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Illinois Coal & Coal Mining
History & Genealogy

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Virden "Riot" of 1898
Virden, IL.

furnished by Littleton P. Bradley
      It seems that in 1898, a WANTED call went out to Alabama for "175 good colored miners for Virden, Illinois." The response resulted in a riot in Virden. Eight miners and five guards were killed.
      A book entitled "Remember Virden, 1898" was published.
Here is part of paragraph from that book:
Late last night the word was passed to every mining town in the (Chicago and Alton Railroad) district that a trainload of negroes had been sidetracked in Centralia and transferred from passenger coaches to boxcars. 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 their way to Virden. Thus is all over the district. Mt. Olive sent 200 headed by General Bradley (no relation of mine LPB). Staunton sent 200. Over 150 from Gillespie...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.
--Macoupin County Enquirer 6 October 1898.
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Battle of Virden
Coal Miners Riot

Photographs by : Marie Hinton
Virden Coal Monument   Virden Coal Monument 2
Virden Coal Memorial mural

David Seagraves   2006

Virden Coal Memorial plaque   Virden Coal Memorial
Wanted !

-- FOR --

Pay 30c per Ton, Run of Mines
      Want 20 Skilled Drivers, $1.75 per day: 15
Good Top and Outside Laborers, $1.35 per Day: 15 Good Timber
Men, $1.75 per Day: 2 First Class Blacksmiths, $2.25 per Day
35 Experienced Miners With Families; 8 First Class Machine
Runners, $2 per Day. Want 10 Boys For Trappes, 75¢ per Day. Coal
is 7 To 8 Feet Thick. Twenty Cagers, $1.75 per Day. No Charges
For Blacksmithing.
      No Commissaries. Want Nothing But First
Class Miners. All Coal Weighed On Top.

Bring Your Tools Well Tied Up If You Wish To Carry Them

Will Leave Birmingham
Thursday Night At 8 O'Clock P.M., Sept 22.
Transportation will be Furnished and Ample Time Given You To
Pay The Same. For Information Call At
1905 Third Avenue,
Regular Work !                   Between 19th and 21st.



William Harmon
Abraham Brenneman
Frank Bilyeu
Ed Welsh
Joseph Gillerle
Ernest Kamerer
Ellis Smith
Ernest Long


