Angus Sutherland

One of the most controversial Sheriff’s of Shoshone County, Angus Sutherland lived a rich and respectable life. Having built the home in 1908, Sutherland’s Crest is named after the Sheriff who spent his last 30 years in the home. 

The Life and Legacy of Angus Sutherland

by Siobhan Curet

Born in 1851 on a farm near Earltown, Novia Scotia, Angus Sutherland was the son of John and Christy Sutherland. First arriving in Idaho (Then known as the Washington Territory) in 1878, Angus was the first of his family to explore the American West. He worked as a miner for two years before purchasing a mail contract and carried mail from Lewiston to Pierce City, followed by operation of a flour mill until 1886, when he settled in what would eventually become Wallace. At some point along the way, he married Elizabeth Mallory, who originally hailed from New York. After establishing himself in Wallace, Angus was joined by his parents, his brother Dan, and his wife Elizabeth. After some time of mining near Wallace, he and his brother Dan set up a livery stable. In 1898, he ran for Sheriff of Shoshone County against James Young, but was defeated by 144 votes. Young won the position of Sheriff, but would not remain Sheriff for long. 

The Mining Wars

Burke Canyon in 1888. Click to enlarge

In 1899, tensions rose in the Coeur d’Alene mining district between union miners and mining companies – the main point of contention being that the Bunker Hill mine in Kellogg was paying nearly a dollar less than the other mines in the district. In 1892, there had been much unrest for similar reasons in the area, and the discontent from the “great troubles of 1892” had begun to resurface. On April 26 1899, a group of union miners hijacked the Northern Pacific passenger train at gunpoint in Burke, ID. The train then headed South toward Wallace. At Mace, 100 additional men boarded the train. The train stopped at the Black Bear mine powder house, and powder was stolen and loaded onto the train. At Gem, 150-200 more miners joined, and 3 freight cars were added to the train. The train then backed up to the Frisco mine powder house, where the miners stole 400 additional pounds of dynamite. The train then resumed its approach to Wallace.

By the time the train reached Wallace, hundreds more miners had marched down from Mullan, armed with rifles that had been cached between Mullan and Wallace. By this time, the posse of rebellious miners aboard the train was nearly 1,000 strong.  Upon arrival at the bunker hill mine in Warner, the mob of angry union-men began placing the nearly 3,000 pounds of stolen dynamite under the Bunker Hill Mill. Meanwhile, a detachment of the union miners, armed with rifles, kept guard from a nearby mountainside. A skirmish between the non-union miners and the detachment on the hill broke out, which resulted in 8 casualties. The remaining non-union miners were warned to get away from the mill. As they fled, the fuses were lit. The mill exploded, sending debris and rubble flying in every direction. The mill was completely destroyed, leveling one of the largest (and most expensive) concentrators in the world. Some of the non-union miners were captured by the angry mob, and treated roughly. The sheriff at the time, Sheriff Young, was present and reportedly did nothing to stop the chaos and destruction.

The debris of Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mill after the explosion. Click to enlarge

Men held in the Bullpen at Mullan following the explosion at the Bunker Hill Mill

The miners once again boarded the train and returned to their various camps. The Governor of Idaho declared martial law on May 3. Troops from Walla Walla, Vancouver and Spokane Washington, Helena and Havre Montana, Salt Lake City Utah, Boise Idaho, Cheyenne Wyoming, and Brownsville Texas were all sent to the region. Over 700 men were arrested – indiscriminate of their employment. This included doctors, preachers, bartenders and miners who were placed in bullpens near Mullan and held for several months.

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Significant Locations

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Significant Locations
Kellogg - Click for more info Wardner - Click for more info Gem Wallace Mullan Frisco Mace Burke

Kellogg - Click for more info

Kellogg, ID - Click for picture

Kellogg, ID in 1901

Wardner - Click for more info

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Wardner - the site of the Bunker hill concentrator explosion.


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The remains of the Frisco Mill at Gem in 1892 after angry Union miners sent a load of dynamite down a sluice, blowing it to pieces.


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The Wallace train depot in 1918, where hundreds of angry union miners boarded a hijacked train years before.


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Mullan, ID in 1901


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A large group of men standing and sitting in front of a wooden building with railroad tracks in 1898. Many are holding lunch pails. Caption on front: "Frisco Mine Group"


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The Standard mine in Mace, ID


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View of the town of Burke, with the school in the center, taken from the hillside. Caption on front: " Masser, John W. - Mining property, Burke Idaho. School in center looking north".

Appointment to Sheriff

Public opinion insisted on the removal of Sheriff Young due to his sympathies toward the union rioters. Sutherland had been unanimously recommended for the position and was installed as acting Sheriff by Governor Studenberg. The appointment came as a great surprise to both Angus and his wife, Elizabeth, who begged him not to accept the position due to the potential danger to the family. However, he accepted after she consented to the appointment. Throughout the next two years, he faced great danger as the labor riot tensions remained strong. When asked how he remained alive through this trying time, he is quoted as saying “You know, a man who says he has no fear is either a damn liar or a damn fool. I was in fear of my life constantly for two yers but I had decided to take the job and I intended to see it through. I do know, however, that something was protecting me through it all. The mines detailed two secret service men to watch continually and they were constantly putting me on my guard but there was something else, too. Elks why on a certain night did I decide to walk around the block another way from my usual custom, and escape two men lying in wait for me in the alley. The next night they were at the other end of the block waiting and I took my usual course. I have no idea why I changed my route that first night. I did it unconsciously, although I had never gone that way before”. During his tenure as Sheriff and in his attempts to maintain law and order, Sheriff Sutherland faced much hostility from the Unions, who attempted to discredit him by spreading salacious rumors.

