pages 134 to 150
One of the greatest, I will not say the greatest, there were so many indignities offered the citizens of the Cripple Creek district, was on September 20, when there was, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, hundreds, and I might say thousands of men and women and children out driving or walking in the streets of Victor. A couple of troops of cavalry under command of General John Chase, escorted to the Gem restaurant about a dozen imported non-union men to feed them as if they were cattle. The people that were out noticed the troops in front of the building and, out of curiosity, of course, walked in that direction. We had grown accustomed to these military exhibitions and had learned that a gathering of this kind usually meant the imprisonment of someone closely in touch with the forbidden faith— unionism. So the reader will at once realize it was only natural for us to want to know who the latest victim was. The writer, among the others, was out that day and with the rest of the curious crowd moved toward the fast gathering throng. Suddenly the military charged upon the mass of men, women and children and herded them like wild beasts upon the sidewalks. Then the militiamen not satisfied with this galloped down the pavements, horses prancing and rearing, and forced the people before them. The people ran for their lives; hurried up stairways, into saloons, billiard halls and every available place to avoid being trampled under foot by the horses, maddened by the yokel's spurs. The writer, with her husband and many others, ran into a billiard hall to get out of the way, and even then for a time it seemed as if the soldiers would ride into the building. I, an American born woman, was an actual eye witness to this scene, in the streets on a Sabbath afternoon, in a town in the United States of America, and all done in the name of law and order and by order of the governor of the state of Colorado—is it possible—I can never expect people who did not see the act to believe it. I, for one, would not have believed that American born citizens could control themselves and stand by and look at such a sight. There was one thing in particular that caused my southern blood to boil, there was an old man—yes an old soldier—in the street, and when the crowd was being hurried down the street at the point- of bayonets, the old fellow could not move as fast as the militia thought he should, so one of them drew his sword and ordered him to move faster, and in order to hurry the feeble but REAL soldier, pricked him a few times in the back. I tell you I felt every drop of blood in my body boil. Ye Gods, how could these good, true, law-abiding men —mostly union men—control themselves? But they did, and went quietly home with their families. I marveled at what I saw that day. There were many people from other towns on the streets who witnessed the foregoing. One man, from Florence, in speaking of this episode, said that he had never seen anything so outrageous and that the miners were sure to win; as that proved beyond a doubt that the law-breaking was on the other side and that the people here had demonstrated to him that they were the most law-abiding he had ever met.
The end of this disgraceful chapter of one of the many uncalled for exhibitions of brutality of the military was that a dozen non-union men came out of the restaurant and were marched like so many criminals, with the state troops on either side with General John Chase at the head of the procession, off to some mine, not to break ore, but to try to break the strike. The officers of the militia and the mine owners knew the union men of this district too well to ever think they would harm one of those strikebreakers. There could have been but one reason for the military escort furnished the non-union men, and that must have been that the mine owners had secured the most of them by misrepresentation and guarded them lest they get a chance to escape. The owner of the restaurant was out of town at the time and upon her return secured possession of her building by legal process. The military, it is claimed, "captured" the building by force of arms to feed non-union strike-breakers.
One of the laughable incidents of the " Rebellion" occurred September 21, when one of the sentries near Strong's camp saw an object approaching him in the dark. He called "halt," but the supposed enemy did not halt and he opened fire. Other sentries joined him and in all about twenty-five shots were fired before it dropped. Upon investigation they found it to be a burro (Rocky mountain canary) that had been wandering around, but while they were shooting they created great havoc in Strong's camp. One house had at least four bullets put through it, and another had three. Both the houses had people in them, and of course they were badly frightened.
The affair created so much amusement that it was immortalized by the muse in a poem of four verses by Mr. McCormick, I quote the last verse:
Ah! General Chase, a horrid case,
This murder dark and bloody;
A sentry from his lurking place
Has shot a "wanderin' Cuddy."
No doubt you'll call it "martial law,"
'Twas foul ass—ass—ination.
