|"[John] Lawson was born in Scotland and began to work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania as a child. His family moved to
Colorado and he continued mining as an assistant to his father. He joined the Knights of Labor and was soon talking with miners
about the importance of unions.
Lawson became an organizer for United Mine Workers of America after the group was formed in 1890 and in 1907 he was appointed to the national UMWA Board of Directors. He was sent to Trinidad, Colorado, to begin again the union organizing effort in the Southern Field where operators had total control of the mines, housing and lives of the miners. Lawson's union activities and organizing efforts were not welcomed by the operators."
(Conarroe, 2001: 37-38)
|"Southern Coal Field mines were located between Trinidad and Walsenberg and included 38 camps west into the mountains. ...By 1910, eastern industrialist John D. Rockefeller had acquired control of Colorado Fuel Co., and as an absentee owner had no interest in living or working conditions in the Rocky Mountains. The mine camps had company stores which were the only source for provisions. Houses were more hovels than homes, and there was no sanitation. ...Meetings and even gatherings in the lanes of the camps to discuss wages were forbidden.|
|"John Lawson came to the Southern Field and began talking with miners about the benefits of the union. They were quickly convinced and on September 23, 1913, the general strike was called. Miners and families left the mining camps for even more primitive tent villages, and it was September 29 before the arrival of the 1,000 tents promised by the UMWA. The tents were put on bases of wood floors with pits dug under the floors for storage. Ludlow and several other tent villages were set up. Their lives in turmoil, the miners were ready for warfare and began to assemble an arsenal of weapons. Unrest, gunfire, killings were the immediate state of affairs. Trinidad residents asked Governor Ammons to send troops. ...Shootings continued and October 28 Governor Ammons sent in state troops with the order "Shoot to kill." He offered a peace plan that was rejected and three more guards were killed at Ludlow. Strikers were ordered to disarm and on November 2 the militia cleared the streets of Trinidad. The hated militia was attacked by strikers. On through the winter the warfare continued with both strikers and militia guards suffering casualties. The Greek colony at Ludlow Camp and at other camps in the Southern Field celebrated Easter on April 18. On Monday the strikers and militia began a battle that would last two days. It was never determined who fired the first shot.|
|"Families began to evacuate from the Ludlow tents. John Lawson was present to help with the effort. Protection for escape came when a freight train rolled slowly by so the families could walk to safety. Machine guns fired into the tents, strikers responded, and tents were soon burning. There was never an answer to who had started the fires, but it was admitted in the later investigation that the National Guard members probably helped to spread the fires. The Guard is known to have helped people escape from the burning village. Tuesday afternoon, when shootings had stopped, eleven bodies, two women and eleven children, were discovered in the pit beneath one of the burned tents. During eight months of warfare, at least 34 union miners and 26 guards and militiamen had been killed.|
|"It was the death of the children and their protectors -the Ludlow Massacre- that shocked Colorado." (Connaroe, 2001: 41-42)|
<-- Back to Coal Mining start page
<-- Back to My Homepage
This page created by Will Muhovich on April 8, 2005; last updated on 04/08/2005 . If you find anything to be in error or non-functional, please feel free to contact me.