Hellraisers Journal: Hung Jury Fails to Convict Steve Adams in Murder Trial at Rathdrum, Idaho

You ought to be out raising hell.
This is the fighting age.
Put on your fighting clothes.
-Mother Jones

Hellraisers Journal, Saturday November 30, 1907
Rathdrum, Idaho – Jury Fails to Convict Steve Adams

The second trial of Steve Adams for the murder of Fred Tyler has ended with a second jury hung. Ida Crouch-Hazlett reports the trial’s outcome in the November 28th edition of the Socialist Montana News:

Ad Darrow to Adams Jury, MTNs, Nov 28, 1907


Rathdrum Ida., Nov. 24.

The jury in the Steve Adams case disagreed to-night at 5:45 after being out 21 hours. The case was given to the jury last night at 8.30. The result was 8 for acquittal and 4 for conviction. Gorwood, House Dittemore and Varnim were the men that hung out for conviction. Varnim leading the fight against Adams.

Papers were on hand to rearrest Adams in case of an acquittal and take him in one case to Telluride, Col., to be tied for the murder of Arthur Collin, and in the other to Wallace to be tried for the murder of Boulier, a notorious claim jumper and land stealer.

Adams was indicted last week in Telluride for killing Arthur Collins, the superintendent of the Smuggle Union mine, who was shot through a window.

It is said to-night, however, that Adams is to be retried on the Tyler charge, and will be held here at Rathdrum till the next term of court.

The intention is evidently to pursue Adams to the utmost, to break down his constitution and will if possible, and use him as a means to break down the Federation. The policy of the capitalist prosecution is to exhaust the treasuries of the unions through continuous attacks by the courts.

Pettibone’s trial at Boise has been postponed till Friday, Nov. 29.

Ida Crouch-Hazlett.


Rathdrum, Ida., Nov . 21.

In telling of the means used to force a confession out of him Adams said when he had made up his mind what to do he simply took his part in the comedy or tragedy, whichever one might care to call it and gave the answers to the stenographer as they were dictated.

Adams made a strong and most fearless exposure of the damnable plot against him. He said that McParlan took him by the nose and led him through. He expressed his shame that be had weakened and had implicated other men to save his own life. Hawley worked hard all through the ordeal to shake his accusations, but Adams remained unmoved. He said all the time McParlan was working on him Orchard was coaching him in his cell.

Hawley bullied him on some fancied discrepancy between some statement at the other trial and this and asked him why he should forget at that trial and remember at this. He said his wife’s condition at that time worried him. Mrs. Adams was then in the hospital undergoing an operation. Adams said that Orchard was with him to spy on him day and night.

Other Testimony.

Witnesses Chinn Besett and Mason recalled, gave additional evidence in regard to dates in the Marble Creek district. Tuesday morning Hawley recalled Adams to ask him some impeaching questions. He was asked if he had stated to Mr. Heubner, chief clerk of the penitentiary, that he did not want his wife to suffer for his crimes. He denied that he had said any such a thing but said that before his wife should be put under lock and key for him, he would cut his head off.

McParlan was recalled and asked if he had told Mrs. Adams that Steve would soon be all right. He denied it.

Dr. Drennon of Rathdrum testified on the skeleton. He said there was no evidence of an enlarged joint on the fingers, that a portion of the body that had been frozen, would decay more quickly than other parts and the skull did not show a gun shot wound.

A Dead Man’s Testimony.

Mr. Darrow read the testimony of Henry Brown, the sheriff of Baker City, Oregon, who brought Steve to Boise, who testified in his defense at Wallace and who was killed by a bomb just before the present trial commenced. He arrested Adams for the murder of Steunenberg.

Mrs. Adams was the next witness. She made a pretty picture on the stand, was self-possessed and courageous, and her answers had an evident effect upon the jury. She was married to Steve in Telluride, which was her former home. After Steve was arrested in Oregon, Detective Thiele came after her on the 2nd of March. She was taken to the home of Mr. Huebner in Boise, who was the chief clerk in the penitentiary. She was told that her name was to be Fuller. Huebner met her at Nampa. Thiele talked with her about Steve’s confession and said he had been promised immunity, and she need take no clothes with her as they would soon be back. Three weeks afterwards she went to the penitentiary to live. Here she was visited by the whole hord of plotters. McParlan, Gooding, Borah, Hawley, all of them intent upon working out the diabolical scheme of annihilating the great miners’ union.

Mr. Lillard, Steve’s uncle, then went on the stand. He said that Warden Whitney had told him that Steve had him promised immunity.

Thursday afternoon Clerk Huebner of the penitentiary was called to testify regarding Adams’ statement. The battle has raged around the authenticity of this statement during the entire trial.

The sensational part of the trial was the introduction of what purported to be copies of two letters written by Steve, one to his brother, and the other to his uncle and aunt. The prosecution claims that when these letters were written and handed to the warden for inspection, as all the mail of the prisoners passed through his hands he had copied these and filed them away and they were forgotten and did not appear at the first trial. The whole story seems fishy, but the letters themselves are the most remarkable part of the exhibit. They are of a singular purity of English, pathetic in their effect, and of such unusual phrasing and singular simplicity, that one accustomed to literary criticism would not hesitate to say at once that they could never have been the work of an uneducated working man, wholly unskilled in the supple use of the mother tongue.

One accustomed to thinking that officialdom means accuracy and rectitude cannot conceive that a number of state officers would deliberately go to work to concoct so damnable a plot to ruin one poor working man in order that the power of resistance in a vast force of working men might be overcome for the benefit of their employers. And yet everything points to the conclusion that this is the fact.

On the other hand, if the authenticity of the letters is admitted, it cannot be seen that they could particularly prejudice a jury. Their pathos is touching and though they deal purely with the cant of religious phrases the reference to penitence, sins, God and church is no different from what one might hear in any ordinary Methodist revival. For the first time during the trial Mrs. Adams broke down while the letters were being read when it came to the reference to her baby boy and left the room in tears.

Ida Crouch-Hazlett



Montana News
(Helena, Montana)
-Nov 28, 1907

See also:

For a short summary of the 3 trials of Steve Adams:

Celebrated Criminal Cases of America
-by Thomas Samuel Duke
James H. Barry Company, 1910
“Shortly after Orchard’s confession, Steve Adams made a statement…”