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

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