Coal Mine Riot - Virden Macoupin County IL
contributed by Carolynn Jones Bettis and Pam Ripplinger1996

Virden Mine Riot of 1898 Newspaper Articles

Macoupin County Enquirer , October 5, 1898


Nearly Two Thousand Miners Await the Arrival of Lukens' Negroes.

By this time nearly 2,000 Union miners are in Virden awaiting the Alabama blacks for Lukens' shaft.

Late last night the word was passed to every mining town in the C. A. district that a trainload of negroes had been sidetracked at Centralia and transferred from passenger coaches to box. Cars. Three Gillespie miners walked all the way to Carlinville to warn the local men. Every man as he started to work this morning was approached by a member of the antification committee: No work today - Negroes- Virden!" was the warning. "All right be ready in a moment," came the instant response and in a short time 40 Carlinville miners were on the way to Virden. Thus it was all over the district. Mt. Olive sent _00 headed by "Gen." Bradley, over the J. 8. Staunton sent 200. Over 150 from Gillespie and Clyde went around by Alton and came up over the C. A. Chatham, Auburn, Girard, Green Ridge, Nilwood and Litchfield sent large delegations and every bit of track running into Virden is being patrolled north and south for miles.

The executive committee of the Mine Workers Union is said to have $1,000. In hand with which to feed the visiting miners and thwart Operator Lukens. The men say there is more money where this came from.

Sheriff Davenport does not believe the Negroes will arrive today. Lukens notified him by phone this morning that when the attempt was to be made the sheriff would be notified 24 hours in advance. But the miners are taking no chances and as they have spies on watch in Alabama as well as along the line, they rely on their own means of information. Their promptness in rallying at Virden in such overwhelming numbers shows the fight will be a bitter one, and that lives will be lost before the Chicago-Virden coal company operates its plant with imported blacks.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 6, 1898


The City as Armed Camp...Four of Lukens' Guards Chased From Town…Strikers Watch and Wait

The situation at Virden is unchanged. The 2,000 visiting miners are on guard. This morning they captured four of the ex-Chicago policemen outside of the stockade, and at the points of guns marched them to Girard and warned them not to come back to Virden.

Lukens was afraid last night that the strikers would destroy the stockade. The sheriff offered to swear in a number of the Virden miners, good citizens, and the leading merchants offered to go on their bonds as assurance they would do their duty and protect the company's property as long as the negroes were not brought in. Lukens refused the offer. "Doc" Davenport, the sheriff's brother, stopped within the stockade over night to see that the guards did nothing rash. Lukens' Chicago policemen have not been deputized yet.

Lukens reaffirmed his intention of bringing in the negroes to operate the plant and insisted that the sheriff be in readiness to call in state militia. The Sheriff will only do this as a last resort. The strikers have plenty of money and are feeding the visitors. The provisions for their dinner yesterday cost $80., an approximate idea of what it takes to maintain such an army. Mayor Noll has ordered the saloons closed until the present state of affairs is over. The strikers scrutinize closely all strange and suspicious characters, and if they cannot give definite accounts of themselves, order them to leave the place.

The operators along the C. A. claim they are the victims of the machination of other districts. They aver that these rival mine owners are assisting the strikers in every way to prevent the shafts from being operated in order to have the market to themselves. If these underhanded methods were not used they claim the differences with the miners could easily be adjusted. Some local union men returned this morning. They stated Virden presents the appearance of an armed camp. Strict guard duty is done along the tacks and roads. Last night sleeping miners could be found in barns, empty storerooms, box cars, on the sidewalks - in fact, wherever room could be found. In reply to a query of how long the army would remain, the answer came promptly: "Till the dog is dead," meaning till Lukens acknowledged himself beaten.


This afternoon Sheriff Davenport conversed over the 'phone with Gov. Tanner regarding the situation at Virden. He informed the governor that he couldn't protect the town, but that he would do his best. The governor told him to get the armed body of strikers out of Virden corporate limits and disarm those that remained. He also instructed the sheriff to go out in the country and deputize farmers, and all who refused to answer the summons should be made note of and the state's attorney notified to prosecute. Gov. Tanner asked if his presence was necessary, adding that if it was he would come to Virden and size up the situation. He told the sheriff that the strikers had no business remaining in Virden, especially when no negroes were in sight. They should wain on the outside. From now on active developments can be looked for. The long-anticipated trouble will begin.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 10, 1898


Manager Lukens Swears Out Writs of Injunction in the Sangamon County Circuit Court

Fred W. Lukens, manager of the Chicago-Virden coal Co., appeared before Judge Owen Thompson in the Sangamon county circuit court at Springfield Saturday and prayed for an order of injunction to prevent a number of miners from appearing on the property of said company and to prevent them doing harm to said property. A bond of $2,500 was given. Judge Thompson gave an order upon the Macoupin County Circuit court, directing the circuit clerk to issue writs against the following persons, returnable at the January term of circuit court:

Ed Cahill, John Belden, Andrew McWhinney, L. Rothenbucher, P. F. Delehanty, J.D. Foley, Wm. Thurton, Wm. Caskey, John Garrison, R. J. Edwards, Reuben Graham, John Jurik, J. Bond, a Oleson, J. D. Knott, G. Beard, W. G. Caskey, Wm. Falkington, F. W. Burnes, V. Dunnegan, Thos. Worthington, V. Bishop, Wm. Murphy, Jack Murphy, James Cooley, A. Westbrooke, George Mothersham, Thos. Gallagher, Peter Brown, H. Humphries, B. H. Landes. The writs were given to the sheriff to be served today.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 10, 1898


Governor Tanner has refused troops for Virden. As mentioned exclusively in Saturday night's ENQUIRER, the sheriff made the demand with a strong belief his plea would b granted. That it was not is due to the report of a committee of the state federation of labor, which informed the governor that troops were not needed and Lukens was playing a big game of bluff for his own purpose. The warrants for apprehension of strikers who "coaxed' the four Chicago policemen out of town have been issued, but that matter has been carefully kept from publication. The results will be apparent in several days. The sheriff who is in Virden today, received blank forms for commanding citizens of the county to join any posse comitatus he will be required to organize in pursuanco to the advice of the governor for preservation of law and order, and any one who refuses to serve, when deputized, is to be reported to the state's attorney for prosecution according to statute provided. The penalty in such case is a fine of not less than $10 nor more than $50. Every person over 18 years of age is liable to be called.

The local miners intercepted Henry Smith, of Pryor, Colo., Saturday night, who had come on to work for Lukens as fire boss. He was to receive $70 a month and showed letters from Lukens telling him to get off at Girard, where he would be met. When Smith heard of the situation at Virden, he refused to work under such circumstances. The union will send him back home at its own expense.

A very prominent citizen has made the statement that Lukens has practically succeeded in his object. This gentleman received information from a reliable party residing near the stockade, that last Thursday night a squad of eleven negroes were taken from a train north of Virden and under cover of darkness, marched through cornfields and were smuggled in at the north side, which is not closely guarded by the strikers.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 12, 1898


Virden, Scene of Sanguinary Conflict

Strikers and Pinkertons Guarding the Alabama Negroes Clash

Dire Results Attending Lukens' Attempt to Operate His Shaft

With Imported Scabs. Blood Shed on Every Hand.

