William Bauchop Wilson
Strike of 1899 - 1900
The Blossburg Advertiser September 22, 1899, Vol.15, No. 42
Last Thursday, Supt. Lincoln sent for 21 persons living at Arnot and Landrus, who are employed at various occupations, and held consultations with them. He stated that he just returned from New York and wanted the 21 to present his newest and latest ultimatum (not cigars) to the miners. He said that unless the miners called a meeting and voted to return to work and give him an answer by Saturday noon, he would take the machinery out of the fan and crusher and let the schutes fall down, and evict the men. He will also cut the mines into postholes and give them to Hans Geesefeet. As the regular mine committee were not at the consultation, they had no official knowledge of Lincoln's fulmination and therefore did not call a meeting.
Monday Supt. Lincoln posted a notice containing 224 names, stated that because of lese majestie, all the miners were positively discharged. The same men were also discharged in June and not re-employed, and if Lincoln keeps on discharging them they will get mad and quit. Two of the men discharged have been dead a long time. Are they still on the pay roll?
On Monday a gang of carpenters began pulling down the trestle from the schutes to the bony pile. It was unsafe and had been condemned some time ago. The west end of the schutes is rotten and ought to be pulled down.
On Monday Supt. Nearing sent 21 men in Morris Run, free tickets to prosperity in the shape of ten-day notices. This county is dinned with the cries of office-seeking lawyers who are so deeply in love with the honest toiler about election time. Now is the time for some one of these office-seeking lawyers to step forward and take up these men's cases and have a judical decision upon the fact whether the provisions of an inhuman law, which has been declared unconstitutional, can be enforced.
One of the pig's ear oracles stated that the company had no objection to paying the advance, but it objected to Wilson running the mines, claiming that he had run them for ten years. Well, that is more than Lincoln can do. He can't even walk them, let alone run them. The oracle further stated that if the men would return to work he would guarantee that the company would pay the advance in three weeks. Let someone with power to make his words good make such a proposition and he can get a meeting of the men, anyway.
As to Wilson running the mines let the Advertiser call the oracles attention to some things: When Lincoln came here there was no organization; hadn't been for four years. There had not been a meeting of the miners for many a day. The men were split into two factions - hating each other with hearts of fire. Lincoln's insolent and irrating reply for an interview on the dockage question caused them to pause. His refusal to grant them the use of opera house that cold day in February started them toward organization and his subsequent painful attempts at humor removed all obstacles to a perfect organization. His windy bulletins silenced a powerful minority opposed to either organization or strike. Had he done business in a manner to inspire confidence in his words, all the Wilsons from Tioga to Tophet could not have organized the men. His sense of proportion is so blunted that he is unable to correctly estimate the effect of his acts. Had Elliott, or Dodson or Loomis been superintendent no trouble would have occured. We do not know whether Lincoln has received the notification or not, but we can personally assure him that he has been elected an honorary member of the U.M.W. of A., for his efforts in organizing the men. He alone did it.
The Advertiser has made arrangement so that when Lincoln evicts the 300 families, the story with the scenes will appear in a metropolitan paper. They will be broadcasted over Pennsylvania and Ohio and they will do to the campaign what Homestead did to Harrison in 1892. The men are preparing to leave. It is stated new men are to be employed. It matter not who he brings there; he may throw helpless women out on to the roadside, the nice laws of Pennsylvania permits him to do it, but the fact remain the same and can neither be successfully denied nor contradicted that the company can pay the advance and there would have been no trouble but for the bumptious conduct of Lincoln.
The Coal Trade Journal says:
"Everywhere the tonnage of soft coal moved is heavier than it ever was and this is going to be a record-making year on this variey of fuel. At some of the inland places it is already heard that coal is scarce, and there is a tendency all along the line to advance values beyond what has been the ruling price.
"Soft coal shippers in Buffalo continue to report a scarcity and do not look for any improvement for some time. Prices continue strong at the advance and have an upward tendency. The same conditions prevail in every soft coal market from Boston in the east to Chicago in the west.
The Blossburg Advertiser September 29, 1899, Vol.15, No. 43
At a meeting last Thursday in DuBois, the miners of Central Pennsylvania adopted this resolution:
Resolved. that if a strike is on in the Toby Valley for the purpose of bringing about a settlement in the Tioga county fields, that we force an advance of 5 cents a ton on all coal under four feet, being the price lost in 1893, and that we pledge our undivided support to enforce the same.
