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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : blogsold : verde heritage May 26, 2016

Verde Heritage
By Glenda Farley, Cottonwood, AZ
Local historian Glenda Farley guides us on a journey back in time to discover fascinating moments that make up our Verde heritage and history.
Thursday, July 11, 2013

1917: JEROME; Undesirables Go In Cattle Cars, July 10.

Verde Heritage

"CATTLE CARS USED TO SEND UNDESIRABLES FROM THIS CAMP: Two Hundred and Fifty Citizens Quietly Round Up Every Wobbly. Leaders In Trouble Elsewhere Are Captured Here."

"By the simple and surprisingly easy process of rounding up the wobblies and shipping them out of town on a special train of two cattle cars arranged for their benefit, industrial peace was restored to Jerome this morning. Tired of having the camp ruled by a minority of roughnecks, 250 business men, professional men and miners started at sunrise to clean Jerome of her trouble makers."

"Wobblies were rousted out of bed in the various cheap rooming houses of the town, given scant time to get into their clothes, and hustled to the city jail, which was soon bursting with surprised, sleepy and disgusted strikers. Everyone who could not give a good account of himself was marched to jail. No one was allowed to go until some responsible vigilante had vouched for him. At 9:30 the jail door was opened and exactly 100 were marched up the hill to the United Verde, then on to the cattle cars. About thirty were later turned loose or sent back to jail for investigation. Exactly 67, accompanied by 50 armed guards, left for Jerome Junction at 10:30."

"Two revolvers, one long knife and one pair of brass knuckles were the only arms taken from the wobblies. Fears that the wobblies were 'heeled' and would offer desperate resistance to deportation proved to be unfounded. Among those deported were B. ("Wobbly") Brown, principal organizer of the I.W.W. in Jerome, "Red" Thompson, a wobbly spellbinder and organizer of evil reputation who was one of the wildest agitators in the Aberdeen and Everett disturbances; Jack Gillette and Tom Ford, who were prominent and vociferous pickets in the local 'strike.'"

"HOW IT STARTED: Dissatisfaction and disgust with the 'wobblies' has been growing since last Friday, when they demanded the six-hour day, $6 a day, and other concessions, and called a strike to enfore their demands. Saturday, after the Jerome local of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter workers voted 470 to 194 not even to consider joining with the wobblies in their strike, the wobblies became particularly obnoxious to all elements."

"Intimidating tactics, such as threats of dynamite and fire, prevented many miners from going to work, even after the union reached its decision. The wobblies on the pickett lines called the union members 'organized scabs' and heaped other epithets upon them. Charles H. Meyer, president of the International union, wired the local members of that organization that it was an honor to be called scabs by the I.W.W., but still there is something in a union man that rebels and boils against the term."

"One union man was beaten up when the 12:00 shift went on Sunday night. A brush which might easily have resulted seriously occurred at the picket line on the U. V. road at 4:30 yesterday afternoon. About 100 miners were coming down the hill and at the first cry of 'scabs' from the pickets they seized rocks and charged the wobblies with a suddenness and unanimity which justified the suspicion that vengeance had been planned."

"The wobblies scattered like quail, some running up among the residences of the United Verde officials. Officers stopped the pursuit of the miners with drawn revolvers. Within ten minutes the picket line was re-established but with 20 men instead of 50."

"Earlier in the day citizens had discussed privately the advisability of taking the law into their own hands and chasing the wobblies out of the camp. Officials of the miners' union had requested them to delay 48 hours, stating that the union expected to be able to handle the situation. But after the fight on the hill, sentiment in favor of immediate action rapidly crystalized. There was a feeling of tension in the air. Something had to break."

"The tension became more pronounced about 7:30, when Radi Gerkorich, a union member, and Louis Garich, a wobbly, got into a fight on the picket line. Gerkorich fell or was knocked down, hit his head on a rock and received an ugly scalp wound. Both men were jailed."

"CITIZENS GATHER: Later in the evening about 100 citizens met at the high school. There was no need to discuss what was to be done. The only question before the house was ways and means. It was decided to divide the vigilantes into four squads. One squad was to be sent to the U. V. picket line, one to the United Verde Extension, one to Matt Shea's pool hall, and the fourth to the Kosta Katich house where many wobblies were known to stay."

"George Moore, Jim Mahoney, Bill Hughes and E. W. MacLean were chosen as squad leaders. Each told off a few cool-headed, trustworthy men to carry rifles and revolvers and the others were instructed to arm themselves with pick handles or short sections of pipe. A white handkerchief around the left arm was designated as the vigilante badge."

"Six o'clock this morning was the time fixed and the city hall was selected as the rallying place. Those who took part in the meeting were sworn to secrecy, but were asked to invite friends who could be trusted."

"Instead of 100 men, approximately 250 appeared at the city hall this morning eager to assist in the clean-out process. It was a good natured, jubilant but determined crowd. Those who knew the wobblies best expected no real trouble, though no one could be sure what they would do. There was a general impression that most of them were armed."

