Judy Collins singing at Joe Hill commemoration

Here is a clip of Judy Collins singing at the Joe Hill commemoration concert in Salt Lake City over Labor Day weekend:

We’re looking for a report on the event; the local daily seems to have been content to run a photo on its website early in the day. However, they have posted a package on the Joe Hill centenary which gives a reasonably good overview — except that it ignores the strong evidence William Adler’s book presents that Joe Hill was innocent, and that police let the actual murderer go in order to pursue their frame-up. Instead, the paper gives space to the family of the murdered grocer to assert that no amount of evidence can move them to recognize the truth. To make up for it, there’s a pretty good short graphic novel treatment of Joe Hill’s life.

6 replies on “Judy Collins singing at Joe Hill commemoration”

The Salt Lake Tribune has a wonderful collection of contemporary reports plus a collection of photographs old and new. And it makes very clear the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case at the trial. Look under Cool Stuff!

Your comments above about the Tribune are not correct!

In his 2011 book, author William M. Adler wrote that he had uncovered a letter Erickson wrote in 1949 to a scholar researching Hill’s case. “Otto shot him in a fit of anger,” she wrote, and Appelquist was “sorry right after” and carried Hill to McHugh’s office. “Then I knew that Otto went away because Joe may die.” – See more at:

And that raises this question: Could a century of bitterness at the tributes for Hill, which has intensified the pain of losing John and Arling, have been needless? If Hill was executed for a crime he did not commit, Ryan-Morrison said, “I would cry. It would just tear me apart.” Jay Arling Morrison, like his aunt Morrison-Ryan, tried to read William M. Adler’s “The Man Who Never Died,” a 2011 book that fingered another suspect in the Morrison murders. He got so mad, he said, that he had to put it down for a time. Yet, when he takes himself out of the story and looks at the case objectively, “I can see these other theories. The reality is we don’t know [who committed the murders]. That’s the honest truth about history. We weren’t there. We will never know.” – See more at:

And Part 6 of the strip cartoon Joe Hill; His Story says; Author William Adler makes a good case that the real killer was Magnus Olson…Unaccountably, the police let him go.

We linked to the Salt Lake Tribune site because, as we noted, it contained a great deal of original material. The cartoon, in particular, is quite excellent, and there is much other interesting material — as well as performances by local musicians of some of Joe’s songs. But it takes the prosecution “case” seriously, when there is not the slightest reason to believe that even prosecutors believed in it, and goes to great lengths to work in allegations of violence against the IWW that have nothing whatever to do with the case. They publish a picture of Virginia Snow Stephen and discuss her work on the defense, but do not address the fact that she was called in by the Board of Pardons and interrogated over that work — and then fired by the University of Utah explicitly because of it! (They also don’t discuss her role in the funeral for the IWW delegate shot down in the street by one of Salt Lake City’s leading citizens for his IWW work.) And, as we noted, there is no substantive coverage of the centennial events to be found.

A circumstantial path to execution

District Attorney Elmer O. Leatherwood didn’t have a murder weapon. He didn’t have a motive.

He didn’t even have a witness who would conclusively place Joe Hill inside the Salt Lake City grocery store where John G. Morrison and his son Arling were murdered.

His case was built on this reasoning: Someone who looked like Hill was in the neighborhood and inside the store on the night of Jan. 10, 1914. Someone was shot by young Arling Morrison. Hill was shot that night.

The jury followed his trail of circumstantial evidence to a guilty verdict — a conviction immediately assailed as unfair by Hill’s supporters and scrutinized for the past 100 years. Criticism stretches from jury selection to rulings throughout the trial to jury instructions; popular theories have Hill framed by Mormons, by copper barons, by powerful opponents of unions like Hill’s Industrial Workers of the World, known as the Wobblies.

The trial was not as fair as it might have been, Utah historian Gibbs M. Smith concluded in his book “Joe Hill.”

“But this raises the question,” Smith wrote, “of whether any homeless migrant, Wobbly or not, would have received a fairer trial anywhere in America in 1914. The answer is probably not.”

– See more at:

Frank . Wilson

This mugshot ran in The Salt Lake Tribune on Dec. 26, 1912. The names Frank Z. Wilson and Tim Hurley were aliases used by a career criminal named Mangus Olson. He was arrested as a suspect in the murder of Salt Lake City grocer John G. Morrison and Morrison’s son Arling before police pursued Joe Hill. Olson was not charged, and was instead turned over to authorities in Nevada, where he was wanted on burglary charges. Olson went on to become a bodyguard for Al Capone and was connected to Chicago’s Valentines Day Massacre in 1929. In his 2011 book, “The Man Who Never Died,” historian William Adler offers a compelling argument that Olson could have killed the Morrisons.

– See more at:

The Salt Lake Tribune actually reproduces the letter ordering Virginia Snow Stephen to appear before the Pardons Board;

Supporters ordered to appear

This letter orders several supporters of Joe Hill to appear before the Utah Board of Pardons on Sept. 28, 1915.

Virginia Snow Stephen, an art professor at the University of Utah and the daughter of late LDS Church President Lorenzo Snow, and Oscar Larson, the head of Salt Lake City’s branch of the Swedish organization Verdandi, were two of Hill’s most prominent local defenders.

Sigrid Bolin was the sister of U. professor Jakob Bolin, and Torild Arnoldson was a former Swedish consul who was also a U. professor.

The Board of Pardons was made up of Utah’s Supreme Court justices and Gov. William Spry.

– See more at:

There are also a number of references to the death of the IWW member Roy Horton, including this;


Roy Horton was an Industrial Workers of the World member in Salt Lake City. Unarmed, he was shot and killed on on Oct. 30, 1915, in downtown Salt Lake City by a former police officer, who was eventually acquitted.

– See more at:

The Salt Lake Tribune Sep 06 2015

Joe Hill centennial concert draws crowd to Sugar House Park

Lovisa Samuelsson, the great grandniece of Joe Hill, performs a song about the last minute of Hill’s life along with her mother, Pia Samuelsson and Rolf Hägglund during a concert in Sugar House Park on Sept. 5, 2015. The concert was organized by the Joe Hill Organizing Committee as a way to honor the life and legacy of the labor icon who was executed nearly 100 years ago on November 19, 1915.

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