Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Murder on December 30th, 1905

Tattered, taped, falling apart.
You have perhaps seen most of this post in previous years.  It started as a favorite passage from Big Trouble, chapter one, and is now a collection of excerpts, beginning during the holidays in Caldwell, Idaho, December of 1905 and ending in Frank's assassination. I traditionally repeat it during this time of the year. Some passages are not be in the same order they appear in the book and additional text/photos may have been added. I have done the same with more links at the end. No doubt I will keep correcting and messing with it since I am off work this week.

From Big Trouble - A Murder in a Small Western Town Sets Off a Struggle for the Soul of America:

Eveline 'Belle' Steunenberg

"Sounding up the slope of Dearborn Street, into Caldwell's jaunty new subdivision of Washington Heights, the whistle brought an unwelcomed summons to the former governor of Idaho, Frank Steunenberg, as he lay abed that final day of 1905. The governor—as he was still known, five years out of office—had spent a bad night, thrashing for hours in sleepless foreboding. Now while the snow piled up beneath his cottonwoods, he burrowed deeper under the bedclothes."

"Whatever the reason, Frank clearly didn't wish to engage with the world that snowy Saturday. Toward noon, a young man called at the house, introducing himself as Theodore Bird of Boise, representing the New York Life Insurance Company. He'd come down from the state capital, he said, to renew the governor's $4,500 life insurance policy, which expired at year's end, barely thirty-six hours away. With some reluctance—and only because the deadline was so close—Frank agreed to meet Bird at the bank in late afternoon."

"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."
Although chopped up a bit into apartments, at least it survives.
“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.”

James & Estella Cupp Munro
"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."
Washington DC Centennial

"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
"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.'"

Bernardus Steunenberg
 “None of these insecurities could be detected that Christmas afternoon as a gracious A.K. welcomed Steunenbergs the boisterous clan beneath his portico. No fewer than thirty Steunenbergs gathered around the heavily laden table, headed by 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 came 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 day—yes, 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. JTR

"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....

"It began to snow just before dawn, chalky flakes tumbling through the hush of the sleeping town, quilting the pastures, tracing fence rails and porch posts along the dusky lanes. In the livery stables that lined Indian Creek, dray horses and fancy pacers, shifting in their stalls, nickered into the pale light. A chill north wind muttered down Kimball Avenue, rattling the windows of feed stores and dry goods emporia, still festooned for the holidays with boughs of holly, chains of popcorn and cranberries. Off to the east, behind the whitening knob of Squaw Butte, rose the wail of the Union Pacific's morning train from Boise, due into the Caldwell depot at 6:35 with its load of drowsy ranch hands and bowler-hatted drummers."

"Sounding up the slope of Dearborn Street into Caldwell's jaunty new subdivision of Washington Heights, the whistle brought an unwelcome summons to the former governor of Idaho, Frank Steunenberg, as he lay abed that final Saturday of 1905. The governor—as he was still known, five years out of office—had spent a bad night, thrashing for hours in sleepless foreboding. Now while the snow piled up beneath his cottonwoods, he burrowed deeper under the bedclothes."

"One of his favorite boyhood songs had evoked just such a moment: Oh, it's nice to get up in the morning, when the sun begins to shine / At four, or five, or six o'clock in the good old summertime / But when the snow is a-snowing and it's murky overhead / Oh, it's nice to get up in the morning, but it's nicer to lie in bed!' The Steunenbergs, though, were sturdy Hollanders imbued with a Protestant work ethic, and it offended the governor's temperament to idle away even a weekend morning. So he hauled himself out of bed and put on his favorite six-dollar shirt with its flowered design. When it had shrunk so much he couldn't fasten the collar, his sister Jo, in her motherly fashion, had cut a chunk out of the tail to expand the chest. She was still looking for matching material to repair the back, but the governor liked the cheerful old shirt so well he donned it that morning anyway, short tail and all. Then he went down to the kitchen and built a coal fire in the great iron stove."