The Battle
as related in newspaper articles
Rock Island Argus
Rock Island, Illinois
Wednesday, October 12, 1898
Vol XLVI. No. 303, Page 1
The Arrival of Negro Miners Precipitates a Bloody Struggle
Final Appeal to Gov. Tanner for Troops Has Been Made -- Fight Still On.
Virden, Ill., Oct. 12. -- The arrival of the negroes from the south this afternoon was followed by a desperate battle. five Hundred shots on one side and Sheriff Davenport and his deputies and railroad police on the other. It is thought at least twenty men on both sides were killed and wounded. The best information is that 10 are killed, 5 fatally wounded and 5 seriously. A Chicago & Alton policeman named D. Kiley is among the killed.
      When the train arrived bearing the negroes fully 1,500 armed miners were lined up on each side of the track. The train stopped in front of the gates of the stockade and the trouble began. Dozens of shots were fired from teh stockade at the white men while the strikers were half a mile away.
      The wildest rumors are afloat, one tot he effect that 50 miners were killed. The greatest excitement prevails and men are securing whatever arms they can to defend themselves if the trouble spreads. Women and children are fleeing to their houses, and barricading the doors. It is reported the miners were fired on from the stockade after the train went through.
      Mayor Nall has sent to Girard and Springfield for doctors and nurses. Manager Lukens was fired upon by the strikers when trying to escape from the shaft.
      Sheriff Davenport thinks that possibly 100 are killed and wounded. Others think the estimate too large.
Sheriff's Final Appeal.
Sheriff Davenport made what he said was a final appeal to the governor for troops at Virden. He wired that 2,000 strikers were parading and the situation was beyond his control. The governor replied that no troops would be sent to assist the mine owners or miners. Troops would only be sent when necessary to prevent riot or bloodshed.
Tanner Sends Troops
The governor has just received a telephone message from Sheriff Davenport, at Virden, that the fight is still going on and over 100 are killed. The governor ordered battery B and the sons of Veterans companies at Pana to proceed at once to Virden. He also ordered Col. Hamilton commanding the Sons of Veterans, to rendezvous four companies at once at Springfield.
Every Deputy Killed.
St. Louis, Oct. 12. -- A Carlinville (Ill.) special says it is reported that every deputy in the stockade at Virden is killed.
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President of the Mineworkers of Illinois Informed of the Fight.
      Springfield, Ill., Oct. 12. -- Telegrams to State President Hunter, of the mineworkers of Illinois, says a battle was fought today between the striking miners at Virden and the negroes imported from Alabama. He si advised that the guards on the train bearing the negroes fired repeatedly into the crowd of miners on the platform of the depot as the train reached the station, killing 10. The governor will probably order Battery B from Pana, as it is reported there is yet to be an effort to get negroes into the stockade, and the miners say they will fight to the bitter end.
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Mayor Penwell Discharges the First Police Force and Appoints a New One.
      Pana, Ills., Oct. 12. -- Warren Penwell, mayor, believeing that the city police were in sympathy with the striking miners, discharged the entire force yesterday afternoon and replaced them [with] new men who were in sympathy with the coal operators. The bonds of the new police were filed by the operators and men favoring their side of the issue.. The first fruits of the change was a fight which had only been delayed from time to time by the fact that one of the participants, A. C. burton, had been on the deputy force and thus escaped. Upon his dismissal from the deputy force he was immediately sworn in on the police force.
First Result Is a Fight.
      While he was passing the corner of Locust and Second streets a miner named Jack Boyle, ex-president of the union miners, said something to the new officer, whereupon Burton undertook to arrest Boyle, and an encounter ensued. Soldiers who were patrolling that section of the city put both men under arrest and started them to the guard house, but both were released upon giving bond for appearance Oct. 13. Eight of ten members of the city council stated last night that they would discharge the new officers and reinstate the old ones at next meeting of the city council.
Company Fortified at Virden.
      Chicago. Oct. 12. The Virden correspondent of The Evening Journal telegraphs: The situation of the coal miners' wage war at this place is more critical than at any time since April 1, and the aspect of affairs sinister in the extreme. On the one hand the Chicago-Virden Coal company has surrounded its shaft house and twenty acres of land, on which have been concentrated some fifty company houses for barracks with a stockade of planks eight feet high. Within this stockade the company has a body of men for guards, 200 Springfield rifles and ten cases of riot guns, which carry No. 12 cartridges, full of buckshot. Fred W. Lukins, general manager of the company, remains in personal command of his forces almost night and day, and declares he will defend his property from attack to the last ditch. He is a youngish man with a muscular physique and a countenance of vigorous determination.
Miners In Camp Outside.
      On the outside of the stockade there is as warlike preparation and plan of interfering tactics which is carefully carried out in all details. There are four camps along the railroad tracks, and a regular patrol of the railroad yards is kept up. The strikers have very little shelter, only a sentry box here and there, but they built fires of logs and they have a kitchen north of the stockade where great boilers of coffee are made during the night for the men on duty. They have also an arsenal where their weapons are stored which are not in actual use. I counted nearly 100 Winchesters and shotguns stacked along the fence of the roadside.

The Champaign Daily News
Champaign, Illinois
October 13, 1898
Vol. 4 No. 65, Pages 1 & 4
Eleven Men Killed and More Than Thirty Wounded.
Effort of the Coat Mine 0perators
Bring Negro Laborers from the South
C the Cause of the Trouble Gov. Tanner Orders Troops to the Scene
Virden, Ill., Oct. 13. -- After a bloody battle in which eleven were killed and thirty-four wounded, striking miners, detectives, guards, sheriff and deputies are resting. Business is entirely suspended. Men with their families are at home, with windows and doors barricaded, trembling in fear that the riots will begin again.
      In the battle Wednesday afternoon 700 striking miners were engaged, and a posse of fifty Pinkerton and Thiele detectives who were guarding a train bringing in negro miners and thirty-two ex-Chicago policemen who were in the stockade. Aside from these, Sheriff Davenport has a force of twenty deputies.
      Troops have been sent here by Gov. Tanner to protect life and property and he has asked the federal authorities to allow him to use Col. Culver's regiment. He still insists the soldiers shall not aid the coal-mine operators in their purpose of working imported negro miners, and he declares the operators ought to be convicted for causing the bloodshed here. Mr. Lukens is quite as vehement in his denunciation of the governor for his failure to send troops here sooner.
      The tragedy is the result of a determined effort on the part of the Chicago-Virden Coal Company to employ negro miners brought from Alabama to take the places of miners here on a strike. The strikers were equally determined and both sides sought to win by force of arms.
      The killed are:
D. N. KILEY, Chicago & Alton detective.
JOE GUILTEY, Mount Olive.
ELLIS SMITH, Mount Olive.
ED WALSH, Springfield.
BERT SMITH, Mount Olive.
W. W. CARROLL, deputy sheriff.
A. W. MORGAN, stockade guard, Chicago.
W. CLARKSON, detective, Chicago.
THOMAS PRESTON. stockade guard, Chicago.