Because Ned did not cry ''He-haw,''
You turned him into "ration."
From September 18 it was impossible to keep a record of the arrests and releases. A. J. Frey, a member of 32, but working at the time as a clerk in the Union store, was dragged to the bull pen, as was Emil Johnson, Chas. Beckman and Victor Poole. (No charge.) They were released September 21. On September 22 the roster of the bull pen was Sherman Parker, Pat Mullaney, H. H. McKinney, Campbell, C. G. Kennison, Thos. Foster and James Lafferty. Joe Lynch, marshal of Independence was arrested September 25 and released the next day. (No charge.) William Dodsworth, newly elected president of No. 32, was the next victim. His home in Goldfield was surrounded by the militia but they were refused admission. They evidently feared to break into the house. They accordingly stayed there all night and waited for him. Dodsworth, thinking that it was possibly a case of being starved out, became impatient and walked out and allowed them to take him. He was hastened off to the bull pen, but on the 26th was released and allowed to go home. (No charge.) His first impression was to make them break in to get him, but it grew monotonous and he finally decided to see what they wanted and would do with him, and therefore surrendered.
A grand military coup was planned to capture some of the Altman miners, (No. 19). The plan was to wait until about 9 o'clock, when the largest attendance would be present, and rush up, surround the hall and arrest the whole union. The plans were carried out except that when 200 troopers reached Altman, they found the hall well lighted, and hastily surrounding the place, the guards were stationed at every entrance and a detail of officers and troopers were dispatched up-stairs. What did they find? That's the question to ask them. The miners had evidently outwitted them. Some one had whispered the secret and when the kidnappers reached the door and rapped, they heard not a sound or whisper. Trying the door they found it unlocked, and with fixed bayonets they charged into an empty hall room. The miners had been there and held their meeting and adjourned, and there was a sorrowful lot of soldiers there for a few minutes. It was their intention to arrest certain men and spirit them out of the district, since the courts here would not allow them to hold the men unlawfully. "The best laid plans of mice," etc.
General Bell, on September 26, announced that he would obey no more orders of the civil authorities unless otherwise ordered by Governor Peabody. This announcement came as no surprise to the public, for it was well known that he could not hold down to such a strain as to obey the civil authorities. He believed that he was the whole thing, and he proposed to follow his own desires in the matter. It was generally believed, though, that when the governor sent the order to obey the law that he meant what he said, and that the district would not be disgraced with any more such proceedings as were enacted around the courts a few days before.
The Democrats of Teller county met in convention on the 26th, and nominated candidates for county offices. I quote in part, the resolutions adopted:
"Under the Democratic banner is the natural place for the common people. An object lesson is found at our threshold. The Democratic party gave the state an Oman, and the threatened trouble at Telluride and other places in the state was averted without bloodshed and in justice to operators and miners alike. The Republican party, aided by a few mercenary masqueraders in workingman's garb, gave the state a Peabody, who, in a little over eight months, has called out the National guard twice to aid his plutocratic friends.
"Those who believe that the affairs of the state should be administered for all the people alike; that the National guard should only be called out when necessary; that the purposes of the militia are primarily to aid and assist the civil authorities in the maintenance of public peace and enforcement of the laws, as declared by our constitution, and not for the purpose of super-ceding and over-riding them. That the sending of the state troops under existing circumstances, is a lamentable prostitution of the purposes for which the National guard was organized.
"The Democratic party of Teller county, being in a position to know, hereby solemnly declares, for the benefit of those who have been misled by false statements sent broadcast, that this is, and has been a peaceable community; that the presence of the military was not necessary, and that the foulest sort of slander upon the good name of the district was resorted to in an attempt to justify the call to arms; that there have been no crimes committed here that the civil authorities have not been capable of handling, and we denounce the many acts of the military officers, who, in their recent martial display on the public streets and in the courts, have outraged public decency, and offended the dignity and intelligence of all fair minded citizens.
