pages 308 to 331
AT about 3 o'clock on the morning of June 6, a mine of dynamite was exploded by means of an infernal machine, placed underneath the station platform at Independence and thirteen men were instantly blown to fragments and many others mutilated and maimed for life. The men were blown in all directions, and some of them were so horribly mutilated that identification was extremely difficult. Quivering arms and legs and other portions of the mangled miners were picked up after the explosion several hundred feet from the station.
The terrific crash awakened everybody in the camp, and within a short time the scene of the horror was alive with human beings. The awful circumstance which brought the crowd together, and the dim, half-light of the early morning combined to make the scene one of almost indescribable horror. By the aid of flickering candles the mangled remains were gathered together and aid was rendered the wounded. The groans of the injured, mingled with the cries of the men, women and children who stood about. Some of these were relatives of the dead and injured miners, and their grief was pitiful to behold.
Some two yards in from the track and about four yards from what had been the end of the platform at the Florence & Cripple Creek depot, was found a deep hole, clear cut and expressive of volumes. It was the place where the dynamite had been placed. All windows of the depot were broken, the large foundation posts sprung and the entire front of the west end of the structure blown in. The entire basement was a mass of broken timbers. The roof was pierced in many places, huge pieces of timber were thrown hundreds of feet in all directions, the houses in the vicinity telling a sad tale of confusion and flying missiles.
The basement of the depot was most favorable for the purpose of such work. The running doors opened onto the platform below. The north side of the interior was simply a wall of earth formed by the slope of the hill at this point. From the inside, access could be had up and under the platform above. It was by means of such that the criminals accomplished their purpose.
As soon as the light of day had made it possible to distinguish passing forms, a thin, strong steel wire, the kind used to fasten stove pipes, was found running from the heap of broken boards, out and down over the freight platform and along a switch track for a distance of fifty yards. On the end of the wire was a chair leg, the wire securely wrapped twice around and tied.
The apparent method of procedure was that when the men gathered on the platform and the train hove in sight, the dastardly fiend probably grasped both ends of the piece of wood, gave the wire a sudden jerk which pulled the trigger of a revolver and discharged the leaden messenger into the dynamite.
What the feeling of that coward may have been as he pulled the wire and reeled from the shock of the explosion which had sent thirteen men into eternity is not given to the power of human tongue to express.
The death-dealing fiend chose and executed his plot in a most cunning manner. The straight track afforded a most favorable place to stretch a wire which could be pulled with a decided degree of certainty. The place he selected from which to perpetrate this deed was concealed so that when the train rounded the curve the light of the headlight was cut off by the dump of the Delmonico mine.
Terrible as were the results of the explosion they would have been infinitely more so had the perpetrators of the deed waited but another moment. The train was only about two hundred feet from the depot when the mine was fired, and in another instant both it and all its occupants would have been blown into fragments.
The dead and wounded composed the night shift of the Findley mine, with two men from the Deadwood property. They were all non-union men. They numbered about twenty-five and immediately after leaving work they, with men from the Shurtloff and Last Dollar, made for the depot to take the train, which was in waiting. The depot is just below the Findley mine, and probably fifteen men were on the platform when the train, which had been lying about two hundred feet from the depot, whistled and started up the track toward the Independence station. Some of the miners rushed to it and boarded it. Others, who had not reached the platform, raced with their dinner pails in their hands, fearing that they would miss it. The waiting men scattered over the platform and chatted as the train slowly drew near. Suddenly there was a terrific explosion. The platform was lifted from its foundation and whirled with its human freight into a shower of debris. The depot building heaved and swayed and then fell into a splintered mass. The train stopped short, the whistle of the locomotive shrieked and the train crew and the miners on board jumped to the ground. For a few moments they were too dazed to act. Then the truth dawned upon them, and they rushed to the rescue. Cries of the wounded guided them, and while they were carrying the mangled away from the scene men and women came from the nearby mines and dwellings. The confusion was great, but after some minutes there were cooler heads took charge and a systematic search was made for the dead and wounded.
It was claimed that a man was seen running down the hill from near the depot a few minutes after the explosion. A miner who had just left the Vindicator saw the fellow, but decided that he had been scared by the crash and was rushing to a place of safety. He was not near enough to distinguish the man's features.
With the arrival of daylight, appeared an engine from Cripple Creek, in charge of Trainmaster Middaugh, and bringing to the scene Sheriff Robertson, Undersheriff Burton, Deputies Underwood and Wilson, A. E. Carlton and others. Immediately a rope was stretched about the place. Undersheriff Burton and others spent some time looking for parts of the infernal machine but only to find the wire.
Officer George Wright, of Cripple Creek, guarded the wire and its all-important handle that day and allowed no one to go near it, pending the arrival of blood hounds that had been ordered from Palmer Lake and Trinidad early in the morning. The writer might here state that from the dissemination of the news of the outrage at the Independence depot serious trouble was predicted. It appeared as if nothing could stay the impending clash between the union miners, who were at once charged with the responsibility of the atrocious crime, and the non-union miners, the imported thugs and deputies, who were urged on by the mine owners and Citizens' Alliance. Threats of wholesale lynching and deportations were freely made on the streets. As if by magic, headed by C. C. Hamlin, secretary of the Mine Owners' Association, S. D. Crump, attorney for the mine owners and ex-Convict Vannick, appeared on the scene and formed a vicious army of blood-thirsty humanity.
As to who was probably to blame for the explosion and who would have the most to gain thereby, I will later on recite facts as to conditions prior to the explosion and leave the reader to judge.
It is needless for me to say that Colorado, yea, the whole of the United States, stood appalled at this terrible crime. That the men lost their lives, as a result of a carefully planned, and perfectly executed plot, there is not the shadow of a doubt, and the whole state cried out for vengeance—a reparation that should be terrible, and a warning to dynamiters that would be remembered for all time to come. This feeling was shared by all classes and none were more emphatic in their denunciation than the unionists of the state. Never before in the history of Colorado has there been a crime of such fiendishness perpetrated, and never before has there been a crime committed the effects of which were so far reaching. For out of this wholesale murder of innocent men grew many crimes scarcely less enormousproperty was wantonly destroyed, other murders were committed, and a wild, frenzied mob held full sway in the Cripple Creek district for several months.
Following the explosion the mines of the district were shut down and great crowds of excited people gathered, principally in Victor. During the morning it was rumored that C. C. Hamlin and others would address a mass meeting in the city of Victor in the afternoon.
"The local committee of the W. F. M. authorizes me to say that they deplore the diabolical murder committed yesterday morning. They regret that thoughtless persons should charge this crime to the W. F. M., and say that the W. F. M. did not have a thing to do with it. They are as much shocked as the rest of the community. No man, who deserves to live, could, or would approve the awful deed. The fiends who planned and carried out the devilish crime should be detected and punished to the full need of their guilt. This crime must be unearthed and the perpetrators punished. The committee and all members of the local W. F. M. are ready and willing to assist in uncovering the guilty ones. We will use every endeavor to assist the authorities in their efforts and we here tender the services of all our members. We will also join in the offering of a suitable reward for the arrest and conviction of the guilty persons.
District Union No. 1, W. F. M. By Frank J. Hangs, W. F. M. Attorney."
The local military were called out, pending the arrival of General Bell. Thus began a reign of terror that would shame the darkest pages of mediaeval [sic] history.
The remains of the dead and the mangled bodies of the wounded were placed in the cars and carried to Victor. The former were laid on the Victor depot platform until taken to the Dunn undertaking parlors in ambulance, express wagon and railroad trucks, and the others were removed to the Victor and Red Cross hospitals. It was a grewsome sight which met the eyes of the early morning risers as a white covered truck was propelled through the streets drawn by men.
The first open demonstration of strained relations as a result of the morning horror occurred at 10 o'clock, when Superintendent John Murphy of the Findley, Engineer Silvers, Undertaker Hunt and several others marched into the Dunn undertaking parlors, where Coroner Doran 's office was located. It seems that it had been reported that Coroner Doran had spoken of the explosion as an accident. Doran was asked if he believed and called the early morning happening an accident. The coroner replied that he had simply casually referred to it as an accident, but did not consider it as such, no more than would any other sane man. Murphy then stepped forward and said that the bodies would be moved. This was done, and the remains were removed to the Hunt undertaking parlors.
Sheriff Henry Robertson was met on Victor avenue, Victor, shortly before noon, by a committee who requested him to accompany them to the headquarters of the Citizens' Alliance on North Third street. The sheriff promptly consented and upon arriving, he was met by a body of men who peremptorily demanded his immediate resignation. Robertson demurred most strongly and flatly refused to surrender his authority. He was then advised in strong language that unless he consented to resign without further parley he would soon be dangling at the end of a rope.
"You will have to show me the rope, boys," replied the sheriff.
From behind his back one of the spokesmen produced a grewsome looking hempen cord, with noose already tied, ready for grim business.
"We mean business, sheriff," said the man with the rope.
Robertson immediately saw the futility of further argument, and said:
"All right, boys, I'll quit right now. That noose looks pretty wicked to me."
With that he placed his signature to his resignation which had been previously prepared by the mine owners.
The board of county commissioners held a special session in Victor a few minutes after this incident and appointed Ed Bell sheriff pro tem.
About two o'clock Marshal Michael O'Connell attempted to enter Armory hall, the military headquarters, for the purpose of securing aid to disperse a mob that was gathering on the corner of Victor and Fourth. He was refused admittance and was forced to retire, not without first having earnestly pleaded from the stairs, that the proposed mass meeting be abandoned, as he feared trouble would result therefrom.
Having been refused assistance at Armory hall, Marshal O'Connell appointed about ninety men as deputies and later supplied them with white ribbon badges, inscribed with the words, "Special Police." The special police assembled at Fourth and Victor and were sworn in and armed with such weapons as could be procured, shot guns, rifles and revolvers. They remained there until later dismissed by the marshal.
After the swearing in of the deputies, Marshal O'Connell, at the request of Mayor French, and in company with Sheriff Bell, went to the city hall to hold a conference. O'Connell was asked to resign, but refused, and was then dismissed by the mayor, who suspended him temporarily, which would have held until the city council could take some action on the matter.
O'Connell went back to his men and stated what had happened, and advised the men to take off their badges, which was done in most cases, while a few of the union miners went to their own hall, carrying with them both badges and guns. Here I might state that few union men were to be seen, many of them being at home hoping to avert trouble.
At between three and four o'clock a crowd assembled at the corner of Fourth and Victor avenues, in response to the call for the mass meeting that had been previously announced. Those in attendance were composed in the main of members of the Citizens' Alliance, Mine Owners' Association, strike breakers (many of whom were recruited from the slums of large cities), paroled and ex-convicts, "gun fighters" who had been arriving in the district in large numbers during the past few days, and a few daring spirits, members of the miners' union, whose curiosity was stronger than their prudence. It was evident, from the element, antagonistic to organized labor, making up the larger part of this gathering, that they could easily be turned into a bloodthirsty mob, a law unto themselves, unopposed by the military, and used to wreak vengeance upon every person known to belong to a labor organization. For in the eyes of those opposed to organized labor, to be a union man was sufficient excuse to treat him worse than a criminal.
Taking advantage of the reckless mood of the crowd, Clarence C. Hamlin mounted a wagon, which was used as a platform. He was accompanied by S. D. Crump, attorney for mine owners, and ex-convict Frank Vannick.
Mr. Hamlin opened the meeting and his opening statement was:
"United States citizens must arm themselves and drive these Western Federation men to the hills."
In the course of Mr. Hamlin's remarks, he further said:
"For the blowing up of those brave boys fifty union men should be shot down like dogs and as many more swung to telegraph poles. Every Federation man is a criminal, and it is up to you men to drive them over the hills with your guns.''
At this a union man in the crowd (many claim it was one of the Miller boys), asked Mr. Hamlin who he meant by "them."
The answer to this was cries of "lynch him," "kill him." "hang him," etc.
Mr. Hamlin called to the crowd to catch the man that had asked the question and to hold him. Hamlin's words seemed to be a signal, for no sooner were they uttered than the shooting commenced.
Hamlin's speech has never been equaled as an inspiration to riot, implying by his words that the W. F. M. was guilty of the crime at the Independence depot. He urged his too willing audience, to drive out the union men. He used every fiery denunciation he could command against the Western Federation of Miners to inflame the mob, reason and judgment became dethroned. He urged the men assembled to "drive them out, drive them over the hills." The hired rioters, armed to the teeth, and inflamed by the foul speech of Hamlin, only made, too evidently, for this purpose, began their bloodthirsty assaults upon the union men and their sympathizers. Thus it was that the Independence explosion furnished excuse for re-opening the fight against the strikers, which resulted in death, deportations, incarceration in military bull pens, the abuse and terrorizing of helpless women and children—deeds that will forever be a blot upon this civilized community.
I wish at this time to call the reader's attention to the fact that every act performed by the mob on this momentous day was evidently premeditated. Many people marveled how it could be that this vast horde was so quickly assembled and carried out the orders of the leaders so implicitly, unless it was that the deed was anticipated and the adherents of the Mine Owners' Association and the Citizens' Alliance had been previously instructed. All deeds perpetrated against organized labor, was merely the carrying out of a prearranged and well defined system. Immediately after the explosion mines were closed down and the non-union miners were assembled at Victor armed, under instruction of the mine bosses. In fact, scarcely had the dismal echo died away, scarce had the groans of the dying ceased, when the mine operators, the commercial brigands—the Citizens' Alliance, and the strike breaking thugs, equipped and armed appeared as a well organized army, ready to obey the behests of those who were interested in forever destroying organized labor.
When the question was asked of Hamlin by the union man who he (Hamlin) meant by "them" he was struck over the head with a revolver; a shot was fired, which seemed to be a signal for attack upon the union men in the crowd. Guns were drawn and a number of sharp reports were heard. " Roxie" McGee, a nonunion miner, fell to the ground with a bullet through his heart. John Davis, a machine man, employed at the Vindicator mine, was badly beaten over the head and shot in the back. He died an hour later, in the hospital. Peter Chrisman was shot through the left cheek. Fred A. Studevoss, an engineer, was shot in the left, side, J. P. Murphy, a friend of organized labor, chief of the Victor fire department, was shot in the back, the bullet entering his right shoulder and coming out over his right breast, almost in line with his heart. He was standing beside Michael O'Connell and it was believed this bullet was intended for the brave deposed marshal. The local militia, that had been previously assembled at Armory hall, arrived on the scene and proceeded to disperse the maddened throng.
Sheriff Bell assured the union men that were on the streets that if they would retire and not cause any trouble he would compel the other element to keep within the limits of the law. Upon this assurance the union men in the crowd, wishing to avert any further trouble, went to their headquarters, taking with them the arms given them by the marshal when sworn in as deputies.
Instead of making good this promise, that union men would not be molested if they would retire from the streets, soldiers were immediately posted upon the roofs of buildings opposite and commanding windows of Miners' Union hall. Others were posted on the bank building next to the hall which was higher and commanded the skylight of the miners' hall. After having posted his men at all advantageous points, Bell entered Miners' Union building and asked them to surrender their arms and go home. The union men remonstrated with Bell, telling him that their hall was their home, that they owned the building and if they left the hall and went to their homes they would be murdered single-handed by the mob. They also told the sheriff they would harm no one if not molested and would only act in self-defense against any attack upon them by the insane mob. Upon refusal of the men, Bell stated he would take them by force. Bell retired and immediately a fusil ade of shots were fired into the windows and through the skylight of the union hall.
Press reports stated that shots were fired from the hall at the sheriff and his deputies. Upon investigation I found this to be positively false. There were no shots fired by the miners.
Firing by the militia continued for some time, when the miners felt the best thing to do to save further trouble was to surrender. This they did. The flag of truce being a white handkerchief, and even after the flag was shown, shots were fired from the ranks of the enemy, the handkerchief used as a flag of truce was riddled.
The miners, not too seriously injured, then emerged from the building in twos and threes, each man holding his hands above his head. They were lined up on the sidewalk, relieved of their arms and marched in a body, about sixty in all, to Armory hall, where they were held as military prisoners.
An inventory of Miners' Union hall after the surrender of its inmates disclosed the havoc wrought by the military. Every pane of glass was shattered into fragments and the woodwork and walls were literally perforated with leaden pellets. That a score or more of the miners were not killed is regarded as miraculous.
The following members of the miners' union were quite seriously wounded: Arthur Parker, Thos. McManus, Edward McKelvey and Peter Calderwood.
The following as told by Arthur Parker, while lying on a cot at the hospital, shortly after the riot, will help the reader to realize the cruel treatment given the union men:
"I was among the number who left the lot and adjourned to the hall. We heard the armed scabs over in the Armory building discharging their weapons and yelling, and knowing they were bent on creating trouble we went over to our hall to keep out of it. There were some twenty-five or thirty men in the hall and while we determined to keep the mob out, it was understood by all present that if the militia demanded an entrance, no opposition would be offered.
"Directly we heard a noise at the foot of the stairs leading up to the hall, and, looking out, we saw a crowd trying to force an entrance. We warned them they were not wanted, but not once did we fire a shot. After awhile we decided to lock up the place and go to our homes. We left the windows and all of us were crowded at the head of the stairs preparing to descend when we were shot at from the outside. Then for the next few minutes a perfect hail storm of bullets were fired at us from the front, sides and through the skylight of the building. All we could do was to run alongside the walls or fall to the floor in order to protect ourselves from the terrible shower of lead.
"After awhile the firing ceased and one of our men ran out a white handkerchief as a sign of surrender. When that was done the mob and militia, who were at the foot of the stairs, ran up the steps and called upon us to throw up our hands. Such of us as were able, did so. The wounded were treated shamefully. They shoved a pistol down Ed McKelvey's throat, cursing and saying, 'Say its good, you ——— or we will blow your brains out!' One of the non-union men abused Peter Calderwood and started to finish him with his six-shooter but was prevented by the militia, who, by this time, were swarming into the hall. I verily believe we would have been murdered had it not been for the timely intervention of the militia. There was not a single shot fired from our side and had we started five minutes earlier we would have been out of the hall on the way to our homes."
Mr. Parker's statement was verified by others who were in the hall during the attack.
After the trouble at Miners' Union hall there was no more shooting. Many arrests of innocent persons were made without resistance.
A detail of soldiers went to the Miners' Union store, where they arrested General Manager John Harper and all other union men connected with the store. They marched them up the street, where the captured miners from the hall were lined up. Shortly after the Record office was visited and the printing force was placed under arrest and marched up to where the other prisoners were held. Later, George Kyner, editor and publisher of the paper, was taken from his residence on South Fourth street by the soldiers.
The regular police force was suspended by Mayor French and Major Naylor, an ardent union hater, was appointed marshal. Shortly after the attack on Miners' Union hall, former Marshal O 'Connell was placed under arrest and marched up Fourth street with his hands above his head. He was placed with the other prisoners, who, in the meantime, had been moved to Armory hall. Numbers of other union men were taken in from time to time in this manner. All were quartered in Armory hall. By nine o'clock, p. m., June 6, there being about 200 men under arrest, including twenty-five arrested at Goldfield, a suburb of Victor.
It is said by men who have been engaged at mining for many years, that all previous strike troubles in the great gold camp were as mere skirmishes in comparison with June 6 and the dark days that followed.
Before going more deeply into occurrences in the city of Victor and other towns in the district, let us for a moment see how fared the population of Cripple Creek.
June 6, found excitement as high in Cripple Creek as I have described in Victor.
June 7, was without doubt one of the most strenuous days in the history of that city. The spectacle of large bodies of armed men, many mounted, parading the streets with members of the Western Federation of Miners and other members of organized labor as prisoners, kept the populace on the qui vive all day.
The first noteworthy occurrence of the 7th happened sometime between twelve and two o'clock, a. m. An excited, apparently insane mob of nearly two hundred men made an assault on the hall of Miners' Union No. 40, on Bennett avenue. Fortunately the building was not occupied at the time. Not finding members of the union in the building, the mob satisfied themselves with completely destroying the handsome furnishings, smashing in the windows of the reading room and secretary's office, breaking in the doors in the interior and demolishing the typewriter and everything that could be destroyed. A few special police officers reached the scene of the attack, but they were powerless to cope with the superior force. The mob finally dispersed and no arrests were made.
The hall presented a sorry aspect after the visit of the mob. The battered structure was guarded by a couple of soldiers who had positive orders to admit no visitors or curiosity seekers. Acting under orders from Sheriff Bell, Deputy Tom Underwood searched the building thoroughly and confiscated the charter of the union and all printed matter that could be found. A dray was backed up in front of the hall and loaded with paraphernalia belonging to the union and Trades Assembly. This material was stored at the headquarters of the Citizens' Alliance. A number of charters of other unions that met in the hall were taken to the First National bank, where they were carefully scrutinized by a curious crowd.
The union store was destroyed in the same manner as were the Victor, Anaconda and Goldfield stores.
At the first break of dawn little groups of men began to gather on the avenue and bright and early the streets were crowded with people who assembled purely out of curiosity to witness expected stirring scenes. And they were not in the least disappointed.
The town was virtually in control of a large force of armed deputies under the direction of Tom Underwood and Henry Benton, who searched every nook and corner of both business and residence sections in quest of union men who were slated for deportation from the district. Hundreds of non-union miners were pressed into service as deputies. The homes of many union miners were visited and searched for male occupants. A dozen or more arrests resulted, the prisoners being taken to the county jail pending final disposition of their cases.
Committees were appointed to call on Chief of Police Graham and Night Captain Fred Harding and demand their immediate resignations from office. The committee found Chief Graham at the city jail and briefly stated the object of their call, at the same time presenting a written resignation for him to sign. Graham lost no time in appending his signature to the document. Harding was seen by the committee a few minutes later and was likewise relieved of his job. The committee which waited upon the officers was composed of Cliff Newcomb, cashier of the First National bank; Broker Harry Shepherd, John Russel, Dr. Funk and Editor W. H. Griffith of the Cripple Creek Times.
The demand for a change of administration extended even to the judiciary, Justice of the Peace C. M. Harrington being selected as the first victim. Harrington was waited upon by a committee composed of Sam Vidler, Frank Pinson, Dr. McCowan, J. Gaffney and an old soldier named Harcourt. It was stated that Sam Vidler held a revolver against the judge's abdomen as he presented the demand for his resignation. The judge reluctantly acceded to the demand, his protests being unavailing. Justice Thomas of Victor, was deposed from office in a similar manner.'
It was stated by the Citizens' Alliance committee that Albert F. Frost, county judge, and Frank P. Mannix, county clerk and recorder, who were then in attendance at a Democratic convention which was in session at Pueblo, would be compelled to likewise give up their offices. This applied to Deputy District Attorney J. C. Cole, who was also out of the city.
On the night of June 7 the city council of Cripple Creek accepted the resignations of Chief of Police Graham and Night Captain Harding. Charles Crowder was elected to succeed Graham; a successor to Harding was found in C. E. Wiley. The mayor had previously appointed Floyd Thompson as night captain, but he was later seen by a committee from the vigilantes who objected to Thompson. Accordingly Wiley was substituted. Mayor Shockey laid particular stress upon the fact that the appointments were only temporary.
Secretary R. E. Croskey of the Trades Assembly, who was supposed to have made his escape from the district after being apprised that he was booked for deportation, was arrested by a number of deputies and taken to the county jail with the balance of the union prisoners.
A few days before the army of militia, deputies and strikebreakers, gained complete control in Cripple Creek, under instructions of the tool of the mine owners, Governor James H. Peabody, A. E. Carlton, president of the First National bank of Cripple Creek, and a shining light of the Mine Owners' Association, approached City Marshal Wm. Graham, and said:
"Billy, you and are [sic] warm friends, and I come to you as a friend to tell you to resign and the sooner the better. I know you have been fair through this strife in the district and have not at any time shown partiality to; either side. I feel this is a great injustice to you, but we, the Mine Owners' Association and Citizens' Alliance, do not want a neutral man as city marshal. Our faction will not be responsible for you a minute. The marshal we choose must be in sympathy with us completely. We have outlined work for him that would not be agreeable to a man like you or any other except the kind we appoint."
Carlton then offered him $100 and a ticket to Kansas City, stating that many hard things would be done from that date on.
[Webmaster's note: Although I enhanced the contrast of this
poor-quality photo for visibility, even in the original photo
the writing *appears* to be in chalk rather than blood.]
Bear in mind, reader, this conversation took place a few days before the explosion.
The foregoing tragic events and many others of a like nature made a dark page in the history of the city of Cripple Creek.
While the mob at Cripple Creek destroyed all valuable property of the Western Federation, in Victor property was also either totally destroyed or confiscated.
June 7, Engineer's hall No. 80, W. F. M., was visited and the entire furnishings destroyed, including charters of many organizations that met in the hall. A beautiful new piano that was the pride of the Maccabees, was totally destroyed, being turned over and the sides smashed in. Many magnificent portieres were stripped from the windows, and after being torn in rags were piled in a heap on the floor.
The library in this elegant hall was estimated at $1,000, The entire contents of the bookcases were hurled from the windows to the sidewalk below.
The brussels carpet and rugs on the floor were torn and bayoneted, chairs broken, banners torn in shreds, and all charters made into fit material for the "rag man."
The engineers owned a beautiful silk banner which cost $185, and was prized very highly by the local. This artistic piece of work was made a special target by this destruction dealing mob.
In the reading room and secretary's office, desks, chairs and tables were overturned and demolished. All official records and books of Engineers No. 80, W. F. M., and other organizations that met in the building, were taken to military headquarters.
On the blackboard in the reception hall of the building, after the horde had left the hall, was found the following threat, written in the blood of one of their victims:
"For being a union man, deportation or death will be your fate. "Citizens' Alliance."
Reader, keep this in mind—this destruction was wrought by the National Guard of the fair state of Colorado by a "law and order" for what they claimed was a "military necessity."
Women who were members of fraternal societies that held meetings in the hall, took heart-broken looks at their cherished banners, that, in many cases, represented months of tedious needle work, thus ruthlessly turned to mere useless rags, and many were seen to shed bitter tears.
Will the reader be surprised if I add, that so many things of an even more serious nature were being perpetrated in different sections of the district, that the foregoing seemed to appear common place to the majority.
The co-operative store in Victor was raided by a mob and totally destroyed, groceries torn from the shelves and thrown into the streets, coal oil poured over the flour, sugar and other groceries that could be destroyed in that manner. The groceries that were not rendered useless were "confiscated" by the Citizens' Alliance.
Many people who witnessed this disgraceful scene say that Newcomb, cashier of the First National bank, led this lawless crowd of military and civilians. The other co-operative stores were raided in a similar manner.
James H. Murphy, superintendent of the Findley mine, was the chief of the mob that tyrannized over women, children and unarmed men in the little towns of Altman and Independence. Murphy was seen to tear a woman's clothing from her body and then kick her until half dead because she was known to be a union sympathizer. A fine specimen of the Peabody gang that has stained the name of Colorado and trampled under foot the document our forefathers gave their lives to establish.
A. E. Carlton, banker, led the mob that destroyed the union hall in Cripple Creek, and vented his spleen by kicking out windows. Fine work for a would-be representative of "law and order."
But even worse was to follow, as succeeding pages will show.
By the evening of June 7, 150 men were prisoners and 100 others had been arrested and released and twenty-seven shipped out of the district.
Miners' Union hall, owned by local No. 32, was among the property partially destroyed and furnishings confiscated. The building itself cost $30,000. The hall was rendered absolutely useless. It was one of the most handsomely furnished halls in the state and was occupied every night as a meeting place for some fraternal society. Later on the military moved from their former quarters, Armory hall, and turned Miners' Union hall into an armory. Reason given—more comfortable quarters.
Among the effects confiscated from Miners' Union hall and taken to Citizens' Alliance headquarters, were a number of photographs of miners. There were about forty of these pictures altogether and they were marked and checked up so as to show who in each picture were the non-union men. Over each nonunion man was placed a number and on the back the name of the man was written with the corresponding number. This was at once claimed by the mine owners and Citizens' Alliance to be damaging evidence against the union miners, as they claimed that the persons represented by the photographs of the non-union men were marked for death by the striking miners. The truth of the matter was that the Western Federation of Miners had for many years adopted the system of photographing the miners in union camps in groups. This included the union and non-union miners, the purpose being that in the event of a union miner proving a traitor, his picture was reproduced in the Miners' Magazine as a notification to miners in other union camps.
A meeting of the Citizens' Alliance was held. Some of the union miner prisoners were examined.
Frank Cochran, secretary of No. 32, Victor, was brought in under heavy guard. He declared that he did not know who the men were or when the pictures were taken; that they were all taken before he became a member of No. 32, and that he knew nothing of any man ever being marked for slaughter.
"Make him confess," yelled a man at the meeting, and things became exciting. Two new ropes with running nooses, lay on the table before Cochran.
"Put a rope around his neck," called out another, and similar remarks were heard all over the room, Cochran protested, saying that all he knew about the photographs was that they were taken for "scab" pictures and that in this way the non-union men could be kept track of. He could not be coerced into changing his story.
Other miners were brought in and underwent a similar sweating, with the same results.
K. C. Sterling, secret service officer for the mine operators, sweated several union men during the day and as a result claimed that he had secured valuable testimony. What this testimony was he would not divulge, nor has he up to this day made use of this supposed evidence. This proved, what at that time was surmised by the strikers, that his claim of having secured evidence was done for effect.
On this date news that a deportation was being arranged by the Citizens' Alliance meeting spread and the crowd increased to an immense size as the afternoon wore away. The state armory that had been converted into a "bull pen," at Third and Diamond avenues, was surrounded with sightseers. There was frivolity and sorrow, tears and jeers, and with every phase an extreme emotion was shown in the vast crowd. Wives and sisters and children of the imprisoned miners were lined up opposite the armory watching their friends and relatives who crowded the windows and smiled and looked seriously on the upward gazing crowds below.
The men were well fed, many of their wives bringing them good meals. Dan McPhee, one of the prisoners, was quite ill, and Mrs. McPhee brought him hot coffee and rolls and a warm blanket. Judan Pha was mourning his fate. He said he was a Spaniard and arrived in Victor Monday, to look for a long lost brother, when he was seized in Goldfield and taken to the bullpen.
Two shots were fired about four o'clock, and for a moment another riot was feared, but the shots were only to keep the crowd back. Then the train, consisting of a single coach, was drawn up, and Sheriff Bell took a paper with a list of names, and the men who were to be deported were lined up. With bluecoats on every side, they marched silently down out of the armory to the train between immense crowds. Every hill and neighboring building was black with spectators. Everything passed in silence as the men mounted the steps of the train; the militia on each side and it steamed away, destination then unknown. The next day it was learned that they landed safely in Denver.
At seven o'clock in the evening, the same day, the usurper sheriff with a number of guards, loaded fifty men on a F. & C. C. train and took them to Cripple Creek, where they were held at Citizens' Alliance headquarters until the mine owners and this "law unto itself", the Citizens' Alliance, would decide whether to release, hang, torture or deport them.
I will not give the names of each of these men and what they were forced to undergo, but among the fifty was the deposed marshal of Victor, Michael O'Connell.