Strikers Prevent Negroes From Landing.


The long looked for Alabama negroes from the Chicago-Virden Coal co.'s Shaft reached Carlinville at 12:10 p.m. today. The train was made up of one baggage car and three passenger coaches. There were 200 Negroes in the coaches guarded by 30 or 40 Pinkertons armed with Winchesters. The Pinkertons were clustered on the engine and at the entrance of every coach. It was not the intention to halt the train here but orders were telegraphed to this city from Bloomington and were delivered by Agent Gaines. Great excitement was around when the train pulled in. Agent Gaines, fearing the train would not stop, had cut a stick and fastened the messages to it that the engineer might easily grasp them from the cab. In his haste he cut his finger severely, necessitating attention from a physician. The messages were said to be very important, being minute directions for the train crews to how they should proceed into Virden and land the negroes.

When the south switch at Virden was reached the engineer slowed down and a thousand miners swarmed around in a second. The engineer pulled on several hundred yards. Slowly, but as the throng of strikers increased, orders to pull out were given, and the train steamed on to Auburn. Once again had the strikers foiled Manager Lukens.

The advent of the Alabama negroes aroused great excitement. The phones rang, the telegraph wires clicked and reports were as thick as fleas on a hot day. The long distance phone was captured by the St. Louis papers and the wires were burdened with messages to the same, as a consequence very little authentic news could be obtained.

At on time the engineer of the train and a hundred persons were shot; another report said every deputy in the stockade was killed, and that as the train passed through the Pinkertons fired a volley, killing two Mt. Olive miners and killing three others.

What gives partial credence tot he stories, even though they are doubtless exaggerated, is that Springfield, Mt. Olive and various other towns were asked to send on physicians at once. Mayor Fuchs, Editor Tillman and others at Mt. Olive received bulletins from the scene of trouble and they stated that Drs. Bernreuter and Binney were making strong efforts to get there on a special train if it could be secured.

Another message came from the operator at Virden who stated that he was afraid to put his head out of his door on account of stray shots. He saw several wagonloads of wounded men driven past the depot.

A late report, unconfirmed, however, says Billy Cain, C. A. chief of detectives, was fatally shot, and that he will be taken to St. Louis on No. 46, the afternoon limited.

A report came, via Litchfield, that Manager Lukens had been chased into a building and was surrounded by angry miners; people in dire fear living near the scene of combat had deserted their homes.

Later advices state that large delegations of miners from Mt. Olive, Staunton and Gillespie left for Virden on the afternoon train.

A telegram received by Thos. Williamson of Mt. Olive, from "Gen." Bradley, mentioned that no Mt. Olive miners were killed, but the following were wounded: Geo. Simbarger, Wm. Long, _____ Wevelselp, E. Kellogg, Joe Stigel.

The Enquirer obtained communication with Virden at 4 p. m. over the long distance pone. Geo. Sewall, editor of the Record, gives the following brief account:

At last account 10 persons killed and 11 were wounded.

The known dead are:

EDWARD WELSH, Springfield
A.H. BRENNAN, Girard

The other dead have not been identified. Supt. Eyster, manager of the company store is not expected to live. A C A. detective, believed to be Cain, was killed at the depot. When the first attempt to land the Negroes failed, the train was pulled to Auburn and afterwards it was backed down and the attempt made to back it in on one of the four switches into the stockade. Then the carnage began. Upon the deputies within the stockade lays the crime of firing the first shot. The strikers replied. Deaths were recorded rapidly. The engineer is said to be killed and the fireman fatally injured. Thetrain was pulled out into the country with all the Negroes on board. Governor Tanner has been in communication with the Virden authorities and troops are momentarily expected. It is positively affirmed that another attempt will be made this evening to land the Negroes within the stockade. Virden is in mourning and the scenes of suffering would wring the hardest heart. Every effort is being made to relieve the agonies of the wounded.

Late advices state there are 11 dead, 7 seriously injured and 10 slightly. Lukens is said to be badly wounded. The manager of the company store is killed. One woman is dead. No commentary upon this riot, the saddest in Macoupin County history, is needed. It speaks for itself.

Buried in Girard Cemetery:

Dob: 12-18-1848 near Hannibal, Missouri
Dod: 10-12-1898 at Virden, Illinois

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 13, 1898


Capt. Craig with Battery D and 200 Men Control the Town.
Latest Accounts of the Riot
Manager Eyster, Dead
President Loucke De Clares - The company Will Still Operate Mine With Im Ported Blacks
State President Hunter Assaulted

Following is the list of casualties thus far reported:


D. H. KILEY, Chicago Alton Detective, Chicago
FRANK BILYEU, Springfield, miner
ERNEST KENTNER, Mt. Olive, miner
ED WELSH, Springfield, miner
JOE KITTERLY, Mt. Olive, miner
ALBERT SMITH, Mt. Olive, miner
A.H. BRENEMAN, Girard, miner
A.W. MORGAN, Chicago, deputy
WILLIAM H. CARROLL, Indianapolis, deputy
ED GREEN, Mt. Olive, miner
J.F. EYSTER, Supt. Climax store


Joe Haines, Girard, miner: shot through leg
Joe Runk, Girard, Miner: shot in arm and hand
George Runk, Girard, miner: shot in body
Billy Herman, Girard, miner: shot in chest
George Limburger, Mt. Olive, miner: wounded in both legs
Ernest Ling, Mt. Olive, miner: two wounds in chest; will die
George Burton, Mt. Olive, miner: shot in stomach; badly wounded
George Jubjek, Mt. Olive, miner: shot in arm
Gustave Wevsiep, Springfield, miner: shot through foot
Louis Unger, Springfield, miner: shot twice in right leg
H. Gritgesel: wounded in shoulder
O.J. Snyder: shot in face and legs
J.W. Moonan, St. Louis: slightly injured
J.J. Hanna: slightly injured
J. H. Smith, Chicago: slightly injured
John Sinnegan, Mt. Olive, miner: shot in foot
Russell Warren, Centralia, miner, shot in thigh
Ansk Ankel, Mt. Olive, miner
Ed Upton, Springfield, miner
Thomas Jennings, Springfield, miner
Joe Baston, Mt. Olive, miner: shot in stomach
Joe Sprim, Mt. Olive, miner, shot in arm
William H. Clarkson, Leavenworth, Kansas, deputy: probably fatally
H. A. Kyger, Bloomington, engineer of C. A. : shot in arm
Willaim Masser, St. Louis, deputy
John Palmer, Nebraska, deputy
Patrick Moor, Virden, employed by operators
Ernest Ryan, colored Alabama, miner

Eleven men killed and a score or more injured is the result of the riot between striking miners and guards at the Chicago-Virden coal Company at Virden, Ill., shortly after noon yesterday.

Of the dead, six are striking miners, one was a private detective for the Chicago and Alton railroad, two were employees of the Thiel Agency of St. Louis, acting as guards or deputies, and another was a guard at the mine stockade.

The tragedy was the climax of the troubles brewing at Virden for the last several months.

The operators attempted to land a train load of negroes from Alabama at the mine to take the place of the strikers.

The later, 1,500 in number, were on hand when the special train carrying the blacks reached the depot at Virden, under guard of 40 or 50 private detectives.

