Hellraisers Journal: Whereabouts & Doings of Mother Jones for October 1917, Part I: Found in West Virginia, Washington D.C. and Colorado


You ought to be out raising hell.
This is the fighting age.
Put on your fighting clothes.
-Mother Jones
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Hellraisers Journal, Thursday November 22, 1917
Mother Jones News for October, Part I: Up Against the West Virginia Gunthugs

Mother Jones Fire Eater, Lg Crpd, St L Str, Aug 23, 1917

During the month of October 1917, we find Mother Jones in Raleigh, West Virginia, once more facing the Baldwin-Felts gunthugs. Lawrence Dwyer, organizer for the United Mine Workers of America, described the encounter:

So Mother Jones, accompanied by District President Gilmore, Lawrence Dwyer and other representatives, went to the meeting in an automobile, and as the meeting was assembling alongside of the county road, three shots were fired from a rifle on the hillside and sixty gunmen came from the hills, each having a high-powered 30-30 rifle. They swarmed around Mother Jones and the officials with her and they all having their rifles pointing at Mother Jones, and they said they would “shoot her damned head off,” but Mother Jones didn’t appear to scare at all; in fact, when they threatened to shoot her she told them back, “Oh, no you won’t.” In fact, I know I felt more uneasy than Mother Jones did.

Mother was also found in Washington, D. C., and in Colorado during the month of October 1917.

From The Beckley Messenger of October 2, 1917:

MINERS HOLD MEETING

A large number of miners from Raleigh and intermediate mines met in Beckley Sunday afternoon and held a meeting at the court house. Plans looking to the betterment of working conditions were discussed. “Mother” Jones was present and expressed the wish that the coal companies might dispense with the services of armed guards, wherever they were employed.

From the United Mine Workers Journal of October 4, 1917:

FROM WEST VIRGINIA
The Strike at Raleigh

The six hundred miners of the Raleigh Coal Company of Raleigh, West Virginia, on last Wednesday declared a strike and the mines are practically down. They have about forty transportation men trying to work. There are sixty-three professional murderers and gunmen stationed in the camp and the gunmen have been evicting and throwing the household effects of the men out of the houses without any process of law. The cause of this strike is as follows:

About three months ago the Raleigh Coal Company, being one of the New River companies that abrogated the contract they signed up with the United Mine Workers of America, refused to allow the men to meet on their property. Then the men laid their tools down and completely shut down the mines, and the beginning of the second week of the shut down the Labor Department at Washington, D. C, sent Representative Squires of that department, and by the end of that week a settlement was reached and the men returned to work. The settlement was reached by the company agreeing in writing that they would grant the men the right to hold meetings, also agreeing to live up to the present New River contract, and everything worked smoothly until three weeks ago, when the company tried to remove the checkweighman from the tipple, but the men refused to cast a vote in the election that the company tried to pull off. Then the company commenced to place Baldwin-Feltz gunmen in the camp, and on September 13 one of the Baldwin gunmen shot a one-armed miner through the good arm, and after shooting him the thug brutally beat up the one-armed man with the butt of his pistol, cutting open his head in several places and knocking all his teeth out of his mouth.

The next day the men refused to work and five hundred of them waited on Mr. Chilson, the general manager, and demanded of him to remove the gunmen, and they left the camp that day, and on the following working day, Monday morning, the men all reported for work but the company refused to work any of the mines and locked out the men. At the expiration of last week the company began to import more gunmen and on Monday morning of last week he started up his mines, having forty-three imported professional murderers and gunmen, and the mine boss ordered the checkweighman off the tipple. The men at their meeting that night instructed the checkweighman to go back on the tipple, and the next morning District President James Gilmore and High Sheriff Foster of Raleigh were on the tipple, and when the checkweighman attempted to take his place Superintendent White ordered him off.

Both District President Gilmore and Sheriff Foster told the superintendent that the company was violating the state law for every car of coal he would dump without the checkweighman being there to see it weighed. The superintendent answered them he couldn’t help that, as he was carrying out the instructions of the company. On Tuesday, the 25th instant, the men assembled in their hall to hold their regular meeting, when someone came and informed them that the gunmen were getting their guns for the purpose of attacking them. So the men adjourned the meeting until the next morning, and five minutes after the men vacated the hall the thugs raided the hall and lit the lights, and the next morning the men held a meeting off the property and unanimously voted to strike, and today (Sunday) a meeting was arranged and Mother Jones was advertised to speak at this meeting.