Jumbo & Julian (my/John's grandpa) c 1895
Caldwell, ID. Courtesy Albert Steunenberg 
Click link for "Peep Show" 
"When his wife, Belle, joined him, she remarked that he seemed ill at ease. The good and evil spirits were calling me all night long,' said the governor, who sat for a time with his face buried in his hands."

"'Please do not resist the good spirits, Papa,' his wife admonished. A devout Seventh-Day Adventist, Belle persuaded her husband, who generally eschewed such rituals, to kneel on the kitchen floor and join her in reading several passages from Scripture. Then they sang Annie Hawks's fervent hymn:

I need thee, O, I need thee!
Every hour I need Thee;
O, bless me now, My Savior!

I come to Thee.
When their devotionals were done, Frank set out across the barnyard—joined by his white English bulldog, Jumbo—to milk his cows and feed his chickens, goats, and hogs."

This shows the front gate, not the side gate where the bomb was planted.
The home burned in 1913 but is it gone???
"The family's eccentric gray-and-white edifice, a hybrid of Queen Anne and American Colonial styles, bristled with gables, porches, columns, and chimneys. It was barely seven-eighths of a mile from Caldwell's center, but the governor, with one young hand to help him, maintained a working farm on the two and a half acres, replete with barn, windmill, well, pasture, livestock pens, and apple and pear trees mixed among the sheltering cottonwoods."

"After feeding his stock, he turned toward the house for breakfast with Belle and the children -- Julian, nineteen, on Christmas vacation from the Adventists' Walla Walla College in Washington State; Frances, thirteen; Frank Junior, five; and eight-month-old Edna, an orphan the Steunenbergs had adopted that year -- as well as Will Keppel, Belle's brother, who was staying with them for a time while working at the family bank. Their hired girl, Rose Flora, served up the austere breakfast prescribed by Adventists: wheat cereal, stewed fruit, perhaps an unbuttered slice of oatmeal bread (the sect believed that butter—like eggs, bacon, other meats, coffee, and tea—stimulated the 'animal passions')."
Frank W. & Frances


"Had the governor allowed his melancholy to infect the breakfast table that morning, it would have been out of character. With his children -- on whom he doted—he generally affected a puckish humor, spiced with sly doggerel, such as the verse he'd composed a year earlier for his daughter: 'Frances had a little watch / She swallowed it one day / Her mother gave her castor oil / To help her pass the time away.'"

AK at the back window.
Not sure of the other.
"After breakfast came a phone call from his younger brother Albert --universally known as A.K. -- the most entrepreneurial of the six Steunenberg brothers and cashier of the Caldwell Banking and Trust Company, of which Frank was president. An important matter awaited the governor's attention, A.K. said: Edward J. Dockery, a Boise lawyer, a former Democratic state chairman, and now a business associate of the Steunenbergs, would be arriving in Caldwell later that day and expected to meet them at the bank. No, Frank said, he wasn't in the right frame of mind for such a meeting. He asked A.K. to tell Dockery he'd see him in Boise next week."

"In days to come, the governor's disinclination to do business that day was much remarked. Some said it was the weather, which by late morning had turned nasty, four inches of snow driven by blustery winds drifting along the roadways, temperatures plummeting toward zero. But Frank Steunenberg was still young (forty-four years old), husky (six foot two, 235 pounds), and healthy (an avid hiker and camper who scorned the big eastern cities, with their creature comforts, their smoke, noise, and dirt)—in short, not a man likely to be intimidated by a little Idaho snowstorm."

NY Canal would flow into Lake Lowell
"Others said his reclusiveness that day was merely a bow toward Belle's Sabbath, which lasted from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Although Frank was by no means an Adventist, some believed that he was gradually accommodating himself to his wife's recent conversion. Others who knew him well insisted he was profoundly skeptical of Belle's piety and would never have canceled a meeting on religious grounds. He might well have been weary. For only the day before he'd returned from a strenuous trip -- by train, buggy, and horseback -- to his sheep ranch near Bliss, a hundred miles to the With his business associate, James H. 'Harry' Lowell, he'd also inspected an irrigation project along the Wood River. A. K. Steunenberg -- his brother's confidant -- believed there was a quite different explanation for Frank's behavior that day. Later he told reporters the governor must have received a warning late in the week, which would account for his "unusual" manner. On Friday afternoon at the bank, he'd walked the floor with a 'meditative and troubled expression' on his face."

