Rock Island Argus|
Rock Island, Illinois
Wednesday, October 13, 1898
Vol XLVI. No. 303, Page 1
NOT THE UNEXPECTED|
Was It That Happened at Virden, Ills., Yesterday, but the Long-Expected
PROBABLY A SCORE OF DEATHS
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.
ATTACK ON SUPT. J. F. EYSTER|
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
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.
ARRIVAL OF THE MILITIA TRAIN|
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.
CASUALTIES IN THE STOCKADE.|
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.
THOSE SHOT ON THE TRAIN|
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."