Robert Sobba

The Dynamiters (Steunenberg Assassination)

On December 30, 1905 former Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg walked through the gate to his home and set off a dynamite bomb that took his life. A person later identified as Albert Horsley, also known as Harry Orchard, was arrested for the murder. Idaho Governor Gooding knew Idaho didn’t have the resources to investigate this crime, so he hired the well known Pinkerton Detective Agency, with James McParland (known as “The Great Detective”) to do the investigation. He also appointed two prominent Idaho lawyers, James Hawley and William Borah to help prosecute the case. Orchard confessed to the Steunenberg assassination and stated that he was hired by the leadership of the Western Federation of Miners union to murder Steunenberg in retaliation for his actions against the union when he was Governor. This lead to a series of events that brought three union leaders, defended by the well known attorney Clarence Darrow, to trial for the murder in what has been called the” Trial of the Century”. The investigation, arrests and the subsequent trials all make for an interesting story of Idaho history.