Field Marshall Haggerty arrived in town, Wednesday, and said the reason why the Toby Valley had not responded before was because of the Italian miners. That the English-speaking miners were ready all along, but were held back by the foreign scum.
These Italians were brought by the Erie company from their mines in the hard coal regions, where their crimes had made Sodom respectable and lawabiding.
Some of the men in Arnot who were going to move their families here were asked for from 3 to 6 months' rent in advance by some of those with houses to let.
Here are some facts in this strike that all ought remember: There is a coal famine in Buffalo, in Chicago, in New York. So state the daily papers and the coal trade journals.
The yearly out-put of coal by the Blossburg coal company is 300,000 tons. That the average price of the advance asked is 6 ½ cents. That coal is selling in Buffalo for $2.50. One year ago it was selling for $1.20. That since June 13th the price of coal has advanced 35 cents a ton. That on October 1st, coal will go up in price another 25 cents. That the market price of coal is the highest since July, 1865. That the price which the companies want the miners of this county to go to work at is the lowest in its history. That every soft coal miner in Pennsylvania, outside of Tioga county has had his wages increased.
In view of these incontrovertible facts, what, then, is the only possible conclusion regarding the Erie's conduct toward its miners? It is that the desolating hand of the coal trust has resolved to starve children and women, throw aged people out on the roadside in order to make an example of those who would resist the rapacity of the coal trust.
What kind of people are they against whom this coal trust is waging its inhuman war? Are they brigands, or a set of lawless, immoral people? Not at all. They are, as Mr. Nearing characterized them years ago: "honest, intelligent, industrious, moral and self-respecting." It is the remorseless, conscienceless trust against a decent lawbiding people. When Weyler, the Spanish Attila, issued his imfamous reconcentrado order, a protest went up from the civilized world. When the same thing is done in Pennsylvania, the papers maintain a discreet silence, for the trust is omnipotent in Pennsylvania. The demands of these people are just, and it is only the savagery of the trust, the desire to crush decent people, impels the company to refuse these just demands.
The mules were taken to Morris Run on Monday. The Leftenant did not take part in the ceremonies, the hospital needed his cherishing care. Keep your eye on the Advertiser and the hospital.
There was a mass meeting called in Arnot last Friday by someone who was ashamed to sign his name. Sudden death would meet Wilson if he went to that meeting, so its sponsors said. Thirteen people attended. Sixteen men signed a call for a meeting for Saturday afternoon, asking Wilson to come and address the people, and but ten of the signers responded. Wilson did not go, either.
A mass meeting was called for Monday afternoon in Morris Run and between 60 and 70 Polanders were present. A motion was carried to go to the company's office and ask Nearing to start the mines at the old price, and to circulate a petition to get men to sign it agreeing to go to work. At the time of going to press less than thirty have signed, though a multitude of stories are afloat which place the number at anywhere from 70 to 220. "Everybody is signing it," is the slogan of those carrying around the petition. "Everybody," in this case number thirty. There is a current rumor that a certain person in Morris Run has been offered $300 to break the strike. The thirty signers ought to get a share of the money. Why should they help him get $300 and not get a share? It would be ten dollars each, and ten dollars will do them as much good as him. A man has a legal right to go to work, leave his fellows in the lurch and do things which, while strictly lawful makes them shunned by their fellow-workmen. But there are other things to consider, such as the names of their children, for over five thousand years ago divine inspiration caused Moses to place on the Ten Tablets, about the sins of the fathers, etc.
On Monday at Morris Run a modern exposition of "ten men in buckram" will be given. Falstaff's imagination aint in it these days when enlarging on the facts.
The Blossburg Advertiser October 6, 1899, Vol.15, No. 44
Last Saturday, William C. Babcock, Frank H. Stratton, F. S. Hughes, H. H. Roberts and one or two more, of whose identity we are not certain, visited Supt. Lincoln at Arnot, and upon their return, some of them drew up a petition, which we have not seen, concerning the Advertiser's position upon the strike. Current rumors stated a boycot was to be commenced by the business men. Another story was that those persons believed the miners were beaten and now was a time to kick them and make the Advertiser keep still about it. Saturday, Sunday and Monday these stories kept coming to this office and we were prepared, if these stories were true regarding the petition, to tell those bringing it to let the band play. Monday about noon a delegation of business men called at this office. They stated that they distinctly repudiated the petition and its coercive features and asked the Advertiser to moderate its statements toward Lincoln and Nearing. We asked them to indicate what statements were offensive or untrue, which elicited the reply that personal statements about the Superintendents and the hospital were the ones noted. We told the committee that if anyone of them had come personally and made such a request, it would have done without a word. But Mr. Babcock and his petition would have no effect upon us at all. The business men stated that there was no desire to injure the miners or anyone else. The affair came to an amicable settlement.