Most of the day, as wind-driven snow hissed at the windowpanes, the governor read and wrote in his study. At. four o'clock he put on his overcoat, a slouch hat and galoshes, but no necktie: he was known throughout the state for his stubborn refusal to throttle himself with one of those slippery eastern doo-hickey's. Some said the habit began in the governor's youth when he was too indigent to afford a tie. In any case, for the rest of his life he'd button the shirt around his neck, leaving the uncovered brass collar button to glint like a gold coin at his throat.

People loved to speculate on his eccentricity. 'His friends have exhausted all their persuasive powers on him,' said the populist James Sovereign. 'Newspapers have raked him fore and aft with editorial batteries, theatrical companies have held him up to laughter and ridicule, he has become the basis of standing jokes in bar-room gossip and sewing circles, orators have plead (sic) with him, doctors have prescribed for him and politicians have lied for him, but all to no avail.' Indeed a fashionable Washington, D.C., hotel had once refused to serve him because he wore no tie, an exclusion that he bore with 'magnanimous mien.' A bemused Wall Streeter remembered him, one one of his excursions East, as a rugged giant who wore a bearskin coat flapping over a collarless shirt.'

Some Idahoans thought he carried sartorial informality a bit too far. On the day he was nominated for governor, he was said to have appeared at the Democratic convention lacking not only a necktie but a collar, with trousers so short they showed of his 'cheap socks' and a sack coat so skimpy as not to exclude from view the seat of his pants.'

"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."

"Entering Sixteenth Avenue, he could see the lamplight burning behind the columns of his front porch, the warm glow filtering through the lace curtains of his living room, where minutes before Belle and their two youngest children had knelt at their evening prayers. He reached down and pulled the wooden slide that opened the gate leading to his side door. As he turned to close it, an explosion split the evening calm, demolishing the gate, the eight-inch gatepost, and nearby fencing, splintering yards of boardwalk scooping a shallow, oval hole in the frozen ground, and hurling the governor ten feet into his yard."

"At first, Belle thought the potbelly stove had exploded. But thirteen-year-old Francis, who was especially close to her father, had been eagerly glancing out the window, impatient for his arrival. Having seen the flash by the gate and watched Frank fall, she was at his side in a few seconds, joined almost immediately by Belle. For one terrible moment, mother and daughter stared in blank incomprehension at the governor, sprawled on his back, naked from the waist down, blood seeping from his mangled legs, staining the snow an ugly pink." 

"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 circa 1913 (courtesy
of Sharon 'Tipton' Conlin).
"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. Windows 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 or 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 - A Murder in a Small Western Town Sets Off a Struggle for the Soul of America by J. Anthony Lukas 
From Martyr of Idaho by Frank Steunenberg (youngest son of the governor).

Governor Steunenberg in clay
Saturday, May 3, 2008  

Saturday, December 29, 2007 

Saturday, April 16, 2011 

Friday, November 5, 2010
Original clay sculpture of Governor Steunenberg's statue

Saturday, December 29, 2007
Reflections on the Verdict 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Dinner Postponed to Jan 1st due to operations of war

U.S.S. Castor

Remember those past....and those present who may not be at home tonight.

Christmas in the World War II War Diaries

I like the cigars and cigarettes on the menu!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & a Peaceful New Year to all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Big Trouble Virtual Cemetery

I decided instead of constantly going to different links and locations to locate death, burial, cremation, location. etc. information that it would be easier to start a virtual Big Trouble Cemetery using Find A Grave. Of course not every participant nor ancestor who participated in these events is on Find A Grave or can be easily found. However, if a Find A Grave search comes up empty, and with minimal information, we can create a page and add to it as more missing pieces are located. 
For example, still wanted:  L.J. 'Jack Simpkins'

This is only a start and I have much more information and photographs to add and you can too. To be included in the Big Trouble Virtual Cemetery, historical figures just need to be connected in some way to Big TroubleA Murder in a Small Western Town Set of a Struggle for the Soul of America by J. Anthony Lukas and/or IPTV's Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century.