      Names of the wounded follow:
Ansk Ankel, Mount Olive.
Gustav Werslep, Mount Olive.
Ed Upton, Springfield.
Thomas Jennings, Springfield
Joe Haines, Girard; shot in the leg.
Joe Runk, Girard; shot in arm.
George Runk, Girard; shot in stomach.
William Herman, Girard; shot in hand.
Joe Baston, Mount Olive; shot in stomach.
Joe Sprim, Mount Olive; shot in arm.
Bart Kygar, engineer Chicago & Alton; shot In arm.
J. F. Eyster, superintendent Climax Trading Company; shot and beaten.
H. Gritgesell, wounded In shoulder.
O. J. Snyder, shot In face and legs.
James Sickles, Chicago; shot In leg.
Frank Wilder, Chicago; shot in arm.
Thomas McEntee, Chicago; shot in leg.
J. W. Moonan, St. Louis; slightly injured.
P. J. Hanan, slightly injured.
J. H. Smith, Chicago; slightly injured.

      Fourteen wounded men were taken to the hospitals at Springfield. The following are in the Springfield city hospital:
William H. Clarkson, an inmate of the old soldiers' home at Leavenworth, Kas., deputy; skull crushed; will die.
William A. Kygar of Bloomington, engineer on train; shot through the arm.
Willam Masser of St. Louis, deputy; shot through the head, shoulder and hands; will probably recover.
James Palmer, deputy; shot in the left side of face, arm and side; will recover.
Patrick Mack of Virden, employed by the operators of the Chicago-Virden shaft; bullet went through his thigh; will recover.
Ernest Ryan, a colored miner from Alabama; bullet went through his head; will recover.

      The following are in St. John's hospital at Springfield:
Albert Smith, Mount Olive.
Gustave Werseip, Mount Olive.
Edward Upton, Springfield.
Thomas Jennings, Springfield.
Joe Haines, Girard.
Joe Runk, Girard.
William Herman. Girard.
Joseph Baston. Mount Olive.
Joseph Long, Mount Olive.