As the engine rolled into the station several miners on watch to give the alarm when the nonunion men arrived, discharged Winchesters.

At this the guards, it appears, opened fire on the miners and when the train reached the mine, several blocks away, a fusillade of bullets followed. The deputies attempted to lead two negroes into the mine. This further infuriated the strikers, and they opened fire vigorously, compelling the deputies and negroes to retreat.

Then the general battle followed. A number of deputies, stationed in the tower above the pit of the mine, fired volley after volley into the ranks of miners.

The firing continued for 20 minutes, when the train pulled out with its dead and wounded and without landing any of the negroes. The dead and wounded strikers were cared for by citizens of Virden, while the guards hurt and killed were sent on to Springfield.

Governor Tanner was informed of the riot and ordered troops to the scene, part of them arrived last night. Others will get in today. Martial law has been declared.

The Governor blames the operators for the trouble and declares that they should be prosecuted for murder.

Tremendous excitement prevails in Virden.

Excitement at Pana also runs high as a result of the trouble at Virden, and a crisis is looked for there.

State President Hunter, of the Mine Worker's Union, was beaten over the head by two deputies and kicked off the train bearing the negroes just outside of Springfield. He was endeavoring to get the negroes to go to the union men's headquarters, and charges that he was thrown off the train by the order of Operator Yorke of Chicago, the company's agent in charge of the blacks. Mr. Hunter is seriously injured.

J.F. Eyster, manager of the Chicago Trading Co. the Chicago-Virden Company's store, was shot and then stamped to death by the strikers. He had been himself particularly obnoxious and in the fight had shot several miners.

Sheriff Davenport has published a statement in which he says he is not responsible for the riot and claims that Lukens did not give him notice that the train was coming. He says the strikers ordered his two deputies out of the place.

Ex-Lieut. Thos Preston, a guard at the stockade, was shot and killed when the militia arrived about 10:45p.m.

Capt. Craig with batter D and 200 men were transferred from Pana to Virden and have the town under guard. More troops are being hurried forward.

President C. W. Laucks of the Coal company made public statement in which he says the company was right in its cause, and that Governor Tanner is to blame. He says that the company will take means to secure legal redress against all who prompted abetted or participated in the riot whether miners, miners' officials, state officials or others. " the company will determine just how far a governor can annul and evade the duties placed upon him by the constitution and law of the state."

All was quiet in Virden today and the blacks when last heard from had been taken to Atlanta.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 14, 1898


Troops Search Stockade and

Use It for a Camp Ground

(Special to Daily Enquirer)

Virden Ill. Sept 14 (note - date as printed - psr) The Enquirer received word about 4 o'clock this afternoon by phone from Virden, that state warrants were issued at Springfield for F. W. Lukens, President Loucks and others on a charge of being responsible for the recent riot.

Marshal Riffey went to the stockade to serve the warrants, but Captains Craig and Young refused to turn Lukens and Loucks over tat the time. They will be sent to Springfield this evening.

At 3:30 this afternoon a detachment of soldiers went to the stockade, searched it and threw the gates open. They will camp in the stockade. Two troops of cavalry are expected to arrive this evening.

A number of the ex-Chicago policemen left this morning for their homes. They were not molested by the miners.

Eyster is till living and has a fighting chance to recover. His Masonic friends are keeping his whereabouts a secret.

Another wounded deputy was sent home today. The miners are quiet, not making demonstrations of any kind. The work of the inquest is going on. No Negroes in sight.

All trains entering Virden are being searched by the troops lest the blacks be aboard.

Macoupin County Enquirer, Friday October 14, 1898



An Effort to Fix the Blame on the Guilty Parties - Two More Wounded Men Die - Another Attempt to Land Negroes Frustrated by Troops

The troops still control the situation at Virden. Two more wounded miners have died. They are Wm. Harmon, of Girard, and Ernest Long, of Mt. Olive.

The miners from other towns have returned to their homes.

Today in Springfield, Girard and Mt. Olive the funerals of the dead miners are being held.

In Mt. Olive, by order of Mayor Fuchs, every store and business house and the public schools ere closed. Civic organizations, minors' unions and children of the public schools participated in the funeral procession.

Last night the train bearing the negroes was again run into Virden, but he militia refused to let the blacks ______. Manager Lukens made a formal protest.

Coroner Hart began yesterday to hold an inquest. He empanelled a jury and two bodies of those killed in Wednesday's bloody conflict were viewed. The jury held its inquest in the city hall, a little brick building in the center of the public square, where J. Franklin Eyster was so badly beaten by the infuriated mob.

The first witness called for examination was the check weighman of the Girard shaft. Lt. J. Peck. He stated that he was on the platform at the depot when the firing commenced. He saw Detective Kiley when he received the wound in the abdomen which cause his instant death. Peck stated that he believed Kiley was shot from the train and that he was facing the north when he was shot.

Edward Cahill, one of the leaders of the Virden strike, who was the first man mentioned on the list of the injunctions served last Monday, followed Peck on the stand. Cahill believed that Kiley had merely dropped on his face to avoid the bullets that came like a hail storm from the stockade.

"Shots were fired by someone on that train before it reached the depot," declared Cahill, "I also believe there was a considerable firing form the tower at the shaft before the miners started to fire. I ran to the pasture where the men had fallen and saw all the bodies, but recognize only that of Ellis Smith, of Mt. Olive."

"There were some signal shots fired by the men stationed at the south switch as the train approached. These shots, I am positive, were fired into the air and not at the train, from which the first bullets fired to kill came. The miners had strict orders not to fire on the train or the tower at the shaft.

"I don't hesitate to say" continued the witness, " that the sheriff of Macoupin county and the Chicago-Virden Coal Company are responsible for every death. The sheriff was asked and pleaded with by me and many others to stop the train at the station so we could talk to the men, but this he refused absolutely to do. I repeated my request to him not more than thirty minutes before train arrived, and had many times asked him to do it."

The next witness was W. W. Brain, a farmer residing at Lowder. He said he saw the shooting from the coaches and from the crowd on the ground. He declared that he saw several puffs of smoke, from the tower at the coal shaft, but said he could not swear who fired first.

"I was at the depot when the train came in," said Fred Laughman, of Girard. He swore that he had heard the committee of strikers ask Sheriff Davenport to stop the train at the depot. "I heard the sheriff refuse to do it. Detective Cain, of the C. A. was next appealed to, but he declared that it was impossible for him to stop the train." Laughman then said: "When the train reached the south shaft there was a fusillade of shots from it. As it passed the depot fire belched forth from the Winchesters in the hands of the deputies on the train. They seemed to be fired directly into the crowd collected in the street. The firing did not come until the stockade was reached and by this time both sides were shooting."

In conclusion, Laughman said: "I saw Kiley killed. The shot that carried his death came form the stockade. I believe from the tower. The first firing was from the train and from the stockade.

The next witness was Edward Griffith, of Girard, who was near Abraham Brenneman when he was killed in the pasture. "The shot that caused Brenneman's death came from one of the windows in the front car. Brenneman was but ten feet from the pasture fence when he was killed. I also saw two others fall, but did not know who they were. The firing from the tower began when the firing from the train ceased."

