Thursday February 11, 1904
From The Atlanta Constitution: Tennessee Governor May Send Troops to Coal Creek
Again, the only "lawless" act on the part of miners which we have seen reported in the press was that they "hooted" at scabs. According to the Governor, any bloodshed resulting from such a terrible act of "lawlessness" is well deserved and on the heads of the miners. Nevertheless, we take note of the fact that two of the gunthugs are facing trial, and a mine superintendent is being charged as an accessory, and we welcome that news as we have rarely seen company gunthugs held to account for the murder of unarmed strikers.
Governor Frazier Goes to Tennessee Mines To Investigate Trouble
Knoxville, Tenn., February 9.-Governor J. B. Frazier arrived here this morning from Nashville. After a conference with parties here who are familiar with the situation at Coal Creek as a result of the fatal engagement there on Sunday in which four men were killed and eight seriously wounded, he decided to go to Coal Creek and investigate for himself.
Governor Frazier left here at 9:30 o'clock. He was accompanied by Adjutant General Harvey H. Hannah, Judge R. M. Barton, of the court of chancery appeals, and Hon. James H. Welcker, whom the governor invited as a legal adviser. Governor Frazier declined to commit himself as to whether he did or did not favor sending state troops to Coal Creek.
Pressure has been brought to bear upon the governor to detail troops to guard the Fraterville and Thistle coal mines, in which the Coal Creek Coal Company is working non-union men. However, other pressure is simultaneously advising against such a step.
The killing Sunday was the result of putting non-union men to work in the mines. They were hooted, which precipitated the the difficulty leading to the casualties. Governor Frazier may remain at Coal Creek a day or two. He is in ill health and had intended leaving today for Hot Springs, Ark, but he deemed it his first duty to ascertain positively the situation at Coal Creek before leaving the state.
The trials of B. J. Reeder and Deputy Sheriff Bolton, which were to have occurred yesterday afternoon at Clinton were continued until Wednesday. George M. Camp, superintendent of the company's mine, is under bond, being charged as an accessory.
Militia companies at Knoxville, Morristown, Maryville and Harriman are holding themselves in readiness to go to Coal Creek if ordered. Yesterday 200 blankets and fifty tents were shipped from Nashville to Knoxville.
Governor Addresses Miners.
At Coal Creek this afternoon Governor Frazier addressed one thousand miners assembled near the depot. Governor Frazier said that the lawless acts of the miners would have to be stopped and that if the county authorities could not cope with the situation that the state would assume instant charge. In response to a question of how many of those present would agree to see that the law was maintained every man in the great crowd raised his hand as a pledge. The governor warned them that at the least lawlessness troops would be ordered and that if there was bloodshed the responsibility would be on their heads.
Vice President M. S. Elliott, of District No. 19, United Mine Workers of America, spoke a few words to the crowd. He endorsed what the governor had said and told the men to do as the governor advised. Deputy Sheriff Link Williams has been put in charge of the sheriff's office, Governor Frazier having removed Sheriff Moore for recent actions.
The governor has ordered the new sheriff to summon 50 citizens to act as his assistants in maintaining order, but those summoned are declining to go to Coal Creek. The governor and his party returned to Knoxville tonight and the governor intends to return to Nashville in the morning.
The Atlanta Constitution
-of Feb 10, 1904
Note: It is difficult to know the exact date of the Coal Creek Massacre. One newspaper said it occurred on Saturday (Feb 6), others on Sunday (Feb 7), and yet another with the dateline of Feb 9 stated it occurred "today." Most reported Sunday (Feb 7) as the day of the massacre, but more research is needed to fix the exact date.
Wednesday February 11, 1914
From Las Vegas Optic: "Militia Gave Confiscated Arms to Mine Guards"
SECRETS OF THE CONVENTION WITHHELD
Union Official Asks Committee To Excuse Him From Answering Queries
Denver, Colo., Feb. 11-John R. Lawson, Colorado member of the international executive board of the United Mine Workers of America today asked the house investigation committee to excuse him from revealing all the details of the district convention at which the Colorado coal strike was called.
"You gentlemen must remember," he said, "that this strike is not over yet, and we do not care to reveal anything that might give away our hand to the operators."
The labor leader was allowed to give such information regarding the convention as he saw fit and was not pressed for union secrets.
Asked by Chairman Foster for his reasons for insisting upon recognition for the unions, the labor leader said:
"There is no basis for settlement between workman and employer. The union prevents strikes and without it few men strike without justification. Then, unorganized workers cannot obtain redress for abuses or change of working conditions. If they make complaint, they are discharge."
At the opening of this morning's session of the strike investigation it was announced that Edward Costigan had been added to the list of attorneys for the miners. John R. Lawson was called to the stand to resume his testimony. The Colorado member of the executive board of the United Mine Workers of America told of the arrival of the militia in the strike zone.
"Almost immediately after the arrival of the troops at Trinidad, detachments were stationed at various points in Las Animas and Huerfano counties," he said.
"When the troops arrived, the leaders of our organizations informed the men on strike that if they were satisfied the militia was going to enforce the laws, not to take part in the labor controversy."
The witness then told of having informed Adjutant General John Chase that the Baldwin-Felts detectives employed by the operators were importing arms. He said the general ordered a captain to capture the guns which were taken from an express office by the troops.
"Later," he resumed, "General Chase admitted that this particular shipment of arms, taken from the express office, was distributed to the guards."
"Before we go any further," said Representative Byrnes, "tell us, Mr. Lawson, "whether or not you have any prof that peonage has existed in the strike zone."
