Rossi case: Clarence Dahlquist’s surprising procession to the Depot

Rossi Post 4.1:  The real treat in today’s post, if I may be permitted to say so, is undoubtedly lodged in the two splendid photographs of Dahlquist’s casket’s trip from Worstell’s funeral parlor to the Northern Pacific Depot in Wallace on July 4th, 1916.  These were the only two photos listed in association with Dahlquist’s name in the Barnard-Stockbridge collection’s catalog.  The images were kindly sent to me, via email, by the Special Collections & Archives unit of the University of Idaho’s Library.  Once again, please keep in mind that this is a work in progress, folks.  Thanks!

— See Roster of Rossi posts

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Clarence Dalquist’s casket’s procession in Wallace, before its turn on to Sixth Street, July 4th, 1916; incidentally, the woman in the three-tiered skirt (bottom left of picture) caught the attention of a sharp-eyed friend in San Francisco, and Heather Branstetter, whom I consulted, might have a name for her! (PHOTO CREDIT:  Barnard-Stockbridge Collection, Special Collections & Archive, University of Idaho Library)

Clarence Dahlquist died the day after the shooting, Saturday, July 1st, at shortly after three o’clock in the afternoon.  Herman J. Rossi, who was free on bond, was promptly re-arrested and arraigned, now before Probate Judge R.E. Weniger.  He was now charged with “willful, unlawful, felonious and deliberate and premeditated killing of the deceased.”  A “preliminary examination” of the case was set for Friday, July 7th.  Dahlquist’s body was removed to Worstell’s funeral parlor, and a coroner’s inquest was scheduled for 2 p.m. on Monday, July 3rd.  The Idaho Statesman reported that Rossi looked “haggard and worn” on Saturday “and was apparently under heavy mental strain.”  Mrs. Rossi was thought to have left Wallace for an unknown destination.  Judge Weniger referred the question of whether Rossi was now, again, bailable to Judge W.W. Woods, at the latter’s summer home on Lake Coeur d’Alene.  Woods very soon notified prosecuting attorney H.J. Hull that Rossi should be released upon posting a $50,000 bond, which sum, reported the Wallace Times-Press, was “quickly prepared and presented.” Rossi’s upper-crust friends and business associates readily secured the bond  — they, a rapidly assembled team comprising Eugene R. Day, James F. McCarthy, Henry White, George Steward, M.J. Flohr, H.E. Howes, O.A. Olin, W.A. Simons, L.L. Sweet, and John Lucas.  Rossi was once again released on bond.

Newspaper coverage had relatively little to offer about the victim, Mr. Dahlquist.  He was reported to have been a unmarried man who’d resided in the area for “several years.”  He was a musician – a drummer, as it happens – a member of the musicians union, and “a prominent” Elk.  (Rossi, incidentally, was also an Elks member, and, at least nominally, also a member of a number of other local fraternal organizations.)  In its July 4th edition, the Wallace Press-Times conveyed that Dahlquist was “born 25 years ago at Providence, R.I.”; he had three brothers and two sisters, all living in the Midwest; and he’d left his mother a life insurance benefit in the amount of $3,000 — roughly $66,000 in 2016 dollars.

Dahlquist’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Dahlquist of Omaha, Nebraska, requested that their son’s remains be shipped back to them for burial.  The Press-Times also reported before that a group of Dahlquist’s Elks brothers would accompany his body from Worstell’s funeral parlor to the Northern Pacific Depot, for shipment to Omaha.  Dahlquist’s fellow band members would accompany the cortege as well, playing “funeral music.”  Elks member, W.J. Kinkead, would escort Dahlquist’s body on its final eastward train journey.  

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Dahlquist’s procession at the Depot, note band alongside on Sixth Street (PHOTO CREDIT:  Barnard-Stockbridge Collection, Special Collections & Archive, University of Idaho Library)

The coronor’s jury’s inquest, on Monday, July 3rd, confirmed what was already known about the case – that Dahlquist had died from a bullet shot by Rossi at the Samuels Hotel on evening of the previous Friday.  The next day – July 4th, 1916, the 140th anniversary of the signing of the American Declaration of Independence – saw something remarkable on happen on Wallace’s downtown streets.  In the morning, and quite separate from any July 4th festivities, a good showing of the area’s citizenry – doubtless drawn from Kellogg and other area settlements as well as Wallace – arrayed along the sidewalks to witness and solemnize the passage of Dahlquist’s remains to the Depot.  The wagon carrying Dahlquist’s casket was pulled by two white horses.  Automobiles conveyed mourners, and some twelve hundred fellow Elks and other citizens lined the route.  “The sun was bright and the sky was clear,” reported the next day’s Press-Times of the event, “and the peace of the elements seemed sweet and sad.”  Pallbearers Thomas M. Cabe, E.R. Denny, John Murray, Dan Haydon, W.R. Mullan, and David Johnson bore the casket when it reached the Depot.  Dahlquist’s band’s members performed appropriate music on the Depot’s Sixth Street side.  “Demonstrating their love for sensation and flair for paradox,” wrote Patricia Hart and Ivar Nelson in Mining Town (1984, pp. 140-141), “the people of Wallace turned out in such large numbers for the funeral of the victim that it was the best-attended event help up to that time in Wallace.”

President Theodore Roosevelt’s celebrated visit to Wallace in May, 1903 — an event, incidentally, Rossi orchestrated on behalf of the City — had drawn many, many more onlookers. Yet, the comparison is unfair.  Dahlquist’s procession was had been an entirely local event.  Its impressive turnout and the message of affection it may have represented for the deceased might well have given Herman Rossi pause on that July 4th day.  Had he slain someone for whom the local mining communities harbored no small quotient of regard and fondness?  If so, would this outpouring of apparent community sympathy in due course bode ill for his murder trial’s outcome?

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