How the Women Mopped up Coaldale
Re: Autobiography of Mother Jones

Chapter X11: How the Women Mopped up Coaldale

In Lonaconia, Maryland, there was a strike. I was there. In Hazleton, Pennsylvania, a Convention was called to discuss the anthracite strike. I was there when they issued the strike call. One hundred and fifty thousand men responded. The men of Scranton and Shamokin and COALDALE and PANTHER CREEK AND Valley Battle. And I was there.

In Shamokin I met Miles Daugherty, an organizer. When he quit work and drew his Pay, he gave one-half of his pay envelope to his wife and the other half he kept to rent halls and pay for lights for the union. Organizers did not draw much salary in those days and they did heroic, unselfish work.

Not far from Shamokin, in a little mountain town the priest was holding a meeting when I went in. He was speaking in the church. I spoke in an open field. The priest told the men to go back and obey their masters and their reward would be in Heaven. He denounced the strikers as children of darkness. The miners left the church in a body and marched over to my meeting.

"Boys," I said, "this strike is called in order that you and your wives and little on may get a bit of Heaven before you die."

We organized the entire camp.

The fight went on. In COALDALE, in the Hazelton district, the miners were nor permitted to assemble in any hall. It was necessary to the strike in that district that the COALDALE MINERS be organized.

I, went to a nearby mining town that was thoroughly organized and asked the women if they would help me get the COALDALE MEN out. This was in McAdoo. I told them to leave their kitchen clothes and bring MOPS and BROOMS with them and a couple of TIN PANS. We marched over the mountains fifteen miles, beatin on the TIN PANS as if they were cymbals. At three o'clock in the morning we met the CRACK THIRTEEN of the militia, patrolling the roads to COALDALE. The colonel of the regiment said "Halt! Move back!"

I said, "Colonel, the working men of America will not halt nor will they ever go back. The working man is going forward!"

"I'll charge baynots," said he.

"On whom?"

"On your people."

"We are not enemines," said I. "We are just a band of working women whose brothers and husbans are in a battle for bread. We want our brothers in COALDALE to join us in our fight. We are here on the mountain road for our children's sake, for the nation's sake. We are not going to hurt anyone and surely you would not hurt us."

They kept us there till daybreak and when they saw the army of women in kitchen aprons, with dishpans and mops, they laughed and let us pass. An army of strong mining women makes a wonderfully spectacular picture.

Well, when the miners in the COALDALE camp started to go to work they were met by the McAdoo women who were beating on their pans and shouting, "Join the union! Join the union!" They joined, every last man of them, and we got so enthusiastic that we organized the street car men who promised to haul no scabs for the coal companies. As there were no other groups to organize we marched over the mountains, home beating on our pans and singing patriotic songs.

Meanwhile President Mitchell and all his organizers were sleeping in the Valley Hotel over in Hazelton. They knew nothing of our March into COALDALE until the newspaper men telephoned to him that " MOTHER JONES was raising hell up in the mountains with a bunch of WILD WOMEN!"

He, of course, got nervous. He might have gotten more nervous if he had known how we made the mine bosses go home and how we told their wives to clean them up and make decent American citizens out of them. How we went around to the kitchen of the house where the militia were quartered and ate the breakfast that was on the table for the soliders.

When I got back to Hazelton, Mitchell looked at me with surprise. I was worn out. COALDALE had been a strenuous night and morning and its thirty mile tramp. I assured Mitchell that no one had been hurt and no property injured. the military had acted like human beings. They took the matter as a joke.

They enjoyed the morning's fun. I told him how scared the sheriff had been. He had been talking to me without knowing who I was."Oh Lord," he said, "that MOTHER JONES is sure a dangerous WOMAN."

"Why don't you arrest her!" I asked him

"Oh Lord, I couldn't. I'd have that mob of women with their mops and brooms after me and the jail ain't big enough to hold them all. They'd mop the life out of a fellow!"

Mr. Mitchell said, "My God, Mother, did you get home safe! What did you do!"

"I got five thousand men out and organized them. We had time left over so we organized the street car men and they will not haul and scabs into camp."

"Did you get hurt, Mother!"

"No, we did the hurting."

"Didn't the superintendents' bosses get after you?"

"No, we got after them. Their wives and our women were yelling around like cats. It was a great fight."

Those Mules won't Scab Today


Chapter XI : Those Mules Won't Scab Today

Lattimer was an eye-sore to the Miners. It seemed as if no one could break into it. Twenty-six organizers and union men had been killed in that coal camp in previous strikes. Some of them had been shot in the back. The blood of union men watered the highways. No one dared go in.

