Recites Long List of Almost Incredible Crimes at the Boise Trial


Witness Admits He Pulled Wire Which Blew Up the Independence Stations And Killed Two Men with a Bomb in the Vindicator Mine at Cripple Creek.

By Oscar King Davis

BOISE, Idaho, June 5--For three hours and a half today Harry Orchard sat in the witness chair at the Haywood trial and recited a history of crimes and bloodshed, the like of which no person in the crowded courtroom had ever imagined. Not in the whole range of "Bloody Gulch" literature will there be found anything that approaches a parallel to the horrible story so calmly and smoothly told by this self-possessed, imperturbable murderer witness.

Orchard in his first day on the stand told the details of these crimes.

In 1906 he with another man placed a bomb in the Vindicator Mine at Cripple Creek, Colorado, that exploded and killed two men. Later he informed the officials of the Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad of a plot of the Western Federation to below up one of their trains, because he had not received money for work done for the federation. He watched the residence of Gov. Peabody of Colorado and planned his assassination by shooting. This was postponed for reasons of policy. He shot and killed a deputy, Lyle Gregory, in Denver. He planned and with another man executed the blowing up of the railway station at the Independence Mine at Independence, Col., which killed fourteen men. He tried to poison Fred Bradley, manager of the Sullivan and Bunk Hill mine, then living in San Francisco, by putting strychnine into his milk when it was left at his door in the morning. This failed, and in November, 1904, he arranged a bomb which blew Bradley into the street when he opened his door in the morning.

Orchard Entirely Untroubled

Orchard spoke in a soft, purring voice, marked by a slight Canadian accent, and except for the first few minutes that he was on the stand he went through his awful story as undisturbed as if he were giving the account of a May Day festival. When he said, "and then I shot him," his manner and tone were as matter-of-fact as if the words had been "and then I bought a drink."

There was nothing theatrical about the appearance on the stand of this witness, upon whose testimony the whole case against Haywood, Moyer, and the other leaders of the Western Federation of Miners is based. Only once or twice was there a dramatic touch. It was a horrible, revolting, sickening story, but he told it as simply as the plainest narration of the most ordinary incident of the most humdrum existence. He was neither a braggart nor a sycophant. He neither boasted of his fearful crimes nor sniveled in mock repentance.

It was just a plain recital of personal experience, and as it went on, hour after hour, with multitudinous detail, clear and vivid here, half forgotten and obscure there, gradually it forced home to the listener the conviction that it was the unmixed truth. Lies are not made as complicated and involved as that story. Fiction so full of incident, so mixed of purpose and cross-purpose, so permeated with the play of human passion, does not spring offhand from the most marvelous fertile invention. Touching continually points on which there can be controversy, Orchard explained acts whose motive until to-day had been hidden, whose purpose had remained a mystery. And while he talked the half-stifled crowd in the packed courtroom was so quiet that his soft voice penetrated to the furthest corner.

Haywood's Unwavering Attention

To Haywood the story was of vital interest. He sat with his lawyers surrounding him in such position that he could fix his gaze on Orchard uninterruptedly, but so placed that only those very near his chair could see his face. From first to last he gave unwavering attention, and when occasionally Orchard turned his eyes on his old comrade, whom he was denouncing as a procurer of assassination. Haywood met them squarely and unflinchingly.

Mrs. Haywood sat beside her husband all day, but their daughters did not come to court until afternoon. Haywood's mother, Mrs. Crothers, and his half-sister, Miss Crothers, sat near his wife. Mrs. Crothers is a pleasant-looking, spectacled old lady, whose black hair is strongly tinged with gray. The lower part of her face much resembles that of her son, except that the mouth is better matured, with corners that turn up instead of down. Mrs. Steve Adams and Mrs. Pettibone, with Mrs. Haywood's sister, were in court all day, and seemed especially aroused at those parts of Orchard's story which involved Adams and Pettibone. Whenever Orchard told of Adams being drunk, as he did on several occasions, Mrs. Adams smiled as if it were a joke.