During these strenuous times the muse was frequently called to express the sentiments of the general public to the actions of the military. I reproduce the following:
OUR LITTLE TIN GOD ON WHEELS.
Colorado can boast of her climate and springs;
Of her scenery we love to tell,
But our adjutant general's our crown and pride,—
The world renowned Sherman Bell!
Hooray! Hooray! To our joy today!
We've a little tin god on wheels!
The United States is his stamping ground
And "Teddy" runs quick to his call,
While Governor Jim wriggles under his thumb: —
He bosses them one and all.
Watch out! Be sure and shout
For the little tin god on wheels!
It was he who flew to suffering Cuba's aid,
And pushed the 13th out of the way—
'Twas he alone charged up that bloody San Juan
And saved the whole country that day.
Oh! Despair! If he hadn't been there!
Our little tin god on wheels!
Who stood by long suffering, down-trodden MacNeil,
(Was it made worth his while, do you 'spose?)
When the plutocratic workmen made shocking demands,
And threatened to tread on his toes!
"Arbitrate? H—— ! I'm Sherman Bell!
The little tin god on wheels!"
At St. Louis our glorious adjutant shone
With his colonels in glittering array.
If he went to the club with his spurs upside down
Why, he probably preferred them that way.
'Bout face! My! the gold lace!
Our soldierly god on wheels!
Oh, a self-made man is our General Bell,
A detective but a short time ago.
When he murders his English, we ne'er crack a smile—
For he surely must think it a foe.
A sleuth, raised forsooth,
To be Adjutant General Bell!
Tuesday night, September 29, at 11:05, the busiest hour on a morning paper, the Victor Daily Record, which had espoused the cause of the striking miners, was raided by the militia, and the entire force at work was "captured." The linotypes were humming, "catching the elevator" on every line, the foreman was fuming and "rushing" proofs, for "first side down" and first "forms" must go to "press" at 11:30. Suddenly the door of the composing room flew open and in stalked Tom McClelland with the air of a "conquering hero," followed by a file of yaping yokels dressed in the garb of soldiers and armed to the teeth. "Halt!" yelled the fierce Tom. "Ground arms!" "Fix bayonets!" " Guard the entrances!''
"What the h—— !" says the foreman, "having a fit?"
The operators merely shifted quids, "brought down" a period and "sent in" the line.
"Private ——— step forward!" roared "Thomas of the shining tin," "identify the force!" A long, lank specimen of the genius homo, red headed, with a scraggly, three week's growth of red fuzz that might have developed into red whiskers, had the soil from which they sprouted been fertile, shuffled from the ranks and in a hang-dog manner pointed his grimy finger at the foreman and the two linotype operators. This aforesaid specimen had been in the office the night before and had claimed to be a printer; and from his conversation he might have been at some time a janitor in a "print shop" or a roller washer in a press room—but printer—oh, no. He was informed in plain, understandable English that if he had business to make it known, if not, conversation was a waste of time. He left and the "force" all said, "we're spotted for the 'bull pen' sure."
"You're all prisoners of war!" bellowed Thomas, but the "mills" kept "turning over."
"Get up!" Hissed the major of majestic mein.
"Who the are you?" calmly gurgled one of the operators.
"I'm Major Thomas E. McClelland, of the Colorado National Guard."
"Oh, my, does it hurt so very much?" in pitying accents from the operator.
"Sergeant, seize that man!" gasped Thomas of the guard.
The "sergeant" pushed a wicked looking bayonet toward the operator's neck, and he had to "send in" a "short line."
Mr. Kyner, the managing editor, then stepped into the composing room, and asked what was wanted. McClelland stated that he had arrested the "force" and wanted him, too. "All right," said Mr. Kyner, "I guess you have me."
"Me, too," said Mr. Sweet, the circulator.
"That's all," said the "genius homo."
"Well, it's a clean sweep," said Mr. Kyner, "May I telephone my wife?"
"You'll have to hurry," quoth pompous Mac.
"Who'll get out the paper?" asked Richmond, the foreman.
