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You ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes.
-Mother Jones

Saturday July 11, 1914
From Goodwin's Weekly: Old Polly Pry Charges Read into Congressional Record

Mother Jones with Strikers Children
Today Goodwin's Weekly of Salt Lake City, Utah, reports with apparent favor on the reading by Congressman Kindel of the old charges made by Polly Pry for Polly Pry against Mother Jones. Back during the 1903-04 Coal Miners' Strike in Colorado, that scandal sheet reported that the Pinkertons had information proving that Mother Jones was a former madame.

The charges are repeated in the article shown below, and it is with some interests that we note that the name "Polly Pry" is not mentioned. Perhaps the good Congressman from Colorado does not want his name associated with the "reporter" Polly Pry, nor with her scandal sheet of the same name.

Polly Pry
By John R. Thornby.

Congressman Kindel of Colorado created a sensation in the house of representatives on June 13, when he presented to it what he claimed was the record of "Mother" Jones, who has been held up to public admiration as a spotless angel of benevolence. The documents which Congressman Kindel presented to the house of representatives and now appear as part of the Congressional Record of June 13, were, he said, obtained by him from the public library in Denver.

"They contain much valuable information concerning the life and character of this stormy petrel," added the Colorado congressman as he handed up to the clerk of the house of representatives the appended statements about "Mother" Jones.

The mine owners of Colorado obtained part of the information in their own state and an agent in San Francisco was commissioned to get whatever links of the chain were to be obtained from residents of this city. Following is the biographical sketch as it now stands in the records of congress. It is interesting reading as it depicts a totally different person from the tenderhearted, pious and philanthropic old lady to whom Mrs. Fremont Older and other talented newspaper correspondents devoted pages of eulogy as the greatest living exponent of true womanly qualities, and most persecuted and courageous of female martyrs to a great cause. Unfortunately for Mother Jones, her biography as written up by her newspaper friends is not preserved in the records of congress, and Congressman Kindel's terrible contribution is part of the nation's archives.

The Petrel's Stormy Life.

People settled in Maine. Educated in common school. Taught a country school for several years.

Married a prosperous farmer, and when widowed immediately allied herself with a labor movement then attracting attention in the east, claiming that she wanted to elevate the laboring classes, educationally and socially.

Began to associate with labor leaders and reformer's at the time of the A. R. U. strike of 1894. Since then has kept pretty busy stirring things up. Has had a record or never advocating peace nor arbitration; but always being for strife and war.

Was particularly prominent in the Pittsburg strike of 1895, miners' strike of 1897, central Pennsylvania strike of 1899 and 1900, the coal strike of last year in the anthracite district of Pennsylvania, and the textile strike in Philadelphia.

During the latter strike she placed herself at the head of one hundred men, women and children, and started with them on a march to Oyster Bay to interview President Roosevelt and demand his intervention in behalf of the strikers. She held daily meetings along the route, soliciting subscriptions for the maintenance of her party, and finally landed at Oyster Bay but she did not see tho president, and the expedition ended there.

That is the record, so far as the labor movement is concerned, of the woman known from Maine to California as "Mother Jones," labor agitator and leader-"Mother" Jones, who is always at the front when there is strife, with her battle cry of "We'd rather fight than work;" "Mother" Jones, who gets $5 per day and expenses so long as there is trouble brewing; who since 1900 has received a salary from the mine workers' organization, and who is said to be worth any five men as an agitator.

The Scarlet Woman.

But down in tho Pinkerton office there is another record, one that reaches back in 1889, when- "Mother" Jones was a well-known character, not alone in the "red-light" district of Denver, but in Omaha, Kansas City, Chicago, and in San Francisco.

That record covers many pages, but a few of 'the facts are all that are necessary to show you the character of this petticoated reformer.

They say of her:

Vulgar, heartless, vicious creature, with a fiery temper and a coldblooded brutality rare even in the slums.

An inmate of "Jennie Roger's" house on Market street, Denver, some twelve years ago. She got into trouble with the Rogers woman for bribing all of her girls to leave her and go to a house in Omaha, for which act she was paid a procuress fee of $5 to $10 a piece for the girls.

She was a confidential servant in Rose Lovejoy's private house on Market street, Denver, and with her several years.

Was well known to Annie Wilson, another Denver woman, who ran a place on Market street, afterwards had a place in Cripple Creek, and now lives in Kansas City.

Known to Lolo Livingston, with whom she went to San Francisco.

Lived in Eva 'Lewis's house on Market street at the time Coxey's army passed through Denver, and took a prominent part in the Denver preparations for their care.

Is known to Harry Loss, a piano player at 1925 Market street, who says he knew her first in Omaha in 1894, when she lived in a house at Tenth and Douglas. She was then selling clothes to the girls.

A sewing woman for tho sporting class, living on Lawrence street (name withheld), knew her twelve or fifteen years ago, when she lived with Minnie Hall, and afterwards with Jennie Rogers; says it was commonly reported that she was a procuress by trade, etc

"Mother" Jones always was a changeable being, ever since she was known as "Mother" Harris, in May, 1889, when she leased the house then standing on what is now 2114 Market street, between Twenty-first and Twenty-second streets.