I said nothing about it but made up my mind that I was going there some night. After the RAID OF THE WOMEN IN COALDLAE IN THE PANTHER CREEK, the general manager of LATTIMER said that if I came in there I would go out a CORPSE. I made no reply but I set my plans and I did not consult an undertaker.

From three different camps in the PANTHER CREEK I had a leader bring a group of strikers to a junction of the road that leads into LATTIMER. There I met them with my ARMY OF WOMEN again. As I was leaving the hotel the clerk said, "Mother, the reporters told me to ring their bell if I saw you go out"

"Well, don't see me go out. Watch the front door carefully and I will go out the back door".

We marched through the night, reaching LATTIMER just before dawn. The strikers hid themselves in the mines. The women took up their position on the door steps of the miners' shacks. When a miner stepped out of his house to go to work, the women started mopping the step, shouting, "NO WORK TODAY!"

Everybody came running out into the dirt streets. "God, it is the OLD MOTHER AND HER ARMY," they were saying.

The Lattimer miners and the mule drivers were afraid to quit work. They had been made cowards. They took the mules, lighted the lamps in their caps and started down the mines, not knowing that I had THREE THOUSAND MINERS DOWN BELOW GROUND waiting for them and the mules.

"THOSE MULES WON'T SCABE TODAY," I said to the general manager who was cursing everybody. "They know it is going to be a HOLIDAY."

"Take those mules down!!" shouted the general manager.

Mules and drivers and miners disappeared down into the earth. I kept the WOMEN singing patriotic songs so as to drown the noise of the men down in the mines.

Directly the mules came up to the surface without a driver, and we WOMEN CHEERED for the mules who were the first to become GOOD UNION CITIZENS. They were followed by the MINERS who began running home. Those that insisted on working and thus defeating their BROTHERS were grabbed by the women and carried to their wives

An OLD IRISH WOMAN had two sons who were SCABS. The women threw one of them over the fence to his mother. He lay there still.

His mother thought he was dead and she ran ito the house for a bottle of holy water and shook it over Mike.

"Oh for God's sake, come back to life," she hollered.

"Come back and JOIN THE UNION." "He opened his eyes and saw our women standing around him. "Sure, I'll go to hell before I'll scab again,' says he.

The general manager called the sheriff who asked me to take the women away. I said "Sheriff, no one is going to get hurt, no property is going to be destroyed but there are to be no more killings of innocent men here."

I told him if he wanted peace he should put up a notice that the mines were closed until the STRIKE WAS SETTLED.

The day was filled with excitement. The deputies kept inside the office; the general manager also. Our men stayed up at the mines to attend to the SCABS and the wome did the rest. As a matter of fact the majority of the men those with any spirit left in them after years of cowardice, wanted to strike but had not dared. But when a hand was held out to them, they took hold and marched along with their brothers.

The bosses telephoned to JOHN MITCHELL that he should take me and my army of women out ot Lattimer. That was the first knowledge that MITCHELL had of my being there. When the manager saw there was no hope and that the battle was won by the MINERS, he came out and put up a notice that the MINES WERE CLOSED UNTIL THE STRIKE WAS SETTLED.

I left Lattimer with my army of women and went up to HAZELTON. PRESIDENT MITCHELL and his organizers were there. Mr. MITCHELL said, "Weren't you afraid to go in

"No, I said,

"I am not afraid to face any thing if facing it may bring relief to the CLASS THAT I BELONG TO."

The victory of Lattimer gave new life to the WHOLE ANTHRACITE DISTRICT. It gave courage to the organization. Those brave women I shall never forget who caused those stone walls to fall by marching around with TIN PANS AND CAT CALLS.

Soon afterward, a convention was called and the strike was settled. The organizers got up a document asking every miner to subscribe so much to purchase a $10,000 house for JOHN MITCHELL. The document happened to come into my hands at the convention which was called to call off the victorious strike. I arose and said: "If JOHN MITCHELL can't buy a house to suit him for his wife and for his family out of his salary, then I would suggest that he get a job that will give him a salary to buy a $10,000 house. Most of you do not own a shingle on the roof that covers you. Every decent man buys a house for his own wife first before he buys a house for another man's wife.

