Huerfano County, Colorado

Contributed by: Louise Adams
NOTICE All data and photos on this website are Copyrighted by Karen Mitchell. Duplication of this data or photos is strictly forbidden without legal written permission by the Copyright holder.

Legacy of the Ludlow Massacre: A Chapter in American Industrial Relations by Howard M. Gittleman. page 133,34 says the nativity "of the 3500 miners employed on April 1, 1915, was reported as follows:
U. S. A. White 506
Roumanian 24
Slavic 83
Belgian 2
U. S. A. Colored 248
Swedish 12
German 56
Cretan 2
Italian 896
Irish 7
Russian 56
Jewish 2
Mexican 602
Bohemian 5
Japanese 41
Danish 1
Austrian 429
Croatian 5
Polish 40
Macedonian 1
Greek 270
Serbian 4
Bulgarian 36
Norwegian 1
Hungarian 101
French 3
Welsh 34
Swiss 1
Scotch 31
Huerfano World - April 20, 1989 75th Anniversary of Ludlow Tragedy Today by Nancy Christofferson

Today, April 20, marks the 75th anniversary of the tragedy we know as the Ludlow Massacre, during which 19 people, mostly women and children, were killed in a murderous exchange of gunfire and the fiery destruction of the tent city of Ludlow.

Although Ludlow is over 20 miles south of Walsenburg and located in Las Animas County, what happened there in 1914, had dramatic and long-lasting effects on Huerfano County, the state of Colorado and, indeed, the entire nation. For the battle at Ludlow was one of the more severe growing pains of organized labor which was trying to protect the rights of the miner against the long, undisputed rule of industrial might.

The United Mine Workers won many converts in Southern Colorado during the early years of this century. The coal companies were unanimously against organization of their workers and many mines would not even hire union men. UMW meetings were often secret affairs since some men faced dismissal if found to be a member.

Long before any union reached the coalfields, miners had gone out on strike. Filthy housing in company camps, dangerous conditions in mines, questionable salary policies, the lack of benefits for both the miner and his survivors if killed in the mine, were a few of the reasons for these walkouts.

A strike in 1903-04 brought improved circumstances for the miners, but many of the concessions, such as the right to organize, were later revoked by the coal operators.

Other walkouts were staged until, on Sept. 23, 1913, mines all over Colorado went out on strike, prepared for a long hiatus from work until operators granted their demands.

The companies immediately evicted the strikers and their families from the company-owned housing. The UMW provided tents and provisions for them. There were some 10 or 12 tent colonies stretched along the foothills in Huerfano and Las Animas Counties, of which Ludlow was said to be the largest.

The strike of 1913-14 was particularly violent. One day after it was called, Segundo's marshal, Robert Lee was killed. By the end of the year, there were 12 more casualties in the two counties.

The winter passed fairly quietly, with so few incidents that many troops of the state militia were removed by April 10. But both the strikers and their guards were ready for a confrontation. The strikers had little to do but complain of the troopers arrogance, of the searchlights that played over their cramped tents night after night and to conjecture apprehensively about the notorious armored car mounted with a machine gun manned by company guards. The troops were equally bored and equally offended by the strikers' jeers and insults.

Sunday, Apr. 20, started off quietly enough at Ludlow. It was a warm spring day, though patches of snow remained in shady places around the colony. A ball game was organized and soon play was underway. However, some of the guards and strikers became involved in an argument and soon the real battle began.

According to the Walsenburg Independent, "War broke out at Ludlow early Monday morning when a bunch of the company's killers, under the notorious Linderfelt, started shooting up the tent colony. From all reports it appears that several of the killers went to the Miners ball game on Sunday, and after starting a row, got roughly handled. In retaliation, bandit Linderfelt, took his 'Blood Hounds' to Ludlow and opened fire on the Tent Colony. . . "

The staff of the Independent was a little excitable, and certainly prejudiced, but even the most staid of newspapers deplored the deaths of the innocent women and children.

Early reports of the battle conflicted in almost every detail - at first it was said 33 were killed. The strikers blamed the guards and vice versa, but if anyone knew just who had fired the first shot, he never told.

The battle at Ludlow lasted three days. A running battle continued in the area, culminating with the bloody battle at Walsenburg which ended when federal troops arrived at the end of the month. By that time, about 50 more people had died. This included five women and three children who were among the 30 killed when trapped beneath a burning building at Empire.

Of the 19 who died at Ludlow, only one was a trooper, and only five of the others were actually combatants. The others were the women and children suffocated under their burning tent, except for young William Snyder, age 11, who was passing nearby and accidentally shot down. Two of the victims were women and ten were children under the age of eight.

This horrible tragedy focused the entire nation's attention on the coal strike in Southern Colorado. Though the walkout continued for months afterwards, the union had found its leverage. Through public sentiment and government investigations, people were finally listening to the lowly miner and his protector, the UMW.

A monument was soon erected by the UMW over the "death hole" where the innocent had died at Ludlow. For many years, union leaders gathered to remind the members of the atrocities, the hard work to organize and the benefits currently enjoyed. Thousands attended these events, many of whom had been present during the battle.

