Historic Newspaper Images

Annie from the Greater Hazleton Historical Society turned me on to a really great historic American newspapers database (Early American Newspapers, Series I-III), which turned up some of the articles mentioned and quoted in previous posts.  While many of them leave scenes up to the imagination in a pre-photojournalist age, a few of them included really telling, sometimes powerful images.  I hope you enjoy or are inspired by a few of them here:

(click on an image to enlarge)

Firing on the Miners

Philadelphia Inquirer, 12 September 1897

“Firing on the Miners.  An Accurate View of the Field Where the Tragedy Took Place” by a Philadelphia Inquirer staff person, 12 September 1897, front page.  It looks like the deputies were amassed just north of the massacre monument, across Main St.

Identifying Bodies

Philadelphia Inquirer, 12 September 1897

Again, a staff drawing from the 12 September 1897 Philadelphia Inquirer, this time page 4: “Identifying Bodies in the Stable of Undertaker Boyle”.  I can’t imagine what that must  have been like; although, I gather from talking with people in the region that this is possible more humane than usual.  It used to be that the coal companies would just drop a dead body off at their home when someone died in a mine accident, right on the front porch.

Church Scene

Philadelphia Inquirer, 14 September 1897

“Crowds in Front of St. Stanislaus Church While Funeral Services Were Going On” in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 14 September 1897, front page.

New York Evening Journal, 10 March 1898

From the New  York Evening Journal, 10 March 1898, p. 5 (the signature appears to read “Davenport”).  Granted, the New York Evening Journal’s articles were a little more sensational than other newspapers’ at the time; however, there must have been some sense that money and power came before justice, and public sentiment around the country must have in part been that the deputies were guilty of murder despite their acquittal.   Of course, the other trial, which seemed certain for Sheriff Martin, never happened.

Deputies Carrying Arms

NY Evening Journal, 17 March 1898

The title and date of this are really interesting – “Lattimer Deputies Again Carrying Arms, Ready to Murder More Strikers” in the New York Evening Journal, 17 March 1898 (I think the artist’s signature reads J.A. Williams).  It must have looked like the deputies were still riled up against the miners, and again, that the deputies were in fact guilty of murder.

Lattimersky Sud

Narodny Kalendar, 1899

What a great image!  Two years after the massacre this rendition of a not-so-blind justice appears in Narodny Kalendar, a Slovak publication.  I’m working on trying to find an original copy, but meanwhile the image shows up in the journal Pennsylvania History: 2002 vol. 69 (1), p. 41.  It’s in an article called “A Slovak Perspective on the Lattimer Massacre” by M. Mark Stolarik.

These and still more images are in the gallery, below.

– Kristin

(click on an image to enlarge)

Advertisements

Lattimer in International News

The Lattimer massacre was not (and arguably is not) just a regional or national issue.  Aside from the strike and shooting reaching all corners of the U.S. (newspapers carried the story in Utah, New Mexico, Louisiana, New York, the Dakotas, Texas, etc.), sentiment was stirred up in Europe as well.

Austria-Hungary in 1911, from U Texas Libraries

The strikers were nearly all from Southern and Eastern Europe.  Those who died were largely from what was then Austria-Hungary (see map, left).  Only one of the victims had applied for citizenship by the strike (Michael Cheslock); none were yet U.S. citizens.  As such, the Austro-Hungarian Empire took issue with the killing of its citizens, and demanded indemnity from the U.S.  Quite a bit of fear revolved around what would happen with international relations.

Following are a few newspaper accounts of Austria-Hungary’s demands, and reactions thereto:

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Source: The Enquirer-Sun, Columbus, GA. 16 September 1897, p.6:

Vienna’s View of Our Riots :Austria Will Demand Indemnity From Us for the Rioters Who Were Killed

London, Sept. 13 — A dispatch to the Daily Telegraph from Vienna says that much excitement has been caused there by the news of the shooting by deputy sheriffs at Lattimer, Pa., of a number of Austrian and Hungarian subjects.  Consular reports of the affair that have been received characterize the conduct of the deputies as unjust and unneccessary.  The foreign office will demand strict compensation from the United States.”