I was holding the petition as I spoke and I tore it up and threw the bits on the Floor. 'TIS YOU MEN AND YOUR WOMEN WHO WON THE STRIKE," I said, with your sacrifice and your patience and your forbearance through all these past weary months. 'Tis the sacrifice of your brothers in other trades who sent the BENEFITS WEEK IN AND WEEK OUT that enabled you to make the fight to the end."

From then on MITCHELL was not friendly to me. He took my attitude as one of personal enmity. And he saw that he could not control me. He had tasted power and this finally destroyed him. I believe that no man who holds a leader's position should ever accept favors from either side. He is then committed to show favors. A LEADER MUST STAND ALONE...


Monday, May 13, 2002
Mother Jones' sowed seeds of strike's success
1900 women's march organized Panther Valley for '02
Law enforcement learned a lesson from the Lattimer Massacre, as history teacher Michael F. Havrischak tells it.
In 1897, Luzerne County deputies used trolleys to get ahead of strikers trudging through West Hazleton, and the lawmen were rested and deployed - although edgy nonetheless, judging from what happened - when the tired marchers reached that fateful oak.
So five years later, when the Pennsylvania National Guard was deployed in the Panther Valley in the weeks after Shenandoah's "Bloody First Ward" riot, Manila Grove seemed an ideal relaunching point for that strategy.
The amusement park fronted on the Panther Creek (later Lehigh & New England) Railroad, which was paralleled by trolley tracks of the East Penn Traction Co. of Pottsville. (Route 209 was just a cow path.)
Two or three trolley cars were parked on a siding there, Havrischak said: If there was any trouble between Pottsville and Jim Thorpe during the ongoing "Great Strike of 1902" - it began 100 years ago Sunday - the militia could board up and be en route in minutes.
The predominantly Eastern European miners, however, had also learned lessons from Lattimer: Determination, coupled with a burning sense of injustice, J. Robert "Jay" Zane recounts in his "History of the Bloody First Ward."
"Five of the (19) fatalities were Lithuanian immigrants," he writes. "Soon after the tragedy, a large rally was held in the Lithuanian Church of St. George at Shenandoah to show solidarity with their fallen brothers."
More than 4,000 people attended.
The Lattimer Massacre - no one was ever punished - must have primed Coaldale miners. For during the strike of 1900, Mary "Mother Jones" Harris - as she tells it - organized the Panther Valley with ease.
3 markers sought
The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission plans to erect two - and possibly three - historical markers Oct. 25 to commemorate the Great Strike, one for "Mother Jones" in Coaldale; a second in Scranton, where the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission held five months of hearings, and the third - a decision is still pending - in Shenandoah's "Bloody First Ward."
Coaldale, part of the United Mine Workers' Hazleton District, had to be organized for the 1900 strike to hold, recounts "Mother Jones" in her autobiography, so she went to McAdoo - already "thoroughly organized" - and rallied miners' wives there "to put on their kitchen clothes and bring mops and brooms with them and a couple of tin pans.
"We marched over the mountain" - by way of Nesquehoning, Havrischak said, to avoid troops waiting to block them at Tamaqua - "beating the tin pans as though they were cymbals."
According to "Mother Jones" - she joined the labor movement after her husband and children died in a smallpox epidemic in Memphis, Tenn., and became one of its most effective and radical organizers - the parade was stopped, nonetheless, by the militia's "Crack 13" unit.
Women on march
At daybreak, however, the march was allowed to move on and when Coaldale's miners headed for work that morning, "they were met by the McAdoo women who were beating on their pans and shouting, Join the union! Join the union!'
"They joined, every last man of them, and we got so enthusiastic that we organized the street car men who promised to haul no scabs' for the coal companies."
Then - "loud and proud," Havrischak describes them - the women marched back to McAdoo, "beating on our pans and singing patriotic songs."
With 1900 being a presidential year, U.S. Sen. Mark Hanna, R-Ohio, wanted the strike settled before his protege, President William McKinley, had to face voters again at the polls in early November.
So under pressure from Hanna, the coal operators agreed to a 10 percent pay hike and miners went back to work on Oct. 29, according to "The Kingdom of Coal," by Donald L. Miller and Richard E. Sharpless.
What the "Mother Jones" march meant, however, was that the Panther Valley was fully organized when the much greater labor conflict arrived in 1902.
It wasn't a presidential year, and the coal operators were determined to wait, hoping starvation would teach the miners a lesson, drive them back into the mines and ruin the union.
Tensions boil over
The strike began on May 12 and - in Coaldale as in Shenandoah - tensions revolved around "scabs" - strikebreakers. If the strikers couldn't keep sufficient people off the job to stem the production of coal, the strike would fail.