Griffith positively stated that there was no shooting from the men in the pasture until they had bee fired upon by the train guard and the man in the tower. "The first shot I saw fired came from the stockade before the train reached it." Several shots, he declared, were fired from the tower before the rain reached it. These were aimed at the crowd at the depot, he believed.

Chas. Sprowell was another witness who saw the shooting. He resides on the east side of the railroad near the pasture in which the miners were stationed. "I think the first shot was fired by the guard in the rifle tower." Said Sprowell. The tower, he declared, was erected during the morning before the battle. The man in the tower was firing south. The men killed in the pasture were running from the _____ in an easterly direction when the shots that caused their death came from the train." The men in the tower _____ shot first into the crowd at the _____ and then turned their guns on the men in the pasture. "As the train reached the east gate of the stockade ______ men came from the gate and began in _____-ing south at the crowd." was Sprowell's finishing statement.

Miss Sybil Wilbur correspondent for ______ a Chicago paper, was on the ____ when the battle began. She stood with Detective Kiley. A few minutes before she had been talking to a newspaper man and when she saw Kiley fall she thought it was the reporter. She _____gardless of the rain of lead, knelt by the side of the dead detective. She was a witness on the stand and told what she had seen. She declared that Kiley was killed by a shot from the stockade.

Father Clancy, who rushed to the battlefield and administered extreme __unction to the dying, was another witness. He told about the same story as told by the others who had seen this fight from the field.

There were about thirty-five witnesses and it will be several days before the testimony can be completed and the jury's decision is rendered.

The executive committee of the strikers were advised by their attorney, Wm. Mooney, that Manager Lukens could be indicted for murder, and the Thiel and Pinkerton men held as accessories.

President Loucks of the Chicago-Virden coal Co., says the state government will be held responsible for the riot.

The negroes are now in Springfield with no one caring for them. They are in a pitiful plight.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 15, 1898



Inquest Still Going on - Both Sides En- deavoring To Throw the Blame On the Other

Virgil Bishop, one of the leaders among the striking union miners at Virden, Ill., swore out a warrant against President Fred W. Lukins, Manager T. C. Loucks and Director Yorke of the Chicago-Virden coal company, charging them with conspiracy to murder, as a result of the riot at the company's mine Wednesday, in which a number of strikers lost their lives. H. Gutgesell, O.J. Snyder, James Sickles, Frank Wilder, Thos. McEntee, J.W. Moonan, R.J. Hanan and J. H. Smith, guards employed by Theil's Detective Agency to protect the train load of negroes which the company attempted to land at the mine, are also included in the charge. All of these persons accused were in the shaft at the mine. A deputy marshal took the paper there to serve, but the company's attorney protested that to remove the men then would endanger their lives and Colonel Young commanding the militia, promised to be responsible for the men until such time as they could be taken away with safety. The wounded Thiel guards left Virden for St. Louis last night. If the prosecution so desires they will be arrested. The coroner's inquiry into the cause of the death of the guards and miners was continued all day yesterday and is still in session. Dr. C.A. Peterson, of St. Louis, was the first witness examined at the stockade, and it would seem from his evidence that the coal company proposes to deny all responsibility for Wednesday's riot. The Doctor said: "The firing done by the stockade guards, while the battle was being fought, was all done from outside the stockade. There was no man in the tower of the coal shaft, and no men were placed in the sentry boxes until after the fighting was over. The only shooting done from the sentry boxes was by a man who was fired upon from two of the miners' houses near the stockade, and he fired only one shot in reply to those from the houses." Continuing, the witness said: "Capt. Preston, who had charge of the men, did not anticipate that the miners would fire on him and for that reason told his men not to fire when they left the stockade. "They will do a lot of shooting in the air," was Preston's remark, "and will try hard to frighten the negroes, but there is really no danger." The first shot from the guard was when two of the men were hit and someone shouted, "They are firing on us, boys. Take care of ourselves."" "I came here on Oct. 4," said Dr. Peterson, " and have since been here as counsel for Mr. Lukins. I witnessed the firing between the miners and the guards, and was standing near the men who were killed here when they fell. During the firing two shots were fired from within the stockade, but some of the guards who went to the east gate, when the attempt was made to land the negro miners, fired. I know positively that there were no men in the tower, for I know where every man was placed. "We had just stepped outside the stockade when we were fired on, and two of the men were shot. Then some of the guards fired in return. Capt. Preston and I shouted to the men to get back in the stockade, and in a little while they were all in. While the train was coming in there was a perfect fusillade of shots, and it sounded like a Gattling gun. The shooting was from both side of the railroad track. "The men in the pasture east of the stockade formed in a sort of semi-circle and the volley was fired as soon as the train stopped. The firing was continued until their weapons were emptied, and then they commenced to run east. Morgan was shot just after the battle was over, as he stepped out of the gate to look out. He said: 'My God, boys, they have got me,' and fell. He did not speak again. He died in about 20 minutes. James C. Espy, of St. Louis, Mo. A train guard, employed by the Thiel detective agency, said: "I heard no shots as we neared the city. As the train was passing Virden platform I saw a man raise a revolver and fire several shots. Then came a perfect fusillade. It was a hail storm of bullets. There were three coaches containing colored miners. On coach counting guards. In the caboose were Detective Cain and other railway detectives. The firing from the train began when the train was half way between the coal shaft and the depot." "I, with several others ran to the front platform following Capt. F. C. Shoemaker, Wm. Messer and a guard named McEntee. When McEntee turned his face towards me I saw blood streaming from a wound in his head. The train was half way between station and cola mine when Messinger fell into Capt. Shoemaker's arms, whereupon the captain gave the order to get back into the cars. The firing was kept up from both sides of the track until train reached the south side of the stockade. A spent bullet came from the west side of the track and struck me on the left cheek. I then ran into the car and as I crouched beneath a window a bullet came through the wainscoting and grazed my head, burying itself in the opposite side of the car near a window. The men on the train returned the fire when the train was half way between the station and stockade. Capt. Shoemaker said to us: "Don't fire a shot under any circumstances except in defense of your lives. The probabilities are that a number of shots will be fired by strikers in the air to frighten the Negroes. Under no circumstances are you to fire unless you are absolutely certain the shots are being fired at you or the train." "I have been with the agency since September 15. Prior to that time I was secretary to Chief of Police Lawrence Harrigan, of St. Louis." "Did you use your gun that day?" asked Attorney Mooney. "I refuse to answer the question ," replied Espey. "I suppose that is your right if you do not wish to incriminate yourself," said the lawyer. "We were on that train to protect the lives of passengers and property of C. A. railroad company. There were 106 negroes on the train. Some of them were children. I noticed one infant particularly. It looked as if it was not more than 10 days old. "I am positive that not a shot was fired from the train until two of our men were wounded. When I stepped into the gate, Guard Morgan was shot and fell into the arms of Dr. Peterson. I suggested that we retreat to the tower for safety. The guards on the inside cried out, 'No, don't go up there, as it would mean suicide. It is simply a shell and would afford no protection." O.J. Snyder testified as follows: "I live in Cahokia, Mo. I am working for the Thiel Detective agency. Prior to April, I was deputy United States marshall in eastern Missouri. I was in the second coach. Firing commenced at least a quarter of a mile from where the train stopped. There was no firing from coaches until all windows were shot out of train." Thomas P. McEntee, with his head and faced filled with buckshot and his coat covered with blood, was the next witness. He said: "I was hired by the Thiel detective agency and went to Fulton, Ky., to meet the train. I was on the rear end of the last coach before we got to the station. I did not know we were approaching Virden and stepped back on the platform. Just as I stepped out I was shot in the face, arm and legs. I first heard firing on the outside. Mr. Griffin, of the detective agency, hired me, and told me were to guard the train bearing the negroes. Mr. Griffin said the C. A. Railway company hired the agency to guard the train. Mr. Shoemaker gave me a Marlin rifle and told me not to use it until the command was given, but no such command came that I heard. The train was passing the depot when I first heard the firing. I was carried into the stockade. I did not hear any firing from train until after the shots came from the outside. There were about thirty men, six women and four small children in the car on which I was riding." P.J. Harran, St. Louis, lying on a bloody bed in one of the houses within the stockade, said: "I have been with American army at Santiago. I was a guard on the train bringing negroes to Virden. When the firing first started we were below the town. I think there were from 200 to 500 shots fired. There was no firing from train until after these shots came from the outside. I do not know who fired. Glass flew in all directions. I got seven buckshot in me as train approached stockade. I made two attempts to get on platform and was wounded both times. Negroes grabbed me to make a shield of me. I had to struggle with all my strength to get away from them. I was hired by Mr. Thiel, of St. Louis, to protect railroad property and passengers train. Nothing was said about Chicago-Virden Coal company." Mr. Patton asked the witness: "You say you was at Santiago, do you?" "Yes, sir; here is my discharge from the army." He then handed the paper to Mr. Patton, who examined it and found that Harran had been a packer and had been discharged Sept. 15. Continuing, he said: "When the train stopped I jumped from the car and broke for the stockade. I have seen considerable fighting, but that was the hottest battle I ever saw by a force of the same size. I am positive that there was no firing from the tower. I did no shooting myself." H. Gutgesell, the next witness, who was one of the men who was too badly wounded to be moved, gave his testimony form his bed. He said: "I reside in St. Louis and am employed by the Thiel detective agency. I was in the stockade the day of the battle. I was near the gate when the firing commenced. As train stopped I stepped out the gate and was shot. I saw no firing from the stockade or the train. I am wounded in the left side of neck and in left shoulder. I was hired by Theil detective agency to protect Chicago-Virden Coal Company's property. We were to be paid by Thiel. We were each given guns. I had a Marlin rifle. I understand that I was put here to protect this property. I saw the crowd at the depot and heard the firing. No guns were fired from tower of shaft and I saw no one in the tower. After I came here I did not see any strikers outside, but could hear them talking on the outside.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 15, 1898