      Of the eleven dead, six are miners, one a Chicago & Alton detective, one a stockade guard -- Al Morgan of Chicago -- and two detectives, W. W. Carroll and W. W. Clarkson. The wounded include eight strikers, six Pinkerton and Thiele men and seven guards at the stockade.
      Thomas Stockton, formerly a lieutenant of police in Chicago, was killed by the militia. He was on guard at the stockade and failed to respond to an order to halt.
      At midnight the miners were guarding the stockade and the Chicago & Alton tracks, apprehensive that an attempt would be made under cover of darkness to run the special back from Springfield and unload the negroes in the stockade. That such an attempt would result in the renewal of the afternoon's fighting is a certainty. It was not believed that the coal company would make any attempt to run the negroes in until the state troops arrive, and it is doubtful if they do then. The consensus of opinion is that the miners have won a victory, although it was done with blood, and that the Chicago-Virden coal company will abandon its attempt to put southern negroes in the mines. If it does the leaders of the miners assert that Pana operators, too, will abandon their attempt, and the result will be the life of the miner's union, which the Illinois operators, by concerted action, have tried to stamp out.
      The miners, shortly before noon Wednesday, received word that the special train bearing the negroes was at Shipman, which is about an hour's run from Virden. About 12:10 the train arrived in Virden. The train consisted of a box car, three coaches and a caboose. The train did not make any attempt to stop at the depot, but ran up to the stockade of the Chicago-Virden coal company, which lies along the right-of-way of the Chicago & Alton road about six blocks further north. Just as the train reached the southern limits of the city a miner stationed there fired a gun in the air, which was the signal arranged by the miners to announce the arrival of the train bearing the negroes. No more shots were fired until the train passed the depot, when quite a number of shots were fired, and it is claimed by the miners that the shooting was commenced by the guards on the train.
      When the train reached the stockade it stopped, and then came the battle. About fifteen white men got off the train and ran into the stockade. The men on the train kept up a steady fire, which was answered by the miners. By far the heaviest firing came from the tower of the coal mine inside the stockade. Some of the balls from the tower went through inch planks on the other side of the town. D. N. Kiley, a Chicago & Alton policeman, who was brought down from Chicago, was standing near the north end of the depot platform, five and one-half blocks away, and was shot through the head by one of the guards in the tower.
      At the east side of the stockade where the train stopped the scene was awful. The miners who were making their demonstrations were to the south of the stockade, but over in the field east of the Chicago & Alton tracks was a crowd of miners. The guards in the tower and on the train commenced picking them off, and here is where the miners lost all their men who were killed.
      The train met a furious volley of bullets from over a thousand men, every shot intending to kill. The volleys were kept up for fully ten minutes, until the uselessness of remaining became apparent to the trainmen, and the train was sped on to Springfield.
      The men inside the stockade telephoned for physicians, and J. F. Eyster, the manager of the coal company store, drove up to the stockade with two physicians. As he was leaving the shaft he was seen by a number of miners, and a frenzied crowd of several hundred miners followed him uptown. He ran into the store to escape the crowd, and they riddled the store with bullets. Eyster, who is a young man, got out on top of the store and ran along the tops of several store buildings. Several hundred shots were fired at him. He came down through one building and was shot through the head when he reached the walk. He fell, and a few minutes later was carried out in the square, where two men, both of whom were foreigners and were recognized, jumped on him and kicked him in a horrible manner. He was later picked up and taken by friends, but it is not thought he can recover.
      When the scene of battle was transferred from the shaft to the store of the company, which is in the center of the business portion of the town, the postoffice, which is next to the company store, and all other business houses in that immediate vicinity were at once closed, and a reign of terror prevailed in the entire community. Miss Ada Beatty, a young lady who clerks in the company store, had a very narrow escape. She was in the store during the entire fusillade. The attack on Mr. Eyster meets with the condemnation of the miners generally.
      The wounded men were cared for as well as the circumstances would permit, as the mine operators had secured every surgeon in the city, and all were within the stockade but one. The supervisor secured the services of surgeons from Girard and Carlinville. The dead and wounded were sent to their homes.
      Orders of the governor to the troops which have arrived are to protect life and property, but under no condition to assist the Chicago-Virden Coal company to land negroes within the stockade. These are the orders communicated to Mayor Noll by the governor.
Negro Miners Brought to the Capital After the battle at Virden.
      Springfield, Ill., Oct. 13. -- The arrival in Springfield of the bullet-riddled train bearing the negro miners who were repulsed by the strikers at Virden caused a great sensation. The train brought seven injured men -- six whites, deputies and one negro miner. The cars were riddled with bullets and twenty window panes were broken, twenty-seven bullets had hit the engine cab and one had taken effect in the arm of Engineer Bert Kygar. Two of the deputies, named Carroll and Clarkson, were fatally injured and died shortly after arriving here. There were seven wounded men on the train, and all were taken to the Springfield hospital.
      There were probably. 160 negroes on the train when it arrived at Springfield, of whom about twenty were women and children. They were thoroughly frightened. About fifty deputies were on the train. The negroes declared they did not understand the situation or they would never have come to Virden.
Troops Ordered to Virden.
Springfield, Oct. 13. -- Battery B of Galesburg, five companies of infantry, and three troops of cavalry have been ordered to Virden. Soon after the outbreak at Virden Gov. Tanner received word of the trouble and immediately directed the adjutant general to send these militiamen to the scene of the riot. The Galesburg battery and one company of the militiamen passed through this city early in the evening on the way to Virden. Adjt. Gen. Reese boarded the train at this point and has gone to Virden to assume charge of the troops. He is working under the following brief Instructions from Gov. Tanner: "Protect life and property and disarm everybody."
Tanner Asks for the Fifth.
Springfield, Ill., Oct. 13. -- Gov. Tanner has reported the conditions existing at Virden to the war department, and asked that the Fifth Illinois regiment, now in camp here awaiting its discharge from the United States service, be placed at his disposal. Col. Culver has tendered his services and those of his men to the governor if needed.
Order Has Been Restored.
Virden, Oct. 15 . -- State troops are now in possession of the town. The governor's instruction to disarm has been carried out as far as possible, and order has been restored.