Source: The Sioux City Journal, Sioux City, Iowa. 14 October, 1897, p. 1

PROTEST BY AUSTRIA: Claims Rights of Her Subjects Were Violated in the Lattimer Affair

Harrisburg, Pa., Oct. 13 — Gov.  Hastings has received a letter from Secretary Sherman, stating that the Austrian minister at Washington has filed a communication with the department of state, claiming that there was a violation of the rights of Austrian subjects in the firing on the mob at Lattimer, Pa., when a score of miners were killed.  Secretary Sherman requests the facts and status of affairs in relation to these cases.  Gov. Hastings has referred the communication to Sheriff Martin and Gen. Gobin, with the request that they enlighten Secretary Sherman as early as possible.” (this article was also carried by the Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA) as “The Lattimer Shooting” and The Sun (Baltimore, MD) as “The Shooting at Lattimer”)

Source: The Wilkes-Barre Times, Wilkes-Barre, PA.  21 October, 1897

THE LATTIMER SHOOTING: Sheriff Martin’s Story of the Affair Prepared for Gov. Hastings (by Associated Press)

Harrisburg Oct 21 — Sheriff Martin of Luzerne county was in Harrisburg yesterday with his attorney Geo. S. Ferris, to confer with Governor Hastings, who was unavoidably absent.  The executive wrote to the sheriff recently asking for a statement of the shooting at Lattimer to be used by Secretary of State Sherman in making reply to the Austrian government, which has instructed the minister at Washington to get all the details of the affair.  The sheriff has prepared a statement giving his side of the story which will be submitted to the governor in confidence on his return from Philadelphia.  The statement in brief recites that the sheriff and his deputies were in the discharge of their duty as public officials when the shooting occurred.”

Source: The World-Herald, Omaha, NE. 20 March, 1899

NO QUARREL WITH AMERICA: Austria Will Have No Trouble With Us Over Lattimer Affair

London, March 19 — The Vienna correspondent of the Standard referring to the recent editorial allusions by the Politiasche Correspondez, to the Hazelton shooting and its announcement that the Austrian foreign minister intends to press the ‘just claims advanced in half of Austrian subjects,’ says, ‘I have reason to believe that the Austrian government has not the slightest intention to seek a quarrel with the United States.  The press however, is constantly accusing the government of neglecting its duty in the Hazleton affair, and the government will not let the matter drop until Count Goluchowski (the Austro-Hungarian foreign minister), gets an opportunity to explain to the delegations that the standpoint of the American government indicated by the latter note of February 4 is legally and morally incontrovertible, though the sheriff of Lattimer might have waited longer before giving the order to fire on the excited strikers.” (also carried by The Butte Weekly Miner (Butte, MT) as “The Hazleton Shooting”)

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA. 12 August, 1899, p. 8

There Was nothing to Arbitrate

The refusal of the United States Government to accede to the request of Austria-Hungary to submit to the arbitration of a claim for the payment of an indemnity on account of the killing of Hungarians in the memorable Lattimer riot is entirely justifiable, and it is indeed surprising tha the request should have been made.  The killing in question was the subject of judicial proceedings, the result of which was to vindicate its legality.

It will be recalled that the rioting occurred in connection with a strike of coal-miners.  In the course of that strike, and as a means of intimidating the employers, a number of men, among whom were the Hungarians on account of whose death the claims were made, had assembled and had begun to act in a threatening and disorderly manner.  Called upon by the Sheriff of the county to disperse, they refused to do so and they suffered as a consequence of their refusal.  The verdict of a jury confirmed the rightfulness of the Sheriff’s action and there is not the slightest basis upon which to found a claim against the United States.

There is no parallel between this case and that of the Italians who were taken from a New Orleans jail and lynched, and for whom this country did pay a compensation.  The Lattimer rioters had no one to blame but themselves, and as the facts are undisputed and undisputable, there is absolutely nothing to arbitrate.  The Austro-Hungarian Government could hardly have been serious in its request.”

____________________________________________________________________________________

So – what do you think?  Did the Austro-Hungarian Government have a case?  The “facts” of the case are certainly disputable, although the Sheriff was acquitted.  Should the government have received payment?  Victims’ families?  Anyone?

