Hellraisers Journal: Frank Little Lynched in Butte; Note Threatens: “Others Take Notice! First and Last Warning!”

Don’t worry, fellow-worker,
all we’re going to need from now on is guts.
-Frank Little

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Hellraisers Journal, Friday August 3, 1917
Butte, Montana – Union Men Arm for Self Defense

Frank Little was taken from his room by vigilantes before dawn on August 1st. His body was found hanging from a railroad trestle by a neighborhood man on his way to work. Pinned to the body of Fellow Worker Frank Little was a note bearing the Montana Vigilante Code and a grim warning to “Others.” The men of the Butte Metal Mine Workers Union are seeking permits in order to arm for self-defense.

From The Anaconda Standard of August 2, 1917:

Frank Little, Others Take Notice, AS p1, Aug 2, 1917
Frank Little, Others Take Notice, 3 7 77, AS p1, Aug 2, 1917

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Butte Metal Mine Workers Union Responds

The Standard reported:

No sooner had the body been found [hanging from Milwaukee Railroad Trestle] than reports began to go that Tom Campbell and Joe Shannon [strike leaders] had also been lynched and their bodies discovered in a canyon. Other wild reports began to go the rounds, indicating the tense feeling over the affair. Members prominent in the metal mines workers’ organization gave notice that they had been threatened.

Threats Are Made.

Attorney William G. Sullivan, who has acted as counsel for the union and members who have been in trouble, said the union had received a warning that Shannon and Campbell were next in line. He said there were others who were marked men, but he would not give their names.

Sullivan stated that several men, had changed their rooms several times. An effort will be made by the union, he said, to get at the bottom of the outrage, but in a legal way, and he said he, with others had taken steps to guard against trouble. Sullivan said he had an idea who some of the men in the lynching party were, but he would not divulge any information on this point. Various members of the union went to the sheriff’s office as soon as the lynching was reported and asked for a permit to carry guns. Before 9 o’clock [August 1st] many members of the union had been informed of the lynching and a special meeting was held and impassioned talks were made.

Flag at Half Mast.

A short time later an American flag was hoisted on the top of Finlander hall The flag had not been up before. It was lowered to halfmast. On the door of the hall was a notice which read:

Frank Little was taken from his bed early this morning by gunmen and murdered. He was not given a chance to put on his clothes or get his crutches.

HAYWOOD’S STATEMENT

More from the Standard:

Frank Little, Grover Perry, Lbr Def Aug 1926, Lgr


HAYWOOD DEEPLY REGRETS THE DEATH OF HIS ALLY
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Chicago. Aug. 1-Frank little had been identified with the I. W. W. since 1908. His home was Fresno, Cal. He was 38 years old and single, with emotion by W. D. Haywood, secretary of the national organization of the I. W. W.

[Said Mr. Haywood:]

Frank Little was an earnest, active advocate of the interests of the working classes. I cannot begin to say how deeply I regret his death. He was well known, not only to Industrial Workers of the World, but to working classes generally throughout the West.

Before becoming identified with the I. W. W. organization in an official capacity. Little was a miner. In a recent trip from Phoenix to Globe Ariz, he met with an accident, breaking a leg. He had not fully recovered from the injury

—–

[Photograph added.]

Note: Grover Perry, pictured above with our Martyred Fellow Worker, is the Secretary-Treasurer of the Metal Mine Workers Industrial Union No. 800 with whom FW Little had been working to organize the miners of Arizona before coming to Butte.

From the Helena Independent of August 2, 1917:

Some are hoping for more deaths among the striking miners. Apparently the 166 who died in the Speculator Mine Fire last June were not enough to satisfy their blood-lust.

Editorial by Will Campbell

Considerably more than two thousand copies of an extra Independent were sold in an hour or less [August 1st]. It was just at noon when the violent death of Little became known. Groups of businessmen, workers, women and officials gathered here and there. There was but one comment heard.

“Good work; Let them continue to hang every I.W.W. in the state.”

It is the failure of the courts and the military authorities to act which has caused the numbers “3-7-77” to again appear in Montana, and without boasting of the condition, the Independent is convinced that unless the courts and the military authorities take a hand now and end the I.W.W. in the west, there will be more night visits, more tugs at the rope and more I.W.W. tongues will wag for the last time when the noose tightens about the traitor’s throats.