Today, the mines are closed and miners otherwise employed, but the memory of the Ludlow Massacre continues to have a lasting effect on all who share the rich history of the coal mining district.

Commemorating 85 years . . .Ludlow Massacre, by Nancy Christofferson - Huerfano World - April 15, 1999

Tuesday, April 20 marks the 85th anniversary of the tragedy we know of as the Ludlow Massacre.

On that fateful day, April 20, 1914, at least nine men, two women and twelve children were killed in a storm of bullets and fire which totally destroyed the tent colony of Ludlow. Ludlow was not a coal mine, but a colony established at Ludlow Station on the Colorado and Southern Railroad.

Ludlow is now a symbol of the strife that occurred during the growth of the United Mine Workers of America in southern Colorado.

The coal miners' strike of 1913-1914 was the longest and bloodiest of all those ever staged in the southern coalfields of Huerfano and Las Animas counties, and there were quite a few.

An almost equally protracted strike in 1903-1904 brought the miners some relief in the way of reforms and new laws, but the big coal operators, notably Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, were prone to ignoring niggling little things like laws.

In 1913, the miners had seven demands, which they called proposals. One, they wanted a 10 percent increase on the tonnage rate and day scale of payment. Two, they wanted an eight hour work day. Three, they wanted pay for "dead work" such as clearing rooms for later mining, timbering the rooms and such work. Four, they wanted to elect their own weighmen, since the company weighmen had a tendency to weigh low, thus causing a lower payment to the miner. Five, they wanted the right to trade at any store, choose any boarding place and any physician, instead of those provided by the company. Six, they wanted enforcement of the mining laws and abolition of the mine guard system. And, seven, they demanded recognition of the union.

Now, except for the first proposal, their 10 percent raise in pay, and the last, recognition of the union, all these demands were already state laws!

CF&I, as one of the biggest taxpayers in these counties, had a lot of clout politically and friends in high places, so blithely ignored any laws found inconvenient. Because some of these friends were officers of the law, miners had grievances against the company had little chance of winning their battles.

The companies' hold on local politicians was so blatant that the 1914 report of the Commission on Industrial Relations later found that "Not only the government of the counties [Las Animas and Huerfano] but that of the state, has been brought under their dominion and forced to do the companies' bidding, and the same companies have even flaunted the will of the nation as expressed by the President of the United States."

Conditions were prime for unionization so that the miners could band together to force the operators to concede certain points.

Southern Colorado was in District 15 of the UMW. John R. Lawson was an executive board member and the major representative of the miners in this district. He hired many union organizers, including one Louis Tikas, known as "Louie the Greek," who served in this area.

Tikas and his fellow organizers had great success among the thousands of miners in southern Colorado. When the UMW called a strike to begin Sept. 23, 1913, nearly 13,000 men of Huerfano and Las Animas counties threw down their shovels and walked off their jobs. About 9,000 of these men were employees of the CF&I.

Immediately, these strikers were evicted from their company-owned homes and, with their families, moved into the tent colonies the union had provided on leased or borrowed lands.

Ludlow was said to have been the largest of these colonies, with about 800 people living there, of whom some 400 to 500 were men.

Other tent colonies went up in Suffield, Starkville, Sopris, Rugby, Oak Creek, Aguilar, Cokedale, Forbes, El Moro, Trinidad, Walsenburg, La Veta, Monson and Pictou.

The very next day, Sept. 24, occurred the first violence of the strike when Marshal Robert Lee of Segundo was murdered and a house in Aguilar was blown up by dynamite. Both acts were blamed on the strikers.

In the next few days, more trouble came, with holdups, beatings and rifle fire. Sept. 29 a large group of men attacked the Oakdale mine near La Veta, spraying the homes and buildings with bullets in an attempt to frighten the strikebreakers, or scabs, who as non-union members, continued working during the called strike. Many of these strikebreakers, especially at Oakview, were Japanese who were not allowed to join the union.

Many incidents happened around Ludlow as strikers fired on trains, cars and passersby. On Oct. 9 the strikers killed a local young cowboy, Mack Powell. On Oct. 25 they killed Deputy Sheriff John Nimmo. The following day a battle in nearby Berwind canon resulted in the death of Deputy Tom Whitney. Two days later two small children of Berwind were shot.

So, on Oct. 29, Governor Ammons sent in the Colorado National Guard. Businessmen of the district as well as the coal company officials had requested him to do so.

Formerly, the "contest" was between the strikers and mine guards and officers of the law. Operators hired these guards to protect the strikebreakers as well as company property and equipment, but many of the guards were common thugs who liked to carry guns and bully people.

The night the militia arrived, strikers burned the Southwestern mine tipple and buildings including the post office.

John Chase, Adjutant General for the State of Colorado, headed the militia in southern Colorado. He was ordered to disarm everyone in the strike zone who was not authorized to carry weapons, to close all saloons, to keep mine guards on the mine property and to protect those wanting to work and to see no strikebreakers were shipped in.

