Rossi Post 3.0: I’ve cobbled together this “aggregate account” of the shooting from various sources, including the Wallace Press-Times report of the results of the coroner’s jury’s inquest in July and the same paper’s reports of the trial in October. Reminder: Once again, this is still just a work in progress.
— See Roster of Rossi posts
The Samuels Hotel was a flagship institution and a shining symbol of Wallace’s rapid commercial and social growth and development at the time. Still relatively new in the city’s downtown in the year of Dahlquist’s murder, the hotel arguably occupied a special place in the community’s life and the town’s waxing sense of itself. Indeed, its impressive size, luxury, and symbolic significance may well have subtly enhanced and helped shape the drama and notoriety the murder would attract in the weeks and months that followed. The hotel’s construction, at the corner of Cedar and Seventh, had been completed May, 1908 – as it happens, only a year or so after the completion of Shoshone County’s stately courthouse one block away. The Samuels was the brainchild and creation of a man named H.F. Samuels, a lawyer whose career, by 1908, had expanded to include a series of profitable interests in local mining properties. He was associated with the Hercules, Stewart, and Success mines. Henry Floyd Samuels had arrived in Wallace from Grangeville, Idaho in 1895. He served for a time as county prosecutor but then left the area in order to complete additional graduate-level training in the law in Washington, D.C. He returned to Wallace with a Master of Law degree, granted by Columbian University. He also developed an effective process for separating zinc from lead and silver, thus earning himself the honorary title, according to one source, of “father of the zinc industry of Idaho.”
The Samuels Hotel’s was considered the largest and finest hotel in Idaho in its day. “There are many beautiful homes here with every modern convenience,” wrote George M. Teale about Wallace in the November, 1908 edition of Overland Monthly, “…but the pride of the city, and of the whole district for that matter, is the new ‘Samuels Hotel,’ a modern five-story brick structure that would be a source of pride to a city of 100,000 people” (p. 409). According to Teale’s account, the hotel offered more than 150 rooms, including 25 suites. Guests found there the height of modernity in hotel accommodations. “Each room,” wrote Teale, “has hot and cold water, electric light, steam heat, long distance telephone, open nickel plumbing, brass beds, and, in fact, the best of furnishings in every respect.” Handsomely outfitted office space occupied the ground floor. Guests could get a haircut and a shave in the hotel’s barbershop, refreshments at its “Metals Bar,” and “a passenger elevator” took them to upper floors. The hotel’s elegant café accorded diners “flowers, cut glass, and excellent service.” Teale’s article reported that Samuels had invested more than $250,000 in this building and outfitting his hotel – a sum equivalent to about $5.5M in 2016 dollars. The hotel, Teale added, was “very popular, and nearly always full.”
It is not known why Herman J. Rossi headed for the Samuels when he left his home on Cedar Street. Did he know Clarence “Gabe” Dahlquist frequented the lobby there, or know that Dahlquist had a room there, or had Rossi instead gone to the Samuels’ lobby to find out where Dahlquist might be found? Whatever the reason, Rossi, following his shattering encounter with Mabel, took himself to the hotel. He entered the lobby sometime between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. He approached Dahlquist — who seems to have been seated, not standing — in the lobby, from the rear. Rossi then struck Dahlquist repeatedly – possibly three times — on the head with a .38 caliber revolver. A brief scuffle between the two men ensued, after which Dahlquist “got up and ran.” “As he was crossing the hotel lobby,” testified J.L. Jones, “Rossi raised his gun and fired.” The bullet pierced Dahlquist’s lung. Now gravely wounded, “Dahlquist veered in his course and crawled under a desk behind the cigar case.” Rossi pursued him and was about to shoot him a second time when George Baxter, a clerk at the hotel, and Mrs. Laura Stone, behind the register, urged him not to. Baxter testified he implored Rossi: “For God’s sake, Herman, don’t shoot.” Stone pleaded to Rossi that he refrain from doing something he would always regret. Both interveners noted that Rossi seemed to regain control of himself when they spoke to him. Rossi, for his part, warned Dahlquist that he would kill him “if he did not leave town within ten minutes.” Dahlquist responded to the effect that he would do so if he could find a car. On his way out of the hotel, Rossi stopped momentarily to offer an apology to hotel manager Dave Johnson, “for having this thing happen in his house.”
Incidentally, an additional curious detail also found its way into the newspaper report of the coroner’s jury’s findings. “One witness,” reported the Wallace Press-Times, “testified that Dahlquist had told him that Mrs. Rossi had two tickets for a point near Mexico and wanted him to go, but that he had made up his mind not to go.” No more was heard of these tickets thereafter or over the course of Rossi’s October trial.
Rossi then appears to have left the hotel and subsequently encountered Julius Goodrich and Walter Hanson on the street. Hanson would later note, in testimony given at the trial, that Rossi’s coat’s collar was turned up, his hat pulled down, and that he had “an unusual appearance.” Goodrich and Hanson asked Rossi “what was the matter and he mumbled something, saying to Hanson that he’d had trouble at the Samuels hotel.” Goodrich and Hanson then parted with Rossi; they soon learned of the tragedy, at the corner of Sixth and Cedar Streets. The news sent them directly to Rossi’s office, where they told him, said Hanson, he’d shot Dahlquist. Rossi responded, said Hanson further, “If I shot him, I didn’t know it and I am sorry.” Goodrich and Hanson then brought Rossi to Hanson’s office, where they relieved him of his revolver. Rossi subsequently surrendered himself to policeman James Collins. Still later, Rossi was arraigned before Justice George W. Walker on the charge of assault with intent to commit murder. Several of Rossi’s businessmen friends either posted or promised to post Rossi’s $10,000 bond. Rossi was released from custody, apparently that same night, Friday, June 30th. Perhaps he then went home – if so, it was to a household that had been ripped asunder by the day’s horrific and bewildering series of events.