Little openly boasted that the I.W.W. would keep the soldiers so busy the United States would have no time to fight Germany. This is as far as the I.W.W. have been permitted to go on their work in Montana; they have given aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States.

The time has come. The Independent cannot comprehend why the United States government has not long ago established prison camps and interned there the enemies of the American government. It is beyond the comprehension of the average citizen why the War Department has not ordered certain leaders arrested and shot. The people will not stand for much more. The policy of “watchful waiting” in dealing with the I.W.W. will not be tolerated.

The Butte committee, L., D., C., S., S., W, and T., whoever they might be, are actually being praise for their work early Wednesday morning, because the courts and the regularly constituted authorities have failed in certain sections of Montana as they did in Arizona,. And Montanans know the meaning of “3-7-77.”

[….]

It sort of quickens the blood in the veins of some of the pioneers of Helena to see once more the fatal figures in print-“3-7-77.”

[Emphasis added.]

From The Anaconda Standard of August 2, 1917:

The mouth-piece of the mine owners, while denouncing the lynching of Fellow Worker Frank Little, nevertheless indicates that he could be held responsible for his own murder. We have never noticed the mine owners being held responsible in any way whatsoever for the deaths of the men who perished in their unsafe mine.


BUTTE’S NAME TARNISHED BY THE STAIN OF LYNCH LAW
FRANK LITTLE HANGED FROM TRESTLE BY UNKNOWN MOB
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INFAMOUS PROCEEDING DENOUNCED BY CITIZENS
AND OFFICERS GENERALLY
—–
Local Leader of I. W. W. Taken From His Room
by Masked Men and Strung Up-
No Clew to Identity of Perpetrators.
Seditious Utterances of the Man Fail to Draw
Him Into the Clutches of the Law-
City Wrought to High Pitch.
—–

Frank H Little, AS p1, Aug 2, 1917

Frank H. Little, executive board member of the national I. W. W. organization, who had made many seditious speeches openly in Butte, called American soldiers “scabs in uniform,” denounced the government and the president, threatened governors and other legal authorities, gave warning of rebellion and armed revolution, the frankest exponent of direct action and slugging tactics in the present labor troubles in Butte, and who was even under suspicion by some of his associates as being a detective, was taken from his room in the Steele block on North Wyoming street early yesterday morning by masked men and hanged from a railroad trestle south of the city.

The lynching, first that has ever disgraced the city of Butte and brought shame to its good name, a travesty on law and order, followed the failure of federal, state, county and city authorities to properly deal with the case of Little and his fellow agitators. The authorities were repeatedly informed of the destructive action and violence advocated by Little and his fellows. Written official reports were made to the authorities about the conduct of Little, and citizens expressed fear of results if the outrages were not curbed.

The plea of the authorities was that there was no expressly written and worded law that would warrant them in interfering, although on previous occasions sufficient excuse was found for police interference with disorders not half so violent as the unfortunate and irresponsible Little and his more responsible associates were guilty of.

The result: A crime that will forever be a blot on the name of Butte and a shame to the whole state.

Last night the authorities were without a clew to the identity of the men who participated in the lynching, though the federal, state, county and city authorities come with the promise that their utmost efforts and resources will be employed to apprehend and bring to justice the lynchers.

[…..]

[We will publish more from this article in tomorrow’s Hellraisers.]

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SOURCES

The Anaconda Standard
(Anaconda, Montana)
-Aug 2, 1917, pages 1 &
http://www.genealogybank.com/

Montana’s Agony:
Years of War and Hysteria, 1917-1921

-by Arnon Gutfeld
U of Florida, 1979
(See page 31 & note 28 on page 150.)
https://books.google.com/books?id=ODo9PQAACAAJ

IMAGES

Frank Little, Others Take Notice, AS p1, Aug 2, 1917
Frank Little, Others Take Notice, 3 7 77, AS p1, Aug 2, 1917
Frank Little, Take Notice Card, Truth Butte Tompkins
http://cdm16013.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p267301coll1/id/4294

Frank Little, Grover Perry, Lbr Def Aug 1926, Lgr
https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/labordefender/1926/v01n08-aug-1926-LD.pdf

Frank H Little, AS p1, Aug 2, 1917
http://www.genealogybank.com/
Frank Little, wiki, crpd
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Little_(unionist)

See also:

About The Anaconda Standard
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84036012/

About The Helena Independent
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025308/

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