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)

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)

Women and the Lattimer massacre: Mary Septak

A bit more on the interesting but perhaps not unusual women of the Lattimer massacre–this time, “Big” Mary Septak, a Polish immigrant, miner’s wife, mother, and caretaker of several boarders.  Evidently she not only took care of all these people, but the men in the mines, too.  She seemingly had no fear of the National Guard and local police, leading women on marches, and calling men up from the mines to fight for their rights.

I’ll report more in on Mary as I find it – she’s quite the character and is bound to appear again.  This entry comes from The Century Vol. 55(6), April 1898: “A Pennsylvania Colliery Village. An Artist’s Impressions of the Colliery” by Jay Hambidge (available online at the Cornell University Library).  Mr. Hambidge also illustrated an article before this in that edition of The Century. I recommend reading and looking at it to get a feel for the local sentiment at that time.  It’s interesting stuff!  Anyway, here’s a bit about “Big Mary”:

Mary Septak

Mary Septak by Jay Hambidge

“‘Big Mary’ is for the time the object of our search, and we finally find her cleaning a goose for her Sunday dinner.  Mary is by far the most forcible and picturesque character in all the mining region.  In her peculiar way she is a queen, and rules things with a high hand.  During the strike Mary was the most troublesome of all the foreigners.  No professional agitator had half the force for mischief that this woman exerted.  One day she led seventy-five women of the patch in a charge on the troops.  At that time these amazons were armed with clubs and pieces of scarp-iron, and they stopped only when they felt the bayonets of the immovable line of soldiery.  One would not imagine her such a character from the smiling greeting she gave us.  With her husband, she keeps a sort of boarding house for other miners; and in the living-room of the shanty were seven beds and eight trunks.  Probably from twelve to fifteen men occupy the same room with this man, his wife, and daughter, a large-boned girl of fourteen.  …

In a bed at one end of the room two men are sleeping with their clothes on.  They work on the ‘night shift’ in the mines, and sleep during the day.  These men belong to the class which was most active during the strike.  Mary the mother rattles along in conversation with her husband and daughter, her talk being punctuated with profanity.  Suddenly she turns to me with a demand to know if I eat meat on Friday.  I answer in the affirmative.  ‘Jesus kill you some day,’ she says, and laughs.

The amazon loves her husband, she asserts, and the affection is evidently mutual, for as he passes  her from time to time, he says some pleasant words or pats her cheek.  They have been married thirty years, and the daughter Mary is the only living one of ten children.  ‘When I ‘way from my man I cry all time, and when he ‘way from me he cry all time’ is the way the woman puts it.  In all their  years of married life he had never once struck her.

This is the woman who has the reputation of being a veritable tigress.  The men in the mining company’s offices are afraid of her, and give her a wide berth.  The trolley-car conductors tremble when she hails a car, and not one of them has ever been known to collect a fare from her except when she felt disposed to pay.  She has a contempt for American women.  They are not strong, she says, and cannot work in the fields.  The food they eat is too sweet; they would be better off if they ate sour soup and sour cabbage.” – p.826

Check out the Community Walk Map

Hey all,
A while back I started putting Lattimer Massacre-related sites on a Community Walk map. CW is basically a do-it-yourself Google map. Anyway, check it out and let me know if something needs to be moved, and/or if you want to add anything: Sites Related to the Lattimer Massacre on Community Walk
CommunityWalk Map – Sites Related to the Lattimer Massacre

If I can figure out a way to imbed the actual map (my HTML isn’t agreeing with me) I’ll do that. For now – when you get to the site try clicking on things. Information should pop up. Also, on the left there are categories and names of places. If you click on one of those it will bring that location up on the map. Let me know what you think!

– Kristin

okay so this map isn't on community walk

Map of Lattimer 1885 (photo by Kristin Sullivan)