Judge Shirley Orders It To Convene October 19 To Investigate the Virden Riot

Today Judge Robt. B. Shirley in circuit court issued an order calling for a special session of the grand jury to meet Wednesday Oct. 19 to investigate the causes of the Virden Riot and to return indictments against the guilty parties. The order verbatim reads: It appearing to the court that the regular grand jury heretofore impaneled at this term of the said court has been dismissed and it further appearing to the court that a special occasion has arisen since such dismissal that urgently demands investigation by the grand jury, and the said court not being adjourned, but being still in session , it is hereby ordered that said grand jury be again summoned to be and appear in said court, in the court house in Carlinville, in the county of Macoupin, at the hour of 10 o'clock a.m. on Wednesday Oct 19, 1898.


Dated this 15th day of October, A.D. 1898. The same jury which convened at the opening of the present session of court will again serve during the riot investigation. The members are:

M. Brown - Chesterfield
A Ambrose - Western Mound
H.C. Bloome - Shaw's Point
John Hackney - Hilyard
F. Heimbolt - Mt. Olive
C. Drennen - Chaokia
Ed. H. Dickerson - Nilwood
R. Z. Johnson - Carlinville
L.B. Corbin - Polk
H. E. Atterberry - Scottville
J.C. Trimble - Girard
S.W. Tappan - Carlinville
B.E. Parker - Shipman
A.J. Roberts - Virden
A.O.K. Young - Girard
J.N. Coerrer - Staunton
N. Barnes - Honey Point
J.H. Behrens - Gillespie
R. Welch - Hunter Hill
John Gossman - Dorchester
C.J. Miller - Barr
Geo. Walton - Brushy Mound
Ed. Relchmann - Carlinville

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 17, 1898


Some Merchants Preparing to Close Out Inquest Not Finished

Last night the soldiers on guard at Virden were kept on the quivive by frequent firing into the stockade after 11 o'clock. The soldiers searched diligently but could not find who did the shooting. Lukins does not venture out of the stockade as he has been strongly advised that his life will be in jeopardy if he does while feeling runs so high. With his clerk he is busy packing up the company's books and papers preparatory to their removal to Chicago. Although the general offices of the company have always been in Chicago, ostensibly, practically all of the business has been transacted at Virden. This will no longer be the case. The effect of the strike and Wednesday's riot upon the town is already being felt most keenly in other ways. Several of the merchants are selling out their stocks preparatory to moving to other places. Placards on one of the stores announces flatly that the business is being closed out as a direct result of the strike, and because the proprietors "can see no prospects of an amelioration of the present deplorable conditions." The Thiel guards are still within the stockade under guard. They will be turned over to the civil authorities when the military authorities think it is safe to do so. The coroner's jury resumed its labors again Saturday morning inside the stockade. The first witness examined was William Gould, who testified as follows: "My residence is in St. Louis. I was brought here Oct. 8 to take charge of the main gate of the stockade. I told the Thiel detective agency that hired me that I was too old to do any fighting. On the day of the fight I let the wagon with Eyster and the doctor into the stockade. Eyster stayed only a few minutes and drove away. The first shooting I heard was below the depot. I heard four signal shots. There was more at once, and this quickly melted into a volley. There was a lull until the train came to the stockade. I heard men yelling outside the fence, 'come on, come on, you s------s of b------s; you got us into this, now help us. Don't hang back there, you'll shoot your own men.'" B.B. Burton, a Chicago paper hanger, who served as guard at the stockade, said that he had worked at the stockade, and after that was done he acted as cook for the guards. He told about the same story as the others of the fight. He also testified as follows: "I was appointed as deputy sheriff with twenty-five others on one Sunday. The sheriff took us to the office with an open book in his hand. He read from a book and had us hold up our right hands and take an oath as officers. I thought I was a deputy sheriff Oct. 12 when the fight took place, but I did not fire a shot. I know that Capt. Preston, James Sickles and A.W. Morgan were deputies also. The sheriff didn't say anything about our not being residents of Macoupin county." At 12 o'clock the jury took a recess until 1:30 p.m. During the afternoon three more of the guards, Hanon, Smith and Bahems, were examined. Their testimony as to the fight did not differ materially from that already produced. They were all from Chicago and had been in the stockade several weeks. They all swore they understood they were deputy sheriffs. On of them said they were all in the boiler room before the fight commenced. They refused to follow the lead of Capt. Preston, as the sheriff and his regular deputies were there. They claimed they told the sheriff to lead and they would follow. He told them to go ahead and he would come in a minute. This was the last they saw of the sheriff. They also deny that any shots were fired from the tower. G.H. Thiel, manager of the St. Louis detective agency bearing his name maintains that his men who were in the Virden riots were there to protect the negroes and were hired by the Alton. Thiel sent 124 of his emergency men.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 17, 1898