The courtroom was not even filled when Orchard was called to the stand. It was known that he had been brought in from the penitentiary last, and would not come in until the afternoon session. When court opened at 9 o'clock Senator Borah went on with the line of proof he was developing yesterday afternoon, and summoned several hotel keepers to prove that Orchard and Jack Simpkins had been together at Caldwell and other places near there in the Fall of 1905, before the Steunenberg murder. Men from Caldwell, Nampa, and Silver City identified their registers and, the signature of Orchard and Simpkins, or Simmons, as he sometimes called himself.

Then a young bank clerk from Wallace came on, who told of having taught Simpkins to write. He identified as that of Simpkins the photograph which was identified yesterday by two or three men as that of Simmons, thus establishing that the Simmons who was with Orchard at Caldwell before the murder was in fact Jack Simpkins. He also identified as the writing of Simpkins the signatures of Simmons in the different hotel registers. When the bank clerk was excused, Senator Borah remarked casually, as if it was a matter of no particular interest, "The next witness will be here in a few minutes."

Orchard's Entrance

Of course that was Orchard. A rustle went through the courtroom at the announcement and there was a general shifting of seats to get down as near the front as possible. The day was warm and the room was hot and stuffy, but those who had the lucky seats near the windows cheerfully gave them up for the chance of sitting nearer the witness chair, that stands directly in front of the bench facing the jury. It is between the two long tables which stand one at each side and in front of the jury box for the accommodation of the lawyers.

In front of the witness chair, and almost touching it, are the tables of the stenographers, separating the lawyers tables. This places the witness some fifteen feet from the front row of jurors and about half that distance from the lawyers. Haywood sits at the end of the table used by his attorneys, almost within arm's reach of Juror No. 6.

Orchard had been kept over night at Hawley's office, under guard of Deputy Sheriffs, penitentiary guards, and detectives. They had not expected the summons for him so soon, and it was about ten minutes after Borah's announcement that he reached the Court House, having been brought up in a carriage surrounded by guards. He was brought up from the Sheriff's office by the back stairs built especially for this trial. The crowd had been craning their necks to get a better look at the door, and twisting from the main entrance to the side door, uncertain at which Orchard would appear. Darrow, Peter Breen, the new lawyer sent down to help the defense by the Butte unions, and Mrs. Crothers were chatting together over some amusing subject that brought smiles to all their faces, and Haywood was busily talking with Richardson and Nugent, when the side door, which had been opened, was closed from the outside and everybody knew that Orchard had arrived.

"Call Harry Orchard." said Senator Borah.

The side door opened and Ras Beemer, the gigantic Deputy Sheriff who has charge of the prisoners at the jail, entered, followed closely by Orchard, behind whom came four or five guards and detectives. Instantly there was a movement in the back part of the courtroom. Several persons rose t their feet to get a better look and several started forthwith toward the rail which separates the bar inclosure from the body of the room. There had been so much talk of a possible attempt to do harm to Orchard when he should come on the witness stand that the guards and deputies were on the alert to check the first indication of any such thing. As the spectators rose in the rear of the room, two or three of the deputies jumped toward them with outstretched hands.

Deputies Keep Order

"Sit down!" shouted one of the Deputies in a voice that carried clear beyond the Court House lot. There was a ring of earnestness in the command that made it obeyed on the instant, and at once the courtroom became entirely quiet. Meantime, Beemer and Orchard had marched on in the gate in the railing by the witness chair. Beemer opened the gate and let Orchard through. Then he dropped the bar again and stood outside the rail. For a moment Orchard seemed dazed and uncertain what to do. He turned partly toward the defendant's table, but his gaze did not meet Haywood. The clerk was standing with uplifted hand waiting to administer the oath, but Orchard did not see him.

Beemer reached across the gate bar, took Orchard by the shoulder, and turned him half around so that he saw the clerk. Mechanically he raised his right arm. The forefinger was held straight, but the others were closed. His face was deadly pale and his lips twitched nervously. He was plainly under a great strain. But he responded to the oath in a clear voice, climbed up into the high witness chair, and sat down with evident relief.

