative Medal given to
Governor Steunenberg on 12/12/1900
Letters from Assassin Harry Orchard

1/01/2009 - Happy New Year from Steunenberg Idaho
1/03/2009 - More on the Town of Steunenberg Idaho
1/05/2009 - "Steunenberg will be best of the new towns."
1/06/2009 - Fire at Steunenberg Idaho
1/11/2009 - Steunenberg & Ferdinand Idaho
1/24/2009 - Photo of Steunenberg Idaho
1/24/2009 - Rival Towns
1/31/2009 - Plat Maps of Steunenberg and Ferdinand
9/20/2009 - Rival Towns—Steunenberg & Ferdinand, Idaho

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Email Updates

For those receiving automatic email updates, let me know if not being received as doesn't always seem to be going through at the moment. You should have received an email update yesterday (Saturday). I am posting this short email as a test since the "feed" may be exceeding limits. Always better viewing on the blog so click and come here anyway.

When it works, you get an email on the day of a new blog post. Click below and enter your email. No spam or junk...I promise. You will receive a confirmation email from Feedburner/Google that you will need to click on to activate your subscription.

Subscribe to Idaho Meanderings: Steunenberg, Trial of the Century, Labor, Legal, Political History by Email

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas 1905/2011

This year I am continuing the now Christmas tradition of posting the excerpt below from Big Trouble. As you may know, the passage regarding the family Christmas gathering at A.K. and Carrie Steunenberg's house is a personal favorite. I had expanded on the excerpt last year and will again add a bit more this time around. I did not include all of last years personal commentary as you can find it in the 2010 archive if you like. Items from Big Trouble are not necessarily in order of appearance in the book as I have tried to keep it chronologically correct.

In contrast to the joyous occasion at A.K's. and Carrie's home, I have included the more gruesome description of Frank's condition following the bombing. I debated doing so as a holiday entry but those events occur in juxtaposition for a reason. I decided to remain true to the intent of Lukas and the message he was trying to convey. I have also inserted some related links in the text and maintained a list of additional ones at the end. Please note that I used a couple of links (A.K. Steunenberg and Reverend Mr. Boone) from our friend Revue Guru (aka Evan) at South Fork Companion. Check those out. No doubt I will make a few corrections and add a few more items as I go.
For now, I think I will reserve any personal family holiday note until maybe a later date. I will say we are certainly thinking of our family, past and present, friends, readers, military personnel and those less fortunate then us, in our own country and in the more dangerous and oppressive parts of the globe. We wish you all a happy and safe holiday season and a more peaceful and prosperous 2012.

From B
ig 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.'"

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.

"The night before the governor's walk had witnessed the season's grandest dinner party, cohosted by Caldwell's social arbiter, Queen Carrie Blatchley; William Judson Boone; and their spouses for a group of refined young couples, including two attorneys, an insurance agent, a pastor, and the manager of a lumber company. 'Very pleasant,' Boone recorded in his diary. 'Fine time.'"

"Indeed, to Boone, his guests, and many others, that winter in Caldwell seemed a fine time and place to be alive. Despite its early dependency, there lingered in town a fragile sense of autonomy—the notion that its citizens controlled their own destiny....on that snowy night of the governor's walk, Caldwell looked for all the world like the quintessential ninetieth-century American community, sufficient unto itself, proof against an uncaring world."

"The Reverend Mr. Boone and his wife had been entertaining their closest friends, the Blatchleys, when they heard a "terrific" noise. They thought something had fallen on the roof."

"Julian Steunenberg (my grandfather) and Will Keppel (nephew of Belle/son of her brother Edward Keppel) came running. A sturdy youth with a shock of blond hair, strikingly like his father in face and figure, Julian had been particularly close to the governor. He and Will had been strolling two blocks behind him when they felt the explosion, then dashed with pounding hearts to Frank's side, where they were quickly joined by Garrit Van Wyngarden, the governor's brother-in-law, who lived two blocks west on Dearborn. Together the trio tried to lift the grievously wounded man, but as they did the flesh on his legs simply gave way. Finally, someone got a blanket, into which they paced the governor, managing to carry him that way into the house and lay him on a bed in his daughter's downstairs bedroom."

Will Steunenberg had just eaten supper and was back at his store arranging a display of boots when the concussion spilled them on the floor. A minute later, Ralph Oates rushed in to say there'd been an explosion at Frank's house...When he reached the house, his brother had already been moved inside. Belle was lighting kerosene lamps to replace the electric ones, for the neighborhood's electric power had been knocked out by the blast. Window on the north and west side of the house had been shattered, as had those in other houses for blocs around. Shards of glass littered the floors. A huge clock had toppled from its shelf, striking five-year-old Frank Junior, who'd been lying on the leather couch below."