Lattimer is one of the “Five of the Greatest Strikes in America” in 1901

Going through historic newspapers, I found this in the Grand Forks Daily Herald (Grand Forks, ND), 08 September 1901, p. 3.  It lists five of what it considered the greatest strikes in America.  These are:

Coal Map of PA

PA Coal Map, from http://www.leo.lehigh.edu/

  1. “Irons against Gould In a Famous Struggle” (1886)
  2. “Homestead Bloodshed in Campaign of 1892”
  3. “Railway Strike of 1894 Against Pullman Works”
  4. “Coal Miners’ Strike Ending with Lattimer” (1897)
  5. “Men Won 1900 Strike in Anthracite Mines”

Here’s the section about Lattimer (#4):

“Coal miners in eleven states struck on July 4, 1897, on order of President Ratchford of the United Mine Workers.  Nearly all the bituminous miners went out and a large portion of the men in the anthracite region.  At high tide in the strike 110,000 men were idle.

This strike was successful.  The men went back to work in September at an increase in wages and with an agreement with their employers to arbitrate.  They gained in wages, it was figured by teh World at the time, over $13,000,000.

In September there was a small correlative strike at a colliery at Lattimer, near Hazleton, Pa., in the anthracite district.  This strike held on for several days and gained recruits from other colleries [sic] in the neighborhood.

Following their custom the strikers marched from mine to mine to urge other miners to join them.  On the road near Lattimer, on Friday, Sept. 10, Sheriff Martin of Luzerne county, with 102 deputies specially sworn in, met a body of these miners.

There was a trifling clash and the deputies fired on the marchers, who had no firearms.  Twenty-one miners were killed and forty wounded.  Several others fled.  The marchers were all foreigners.

Troops were called out at once and there was no further trouble.”

PA Historic Context Study: Anthracite Resources

I recently found out that there’s an historic context study done on the anthracite region of Northeastern PA.  These sorts of studies document why certain resources are historically or culturally valuable, why they’re significant to a community, state, or the country.

PHMC logo

PHMC logo

Anyway, in case anyone is interested in such a thing, I wanted to put a link here (to the downloadable .pdf file): Anthracite-Related Resources of Northeastern Pennsylvania, 1769-1945 from the Bureau for Historic Preservation in Harrisburg, PA.  The PA Historical and Museum Commission submitted signed the report the day after the Lattimer massacre centennial.

Here’s an excerpt from the report’s section about Lattimer (p. 60-61):

“The UMW [United Mine Workers] recognized that organization of the entire region could not occur until the new immigrants joined the union.  This required a shift in the thinking of many union members, who believed that Slavs and Italians were ‘wage-cheapening laborers easily controlled by management.’  Slavs and Italians were relegated to low status jobs.  While large numbers of these immigrants worked and resided in the anthracite region in the 1880s, few had become contract miners, the elite of the laboring class, by the late 1890s.

A major turning point in the history of organized labor within the anthracite region occurred in 1897, during another nationwide economic depression.  Beginning with the Panic of 1893, the country had experienced massive unemployment and personal suffering.  The economic downturn triggered a merciless price war among businesses seeking to raise revenues simply to pay off their creditors.  Cartel and pooling arrangements collapsed in this hyper-competitive climate.  With the coal market depressed, many workers could find only half-time work.  Much of the little income they earned was siphoned back to the operators in the form of deductions for rent and company store bills.  Companies ignored a law stating that workers were to be paid bi-weekly and paid workers monthly, forcing many deeply into debt.

It was under these conditions that the Lattimer incident occurred, marking a turning point in the labor history of the anthracite region.  The violent confrontation between workers and operator agents that took place near the Lattimer mine in September 1897 initiated the long, slow process of building cooperation between all mine workers.  This cooperation led to the development of a solid labor front in the anthracite region, which the UMW nurtured in the late 1890s and early 1900s….

The Lattimer incident brought together the various immigrant communities within the anthracite region and dispelled old myths that Slavic and Italian workers were docile pawns of management.  The new immigrants were recognized as an important force within the region.  Fellow miners expressed their shock and outrage over the killings by joining the UMW.  Within four months, over fifteen thousand anthracite workers had joined the UMW.  Lattimer insured the UMW a future in the region, though it would take several more strikes before the union could take advantage of its new found strength.  On a national level, Slavic organizations through the United States contributed money to relief efforts for the Lattimer victims and their families, while at the international level, the Austrian-Hungarian ambassador demanded, but did not receive, compensation for the killings from the United States government.”

