Friday June 24, 1904
Denver, Colorado - Despairing Miner Deported From Cripple Creek Takes His Own Life
DEATH OF EMIL JOHNSON.
June 23.—Breathing a curse against Governor Peabody, Adjutant General Bell and the state administration which, by exercise of its despotic militarism, had driven him from his wife and babies, Emil L. Johnson, one of the miners recently deported from Cripple Creek, ended his life in the morning by inhaling gas.
For some time he had been despondent because the military refused to allow him to return to his family, and when he went to his room at 1646 Larimer street a short time after midnight he disrobed, turned on the gas and laid down on the bed to die. He was discovered about 9:30 by his brother, John T. Johnson, and Police Surgeon Holmquist was summoned. Despite the heroic efforts of the physician, Johnson died a few minutes after the arrival of the police ambulance. He was removed to the morgue.
The case was one of the most pitiable ever brought to the attention of the coroner. Johnson's wife and children, at Altman, had been refused provisions because of an order issued by General Bell. When Johnson heard of this he was driven almost to the verge of madness to think his innocent family should be made to suffer so much on account of his insisting on his rights. He brooded much over this, at times laboring under the hallucination that his family was starving.
The oldest child was six years of age. The youngest was only four months old and was the pride of its father's heart. Often while brooding over his troubles Johnson would bury his face in his hands and weep bitterly, pausing now and then to speak of the manner in which his four-months' old child would pull his hair and pat his face, and, although so young, calling "Da-da," and laughing in baby glee. Johnson applied to the military for permission to return to the gold district, but this was sternly refused. The suicide was the result.
When the union miners were started for the New Mexico line, Johnson was rudely awakened from his bed at his home in Altman at an early hour in the morning. Some soldiers entered and, intruding into the privacy of the family bedroom, roughly ordered Johnson to dress himself. When his wife attempted to kiss him good-bye she was seized by the soldiers and told to get back into her room and not to interfere.
Johnson was hurried from his home, half dressed, and with the despairing cries of his wife and babies ringing in his ears. They, never saw him alive again, and it was stated that when his wife had inquired of him from a soldier she was told that he had been given lashes over the back and sent across the line into New Mexico. The fear that his wife would end her life in despair was one of the terrors which haunted the persecuted man.
Johnson had lived in Altman for seven years, and was regarded as one of the best miners in the district. He had worked in several of the mines there and bore a good reputation as a citizen; he had never before been arrested, and enjoyed the regard of all his neighbors, as well as the city officials of Altman. He was about thirty-two years of age and came to Colorado from Minnesota about ten years ago.
PORTLAND TO OPEN NON-UNION MINE
Instructions Given to Manager Kurie by Board of Directors---
Suits Against the Governor to Be Withdrawn.
The suit against Governor Peabody will be withdrawn, and the Portland mine will resume operations immediately with non-union employes.
Such was the unopposed vote of the Portland directors at the special meeting of the board yesterday afternoon. President James F. Burns presided at the meeting...The directors [voted] for the withdrawal of the suit and resumption of operations with non-union men...
It was the board's decision that hereafter no member of the Western Federation of Miners or allied unions would be employed on the Portland mine, and accordingly instructions are given to Manager Kurie of Cripple Creek to open the property at once with non-union men. About one-half the Portland employes, numbering between 400 and 500, are not members of the union according to the statement of one of the directors yesterday.
"I am informed that a number of union men today turned back their cards to the Western Federation and will return to work on the property," said this director.
The statement was authorized that hereafter the Portland will be operated in line with the policy of the Mine Owners association.
The suits against Governor Peabody, which were ordered dismissed by the directors, were filed by President Burns. One was for $100,000 damages for the closing down of the Portland property. The other suit sought an injunction restraining Governor Peabody and the militia from interfering with the operation of the property.
PRESIDENT BURNS MAKES STATEMENT
To the Public:
On Friday last, I caused a bill to be filed in the circuit court of the United States in the name of the Portland Gold Mining company against James H. Peabody and others to secure for the company and its stockholders the equal protection of the laws, whereby its right to the operation and control of the mines could be hereafter as heretofore exercised in its own way and for the best interest. My action has been repudiated by the board of directors, a majority of whom have ordered the suit dismissed, and the order will be obeyed.
Inasmuch as the institution of this suit has provoked much criticism, I fine it necessary to call attention to the condition which in my opinion demanded resort to the courts for the present and future welfare of the company. Its affairs have been under my management since the spring of 1894, and, with the exception of about ten days in 1903, it has since been in operation until June 10, when it was closed by the military forces of the state in conjunction with the civil forces in the county. During all this long period of time the mines have been operated on the "open shop" principle. Men have been employed and retained for their efficiency only, and no discrimination has ever been made between union and non-union workmen....
I am accused of being a partisan of the Western Federation. It is untrue. I believe in an "open shop," and have always enforced it; I am neither for nor against organized labor. I respect its rights, and I have required it at all times to respect mine. I believe in freedom of contract, in the right of a man to work his property in his own way, and have practiced what I preached. But the powers that be have declared otherwise. The Portland company is a free agent no longer; it must employ men at the dictation of those who have no concern in its prosperity, and the governor is upheld in his crusade against the operation of a contract of hire he urged the company to make [open shop without discrimination against union members.]
As to my management, let the mines speak for themselves. They have had ten years of prosperity, unbroken save by the bayonet. They have paid dividends with the regularity of the seasons. Its record has no parallel in the mining operations of the state, and surely the shareholders should perceive that their interests have at all times been consulted. I have no apology to make to any one for my course, and I believe that future will wholly vindicate it.
James F. Burns.
Special to the Gazette.
Cripple Creek. June 20.-A long blast from the big whistle at the Portland mine notified all former employes within hearing distance to report at the mine and some 200 responded during the course of the day. They were informed by the manager that in all probability the big Battle mountain bonanza will resume operations tomorrow and they were instructed to hold themselves in readiness to go to work.
At a late hour tonight Manger Kurie definitely announced that the Portland property would open tomorrow morning with all the men obtainable. However, before the men are allowed to go to work they will be passed upon by an investigating committee who will be at the mine tomorrow morning a 7 o'clock also in the afternoon from 2 to 6 o'clock to pass on applications. The committee is composed of the following: Manager Kurie, Superintendent Snale, Major Naylor, Lieutenant Travell, Captain Moore, Colonel Kennedy, Judge Gary, J. B. Cunningham, A. T. Holman, John Dalzell, Nelson Franklin, George Copeland, F. D. French and F. M. Woods.
[We, here, note the assistance offered by the Colorado National Guard to the Mine Owners Associations.]
It is positively stated that no member of the Western Federation of Miners will secure a position on this property from this time on. While the men will not at present be compelled to have cards from the mine Owners association no one with a union card will be allowed to go to work.
[photograph & emphasis added]
The Cripple Creek Strike
-by Emma F Langdon
BY MRS. EMMA F. LANGDON"
-of Victor, Colorado
The Weekly Gazette
(Colorado Springs, Colorado)
-June 23, 1904
1). Miners Being Deported from Cripple Creek
2). Miners Deported into New Mexico
3). James Burns
4). Major Naylor
I Ain't Got No Home - Bruce Springsteen
I mined in your mines and I gathered in your corn
I been working, mister, since the day I was born
Now I worry all the time like I never did before
'Cause I ain't got no home in this world anymore