From the evidence before the coroner's jury in the Virden riot cases it is evident somebody is doing some lying. Guards inside the stockade swear before the jury that they were sworn in as deputies by Sheriff Davenport, while the sheriff claims they were not. This, together with who was responsible for placing stands of arms inside the stockade will all come out in evidence before the courts. The Sheriff still persists that he did not swear in Lukens' men and that he did not furnish the guards with arms. We want to see this matter sifted to the bottom and find where the responsibility lies.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 18, 1898

Eleven of Lukens' Guards Arrested
Inquest Nearing A Close

The work of the inquest continued through yesterday. The United Mine Workers Union has sworn out warrants for manslaughter against eleven of Lukins' detectives. They are:

James A Blackford
H. H. Newman
H. K. Wyman,
J. C. Shoemaker
Leslie Swafford
J. E. Gerken
I. J. Irney
C. J. Fox
J. H. Bingham
Charles Keigh
and C. G. Sims.

None of these men have been allowed to leave the stockade as yet, but are under arrest and subject to order of the marshal. About fifteen of the guards against whom no complaints were made, were permitted to return to their homes in St. Louis. They were afraid they would be mobbed as soon as they left the stockade and Col. Young sent a detachment of twenty men to guard them as far as Carlinville. He will also guard the men who have been placed under arrest, the governor having sent instructions to put a force of soldiers around the jail where they are locked up if he thinks it necessary to do so. State's Attorney Vaughn is very busy getting the evidence brought forth at the coroner's inquest in shape for the grand jury. Sheriff Davenport left for Virden on the morning train with official papers and instructions bearing on the case. The sheriff swears that none of Lukins' guards were deputized. He answers that when the first load of negroes passed through Virden, he had informed the men in the stockade their services might be needed.. No trouble resulted and he then told them that all who had been deputized or deemed themselves deputies were released. The sheriff claims Lukins tried to get "Doc" Davenport to do what he (the Sheriff) refused to do - namely, swear the guards in. The sheriff claims on the fatal day he was guarding the switch which led from the south into the stockade where the big throng of miners were congregated. He says that the message which was given the train crew here directed them not to stop at the switch according to the original program, but to pull up several hundred yards further, parallel with the stockade itself. Attorney Patton of the Coal Company says that an attempt will be made to indict Gov. Tanner and if possible, impeach him. The Chicago-Virden Coal Company is out with a proposition to arbitrate the difficulty. The state miners organization has the matter under advisement. The story is now being circulated that the company wishes to sell the plant to the Consolidated Coal Co. as Chas. Ridgeley of Springfield, representing the latter syndicate, has been in consultation with the Chicago-Virden officials.

Macoupin County Enquirer, Wednesday October 19, 1898


Avers He Did Not Deputize Lukins' Guards.

Inquest Will Continue Longer

The proposition to arbitrate the differences between the Chicago-Virden Coal Company and the miners has not been well received by the latter. They are not desirous of settling while Lukins' is superintendent. Troop C and Battery B have been sent home to Chicago and Galesburg respectively. The Coal Company has gone on the bonds of the 11 detectives arrested for manslaughter and they returned to St. Louis last night. The 8 Chicago guards were sent home yesterday morning. The troops and Manager Lukens are all that are left in the stockade.

The coroner's inquest was resume Tuesday morning and was held in the stockade and the cross-examination of F. W. Lukins was completed. Nothing new was developed by this cross-examination.

Max Kline, the non-union miner who was beat up the week before the battle, was also placed on the stand and testified that it was Jack Murphy, one of the leaders among the miners, who did the work. The jury then inspected the _____fence of the stockade that received the full force of the fire and the tower and then adjourned down town, where a number of other witnesses were examined this afternoon. The jury is in session tonight and will also work tomorrow.

Sheriff Davenport was the star witness of the afternoon session. He swore that the day the first train load of negroes passed through Virden he went up to the stockade and Lukens (note: Luken's name continuously spelled differently throughout entire article-psr) asked him to swear in what men he had there. Sheriff Davenport said that he told the men that in case of emergency he would call on them, but hat he did not administer any oath to them. About half an hour afterward, he found out that they were hired at Chicago. The next morning, he said, he revoked all authority given them. The night before the battle he was sent for and came up to Virden on the late train. He went tot he stockade the next morning and Lukens asked him to swear in what men he had and on his refusal Lukens told him that he could not get men anywhere else and that the statures allowed him to use these men, and he replied: I don't give a d-n; I will not use any of your men." Lukins told him that they ere to head in on the C. A. passing track, and asked him to see that this switch was thrown. He started for this switch, but the train reached there before he did and he then started to go back toward the stockade, and was about 100 yards north of the depot when the train passed him. He saw four men on the rear end of the train shooting, two of them west, on east and one south. It was the man who was shooting south that killed Kiley, the C. A. detective. Others were also shooting from the sides of the cars. He also saw men falling in the field. He then went to the square and secured a buggy and drove to Girard, where he telephoned to the governor. Several other witnesses were examined, but nothing new developed.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 19, 1898


Grand Jury Convened to Investigate Virden Riot Await Returns From Coroner's Inquest

In pursuanco to recall the grand jury assembled in the court house at 1:30 p.m. today to investigate into the causes of the Virden riot and return indictments against the guilty parties, Judge Shirley's charge to the body which is an unusually intelligent and representative one, was a model in point of lucidity and judicial impartiality. He exhorted them to investigate with unbiased judgment into the trouble and not to be swayed one way or the other by fear of affection.

No guilty person was to be screened. Law was to be maintained. As the coroner had appeared before the court this morning and stated the inquest was not finished, nor was he certain that it would be concluded within a week's time, Judge Shirley recommended that the grand jury should adjourn to a day following the rendering of a verdict by the coroner's jury. At the conclusion of the court charge, the grand jury went into session and decided to adjourn till the day following the election, Nov. ___th, when the evidence brought forth at the inquest and the witnesses will be in readiness for use.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 21, 1898


Deputy Sheriff Webster Goes To Chicago To Arrest President Loucks and Director York

Manager Fred W. Lukens, of the Chicago-Virden Coal company, left Virden last night guarded by a detail of two officers from the Third regiment who accompanied him as far as Springfield on his journey to Streator, where he will join his wife and children. Mr. Lukens has been practically a prisoner in the stockade since the battle of the 12th.

The bond in his case was fixed at $1,000. No doubt is expressed about Lukens appearing for trial as he has shown himself to be a man of remarkable personal courage. He would have left the stockade long ago but for the advice of his attorneys. On the day after the battle he proposed to come up town to attend the coroner's inquest, but Col. Young thought it best or him to remain within the enclosure and had the coroner's jury go out to the stockade.

Deputy Sheriff Webster left last night for Chicago with the warrants for the arrest of T.C. Loucks, president of the Chicago-Virden Coal Company and W. S. York, the director, who is held as being directly responsible for the riot because of his persistency in bringing the negro miners here. The feeling against those two men is very great and there may be trouble when they arrive in case they are brought to Virden to give bond.