Your thoughts – accurate?  Missing something?  Other?

(here’s the link again to the context study: Anthracite Resources Context Study)

Reports of the Immigration Commission: Immigrants in Industries

I just picked up Vol. 16 of the 1911 Reports of the Immigration Commission: Immigrants in Industries (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office).  Unfortunately it doesn’t look like it’s up on Google Books yet, but your local university library should be able to get a copy.

Anyway, the report comes from a 1907-1910 investigation by the U.S. Immigration Commission into immigration trends and statistics.  Volume 16: Immigrants in Industries looks in part at anthracite coal mining.  It looks at mining as an industry, and the industry in a representative community, “Community A” from the middle coal field (shown in red, below).

The Anthracite Fields of Pennsylvania (from Barendse (1981) Social Expectations and Perception: The Case of the Slavic Anthracite Workers. University Park: Penn State Press)

The more general overview focuses on nameless collieries from the upper and lower fields (orange and blue, respectively, right)  as cases with which to examine numbers of workers, working conditions, workers’ occupations and wages, literacy rates, home ownership trends, and perhaps most importantly, what it calls “race.”  Race is a concept applied to nearly every section of this report (in all volumes), equated by the Commission with an immigrant’s country of origin (e.g. Poland, Lithuania, etc.).  There was great concern over recent immigration at that time (largely from Southern and Eastern Europe), so the Commission examined just about all aspects of Industrial-era American life through a racial (i.e. ethnic or nationalistic) lens.  “White” people seem to have been native (i.e. American)-born people with native-born fathers.  Generally these were people of British, Irish, Welsh, and sometimes German descent.  Non-white people, in this report, are foreign-born people–“Polish, Ruthenian [Ukrainian?], Slovak” and so forth.  The term “negro” is used for African Americans, although they are rarely mentioned.

What the report tells about its concept of race and racial tension in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania says a whole lot about the conditions that existed at the time of the Lattimer massacre.  The victims were, of course, “non-white” and largely non-English speaking, while the Sheriff and deputies were all “white” English-speakers.  Lattimer was generally a sort of microcosm of the larger Immigrants in Industries story.  Unfortunately the immigration issues addressed by the Commission (below) were just fuel for the fire caused by hard work for low wages and other miseries that accompany coal mining.

So, I thought it might be interesting to share a few pieces of the Commission’s report here, to serve as a backdrop for the Lattimer massacre, and maybe a bit of a backdrop for today as well….

Source: U.S. Immigration Commission (1911) Reports of the Immigration Commission: Immigrants in Industries. Vol. 16, part 19.  Presented by Mr. Dillingham. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

“The most remarkable process from a sociological view point which is occurring in Community A is the rapid displacement of the earlier by the more recent settlers of the community.

The displacement is taking place through the operation of two forces–the pull of industrial and social ambition and the push of racial friction.  Distaste for mine work since the immigrants entered it, as well as dissatisfaction with wages, is inducing the English-speaking miners to change their occupations, and is preventing them from allowing their children to enter the industry.  The prosperous miner educates his children for softer-handed work, and they have to move away from Community A to find it.  The well-to-do storekeeper and the professional man moves away to find a more suitable environment for his growing children.

A night-working immigrant shoemaker or thrifty saloon keeper busy close in between two ancient householders, and they, disturbed by the nocturnal hammering of the vociferous joviality, quickly place their property on sale and as quickly find foreign buyers, whereupon they leave the community” (pp. 661-2).

The inevitable result to the American workingman of indiscriminate immigration

"The inevitable result to the American workingman of indiscriminate immigration" (by Victor, from the Southern Labor Archives at GSU)

“The social and moral deterioration of the community through the infusion of a large element of foreign blood may be described under the heads of the two principal sources of its evil effects: (a) The conditions due directly to the peculiarities of the foreign body itself; and (b) those which arise from the reactions upon each other of two non-homogeneous social elements–the native and the alien classes–when brought into close association.