Pueblo Indicator – April 25, 1914 – Thirty-Three Dead at Ludlow – Mothers and Babies Slain in Safety Pits – Scores Are Missing – Men Killed by Machine Guns While Trying to Rescue Their Families – Trinidad, Colo., April 22 – Thirty-three dead, more than two-thirds of them women and children; a score missing and more than a score wounded, was the toll taken last night to have been taken by the fourteen-hour battle which raged Monday afternoon and night with uninterrupted fury between state troops and striking coal miners in the Ludlow district. With arms ready, both sides awaited the coming of dawn, when, it was forecast, the battle would be resumed with greater bloodshed than that which has occurred. The militia, which Monday drove the strikers from their tent colony, and, it is charged, fired it, involving thereby the greatest loss of life, is preparing for a machine-gun sortie at daybreak from their position along the Colorado & Southern railroad tracks at each side of the Ludlow station. On the surrounding hills, sheltered by rocks and boulders, four hundred strikers await their coming, while their ranks are being swelled by grim-faced men who tramped overland in the dark carrying guns and ammunition from the neighboring union camps. On the outcome of the engagement may depend the fate of the strike. Both sides face it as a battle to death, with no thought of quarter asked or received. At a late hour it was said here the battle could be averted by the arrival of reinforcements from Denver. Italian, Greek and Austrian miners have appealed to their consular representatives for protection, and John McLennan, president of the local union district, yesterday wired to the Red Cross in Denver to be prepared to render aid. No train service through the war zone is permitted. Telephone communication has been re-established. Major Hamrock is in command of the troops, hemmed in on all sides by the striker lines, which extend back three miles. Through this cordon only the dead wagon is allowed to pass. Ludlow camp is a mass of charred debris and buried beneath it is a story of horror unparalleled in the history of industrial warfare. In the holes which have been dug for their protection against the rifle fire, the women and children died when the flames swept over them. Twenty more women refugees, according to a statement given out at the mine workers’ headquarters, are now on their way in automobiles to Trinidad from Bay’s ranch near Ludlow, where they sought shelter when the fire in the colony destroyed their homes. At a late hour last night Lieutenant Governor Fitzgerald, over the long-distance telephone, asked John McLennan, district president of the mine workers, to arrange a truce. He said that permission would be accorded a committee to visit the burned tent coloy to make a thorough search for the bodies of those who perished in the fire. The committee, headed probably by the mayor, left Trinidad at an early hour this morning. In Trinidad the situation is no less acute. Men crowd the streets about the union headquarters. The Casualties at Ludlow – Dead: Albert Martin, private Co. K, 1st Infantry, Denver, shot through head, leg, and neck; Louis Tikas, leader of Greek colony, shot through body and head; Edward Fyler, financial secretary of the Ludlow colony, shot through face; Frank Rodino, striker; John Bartolino, striker, shot through breast; Frank Snyder, 10, son of William Snyder, a striker, shot through head; Mrs. Angelo Dominiski; Charles Costa, union leader of Aguilar, his wife and three children; Trimo Larese, 19; Joe Diemer, 19; two children of Mrs. Marcelino Pedrigon; one unidentified Greek; two unidentified women, found in cellar of tent; thirteen unidentified children, found in cellar of tent. Missing: Mrs. William Chavez and two children; Mrs. Nick Milasovichs and seven children; two children of Mrs. Mary Petructi; Mrs. Frank Pedrinono and two children. Wounded: Louis Purcille, Company A; twenty strikers.

Akron Weekly Pioneer Press – May 8, 1914 – Ludlow Fire Horror – Blamed on Militia and Mine Guards by Coroner’s Jury – Men Under Command of Linderfelt and Hamrock Fired Strikers’ Tent Colony, is Finding – Trinidad, Colo. – The jury conducting the coroner’s inquest into the cause of the Ludlow disaster returned a verdict Saturday implicating the militia, mine guards, Maj. Patrick Hamrock and Lieut. K. E. Linderfelt. The jury was out one hour and returned two separate counts, the first of which is as follows: “Alfred Martin, member of the militia; Presno Larce, Louis Tikas, Frank Snyder, Frank Rubins, James Tyler, Frank Bartalato and Charles Costa came to their deaths by bullet wounds in the battle between the militiamen under Major Hamrock and Lieutenant Linderfelt and mine guards, on one side, and strikers on the other; said battle held in or about Ludlow on the twentieth day of April, 1914.” The second count reads: “Cardelima Costa, Petra Valdez, Rogaro Pedregone, Clovine Pedregone, Lucy Costa, Oragio Costa, Elvira Valdez, Mary Valdez, Eulaila Valdez, Rodolso Valdez, Frank Petrucci, Lucy Petrucci and Joseph Petrucci came to their deaths by asphyxiation or fire, or both, caused by the burning of the tents of the Ludlow tent colony, and that fire on the tents was started by militiamen under Major Hamrock and Lieutenant Linderfelt or mine guards, or both, on the twentieth day of April, 1914. Signed Casimiro Cruz, Foreman. George Stracy, M. W. Babcock, A. W. Nash, F. J. Doveton, J. W. Bartlett.” When asked if he would file complaints against Hamrock and Linderfelt on the findings of the coroner’s inquest, J. J. Hendrick, district attorney, said he would do nothing until he learned what the people most closely interested in the outcome of the inquest were going to do.