The Macomb Journal
Macomb, McDonough County, Illinois
Thursday, October 13, 1898
Vol. 46 No. 5, Page 1
Was It That Happened at Virden, Ills., Yesterday, but the Long-Expected
Will Result from the Battle Between the Striking Miners and Officers.
Negroes from Alabama Attacked on the Train That Took Them to the Chicago-Virden Stockade and a Deadly Fusillade Follows
-- Six of the Strikers Killed and Eighteen Wounded
-- A Number of Casualties on the Train
-- Loss In the Stockade Unknown.
Chicago, Oct. 13. -- The latest dispatches in hand at this writing regarding the terrible riot and bloodshed at Virden, Ills., are as follows:
      St. Louis, Oct. 13. -- A special to The Post-Dispatch from Virden, Ills., says: Nine men on the train were killed and thirteen wounded; ten miners killed and sixteen wounded. The train pulled for the north and the cars were shot full of holes. A reporter for a Chicago paper was killed at the Chicago and Alton station by a stray bullet. J. F. Eyster, manager of the company store, was shot and trampled on by the miners. He cannot live. The miners are looking for Lukins, manager of shaft, who has hidden. It is impossible to find out how many were killed in the stockade.
      Springfield, Ills., Oct. 13. -- Names of those injured, brought into Springfield on the train, are: William Clarkson, St. Louis, five shots in head, will surely die; -- Carroll, Chicago, shot In headand body, dying; James Palmer, soldier, just mustered out of Third Nebraska regiment, shot in arm and body, will recover; William Masser, St. Louis, shot in head, slightly wounded, says he will return to Virden if necessary. Two negroes, names unknown, slightly injured.
      St. Louis, Oct. 13. -- A special to The Post-Dispatch from Virden, Ills., says that six miners were killed and eight wounded during the riot here. The first man killed is supposed to have been shot from the tower. A Chicago detective was killed.
Is the List So Far Reported Where the Fight Took Place.
      Virden, Ills., Oct. 13. -- The little town of Virden is comparatively quiet now, after a day of riot and bloodshed -- the long expected clash between the union miners and imported negroes. At 12:40 p. m. yesterday a Chicago and Alton special train bearing 200 negro miners from the south arrived at the stockade around the Chicago-Virden Coal company's mines, and immediately a terrific fire began from the union miners. The casualty list at this writing stands seven dead and eighteen wounded. Dead -- Ed Welsh and Frank Bilyou, Springfield; Albert Smith, Joe Kitterly and Ernest Keutner, Mount Olive; A. H. Breneman, Girard, and D. H. Kiley, Chicago and Alton detective.
      Wounded-- Ansk Ankel and Gustav Wevsiep, Mount Olive; Ed Upton and Thomas Jennings, Springfield; Joe Haines, shot in the leg; Joe Runk, shot in arm; George Runk, shot in stomach; William Herman, shot in hand -- all of Girard; Joe Baston, Shot instomach;Joe Sprim, shot In arm -- both of MountOlive; Bart Tigar, engineer of the Chicago and Alton train, shot In arm; J. F. Eyster, superintendent of the Climax Trading company, shot and beaten.
      It is said that six men were wounded inside the stockade, but this has not been verified, and those inside the stockade refuse to communicate with outsiders.
      The militia arrived here at 1:50 p. m. and killed ex-Lieutenant of Police Tom Preston, of Chicago, at the stockade. He was sitting outside the stockade as a guard. The militia gave the bystanding miners the command to halt, and Preston stepped back to the gate. The militia fired and he was shot in the stomach. He was carried into the office in the stockade, where he expired.
Charges the Trouble Entirely to the Mine Operators at Virden.
      Springfield, Ills., Oct. 13. -- In an interview with Governor Tanner last evening regarding the Virden riot he said: "Mr. T. C. Louck, president, and Mr. Lukins, superintendent of the Virden Coal company at 12:30 today made good their threats to land a train load of imported laborers from the south, and attempted to put them to work in their mines at the point of the bayonet and the muzzle of the Winchester, such laborers being drawn largely, if not entirely, from the criminal class -- ex-convicts -- who learned their trade while doing terms In the penitentiaries of Alabama. After having been fully advised and having full knowledge that the landing of such imported laborers would precipitate a riot had wired them that if they brought these imported laborers they did so at their own peril, and under the circumstances would be morally responsible and criminally liable for anything that might happen."
      "As to what happened after the stopping of the train in front of the coal shed rny information is based on telegraphic and telephone communications and rumors from those coming from the scene of the conflict. From the information I can gather at this time, the very minute the train stopped in front of the coal shaft where the doors of the stockade were thrown open for imported laborers to enter, the firing began, as to who fired the first shot I am at this time unable to determine, but all reports agree that a general battle was precipitated within just a few moments and the firing became general from the guards on the train called deputies, estimated at fifty or sixty, and was responded to by the idle miners lying on either side of the track."
      "The battle lasted several minutes, after which time the train pulled out. The reports vary as to the number killed and wounded. For instance, the sheriff telegraphed that 100 were killed and the battle still on. However, from conservative estimates from all information I can gather I would estimate the number of killed somewhere from nine to fifteen, and possibly quite as many wounded. The killed and wounded are largely idle miners. The others were the hired guards who were brought along by the coal company. Most, if not all, of them were non-residents of Illinois. There is no means of learning their names or whereabouts for the reason that they declined to give them out, knowing perhaps that they are criminally liable for murder, as they brought no permission from any officers in Illinois authorized to deputize them to act as deputy marshals or deputy sheriff.
Part of the Soldiers at Pana Sent to Take Charge of Things.
      "Instantly on learning of the trouble I directed Adjutant General Reece to order Captain Craig, of the Galesburg battery, and one company of the Sons of Veterans' regiment, now stationed at Pana, to proceed at once by the quickest route to the scene of trouble. I learned later that Captain Craig met with serious difficulties in securing a train with coaches to bring his command, and I directed the adjutant general to advise him to load his troops upon the freight cars and come at once to Springfield by the Baltimore and Ohio and secure a train on the Alton to carry the command to Virden. These arrangements were made, and Captain Craig is on the way with his troops and will arrive here at half past 6 or 7 o'clock, and at Virden by 7:30 [p. m. yesterday]. General Reece will accompany Captain Craig."
      "I have instructed General Reece to select a camping ground, most suitable for the occasion, to quell the riot and maintain order, protect life and property, disarm all persons bearing arms, making an inventory of such arms and taking the name of the individual owner, his postoffice address, such arm to be held until further orders; and to not allow imported laborers to unload from any train within the limits of the city nor to march in a body. These avaricious mine owners have so far forgotten their duty to society as to bring about this blot upon the fair name of our state, have gone far enough -- yes, too far -- as they had fair warning from me, by wire and telephone, that the importation of labor which brings to our state such an undesirable class of citizens had to stop."
      "And I say now to such and all others that this is a thing of the past; that it shall not be tolerated in Illinois while I am governor. These men -- the president and officers of this company -- who precipitated the riot by the bringing in of this imported labor, are guilty of murder, and should be -- and I believe will be -- indicted by the grand jury of Macoupin county and tried and convicted for this heineous offense."
Tanner Asks for United States Troops.
      Springfield, Ills., Oct. 13. -- Governor Tanner said to the Associated Press representative at 10 o'clock last night that he had no word of further trouble at Virden, and that he was confident that there would be no more rioting. "I have asked the secretary of war to place at my command the Fifth Illinois volunteers now at Springfield," he said, "and have ordered four companies of the Sons of Veterans regiment to leave for Virden early in the morning. I intend to have enough troops on the scene to disarm the men who have caused bloodshed; and furthermore I intend to take such action as will prevent any further attempt to import labor into this state."