If you have DOB, DOD, burial/cremation sites, missing persons, etc. to add to the Big Trouble Cemetery, let me know by email or commenting on this link. You can also sign up for Find A Grave and create a memorial page yourself. If the person is a part of our story, I can add them to the Big Trouble Virtual Cemetery if you provide the memorial #.

There are of course some Steunenberg's included in the above but I also have a separate Steuneneberg Virtual Cemetery. If the Steunenberg name appears in your familywe are related.

Find A Grave is another good source of information for tracking down and documenting your ancestors and/or other interesting individuals in history.  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Re-runs: Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century

If you haven't seen this before on public television or have the DVD, it is now an online freebie. I got my 5 seconds of fame at about the 8.48 minute and again toward the end about 51.48. Most of my assistance was from home providing information and photos until producer Bruce Reichert said something like "John you got to come to Boise and make an appearance in the program." So I hopped a plane and off I went.  
Click on: Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century
From: idahoptv.org

If time had allowed, it would have been great to be around for the year or so it took to film the program and participate in the trial scenes since that was the main focus. However, I did have a lot of fun hanging out for awhile with "Clarence Darrow" and was glad I went back to Boise, again along with my daughter Caley, for opening night at the historic Egyptian theatre. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience. I did  OK for my few seconds considering the elite and talented company participating in this production, not to mention my having no penchant for being in front of cameras.

Of course you can catch me on IPTV's Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century website too: 
A Good Hanging Spoiled 

Friday, September 25, 2009
A Couple of Personal Notes I Received Regarding the Frank Steunenberg Assassination & Haywood Trial Historical Events/Projects of 2005-2007

Clarence Darrow Foundation 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

"Ammo for Life"

I haven’t tried to write much on terrorism, guns and violence, at least not as related to current times, for three years—not since Sandy Hook. Mostly doing so is a therapeutic exercise as I try to figure out such events and writing often works better when attempting to organize thoughts rather that talking (which gets forgotten). However, even today's events have an historical thread that leads back to the subjects of this blog and often little known wars and military actions. Writing also produces something I can share if I choose to do so. People can take it or leave it, like it or not, some will, some won't and I will get a handful of positive emails (good), disagreeing emails (good too) and sometimes even a little hate mail that just serves to prove my point in regards to our state of affairs. However, there won't be much as this is after all just a family and Idaho history blog and not the New York Times nor very mainstream.
Tall .50 cal size used to carry fuses. c.Vietnam

At my offices upcoming Holiday party, I have been asked to do my “Ammo for life” gig again and bring one of my camouflage green ammo cans full of various “life” items. It's kind of like my magicians box. I am not sure I am up to it now and certainly don’t want to scare anyone in a public place of business because of a military ammo can, maybe my “Dirty Harry” gun holster as a movie prop or when pulling out my Roy Rogers pistols and holster from when I was a kid. Those were the days, Roy and Dale always saving the day, chasing away the bad guys but never any blood and guts and we always knew no one ever got hurt. These days I would need the orange safety plugs in the gun barrels, might get shot if I waved them at the wrong police officer (vast majority of which are great officers) or more likely by someone shooting me to steal a now collectible toy.

Terrorism is one thing and the San Bernardino Inland Regional Center slaughter seems to be fitting the definition of a planned, well equipped terrorist action by a couple of radicalized Muslims. Yes, we can say it! Of course throughout history we can find endless examples of radicalized segments of any group, religious or otherwise. Even if all guns had been banned in the state of CA it would not have stopped a thing. However, the gun debate always comes up anyway. Some well-intentioned folks live under the illusion that gun control in a planned terror attack would make a difference, and make the mistake of mixing radical politically religiously bred terrorism with old fashion American street violence. My heart aches as I have many Regional Center friends, colleagues and clients with the local agency offices and I know this shook them to the core—that such a place based on assisting, supporting and maximizing the lives of individuals with disabilities could be so brutally attacked.