"McClelland laughed and said, "We'll send printers down from the camp and get it out for you."
"Oh, no you won't," said Richmond, "It takes printers, and printers don't bunch in your corral."
With that the Record force was marched to the "bull pen" under an honorary guard of two companies of infantry, two troops of cavalry and perhaps the Gatling gun (late of Wyoming).
At that time I was at home in bed and Mrs. Kyner came to my home and rapped at the door. I opened the door and she asked me if I had heard the latest. I replied that I evidently had not, and she informed me of the arrest of the Record force, and asked, "What shall we do?"
"Do!" said I, "get out the paper, of course." "Just the thing," said Mrs. Kyner, and away she flew in the darkness. I realized instantly that a strong effort had been made to suppress the liberty of the press, and determined forthwith that the entire military force of Colorado should not keep the Record from making its appearance as usual.
I believe I broke all records in dressing, for in less than two minutes I was running through dark alleys on my way to the Record office, five blocks away. On the way I kept a close lookout for soldiers. I did not know how I would get into the office. My one thought was that I would get in in spite of all their efforts. Under the belief that the pressman had been arrested with the others, I planned to take "stone proofs" of the "forms" and save the issue in that way. I also thought of the Teller County Banner office, and had the emergency demanded, would have broken in there, printed a Record on the "job" press and so saved the issue.
I was much relieved when I reached the office and found that I had arrived there before the militia had completed arrangements for guarding the plant, and with the aid of Mr. Miller and Mr. Conrad, the pressman, who had been summoned, was quickly inside.
We locked, bolted and barred the doors. This was not accomplished an instant too soon, for in another minute we had the satisfaction of seeing soldier faces peering through the window panes. In vain they pounded on the doors demanding entrance "in the name of the governor of the state of Colorado." They were informed that the "governor of Colorado" was not running the Record, but in the absence of Mr. Kyner, we were, and that they would not get into the office unless they broke in, which they did not attempt to do.
This well repaid me for my flight through the streets attired in a thin dressing gown and unlaced shoes, with no wrap of any kind. It was bitter cold here, too, at that hour of the night.
I quickly "manned" one of the linotype machines and set type to the last moment. (I had set three "galleys" in the afternoon and my husband and brother-in-law had ''gotten up'' all the "grape vine" before the raid.) Mr. Miller made up the forms and—the pressman did the rest. At three o'clock a. m., a fairly good issue of the Record lay before us, and above all, ON TIME. Across the top in big, black letters, appeared the very forceful legend:
I then went to my home and prepared a lunch for Mr. Miller and Mr. Conrad, which I took to the office. I then took a paper fresh from the press and went to Mrs. Kyner's home and everything being still and dark, I pushed a copy under the door, so that when she awoke she would know that the Record had been issued. I then returned to the office and found that the carriers, finding the doors locked, had left. I immediately hurried out and ran down the alley, finding two of them several blocks away. I told them to tie their horses some distance from the office, get the other boys and quietly slip in, as the paper was ready for delivery. I returned to the office and reported to Mr. Miller that I had secured the carriers.
Now that everything was safe, as far as the paper was concerned, I went to my sister's (Mrs. F. W. Langdon), home and awoke her and told her the news. By this time dawn began to break and I bethought me of my appearance, bareheaded, hair down, in loose dressing saque and unlaced shoes.
I hurried home, dressed myself in street attire and returned to the office.
Through it all my one thought was how glad Mr. Kyner and the imprisoned force would be to see the Record at 6 o'clock, and I determined to get through the guard line and deliver it to them myself.
I took the papers and stuffed them into my waist, my sleeves, under my belt and in the lining of my jacket, and started for Camp Goldfield, where the force, including my husband, was imprisoned. I arrived at the guard line just as the Gold Coin whistle blew 6 o'clock.
I heard, while standing at the guard line, one officer say to another:
"There's one good thing, that d— Record will not come out this morning."
"Why?" the other officer asked in surprise.
