The 1912 –1913 mine war was centered on Paint Creek and Cabin Creek. During the struggle for union recognition and better working and living conditions many lives were lost on both sides, but the exact number will never be known. Miner’s families were evicted from their homes and many were brutalized or killed by the armed guards employed by the coal companies. This history was too important not to be properly recognized.
To present the best possible description of the times, I have let those who experienced them relate to you their own words.
In the summer of 1913 a Senate sub-committee held hearings as to the conditions in the strike zone and hundreds of witnesses were called to testify. The transcripts of these hearings that cover some 2,200 pages, are in the form of questions by the panel and the answers are given by the witnesses. The questions have been excluded and their answers placed in a narrative form so that it can be presented in a more readable manner.
In the summer of 1912 a similar investigation had been conducted by a three-member panel appointed by Governor Glasscock; some of this testimony has been included here also.
The stories presented herein are but a few of the incidents that could have been covered; however, many of the incidents would have been repitious.
Nothing has been added or deleted to change the meaning of the testimony. This is the miners story, as they related it, let it not be forgotten.
“We were working at Kayford and Acme when we were evicted from our homes by thirty Baldwin –Felts guards with guns and our furniture thrown out in the road by them. We had to eat and sleep on the county road for four days and nights until the U.M.W.A. got us tents to live in.” –W.H. Smith, John Nuckles, Joe Minno, Joe Gaten, James Johnson, Mrs. De Rosky, and Lawrence Dwyer, Erksdale, W.Va.
“They (guards) came into our house, looked under the bed, my baby was asleep on the bed, I told them to leave the baby alone and they struck me and I fell down and they kicked me in the stomach and they hit me with their fist and knocked me down. There were about twenty of them, but only two were hitting me. I was five months pregnant at the time, my baby was born dead.” –Gianiana Seville, Banner Hollow, Paint Creek, W. Va.