"When Will entered the front bedroom, it was 'horrible': the governor writhing on the bed, his right arm hanging by a few shreds, his right leg mangled, both legs broken at the ankles. He kept asking to have his legs rubbed."

"Three of the town's doctors-John Grue, W.E. Waldrop, and John A. Myer—had arrived. There was nothing they could do."

"Just past 7:30 p.m., he gasped three of four times, like a man trying to catch his breath, and muttered something unintelligible. As Will leaned closer, trying to hear those last syllables, the governor sank back and died. "

"'Frank died in my arms', Will wrote a sister in Iowa, 'and I hope the fellow that killed him will die in my arms, only in a different manner.'"

Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas

Other Related Blog Links

Canyon Hill Cemetary

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).

For more family letters, go to the COI GLC Collection.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Report of Japanese Raid on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941

Click on the image for viewing.

Report of Japenese Raid on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Occupy Boise and the Haywood Trial

Frank overlooking Occupy Boise

Occupy Boise Pic 107 from Katie F at firedoglakedotcom

Below is a YouTube video from "Occupy Boise" that discusses the Haywood trial. For those receiving this as an email update, you probably want to come to the blog to view the video. It is of rather poor quality, was filmed after dark, the camera is a bit shaky and the video ends abruptly. I do not see a part two, as apparently the presentation continued for quite some time. Please let me know if you are aware of additional videos. Nonetheless, the audio is OK and any event that adds to the national discussion is worth reviewing. I would have liked to of been there to add my own viewpoints on the subject.

Being among the so-called 99%, and with a union card in my wallet (public sector for those that want to bash away!), I certainly can give an element of support to the Occupy movement. It gives me a few flashbacks to the 60's/70's and I support all public citizen debate (Tea Party, Occupy, etc.). As with all social/political movements, sorting through fact and fiction and far left and far right opinions can certainly be a challenge. That was true over 100 years ago and is more challenging in today's instant media and news environment. Add in the element of human emotion and interpretation and the result is an often difficult search for truth and objectively. Certainly I am not immune from such biases.

At one point, Richie (the presenter), mentions Miner's Magazine and an article about the assassination of of Governor Steunenberg. He points out a statement that mocks the brutality of Frank's murder with the following tongue and cheek quote—"such carelessness should be avoided—the gate was completely wrecked." Laughter then erupts among the Occupy Boise audience. Obviously, I have more of an emotional connection, but the response was similar to some we have observed on all sides of the political spectrum today that subtlety supports violence, discrimination against people of opposing views, those of a different color, rich and poor, religion/non-religion, gays/lesbians, Democrat or Republican, Occupiers or Tea Partiers or even our soldiers when the issue of don't ask don't tell comes up. The perpetuation of violence, discrimination and oppression are not matters to laugh about or applaud and should be unacceptable regardless of our political views—or at least that should be the goal although I am not so naive as to think it will ever be a total reality.

The Gate on 16th Avenue.

I try to present historical information regardless of viewpoint, but avoid a lot of political discussion on this particular blog. I did write an opinion on the Haywood trial as a part of the 100 year anniversary in 2007. There might be a few minor morphs, changes or corrections I would make today—but in general I still hold the same views.

Occupy Boise Website
Occupy Boise Slide show (flickr)

On a lighter note, a couple of questions came up during the presentation. One audience member asked when was Governor Steunenberg's statue placed in front of the Idaho State Capitol building. You can read about it here.

Additional information about the statue is sprinkled throughout the blog, including on the post: A Lot of Steunenberg Connections.

From the inscription plate on the statue:
"Frank Steunenberg, governor of Idaho, 1897 to 1900. When in 1899 organized lawlessness challenged the power of Idaho, he upheld the dignity of the state and forced its authority and restored law and order within its boundaries, for which he was assassinated in 1905. Rugged in body, resolute in mind, massive in the strength of his convictions, he was of the granite hewn. In grateful memory of his courageous devotion to public duty, the people of Idaho have erected this monument."

Another question was in regards to the Caldwell Jail (at that time the Canyon County Jail). My understanding is that the jail was behind the Canyon County Courthouse. Anyone have photos of the jail?

From Big Trouble
For a description of the jail, go down about mid page 96 to the paragraph that starts: "With that, they took him back to jail....."

The Haywood trial took place at the original Boise/Ada County Courthouse and Jail.

And last but not least, here we have Orchard coming down the back stairs (with company) at the Boise Courthouse.