Mr. Babcock and his conferees were going to do great things of late, among them start another bank, but be it remembered in this year of our Lord, that conspiracy has no terrors for the Advertiser.
The Advertiser never refused a civil request of friend or foe. We have done this so often that no one questions it, and compliance has, in some of them cost the Advertiser friends and money, but -
The Advertiser has been boycotted before; crusades have been made against it; mobs have threatened to tear it down, others have threatened to burn us out. Thugs and thieves, blackmailers and harlots, Jim Crow politicians and tin horn gamblers, wife beaters and fire bugs have rushed into this office breathing out vengeance, and what good did it do? The Advertiser never wavered in its course. Self-constituted regulators of things in this town have been numerous in the past, and those who had the moral courage to defy them, never suffered in mind, body or estate.
The Advertiser is the one paper where those who battle against lawless power could get their story told without corporate revision. In victory or defeat, in the sunshine or in the storm, the Advertiser has enjoyed the unbounded confidence of organized labor. The numerous letters of thanks from the Grangers, glassworkers, railroaders, miners and laborers to us are irrefutable evidence of their position, and the correctness of our own.
It is a human certainty that there is a sneak, spy or traitor keeping tab on miners in this town.
The last place to come out in the Toby Valley was Dagus. The fight was hard and the vote close, being 99 for strike and 79 against. Then it was made unanimous.
This has been an exciting week. Friday, Wilson and Haggerty left to make a final rally on the Toby. Wilson made arrangements to have Mrs. Mary Jones, a talented and eloquent champion of labor, of Pittsburgh, address meetings at Arnot on Sunday, at Morris Run on Monday, at Arnot on Tuesday. Mrs. Jones is the ablest and most eloquent of all the persons who have spoken in the cause here within our recollection.
Saturday a meeting was called at Arnot after several short speeches a motion was carried to go to work by a vote of 130 to 19. The company accepted this as final and made preparations to start the mines on Tuesday. There can be no reflection upon those who attended that meeting Saturday. They honestly believed that they were beaten and took that way of saying so. Monday the regular committee called a meeting and after an address by Mrs. Jones a motion was carried not to go to work by 174 to 2. This meeting was attended by most of the women and children of Arnot who urged their husbands and fathers to stand firm.
Tuesday the work train started, but no one went. It went up also on Wednesday with the same result.
Tuesday morning at 5 o'clock Sheriff Johnson put in an appearance with 36 writs of ejectment against tenants. He told the people not to hurry, but get their breakfasts, dress their children, and he would give them plenty of time. Two constructions were placed on the sheriff appearing at that early hour. One is that the moral effect of him being there would tend to influence those deemed weak to go to work. The other, and the one we think the true one, was that the sheriff came early so as to warn the people and give them plenty of time to get ready. The sheriff cried during the day at the scenes before him. One family to be ejected had a sick woman in the house, and Dr. Waters warned all at their peril not to throw that family out. In the meantime the dauntless Haggerty and fearless Wilson, after great difficulty at both the telephone and telegraph offices in some place besides here, got word to the people that the Toby was tied up and that the miners at Patton, Barnsboro, Hastings and Spangler had shut down on the Erie getting coal.
On Wednesday there came an order purporting to be from Manager Gardner of the Erie, discharging all employees from Supt. Lincoln down, ordering the mules sold, and the people to leave. The notice also stated that no more writs were to be served, but the people must leave in a reasonable time. This they are doing as fast as possible, as they have no more thought of yielding now than in July. In fact not as much. But for that order in June, discharging all the men, work would have been resumed at Arnot within ten days. We speak advisedly on this.