Rock Island Argus
Rock Island, Illinois
Wednesday, October 13, 1898
Vol XLVI. No. 303, Page 1
Was It That Happened at Virden, Ills., Yesterday, but the Long-Expected
Will Result from the Battle Between the Striking Miners and Officers.
Negroes from Alabama Attacked on the Train That Took Them to the Chicago-Virden Stockade and a Deadly Fusillade Follows
-- Eight Strikers Killed and Twenty Wounded
-- A Number of Casualties on the Train
-- Loss In the Stockade Unknown.
-- Comment of Uov. Tanner and Supt. Lukins on the Tragedy
      Virden, Ills., Oct. 13. -- The little town of Virden is comparatively quiet now, after a day of riot and bloodshed -- the long expected clash between the union miners and imported negroes. At 12:40 p. m. yesterday a Chicago and Alton special train bearing 200 negro miners from the south arrived at the stockade around the Chicago-Virden Coal company's mines, and immediately a terrific fire began from the union miners. The casualty list at this writing stands seven dead and eighteen wounded. Dead -- Ed Welsh and Frank Bilyou, Springfield; Albert Smith, Joe Kitterly and Ernest Keutner, Mount Olive; A. H. Breneman, Girard, and D. H. Kiley, Chicago and Alton detective; Ed Green, Mount Olive.
Full List of the Wounded
      Wounded-- Ansk Ankel and Gustav Wevsiep, Mount Olive; Ed Upton and Thomas Jennings, Springfield; Joe Haines, shot in the leg; Joe Runk, shot in arm; George Runk, shot in stomach; William Herman, shot in hand -- all of Girard; Joe Baston, shot in stomach;Joe Sprim, shot in arm -- both of MountOlive; Bart Tigar, engineer of the Chicago and Alton train, shot In arm; J. F. Eyster, superintendent of the Climax Trading company, shot and beaten; John Sinngan. Mount Olive, shot in foot; Russell Warren, Centralla, shot in thigh.
Beginnning of the Bloody Battle.
      For the past two weeks rumors had reached Virden daily that a train having negroes from Alabama would reach the city, and the Chicago and Alton had been surrounded day and night by vigilant miners determinedly awaiting their arrival. The Chicago and Alton limited shot through en route to Chicago an hour late, displaying flags on the rear indicating that a special was following. Immediately the word was spread and a dense crowd of miners lined the station platform, while another crowd collected at the entrance of the stockade, a half mile north of the station. D. B. Klley, a Chicago and Alton detective, stood guard at a switch at the south end of the station platform to see that it was not tampered with. At 12:40 the special train passed the station, and signal shots were fired from the south end of the train announcing the special's arrival. Immediately shots were fired from the moving train and outside and the battle was on.
Kiley Was the First Killed.
      A few moments after the train had passed the switch where Kiley was stationed, while he was talking with two citizens, he threw up his arms and dropped dead with a bullet through his brain. He was the ftrst man killed. The train continued to the stockade, the miners firing into it all along the route and the negro passengers returning the fire. The moment the train reached the stockade the miners opened a desperate fire with Winchesters, revolvers and firearms of all descriptions. The negroes on the train answered with a steady fire, and the carnage of battle reigned. The miners and tne train were enveloped in a, cloud of smoke, and the shooting sounded like a continuous volley.
Deadly Work at the Stockade.
      Engineer Burt Tigar received a bullet in the arm and dropped from his seat. His fireman seized the throttle, pulled it open and with a jerk, the train was under speed carrying the load of negro passengers to Springfield. The train stopped at the stockade but two minutes. Its departure did not cause the firing to cease. The tower of the stockade was filled with sharpshooters armed with Winchesters, and they kept up a steady fire into the crowd of union miners. Eye witnesses say the dead miners were killed after the train had departed. It is not known how many men are stationed behind the walls of the stockade, but an estimate is placed at between twenty-five and forty.
Single-Handed He Fights a Mob of Infuriated Strikers.
      The supply and provision store of the Chicago-Virden Coal company is known as the Climax Trading company, with Superintendent J. F. Eyster in charge. At 2 o'clock, after the firing at the stockade had subsided, an attack without a parallel in the history of the trouble was made on Eyster in this store on Main street, one block from the station, which will probably cost him his life. He was sitting in his store when his telephone rang and he was instructed from the stockade to secure physicians and hurry them to the place. Eyster jumped into his delivery wagon and securing two doctors rushed them to the mines. He returned to his store, climbed out of his wagon, and was just entering the door when the cry was raised that Manager Fred Lukins, of the mine, was with him. With a rush a throng of infuriated miner pressed toward the store.