So Mother Jones, accompanied by District President Gilmore, Lawrence Dwyer and other representatives, went to the meeting in an automobile, and as the meeting was assembling alongside of the county road, three shots were fired from a rifle on the hillside and sixty gunmen came from the hills, each having a high-powered 30-30 rifle. They swarmed around Mother Jones and the officials with her and they all having their rifles pointing at Mother Jones, and they said they would “shoot her damned head off,” but Mother Jones didn’t appear to scare at all; in fact, when they threatened to shoot her she told them back, “Oh, no you won’t.” In fact, I know I felt more uneasy than Mother Jones did.

What made it worse, nearly all the gunmen appeared to be intoxicated. Well, naturally, their actions stampeded all the men, and they all assembled at the Raleigh Railroad depot, and there they all agreed to walk to Beckley and relate the actions of the drunken gunmen to High Sheriff Foster. And they did walk to Beckley, two and one-half miles, and four hundred of them assembled in the court house there and related the actions of the drunken gunmen to the sheriff. He informed the men he couldn’t do anything only to arrest any one we would swear out warrants for. There were numerous county officials in the court house, and Mr. C. D. Wiley, president of the Raleigh local, made the following statement:

That County Prosecutor Painter told him (Wiley) that he had a warrant for Sam Crews (a man who has served two terms in the state prison). This warrant was for a felony charge, and (he further said) the only reason he didn’t have the warrant served on him was because he felt if he did the operators would say that he was taking the part of the miners. This man (ex-convict) Sam Crews was one of the gunmen who pointed his rifle at Mother Jones and said he would “shoot her damned head off.”

The miners of the field are becoming unrestful over the fact of the Baldwin-Feltzs returning to this field, and after their drunken actions of today I can’t say what the out come will be.

LAWRENCE DWYER.

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[Emphasis and paragraph breaks added.]

From the Baltimore Sun of October 5, 1917:

“MOTHER” JONES AS MEDIATOR
—–
Tells Garfield She Is Trying To Prevent
Trouble In West Virginia.

Washington, Oct. 4.-Coal miners and operators of Beckley, W. Va., have been asked by Harry A. Garfield, Federal Fuel Administrator, to confer with him Monday morning about conditions in their field which threaten interrupted production.

“Mother” Jones, known nationally because of her activities on behalf of labor, conferred today with Dr. Garfield about unrest among miners in the West Virginia field. She told him that she had exerted her influence to keep down the temper of the men, which threatens to make trouble should it get beyond bounds.

Dr. Garfield’s telegram to operators and representatives of labor emphasized the national war situation and the importance of avoiding conflict and controversy at this time.

—–

From the United Mine Workers Journal of October 11, 1917:

From the Italian Section-

DALLE SEZIONI

DALL’WEST VIRGINIA
Raleigh, West Virginia

Sono in isciopero i seicento operai lavoranti nelle miniere della Raleigh Coal Co. Tempo fa la compagnia, insieme con altre nella regione del New River, firmò un regolare contratto di lavoro. Tre mesi or sono essa contrariamente ai patti stabiliti proibì agli operai di tenere riunioni sulla sua proprietà. A nulla valsero le nostre proteste, e noi allora deliberammo di sospendere il lavoro. In seguito all interposizione di un conciliatore venuto da Washington, la compagnia accondiscese in iscritto alle dimande dei minatori e confermò il contratto di lavoro firmato precedentemente. Sembrava che tutto fosse cosi accomodato. Ma la compagnia volle dare un altra prova della sua testardaggine. Tre settimane or sono i minatori elessero il loro checkweiman, che secondo le leggi dello Stato ha il diritto di verificare il peso del carbone. Costui si recò a prendere il suo posto sulla discarica, ma eccoti arrivare il boss, il quale in nome della compagnia ordina al checkweiman di partire. Partito il checkweiman, anche gli uomini partirono dalla miniera e non vi faranno più ritorno fino a che i loro sacrosanti diritti non vengano rispettati.