Routt County Sentinel – May 8, 1914 – Commission at Ludlow Camp – Cause of All Trouble Due to the Importation of Lawless and Ignorant Foreigners – Denver, May 2 – Absolute responsibility for the fatal battle of Ludlow Monday, April 20, was placed upon the Greeks of the strikers’ colony at Ludlow by the military board consisting of Judge Advocate Major E. J. Boughton, Captains W. C. Danks and Phillip S. Van Cise of the Colorado National Guard. This commission was appointed April 25 by Adjutant General Chase with instructions to report on all the incidents of the battle, preceding and subsequent, and to make such report “without malice or favor.” The officers examined under oath all officers and prisoners, “as many as possible of the soldiers, deputies, mine guards and townspeople of Ludlow and nearby coal camps.” They made strenuous effort to obtain testimony of strikers but without success reporting that a personal request made upon Mr. Lawson and Mr. McLennon, strike leaders, in Denver, was answered in their presence by Mr. Hawkins, their attorney, “declining to give us any information upon the ground that our inquiry was not publicly conducted.” The board found that the “remote cause of this as well as other battles, lies with the coal operators who established in an American industrial community a numerous class of ignorant, lawless and savage South European peasant. The underlying cause was the presence, near Ludlow, in daily contact of three discordant elements – strikers, soldiers and mine guards – all armed and fostering an increasing deadly hatred which sooner or later was bound to find some such expression. The immediate cause of the battle upon the soldiers by the Greek inhabitants of the tent colony who misinterpreted a movement of troops on a neighboring mine.” Concerning Louis Tikas, the Greek leader who was killed in the battle, the report says: “During the evening Louis Tikas, James Filer and an unknown striker were taken prisoners. Lieutenant K. E. Linderfelt swung his Springfield rifle, breaking the stock over the head of Tikas.” This incident followed a heated controversy between the lieutenant and the Greek. The report continues: “An attempt to hang Tikas went so far that a rope was produced and thrown over a telegraph pole. This lynching was prevented by Lieutenant Linderfelt, who turned Tikas over to a non-commissioned officer, whom he directed to be responsible for his life. Shortly afterward all three prisoners were killed by gunshot wounds. The only bullet found in his body was of a kind not used by the soldiers, although the two other wounds might have been made by Springfield rifle bullets of the uniformed men.” Relative to the suffocation and the burning of two women and eleven children in the tent colony the report says: “Eleven children and two women were smothered to death in a small pit under one of the tents. None of them was hit by a bullet. The pit was not large enough to support the life of such a number for many hours. The construction of the pit made it a veritable deathtrap and its inmates probably died from suffocation before the tents were burned. When found there were no signs that the women and children had crowded into the entrance of the pit as would have been the case had they attempted to rush out when the tent above caught fire.” The report states that the colony was looted by participants and spectators in the battle and that 15,000 rounds of ammunition were taken from the tent marked “headquarters of John Lawson.” Only one person was killed or wounded in the colony by a gunshot. Frank Snyder, a 12-year-old boy, was shot in the head. His father stated that evening that his boy had gone outside the tent and was shot in the forehead while facing the arroya from which the strikers fire came.” The colony was not swept by machine guns. This is proved by the fact the chicken houses, out houses, tent frames and posts still standing in the colony exhibit no bullet holes while the buildings and fences along the railroad track are riddled with bullet holes made by the machine gun.” The board recommended that a general courtmartial be appointed to try all officers and enlisted men participating in the treatment and killing of prisoners and the burning and looting of the tent colony, that the legislature establish a permanent state constabulary so that the “young men of our national guard may be relieved from engaging in riot duty with a people numbering among them ferocious foreigners whose savagery in fight we find exemplified in the killing of Major Lester while under Red Cross protection and the maiming and mutilation of Privates Martin, Hockersmith and Chavez.” The report continues: “We strongly urge the state and federal governments to proceed at once to the apprehension and punishment of all persons engaged as instigators or participants in the treasons, murders, arsons and other acts of outlawry in this state since the battle of Ludlow. We find that in apparent anticipation of a preparation for the battle of Ludlow, rifle pits were prepared by the strikers on the south side of their colony along the country roads and close to the tents and along the west side of the colony. These rifle pits show conclusively the careful and deliberate preparation of the strikers for the battle and their location along the front and side of the colony nearest to the militia camp nearest which they could not be defended against firing into the colony. Such care had the strikers themselves for their women and children, that these pits were located where any return of the fire from them would be drawn directly into the colony itself.” Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph 8-1-1976 - Trinidad Strike Ended with 19 Killed - It was 62 years ago in April that one of the bloodiest chapters of Colorado history was written at the tent city of Ludlow, north of Trinidad, inhabited by some 1,000 coal miners and their families. The violence, which had been percolating for months after 12,000 miners had gone on strike in September 1913, was capped by a raid by the Colorado militia. After the raid, 19 persons were dead – 11 children, two women and six men. The toll included one of the militia men, and all of the men were shot. But the women and children died by burning or suffocation as they huddled in burrows they had dug under their tents. Conditions of the times were hazardous for the coal miners. In 1907 24 miners had died in a disaster at the Colorado Fuel and Iron’s Primero mine; in 1910 between 75 and 125 were killed in the same mine, and 56 died in another mine disaster. Paid on the basis of the weight of the coal they lug, miners found scales on the tipple often were inaccurate, and they wanted full pay for the ore they risked their lives to dig. Coal company camps were tightly controlled by the owners. No structure could be built without company permission, and individually owned houses were destroyed. In most camps there was only one store, the company store, and bills were paid in scrip, the company currency. The work day averaged 10 hours and for that the pay came to about $3. It was in this setting that the United Mine Workers found fertile field for union recruitment. Not long after, grievances and demands were formulated and recognition was sought. Owners believed miners were so satisfied with their working conditions they would neither join the union nor heed the strike call. The demands were ignored. As the miners went on strike, they moved from the company camps and organized tent cities, of which Ludlow was one of the largest. The walkout was so successful the state’s coal industry was practically paralyzed – Colorado Fuel and Iron admitted it lost 70 percent of the work force, and the union claimed 95 percent of the miners were on strike. Violence became fierce, and Gov. Ammons called out the state militia. At first the militia was welcomed by the miners, but soon it became apparent the state forces were siding with the mine owners and operators. As citizen militiamen tired of their duty, they left and were replaced, in some cases, by company representatives. There were strong rumors just before April 20, 1914, that the Ludlow camp would be raided. Mining families dug burrows under their tents where they could protect themselves from the raiders. The raid, in addition to gunfire, was marked by fire – the tent city was burned to the ground. There were congressional and presidential investigations and actions. Miners were indicted, but all convictions were reversed by higher courts; militiamen and mine guards who were brought to trial were tried in military courts, which summarily issued acquittals. The Ten Days War, as the Ludlow incident was called, represented only the beginning of union recognition in Colorado and it was another 16 years before the coal mining industry was unionized.