Idaho Governor, Frank Steunenberg

Attempts to Discredit

Newspaper article refuting claims of criminality. Click to enlarge

Around the time of his appointment, the miner’s association issued a statement saying this about Angus Sutherland:

“His record is one that will compare with any criminal on earth. He was organizer of a group of highwaymen that lynched a man for his money some years ago between Lewiston, Idaho, and Walla Walla, Washington. These worthies are the men selected by the democratic government of Idaho under the supervision of Gov. Steunenberg to execute the plans of the Standard Oil company and the mine owners.”

The editors of the local paper went on to refute the above claiming; “Mr. Sutherland is one who has manly stood out against the rule of anarchy in the Coeur d’ Alenes and is naturally hated by such men as …. But let us see what is thought by those who have long known him. He stands high in the estimation of the better element of Coeur d’Alenes where he has made his home for some years. Formerly he lived in the southern part of the state and is widely known among the Lewiston people.” “…… Mr. Sutherland’s connections by birth and marriage, his friendships and business associations are those that can only belong to a man or excellence and repute. In politics he is an unswerving Republican but is now acting under a Democratic appointment because there is work to do that requires work of the highest citizenship in which party ties are lost in larger call to patriotic duty. “

In 1900, Sutherland filed a libel suit against Mrs Hutton, who had published a book “The Coeur d’Alenes, or a Tale of the Modern Inquisition in Idaho”, in which she stated “This man Sutherland has a past record that may account for his being chosen as an officer of the Law and Order league. In 1884 Sutherland had a brother living in the southern part of the state, who refused to pay a man his wages who had worked for him. This man shot Sutherland’s brother dead, and this Angus Sutherland, the great law and order demagogue of the Coeur d’Alenes, led a mob and lynched the man who had shot his brother for refusing to pay him his honestly earned wages”

In the wake of the Labor riot of 1899, tensions remained high. In 1905,  former Idaho governor Steunenberg was assassinated outside of his home in Caldwell by a bomb rigged to his gate. When Steunenberg was assassinated, the new Governor of Idaho, Gooding, immediately telegraphed for Sutherland as he was convinced the assassination was tied to the dynamiters of the labor riots. The man convicted of his killing, Harry Orchard, admitted that he had been hired by the Western Federation of Miners. Sutherland was the first to provide the real name of Harry Orchard, as he recognized him from previous encounters up North. Orchard had been apprehended under a pseudonym prior to Sutherland’s arrival.

Harry Orchard, the man convicted of assasinating Stunenberg

Over the years, Sutherland served multiple terms as sheriff. In 1906 Sutherland was shot in the neck while trying to arrest William Hannah. After talking with the man for approximately 15 minutes, Sutherland stood and turned away from the man, as he turned back to face the man, he saw that Hannah had leveled a revolver on him. Angus lunged for the gun, but in that time the man fired a shot, which grazed Sutherland’s neck, leaving a burned score across the back of it. A lengthy wrestling match ensued, which resulted in Sutherland suffering a broken rib and severe lacerations to his hand from the assailant’s gun. The fight continued for some time until Angus wrastled the man to a small bank where he was able to get the attention of some nearby railroad workers who came to his aid. Hannah was arrested, but was killed in self defense sometime later by one of Sutherland’s deputies.

In 1907, the Idaho Daily Statesman reported that Sutherland was lured to Pullman Washington by a fake telegram, but “was saved from harm by a drunken man who gave out the information that three men were lying in wait for Sutherland at the depot.”

Sutherland’s Livery. Located at 502 Pine, where Lucky Miner Used Cars sits today

In 1919, Angus was the winning bidder for a daily mail route from Wallace to Murray, where he would leave Wallace in the afternoon, and return from Murry the following afternoon. At the time, Murray had been without daily mail service since a spring flood that year, which had washed out the railroad track along Prichard creek. The mail had previously been delivered via train three times a week by train, and then carried to Murray by stage. A sleigh was to be used when the roads were impassable due to snow, but would otherwise be delivered via automobile. The express was also equipped to carry passengers.  Angus an his brother Dan operated their Livery, which later became an automobile repair shop, since the arrived in Wallace in the late 1800’s. Originally located where the Jameson sits now, it was ultimately moved to 502 Pine, now Lucky Miner Used Cars. 

Sutherland was confirmed a US Marshall in February of 1931. Since this was during prohibition, so the confirmation process was an investigation into character, and qualifications was thorough. In January of 1931, the Idaho Statesman wrote that “Sutherland was the sheriff of Shoshone County at the time of the Coeur d’Alene riots, and his appointment to the marshal ship is in a way a recognition of the bravery he displayed in those trying days”.

Sutherland died at his home in Wallace in 1937 in Wallace at the age of 83, and was taken to Spokane for cremation. His wife Elizabeth lived in the home until her passing in 1945, at the age of 76. She had lived in Wallace for 50 years at the time of her death. After her death, the house was purchased by McIntoch Galbraith.