Certainly having violence of any kind is a tragedy, and never helps, but the far right and far left solutions such as taking away or banning all guns or deporting or killing all Muslims are not solutions at all and only breed greater radicalism and discontent on all fronts. I guess we would also have to ban Olympic shooting, a popular sport since 1896. And no doubt archery will have to go too.

Many of you already know I am a gun owner, as are others in the family, many having owned guns for generations throughout the Pacific and Northwestern U.S. and other locations too, be it for protection, recreational shooting, collecting and/or hunting to keep freezers packed with legal game for consumption. Some served in the military where they learned to use guns or started about the same time they were learning to walk. We may have different views but have no radicals, terrorists and no Cecil the lion or elephant tusk hunters that I am aware of. We all want to keep those rights and aren't going to lose the second amendment but nowhere does it say you can do and have whatever the hell you want! I support reasonable gun controls, do not support the NRA because they won't even talk about anything with any reason and I am sick and tired of pointless self-serving arguments, chest pounding and posturing for political show and profiteering.

Beyond the gun issue, we have a behavioral problem, but I am not even talking about mental health that needs more attention too. I am talking about radicalization (there it is again!) in the halls of government, among current presidential candidates, at the top of many corporations, in the NRA leadership, in our entertainment industry (movies, TV, gaming, etc.), on our streets, in our schools and even in ourselves—all of which serves to perpetuate violence at its very worst. We like to use the label “radicalization” today only when it comes to terrorists and religious zealots (we have plenty of those too) but these days it has much broader applications and implications and we don't have to look very far to find it.

In entertainment, heaven forbid we get a peek of woman’s breast or a man’s penis unless of course they have been shot up, cut up or disfigured so violently we can’t recognize anything. No problem with that! And don’t tell me about parental guidance warnings and that kids aren’t seeing the worst of this stuff—they are! In the instant communication age, a real rape, murder or beheading is but a click away. The entertainment and tech industries need to stand up and where they are able to do so, limit frivolous violence, real or created, for mere news, entertainment purposes and, oh yes, profit. If we want kids and ourselves to learn about the real world, do show what happens to the solider on the battlefield that gets shot up, tortured or steps on an IED. I have not been there, don't claim to know, but can only listen to returning soldiers and some of those that come through my door for rehabilitation, some from my peer group still suffering the impacts of our involvement in Vietnam. Seeing a little more of the true realities of war would not hurt.

Then we have the wack job Neanderthals that measure their manhood by the length and thickness of their guns. Along with an obsessed NRA leadership, that despite being in a position to actually be a leader and broaden their membership rolls to include gun owners like me, have instead done everything they can to stop even the most reasonable and logical gun controls. The NRA actually does some great things (gun safety training, youth programs, historical preservation, etc.). I do belong to some gun groups that get grants from the NRA to support training, safely, etc. Unfortunately, the good work they can do gets lost in the leaderships (and many members) inability to think with any reason amid a sea of blood.

Some folks have this obsession with the government coming to take away your guns! I expect President Obama to personally show up at my door anytime but of course he better bring his birth certificate too (original, no copies accepted) if he wants in. If you act like a crazed nut case or break the law I would hope they do show up at your door. The DOJ, ATF and County Sheriff already have all my personal records and gun information. What do I care if it goes into an instant data base and gets checked every time I purchase another gun? I will probably get my gun faster. Please have at it! They have not knocked on my door yet but are welcomed to call, schedule a time and come check the guns they already know I purchased against what I have and to make sure they are all legal and safely secured.

