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Gary Eller has been collecting songs about Idaho people, places and events and, along with his bluegrass group, Bona Fide, performing and recording selected ones. Gary has kindly shared several songs related to the Haywood trial with us.

Are They Going to Hang My Papa

  • This song, ostensibly sung from the point of view of Big Bill Haywood's daughter "little Henrietta," was written and prominently posted all over Boise to arouse sympathy for Haywood during his trial for the assassination of former Governor Frank Steunenberg. The sheet music appears to have been published by the Wobblies in 1907. Performed by John Larsen and Michelle Groves (vocals), and Sean Rogers (piano).

    The Song: Are They Going to Hang My Papa MP3 icon (Click to play; right-click to download).

  • Front cover of the sheet music for Are They Going to Hang My Papa, with photo insert of Little Henrietta [Credit: EmuZeum of Grandview, Idaho and the Idaho Song Collecting project]

Dynamite Harry

Gary Eller writes:

I wrote this song with John Larsen of Givens Hot Springs about a year ago, in anticipation of the centennial of the trial. John was president of the Owyhee County Historical Society for many years and a fine regional historian as well as musician. Legend has it that "Big Bill" Haywood was inspired to radical unionism while working in Silver City Mines. This song appears on the CD, Ballads of Owyhee Country, issued by the Owyhee County Historical Society last April. The attached track was recorded live by Bona Fide (the band I'm in) and Friends at a concert in the Old Territorial Pen in Boise last October. So that venue adds an element of authenticity too.

John and I wrote this song to tell a more complete historical version of the Harry Orchard story, performed in a style that might be more appealing to a broader audience than the Utah Phillips version [on the Phillips and Rosalie Sorrels CD, The Long Memory]. Time will tell if we succeeded.

The Song: Dynamite Harry MP3 icon (Click to play; right-click to download).

Farewell to Steunenberg

Gary Eller writes:

[This is a song] John Larsen wrote called "Farewell to Steunenberg." John tried to capture a turn-of-the-century style while giving tribute to the major character in this drama who sometimes seems to be lost in the hoopla about Haywood, Orchard, Borah, Hawley and Darrow.

The Song: Farewell to Steunenberg MP3 icon (Click to play; right-click to download).

For more on Bona Fide, visit their website. For more on Gary Eller's Idaho Song Collecting project, visit the project website. Eller thanks the Idaho Humanities Council for its support of this project, and the EmuZeum of Grandview, Idaho for permission to photograph the sheet music for "Are They Going to Hang My Papa."