The personal decision - to strike or work - was particularly and painfully personal in the anthracite region, where, since deep mining required greater skills, a two-year certification process was required, according to Harold A. Aurand, Drums, the retired Penn State Hazleton professor and historian.
Whereas in bituminous western Pennsylvania, strangers could be brought in from West Virginia to help break strikes, certification meant the strikers and the "scabs" in the anthracite region had to be neighbors, Aurand said.
Preparing for the strike, the coal companies armed security forces and built stockades around their Panther Valley workings, Havri- schak said, although only 323 workers were lodged there, a fraction of the normal 5,000-miner work force.
So tensions were no doubt as high there as everywhere in the anthracite region, when they ignited in Shenandoah's "Bloody First Ward," on July 30, 1902, where a confrontation between a deputy, three suspected strikebreakers and strikers led to a night of rioting and one fatality.
That prompted Gov. William A. Stone to activate the Pennsylvania National Guard in the Shenandoah area, but he continued expanding the deployment so that by that fall, all 8,750 state militiamen were in the anthracite fields.
At Manila Grove
The 12th Regiment was sent to Manila Grove, bivouacked amid a small roller-coaster and other novelties in the "v" formed by Route 209 and Kline's Hill, the road that leads up to St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital, today a wooded 14 acres.
It was a benign occupation, due to the democratization of the armed forces that followed the Civil War, according to Lance E. Metz, curator, National Canal Museum, Easton, who lectured on "The Great Strike" last Tuesday before the Greater Shenandoah Area Historical Society.
Whereas, earlier, the militia had been a magnet for the local elite seeking to build political careers, now the ranks were filled with industrial workers, Metz said, and they asked: "Am I going to shoot my neighbor?"
Their commander, Gen. John Gobin, did issue a "shoot to kill" order in August, making the rank and file further uneasy.
Finally, the coal companies began to get tough, hiring thugs to round out the Coal & Iron police and evicting families from their company housing.
As public opinion nationally swung in favor of the miners - sped along by Reading Company President George F. "Divine Right" Baer's declaration that "Christian men" had been placed in charge of coal companies by God himself - the militia must have been ever-less eager for action.
Amity develops
Plus, the soldiers liked the people they had been ordered to police, as comes across in "A Trooper's Narrative of Service in the Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902," by young Stewart Culin, a rare little book that Jay Zane picked up via the Internet a few years ago.
"There was a crowd waiting for us," Culin reports on his unit's arrival in Shenandoah. Officers, yes, but also "a throng of young girls in summer dresses, who welcomed the new arrivals with amazing boldness and familiarity."
Havrischak painted a similarly cheerful picture the other day as he walked through wooded Manila Grove, pointing out stone foundations over here - Foster's, the Lansford soda-pop company, got its start in the park - and stone-lined drainage ditches over there.
"The kids" - eyes popping at the soldiers "big sabres, big rifles, food, neat weapons" - "are icebreakers," he said. "The troops got to be friends" with the neighbors.
Havrischak paused by a particularly large foundation: It was the dance hall - later taken apart and reassembled as the Hawk Mountain Boy Scout Reservation's dining hall, a function it still serves today.
In that hall, the militia even put on a variety show - song, dance and horseplay - for the striking miners.
There was some mischief - at one point, for instance, someone greased the trolley tracks; the cars couldn't get any traction.
And mishaps: A militia man was shot in a Lansford barroom, Havrischak said, but by a "C&I cop."
And tensions: A headline in the Aug. 29 Shenandoah Herald reads, "Hand to Hand Fight at Lansford Today."
A peaceful ending
But Gobin's order never had to be carried out: President Theodore Roosevelt intervened, the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission was formed, miners went back to work Oct. 23 and the militia ended its occupation having shot no one.
One hundred years later, with Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co. having laid off its whole work force, little anthracite is being mined here, so you might think all that conflict was for nothing.
Why care?
Havrischak is quick to reply, pointing out that, in much of the world, working people are still sorely exploited; the relative prosperity and security of the modern American worker didn't just happen.
"Without those miners standing up for their rights, workers today wouldn't have any rights," he said. "You have to draw the line in the sand."
Mother Jones welcomed home............Times News....Oct. 25, 2002

By Al Sword

There are only about 1,900 official state historical markers in Pennsylvania, so it isn't every day that a new one is dedicated. Yesterday there where three, and one of them was in Coaldale.