Every eye in the courtroom was on him. Haywood's lawyers were learning forward to get a better look and between them Haywood crouched down so that he was concealed from all except those directly in front of him, stared with a look so fixed and hard that it seemed as if it would bore through Orchard. Every juror was staring hard at Orchard, most of them sitting forward on the edge of their chairs as if they half expected some desperate thing to happen then and there. The moment that Haywood appeared and from then on to the end of the day, no feature of the awful story he related affected him so as to alter his demeanor or shake his composure.

He told first the story of his birth in North Cumberland County, Ontario, forty-one years ago, and gave his true name as Albert E. Horseley. He has used the name of Orchard for eleven years, ever since he came to the United States from Canada. Why he came or why he changed his name was not brought out, although the reason for both must have a bearing on the subsequent career he led. He was a cheesemaker in Canada, and when he came to this State from there he drove a milk wagon for a time and then owned and ran a wood yard up in the Coeur d'Alenes.

What had happened to predispose this follower of such peaceful occupations to the life of atrocious crime he afterward led has not been disclosed. From giving these details of his uneventful, law-abiding existence, he went on to the narration of the most astounding stories of murder and assassination ever told in a courtroom, at least since the days of the Mollie Maguires. He began it, by his own admission, within a month after selling his wood yard and joining the Miner's Union at Burke.

No reason of compulsion or solicitude by the leaders of the union was shown for that crime. Apparently he committed it for the pure love of it. It did not involve bloodshed directly, as most of the later crimes did, but it was the sure forerunner of such. It was the blowing up of the Bunker Ill and Sullivan Mill at Wardner, on April 29, 1898, the crime that led to the military campaign in the Coeur d'Alenes that Summer, and laid the foundation for the murder of Steunenberg. Simply, directly, in his quiet purring voice, Orchard told of the special meeting of his union called that morning, of his own attendance, and of the argument between Paul Corcoran, the Secretary, and Bill Devery, the President, over the proposition to go to Wardner and destroy the mill "and hang the Superintendent." By a bare majority vote, he said, the Burke Union decided to go. It was when he came to the blowing up of the mill that he confessed his first crime. Three fuses were laid.

His First Admission

"Who lit them?" asked Hawley.

"I lit one," replied Orchard calmly, "I don't know who lit the others."

A gasp of astonishment came from all over the courtroom. The crowd had been expecting to hear a tale of murder and killing, but somehow it seemed to have expected something different in the telling from this, and was not prepared for this sudden, simple, undemonstrative announcement. It came so quietly, so unexpectedly that it took the breath away.

Richardson fought vigorously to keep out the story. He objected at every point, protesting that there was not a thing in all this to connect Haywood with the murder of Steunenberg, and doing his best to limit the story of that tragedy. But Hawley and Borah beat him every time. Not the murderers of Steunenberg alone are on trial now, but this inner circle of the Western Federation of Miners, and not only for the Steunenberg killing, but for the terrible list of bloody crimes that Orchard went on to give.

"On what theory can it be shown that Haywood was responsible for all of this?" cried Richardson, "when he was not connected with the Federation in an official capacity until more than a year afterward?"

"The theory of the State is that out of this trouble grew the feeling against Steunenberg which prevailed in the inner circle when Haywood later became a member of it," replied Senator Borah, "the feeling which directly caused that murder. Haywood became a partisan of the Western Federation and had that feeling, and on that we shall show his responsibility."

State Wins on Rulings

The State won. It won on every contest and in the end it became simply a matter of formal making of the objection and noting of the exception to the adverse ruling. It became apparent that Judge Wood had studied for himself the question of the admission of this evidence. He had foreseen what the State would attempt to do, and had prepared himself in advance for the rulings he would have to make. To his mind the only question was as to whether all this testimony would be connected directly with Haywood and the Steunenberg murder. Hawley and Borah assured him that unquestionably it would be so connected and he admitted it. That was the first great legal obstacle to be overcome by the State. The manner in which it won today justified the presumption that the question of the admissibility of its evidence as to the general conspiracy it charges has been settled in its favor.