The problem with all the resistance and refusal to change, is that states like CA often enact minor, useless measures on their own so politicians can say they did something and it is the law abiding, small gun owners and collectors like myself that end up being punished with more fees to the DOJ and more restricted purchasing while not one bit of gun safety is actually realized or enhanced. Under recently enacted CA law, even my own Federal Firearms License (FFL) for Curios & Relics was rendered useless. It must be those old WWII Japanese Arisaka's, German Mauser's or French Lebel's—as we know they are in such great demand by criminals, terrorists and rogue armies! I am, of course, being facetious for those that might not realize it. So we target relics but can’t agree on universal background checks, licensing and training for modern hand guns or limits on assault rifles. What is wrong with this picture? When I purchase more modern firearms, I am happy to ante up and go through the DROS process (Dealer Record of Sale for those not familiar with it) and wait my 10-days—and would have no issue with more training, licensing and demonstrating I know how to use it. However, paying and waiting for an old relic is a bit aggravating and does little or nothing for gun control or to save lives.

With state and federal law enactment not working, a new initiative is beginning to be circulated in CA to qualify for the ballot. In may or may not have merit and I will certainly give it a good read. I don't like ballot initiatives but the ballot box may or may not be the only way to possibly get something accomplished. Congress is certainly not going to do it and we don't seem to have the will to make them do so. Perhaps that is beginning to change.

When are corporate, media and entertainment leaders going to step up to the plate? Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and other gazillionaires, you have those billions and are doing some great things to improve the world. Some of those efforts in developing countries can actually counter terrorism efforts that feed on poor populations but we need a few billion or so right here to counter the NRA and home based poverty, violence and terrorism too.

Of course we have the never ending mess in the Middle East and need to finish it or get out and come back within our boarders where we have plenty of our own battles to fight that must be won. We all have to look at ourselves, take the responsibility to do more, be reasonable and civil (I didn’t say anything about civil disobedience not being OK) and put pressure on our corporate, religious, entertainment, government, etc., leaders to stop the double talk, put life before votes and profit, and quit putting the resolution or blame for everything on guns and gods. We all have a stake in this and need to move beyond just blaming. A pipe dream—perhaps. We have enough of a blood bath going on in the Middle East and need more focus on slowing down the one in the U.S.A. I don't have all the answers. However, one only need look in the mirror to see who is ultimately responsible for doing something.

We hope, we wish, we meditate, we pray, we demand—but that is not enough. We all want a more peaceful Holiday season, all seasons, but must continue the fight against enemies that directly threaten us, not remain mired in endless proxy wars abroad and, most importantly, begin and/or continue taking steps to heal, relieve anger and minimize all the violence we have right here at home among genuine Americans that too often ends in bloodshed.

Now where did I put that ammo can and my Roy Rogers pistols and holster? "Ammo for life" is about having some fun, some laughs and living. I need a little more of that right now too.

Monday, December 7, 2015

December 7, 1941

 Interactive USS Arizona Memorial

Other Related:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Where is the final resting place of Major George Steunenberg & his wife Georgia?

Sometimes there has been confusion as to where Major George E. Steunenberg, and his wife Georgia, are actually buried. The answer is Arlington National Cemetery, NOT Canyon Hill Cemetery in Caldwell, Idaho. One of the reasons for the confusion is that Arlington previously had the Steunenberg name misspelled in their database. How many times have we seen that before! I requested a correction and it was done several years ago.

Further muddying up the picture is that information on the Find A Grave website lists Canyon Hill Cemetery in Caldwell, ID as the burial site for George and Georgia. That is incorrect too as it is a memorial marker at Canyon Hill. I have asked the person managing that page to make the change so hopefully you will see it soon. I also have added some photos, including of George's and Georgia's markers at Arlington. Perhaps a link to the the actual Arlington grave site would also be helpful.

Memorial Marker at the family plot, Canyon Hill Cemetery, Caldwell, Idaho. The DOB for George on the Find A Grave site is also incorrect and should be Aug. 10, not Aug. 20. As you can see above, dates were not used on the marker itself, only years.