Intanto il campo è pieno di sbirri armati. Ce ne sono più di sessanta, molti ex-galeotti e gli altri tutti faccie da galera. Un giorno che gli operai tennero una riunione all’aperto sulla strada pubblica, presente la vecchia Mother Jones, gli sgherri ci circondarono coi fucili spianati e ci intimarono di scioglierci. Per solo rispetto a Mother Jones che ci raccomandò la calma, non avvenne un massacro. Abbiamo fatto i nostri reclami alle autorità dello Stato, e se non ci sarà fatta giustizia, prenderemo un’altra decisione per liberarci della sbirraglia.

[Emphasis added.]

From The Pueblo Chieftain of October 18, 1917:

“MOTHER” JONES IS PUEBLO VISITOR
—–

“Mother” Jones, noted leader of the mine workers, whose activity in strike troubles has gained her newspaper notoriety thruout the United States, came to Pueblo, attended the Tuesday night conference of the United Mine Workers of district 15, poured oil on the troubled waters, caused the stormy meeting to adjourn tranquilly and departed yesterday for the national headquarters of the union to lay before the national officers the complaints and desires of district 15.

The conference here was called to take action toward having the charter of this district restored. “Mother” Jones pledged the delegates to the conference that if they would adjourn their conference without taking any action she would promise them that she would have their charter restored and obtain all the things for which they were striving.

The men took “Mother” Jones at her word and the conference was adjourned.

———-

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SOURCES

The Beckley Messenger
(Beckley, West Virginia)
-Oct 2, 1917
https://www.newspapers.com/image/36362912/

The United Mine Workers Journal, Volume 28
(Indianapolis, Indiana)
-May 3, 1917 to Oct 25, 1917
https://books.google.com/books?id=3wpOAAAAYAAJ
UMWJ Oct 4, 1917
https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=3wpOAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&pg=GBS.PT582
“From West Virginia, The Strike at Raleigh”
https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=3wpOAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&pg=GBS.PT592
https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=3wpOAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&pg=GBS.PT596
UMWJ Oct 11, 1917
https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=3wpOAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&pg=GBS.PT614
“DALL’WEST VIRGINIA: Raleigh, West Virginia”
https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=3wpOAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&pg=GBS.PT632

The Sun
(Baltimore, Maryland)
-Oct 5, 1917
https://www.newspapers.com/image/214637600/

The Pueblo Chieftain
(Pueblo, Colorado)
-Oct 18, 1917, page 12
http://www.genealogybank.com/

IMAGE
Mother Jones Fire Eater, Lg Crpd, St L Str, Aug 23, 1917
https://www.newspapers.com/image/204372148/

See also:

For more on Mother Jones in Raleigh, West Virginia:

WE NEVER FORGET: Feb 25, 1903
Mother Jones and the Massacre of the Raleigh County Miners

Federal Fuel Administration and Harry A Garfield
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Fuel_Administration
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Augustus_Garfield

For more on the take-over of UMW District 15 by the International:
(scroll way down)
http://www.weneverforget.org/hellraisers-journal-colorado-miners-families-to-honor-the-martyrs-of-ludlow-on-sunday-april-22-1917/

Note: Google translates the above Italian language article:

Sixty workers are working in the mines of Raleigh Coal Co. While the company, together with others in the New River region, signed a regular job. Three months ago, it was forbidden to hold meetings on its property for three months or so. We did not receive our protests, and we then deliberated. suspend work. As a result of the conciliator’s resignation from Washington, the company went down in writing to the miners’ names and confirmed the contract signed earlier. It seemed that everything was so accommodated. But the company wanted to give another proof of its stubbornness. Three sets of mane or miners are given their check-weiman, which according to state laws has the right to verify the weight of coal. Co stui went to take his place on the run, but here comes the boss, who on behalf of the company orders the checkweiman to leave. I went checkweiman. even men left the mine and will not return until their sacred rights are respected.

Meanwhile the camp is full of armed cops. There are more than sixty, many ex-galeotti and the others all faced with jail. One day the workers held an outdoor gathering on the highway, presenting the old Mother Jones, the neighbors surrounded us with the shotguns and set about to break us off. Only with respect to Mother Jones who recommended us calm, there was no massacre. We have made our complaints to the authorities of the state, and if we do not do justice, we will take another decision to get rid of the blaze.

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