State Representative David Argall noted that in his 18 years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives he had never before attended the dedication of a state historical marker.

The one in Coaldale honors Mother Jones the legendary volunteer union organizer who led a women's march from McAdoo to Coaldale in 1900 and ended up convincing 5,000 men to join the the United Mine Workers Union. The new marker reads:

"Mary Harris "Mother" Jones - Labor Leader, worker advocate. In October 1900 she led a march of 2,000 women from McAdoo to Coaldale to aid a six-week strike called in September by the United Mine Workers of America for higher wages, recognition, and a grievance process. Many mineworkers stopped work and joined the union. Concessions by anthracite coal operators and unmet union demands resulted in the anthracite coal strike of 1902.

Michael Havrischak, the Coaldale Historian who started the ball rolling in the long

Mayor Claire Remington of Coaldale reads her remarks at the unveiling of the State Historical Marker honoring Mother Jones, to the right is Leo L. Ward, president of the Historical Society of Schuylkill County, who was master of ceremonies. At the rear are, from the left, Kenneth C. Wolensky, historian for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Michael Havrischak, Coaldale historian, and Margaret Orner, costumed as Mother Jones who later presented a one-woman show as Mother jones at the Angela Theatre.

process of obtaining the marker, said it was the events at Coaldale in 1900 that made the 1902 strike possible. At the turn of the century, the No. 8 operation in Coaldale was one of the largest and had the most proven reserves, he said.

Havrischak worked with Leo L. Ward, president of the Historical Society of Schuylkill County in petitioning the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to have the marker erected.

The blue and gold marker cost $1,300 with half coming from the Historical and Museum Commission and half coming from the Coaldale 175th Anniversary Committee, Ward said.

Mayor Claire Remington accepted the marker on behalf of the borough and noted that yesterday's festivities officially brought the anniversary celebration to a close.

State Representatives Argall and Keith McCall whose districts meet at the Coaldale/Lansford borough[EmSpace] line[EmSpace] shared the spotlight and both took a hand in the unveiling, along with Mayor Remington. McCall urged everybody to read Mother Jones' autobiography and talked about her with passion in his voice.

"This is a woman who stood up and fought the most powerful people in this county. When you look at what she did when she mobilized in 1880 to organize and to make working conditions better, not only for coal miners, but for all people she termed were products of industrial slavery."

Earlier in the afternoon, Argall announced funding for two local efforts by presenting checks, one for $10,000 iin state funding to the Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Corridor for Main Street revitalization efforts in Coaldale and one for $5,000 in state funding to the Coaldale Complex Commission for repairs to the gymnasium ceiling.

Kenneth C. Wolensky, historian with the Bureau of Archives and History, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, said that of the 1,900 markers in Pennsylvania 40 represent working men and women.

They had dedicated a marker in Scranton earlier in the day commemorating the anthracite strike of 1902. The event in Coaldale was delayed for half an hour as locals chatted at the site and tried to stay warm in 40-degree temperatures as they watched the fog roll in.

Charles J. McCollester, president of the Pennsylvania Labor History Society said the marker in Coaldale is the second in Pennsylvania honoring Mother Jones.

"Next year in Homestead, Pennsylvania, we will put the up the third marker to Mother Jones. The first one is out in front of Philadelphia City Hall commemorating the 1903 march against child labor," he said.

The march in Homestead was about free speech, he said.

"Mother Jones came to Homestead where when three people gathered together they were beaten up on the streets of Homestead in 1919. She had 5,000 on Eighth Avenue. They threw her in jail. She was hauled before the judge.

"The judge said you can't speak in this town without a permit. She said, I had a permit. He said there was no way. There is no way anybody would give you a permit in this valley.

"She said, I have a permit. He said, who signed that permit? She said Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, and we are going to put that on a sign in Homestead next year," McCollester said.

There were also remarks from William M. George, president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and Edward D. Yankovich, Jr., president of the United Mine Workers of America District 2.

Ward read a proclamation of the Pennsylvania Senate sent by Sen. James J. Rhoades.

The ceremony began with a march from Phillips Street to the site at SR309 and Second Street. Town residents dressed as miners, women in period costumes and even a few "breaker boys" were in the line of march led by Mother Jones, portrayed by Linda Yulanavage, the Main Street Manager in Tamaqua.

"She was a feisty old broad. I was told[EmSpace] she had a loud mouthed agitator and that fits me,"[EmSpace] Yulanavage said.

The day ended with a stage show at the Angela Theatre, where Margaret Orner performed as Mother Jones.