Further adding to the confusion, there are actually two different Find A Grave entries for both George and Georgia (4 total). I think having the two sites is fine as long as the information is correct and each makes mention of, and links to, the other.

George Steunenberg:
Arlington National Cemetery
Canyon Hill Cemetery, Caldwell, Idaho 

Georgia Steunenberg
Arlington National Cemetery
Canyon Hill Cemetery

Probably doesn't help having a husband and wife with the names George and Georgia either!

So in the end, the actual resting place for Major George Steunenberg and wife Georgia is at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. However, the memorial marker in Caldwell remains an eternal symbol of their connection to Idaho and to the many family members resting peacefully on Canyon Hill.

A young George in the U.S. Navy
On the L Charles S. & George on the R

You have seen these photos elsewhere on the blog. However, I need a photo of Georgia if anyone has one.I believe she became a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and see a couple of brief references. Need to do more research.

Some related Links:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sunday, April 15, 2012
FOLD3 Memorial Page (under construction)

Monday, March 26, 2012
 An Army Invitation

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012
The Feline Curse at Leavenworth

And George wrote a lot more, sometimes getting accolades and at other times into a little trouble with the Army for his comments and criticisms. He was a rather free spirit and one of my favorite ancestors because of it. I recently picked up a second copy ($2 as I recall) of his entertaining little book, Songs of a Soldier. He also wrote Memories of Hawaii and Other Verse.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Flashback

I am taking the easy way out again and posting a Thanksgiving Flashback of previous posts. You will see familiar items, including this now almost traditional photo of the turkey herd at the Old Idaho Pen that comes from a November 1924 Nature Magazine I acquired a few years ago.

I may get back to add a few items later.

Have a safe and great day/weekend everybody!
JTR Collection

I said I would probably be back for an addendum!

A person I got acquainted with on Find A Grave has done many entries for Steunenberg kinfolk and 1000's of others. I am not into it as are those who document many grave sites/deaths as a hobby but it is a good resources for information and of course memorials. I have posted a few pictures from time to time on some of our family member pages. This gentleman who did all the Steunenberg's had asked if I would take over the assignment/maintenance from him. I agreed to do so. Not a big deal as he did all the work but it gives me more control over what can be added without having to request permission each time. My name, email and blog links also now appear for others to use that might have information or wish to comment but with whom we don't have regular contact. I was reminiscing  about our T-days as kids, mom, and how I miss her along with that turkey, dressing, mash potatoes and gravy. Fittingly, he just transferred her page over to me a few minutes ago on this Thanksgiving Day. I always give thanks for having such a great mom!
Mom Brenda & John on
 a bright sunny day by the bay.

Brenda Ruth Steunenberg Richards (1918 - 2010) - Find A Grave Memorial

Sunday, November 22, 2015

QSL cards wanted for W6WFV, Cal Steunenberg, U.S. Army Signal Corp. & Ham Operator

 I am doing a little collecting project and looking for any old QSL cards of my uncle Cal Steunenberg's with the call sign W6WFV. Preferably they were written on and sent to other ham operators and the earlier the better (50's. 60's, 70's), etc. Of course actual cards are preferred but if it is one you can't part with, a good scan would suffice. I will pay the mailing cost and a reasonable fee (a few bucks) unless you have something with a unique message or was swapped with a famous fellow Ham operator or radio station. Of course free would be better as it is the story of your contact or your ancestors as evidenced by the card that I want to preserve too. Since QSL cards were exchanged by mail, one of yours, or your relatives/ancestors (even if blank) to go with Cal's would be a special treat. BTW, in case you are wondering, I have none of his QSL cards (be it his or those he received) except the two you see pictured below. I do not know what happened to any of them...wish I did.

Here are a couple examples of my uncle Cal's cards.

Above is the earlier card, perhaps 1950's. As we commonly find throughout history, Steunenberg was printed incorrectly, with the first 'n' left out. Sorry, but no, you can't call it an error card and sell it for a bunch of money!

Here is a card printed in the 1970's but given to my son Josh about 2002 when he got his ticket.