May 8, 1914 – April 20, 1914 Ludlow Massacre Victims, including others killed in the action:
Bartolotti, Frank (The newspaper listed him as Frank Bartolato)
Costa, Charles
Costa, Fedelina (The newspaper listed her as Cardelima Costa)
Costa, Lucy
Costa, Onofrio (The newspaper listed him as Oragio Costa)
Diemer, Joe (not listed on the Ludlow monument, but listed in the newspapers as a victim)
Dominiski, Mrs. Angelo (not listed on the Ludlow monument, but listed in the newspapers as a victim)
Fyler, James (The newspaper listed him as James Tyler and James Filer)
Larese, Trimo (not listed on the Ludlow monument, but listed in the newspapers as a victim; also called Presno Larce)
Pedregon, Cloriva (The newspaper listed her as Clovine Pedregone)
Pedregon, Rodgerlo (The newspaper listed him as Rogaro Pedregone)
Petrucci, Frank
Petrucci, Joseph
Petrucci, Lucy
Rubino, Frank (The newspaper listed him as Frank Rubins)
Snyder, William Jr. (The newspaper listed him as Frank Snyder)
Tikas, Louis (separate obituary saved in this file for him)
Ullman, George
Valdez, Elvira
Valdez, Eulala (The newspaper listed her as Eulaila Valdez)
Valdez, Mary
Valdez, Patria (The newspaper listed her as Petra Valdez)
Valdez, Rodolso (not listed on the Ludlow Monument, but listed by the coroner's jury as a victim)
Others killed during the same battle:
Martin, Alfred - part of the state militia

