Hellraisers Journal: Federal Agents Move Against IWWs in Kansas Oil Fields, Fifty Arrested in Butler County

IWW on War and Class Solidarity, Dec 1, 1916


Hellraisers Journal, Wednesday November 21, 1917
Butler County, Kansas – I. W. W. Oil Workers Seized by Feds

IWW Label, IWWC Proceedings held Nov-Dec 1916

A round-up by federal agents of members of the Industrial Workers of the World has commenced in Butler County, Kansas. Reports from Kansas indicates that most of those taken into custody were members of the Oil Workers Industrial Union. Butler County is located just east of Wichita. The county seat is located at El Dorado.

From The Topeka State Journal of November 20, 1917:

Fifty Arrests Made in Butler
Oil Fields Today.
Starts Gigantic Drive Thru
Forest of Derricks.

“Workers” Won’t Get Chance to
Duplicate Okla. Trouble.
Robertson, U. S. District Attorney,
Will See to It.

Kansas City, Nov. 20.-A roundup of I. W. W’s in the oil fields of Kansas is to be made immediately, Fred Robertson, district attorney for Kansas, announced late today. Already more than fifty alleged I. W. W.’s were arrested in the Butler county oil fields today, it was announced.

The arrests today were made in the vicinity of Augusta by state and federal agents, it was announced. A tent alleged to have been used for I. W. W. meetings there was raided and a great quantity of literature was seized.

The purpose of the raids will be to rid the oil fields of the state of undesirables, federal officers say, and each man arrested will be examined as to whether he was registered.

The presence of alleged I. W. W.’s in the Butler county fields recently led to the placing of armed guards.



The Topeka State Journal
(Topeka, Kansas)
-Nov 20, 1917

IWWC Proceedings held Nov-Dec 1916

See also:

Hellraisers Journal, Monday November 12, 1917
Tulsa, Oklahoma – Fellow Workers Face Night of Terror
Night of Terror in Tulsa: IWWs Taken From Jail, Whipped & Tarred by “Knights of Liberty”

Hellraisers Journal, Saturday November 17, 1917
Drumright, Oklahoma – Takes Cue From Tulsa “Knights of Liberty”
Drumright Follows Tulsa: IWW Hall Raided, FWs Forced to Throw Bricks Thru Window

American Political Prisoners:
Prosecutions Under the Espionage and Sedition Acts

by Stephen Martin Kohn
Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994
(search: “trial in wichita”)

Note: thus begins the long ordeal of the Wichita Group of IWW federal prisoners. They will not come to trial until Dec 1919, and, in the meantime, they will be held in various Kansas county jails under horrendous conditions. By the time of their trial, one will die (James Gossard, We Never Forget), four will contract tuberculosis and two will be transferred to insane asylums.

Political Prisoners of World War I Repression Who Lost Their Lives in Freedom’s Cause, 1917-1931

Died in Newton County Jail, Kansas, date of death not given.
(This is most likely the Harvey County Jail in the town of Newton.)
-James Gossard of Urbana, Illinois.
IWW-Federal Prisoner, died while awaiting trial in Wichita.