Among the effects under the first-named class may be enumerated the following:

  1. A lowering of the average intelligence, restraint, sensitivity, orderliness, and efficiency of the community through the greater deficiency of the immigrants in all of these respects.
  2. An increase of intemperance and the crime resulting from inebriety due to the drink habits of the immigrants.
  3. An increase of sexual immorality due to the excess of males over females. …
  4. A high infant mortality, due largely to the neglect and ignorance of hygiene and sanitary surroundings on the part of the immigrant mothers. …

Before discussing the effects due to the heterogeneity of the social elements, it may be well to mention the more striking characteristics which separate the recent immigrants from the natives and earlier settlers.  These may be roughly catalogued as follows:

(a) Differences of language, religious faith, and degree of literacy. (b) A lower standard of comfort and a less fastidious manner of living…. (c) A different standard of modesty…. (d) A different manner of observing Sunday…. (e) A greater possession of sheer physical strength and a greater willingness to accept employment requiring nothing but brawn. (f) A more habitual indulgence in intoxicating beverages with apparently less permanent physical injury.

The chief effects of a social and moral character arising from the friction and interactions between the native element and the large foreign body possessing the above peculiarities may be summarized as follows:

  1. A general loosening of the forces of social cohesion.  The inability, owing to the lingual and educational barriers, of understanding the other’s viewpoint prevents the development of sympathy and engenders a disintegrating hostility….
  2. A civic demoralization of the ruling class.  The venality of the immigrants overcomes the scruples of the politically ambitious and they succumb to the temptations of bribery.  This reacts upon the efficiency of the local government.  The more scrupulous citizens shrink from participation in municipal affairs, which are controlled largely by the worst element in the community.
  3. An enfeeblement of the power of public opinion through the weakness of the public press.  There is only one English daily in Community A….
  4. A general stimulation of the cupidity and avarice of the local business and professional men by the tempting prey of the ignorant foreigner.
  5. A growth in the number of saloons…to satisfy the immigrant appetite….
  6. A coarsening of the fiber of the native-born through contact with the immodesties of the immigrant” (pp. 671-2).

I would love to read your thoughts about how this informs your thoughts on the Lattimer massacre, and/or on immigration today!

– Kristin

Journal of the Senate of PA, 1897 & the Yale Review, 1898

I’ve decided to start posting bits of what I’m reading/researching about the Lattimer massacre on any given day.  I definitely have strong opinions about some of this stuff, but will try to keep these in check; however, I hope you share yours in the comments below!

The quotes aren’t necessarily meant to go together.  They’re just what I think are interesting!  Anyway, here’s a start:

Source: Journal of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 1897 Vol. 2

http://www.albany.edu/jmmh/vol3/harvan/images/others/map.jpg

The PA Anthracite Region, image from http://www.albany.edu/jmmh/

“One of the primary objects of the investigation [into anthracite mining conditions] was to establish the facts with respect to the condition of the miners and men employed in and about the mines, it being set forth in the preamble and resolution that a condition bordering upon starvation existed among the above named class of people.  The testimony  shows conclusively the deplorable condition of affairs for a period covering about two years, and particularly since the first of January of the present year [1897], since which time the men in and about the collieries have been employed not more than two or three three-fourth days per week, earning on an average $4 per week, upon which, in many instances, they were compelled to support large families, in some cases as high as eleven members, paying house rent and coal and the necessities of life, which to this committee seems an impossibility” (page 1826).

“While the country has always encouraged foreign immigration, yet since the time mentioned [1875], a class of foreigners have been coming in to which particular objection is made on the part of those employed in the anthracite mining regions [e.g. earlier immigrants – English, Irish, Welsh, etc.], namely the Poles, Hungarians, Italians and Slavs.  At first, doubtless, they were all employed as laborers, but gradually they became miners and in many instances the former employe [sic] was confronted by his foreign laborer as a rival for  his own position.

It is claimed that this class of people are un-American in every way, adopting none of our ideas of citizenship and living in a manner unknown to us as a people.  In most cases their objects and aims are to secure sufficient to enable them to return to their native lands or to assist in bringing others of their kin to this country.  Unless a change is speedily made, the time is not far distant when the miners of the anthracite region will be composed entirely of these people to whom they now so strenuously object.  Such a condition of affairs is not conducive to safety in the mines.  … The committee has referred to the undesirability of this class of people….  The committee is of the opinion that there will be no general prosperity among the miners of the anthracite regions and the laborers employed in and about the mines until the national Congress shall pass and provide for the rigid enforcement of a restricted immigration law” (pages 1831-2, 1838).