Circa WWII US Army Signal Corp.
So check among all those old QSL cards on your wall or among grandpa's belongings and aging ham radio equipment, I would always be pleased to see if you or your kinfolk hooked up with Cal during the many years he was on the air.

Of course, I will also listen to anyone with old radio equipment or boat anchors they might want to get rid of too! 

Email: john.t.richards@sbcglobal.net
73's, John, KJ6DOV 

More from my Blog on Cal Steunenberg

Fold3 Honor Wall-Cal Steunenberg 

Find a Grave 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Updated post from 11/11/2015. A little Naval history discovery on Veterans Day...oil soaked 1935 bills from the USS Lexington sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942

Republishing this today with better scans and a little additional information. I was so excited with the discovery on Veterans Day that I slammed it up there pretty fast with only one mediocre scan. Will continue to add more information as it becomes available. 
Thanks, John 

From 11/11/2015 
A very nice and pleasant surprise discovery as we honor our Veterans today.

Fred Mandella, CEM, USNR
As Cindy & I sometime do on holidays, we work on our family history collections. Today often focuses on military mementos. Here is an interesting new find she discovered in a box that the Navy boys and girls will appreciate...two oil soaked 1935 Silver Certificates from the sinking of the USS Lexington in May 1942. Perhaps not specific to Idaho but the Battle of the Coral Sea was important for all of us and a lot of Idaho men and women were serving too. Being a military history enthusiast, it got me pretty excited. Looks like these were given to Cindy's grandfather, Chief Electricians Mate (CEM) Fred Mandella, USS Castor AKS-1 by Chief Hire, EMC. I have not yet located a Chief Hire, EMC, so give a holler if you do. 

Update 11/15/15: Found a little on Chief Charles W. Hire, a CE on the USS Lexington as of 9/30/1941. I will dig up more as time allows but made sense to find him on the Lexington.
USS Castor. Riding pretty high for a supply ship so my guess is coming into port for re-supply, repair and r&r.

As you can see, the note says "3 - $1.00 Bills 'Oil Soaked.'" The two US Silver Certificate Certificates fit that description. I imagine one could have been given away or sold by Fred as there were receipts among the same items for some U.S. coinage that apparently had been sold. However, there was a third $1.00 bill in the envelope but it is Canadian, appears pretty crisp and clean and not "oil soaked." It is dated 1937 so would be pre-USS Lexington sinking. Here is a front and back scan. Let me know what you think. 

From Fold3: USS Lexington was rocked by explosions belowdecks as the crew abandons ship

You might remember our earlier stories about Iowa football player and Navy pilot Nile Kinnick and the signed photo postcard I got from my father.

Kinnick died on a routine training mission off the USS Lexington on 6/2/1943. How could that be when Lexington was sunk in May of 1942?  Well one month after the older Lexington (designated CV-2) was lost, a new carrier under construction was renamed USS Lexington and designated CV-16. Kinnick was flying off of CV-16 when he crashed into the ocean. This fifth Lexington survived the war and is now a national monument and museum in Corpus Christi, Texas.

You can read a little more about Fred & other Veterans on my blog link: http://steunenberg.blogspot.com/…/honor-our-veterans-novemb…  


And the sinking of the Lexington CV-2 on Fold3: https://spotlights.fold3.com/…/the-sinking-of-the-uss-lexi…/

Idaho Related: Idaho Public Television presents The Idaho Homefront: World War II

And of course we can't forget BIG SPUD BB-42 USS Idaho


I might as well mention the Yorktown CV-5 too. It was badly damaged at Coral Sea but was miraculously repaired enough in time to be at the Battle of Midway. It may not have been at full power and armament but just being there is said to have scared the hell of the Japanese. My brother Gary Osborne served on the USS YORKTOWN (CV-10 & later called CVA-10 and CVS-10). As a little kid, when in port, touring the flight deck, I seem (or want!) to remember going up and down the flight elevator to the lower deck as was an unforgettable experience.