The Advertiser does not gloat over the discharge of Supt. Lincoln. We leave that for the "sucks" and bad advisers. They groveled at the feet of Lyon when he was in power and abused him like a dog when he was down. By "sucks" we do not mean those who went to the meeting on June 11th and spoke and voted against the strike and manfully stood their ground ever since in opposition to an overwhelming majority. Those men receive and deserve the respect which clothes all courage. We believe that Supt. Lincoln is a decent man, but has bad advisers. His action in regard to the work train in February proves that. But in March the "sucks" had got their work and the Advertiser repeatedly cautioned him of what was sure to follow. On March 24th the Advertiser said:
"On Tuesday at the appointed time a number of men gathered near the opera house in Arnot and William B. Wilson was chosen chairman. The committee reported that Supt. Lincoln had refused them the use of the hall, and then business began on the ground floor. The day was bitterly cold but that made no difference. Who ever counseled Supt. Lincoln to refuse the men the use of the hall is an enemy of his. He may not believe this now, but he will find it to be true, just as other superintendents found it out."
There were less than twenty men at that meeting all told. But that action caused other meetings and we all know the rest. We say to Supt. Lincoln that there is not a miner in Arnot, except those indicated, who would not do him a kind turn if they could. None of those who openly opposed him bear him any malice.
Concerning the coal trade at Buffalo the Trade Journal says:
"In the soft coal market there is still reported a great scarcity in the supply, principally owing to lack of cars. Last week a number of mines shut down for two days, because they could not obtain cars enough to handle the output. Nearly all the shippers report that they are not able to get more than about ten per cent of the regular supply, on account of this scarcity of cars. Some idea of the shortage may be had from the fact that the Michigan Central and Grand Trunk are unable to get the supply they contracted for and are now in the open market for fuel to carry them over until they can get enough from their usual source. Locally, the trade is very lively and dealers have little difficulty in getting rid of any coal they can get hold of.
If these stories concerning Arnot is true, it will be the third town in this section to be wiped off the map by the trust. Hazlehurst felt the power of the glass trust; Wellsboro of the railroad trust and Arnot of the coal trust.
We reprint the following from last week's Advertiser:
There is a coal famine in Buffalo, in Chicago, in New York. So state the daily papers and the coal trade journals.
The situation as we go to press, is as follows: Not an Erie miner is at work in this county and no signs of any going. The Toby Valley is out. The Erie can get no coal in the Beech Creek region, where it has been getting part of its supply.
The Blossburg Advertiser October 13, 1899, Vol.15, No. 45
Supt. Lincoln remarked in the Seymour House on Wednesday "That by the 20th every family in Arnot would be gone." If this should prove true, a brief history of the town may not be out of place: Governor Geary signed the act incorporating the Blossburg coal company April 11th, 1866. The incorporators were Constance Cook, John Arnot, Charles Cook, Henry Sherwood, F. N. Drake, F. C. Dinning, H. H. Cook and Lorenzo Webber. The coal was explored for by the late John Evans of Morris Run. The railroad was built by Sherwood & McLean in 1866. The town was first called "Draketown." James Cameron was the first superintendent. But two of the men who put in the first drift are alive - David Gibson, of Blossburg and Wm. Dunsmore, of Harrisburg. In 1874 Henry Landrus was made manager; in 1876 S. B. Elliott succeeded him; in 1881 Mr. Landrus succeeded Elliott and in 1886 F. F. Lyon succeeded Landrus, and he in turn was succeeded by R. T. Dodson, after whose death came E. E. Loomis and the Lincoln. The first post master was J. R. Cameron and the first school teacher, George Rockwell. The Presbyterian church was organized in 1868; the Episcopal church in 1874; the Swedish Lutheran in 1879; the Catholic church in 1880; Congregational 1887. The I.O.G.T. was organized 1871; the K. of P. in 1880; the A.O.H. in 1887; the K.G.E. in 1893, the Odd Fellows and Masons belonging to the Blossburg lodges. The church buildings cost the members about $20,000 to erect and the graded school $4,000.
In 1883 the original company sold out to the Erie. All of the original incorporators, save Dinniny are dead, and but few of the first employees are alive. Nicholas Schultz, we think is the oldest employee, he having gone there in 1866. Among the first were, the Camerons, the Dunsmores, Smiths, Smeetams, Sullivans, Ryans, Dugans, Herons, Jones', Davis', Eddings, Coles, Ellisons, Allens, Clearys, Harris and Logans, some of whom are represented by the second and third generations. The most of them are scattered as wide as the winds. Many of them became lawyers, doctors, civil or mining engineers, merchants, clergymen, managers of coal or coke works, etc, and have one civil and political distinction. Wherever coal is mined in America there are sympathizers and friends of these people.
