Part 2 out of 3
The first named, George F. Russell, is a hired Manager for the Washington
Employers' Association, whose membership employs between 75,000 and 80,000
workers in the state. Russell is known to be a reactionary of the most
pronounced type. He is an avowed union smasher and a staunch upholder of
the open shop principle, which is widely advertised as the "American plan"
in Washington. Incidentally he is an advocate of the scheme to import
Chinese and Japanese cooley labor as a solution of the "high wage and
arrogant unionism" problem.
F. B. Hubbard, is a small-bore Russell, differing from his chief only in
that his labor hatred is more fanatical and less discreet. Hubbard was
hard hit by the strike in 1917 which fact has evidently won him the
significant title of "a vicious little anti-labor reptile." He is the man
who helped to raid the 1918 Union Hall in Centralia and who appropriated
for himself the stolen desk of the Union Secretary. His nephew Dale
Hubbard was shot while trying to lynch Wesley Everest.
William Scales is a Centralia business man and a virulent sycophant. He is
a parochial replica of the two persons mentioned above. Scales was in the
Quartermaster's Department down on the border during the trouble with
Mexico. Because he was making too much money out of Uncle Sam's groceries,
he was relieved of his duties quite suddenly and discharged from the
service. He was fortunate in making France instead of Fort Leavenworth,
however, and upon his return, became an ardent proselyte of Russell and
Hubbard and their worthy cause. Also he continued in the grocery business.
[Illustration: Hizzoner, The Jedge
In his black robe, like a bird of prey, he perched above the courtroom and
ruled always adversely to the cause of labor. Appointed to try men accused
of killing other men whom he had previously eulogized Judge John M. Wilson
did not disappoint those who appointed him. In open court Vanderveer told
him. In open court Vanderveer told this man: "There was a time when I
thought your rulings were due to ignorance of the law. That will no longer
Warren O. Grimm came from a good family and was a small town aristocrat.
His brother is city attorney at Centralia. Grimm was a lawyer, a college
athlete and a social lion. He had been with the American forces in Siberia
and his chief bid for distinction was a noisy dislike for the Worker's
& Peasants' Republic of Russia, and the I.W.W. which he termed the
"American Bolsheviki". During the 1918 raid on the Centralia hall Grimm is
said to have been dancing around "like a whirling dervish" and waving the
American flag while the work of destruction was going on. Afterwards he
became prominent in the American Legion and was the chief "cat's paw" for
the lumber interests who were capitalizing the uniform to gain their own
unholy ends. Personally he was a clean-cut modern young man.
Shadows Cast Before
On June 26th, the following notice appeared conspicuously on the first
page of the Centralia Hub:
Meeting of Business Men Called for Friday Evening
"Business men and property owners of Centralia are urged to attend a
meeting tomorrow in the Chamber of Commerce rooms to meet the officers of
the Employers' Association of the state to discuss ways and means of
bettering the conditions which now confront the business and property
interests of the state. George F. Russell, Secretary-Manager, says in his
note to business men: 'We need your advice and your co-operation in
support of the movement for the defense of property and property rights.
It is the most important question before the public today.'"
At this meeting Mr. Russell dwelt on the statement that the "radicals"
were better organized than the property interests. Also he pointed out the
need of a special organization to protect "rights of property" from the
encroachments of all "foes of the government". The Non-Partisan League,
the Triple Alliance and the A.F. of L. were duly condemned. The speaker
then launched out into a long tirade against the Industrial Workers of the
World which was characterized as the most dangerous organization in
America and the one most necessary for "good citizens" to crush. Needless
to state the address was chock full of 100% Americanism. It amply made up
in forcefulness anything it lacked in logic.
So the "Citizens' Protective League" of Centralia was born. From the first
it was a law unto itself--murder lust wearing the smirk of
respectability--Judge Lynch dressed in a business suit. The advent of this
infamous league marks the final ascendancy of terrorism over the
Constitution in the city of Centralia. The only things still needed were a
secret committee, a coil of rope and an opportunity.
F.B. Hubbard was the man selected to pull off the "rough stuff" and at the
same time keep the odium of crime from smirching the fair names of the
conspirators. He was told to "perfect his own organization". Hubbard was
eminently fitted for his position by reason of his intense labor-hatred
and his aptitude for intrigue.
The following day the Centralia Daily Chronicle carried the following
significant news item:
BUSINESS MEN OF COUNTY ORGANIZE
Representatives From Many Communities Attend Meeting in
Chamber of Commerce, Presided Over Secretary of Employers' Association.
"The labor situation was thoroughly discussed this afternoon at a meeting
held in the local Chamber of Commerce which was attended by representative
business men from various parts of Lewis County.