“You will observe that the average excess charged by the company stores over the independent stores is 30 per cent. which, of course, indicates that some of the prices are most intolerably high.  Indeed some of them charge as much as 35 per cent. higher than their neighboring independent stores, and when it is taken into consideration that the independent stores have a probable profit of 25 per cent. you will observe that it makes in the worst places a total profit of 60 per cent. in the company stores” (page 1840).

Source: The  Yale Review: A Quarterly Journal for the Scientific Discussion of Economic, Political and Social Questions. Vol 6, May 1897-February 1898. “An Impression of the Anthracite Coal Troubles” by J.G. Brooks

“Here is obviously a tap root of much of the difficulty.  Immigration has been purposely stimulated by these coal owners to the specific end that an adequate supply of the cheapest labor might be at hand for every rising exigency of business.  It is extremely ignorant and easily a prey to the agitator.

In the enforced periods of idleness which come with the shifting conditions of the market innumerable occasions for troubles like those at Lattimer may at any moment appear.  ‘What can you do with such wild beasts when they get off their heads but shoot ’em?’ were words which the writer heard, and it may be, in any given moment, that the social safety demands quick, sharp and bloody enforcement of the law.  It is, however, a very sinister state of affairs when conditions, which have been definitely encouraged by the mine owners and by our general policy of immigration, have come to be such, that, in their very nature, they are certain to breed chronic outbreaks like this in the Hazleton district.  A mine manager of twenty years experience said, ‘The truth is that the time came when somewhere hereabouts we had got to do some shooting.  It could not be put off much longer.’ The question was put to him, ‘When will you have to do some more shooting?’  The reply was, ‘In hard times, it is likely to come at any moment'” (p. 307).

“For any future worth discussing, no effective organization [of mine workers] seems possible.  The difficulties with a homogeneous population in English mines have been great.  What shall be said of the difficulties to be faced in t case of fourteen or fifteen nationalities?  The question of race enters here with almost terrific force.  The least adroit of employers can play upon these race prejudices so effectively as to weaken the strongest trade union in times of excitement.  It is this fact of race differences which baffles the student of trade unions in this country” (p. 308-9).

Looking ahead to June: Patch Towns Days weekend

I can’t believe it’s June 01 already! The last few months have flown.  With temperatures here in Maryland approaching 90 most days I am really looking forward to getting up in the cooler mountain air in Pennsylvania for a little bit this month.

I’ll be heading up for Patch Towns Days (Saturday and Sunday, June 19-20, at Eckley Miners’ Village).  Because of trying to visit family in Wilkes-Barre, and see a few things (e.g. the Huber Breaker, where some of my family worked), I’ll likely only make the festival on Sunday.

Anyone else planning on being there Sunday?  Anyone have memories of previous Patch Towns Days, or ideas of things to make sure I (and others) do that weekend?  Leave a note in the comments, below!  I have no idea what to expect – Crafts?  Music?  Demonstrations?  Reenactments?  Food!?!  Looking forward to finding out… .

– Kristin

Inside the Eckley Miners' Village Museum (photo by Kristin Sullivan)

the Lattimer massacre on YouTube

It turns out there are a couple videos on YouTube about the massacre, below.

1. This video accompanies Pennsylvania native Van Wagner’s song about the Lattimer Massacre:

2. This appears to be done by a high school or college group  (Anyone know who wrote it/put it together?).  A six minute take on the massacre:

Others?

April 6 Blog from Ning

So most of this information was previously housed at a Lattimer Massacre site on the Ning network.  Due to changes there, though, we’re moving everything here!  As part of that, here’s an old blog (from April 6, 2010):

Hi all! Nobody’s tried out the blog feature on here yet so I thought I’d give it a shot – and in the process tell a bit about Paul Shackel’s and my visit to Hazleton and its surrounding communities.

We were up to Hazleton, Lattimer, West Hazleton, Harwood, Humbolt, etc. March 18-20, way too short a trip! Paul brought his wife, and National Park Service archaeologist, Barbara Little. On the last day of the trip my husband, Ryan Sullivan, was able to join us as well.