"No pickets appeared on the United Verde road. It was thought at the time that the wobblies had got wind of the plan and left town in the night, but this was probably not the case. At any rate, most of the leading pickets were among the bunch rounded up."

"THE HUNT BEGINS: Just as the sun rose over the Mogollon rim, the four squads marched down Hull and Verde avenues to the haunts of the wobblies. The big hunt was on."

"Necessarily, the original plan of concentrating first on four strongholds was abandoned. As stated before, there were no pickets on the United Verde road. There were none on the Extension road, but three pickets were found back of the Colorado house watching the mine. Except for one youth who had strolled up town earlier in the morning, they were the first wobblies taken in tow."

"There was no yelling, no boisterousness, no loud threats. Determined citizens went grimly but cheerfully about the work of ridding their town of the wobbly pests. They marched through the halls of the rooming houses, knocking on each door and requiring each occupant to present himself. Usually, there was someone in the party who recognized the occupant as a decent citizen or a wobbly. Whenever an innocent sleeper was aroused the vigilantes apologized and passed on. Most of those disturbed took the matter good-naturedly and many directed the searchers to places where wobblies could be found. When a wobbly was located he was told to get into his clothes and 'come along.' Those who had suitcases were allowed to pack. Then a squad of three or four would escort the prisoner to the city jail, where officers searched him and showed him inside."

"For the first half hour or so, the hunting was poor. Only fifteen wobblies had been captured when the search had been in progress 30 minutes. This deepened the impression that most of the undesireables had quietly sneaked out of town."

"SHEA'S PLACE SEARCHED: A report was spread that a number of wobblies slept in the basement at Matt Shea's. Shea's place was searched and this story turned out to be a mistake. No wobblies were found there, but the vigilantes did discover a list of the local members of that organization. The list was a great aid."

"Then the hunting became better. By 8:30 over 50 wobblies were in jail. They droned a few of their I.W.W. chants but for the most part they were silent. They were a sad and chastened lot. Their bluff had been punctured. They knew that they must bow to the inevitable. Citizens aroused by their traitorism to the nation and the cause of labor had taken the law into their own hands, and the day of the wobbly was over in Jerome."

"WOBBLY WEAPONS SCARCE: The officers took no guns from the prisoners but vigilantes confiscated revolvers which two had in their rooms. One got to jail with a pair of brass knuckles in his pocket and one had an ugly knife."

"By 9 o'clock the town had been combed thoroughly. At 9:30 vigilantes cleared a long lane through the great crowd that had gathered in front of the jail and the surly wobblies were marched up the hill. There were exactly 100 prisoners in the line when it passed the Miller store. The line was halted in front of the Catholic church and union officials with the local's membership role went through the crowd. A few who were recognized as good union men were allowed to go."

"At the United Verde mine offices the line was halted once more. A few wobblies who had time coming from before the strike wee paid off. Most of the mine superintendents of the district were there and they recognized some as having been working while the strike was in progress. Union officials interceded for some and succeeded in persuading the citizens to send them back to the jail for investigation. Those who do not give a good account of themselves probably will be tried on vagrancy charges. Practically all the 'two card men' --- those who held cards in the Metal Mine Workers union and also in the International --- were shunted off into the 'bull pen.' Shortly after 10 o'clock the investigation was over. Exactly 67 wobblies were marched up to the yards and into two cattle cars. Water was given but none had had breakfast."

"SPECIAL DEPARTS: When all the wobblies were safely in their 'private coaches,' about 50 armed citizens climbed upon the flat cars before and behind, the engine tooted, and the trip to Jerome Junction began. The wobblies waved their hats and jeered in derision at the smiling crowd below. A few shouted that they would be back but most of them seemed to realize that they were gazing upon Jerome for the last time, that never again would the camp be safe for people of their stripe."

"The most tacturn of all was "Red" Thompson, whose capture had caused much jubilation. He marched stolidly along with the rest, wearing a panama hat and a new blue suit. Evidently he was not accustomed to Arizona weather, for he carried his coat under his arm and frequently wiped the sweat from his brow. Frequently he nervously pulled at his long, drooping, sandy moustache. The wobblies clustered closely about him whenever any of the amateur photographers attempted to snapshot the I.W.W. celebrity."

"A few hotheads among the deported bunch muttered threats of 'government investigation,' but they pobably realized that they were talking nonsense. They knew that among the vigilantes were the officials of the town, the officers, and pactically all the business men. One of the most active 'pick handlers' was Mayor J. J. Cain."

"'This was a good day's work,' said the mayor after the I.W.W. special had departed. 'The reign of the wobbly is over in Jerome. Our citizens have demonstrated that they can deal effectively with an undesirable element and the next time they will be quicker to act. But there won't be any next time."

(The Jerome News; Friday, July 13, 1917; page 3, columns 1-3; from Tuesday's Daily.)

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