There is a prospect of Macoupin county having a neat sum to pay as a result of the battle. It is understood that the Chicago Alton railroad proposes to put in a claim for the damage that was done to its train and for the killing of Kiley. It will also ask to be compensated for the damage the resulted by reason of its failure to land its passengers there. This will be followed by similar claims and the indications are that the riot of last week will be quite as expensive proportionately as the court house.

Considerable excitement was created Thursday morning by some firing in the vicinity of the stockade. The rumor rapidly spread that another battle was on, this time between the miners and the soldiers, but there was nothing to this tale. The soldiers have been having a hard time of it during the past few days and they are suffering greatly because of the weather. The are anxious to go home. They will be kept at their posts sometime longer from present indications.

The coroner's inquest is still grinding away on a lot of evidence which is not of much importance for the witnesses refuse to testify definitely. It will be the middle of next week ere a verdict is reached.

Macoupin County Enquirer , October 22, 1898


President Loucks Will Not Come to Virden To Give Bond - Sensational Stories Denied

The report that the works of the Chicago-Virden Co. were on fire yesterday was false.

A special to the Post Dispatch says: "The startling reports sent out by certain St. Louis correspondents that Lukens was in danger of assassination by Virden miners is a libel on the men referred to. Virden miners are not assassins. They regard Lukens as an enemy to their interests, but there has been no plot hatched to murder him."

The coroner's jury has adjourned till Thursday. Nothing especially now was brought out yesterday.

Co. E left Virden last night for Peoria, Co. B left for Elgin and Co. H. also goes home to DeKalb. This will leave two companies of the state troops in Virden, and they will probably stay for some time - at least until the coal company is able to look after its own property.

President Loucks, who was arrested in Chicago by Deputy Sheriff Webster, did not desire to come to Virden to give bond so it was agreed by attorneys for the miners and the company that Justice A. J. Roberts, should go to Chicago, Monday and accept the bond of the coal company's president.

Yesterday's testimony had much to do with J.F. Eyster, the company store manager. It was clearly shown that Eyster had had nothing to do with the fight, but drove from the company store in answer to a phone call from the stockade to bring a physician to attend the wounded men. He could have saved himself by reaming in the stockade after performing his errand of mercy.

The Story that the Chicago-Virden Coal Co. is to go into the United States court and ask for a receiver is again denied by the officials and attorneys of the syndicate.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 22, 1898


Of the Virden Riot Victims Are Provided For by the State Union.

The Illinois department of the United Mine Workers of America will provide for the widows and children of the coal miners who met their death in the Virden Riot. For two months, each coal miner in the State Of Illinois will be taxed 50 cents per month and the proceeds will go for the support of the widows and children. As there are between 25,000 to 30,000 miners in the state from $25,00 to $30,000 will be collected for their benefit. This action was decided upon at a meeting of the State Executive board held yesterday at the Green Tree Hotel in Springfield. The meeting was presided over by State President Hunter.

The money will be placed in the hands of a board of trustees, consisting of James Boston, of DuQuion, Albert Davis, of Springfield, and Thomas Williamson, of Mt. Olive. The board will give a joint bond of 410,000.

This money will not be distributed to the widows and children in a bunch, but will be paid out as it is needed. In all probability each widow will be given a weekly allowance for their support and the support of their children. The board of trustees will b instructed to see that each child is given a good education and that the boys be taught trades other than that of mining coal. All contributions from the public will be received by the board after an organization has been affected. In a few days the executive board will send out circulars to every miner in the state asking for his assessment of 50 cents for the first month.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 24, 1898

Shot In A Skirmish With a Crowd of Rioters Last Monday Night

Corporal Chas. Francis of Troop A, First Illinois Cavalry squadron, was taken from Virden to his home in Chicago last night, suffering from a bullet wound sustained in a skirmish with rioters in the town. The soldier's injury is not serious but it is painful and he will be laid up for several weeks. The skirmish in which the corporal was injured occurred last Monday night but the matter was kept secret by the officers and nothing leaked out until last night when the injured man was taken to Springfield on his way home. The militiamen had a brush with a number of rowdies during Monday night and several shots were exchanged. Francis received a slight flesh wound in the groin which would have proved serious had the bullet struck one-half an inch to one side. Since that time the injured soldier has been under a physician's care inside the stockade surrounding the Chicago-Virden mine. Yesterday he was deemed sufficiently recovered to return home to Chicago and a detail of three men from his troop accompanied him. The soldiers are positive no miners participated in the riot in which the soldier was shot. They say the rioters are a lot of lawless characters who have been attempting to show their fearlessness of the soldiery. Everything is quiet now at Virden with the exception of the trouble which is being caused the militia by the rough characters referred to. Friday night several of the characters carried a battering ram up to the gates of the stockade and left it there, evidently with the intention of frightening the soldiers. The plan failed to work, however, and the soldiers are all eager for an opportunity to test their mettle in a substantial way.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 27, 1898

Coroner's Jury Now Considering the Mass of Evidence to Return a Verdict.

Yesterday concluded the taking of evidence before the coroner's jury at Virden. Very little that was new was developed. Wood Marble, who operates the old Virden shaft, testified that he was able to pay the scale of 40 cents and operated his mine successfully. His evidence is in direct contradiction to that of Manager Lukens, who declared it was an impossibility to pay the scale of wages and run the mine unless at a loss. The engineer and fireman, of the south shaft, testified that they saw Lukens' guards shooting from the tower in the stockade. One of them viewed the battle through a field glass. The trouble at Green Ridge between Operator King and his miners is likely to be adjusted. Mr. King will operate his mine at the scale price as an experiment. He will not desist unless the project is a losing one. He says he is willing to keep in operation as long as he pays expenses best to give employment to the men. Mr. King and the striking miners have been playing an amusing comedy of late. The mine operator gave the miners notice to vacate the company houses and they had fifteen days in which to get out. At the expiration of that time they moved, but they only changed houses and the operator was chagrined to find them still in possession. The next time he got out another sort of writ to oust them, but they fought the cases in the courts and owing to the inefficiency of the service, the miners beat sixteen of the cases. At his wits end the operator suggested a compromise. The C. A. is taking up the switches which lead into the Chicago-Virden company's stockade. It is not known why this is being done.