A more industrious, charitable, honest, self-respecting, God-fearing people are not on earth. If a friend, they will share their last dollar. No request for aid for the sick or needy was ever made in vain. In the thirty three years since Arnot was founded there was never a murder or incendiary fire; one divorce, one elopement, no burglaries, one sucide, two atrocious assaults and three illegitimate children. The pig's ear was opened last year. What town of 3,000 people, composed of 11 nationalities can show as clean record. Most of the difficulties between them and the company were brought about by the company refusing to obey the law. Those facts cannot be railed away.
Current rumors state that the Erie company will follow the example of the anthracite companies and expatriate the English-speaking miners and hire the scum of Europe in their stead. The anthracite experiment has proved a costly one to the State. F. B. Gowen alleged that it was done to stop an epidemic of murders. What are the facts? The skilled dectives were able to find that from the killing of Alexander Rae, at Centralia, Columbia county, in 1864, to the killing of Wm. Sanger, at Raven Run, Schuylkill county, in 1875, but seven murders which could be charged to labor troubles in the five anthracite counties, Carbon, Lackawanna, Schuylkill, Columbia and Luzerne. Then the population of those five counties were similar to our own.
How about the foreign scum? The dockets of those five counties show over a 1,000 murders in the past ten years. The home, which is the pride of the English-speaking miner, is degraded into a den of polyandry. Pick up at random any daily paper and you will see that there was a riot at a christening, a murder at a wedding, or the wife sold like a chattle. A strike is the scene of arson and violence - a $100,000 breaker often going up in smoke. From Jimtown to Morewood your path is marked by violence. In view of these undoubted facts, we ask. Where do property rights end and the public's begin?
The situation in this county has not changed since last week.
Telephone reports from various local unions show that the Erie can get no coal in Central Pennsylvania. On the main line the engines are burning anthracite culm mixed with soft coal screening.
A strike lasting a day occured at Spangler. The company wanted some Erie cars loaded and when it insisted the miners struck. The difficulty was settled and the cars remain unloaded.
The Erie company took the miners' cars away yesterday.
Field Marshall Haggerty will hold a meeting at Arnot today at 2 o'clock and he wants every miner present.
Suppose that Arnot is abandoned. The fact remains the same that the company can pay the advance. That is, unless this prosperity cry is what Burwind-White called it, "The delirious guff of politicians." The coal trade and daily papers assert that coal was never scarcer nor the price higher. This the coal company managers strenously deny.
The Toby Valley is out solidly, all reports to the contrary, not withstanding. Supt. Lincoln stated at the meeting yesterday that the Toby Valley was at work. So have others. These men have been offered bets ranging from $25 to $100 that it was not working but would not take the bets.
Fall Brook has shut down for good, as perdicted in this paper last April.
A meeting was held in Arnot yesterday, the result of a petition signed by clergymen, doctors, merchants, outside men, the druggist and about 100 miners, asking the company to start to work. Fervid appeals were made to the miners to yield. It is courious that not one of the men who has profited by the labor of the miners, has gone to the manager and asked him to cease his inhuman policy. We ask these gentlemen, if these men wave the right to advance, what concession does the company propose in return? Will it cease its cold-blooded policy? Will it burn its blacklist and blot out the past? Will it keep faith any better than in the Klondike? Give the men a bill of particulars vouched for by the proper authority, so that the 800 miners as well as yourselves may know what to expect.
The Blossburg Advertiser October 20, 1899, Vol.15, No. 46
This has been the most eventful week in the history of the strike. The kaledoscopic changes were too rapid to properly note. After the Citizen's meeting last Thursday it looked as if the stripers had met their Sedan, but events proved that it was only their Valley Forge. To the outsider it looked as if the company was victorious, yet the officials, Gardner, Bailey, Lincoln, et. al., were completely out-generaled by Wilson, Haggerty, McKay and Mrs. Jones, and by Saturday night the company was beaten and baffled at every point.
After the Citizen's meeting Thursday the regular committee billed one for Friday on hall hill. It was a beautiful October day, the great amphitheatre nature had created, with its bleak background of rocky hills, was the scene of events possibly never before witnessed on American soil, and, probably will not be seen again. The speakers stood in the pit while around the walls were ranged a thousand men, women and children, from the tottering grady-haired grand-father and mother down to the nursing infant in arms. Many of the evicted miners and their wives had walked miles to attend the meeting.