She refurnished it from top to bottom and soon opened it as a "house" that afterwards became one of the most notorious in the city.

Had seven inmates, who were known as "the best looking girls on the row." For several months took great pride in the character of her house and the class that patronized it. At that time, it was the most exclusive house on Market street.

Made a specialty of midnight lunches and social card games, at which unlimited gambling was indulged in.

Four months after opening the house had over $15,000 on deposit in city banks.

Had a "friend" at that time called "Blackleg."

He deserted her in September and went to New Mexico with an inmate of the house. After that, "Mother" went to the bad.

Took to drink and was arrested several times on the charge of drunkenness and disorderly conduct. Left her "house" to manage itself, and in a short time it became one of the typical dives of Market street.

By November 15th she had spent the $15,000 she had on deposit in the bank only a few months before and borrowed $2,500 from S. H. Engel, a loan broker, giving a chattel mortgage on the furniture in the "house."

On December 20, 1899, the mortgage was foreclosed, the furniture sold and the house closed.

'Mother" Jones then became an inmate of the "Minnie Hall House."

And this is the woman the women and children of the deluded call "Mother"

Interesting, isn't it?
                                                                                 -San Francisco Wasp.

[photograph added]

Goodwin's Weekly
(Salt Lake City, Utah)
-July 11, 1914

See also: Hellraisers + Polly pry

Mother Jones with Miners' Children
Polly Pry

The Death of Mother Jones-Gene Autry

O'er the hills and through the valley
In ev'ry mining town;
Mother Jones was ready to help them,
She never turned them down.
On front with the striking miners
She always could be found;
And received a hearty welcome
In ev'ry mining town.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

    by JayRaye on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 11:00:13 AM PDT

  •  That was way low to read that BS into the record. (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for another glimpse into our past JayRaye.

    The most un-convincable man is the one whose paycheck depends on remaining unconvinced. -- H. L. Mencken

    by kharma on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 11:18:53 AM PDT

  •  Not content to be a sweet, elderly woman about (3+ / 0-)

    social change she preferred the 'hell raising' way.  I am not clear about Mother Jones, did she physically attack the enemy or urge people to get fired up and take concerted action?  She is that oddity in human history of a fiery, angry, old woman: God, I guess she wanted power to decide important things about working people and not let the bosses treat people like wage-slaves. No wonder they hang every distortion on her, she is dangerous.  By the way was she organizing prostitutes which would make her a heroine of huge proportions?

    •  There are so many facts wrong in this so-called (4+ / 0-)

      report from the Pinkertons, which was given publicity by the scandal monger, Polly Pry, and then read into the Congressional Record by  Rep. Kindel. For starters the family came from Ireland, not Maine. She married an Iron Molder, not a farmer, etc, etc.

      Mother Jones established a dress-making shop in Chicago after the death of her husband and children. So the part about sewing dresses for prostitutes might be accurate.

      God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

      by JayRaye on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 11:43:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If she "took to drink" then five years later (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        was a hellraising agitator, we need to bottle that magic path to sobriety and hellraising.

        A decent Congressional investigation would have involved Mother Jones or her supporters being given notice and an opportunity for questioning Pinkerton under oath and not sand-bagging a brave senior citizen who was risking her life for the workers everyday hundreds of miles away. Also, the question of relevance would have been raised and the spurious "evidence" excluded since her alleged conduct had nothing to do with labor issues 35 plus years later.

        Back then if she were engaging in coping strategies to feed her family after the death of her husband, that would be all the more reason for her feeling such a personal stake in others similarly exposed to captialism's harshness. Poor women and children like poor men have to survive. By the Depression the U.S. began having a small measure compassion toward its poor. Since 1980, we've been losing this modicum of decency.

        The capitalist mercenaries who harassed Mother Jones are still very much around, all around the world. Thanks again for a reminder of the indignities suffered by those who stood for humanity in days past. May we do the same.

        garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

        by Galtisalie on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 04:44:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Jay Raye did a great HR diary on Mother Jones' (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      philosophy of "malice toward none" but directing hellraising back toward the true aggressors, citing one of her letters. (It partly inspired my "anger management" page at It was far from a generalized "anger" she advocated. I think she would have been MLK as much as possible, but Malcolm X as much as necessary. I'll find the link if JayRaye doesn't first!

      garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

      by Galtisalie on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 04:54:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Here's the link JayRaye found: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

        by Galtisalie on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 05:00:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Here's the HR diary: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The interesting thing is that she was seriously ill when she wrote this letter, having almost died of typhoid, yet managed to encourage a generosity of spirit toward all. Her hellraising was not cruel, unbridled, or pointless; it was revolutionary with a deep conscience, and her deep conscience led her to be revolutionary. To me, she was seeking justice in the service of love, and was hellraising with love for humanity as her ultimate standard.

          A Roman Catholic, she would have made a great Pope.

          garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

          by Galtisalie on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 05:21:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you so much, Galtisalie. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Long work day today, so I couldn't respond as much as I would have liked.

            But thanks so much for providing the links.

            God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

            by JayRaye on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:39:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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