You ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes.
-Mother Jones

Sunday June 21, 1914
Salt Lake City, Utah - As Joe Hill Fires His Attorneys, Mrs. Stephen Comes to His Aid

The State of Utah vs. Joseph Hillstrom

Virginia Snow Stephen, supporter of Joe Hill, Utah Socialist
Mrs. Virginia Snow Stephen
Last evening's Ogden Standard reports that  "sensation after sensation piled up [Friday] in the Joseph Hillstrom murder trial." These "sensation" were, apparently, the firing by Joe Hill of his attorneys, Scott and McDougall, along with the appearance in court of two women, "each shrouded in mystery." The Standard was unable to identify one of the mysterious women, but the other was identified as Mrs. Virginia Snow Stephen, educator and "daughter of the late President Lorenzo Snow of the Mormon church." Mrs. Stephen has become interested in the case of Joe Hill, believing him to be innocent of the crime of murder for which he is on trial for his life. Through the assistance of Mrs. Stephen, Attorney Soren X. Christensen will now be conducting the defense of Fellow Worker Joe Hill.

From the Saturday evening's Ogden Standard:


Salt Lake. June 20.-Sensation after sensation piled up yesterday in the Joseph Hillstrom murder trial before Judge M. L. Ritchie in the district court.

Hillstrom discharged his own attorneys, F. B. Scott and E. D. McDougall. in open court, declaring they were in league with the district attorney and that he could conduct his own defense better than they. He re-engaged them in the afternoon, and Soren X. Chrlstensen also was entered as associate counsel, representing Judge Hilton of Denver, the famous labor advocate.

Two women entered the case yesterday, each shrouded in mystery, which counsel for the defense could not or would not clear up.

One is Mrs. Virginia Snow Stephen who is prominent in educational, social and art circles. Mrs. Stephen, who is a daughter of the late President Lorenzo Snow of the Mormon church, has long been connected with the art department of the University of Utah, and stands exceptionally high as an instructor. Mrs Stephen, it is said, has never seen Hillstrom, but has become so firmly convinced of his innocence that she will endeavor, while taking her vacation in the east, to raise funds for his defense.

Convinced of Innocence

"The man who wrote the songs and composed the music that Joseph Hillstrom has, simply could not be guilty of so brutal a murder as the killing of the Morrisons," Mrs Stephens told F B. Scott, of the defense, before she left for the east.

Discussing the interest that Mrs. Stephen has displayed in the case, Mr Scott said yesterday:

Mrs Stephen came to my office some time ago and talked to me about the Hillstrom case. I did not know her until she introduced herself but she seemed greatly interested in Hillstrom's defense. She said she had never seen Hillstrom but that she could not believe the man guilty from what she had read and heard of the case. She appeared eager to render any assistance in her power She told me that she was going east for her vacation and that she intended raising funds, if possible, while absent to assist Hillstrom in getting his case properly before the courts. At that time, I might add, we did not know that Hillstrom would be called for trial at so early a date.

Mrs. Stephen also asked me if I would like to have assistance in the case and I told her I would. Having been informed that she intended stopping in Denver, on her way to the east, I suggested that she might see Judge O. N Hilton, the noted labor advocate in Denver who was associated with me in the Sorensen case. That she saw Judge Hilton is evidenced by the telegram which came to Soren X Christensen today.

Attorney O. N Hilton, when interviewed in Denver last night regarding the connection of Mrs. Virginia Stephen with the Hillstrom murder case, said:
I know nothing of Mrs Stephens further than that she stated to me that she represented the defense committee of the I W. W. She was anxious, she said, to see that Hillstrom secured justice, and in case he was convicted by a jury in the present trial she wanted to be assured that he would secure a new trial and, if necessary, carry the case to the highest court. I was unable, by reason of other duties, to represent Hillstrom, and recommended Attorney Soren X. Christensen of Salt Lake, who is now conducting Hillstrom's defense.
The Ogden Standard
"Fearless, Independent, Progressive Newspaper"
(Ogden City, Utah)
-Saturday Evening, June 20, 1914

Perhaps the other of the two women "shrouded in mystery" was Hilda Erickson. My speculation is based on the recent research of William M. Adler. More research needed, of course, but one does tend to wonder. See:
The New York Times of August 26, 2011
"Examining a Labor Hero’s Death" by Steven Greenhouse

Mrs. Virginia Snow Stephen

Saturday June 21, 2014
More on Mrs. Virginia Snow Stephen:

Virginia Snow Stephen's commitment to socialism, opposition to capital punishment, and support of equal justice for working people, received considerable attention after her identification with Joe Hill. Initially she became involved in the case because of her radical sympathies as well as her friendship with Ed Rowan, an IWW member and an activist in the Joe Hill Defense Committee in Salt Lake. Stephen conferred personally with Hill while he was in the Salt Lake County jail. She came away convinced that he was not capable of committing the crime for which he had been charged. Relating these views, she gained a high profile in the local press, which found it "good copy" that a faculty member at the university, as well as a daughter of a prominent Mormon, would even associate with Joe Hill, let alone champion his innocence.
Although she is repeatedly referred to as "Mrs. Stephen" by Ogden Standard in the above article, she had, in fact, been divorced from Jay R. Stephen since May of 1897.

Utah History to Go
"Socialist Women and Joe Hill"

The Rebel Girl-Mats Paulson

Yes, her hands may be harden'd from labor
And her dress may not be very fine
But a heart in her bosom is beating
That is true to her class and her kind
And the grafters in terror are trembling
When her spite and defiance she'll hurl
For the only and thoroughbred lady
Is the Rebel Girl.

             -Joe Hill


Originally posted to Hellraisers Journal on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 11:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Rebel Songwriters, Protest Music, Shamrock American Kossacks, In Support of Labor and Unions, Anti-Capitalist Chat, and History for Kossacks.

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