Edward McKay, a national organizer was the first speaker. He calmly stated the situation; that none of the Erie miners were at work; invited those who were circulating different stories to come forward and he would prove them wrong. A committee was sent to invite those not attending, many of whom responded. He counseled to be peaceable and orderly; to keep within the law, but prevent by all lawful means those who had been deluded from going to work. He stated that the A.F. of L. had taken up their cause and will pursue the Erie to the bitter end, as it had pullman, the Illinois Central and others, who at first seemed victors, but who, at last were compelled to yield. He gave them hope and encouragement and said victory was theirs if they were but true to themselves a few days longer.
The next speaker was Mrs. Mary Jones, of Pittsburg. What is oratory? This gray-haired, pleasant-faced lady stirred that audience as an audience is seldom stirred. She made every fiber of their being thrill with emotion; she made their heart's blood leap and throb. She made the audience involuntarily rise to its feet and cheer with all of its strength. She made them laugh and cry - the children shriek and the men sob. Mothers, with nursing infants in their arms, sprang like school boys to their feet and burst into a perfect Niagara of screams. If Mrs. Jones is not an orator, there never was one. Neither pen, tongue nor brush can adequately describe that scene. It needed but the "Marsellaise" to be one of the scenes from the days of the barricades.
Before the meeting adjourned Mr. McKay invited anyone to ask any question concerning the situation. No question was asked. Then another meeting was called Saturday at 2 p m, and invitations sent to the clergy, physicians, superintendent and those signing the petition to be present and express their views. The skillful generalship of McKay had turned the tide and when Saturday's meeting came to order a much larger audience was present but none of those especially invited were there. Again Mr. McKay and Mrs. Jones spoke, both of whom adroitly parried the company's blows, and when the sun went down a large majority of Erie miners had resolved to stand to the bitter end. Of few of those disposed to go to work objected to the women being present, and Mrs. Jones figuratively skinned them alive, but in deference to that wish none of the women were present at the meeting on Sunday.
Sunday's meeting was the largest held in Arnot in years, and in a sense, was an experience meeting. The address of Mr. McKay was a masterpiece of labor logic. He again stated the situation; invited any of his audience to speak their mines; counseled all to neither cheer nor hoot; told them to be brotherly and not use harshness, but kindness, to those who were weak enough to yield - in a word, he beat the company to a standstill upon its own chosen position. He then asked those who wished to continue the strike to rise to their feet and every Arnot miner in the crowd stood up. A motion was carried asking Mrs. Jones to address the meeting. Her address was a scholarly review of the history of the labor movements, and that, too, without a minute's preparation.
When the meeting adjourned all felt hopeful of ultimate success. But the trial of strength was to be in the morning. The company had sworn in a lot of deputies, who were busy all night urging the men to go to work. The work train left Blossburg without any men on board. When it reached Arnot, there were scenes, some of which caused laughter, and others tears. Gray-haired mothers plead with their sons to go home and children urged their fathers not to go to work. The number which went is hard to correctly state. Taking miners, laborers, drivers and bosses the number did not reach 80, which left the number of miners somewhere between 40 and 50 in the three drifts. The strikers felt that they had won.
Those who had gone to work in the north drift found they had done so without knowing how much per ton they were to receive and held a meeting in the mines and then came out to ascertain what they were working for. As a result of strong appeals to their sense of right and justice less than 40, all told, went to work on Tuesday. The town swarmed with duputies but the miners out witted them everytime. When the work train reached Arnot on Tuesday, a most pathatic scene took place. The women gathered at the depot, sang hymns, offered prayers and plead with those going to work to desist. Sheriff Johnson said to the people if they made no disturbance they had nothing to fear. The women jollied the sheriff till he smiled all over his face. The tack and decency with which Sheriff Johnson did his duty aught not, and will not, be forgotten. A bad-hearted, bull-headed man as sheriff could have done great harm to the cause and provoked trouble. All honor to Sheriff Johnson. As things stood Tuesday the company had stored a magnificent fizzle, thanks to those who posted that notice at Landrus, sent that threatening telegram to Mrs. Jones, and those who stood at the pathways and sought to prevent people from attending the meetings. The miners of Arnot were "born as free as Caesar," and went to the meetings. The apex of assinity was reached when the story was started that Wilson had sold out and was afraid to show himself in Arnot. The men who did those things are enemies of Supt. Lincoln. The events of Monday in Tioga county and in the Toby Valley had convinced the Erie that "it was up against the real thing now." It was desperately short of coal; all of its mines were shut down; it was unable to get any coal in Central Pennsylvania, thanks to Haggerty, McKay and Wilson, and the supreme indifference of its competitors who had paid the advance and whose miners stood ready to strike should an attempt be made to furnish the Erie coal. It took desperate work to reach this end and the events of the past two weeks put gray hairs in Wilson's head. After the fiascos of Monday and Tuesday mornings the Erie invited the miners and their champions, Wilson and McKay to meet Supt. Lincoln and the clergy, physicians and businessmen and discuss the matter and try and come to a settlement. By travelling all night Wilson was able to reach Arnot in time.
