this day in crime history: december 30, 1905

On this date in 1905, former Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg was killed by a bomb that was rigged to a gate at his home. While in office, Steunenberg took a tough stand against the Western Federation of Miners during a period of labor unrest. Former WFM member Albert Horsley (a/k/a Harry Orchard) was arrested for the crime. Legendary Pinkerton detective James McParland headed up the investigation. McParland pressured Horsley into implicating three high-ranking WFM officials as co-conspirators. Horsley was ultimately convicted of Steunenberg’s murder, but his testimony against the other men was discredited. Two of them were acquitted at trial, and charges were dropped against the third. Albert Horsley was sentenced to death by the court, but the sentence was later commuted to life in prison. He died in prison in 1954 at the age of 87.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Frank Steunenberg

Wikipedia – Albert Horsley

Find a Grave – Frank Steunenberg

Idaho Meanderings: Steunenberg, Trial of the Century, Labor, Legal, Political History

2 thoughts on “this day in crime history: december 30, 1905

  1. John D.
    Wow, that’s a new one on me…never heard of this before.
    But I know the miners were a REALLY nasty bunch (if you crossed them).

    And to see this happen in IDAHO, of all places, at the start of the 20th centiry.
    I could easily see this in PA or elsewhere along the “coal belt”.

    Good story.

    Roll safe.


    • The mines in the area where the conflict took place were mostly for silver, zinc and lead. When the conflict turned violent, Governor Steunenberg asked the President to send in the military. The military put an end to the conflict, but their tactics were heavy-handed. There was a lot of bitterness on the part of the miners after that. Also, the WFM was one of the more radical unions of the day. Many of the union’s leaders in the early-mid 20th Century were unabashed communists. An extreme response was their default position.


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