      Eyster ran behind a counter with a revolver in each hand. The miners pressed hard after, and as Eyster sprang upstairs he and the miners began shooting simultaneously. He ran to the top of his building and jumped behind a chimney, while the miners ran into the street and opened fire on him again. Chips flew from the brick chimney, the miners shouting: "Where have you been?" "What have you been doing at the stockade?" Eyster ran from his cover across to the roof of the Sprague drug store, firirg into the street below as he ran. From there he crossed to the roof of the bank of Virden, where he reloaded his revolvers.
      Blood was flowing from a wound in his side, but with dogged determination against terrible odds he continued his fight. Jumping to the roof of the Rae & Gish drug store he halted behind a projection from the roof of the building he had just left, and emptied both his six chambered revolvers. Then springing again from cover Eyster dashed ahead amid the rain of bullets to the roof of the Steed building, the upper story of which is known as Miners' hall. He either fell or jumped through the skylight, and landed in the arms of a crowd of miners, who seized him and carried him down stairs to the street. Other hands seized the almost unconscious man and he was dragged into the middle of the street. The local policemen drove back the crowd and carried Eyster to the city square across the street and laid him in the grass. Eyster was motionless and supposedly dead.
      The police left him lying and attempted to disperse the crowd. In a few minutes Eyster was seen to raise his hand and wipe the blood from his face. Two men sprang to him and with ferocity of tigers began jumping on his body and striking him on the head with stones. With a yell the angry crowd charged into the square to kill Eyster. The police charged in a body and fought their way to the center of the mob, where they took a stand over the prostrate, battered bleeding man. A carriage was procured and Eyster was taken to the Ruckles hotel. He had been shot through the groin and is terribly battered up about the head. The physician states that he has barely a chance for recovery.
Unknown Man Shoots and Kills One of the Guards at the Entrance.
      The militia train bearing battery B from Galesburg, under Captain Craig, arrived at the stockade about 10:50 p. m. At Auburn, eight miles north of Virden the train was stopped and a detail of men was sent ahead on foot to inspect the track. The detail walked from Auburn to Virden. As soon as the stockade was reached the track inspection detail ordered the guards at the stockade entrance to throw up their hands. There were half a dozen guards congregated at the entrance, among them being Thomas Preston, of Chicago. The others sprang through the entrance into the enclosure, but Preston hesitated and then stepped backward slowly toward the entrance, his revolver in his hand. "Throw up your hands," came the order the second time. Preston's hands remained down. "Fire," and one rifle cracked. Preston dropped to the ground inside the gate with a bullet through his abdomen.
      Immediately the gate was slammed shut and Preston was carried to Manager Luklns' office. He was laid on a counter and expired a few moments later without having uttered a groan. Preston's death spread consternation throughout the stockade. One miner threw down his Winchester and said: "I'm disgusted with the whole thing. I've done my duty. The militia is here and I'm ready to quit." Those standing near were silent, but the lines about their mouths grew firmer and a rnore determined look came into their faces. Manager Lukins said: "ln very sorry that this happened. Preston was a good man. The militia has made no effort to enter the stockade."
      Gen. J. N. Reece came from Springfield with the militia. He said that ex-Lieutenant Preston was not killed by the militia. He said that when the guard at the stockade had dodged into the entrance at the militia order of "Hands up" a revolver shot was fired from, the darkness, and Preston fell mortally, wounded. General Reece said the militia did rot fire a shot, and Preston was killed with a revolver by some one unknown.
      The inspection detail continued on ahead of the train, which moved slowly down to the station. Two hundred miners stood in the street and at the end of the platform, silently but anxiously wondering what the soldiers expected to do. The train was quickly unloaded and the men divided into squads. One squad immediately confronted the assembled miners with the order: "Hands up." Every hand was raised and every miner was searched. Squads were sent out over the city and every man was stopped and searched. Even Mayor Noll was stopped and thoroughly investigated by the soldiers.