Pueblo Chieftain 7-6-2007 - Last Survivor of Ludlow Massacre Dies at 94 - Mary Benich-McCleary, the last known survivor of the Ludlow Massacre, has died of a stroke. McCleary, 94, of Morgan City, La., died June 28. She was 18 months old when the Colorado militia attacked striking miners and their families on April 20, 1914, at the Ludlow mining camp north of Trinidad during a labor strike. McCleary, her parents John and Dominika "Minnie" Benich, and her two brothers narrowly escaped death when the militia attacked the striking miners’ tent colony. The conductor of the train that brought the militia members to the tent colony saved many lives, said McCleary’s daughter, Bridget McCleary-Arcemont, also of Morgan City. "He saw women holding babies - probably my grandmother - and stopped the train before the militia could mow them down with gunfire," she said. McCleary’s father rescued 3-year-old John while her mother scooped up baby Tom, who was just 9 days old. They ran for the Black Hills southeast of town. "They ran along the tracks just under the gunfire. When they got up there they realized there was no Mary," McCleary-Arcemont said. According to family lore, a 16-year-old boy from a neighboring tent heard Mary’s cries and gathered her up into his coat before running for safety. The family did not know of Mary’s fate until she and the boy were found several days later, hunkered down under the trees, still hiding. Mary was still hidden inside his coat and he was shaking violently. "That boy was never the same," said McCleary-Arcemont. "I think the ordeal just ruined him mentally." McCleary-Arcemont said her grandfather, who like her grandmother was a Yugoslavian immigrant, continued working as a coal miner until the 1940s. By then, the Benich family had grown to 14. "They were such a beautiful family," she said. "So loving. And all 12 kids turned out to be something. They all graduated high school and they all did things with their lives." McCleary met her husband, Abner "Mac" Fredrick McCleary, in California during World War II. He was a Marine. She was a riveter at Douglas Aircraft and helped build B-17 bombers. The couple raised four children: Bridget, James "Pat" Patrick, Karen and Stephen. She lived to see 12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. "Mac" McCleary died in 1977. While the experience of the coal camp massacre stayed with the Benich family, McCleary’s daughter, Karen Adams, said family members didn’t like to speak of it. "It was hard times, that’s all we really know," she said. "They just did what they had to do to survive." McCleary’s younger sister Frances, of Farmington, N.M., is the last surviving sibling.

Pueblo Chieftain 6-29-2008 - Colorado's Bloodiest Labor Fight Remembered - Ludlow Massacre Site May Get Status at National Landmark - Ludlow - On April 20, 1914, two women and 12 children suffocated at the hands of the of their own government. The oxygen was sucked from the their hiding place in the ground after the Colorado National Guard poured kerosene on their tents and set them ablaze. Six striking coal miners, organized by the United Mine Workers of America, died that day at the hands of soldiers called in to protect the interests of the coal mining companies. No one knows how many died of exposure as the lived in their makeshift city in canvas tents, some digging into the ground to avoid gunfire, during one of the coldest winters in Colorado’s history. The Southern Colorado coal miners, along with those in other Western states, had for many years been trying to join the UMWA. Coal mine operators, led by the Colorado Fuel & Iron Co., bitterly opposed the effort. Several hundred people made the drive out to site of the Ludlow Massacre on Sunday for a memorial service honoring the 94th anniversary of the bloodiest labor conflict in U.S. history. Members of the United Mine Workers of America have met at the site every year since purchasing the battleground in 1916. Nearly a century has passed since those laborers and their families, many of whom had not been in the country long enough to learn the language, died fighting for the rights of the American worker. For the part of the Colorado miners who voted Sept. 15, 1913 to strike for safer working conditions in light of a fatality rate that was over twice the national miners' rate, the conflict ended with no resolution 14 months later. Their battle helped breed public sympathy for laborers. A sympathy severely lacking in the U.S. during the early part of the 20th century, according to former U.S. Sen. George McGovern. Those rights still serve American laborers today. Up to that time when strikes occurred, public sympathy lay with the operators, the former Democratic presidential candidate told the crowd. "Strikers were regarded as troublemakers." He said the massacre shocked the country and helped to bring about change in the laws that protect workers. McGovern, whose father was a coal miner, called the fight "one of the noblest and most courageous battles in U.S. history," one that very few people remembered. McGovern began his multistate quest to uncover that lost chapter in history in college, writing his doctoral dissertation on the subject. His book, "The Great Coalfield War," published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 1972, gives voice to the story that was left out of history books. Cecil E. Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, equated McGovern’s work with "preaching a sermon with his life." "He wrote a book and told our story," Roberts said. During an impassioned speech, Roberts, of West Virginia, said he could feel the spirit of the dead moving at the site. "Those of you with union cards in your pockets, you have it because of them. Those of you with safe and healthy working conditions, you have it because of them," he said. "They were martyrs and heroes and they ought to be recognized as such." The site is currently being reviewed for National Landmark status. Charles Haeker, an archaeologist for the U.S. National Parks Services, said the paperwork just needs one more signature before it is approved. The committee that reviews landmarks will vote on it in the fall before sending the application off to the Secretary of the Interior. Haeker said he’s pretty optimistic that the site will be awarded the coveted status. Roberts told those in attendance that they have an awesome responsibility to carry on the tradition and work to pass legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act which takes aim at the National Labor Relations Act. If passed, it would give employees the right to form, join and assist labor organizations and provide for mandatory injunctions against unfair labor practices during organization efforts. He told them they were charged with the responsibility of living up to the words of strike organizer and educator "Mother" Mary Harris Jones by mourning for the dead, but fighting like hell for the living. "A lot of people would like for us to stop coming here," Roberts said. "But we will never forget." Picture caption: Striking coal miners and their families pose near Joe Zanetell's tent during the UMW labor strike at Forbes Camp near Ludlow. The people are (left to right) an unidentified man, Angelo Mosher (behind the boys), George Prescar and his brother, an unidentified man in a dark hat, Joseph Zanetell stands in front of the chimney in a light cap, Mrs. Mosher, with a tie and apron, an unidentified man, Irene Micheli, a young unidentified girl, Mary Oberosler Micheli holds her baby, Charlie Micheli, an unidentified man in a light cap, Clarence Johnson who stands in front of Mrs. Johnson, who wears a striped shawl over her head, and Sarah Johnson.