''We have the whole force in the ' bull pen' and we are going to keep them there, too,'' was the reply.
These tinsel heroes evidently had no respect in their choice of language in the presence of a woman. I could not stand this talk any longer, and spoke up and said that I guessed that he had not seen the morning paper.
"Oh, yes," said he, "we have the Morning Times."
"I mean the Record," I said.
"I guess you are not aware that the entire Record force is in the 'bull pen' " he answered.
I said that I was very well aware of that fact, "and allow me," said I, "to present you the Morning Record for yourself and men.''
The officer took the paper, and looking it over, finally broke out with another volley of oaths, beginning with ''who the h—,'' but before he had time to finish the sentence, I answered:
"I did, and I expect I shall be your next victim."
I had just overcome the formalities of getting through the lines when I received a message from my husband that they were all "O. K." and that I should "waste no time trying to see them, but to get back to that office and get the Record out in spite of everything."
I knew that they were depending on me, so I hurried back and started composition on another issue. I worked continuously until 2 o 'clock that night, when the ''regular'' force came into the office, having been released and again ready for business.
Now I will invite the reader to take a trip to the military prison and see how fared the Record prisoners.
These prisoners were marched unceremoniously to the bull pen. Armed thugs forced them into a filthy and squalid little tent, absolutely barren of furniture or bedding, where they were told to stay under penalty of having their heads blown off if they appeared an inch outside of the entrance.
The night was bitterly cold and on that frigid mountain side, under the intimidating guard of a horde of armed assassins, the working force of the Victor Record passed a night of torture equal to anything ever devised by the Spanish inquisitors. The entire force will bear testimony that the treatment accorded them was so inhuman and revolting as to surpass the belief of American citizens.
The "bull" tent had just been vacated by a number of drunken soldier prisoners, who had vomited all over the interior. The stench was sickening, but there they were forced to lay, without even so much as a gunny sack to protect them from the cold. Shortly after sunrise they were told to come to "breakfast." Emerging from the filthy kennel they were escorted to the mess table a short distance away. A dozen guards kept them covered with guns loaded with riot ammunition while two grimy negro cooks dished out a little slop on tin plates and told them to eat. There were no knives, forks or spoons at hand. "Use your fingers," said the head negro, when remonstrance was made.
Beneath the table were a number of wash boilers and buckets filled with the accumulated garbage of several days and the stench arising therefrom was nauseating enough to insult the gizzard of a buzzard. It is quite needless to state that they did not eat.
They returned to the tent hungrier and more distressed than ever. The day was raw and cold and they were chilled to the marrow. Faint and sick, Mr. Richmond approached the captain of the guard and implored him for God's sake to obtain some blankets. His appeal was cut short with an oath from that dignitary.
A little later a murderous looking Gatling gun was drawn up, trained on the prisoner's tent, and they were subjected to the nerve rending ordeal of posing as targets. The excitement attending this outrageous intimidation completely unnerved some of them.
Attorney Tully Scott, formerly of Kansas, succeeded in getting them liberated through some legal procedure, and after unwinding a few miles of military red tape the commanding general turned them over to Sheriff Robertson of Teller county, when for the first time they learned they were defendants in a libel case.
It was a deliberate plot to suppress a paper for telling the truth about the uniformed hirelings who were guilty of the outrages above mentioned.
The excuse for the taking of the Record force was that in the issue of the day before, there was an article of about six lines which referred to two tools of the mine owners as ex-convicts. It was learned that in the case of Vannick it was true, but Scanlon, with all his faults, had not, as yet worn the stripes. However, there was a correction coming out the following morning. The whole truth of the matter was that the military was watching every movement of the Record for a chance to raid the office. The real reason for the military raiding the office at that hour, was to suppress the official organ of the Western Federation of Miners. The district had only the one paper that stood up for the cause, and of course, the enemy did not have a very warm feeling of friendship for the Record. The reader will at once realize that even had the editor been guilty of criminal libel the operators or the mechanical force could not legally be held responsible. But when the military endeavored to suppress the Record they reckoned without their host. Again the writer will quote: ''The best laid plans o' mice,'' etc. The writer would advise the warrior Chase, when he again undertakes to suppress the press, to not only arrest the force at work, but every living printer in the county—and it wouldn't be a bad idea to guard the cemeteries, for the press is a hard game to beat—even by a warrior of the ability of Chase, as he has doubtless discovered.