"George F. Russell, Secretary of the Employers' Association, of
Washington, presided at the meeting.
"A temporary organization was effected with F. B. Hubbard, President of
the Eastern Railway & Lumber Company, as chairman. He was empowered to
perfect his own organization. A similar meeting will be held in Chehalis
in connection with the noon luncheon of the Citizens' Club on that day."
[Illustration: "Special Prosecutor"
C.D. Cunningham, attorney for F.B. Hubbard and various lumber interests,
took charge of the prosecution immediately. He was the father of much of
the "third degree" methods used on witnesses. Vanderveer offered to prove
at the trial that Cunningham was at the jail when Wesley Everest was
dragged out, brutally mutilated and then lynched.]
The city of Centralia became alive with gossip and speculation about this
new move on the part of the employers. Everybody knew that the whole thing
centered around the detested hall of the Union loggers. Curiosity seekers
began to come In from all parts of the county to have a peep at this hall
before it was wrecked. Business men were known to drive their friends from
the new to the old hall in order to show what the former would look like
in a short time. People in Centralia generally knew for a certainty that
the present hall would go the way of its predecessor. It was just a
question now as to the time and circumstances of the event.
Warren O. Grimm had done his bit to work up sentiment against the union
loggers and their hall. Only a month previously--on Labor Day, 1919,--he
had delivered a "labor" speech that was received with great enthusiasm by
a local clique of business men. Posing as an authority on Bolshevism on
account of his Siberian service Grimm had elaborated on the dangers of
this pernicious doctrine. With a great deal of dramatic emphasis he had
urged his audience to beware of the sinister influence of "the American
Bolsheviki--the Industrial Workers of the World."
A few days before the hall was raided Elmer Smith called at Grimm's office
on legal business. Grimm asked him, by the way, what he thought of his
Labor Day speech. Smith replied that he thought it was "rotten" and that
he couldn't agree with Grimm's anti-labor conception of Americanism. Smith
pointed to the deportation of Tom Lassiter as an example of the
"Americanism" he considered disgraceful. He said also that he thought free
speech was one of the fundamental rights of all citizens.
"I can't agree with you," replied Grimm. "That's the proper way to treat
such a fellow."
The New Black Hundred
On October 19th the Centralia Hub published an item headed "Employers
Called to Discuss Handling of 'Wobbly' Problem." This article urges all
employers to attend, states that the meeting will be held in the Elk's
Club and mentioned the wrecking of the Union Hall in 1918. On the
following day, October 20th, three weeks before the shooting, this meeting
was held at the hall of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks--the
now famous Elks' Club of Centralia. The avowed purpose of this meeting was
to "deal with the I.W.W. problem." The chairman was William Scales, at
that time Commander of the Centralia Post of the American Legion. The
I.W.W. Hall was the chief topic of discussion. F.B. Hubbard opened up by
saying that the I.W.W. was a menace and should be driven out of town.
Chief of Police Hughes, however, cautioned them against such a course. He
is reported to have said that "the I.W.W. is doing nothing wrong in
Centralia--is not violating any law--and you have no right to drive them
out of town in this manner." The Chief of Police then proceeded to tell
the audience that he had taken up the matter of legally evicting the
industrialists with City Attorney C.E. Grimm, a brother of Warren O.
Grimm, who is said to have told them, "Gentlemen, there is no law by which
you can drive the I.W.W. out of town." City Commissioner Saunders and
County Attorney Allen had spoken to the same effect. The latter, Allen,
had gone over the literature of the organization with regard to violence
and destruction and had voluntarily dismissed a "criminal syndicalist"
case without trial for want of evidence.
[Illustration: Lewis County's Legal Prostitute
Herman Allen, prosecuting attorney of Lewis County. He stood at the corner
during the raid and received papers stolen from the hall. There is no
record of his having protested against any illegal action. He turned over
his office to the special Prosecutors and acted as their tool throughout.
During the entire trial he never appeared as an active participant.]
Hubbard was furious at this turn of affairs and shouted to Chief of Police
Hughes: "It's a damned outrage that these men should be permitted to
remain in town! Law or no law, if I were Chief of Police they wouldn't
stay here twenty-four hours."
"I'm not in favor of raiding the hall myself," said Scales. "But I'm
certain that if anybody else wants to raid the I.W.W. Hall there is no
jury in the land will ever convict them."
After considerable discussion the meeting started to elect a committee to
deal with the situation. First of all an effort was made to get a
workingman elected as a member to help camouflage its very evident
character and make people believe that "honest labor" was also desirous of
ridding the town of the hated I.W.W. Hall. A switchman named Henry, a
member of the Railway Brotherhood, was nominated. When he indignantly
declined, Hubbard, red in the face with rage, called him a "damned skunk."