Pueblo Chieftain 1-5-2009 - Looking at Ludlow - Coal History Offers New Perspective on Labor Tragedy - Denver historian Thomas Andrews paints a new, broader landscape of a familiar Southern Colorado scene. Andrews' book, "Killing for Coal: America's Deadliest Labor War," ends with the Ludlow Massacre and the Ten Days' War it precipitated. But its first six chapters explain how Ludlow was the culmination of more than a half-century of struggle between mine workers and capitalists, and how coal was at the center of the environmental, industrial and social factors that fueled that struggle. Andrews writes that fossil fuels and the energy they contained "transformed environments, refashioned everyday life and deepened divisions of wealth and status" in the Rocky Mountain West. By the early 20th century, "coal was the crucial component that produced and delivered the foods Westerners ate, the goods they bought and the tools they used. It helped determine the work they performed and the places they called home; it was present in the very air they breathed and even in the cells that made up their bodies." In 1910, the average Coloradan consumed more than 12 tons of coal. By 1914 when the Ludlow Massacre occurred, Colorado's coal mines had yielded nearly 185 million tons of coal. Andrews, a native Coloradan, said in a phone interview that the book grew out of his desire to bring together environmental history and labor history. It began as his doctoral dissertation at the University of Wisconsin, inspired by "the arc I could see from (Gen. William) Palmer and his visions of the West to the tragedy of Ludlow." He finished the dissertation in 2003 and then spent several more years trying to make it more accessible to the general reader. Andrews said he tried to tread new ground, between the traditional accounts sympathetic to either the coalfield strikers or the mine owners. "I found it really hard to find out (from sources) what was really going on. It was so nasty and so polarizing, and the sources had one of two perspectives. I couldn't really say anything that hadn't been said before. I had to put it into a broader context." One of the best sources he did find, Andrews said, was the transcript of the joint conference held at the state Capitol in November 1913, at which three rank-and-file miners representing Fremont, Huerfano and Las Animas county strikers met with three coal-company executives for "a man-to-man talk." The 200-page transcript details the efforts of the two sides to find common ground and shows "how completely they failed," Andrews said. "These were men who worked underground sitting down with some of the wealthiest men in Colorado, saying, ‘You really have no idea of what goes on down there.’ "There was such a gulf between the two sides." The failure of these talks, Andrews said, was used to swing Gov. Elias Ammons' sympathy - and the weight of the state - to the side of the owners. Besides shedding light on the reasons for the coal strikes and the Ludlow Massacre, Andrews' book offers a fascinating portrait of Gen. William Palmer, a Quaker and self-taught geologist from Philadelphia who became a coal expert and who founded the Denver & Rio Grande railroad and the Colorado Coal and Iron Co., which was forerunner to Colorado Fuel and Iron. His company built the first integrated steel mill west of the Missouri, at South Pueblo in 1881. Andrews is an assistant professor of history at the University of Colorado at Denver. His book was published by Harvard University Press and is available online at

Pueblo Chieftain 2-4-2009 - Ludlow Now Historical Landmark - A Dedication Event is Planned for June at Site of the 1914 Massacre in Which 19 People Died - Ludlow - The site of the 1914 Ludlow Massacre has been designated a National Historic Landmark, which will be dedicated in June. Former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne designated the site on Jan. 16, just days before President Bush left office. The dedication ceremony is being planned for June 28. In a statement released Tuesday, Cecil E. Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America International, said the new designation is the culmination of years of work by the organization's members, retirees, staff and hundreds of citizens who fought to preserve the memory of the brutal attack on workers and their families. The massacre took place on April 20, 1914, about 15 miles north of Trinidad, during a prolonged strike by coal miners against the Colorado Fuel & Iron Co. Evicted from company towns for being on strike, the miners were living in a tent city at Ludlow, which was surrounded by soldiers from the Colorado National Guard. As tensions rose, guard troops fired into the camp and fires broke out, killing two women and 11 children in the tent colony. Six striking coal miners also died. The national outcry that followed the killings triggered several congressional investigations. "The tragic lessons from Ludlow still echo through our nation and they must never be forgotten by Americans who truly care about workplace fairness and equality," Roberts said. "With this designation, the story of what happened at Ludlow will remain part of our nation's history. That is how it should be." Mike Romero, president of the Trinidad UMWA local, called the news exciting. "This is great that it has finally happened. We have been working on this for quite a few years to get it done. It pleases us all, the local union and the miners. It's just a great thing," Romero said.