One Man Killed and Eight Wounded -- Lukins Accuses the Governor.
      An Associated Press representative secured admittance to the stockade late last night. The list of dead and wounded inside the stockade is as follows: Dead -- A. W. Morgan. Chicago.
Wounded -- H. Gritgesell, wounded in shoulder; O. J. Snyder, shot in face and legs; James Sickles, Chicago, shot in leg; Frank: Wilder, Chicago, shot in arm; Thomas McEntee. Chicago, shot in leg; J. W. Moonan. St. Louis, slightly injured; P. J. Hanna, slightly injured; J. H. Smith, Chicago, slightly injured.
      Manager Lukins remained at his desk in his office all last night issuing orders to his men for the preservation of the property. The moment the militia train appeared the guards pointed their guns through the lopholes ready to fire on the train. Manager Lukins was notified of the approach of the train and running to his office door he shouted: "Men, for God's sake don't fire on that train; it's the militia train."
      Manager Lukins said last night: "The blood of every man shed here is on the governor's head. He is absolutely outside of the law, and has no justification whatever in refusing to send troops. If this train had come in before the interview with the governor was printed there would have been no bloodshed, as the men knew they were disobeying the law and had exhibited an entirely different spirit than what they did after the interview was published. Most of them were ignorant enough to believe that they had a right to do as the governor said they had.
      "His statement that the miners had the same right to fight for his property, which was his labor, as the mine owner did to protect his property inspired these men to the action which they took today on firing upon this train as soon as it came into our town. At least fifty shots were fired Into that train by thetime it reached the shaft, and no shots were fired from the train until at least 150 shots were fired into it, I think, killing and wounding a good many of the people on the train. No shots were fired from the stockade until after several of the men came back without having fired their guns at all. Most of the shooting was done by the guards on the train, who were authorized by the railroad company."
      Lukins stated that his men had instructions to withhold their fire until fired upon.
Number Eight, Two of Them Fatally -- Labor Leader Thown from the Cars.
      Springfield, Ills., Oct. 13. -- The special train on the Chicago and Alton which brought the Alabama negroes from Virden had eight wounded men. Of these one man died last night. William W. Carroll, a deputy sheriff. It is not known whether Caroll lived in Chicago or St. Louis. The wounded men are William H. Clarkson, an inmate of the old soldiers' home at Leavenworth Kan., deputy, skull crushed, will die: H. A. Kyger, of Bloomington, engineer on train, shot through arm; William Masser, of St. Louis, deputy, shot through head, shoulder and hands, will probaly recover; James Palmer, deputy, shot in the left side of face, arm and side, will recover; Patrick Mack, of Virden, employed by the Chicago-Vlrden company, bullet through his thigh, will recover; Ernest Ryan, colored miner from Alabama, bullet through his head, will recover.
      John M. Hunter, of Pontiac. the president of the Illinois district of the United Mine Workers of America, lies at the Collins House in a critical condition. Hunter got on the train which bore the colored miners to this city and engaged in conversation with two of the colored miners. Some of the deputy sheriffs saw Hunter, and when the train was between North Grand avenue and the north shaft and was going at the rate of eighteen miles an hour. It is estimated, attacked Hunter and pushed him off the train. A man who happened along later in a buggy saw Hunter lying near the track in an unconscious condition and placed him in his buggy and took him to the Collins House, where a physician dressed his wounds. He is terribly cut about the face and his ribs are injured.
Last Telegram to Gov. Tanner.
      Virden. Ills., Oct. 13. -- Sheriff Davenport wired the following message to Governor Tanner yesterday morning just prior to the riot:
      "One thousand armed men, mostly from points outside of Macoupin, are unlawfully asembling in this city, and bloodshed and loss of life of our citizens is liable to occur at any hour. I do not consider that my own life is safe, as the situation is absolutely beyond my control. This is my last apeal to you for aid. If you cannot place troops here immediately I must be absolved from all responsibility for results."
      In reply to this message the governor wired: "As long as the coal company persists in importing labor I will not furnish troops, unless rioting ocurs."


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