“Harry Orchard”


"Harry Orchard is in prison, The reason you all know; He killed Frank Steunenberg...." "He set his bomb out carefully." "Harry blamed the Wobblies." "The chiefs were brought to Denver... Bill Haywood and George Pettybone Were brought to Idyho."


Frank Steunenberg, during his term as governor of Idaho, had made difficulties for the Western Federation of Miners. His murder was thought to be in retaliation for that. Suspicion eventually fell on Harry Orchard (Tom Hogan).

The Pinkertons brought in James McParland/McPharland (I've seen both spellings, and am unable to verify which is correct), already famous for cracking the Molly Maguires (and, incidentally, the model for "Birdy Edwards" in the Sherlock Holmes story "The Valley of Fear") to work on Orchard.

Orchard finally implicated Charles H. Moyer, William "Big Bill" Haywood, and George Pettibone of the Industrial Workers of the World as being responsible for the planning of the crime. Clarence Darrow, however, was able to secure their acquittal. Orchard alone was punished, being sentenced to life imprisonment. Although eventually eligible for parole, he elected to spend the rest of his life (nearly fifty years) in prison, dying in 1954 at age 88.

Of the three IWW officials, Haywood (1869-1928) is perhaps the most likely to have been involved; he was originally an officer of the Western Federation of Miners, and later presided over the founding of the IWW. He was convicted of sedition in 1918, and fled to the Soviet Union in 1921.

This is item dE48 in Laws's Appendix II. - RBW

Historical references

  • 1896-1900 - Frank R. Steunenberg's term as governor of Idaho
  • Dec 30, 1905 - Steunenberg killed by a bomb blast at his home. Harry Orchard, his accused murderer, would spend the rest of his life in prison.
  • 1906-1907 - Trials of the IWW officials for complicity in Steunenberg's murder


  1. Burt, pp. 93-95, "(The Song of Harry Orchard)" (1 text)
  2. BI, Burt093


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1958 (Burt)
Found in: US