Fully 3,000 people met at the appointed time on Tuesday to hear the champions of labor and opponents discuss the matter. A clash arose at once. The strikers wanted the meeting held in the open air, so that all could hear. The others wanted it in the hall so as to exclude the women. The strikers claimed that when they wanted the hall its used was refused them, besides, their wives who had so nobley stood the hardships and had so much at stake were entitled to be present. No cause, they argued, which could not stand the presence of women was worthy of true men. So Supt. Lincoln and his allies remained in the hall while fully 95 per cent of the people gather outside to hear Wilson and McKay. If two men ever rose to the occasion and grandly fulfilled the high expectations of their friends, Wilson and McKay did. Previous to the meeting Mine Inspector Patterson called Lincoln and Wilson together and suggested arbitration.
When the great Tribune of the Pennsylvania coal miners, W. B. Wilson, came in sight of his audience he received an ovation which any man should be proud to receive. From the time he turned the school house corner he received one long shout of joy till he had taken his seat in their midst. This was the man who had sold them out and was afraid to show his face in Arnot. Yes, yes.
After McKay and Wilson had spoken, Wilson made a proposition for arbitration. He stated that if the company would take all of the men back without any discrimination, then the men would go to work and submit their claims to arbitration and pledge themselves to abide by the result. This was put in the form of a resolution and carried unanimously. Then the mine committee and Messrs. Wilson and McKay were selected as a committee to lay the proposition before Lincoln. They returned and stated that Lincoln was in the hall and wanted everybody save the women and boys to come in. This proposition was furiously opposed and it needed all the tact and influence McKay and Wilson had to get the men to go. The hall was crowded to its upmost capacity. On the stage were Mrs. Jones, the clergy, excepting Rev. Rees, Lincoln, Dartt, Dr. Waters, the mine committee, Wilson and McKay.
William Boncer, the bright brave, little secretary-treasurer, was chairman and introduced Wilson as the first speaker. Wilson had made some magnificent speeches but that was his master-piece. Without rhetoric, he took the cold, official facts and wove them into an impregnable argument. He began by saying there never was a greater demand for coal and it was never scarcer. Using the official figures of the Coal Trade Journal, he showed that a year ago coal was selling on an average of $1.60. From these sources he showd that the same kind of coal was selling for $2.50; that the market reports from Boston, New York and Buffalo showed an unprecedented demand and a like scarcity of coal. He showed by the card that the Erie could afford to pay the maximum 67 cents during the panic when coal was a drug on the market and it were folly for it to say that with the better conditions and with coal at a premium it cannot do so now. He showed by the Iron and Steel Bulletins that there was an enormous demand for iron and steel, that caused the present great demand for coal and the statements of those manufacturers that they had enough orders on hand to last them eight months. Taking up the question of abandonment of Arnot he quoted the late F. N. Drake et. al. to prove that for the past 25 years every time the miners had asked for an advance Arnot was to be abandoned. He quoted the sworn testimony of F. F. Lyon, showing that in 1890 the house rentals were over $18,000 annually and that many houses had been built since. That the rental from the stores was nearly $15,000 and it mined 300,000 tons of coal annually upon which it had admitted it made a profit. He showed by their rates posted under the Inter-State Commerce Act, that the freight rate was 75 cents a ton on this coal to Elmira, amounting to over $200,000 a year, and asked if the company was going to abandon all of this revenue rather than pay the paltry advance the miners asked for. He quoted the testimony of Erie firemen showing that two tons of Blossburg coal were equal in steam-raising power to three tons of Clearfield coal. He quoted the market prices which showed that Blossburg coal commanded a higher price per ton in the market because of that steam-rising power. His peroration was a stirring plea for justice and he was cheered to the echo.
