|Gov. Frank Steunenberg|
"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.'"
|William J. Boone|
"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."
|The family dog, Jumbo, & Julian (John's grandpa) c 1895|
Caldwell, ID. Courtesy Albert Steunenberg
Click link for "Peep Show"
"'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???
|Julian (JTR Collection)|
|Frank W. & Frances (Martyr of ID)|
|Edna (JTR copy)|
"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. (JTR Collection)
"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 (JTR Collection)|
"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."
|Exploded gate detail. (JTR Collection)|
"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).
"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
A desolate looking Canyon Hill in early 1906.
|From Martyr of Idaho by Frank Steunenberg (youngest son of the governor).|
Click here for photo of John at the monument in 2007 and A Good Hanging Spoiled, July 28th, 1907
by John T. Richards, Jr. (I would make a few changes & corrections to this story today but still not too bad).
Friday, November 5, 2010
Original clay sculpture of Governor Steunenberg's statue
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Reflections on the Verdict