Pueblo Chieftain 6-28-2009 - Turned Backs at Ludlow - Ritter's Appearance at Annual Memorial Reveals Union Fallout - Ludlow - Gov. Bill Ritter came here Sunday morning to honor the striking CF&I mine workers and their families who were shot to death on April 20, 1914. However, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, as well as Pueblo firefighters, stood up and turned their backs in protest against the governor they helped elect in 2006. Ritter's decisions in the past few months to veto several bills sought by Colorado unions appears to have ripped apart the alliance between the first-term Democrat and unions that worked for his election three years ago. "He's just disgusting us right now," said Sam Pantelo, vice president of the Pueblo's Steelworkers Local 2102. "I don't know who he thinks is going to work for him in 2010." Pueblo firefighter Justin Hunter was equally blunt. Having stood with his back to Ritter during the governor's brief speech, the 12-year veteran of the Pueblo department said the state's firefighters believe Ritter has betrayed them. "We helped elect Governor Ritter and he told us if legislation came to his desk allowing firefighters to organize, he'd sign it," said Hunter, who is on the Pueblo union's executive board. "But what did he really do? He vetoed it. Well, we're here today to let him know we're going to hold him accountable." Most of the crowd of about 300 people at the ceremony Sunday wore caps or shirts declaring their union affiliation. Shortly after arriving, Ritter waved off a question suggesting he is losing support among organized labor. "I have a dispute with some labor groups," Ritter said. "But if you look at what we've accomplished for working families, I think I've acted in the best interest of the state." Ticking off legislation he'd signed on mortgage reform and health care, Ritter argued that he has a record of helping working families. But he also acknowledged he'd vetoed bills sought by labor. Pueblo has one of the few unionized fire departments in the state. The legislation Ritter vetoed most recently would have allowed departments to organize without support of local governments. "I told the firefighters they had to get the support of local governments but they ran the bill (through the Legislature), anyway," Ritter explained. Sunday's ceremony was organized by the United Mine Workers of America, who in 1918 built the memorial to the miners, women and children killed in the April 1914 attack on the Ludlow tent colony by the Colorado National Guard. The site where 18 people were killed in the gun battle and burning of the tent colony was now been designated a National Historic Landmark by the Department of the Interior. Ludlow is on open, grassy prairie just west of Interstate 25 near Trinidad. The long coal strike of 1913-14 ended with what became known as the Ludlow Massacre and the CF&I Steel Mill - along with its principal owner, John D. Rockefeller - found itself the target of House and Senate investigations into the working conditions in the coal mines and the decisions that led to the deaths of the striking miners, their wives and children. The speeches Sunday were unashamedly pro-union and Ritter's presence on the podium was largely ignored. In fact, he was not even listed in the program, which Robert Butero, UMWA regional director, explained as an "oversight" just before introducing Ritter after nearly 90 minutes of other speakers. State Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, was the only speaker to acknowledge Ritter by name, turning to thank him for signing recent legislation to help oppose the Army's plan to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in Las Animas County. Ritter had been evasive about that legislation, as well, but ultimately signed the bill. McFadyen got the biggest ovation when she called on the crowd to continue to support the UFCW grocery workers in their contract talks with Safeway, King Soopers and Albertsons. One reason about two dozen grocery workers turned their backs on Ritter on Sunday was his veto of legislation that would have let them collect unemployment insurance if the grocery chains choose to lock out their union workers. "We all need to support those workers as they go forward," McFadyen said and then took a more mocking tone. "How dare they want to earn a pension so that can actually retire one day." She got cheers from the crowd. One of the special guests at Sunday's ceremony was Frank Petrucci, 90, of Denver. His parents, Thomas and Mary Petrucci, were in the tent colony on April 20, 1914, and their first three children - two boys and a girl - were killed during the attack. Petrucci was born later but said his mother often spoke about the Ludlow attack and the deaths of her first three children. The elderly gentleman received a standing ovation when introduced. When he finally was offered the microphone, Ritter used his brief speech to proclaim Sunday the "Ludlow Massacre Remembrance Day," and he reminded the audience, as he did during his election campaign, that both he and his father had belonged to unions. Borrowing Abraham Lincoln's famous words from the Gettysburg Address, Ritter said the deaths of the striking miners at Ludlow hallowed the ground far more than any speech or declaration ever could. As he spoke, several Southern Colorado Democrats stood in a cluster beyond the tent, discussing Ritter's recent history of voting against the labor groups that helped get him elected three years ago. "He's going to be asking for campaign contributions soon and what am I going to do?" one long-time party activist said, asking not to be identified. "Does he expect to get our support just because he's not a Republican?"

Yuma Pioneer 3-13-1914 - Charges that union men tried to annoy the mine guards in the coal fields were made at the congressional hearing at the capitol by Arthur Langowski, a young miner who was in the Ludlow tent colony.

Yuma Pioneer 6-12-1914 - A total of $326.85 was disbursed by the Woman's Relief Committee in work done among the women and children sufferers from the Ludlow disaster. In cash, $132.95 was sent to the southern fields, and in dry goods, $145.35. Expressage and incidentals amounted to $36.55, and special relief totaled $12.

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