Supt. Lincoln was introduced and he received a hearty welcome. He, too, used rhetoric and stated his case in an able manner. He began by saying that he believed in arbitration as it had become a national devise, but in this case there was nothing to arbitrate and smiled when he said it. He stated that he had been used unfairly; that previous to June 13th, he had not been given sufficient time by the men to place the situation properly before the company; that he had been aroused from his bed to receive the demand for the advance; that since the strike began he had done all in his power to get them the advance and would cheer fully do so in the future; that he had been grossly deceived, as he had been led to believe that a majority of the men wanted to work; that at the Citizen's meeting 180 signed the petition for work; that he did not consider that a majority; then the committee had secured over 300 names out of the 425 men and then he started up the work only to find that he had been deceived. Supt. Lincoln was bitter on this point and we don't blame him. He stated that the word "indefinite" might mean five minutes or five years; that it was his opinion that if the work stopped at present it would not be resumed this year, possibly not next; he stated his sole knowledge on this point rested on the acts of his superior officer. He asked them to go to work and perhaps he might find something to arbitrate; that he had seen a receipt for 20,000 tons of coal delivered upon the main line for five cents a ton less than they could mine in Arnot; that most of the coal was now mined by machines and the day of the pick miner was past; that the present prosperity was not on a sound basis; that prices tended downward and hinted that the most of it was gorgeous phantasms of politicians. He concluded by saying he was willing to abide by the will of the majority, and would do all in his power to merit the good will of the people and deeply regretted that at the time of the strike he did not know the people better. He was loudly applauded.
The closing argument was made by Edward McKay and it was a rouser, and punctuated by hearty applause. He began by saying that the record showed that six committees waited upon Supt. Lincoln previous to the strike and in addition had endeavored to secure an interview with Manager Gardner, and Lincoln had stated that Mr. Gardner was in New Mexico and had left the matter of settlement entirely in his (Lincoln's) hands; that the Erie was represented at the joint convention of operators and miners held in Clearfield and had signed the scale and approved the resolution agreeing that when all of the miners of the same company got the advance, then, and not till then, were the miners of that company to resume work; that the Erie had signed the scale and told the Toby Valley that it had given the Tioga county miners the advance and had gone to work, these falsehoods inducing the Toby Valley miners to go to work; that the statistics show that not twenty per cent of the coal is mined by machines and when the Erie could not get coal at Arnot it went to Ehrenfield Cambria county and bought pick mined coal where the men got the scale price, and which was 200 miles further from the main line than Arnot. Why did they not, said he, buy the cheap machine coal? Because the Erie could get neither pick nor machine coal was the reason Mr. Lincoln was present. He showed that every miner in the United States, outside of this county and the state of Maryland, had got an advance in wages within a year. He quoted the railroad reports showing but for a scarcity of coal cars the coal production this year would be 20% greater than ever before in its history, and if the Erie officials lacked the business ability to reap a proper share of this great harvest, they were grossly incompetent and should be dismissed from its service. He read copies of the notices posted in the Toby Valley by the Erie last week, stating that by a secret ballot and unanimous vote all the miners were at work; that the schutes had been torn down, followed by the statement that Arnot miners were all at work; the conflicting statements posted in Arnot about the Toby Valley, and vehemently said the whole course of the Erie in this affair had been one of gross deception and violations of solemn agreements. He said having confidence in the justness of our position - we will submit our case to arbitration and abide by the result like men. We ask nothing but justice and will take nothing less.
Supt. Lincoln went to his office and sent back a messenger to the meeting, saying that he would communicate with the manager and thought the answer would be favorable. During the interim a couple of men made what Col. Murray called "their prow" and Messrs. Moxley and John Kennaird gave some good vocal selections. Word came from Lincoln for them to meet him Wednesday at the same time and place. Wednesday he asked them to meet him Thursday - eight meetings in eight days.
The Blossburg Advertiser October 20, 1899, Vol.15, No. 46
Arnot, Pa., October 20, 6:40 a. m.
At Thursday's meeting Supt. Lincoln made the proposition that he would take all the men back, give them the same houses, and a share of the work and after the men were at work the question of price could be kept open for discussion. The men made a proposition for a straight five cents on mining and ten per cent on labor. They made another proposition: The men in both cases to be taken back without discrimination, have a share of the work, and would arbitrate for the advance they insisting that the company should definitely agree to the first proposition or to arbitrate for the advance.
In case the company agreed the men to resume work on Monday; Wilson and McKay to present the proposition, the men remain idle subject to the call of the mine committee. The hall was packed; the latter propositions being adopted without a dissenting voice. No Erie miners in the district are at work, all "special" dispaches to the contrary notwithstanding. Due notice will be given by the mine committee when work is resumed. This morning the men are firmer and better united than at any since the strike began.