As a point bearing on the motive for the Steunenberg murder Hawley brought out part of Paul Corcoran's argument in the Burke union meeting on the morning of the destruction of the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mills. "Corcoran said that there would be no trouble with Steunenberg." said Orchard, with the manner of one who recalls the incidents of a picnic of last week. "He said the unions had always supported Steunenberg and owned him. We only had to look out for the regulars."

Steunenberg's Murder Planned

It was their disappointment at the failure of Steunenberg to live up to this estimate of him, the State contends, that led the inner circle men to plan his murder. From the account of that day and his flight from Burke and the regulars, Orchard went through the story of his wanderlings in various mining districts in Utah, California, Nevada, and elsewhere for three years or more, until at length in July, 1902, he reached the Cripple Creek area. He worked for men whose motives he did not concern himself about. They set his tasks and he executed them, and there was never a question because high or low, great or small was marked for death; when the quarry was named he set out on his work, and when it had been accomplished he reported his successes.

That was all, he took the commendation of his employers as it came, all in the day's work, and neither strove to merit it nor to avoid their condemnation. It was money he worked for, and very little of that. The astonishing tale is utterly incredible, and yet there is that in the manner and bearing of the teller that stamps it as true. What motive he has for telling it now has not yet been disclosed. He told me a few weeks ago at the penitentiary some facts about his life since his arrest for the Steunenberg murder which afford a reasonable explanation.

Tries to Atone

He said that a man who had done a great wrong in his life could never hope to atone for all of it, but he believed that he ought to do what he could to set matters as far straight as possible. He told me that in just the same simple matter of fact way that he told his gruesome story to-day. I believed him then.

Today he forced on me the conviction that he was telling what had happened as it occurred. He has got beyond caring what comes to himself as the result. He does not even attempt to shield himself in any of the details.

He simply narrates an astounding and incredible series of events, in telling what this or that man did or said and what he himself said and did, with just the same monotony of narration as if he were recounting the uninteresting incident of his life as a cheesemaker in Canada ten or a dozen years ago.

So it was when he told of the blowing up of the Vindicator shaft at Cripple Creek and the killing of McCormick and Beck, manager and shift boss of the mine. So it was when he narrated the attempt he made to blow up Bradley in San Francisco on the old grudge held against him ever since 1899 because he was owner of the Bunker Hill and Sullivan mines; so, too, it was when he described the ghastly massacre of non-union men at the Independence Depot because Haywood thought it necessary to get up some excitement to prevent a split in the Federation.

He told of putting strychnine in the milk left on Bradley's doorstep as if he had described changing the bottles for four pails of ice cream. He told of pulling the wire that exploded the bomb at Independence as he might have told of hauling a fish out of the water. There was never a change in color in his ruddy face as these stories of murder fell from his lips. Not even the tale of the killing of Lyle Gregory, the drunken Deputy Sheriff whom he followed about the streets of Denver in the night and shot in the back, brought a quiver in his voice or a tear to his eyes. Never a man like this sat in the witness chair before.

Haywood the Master

Through all the story ran the names of the men for whom he worked and those who helped him in his wretched tasks. Haywood as the master. It was he who gave most of the orders. Pettibone, too, gave directions, furnished money, and once started out as if to help, but made excuse and turned back. That was in the Gregory murder. Haywood was the source of the money. Even what Pettibone gave him came from Haywood. Moyer he named occasionally, but not often. Moyer knew of some of the crimes, for he talked to Orchard about them and joined in Haywood's declaration that this or that "was a fine job."

But Haywood was the master, with Pettibone as the chief assistant, and then there were W. F. Davis, the old Coeur d'Alene comrade, and Sherman Parker and Charley Kennison of the district union, with W. B. Easterly Financial Secretary of Orchard's own union. Parker is dead now, shot a little while ago in Goldfield.

The defense professed to be pleased with the story as one that disproved itself. The prosecution, however, is sure it can be corroborated. Without question it produced a tremendous effect, and throughout its recital there ran a growing conviction of its truth.