WE NEVER FORGET: Thomas Baldwin, Union Coal Miner, Murdered at Raleigh, West Virginia, November 13, 1917

Pray for the dead
And fight like hell for the living.
-Mother Jones


WNF Thomas Baldwin, UMW, Raleigh WV, Nov 13, 1917


Brother Thomas Baldwin
of the United Mine Workers of America
Murdered by Company Gunthug
November 13, 1917
Raleigh, West Virginia

Brother Thomas Baldwin, union miner, was going about his business in Raleigh, West Virginia on the evening of Tuesday November 13, 1917, when company gunthug, Sam Crews, snuck up behind him and slugged him over the head with a blackjack. He died three hours later. He left a widow and three small children to survive as best they could without a husband and father. Brother Baldwin’s grave can be found marked by a simple stone at Raleigh Cemetery, Glen Morgan, Raleigh County, West Virginia.

“Raleigh Cemetery Watcher” at Topix has posted an article from the Raleigh Register Herald of November 1917 (exact date not given) which describes Brother Baldwin:

Baldwin, say his neighbors at Raleigh, was a good, reliable man, a steady worker, and provided well for his wife and three children. He was a member of the United Mine Worker’s local that had been organized there some time ago, but was not inclined to give trouble. It appears that there was no reason whatever for his assailant’s attack upon him.

He lived with his family about 200 yards from the company store at Raleigh. After supper, on the night of the murder he had gone to the store for some purpose. As he started for his home he noticed that Crews was following him. He stopped and spoke in a friendly manner to the guard, who replied in kind and then suddenly dealt him a heavy blow on the head with some blunt weapon, presumably a blackjack. Badly wounded, Baldwin made his way to his home and dropped upon a bed. Two physicians were called. They found his skull fractured and an artery severed. In about three hours he died.

From the United Mine Workers Journal of October 4, 1917
-Lawrence Dwyer describes Sam Crews pointing rifle at Mother Jones:

…So Mother Jones, accompanied by District President Gilmore, Lawrence Dwyer and other representatives, went to the [union] 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.

From the Beckley Raleigh Herald of November 16, 1917:

Tom Baldwin Murdered

Hit From Behind by Guard at
Raleigh Tuesday Night

Raleigh was a scene off a murder Tuesday night, when Tom Baldwin was hit and killed by Sam Crews, a guard employed about the coal company workers recently.

Prosecuting Attorney M. L. Painter investigated the killing Wednesday, but few particulars could be learned. It is said Baldwin was shot from behind and that no attempt was made to hold the murderer.

Crews the man at large, has spent time in the penitentiary for forgery from this county.


From the United Mine Workers Journal of November of 29, 1917
-Reported by U. M. W. Executive Board Member, Lawrence Dwyer:

UMWJ, Nov 29, 1917

On last Wednesday night one of our members, Brother W. P. [Thomas] Baldwin, was brutally murdered at Raleigh, W. Va., by one of the professional gunmen of that camp. His name is Sam Crews. He sneaked up behind Brother Caseybolt, who was on his way home, and slugged him with a blackjack. Thirty minutes afterward he sneaked up behind Brother Baldwin and struck him over the head with a blackjack, crushing his skull. He died one hour and thirty minutes afterward. Brother Baldwin leaves a widow and four small children, who were dependent upon him. The thug walked away and has not been arrested.

During last week four of our members were assaulted and beat up by the thugs.

From the Granite Cutters Journal of May 1919:

A Thug Sentenced.

Sam Crews, a Baldwin-Feltz [Baldwin-Felts] gun man, has been convicted at Beckley, W. Va., of murder in the first degree and sentenced to life imprisonment. Crews was a “guard” employed by the Raleigh Coal company. He sneaked behind Thomas Baldwin, a miner employed by the company, and struck him on the head with a black jack. Baldwin died in a few hours.

Crews escaped and was later located in Oklahoma by officers of the United Mine Workers’ union.

The testimony of Crews at the trial supported the claim of unionists in this state that the Baldwin-Feltz outfit is not an agency to detect crime and arrest criminals. It was shown that while the agency had in its possession Crews’ photo and an offer of a $500 reward for his arrest, made by state officials, that it sent him out of the state to do work for it.

One of Crews’ witnesses was a “guard” named Wickline, who is serving a life sentence at Moundsville for murdering a machinist whom he shot eight times, Wickline swore that at the time of the murder charged against Crews he was in the engineer’s room across the Street He was asked how Crews could do guard duty and be in the engineer’s room all night. He replied that the guards “were getting easy money.”

From the United Mine Workers Journal of August 1, 1920:

Convicted of Murder

The second trial of Sam Crews, a Baldwin Felts gunman, who killed Thomas Baldwin, a member of Raleigh, W. Va., Local Union of the United Mine Workers in 1917, resulted in a conviction of murder in the second degree, and Crews was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. The first trial was held at Raleigh and resulted in a conviction of first degree murder with a life sentence. The second trial was held at Union, Monroe county, West Virginia, where the case was taken on a change of venue. After the murder Crews escaped and finally he was located in Oklahoma by Lawrence Dwyer, international board member from District 17. Dwyer, Fred George and Denis Wiley went from West Virginia and brought him back from Oklahoma.




“Raleigh Cemetery Watcher” (thank you, RCW) at Topix
-Apr 7, 2012

FindaGrave with photo of gravestone, 2010, thanks to Ronda Watson

Thomas Baldwin
DEATH 13 Nov 1917 Raleigh, Raleigh County, West Virginia, USA
BURIAL Raleigh Cemetery Glen Morgan, Raleigh County, West Virginia, USA

Hellraisers Journal, Thursday November 22, 1917
Mother Jones News for October, Part I: Up Against the West Virginia Gunthugs
Whereabouts & Doings of Mother Jones for October 1917, Part I: Found in West Virginia, Washington D.C. and Colorado

The Raleigh Herald
(Beckley, West Virginia)
-Nov 16, 1917

Hellraisers Journal, Monday December 3, 1917
Raleigh, West Virginia – Union Miner Murdered by Gunthug
From the United Mine Workers Journal: Gunthug Murders Miner in Raleigh, West Virginia

The Granite Cutters’ Journal, Volume 43
Granite Cutters’ International Association of America, 1919
May 1919 Granite Cutters Journal
“Thug Sentenced”

United Mine Workers Journal, Volume 31
United Mine Workers of America, 1920
Aug 1, 1920 UMWJ
“Convicted of Murder”


Coal Miners Grave – Hazel Dickens
Lyrics by Hazel Dickens
“For a man who gave his life for the UMW of A…”

This song was written for Frances Estep
but fits for Thomas Baldwin as well: