Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesj

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Origins: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?

DigiTrad:
THE 1913 MASSACRE


Related threads:
(origins) Tune Origins: 1913 Massacre (Woody Guthrie) (18)
Lyr Req: 1913 Massacre (Woody Guthrie) (28)
Lyr/Chords Req: 1913 massacre (4) (closed)
Guthrie's 1913 Massacre (5) (closed)
Lyr Req: 1913 Massacre (Woody Guthrie) (7)
Lyr/Chords Req: 1913 Massacre (Woody Guthrie) (7)


14 Jan 00 - 01:16 AM
northfolk/al cholger 14 Jan 00 - 06:59 PM
Big Mick 15 Jan 00 - 09:52 PM
Pejotka 25 Sep 00 - 05:37 PM
Mike Regenstreif 25 Sep 00 - 05:55 PM
M.Ted 25 Sep 00 - 06:05 PM
Max 25 Sep 00 - 06:09 PM
Charlie Baum 25 Sep 00 - 06:42 PM
catspaw49 25 Sep 00 - 07:24 PM
Cool Beans 25 Sep 00 - 07:33 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Sep 00 - 08:33 PM
IvanB 25 Sep 00 - 08:41 PM
Big Mick 25 Sep 00 - 11:22 PM
Charlie Baum 26 Sep 00 - 12:34 AM
BDtheQB 26 Sep 00 - 12:50 AM
Lonesome EJ 26 Sep 00 - 01:30 AM
GUEST,Woody's Friend 26 Sep 00 - 04:11 AM
kendall 26 Sep 00 - 12:30 PM
IvanB 26 Sep 00 - 02:01 PM
GUEST,Cool Beans 26 Sep 00 - 03:19 PM
Lonesome EJ 26 Sep 00 - 04:55 PM
northfolk/al cholger 26 Sep 00 - 07:47 PM
Art Thieme 26 Feb 01 - 01:39 AM
Rick Fielding 27 Feb 01 - 12:45 AM
Big Mick 27 Feb 01 - 01:18 AM
SINSULL 27 Feb 01 - 09:23 AM
catspaw49 27 Feb 01 - 11:01 AM
Art Thieme 27 Feb 01 - 01:37 PM
Art Thieme 27 Feb 01 - 01:41 PM
mkebenn 27 Feb 01 - 02:15 PM
MAG (inactive) 27 Feb 01 - 02:35 PM
Art Thieme 15 May 01 - 10:09 PM
GUEST,Joe 16 May 01 - 04:59 AM
Abby Sale 16 May 01 - 08:57 AM
M.Ted 16 May 01 - 10:24 AM
InOBU 16 May 01 - 10:54 AM
GUEST,Dita (at work) 16 May 01 - 11:33 AM
Walking Eagle 16 May 01 - 11:40 AM
Walking Eagle 16 May 01 - 11:42 AM
M.Ted 16 May 01 - 01:14 PM
Irish sergeant 16 May 01 - 09:44 PM
GUEST,saudog 26 Aug 01 - 02:12 PM
catspaw49 26 Aug 01 - 03:27 PM
ard mhacha 26 Aug 01 - 04:03 PM
Barry Finn 26 Aug 01 - 10:38 PM
catspaw49 26 Aug 01 - 10:58 PM
GUEST,Brad In Wi 11 Jul 04 - 06:42 PM
paddymac 11 Jul 04 - 10:42 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 11 Jul 04 - 11:05 PM
Jim Dixon 09 Nov 11 - 10:05 AM
GUEST 04 Apr 13 - 11:24 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:













Subject: Lyr Add: THE 1913 MASSACRE (Woody Guthrie)
From:
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 01:16 AM

THE 1913 MASSACRE
(Woody Guthrie)

Take a trip with me in nineteen thirteen
To Calumet, Michigan, in the copper country.
I'll take you to a place called Italian Hall
And the miners are having their big Christmas ball.

I'll take you in a door, and up a high stairs.
Singing and dancing is heard everywhere.
I'll let you shake hands with the people you see
And watch the kids dance round the big Christmas tree.

You ask about work and you ask about pay.
They'll tell you they make less than a dollar a day,
Working the copper claims, risking their lives,
So it's fun to spend Christmas with children and wives.

There's talking and laughing and songs in the air,
And the spirit of Christmas is there everywhere.
Before you know it, you're friends with us all
And you're dancing around and around in the hall.

Well, a little girl sits down by the Christmas tree lights
To play the piano, so you gotta keep quiet.
To hear all this fun you would not realize
That the copper-boss thug-men are milling outside.

The copper-boss thugs stuck their heads in the door.
One of them yelled and he screamed, "There's a fire!"
A lady, she hollered, "There's no such a thing!
Keep on with your party, there's no such a thing."

A few people rushed, and it was only a few.
"It's just the thugs and the scabs fooling you."
A man grabbed his daughter and he carried her down
But the thugs held the door and he could not get out.

And then others followed, a hundred or more,
But most everybody remained on the floor.
The gun-thugs they laughed at their murderous joke,
While the children were smothered on the stairs by the door.

Such a terrible sight I never did see.
We carried our children back up to their tree.
The scabs outside still laughed at their spree,
And the children that died there were seventy-three.

The piano played a slow funeral tune
And the town was lit up by a cold Christmas moon.
The parents they cried and the miners they moaned,
"See what your greed for money has done."


Note: In Calumet, Michigan, in 1913 hired copper company thugs broke up a striker's Christmas party by shouting "fire", and then barring the door. In the panic hat ensued, 73 children were smothered to death. (According to Woody) There seems to be no doubt that the tragedy occurred, but the question of responsibility is undecided.
@union @work @death @Xmas


Traditional Ballad Index entry:

1913 Massacre

DESCRIPTION: In Calumet, Michigan, striking copper miners and their children are having a Christmas celebration; strike-breakers outside bar the doors then raise a false fire alarm. In the ensuing stampede, seventy-three children are crushed or suffocated
AUTHOR: Woody Guthrie
EARLIEST DATE: 1945 (recording by author)
KEYWORDS: lie strike death labor-movement mining disaster children
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Greenway-AFP, pp. 157-158, "1913 Massacre"
Silber-FSWB, p. 306, "The 1913 Massacre" (1 text)
DT, MASS1913*

RECORDINGS:
Woody Guthrie, "1913 Massacre" (Asch 360, 1945; on Struggle1, Struggle2)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "One Morning in May (To Hear the Nightingale Sing)" (tune)
NOTES [93 words]: In the late 19th/early 20th century, the rapid expansion of the electrical industry created great demand for copper, for which the chief source was the mines in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Bitter strikes resulted as the miners, under the leadership of the Western Federation of Miners, demanded decent pay and safer working conditions.
Guthrie's description of the events of 1913 is dead-on accurate, according to the residents of Calumet; Italian Hall, where the disaster occurred, was still standing in the early 1980s, but has since been torn down. - PJS
File: FSWB306A

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre
From: northfolk/al cholger
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 06:59 PM

Verification,

This event did in fact happen at the Italian Hall in Calumet, and is well documented in photo and journal. It has been a few years but I recall having seen photos of Mother Jones, Big Bill Haywood and other Labor Leaders of historical distinction who attended the funeral cortege of what I also recall to have actually been 72 children.

Again the facts are sketchy, but it is reported that an agent of the copper company shouted into the hall that there was a fire. Panic ensued and as children ran down the stairway to the front door, which opened in and not out as is now the law for public egress, they were trapped, and were crushed and suffocated. There was no fire.

For a number of years there was a campaign to Save Italian Hall, which failed.

There also was a nice little Labor Museum in Rock Michigan, halfway between Escanaba and Calumet, which housed much of that local lore. It was privately maintained and when the owners could no longer maintain it, they auctioned the memoribilia.

Most people in Michigan have a lower peninsula chauvinism, and don't realize that the U P was more the center of finance and industry in the state, and at one time Calumet was considered to become the state capitol.

and yes I am a troll, but am in recovery!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre
From: Big Mick
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 09:52 PM

Right on, Brother Al. The incident expressed in this song is indeed true. When Italian Hall was torn down, many of us got bricks from it. One of those now hangs on a plaque in the vestibule of The Michigan State AFL-CIO. Every time I walk by it, I kiss my fingers and touch the brick. And I say the last line of Woody's song. "See what your greed for money has done". I am working out of that building right now, so that stone is getting a lot of attention.

Big Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: Pejotka
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 05:37 PM

Does anyone know about the historical background of Woody´s song "1913 Massacre"? What has really happened in Calumet? ( I Can´t find any notes in my german history books) Thank you Pejotka from Germany


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 05:55 PM

In 1913, the Western Federation of Miners were on strike in Michigan. The main issue in the strike was safer working conditions.

What happened was pretty much as described in the song. The union was having a party at the Italian Hall in Calumet on Christmas Eve. Anti-union goons barred the doors, yelled "fire" and there was a panic in which 73 children were either trampled or smothered to death.

Mike Regenstreif


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: M.Ted
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 06:05 PM

The story happened pretty much as it is related in the song--though the strike was eventually settled, the Massacre was more than the community could bear, and though the mines were still full of ore, the miners left, the mining industry went into decline, and within a decade, all the mines were closed. Several individuals were charged in the crime, but I am not sure, after all these years, what the outcome was. I think that the actual thugs were convicted of a a variety of crimes, but the bosses that they worked for were acquitted of any wrongdoing--

The story is not in American History books, either, which, perhaps is the reason that Woody decided to write a song about it.

The Michigan Historical Commission publishes an academic magazine, and I came across a very comprehensive article, with a title that went something like, "Big Annie and the 1913 Massacre" in about 1972, or thereabouts--you might be able to find it by contacting the commission, or the Michigan State Library in Lansing (I believe they have a website, as well)

The story may be of particular interest to you, since, though the events took place in the Italian Hall, many of the miners, and their families were of German and Northern European extraction.

When the Columbine High School shootings took place, I was disappointed that this murder of children, which resulted in a much greater loss of life, was forgotten.

Good Luck.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: Max
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 06:09 PM

Our SuperSearch yeilds some discussions about that song here.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: Charlie Baum
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 06:42 PM

Some web-research:

At the site of Italian Hall in Calumet, Michigan, there is a historical marker. The site of the building is now a memorial park.

And the Michigan Historical Museum on-line gives a bit of the history of the strike. (Scroll down to "Copper Industry Problems".)

--Charlie Baum


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 07:24 PM

One of the better accounts of the mining situation in Michigan during that period is in True Tales of the Great Lakes. Although it doesn't dwell on the incident itself, it does provide a good background on the working conditions.

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: Cool Beans
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 07:33 PM

All the preceding information sounds right to me (I live in Michigan). The one bit I can add is that either 72 or 74 people died, not 73, but Woody found 73 an easier number to rhyme.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 08:33 PM

I can't buy that Cool Beans - it would have been just as easy to rhyme with 72 or 74 -

Instead of
The scabs outside still laughed at their spree
And the children that died there were seventy-three.

He could have made it something like:

The scabs were a-laughing outside of that door,
and the children that died there were 74

The scabs were a-laughing at what they did do,
and the children that died there were 74

And Woody would have been able to do better than that - so if he said 73 it was because he thought it was 73.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: IvanB
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 08:41 PM

Actually, I'm from Michigan also, and I always had heard the figure as 73. I notice the State Library site also gives it as 73.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 11:22 PM

Righto, Ivan. I have done this song for a long time and have been very interested in the event. And fyi, Italian Hall was torn down some years back despite an effort by organized labor to preserve it as a national historic site. If you go to the offices of the Michigan State AFL-CIO on S. Washington in Lansing, Michigan, you will see, mounted in the lobby a brick from Italian Hall and a plaque which tells the background. It also cites the number as 73. Cool Beans, could you cite a reference for this contention? Context being difficult in threads, let me say that I don't doubt your sincerity, but in all my years I have never seen this cited.

Cool Beans, drop me a line at mlane@accn.org. I would love to know where you live so that we can arrange to have Michigan Catters do a gathering.

And I never walk by that brick in the lobby without touching it and thinking of the kids. Kind of reminds me why I got into this racket.

All the best,

Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: Charlie Baum
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 12:34 AM

Big Mick (and others):
From the "historical marker" link cited above:

On December 24, 1913, area copper miners had been on strike for five months. The miners were fighting for better pay, shortened work days, safer working conditions and union recognition. That day, during a yuletide party for the striking miners and their families, someone yelled, "Fire!" Although there was no fire, seventy-three persons died while attempting to escape down a stairwell that had doors that opened inward. Over half of those who died were children between the ages of six and ten. The perpetrator of the tragedy was never identified. The strike ended in April 1914.

The Italian Hall was built in 1908 as headquarters for Calumet's benevolent society. The Society, organized along ethnic lines, encouraged and financially aided immigrants and provided relief to victims of hardship. Following the 1913 Christmas Eve tragedy, the hall continued to be used for nearly five decades. The two-story red brick building was razed in 1984. Through the efforts of the Friends of the Italian Hall and Local 324 of the AFL-CIO, the site of the building became a memorial park dedicated ot the people who lost their lives in 1903.

--Charlie Baum


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: BDtheQB
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 12:50 AM

Lots of Irish,Chinese,and other immigrants worked in the mines I tend to take the stand that Woody spoke to and about ALL the downtrodden regardless of what the actual lyrics stated. A lot of people have complained to me that his Spanish grammar in Deportee is incorrect I have had to point out to them that he used ain't and very poor grammar in English why should his Spanish be impeccable. The Story's the Thing for Woody. If he said 73 it was what he was thinkin' when he wrote it. He wasn't exactly a reporter with an editor checking his facts but he was a listener who related to what he was told. "Facts are what eyewitnesses believe they saw". B Dalrymple -Philosopher


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 01:30 AM

One year later,Colorado Militia and mining company mercenaries north of Trinidad Colorado,opened fire on a camp of striking miners,most of whom were Italian immigrants.Some thirteen were killed by gunfire,while additional women and children (the youngest child 4 years old) who had taken cover in storage pits dug under the tents were burned to death when the troops set fire to the encampment.This became known as the Ludlow Massacre. I don't know if there are any songs that document this event,but there should be.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: THE 1913 MASSACRE (Woody Guthrie)
From: GUEST,Woody's Friend
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 04:11 AM

We certainly wouldn't want to forget the lyrics of this wonderful song, despite what corporate interests might think. Calumet, by the way, is Way Up There, on the Keweenaw Peninsula of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, sticking way up into Lake Superior. Pretty country, but mighty cold in winter.
-A Friend of Woody-

THE 1913 MASSACRE
(Woody Guthrie)

Take a trip with me in nineteen thirteen
To Calumet, Michigan, in the copper country.
I'll take you to a place called Italian Hall
And the miners are having their big Christmas ball.

I'll take you through a door, and up a high stairs.
Singing and dancing is heard everywhere.
I'll let you shake hands with the people you see
And watch the kids dance round the big Christmas tree.

You ask about work and you ask about pay.
They'll tell you they make less than a dollar a day,
Working the copper claim, risking their lives,
So it's fun to spend Christmas with children and wives.

There's talking and laughing and songs in the air,
And the spirit of Christmas is there everywhere.
Before you know it, you're friends with us all
And you're dancing around and around in the hall.

Well, a little girl sits down by the Christmas tree lights
To play the piano, so you gotta keep quiet.
To hear all this fun, you would not realize
That the copper-boss thug-men are milling outside.

The copper-boss thugs stuck their heads in the door.
One of them yelled and he screamed, "There's a fire!"
A lady, she hollered, "There's no such a thing!
Keep on with your party, there's no such a thing."

A few people rushed, and it was only a few.
"It's just the thugs and the scabs fooling you."
A man grabbed his daughter and he carried her down
But the thugs held the door and he could not get out.

And then others followed, a hundred or more,
But most everybody remained on the floor.
The gun-thugs they laughed at their murderous joke,
While the children were smothered on the stair by the door.

Such a terrible sight I never did see.
We carried our children back up to their tree.
The scabs outside still laughed at their spree
And the children that died there were seventy-three.

The piano played a slow funeral tune
And the town was lit up by a cold Christmas moon.
The parents they cried and the miners they moaned,
"See what your greed for money has done."

Note: In Calumet, Michigan, in 1913 hired copper company thugs broke up a striker's Christmas party by shouting "fire", and then barring the door. In the panic hat ensued, 73 children were smothered to death. (According to Woody) There seems to be no doubt that the tragedy occurred, but the question of responsibility is undecided.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: kendall
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 12:30 PM

another reason to be a democrat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: IvanB
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 02:01 PM

Guest, Woody's Friend, thanks for reminding me of one of my most memorable trips. I was employed in state gov't and when I transferred into the main office in winter of 1973, one of my first trips was made to our northern region in mid-January. The regional director and I were scheduled to meet an inspector in Calumet, but as we drove out of Houghton, we were met with blizzard conditions and could see less than ten feet outside the car on any side.

We holed up in Houghton for the night and the next day the sun was shining brightly, so we made our belated appoinment in Calumet. The inspector there was both of Italian heritage and active in the employees' union, so I got to see the hall and hear about its history. A very poignant event in an area where eking out an existence was a struggle in the best of times. I was sorry when I heard it had been demolished.

When I left, I informed the regional director that I wouldn't be back until summer, whereupon he informed me that usually occurred between 2 and 4 pm on July 21st.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: GUEST,Cool Beans
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 03:19 PM

Darn, you're all making me do research. OK, an article in the March, 1998, issue of History Today corroborates what I've always heard: that 74 people died in the massacre. But since there's considerable disagreement in Mudcatville, it's possible that Woody believed 73 to be the correct number. One, of course, was one too many.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 04:55 PM

LUDLOW MASSACRE (DT Lyrics)
(Woody Guthrie)

It was early springtime that the strike was on
They moved us miners out of doors
Out from the houses that the company owned
We moved into tents at old Ludlow

I was worried bad about my children
Soldiers guarding the railroad bridge
Every once in a while a bullet would fly
Kick up gravel under my feet

We were so afraid they would kill our children
We dug us a cave that was seven foot deep
Carried our young ones and a pregnant woman
Down inside the cave to sleep

That very night you soldier waited
Until us miners were asleep
You snuck around our little tent town
Soaked our tents with your kerosene

You struck a match and the blaze it started
You pulled the triggers of your gatling guns
I made a run for the children but the fire wall stopped me
Thirteen children died from your guns

I carried my blanket to a wire fence corner
Watched the fire till the blaze died down
I helped some people grab their belongings
While your bullets killed us all around

I will never forget the looks on the faces
Of the men and women that awful day
When we stood around to preach their funerals
And lay the corpses of the dead away

We told the Colorado governor to call the President
Tell him to call off his National Guard
But the National Guard belong to the governor
So he didn't try so very hard

Our women from Trinidad they hauled some potatoes
Up to Walsenburg in a little cart
They sold their potatoes and brought some guns back
And put a gun in every hand

The state soldiers jumped us in a wire fence corner
They did not know that we had these guns
And the red neck miners mowed down them troopers
You should have seen those poor boys run

We took some cement and walled that cave up
Where you killed those thirteen children inside
I said, "God bless the Mine Workers' Union"
And then I hung my head and cried

@union @soldier @murder
filename[ LUDLWMAS
TUNE FILE: LUDLWMAS
CLICK TO PLAY
SOF

 wouldn't you know it? Woody was on top of the Ludlow Massacre too. God bless him.

Traditional Ballad Index Entry:

Ludlow Massacre, The

DESCRIPTION: Faced with a strike, the mine owners drive the workers from their (company-owned) homes. The National Guard moves in and kills thirteen children by fires and guns. Since President and Governor cannot not stop the guard, fighting continues
AUTHOR: Woody Guthrie
EARLIEST DATE: 1945 (recording, Woody Guthrie)
KEYWORDS: mining strike violence death labor-movement
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
Sept 1913 - Beginning of the strike by coal workers against John D. Rockefeller's Colorado Iron and Fuel Co.
April 1914 - A state militia company (actually composed of company thugs) attacks the Ludlow colony of strikers using machine guns and coal oil. 21 people die, including two women and thirteen children; three strikers are taken and murdered. Eventually federal troops are called in
FOUND IN:
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Scott-BoA, pp. 279-281, "The Ludlow Massacre" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greenway-AFP, pp. 152-154, "Ludlow Massacre" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 134, "The Ludlow Massacre" (1 text)
DT, LUDLWMAS*

RECORDINGS:
Woody Guthrie, "Ludlow Massacre" (Asch 360, 1945; on on AmHist2, Struggle2)
NOTES [429 words]: There is a recent book on the Ludlow Massacre, Scott Martelle, Blood Passion: The Ludlow Masscre and Class War in the American West, Rutgers University Press, 2007. It notes on the very first page that although there is a freeway exit for Ludlow, the town itself doesn't really exist any more; the mines have mostly failed and all that is left is a sort of memorial park.
The book does not even mention Woody Guthrie in its index -- rather surprising, given that Guthrie wrote at a time when the massacre was still part of living memory, which it obviously was not at the time Martelle was writing.
The numbers Guthrie gives in this song are perhaps a little dubious. Martelle, p. 2, gives this report:
T"he nadir came on a sunny Monday morning in April 1914, when a detachment from the Colorado National Guard engaged in a ten-hour gun battle with union men at Ludlow, where a tent colony housing some eleven hundred strikers and their families had been erected. Seven men and a boy were killed in the shooting, at least three of the men -- all striking coal miners, one a leader -- apparently executed in cold blood by Colorado National Guardsmen who had taken them captive. As the sun set, the militia moved into the camp itself and an infern lut up the darkening sky, reducing most of the makeshift village to ashes. It wasn't until the next morning that the bodies of two mothers and eeven children were discovered where they had taken shelter in a dirt bunker beneath one of the tents. The raging fire had sucked the oxygen from the air below, suffocating the families as they hid from the gun battle.
T"he deaths of the women and children quickly became known as the Ludlow Massacre, and the backlash was vicious and bloody."
Martelle's Appendix B, pp. 222-224, lists all the victims known to have died in the 1913-1914 labor war. Martelle says that at least 75 people were killed in the course of the labor war. He lists five uninvolved bystanders, 37 strikebreakers and guards (some of them killed from hiding), and 33 strikers and family. This means that more than half those killed on the miners' side died in the Massacre of April 20. The adult women killed were 37-year-old Patricia Valdez, along with four of her children, and 27-year-old Fedelina Costa, along with two of her children; one of the men killed outside was Charles Costa, although I don't know if they were husband and wife. Five other children were also killed in the bunker. The oldest of the suffocated children was nine years old; six of them had not yet reached their fifth birthday. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.0
File: SBoA279

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: northfolk/al cholger
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 07:47 PM

My bible of Labor History, Labor's Untold Story, published by the United Electrical Workers, UE, has a brief, but chilling first hand account, by Ella Reeve Bloor, ("Mother Bloor")a Socialist organize, recounting witnessing Annie Clemence reaction. (Annie Clemence was the leader ofWestern Federation of Miners, ladies auxiliary)

" The people in the hall were deathly silent, frozen with horror. Then Annie screamed, "are there any more children dead"? And a deputy asked, "What's the matter with you? None of these children are yours, are they?" She cried out, tears streaming down her face, "They are all mine-all my children..."

Mother Bloors account lists the number as 73. For the most part her account is consistent with the song lyric.

This is but one of many bloody and deadly attacks that the members of Labor Unions, their families and supporters weathered, in order to secure, what too many take for granted...and friends like our own Big Mick fight to preserve each day

I have an acquaintance that has old photo plates from the funeral procession...virtually every labor leader of historic import was in the cortege.

I have also heard that theis tragedy prompted the requirement to make all egress doors in public buildings swing out...because aside from the heinous act of the company thugs that started the tragedy, the children died as a result of going down a stairway en mass, to a door that swung in, and as they piled against it they were crushed and suffocated...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre
From: Art Thieme
Date: 26 Feb 01 - 01:39 AM

A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE:

Here's an article I picked up in 1982 when I was up in the U.P. to do a concert in Ironwood, Michigan. It was in the Daily Mining Gazette newspaper out of Calumet, Mich.

ITALIAN HALL CONFESSION
by R.C. Peterson and Carl Peterson (Gazette writers)

Tuesday, March 16, 1982

CALUMET--Was it just a couple of drunken men out on the town and looking for fun, who were responsible for the deaths of 72 people on Christmas Eve of 1913 at the Italian Hall in Calumet?

According to Leslie Chapman of Calument that's exactly what one of the two men told him in a hotel lobby in Butte, Montana 58 years ago.
The Italian Hall tragedy is one of the saddest chapters in the history of the Copper Country, written at the height of a bitter copper mining strike on the Keweenaw Peninsula. The popular opinion then and for years afterward was that the strikebreakers had falsely yelled fire at the crowded hall as a heinous act of vengence against the union.

Men women and children ran to the stairwell leading down and out of the hall, which still stands on 7th Street in Calument. The doors opened inward. The first people that reached the bottom of the stairs tried to push their way out and it wasn't long before the stairwell was filled with bodies---men, women and children---all people who had been suffocated to death.

Chapman recently told the story of the confession to Lawrence Westola of Calumet, whose father, John, was a victim of the tragedy. Westola said he ran into Chapman downtown. While the two were talking, Westola happened to mention that his father had died at the hall that Christmas Eve. Chapman then told him of the hotel encounter in Butte, Westola said.

Chapman, who will be 88 next Sunday, confirmed the story this week.
He said he was in Butte in 1924---11 years after the tragedy---for a trial in which a Copper Country man was suing the Anaconda Copper Co. At the time, Chapman was a security officer for the Calumet and Hecla Mining Co.
News of the trial had appeared in the Butte newspaper and it was mentioned that several persons from Michigan's Copper Country would be in town. Chapman said that a sickly looking man "in his 50s or 60s" came up to him as he sat in the hotel lobby.
"This fella got to talking to me and he asked me if I was from the Copper Country. I said that I was and he said, "I've got a confession to make. Do you remember the tragedy they had in 1913 in Calumet, where all those people died? Well, I was there at the time with my partner. We were both single men and drunk and thought we'd have some fun. As we walked by the hall, we decided to yell "fire" and watch the people come down. We didn't know it would turn out bad. We both left town afterward.----My doctor told me I have a few weeks to live as I have tuberculosis and I want to get that out of my mind."
Chapman said he asked the man his name, but the man told him it didn't make any difference.
"People have wondered why it happened and I wanted to relieve my mind," the man said, according to Chapman.
Chapman said he may have mentioned the man's story to a few friends when he returned to Copper Country about a week later, he said, but he didn't make any kind of an announcement, he said.
"I was too busy with other things those days," Chapman said. Anyway, I don't like notoriety."
Chapman said the man also told him his partner had been killed in a mining accident about a year earlier in Butte.

(Art Thieme)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 12:45 AM

This is fascinating. Thanks guys. Sometimes when you're busy with real life it's easy to miss the good 'uns here. Any more information on the Hall or the incident?

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre
From: Big Mick
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 01:18 AM

Damn, Bro Art. If this bears out, it certainly casts a whole new light on the song and the incident. I am going to be busy tracking the story. Going to check it out with some folks I know. Thanks for sharing, my friend.

All the best,

Big Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre
From: SINSULL
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 09:23 AM

I believe Ivan sang this as part of his concert. He thanked Mick for teaching it to him. It was one of the more moving moments that night.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 11:01 AM

Interesting story. I've been reading what I could find on the net and most sites state that no one was ever found and the crime remains unsolved. Several also make allusion to both the story Woody told and also the story Art has passed on from the paper. The story that a couple of "drunken revelers" is mentioned several times. Either way, at the time it was generally acknowledged that the perpetrators were "company men" though some witnesses said they could not ID them. Thanks Art, for bringing this one up for investigation. I'll be looking forward to hearing from Mick.........Gawd, I do love the song though. Here are a few web sites:

Italian Hall Disaster

Italian Hall Story

Another account with an Adobe Link to the newspaper story

Historical Society Marker

Pictures from the Calumet Library

Michigan Historical Museum Info on Copper Mining

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 01:37 PM

Before the place was levelled I took several great photos of the old Italian Hall. Charlie Maguire, a topical singer of folksongs, "entered" the place once back in the 80s through a boarded up window if I remember right. Found fascinating stuff stll just laying around there.

Mark Ross, a modern Wobbly from Butte, Montana, called me yesterday after seeing this and said he doubted the tale. Mark said pretty much, Ninety year old guys are coming out of the woodwork all the time to give their spin on things just to make waves before they kick the bucket.

Well, my brother interviews people who "say" they were abducted by aliens. Generally it seems a certain percentage of the folks REALLY had some kind a of a traumatic experience that they must tell someone---anyone---about before they die. Nobody they tried to tell before would take them seriously on any level at all.

Could be that, in this case of the Italian Hall, it'd be like goring a treasured and politically correct oxen to even entertain the notion that the newer take might be accurate.

I like the old story too---'cause I like the song (as done by Ramblin' Jack Elliott-- but the truth is as elusive as a greased pig or a greased football. Both are pork but they are swines of a different color.

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 01:41 PM

Whatever that meant ;-)

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre
From: mkebenn
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 02:15 PM

Art, write the book Mike


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 02:35 PM

It's also possible that the old guy was kicking up dust, seeing as how there was a lawsuit in progress even as he spoke. The reporter was company security: unless you know him personally, I question his motives too. -MA


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 May 01 - 10:09 PM

Rick Lee put Woody's "Ludlow Massacre" on an LP back a few years. A real good job he did on it.

A Wobbly organizer I knew in Chicago--Paul Durst--told me in 1961 that he had been present at Ludlow.

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 16 May 01 - 04:59 AM

Hello Thats very interesting and sad to say the least but since where on it do any of you know any songs about Matewan ?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: Abby Sale
Date: 16 May 01 - 08:57 AM

Note from Charlie's citation and Northfolk that there was no evidence whatever presented that it was "company goons" that shouted Fire - or that the tragic results could possibly have been predicted if they did. It was shown that the door was certainly never barred by anyone from the outside.

This is one that the research staff at Happy! File Central have done a bit of background on and I quote from them:

"The Italian Hall Disaster" occured on 12/24/1913 at a Christmas party for miners' children during a bloody copper strike in Calumet, Michigan. Somebody shouted "Fire!" In the panic they rushed downstairs but the unlocked door opened inward and the crush of people prevented it being opened. 16 adults plus 57 children under age 16 were trampled, smothered and died in the stair-well. It was thought but never proved that company thugs did the shouting. Extensive details nd statistics are given in the local books Tinsel and Tears & Tinsel and Tears II by Peggy Germain. [thanx Calumet (Michigan) Public-School Library director, Debra Oyler]


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 May 01 - 10:24 AM

I'll see if I can dig up the article that I mentioned above. My recollection of it--it has been twenty five years at least since I read it, is that the door had been barred with an axe handle, and that several individuals were found to have been involved--but the connection between the mine owners and the incident was not clearly established, or at least clearly enough to satisfy the justice system in a town owned and kept by the mine owners--

Anyway, whether my recollection is correct or not, it seems like it would be good to have some of the source material accessible on this--it seems to be a pretty important song to a lot of people--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: InOBU
Date: 16 May 01 - 10:54 AM

Lonsome... ya beat me too it! Christy Moore also recorded the Ludlow song on his album Prosperous.
Yours In One Big Union...
Larry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: GUEST,Dita (at work)
Date: 16 May 01 - 11:33 AM

You should check out the powerful version Dick Gaughan does of "Ludlow Massacre" on his "Call it Freedom" album.
love, john


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 16 May 01 - 11:40 AM

Anybody know the chord arrangement for this song? I would greatly appreciate learning how to play it.

Thanks


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 16 May 01 - 11:42 AM

OOPS! I forgot to say guitar chords. WE


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 May 01 - 01:14 PM

The article that I read, and am looking for was a fairly thorough academic piece on the events, and appeared in an obscure academic magazine 30 years or so(I can't remember the name of the magazine)--

I I dug it out of a a file in the State of Michigan Library while doing research for my famous(at least in my mind) Michigan BiCentennial Folkmusic project--It focussed a lot on Big Annie and the union movement--Unfortunately, the files for this project, including my transcriptions of songs, all my notes and narrative, and the historic recording of my show that was made but never broadcast, have all disappeared over the years(And no!! Contrary to stories that circulated at the time, the show was not shelved because I said"Goddammit!!" when I popped a string--it was because the show consisted of a lot of back and forth with schoolkids, and we neglected to get releases...)

I mention this not only out of a pathetic need for retro-active self-aggrandizement, but also just to bring out the point that of all of the stuff I presented, this song and the story behind it were the thing that the kids always focussed on--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 16 May 01 - 09:44 PM

A fascinating bit of history. Check the old dodger's story though and then write the book!!! Kindest reguards, Neil


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: GUEST,saudog
Date: 26 Aug 01 - 02:12 PM

does anyone know the chords to 1913 massacre?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: catspaw49
Date: 26 Aug 01 - 03:27 PM

It's a basic I-V-I-IV-I.....Try it, the change are easy to hear.

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 26 Aug 01 - 04:03 PM

Very interesting thread, when I listen again to Christy Moore singing that song I will find it sadder still. Slan Ard Mhacha.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 26 Aug 01 - 10:38 PM

Hi northfolk, I've alway heard that it was the Coconut Grove fire that killed close to 500 people in Boston I think in 1942 ws what prompted fire codes that changed the doors to swing out, which if it had happened after the 1913 tragedy the doors to the Coconut Grove nightclub would've opened out Instead of in. Now mind you this is only what I've heard, I don't have it as fact. Barry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: catspaw49
Date: 26 Aug 01 - 10:58 PM

Actually........Fire Codes varied from place to place in those days and it has only been within the past 50 years or so that unified and uniform codes were established.

The Iroquois Theater fire in Chicago prompted many changes, but all of them were not put on place everywhere. That fire generally gets credit for the outward opening doors and also for unlocked and easily used emergency exits. The main doors opened inward and the other doors had gates that were locked to keep out crashers. The gates could have been opened by those trying to escape but the handle setup was confusing.

The Coconut Grove had a different distinction. The main entrance where so many died was a revolving door which became jammed with people trying to escape and then others piled up at the jammed door. The laws were changed after this to mandate outward opening regular doors to the sides of any revolving door.

Or at least that's what I learned watching The History Channel (:<))

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: GUEST,Brad In Wi
Date: 11 Jul 04 - 06:42 PM

The Houghton Co. coroners inquest may of counted someone twice according to many locals.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: paddymac
Date: 11 Jul 04 - 10:42 PM

There were a number of waves of immigrants from different countries that came to work the mines of the U.P. area. A branch of my family wound up in that area, but not in the mines. While visiting the area about ten years ago I had a chance to visit the "Italian Hall" in Iron City, MI. I recall a display about the ethnicities of minors, and that the Italians stood out from the other groups in that 90+% of them returned to Italy. The Irish immigrants, by way of contrast, had only about 10% return to Ireland. Swedes, Poles and Germans were the other dominant groups as I recall, but I don't remember the "return rate' for any of those groups. It is a largely untold bit of history that only the locals seem to recall. I suspect that the same can be said about most communities around the globe.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 1913 Massacre - Historical Background?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 11 Jul 04 - 11:05 PM

I will be sending a photo I took of Italian Hall up to my photo site real soon. Watch for it. Once again:

http://rudegnu.com/art_thieme.html

Also:   Somewhere in one of these threads here on the Italian Hall and the 1913 Massacre I posted the words of an article that Minnesotan Charlie Maguire found in the local paper up there in the U.P. saying that a couple guys had admitted yelling "fire" up that long stairwell in Italian Hall. They said they did it just for the hell of it and it had nothing to do with the strike then happening !!! I did send that article to Pete Seeger some years ago and he found it quite interesting.--------- Those doors at the bottom of the stairs only opened inward----and that was why the kids all piled up there at the bottom inside the doors. Terribly sad.

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 1913 Massacre (Woody Guthrie)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 09 Nov 11 - 10:05 AM

Pop Wagner, a folksinger and friend of mine, told me he has a brick from Italian Hall—an odd thing to keep as a souvenir, it seems to me, since you can't prove it's from Italian Hall.

I don't remember the details of how he got it, but I'll bet it had something to do with Charlie Maguire; I know they are friends and have performed together; in fact, they recently recorded an album of Woody Guthrie songs together, along with Tony Glover.

He also told me there were Christmas decorations still in the building right up until it was torn down. Apparently it had been closed up the whole time. Maybe he heard that from Charlie.

It's a shame the building wasn't preserved as a monument or museum. I think it's typical, though, especially in small towns, that when something awful like this happens, the local residents feel it's a stain on their reputation, and they'd rather have it be forgotten.

Keeping a brick makes a little more sense to me if you think of it as a protest against the fact that the building wasn't preserved.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 1913 Massacre (Woody Guthrie)
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Apr 13 - 11:24 AM

Read Steve Lehto's book, Death's Door. He provides convincing evidence that the doors opened outward, giving credence to Woody Guthrie's version of the events.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 19 September 6:23 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.