Carlinville Enquirer, October 27, 1898


The boys who were wounded in the Virden riot all getting along nicely. Joe Raunk, who was shot through the chin, is able to be on the street, and his brother, George, who was shot three times, is also out of danger. Joe Haynes, who was shot in the leg, has discarded his crutches and is once more walking in his natural form. Many of the miners from here had narrow escapes. It is amusing to hear them tell of being shot through their hats, coats, and even trousers.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 28, 1898


Emissaries of Mark Hanna and Cheap Labor Quarrelling Over the Question as to Which Should Have Prevented the Murder of Honest Laborers

The Republican party is having its troubles. Executive officers are calling each other names and it is hard to tell where the matter will end. John R. Tanner and P.O. Davenport, two apostles of the gold standard, which grinds down the price of labor, are at war with each other as to who was responsible for the murder of twelve men in the Virden riot. The sheriff has become so enraged over the stand taken by the governor that he writes the following letter, giving his side of controversy, and sake us to publish it:

It is one thing to say a man has not told the truth and quite another thing for such a statement to be true, even when made by such a personage as Governor Tanner, the executive of the great state of Illinois. Such remarks as Governor Tanner made at Murphysboro in his speech to the miners, in which he referred to our conversations concerning the Virden trouble, before and after the riot, are false and rotten as the man who made them. In my defense, and for the benefit of placing matters right before the public, I state that governor Tanner misrepresented the facts. In the first place, Illinois' executive never gave me the sage advice which he recited so glibly at Murphysboro in his speech. It was not necessary for me to consult the governor as to my duties. We have attorneys here who know the law and whose mission it is to inform the sheriff on all matters pertaining to the requirements and limitations of his office. John R. Tanner did ask me if those men in the stockade did use the guns provided by the state and I said "No." He knows my answer, however hard he may endeavor to distort the truth simply to win votes. I strenuously object to being misrepresented even to afford the governor capital to further his political projects. Before the trouble and the riot occurred I dispatched to Attorney General Akin to ascertain whether in any way the coal company could compel me to deputize those Chicago and St. Louis guards in the Lukin's stockade and in Lukins' employ. I did not do this on my own account, but to satisfy the demands of my bondsmen. As to my own action in the matter, I had previously been well advised. I presume that the attorney general also advised the governor in the matter. During the whole deplorable affair, I stood a friend to the miners, notwithstanding all reports to the contrary. This remark made by Governor Tanner is as untrue as the report in circulation that I was to receive $1,000 if the negroes were safely landed within the stockade of the Chicago-Virden coal company. All I ask in this matter is fair and honest treatment. I firmly believe that all fair minded and unprejudiced people will agree with me that had Governor Tanner answered my frequent and urgent demands and entreaties for troops when they were made, the riot would have been averted. With the mass of people I wonder why in the name of God, humanity and common sense he did not send troops to Virden to prevent the negroes from being unloaded, to disarm the miners as well as the detectives and guards, protect the lives and property of citizens before the trouble occurred, the very step he took after that bloody battle had become a blot on the history of Macoupin county and state of Illinois. The governor freely admitted (I am surprised that he did) that as sheriff I repeatedly wired for troops as the danger was imminent and of grave magnitude. The public has had evidence of how stubborn he acted in the matter. Had he done his duty as I did mine, not a guard, miner or negro would have been killed and the blacks would have not been landed within the stockade. The state would have been spared a lasting disgrace, and John R. Tanner would have obtained his share of the glory just the same. He would have saved me the trouble of refuting his insinuations that the sheriff of Macoupin county had not done his duty and told him the whole truth. One thing I wish made explicit is that Governor Tanner did promise to send troops. On the fatal day just a few hours before the train load of blacks arrived, I called up the executive from Virden over the long distance telephone and stated the situation clearly, that there were 2,000 armed strikers congregated, that I had no guards or deputies, nor could I obtain them, and after a lengthy conversation, in which the governor could not have misunderstood the facts, Governor Tanner said, "When there is a riot, I will send troops." I was sworn in as sheriff of Macoupin county to do my duty, protect the lives and property of its people and I have done my duty in all things as I best understood it and did so in the Virden riot case. Did the governor of the great state of Illinois do his?

of Macoupin County


This afternoon Hamilton and Patton, of Springfield, attorneys for the Chicago-Virden Coal Co., of Virden, wired Attorney Thos. Rinaker to have the injunctions against Ed Cahill and 34 other miners dismissed at the Coal Company's cost. The formal motion will be made in court tomorrow, but the suits are now practically dismissed. The injections it will be remembered were granted by the Sangamon circuit court on oath of Manager Lukens, before the Virden battle occurred and some of the leading miners in the district were enjoined. By this action it appears that the company does not intend to make any legal prosecutions and this may be the first step in an attempt to arbitrate the whole trouble.

Macoupin County Enquirer, October 31, 1898


A dispatch from Virden dated Oct. 30 says that local indications point strongly to the opening of the Chicago-Virden coal company's shaft in the near future, and on a basis satisfactory to all. Much of the bitter feelings of the past few weeks has, in a measure, been allayed, especially to the Chicago officers of the company and it is believed that, with a new manager, an agreement could be reached. Many of the men employed in that shaft have left the city and secured employment elsewhere. Many of those who remain are men with homes, and are desirous of work. In conversation today one of the leaders said: We feel that we have fully demonstrated to the company our determination not to permit colored criminals to take our places, and we will demonstrate to them our desire to do justice to them if they will meet us halfway, and in friendly spirit. We are not outlaws, but citizens, and only ask for justice; but we will not deal with Lukens. The statement above probably meets with the approval of a majority of the men.

Macoupin County Enquirer, November 12, 1898

Personal section:

Two hundred dollars was last week sent to Virden by the State organization of the Miner's Union to be expended for clothes and shoes for children of the miners not working. A committee of ladies had the fund in charge, and had the children gather at Meyerstein's where the purchases were made and the sum judiciously spent. None but children going to school received benefit from the fund, as it was considered that was the way to secure the most good for the greatest number.

Virden Reporter

The Famous Military Guard at Virden No Longer Needed

This morning Adjutant General Reece at Springfield called up sheriff Davenport by phone and notified him that the state troops would be removed from Virden today and asked the sheriff to send several deputies to assume charge when the troops departed. Sheriff Davenport asked the Adjutant General to keep the soldiers there till tomorrow when he would be in better shape to cope with the situation. Now that the differences between the miners and the operators are practically settled, the presence of a military force is no longer deemed necessary. The Sheriff thinks there isn't much need for deputies, but will probably send several for form's sake.

Macoupin County Enquirer, November 16, 1898

Chicago-Virden Coal Company Accede to All Demands and Give Signal for Resumption of Labor

The long bitter fight at Virden is over and the miners have won. Last night the whistle of the Chicago-Virden coal company's shaft blew three times, carrying the welcome news to the strikers who have been out since last February that work was to be resumed. Today a number of men went down into the shaft to clean up and put it in readiness for full operation. The final settlement took place in Chicago yesterday and the company practically acceded to all demands of the striking miners. The company agrees to pay the union scale of 40 cents for hand work and 33 cents for machine work. The agreement was reached after a long standing conference. The bone of contention was the wage scale and the result is a district victory for the miners. The meeting was held in the office of President Loucks, of the coal company, attended by acting President Mitchell, of the United Mine Workers of America; President Hunter and Secretary Ryan, of the Illinois Mine Workers' Union, and President Cahill, of the subdistrict branch of the state union, in behalf of the miners, President Loucks and Manager Lukens representing the coal company. The meeting lasted until late in the afternoon, arranging the minor details of the agreement, including the disposition of the imported negro workers, and the stockades. President Loucke refuse to talk on this subject, but President Hunter said he had no doubt an amicable agreement on all points under discussion would be reached without difficulty. The inference has been given out that T. C. Loucks of the coal company has bought up the majority of the stock and will operate the mine himself. He is a businessman of good methods and knows how to deal with his employees in a way which it is hoped will avert future trouble of the kind Virden has experienced.

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