"We have the affidavits of four Mexicans who were brought from El Paso. The guards took their shoes away to keep them from walking out of the camp. When the mine officials found that the men were determined to leave they gave the shoes back to them. We have had other cases of peonage, but I think it will be better for us to present the witnesses rather than for me simply to state them."
The witness than told of the alleged importation of strikebreakers in violation, he said, of Governor Ammons' original order.
The labor leader then told of alleged occurrences in which the United States mail was violated. He produced two letters addressed to "Mother" Mary Jones, which, he said, were not delivered to her during her present imprisonment in Trinidad. The letters were registered and endorsed: "The addressee is a military prisoner and delivery cannot be effected." The letters were admitted as evidence. Representative Byrnes said that when the inquiry is held at Trinidad the committee would ask the postmaster why the letters were not delivered.
Lawson then was asked regarding illegal imprisonments.
"I think the most flagrant case is that of Mother Jones, a woman 82 years old, who has devoted her life to improving conditions of the laboring men. Governor Ammons states to me that they will permit her to leave the hospital if she well leave that part of the country."
"Do you know why she is held?" asked Representative Byrnes.
"No charge has been preferred against her."
"Is she held because they consider her an agitator?"
"Yes, that's what they claim."
"Have you any evidence of illegal combination?"
"We have instances in which we believe coal companies actually have been closed down on that account."
Judge Northcutt [attorney for the mine operators] interrupted to suggest that representatives of the companies in question could testify, and the subject was dropped.
Lawson then told of the alleged importation of strikebreakers. He declared that there had been less disturbance in the northern than in the southern Colorado district, although state troops had not been sent to the mines in the north.
Membership Kept Secret
The witness was questioned regarding the district convention at which the strike was called.
"The operators have been considerably puzzled over how the delegates from all the camps got to that convention," was the reply. "Since 1902, when about 6,000 of our men were discharged in southern Colorado for belonging to the union, we have become cautious. We kept our membership secret and the operators never have found out how the delegates were selected."
"Do you object to telling us, now that these men are all on strike?"
"Only that this strike is not over yet and we do not care to give away our hand."
The witness said, however, that local unions had been organized secretly, and that all the members were allowed to vote for delegates. He said that the convention was composed of about 200 delegates, and that the strike vote was unanimous.
The witness then told of the efforts to secure a conference between operators and miners. He said that the operators had refused to enter a room with any officers of the United Mine Workers of America.
"In that case," asked Representative Evans, "don't you think some good may come of this investigation since we have got you all into the same room?"
"Well, it will do no harm." replied the witness.
Lawson then told of efforts of Herbert Stewart of the department of labor and Secretary Wilson to settle the strike. Then the witness described the negotiations for peace at which committees from miners and operators met in adjoining rooms, with Governor Ammons as mediator. This conference failed to settle the strike. Lawson told of the submission of two propositions by Secretary Wilson and Governor Ammons, one of which later was withdrawn, the other rejected by the men.
Operators Refused Own Terms
Lawson declared the men rejected the peace proposal because it did not provide for increased wages or recognition of the union. The operators, he said, accepted the proposal, which he declared was identical with the terms the employers themselves had submitted to the governor several weeks before. The witness told of the meeting of editors of Colorado papers a which the resolutions were adopted regarding the settlement of the strike.
Representative Austin asked Lawson how many men had been killed in the strike. He mentioned that Gerald Lippiat was killed in August preceding the strike, and enumerated the strikers who, he said, had been killed in the fights during the strike. Prompted by Judge Northcutt, he told of the killing of a number of guards.
Reverting to the meeting of editors, Lawson said he had an invitation to attend, but was stopped at the door and not permitted to enter.
Cross-examination was begun by Fred Herrington of counsel for the mine operators. The witness was questioned regarding union activity in various parts of the state. He was then asked about conditions in the Fremont mine in Fremont county.
"The large companies never entered into a contract with union in Fremont county, did they?"
"Not to my knowledge,"
"Do you believe the union organization in Fremont county existed with or without the knowledgeable of the companies' officers?"
"I presume they knew something about it."
"Do you know the superintendents of any of the Fremont county mines?"
"I know some of them."
"Do you know of Superintendent Dave Griffiths ever sending any body down the canon [firing] because they belonged to the union?"
"I can't give any specific instance of this action."
"Isn't it a fact that the superintendents of these mines have lived in harmony with the men until this strike?"
"Yes, for the most part."
In his direct examination, Lawson had testified that the men in the Fremont mine had been dissuaded from striking by the officers of the United Mine Workers, and that on that occasion the controversy was over a system of screening put into effect by the coal companies. Mr. Herrington tried to get the witness to admit that payment on the mine run basis was unfair to the more efficient workmen. Lawson, however, insisted that the relative amount of lump and slack coal brought out by any individual miner was dependent rather on the mine management and the character of the workings than upon the efficiency of the minor.
At 12:15 o'clock the committee took a luncheon recess until 2 o'clock. It was announced that a night session would be held, and it was considered probable that the investigators would go to Trinidad before tomorrow night.
Las Vegas Optic
(Las Vegas, New Mexico)
-of Feb 11, 1914
Conditions in the Coal Mines of Colorado: Hearings before a subcommittee of the Committee on mines and mining, House of Representatives, Sixty-third Congress, second session, pursuant to H. res. 387, a resolution authorizing and directing the Committee on Mines and Mining to make an investigation of conditions in the coal mines of Colorado
-United States. Congress. House. Committee on Mines and Mining
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1914
Vol. 1, p.1-1477
Lawson's testimony begins on page 203, this is the actual page number of the investigation, and not of the scroll bar at bottom of document.
Photo: John Lawson with Mother Jones and Attorney Hawkins
Which Side Are You On-Natalie Merchant