The act of the military in their attempt to throttle the free speech and liberty of the press was condemned by the entire press of the United States.
The editor's desk was simply "snowed under" with communications from far and near denouncing the disgraceful act. I, myself, received hundreds of letters from all classes of people from all parts of the United States. To me, my work at the linotype seemed the most ordinary and natural thing to do. I had but one thought and that was to please the management of the paper and go to their rescue when I imagined I was needed, at the same time assist the miners by defeating the military in their efforts to stifle the voice of the Western Federation of Miners. Mr. Miller is an " all around'' good printer, but not a linotype operator, and, as I was able to start the machinery to work, I was proud of the opportunity to do so. But the simple little act was heralded from coast to coast and made much of by the entire press—while I was still at the machine unconscious of anything except that the Record force had been somewhat reduced by "military necessity."
I have been praised by the press of the land for a spontaneous action which was in accordance with my nature; I acted on an impulse not to be defeated or see my friends defeated. From my infancy I have been taught to love freedom and liberty. I believe the liberty of the press and freedom of speech the greatest boon and only salvation of the common people against a natural, but perhaps, unrecognized oppression of concentrated wealth. Let wars go on, let corporations strive for complete mastery, let labor struggle for its betterment, but in justice to all, labor, wealth and corporations, let the press be free to praise, educate, criticise or condemn. Let God-given speech be not muzzled, that but one grievance be given voice or one side of vital questions heard. The press should give to the world both sides of all controversies. If dear old Mother Earth were but one sided instead of a rounded, balanced whole, how soon would she leave her orbit and become a wandering danger to God's universal plan—the same with humanity, if one side is crushed, distorted or made so as to be unknown or unheard, how soon would the other, unsupported or unbalanced, become chaotic in its sphere?
The act was not an act of bravery; it was exhilarating desperation that caused me to offer my services where I believed they would be of some good. My life has been in common walks, my education gained in the printing office. The press, the printing office, my school room, my teacher, the principle by which I gauge all honorable life—liberty and freedom—was being crushed. Not by honorable contention, not by argument, not by public sentiment, but by brutal, physical force, by force of arms, by the very power that should protect and sustain, rather than tear down and destroy.
The action of the press of the country showed how sentiment is growing. The public outside of the Cripple Creek district really did not know to what extremes the military was going up to that time. The newspaper reports were not what they should have been in many cases and the outside public was misled, but the action of the military in raiding the Record aroused these papers to the gravity of the situation.
This act of suppression, if tolerated, gives the governor and his generals absolute dictatorship over the press. It was a vicious stab at free speech. The question was first fought out in England under the reign of James II and William and Mary of Orange, under the championship of John Milton and Charles Blount, in opposition to the censors Robert Lestrange and Edmund Bohun. Freedom of the press has ever since been a recognized principle of right.
Governor Peabody, with his armed force, may invade the sanctity of the home, take therefrom husbands and fathers without warrant or specific charges, and consign them to the "bull pen.'' He may surround the court house with cordons of soldiery, denying citizens admission to the temple of justice. He may openly defy the judgment of the civil courts. He may, without process of law, put editors and printers in the "bull pen."
He may do these things, for a time, but he can not throttle the press.
Free speech and a free press are guaranteed to the people by the national and the state constitutions.
The Record force had good, congenial company while ''guests'' of the military at Camp Goldfield, as Messrs. C. G. Kennison, Davis and Foster and a few other good union men were taking a vacation and had decided to be "entertained" by the mine owners and Citizens' Alliance for a short time. This, too, was caused by ''military necessity.''