The foci of the trip were threefold: 1.) Meet some of the people we’ve started to connect with in the area through here and otherwise, 2.) Visit the Massacre site and memorial, and 3.) Check out the massive personal museum that is Joe Michel’s storage facility.

Some of Joe's Collection

Mr. Probert and others look through the archives

Starting backwards on this journey with #3, this place is immense!! Words cannot describe Joe’s collection. These pictures are just parts of it – a room filled with maps and other archives from the greater Hazleton area (right), rooms of old bar supplies, of old water treatment and other science-y supplies, of drafting equipment (above left), typewriters, tools, coal mining accoutrement, a couple of old Army Jeeps, and so forth. It is truly amazing. AND! Joe’s looking for a local (Hazleton-area) museum, organization – something – to help house and preserve these treasures! Any takers? If I win the lottery I’m all over it. I have tickets for tomorrow’s Powerball 🙂

We did make it to the memorial site, which was great. The last time I went there was a bit of snow on the ground and it was incredibly cold so I pretty much ran out, took a bunch of pictures, and ran back into my car. In March we were lucky enough to hit a gorgeous weekend and were able to walk around the grounds, and the woods to the left of the memorial (if you’re looking at it). Part of this time was spent with two of Michael Cheslock’s great-granddaughters (one of whom I met through the previous LMP site on ning).  Getting their insights then, and during lunch afterward, was especially moving.

Is this the gum tree?

Part of the time we spent at the memorial we were looking for the gum tree, which makes its appearance in many accounts of the massacre (notably Pinkowski’s The Lattimer Massacre and Michael Novak’s Guns fo Lattimer). The idea is that if we can find the location of the gum tree, then we can figure approximately where Sheriff Martin and the deputies were located, and where the shooting started. I’ve heard people say that the tree was shot full of bullets, but I can’t imagine a tree that would’ve been fairly small then would have been shot much – any thoughts? In any event, we found this part of a trunk, which we think may be a gum tree. Anyone know anything about trees based on bark? This (right) was found in a pile of stuff (salt, dirt, etc.) dumped on the land by Hazle Township trucks, so it could’ve been moved from anywhere along the roads, I suppose – so we’re not so sure it’s even helpful in locating the original gum tree spot; but it is exciting.

Harwood Mule Stable Location

In any event, meeting the people we met was easily the best part of this visit. I got a ride around Harwood and the communities surrounding it by one of this site’s members and her cousin, which was hilarious (there are some entertaining people around the area!) and enlightening. I really hadn’t realized just how many individual towns existed in the area, which seems to be really important. They also showed me where the mule stables likely were (above), where miners met before the marches leading up to the massacre. Behind this area are the strippings left over from the Harwood mines – a reminder that the cultural and environmental implications of the mining industry are still alive and well in Northeastern PA, despite the mining companies having left many of the old mines and the many towns associated with them.

We got a chance, too, to meet Bobby Maso, who wrote the Standard-Speaker article through which many of this site’s members found us. Bobby’s one of most ambitious and put-together 22 year olds I’ve ever met, and he genuinely cares about the history of his hometown and region (he’s a Freeland native). He’s super anxious to do anything to help this project, it seems, which I really appreciate. Also, as a shout out, he’s one of the Eckley Players – so go see him this summer at one of their events!

Mr. Probert in the Vine St. Cemetery

I want to give particular attention to John Probert (in the “archives” portion of Joe Michel’s vault/museum above), who has been an incredibly helpful go-between, local guide, etc. He introduced us to Joe, as well as to Hazleton’s poet laureate and local artist, Sal, whose insights into the massacre were inspiring. Mr. Probert was also kind enough to give us a private tour of the Vine Street Cemetery, where he is president of the Cemetery Association (right). Check it out sometime if you haven’t been there. Many of the players in the massacre story are there – Pardees, deputies, Michael Cheslock, etc.

Anyway, Mr. Probert and Joe have been cooking up scenarios for what really happened leading up to, during, and immediately following the massacre. I’m incredibly impressed, and grateful, for their help, resources and imaginations!!

So, now what? I’m hoping to come up for Patch Town Days, which I think are June 19 and 20 (anyone have details?). If anyone wants to meet up there, or around that time, let me know! Meanwhile, I’ll blog or send a message about any other related goings-on here! ‘Til then… .

– Kristin

Update: I have not yet won Powerball (5/7/10)