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The Costa Family Who Lost Their Lives in Freedom's Cause

The Costa Family, Who died in Freedom's Cause in the  Ludlow Massacre on April 20, 1914
The Costa Family
Who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause
Attribution: Linda Linville, Grand-Niece of Charlie Costa
Mother Jones Lives has most graciously allowed me to reprint this story about Linda Linville, the grand-niece of Labor Martyr, Charlie Costa. Linda is seeking information about the family of Cedi Costa:
The Costa Family, the Sicilian family
   who gave their lives for the union at #Ludlow Massacre.
Family seeking more information about them.

Linda Linville, the grand-niece of Charlie Costa writes of Cedi that “she was brave and feisty” and felt that the “fight for union was a woman’s responsibility.” She was full-term pregnant just before the massacre. Charlie’s mother “begged Cedi to go with her to someone's ranch. . . Cedi refused and told my grandmother that this was a woman's fight too and that the family needed to stay together." The family brought joy to the Ludlow camp and to the fight for union, from all accounts.

Charlie Costa, who was a key union organizer from Aguilar and had worked in the mines of southern Colorado since he was 12, was shot in the head during the April 20 battle. The next morning Cedi was discovered in the pit where they sought cover from the flying bullets over the bodies of her children. She was described as “badly charred” in some accounts. The children were clasped in each other's arms.

Newspapers reported that Onofrio, Charlie's father “created a demonstration at the morgue just as the bodies were being removed by a violent attack on the Colorado militia.” Linda writes that her grandparents saw Cedi’s body and it was bayoneted. While the coroners’ records do not show this, “I do not think my grandparents had any reason to lie about this so I would really like to get to the bottom of it.”

Some say Cedi had given birth and that this was why the women stayed in the pit. Linda writes “I know that this might be considered by some to be a minor matter considering the broad context of Ludlow, but it disturbs me that this baby’s death [see below] has been unacknowledged in the historical record.”

Cedi’s parents Antonio and Rafaela Mastro (Petrucella) were alive when they lost Cedi and their grandchildren. Linda would very much like to contact any descendants of the Mastros.

The little baby in the photo died of the flu in 1913, not in the massacre.

[emphasis added]

Mother Jones Lives Post of May 3, 1914
Mother Jones Lives, Facebook Page


Honoring Our Martyrs 100 Years Later

Linda Linville was there at the Ludlow Monument to remember her uncle's family on April 20th, 2014, 100 years after the entire family lost their lives in Freedom's Cause.

From The Register-Guard:

TRINIDAD, Colo. — Linda Linville climbed down the steep stone steps into the dugout on the southern Colorado prairie Sunday where one branch of her family was wiped out in one day 100 years ago...

"Anyone who says they died in vain is wrong," said Linville, a retired history teacher from Corona, Calif...

Linville and over 100 others — including members of the United Mine Workers of America wearing the red bandannas the strikers wore — gathered at the site of the former Ludlow tent colony to mark the massacre's 100th anniversary with a Greek Orthodox Easter service. It was very similar to the one the miners, who came from a variety of countries, shared in 100 years ago with the Greek strikers the day before the massacre...

Linville's infant mother and her family were among the striking coal families too but survived. Her Sicilian-born grandfather started coal mining at 12 but gave it up after the massacre and the family eventually moved to Los Angeles to start over again. Her grandfather and grandmother named their next child Charlie after his brother.

[emphasis added]

The Register-Guard:
"Miners' descendants gather for Greek Easter service on 100th anniversary of Ludlow Massacre" By Colleen Slevin, Associated Press
Photo gallery of event here:


Ludlow Monument Victims
Names of the Martyrs on back
of the Ludlow Monument

Cedi and Charlie Costa had three children in 1913, Tony-2, Lucy-4, and Onofrio-6. They lost little Tony that year to the flu. At the time of the Ludlow Massacre, Cedi had carried another baby to term. That tiniest striker is not on the list on the back of the Ludlow Monument, but is mentioned as one of our martyred dead in a few accounts of the massacre.

Jack Reed, who arrived in the Trinidad on about April 30th, gives this account:

Two days after the burning of Ludlow, a reporter, some Red Cross nurses, and the Rev. Randolph Cook of Trinidad, were permitted by the militia to search among the ruins of Ludlow tent colony. The battle was still raging, and the soldiers amused themselves by firing into the ruins as close as they could come to the investigators. Out of the cellar under Mrs. Petrucci's tent, which Louis Tikas had tried so hard to reach, they took the bodies of eleven children and two women, one of whom gave birth to a posthumous child.
And from Walter H. Fink:
Death Beats Life

Death, represented by the Hamrock-Linderfelt butchers, beat Life in the struggle, and young strikers were the penalty. They were just some of the many cases where the innocent had to suffer.

One particular instance of the results of this butchery was had in the undertaking parlor that night.

The young striker was unarmed.

Its mother lay on a cold, hard slab at the morgue, a victim of the Hamrock-Linderfelt murderers. She was found in the death hole at Ludlow when the Red Cross Society visited the devastated city.

If the murderous thugs in Colorado's national guard uniform had remained away from Ludlow, had not felt it necessary to massacre the innocents to earn their $3 additional pay from the coal operators, there would have been at least one little striker two days old. But the Hamrock-Linderfelt assassins' lust for blood could not be denied.

Thursday morning when the woman was buried a little heap lay in her arms against a breast that never had or never would nurse it.

Beshoar identifies the mother as the "wife of Costa:"
The women and children, too, were buried from Holy Trinity church. Huge, horse-drawn drays carried the white coffins to the church and away again. One long box contained the wife of Costa who had died with the union song on his lips. Against her cold breast was a young striker who had never had an opportunity to nurse it.

The Education of John Reed
Selected Writings

International Pub, 1955

The Ludlow Massacre
-by Walter H Fink
U. M. W. A., 1914

Out of the Depths
-by Barron B Beshoar
(1st edition 1942)
Colorado, 1980

photo credit


Charlie Costa-31
Cedi Costa-27
Onofrio Costa-6
Lucy Costa-4
Baby Costa-The Tiniest Striker
And Tony Costa-2
 who died before the massacre.

Ludlow Monument 383px color
photo credit

The Commonwealth of Toil-Pete Seeger

When our cause is all triumphant
And we claim our Mother Earth,
And the nightmare of the present fades away,
We shall live with love and laughter,
We who now are little worth,
But we'll not forget the price we had to pay.

                 -Ralph Chaplin
                 (with last line changed by JayRaye)


Originally posted to WE NEVER FORGET on Wed May 07, 2014 at 11:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Sexism and Patriarchy, In Support of Labor and Unions, Anti-Capitalist Chat, History for Kossacks, and Genealogy and Family History Community.

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