The Inner Circle
Scales then proceeded to tell the audience in general and the city
officials in particular that he would himself appoint a committee "whose
inner workings were secret," and see if he could not get around the matter
that way. The officers of the League were then elected. The President was
County Coroner David Livingstone, who afterwards helped to lynch Wesley
Everest. Dr. Livingstone made his money from union miners. William Scales
was vice president and Hubbard was treasurer. The secret committee was
then appointed by Hubbard. As its name implies it was an underground
affair, similar to the Black Hundreds of Old Russia. No record of any of
its proceedings has ever come to light, but according to best available
knowledge, Warren O. Grimm, Arthur McElfresh, B.S. Cromier and one or two
others who figured prominently in the raid, were members. At all events on
November 6th, five days before the shooting, Grimm was elected Commander
of the Centralia Post of the American Legion, taking the place of Scales,
who resigned in his favor. Scales evidently was of the opinion that a
Siberian veteran and athlete was better fitted to lead the "shock troops"
than a mere counter-jumper like himself. There is no doubt but the secret
committee had its members well placed in positions of strategic importance
for the coming event.
The following day the Tacoma News Tribune carried a significant editorial
on the subject of the new organization:
"At Centralia a committee of citizens has been formed that takes the mind
back to the old days of vigilance committees of the West, which did so
much to force law-abiding citizenship upon certain lawless elements. It is
called the Centralia Protective Association, and its object is to combat
I.W.W. activities in that city and the surrounding country. It invites to
membership all citizens who favor the enforcement of law and order ... It
is high time for the people who do believe in the lawful and orderly
conduct of affairs to take the upper hand ... Every city and town might,
with profit, follow Centralia's example."
The reference to "law and orderly conduct of affairs" has taken a somewhat
ironical twist, now that Centralia has shown the world what she considers
such processes to be.
No less significant was an editorial appearing on the same Date in the
"If the city is left open to this menace, we will soon find ourselves at
the mercy of an organized band of outlaws bent on destruction. What are we
going to do about it?" And, referring to the organization of the "secret
committee," the editorial stated: "It was decided that the inner workings
of the organization were to be kept secret, to more effectively combat a
body using similar tactics." The editorial reeks with lies; but it was
necessary that the mob spirit should be kept at white heat at all times.
Newspaper incitation has never been punished by law, yet it is directly
responsible for more murders, lynching and raids than any other one force
[Illustration: The Stool Pigeon
Tom Morgan, who turned state's evidence. There is an historical precedent
for Morgan. Judas acted similarly, but Judas later had the manhood to go
out and hang himself. Morgan left for "parts unknown."]
The Plot Leaks Out
By degrees the story of the infamous secret committee and its diabolical
plan leaked out, adding positive confirmation to the many already credited
rumors in circulation. Some of the newspapers quite openly hinted that the
I.W.W. Hall was to be the object of the brewing storm. Chief of Police
Hughes told a member of the Lewis County Trades Council, William T.
Merriman by name, that the business men were organizing to raid the hall
and drive its members out of town. Merriman, in turn carried the statement
to many of his friends and brother unionists. Soon the prospective raid
was the subject of open discussion,--over the breakfast toast, on the
street corners, in the camps and mills--every place.
So common was the knowledge in fact that many of the craft organizations
in Centralia began to discuss openly what they should do about it. They
realized that the matter was one which concerned labor and many members
wanted to protest and were urging their unions to try to do something. At
the Lewis County Trades Council the subject was brought up for discussion
by its president, L. F. Dickson. No way of helping the loggers was found,
however, if they would so stubbornly try to keep open their headquarters
in the face of such opposition. Harry Smith, a brother of Elmer Smith, the
attorney, was a delegate at this meeting and reported to his brother the
discussion that took place.
Secretary Britt Smith and the loggers at the Union hall were not by any
means ignorant of the conspiracy being hatched against them. Day by day
they had followed the development of the plot with breathless interest and
not a little anxiety. They knew from bitter experience how union men were
handled when they were trapped in their halls. But they would not
entertain the idea of abandoning their principles and seeking personal
safety. Every logging camp for miles around knew of the danger also. The
loggers there had gone through the hell of the organization period and had
felt the wrath of the lumber barons. Some of them felt that the statement
of Secretary of Labor Wilson as to the attitude of the Industrial Workers
of the World towards "overthrowing the government," and "violence and
destruction" would discourage the terrorists from attempting such a
flagrant and brutal injustice as the one contemplated.
[Illustration: "Oily" Abel
Suave and slimy as a snake; without any of the kindlier traits of nature,
W.H. Abel, sounded the gamut of rottenness in his efforts to convict the
accused men without the semblance of a fair trial. Abel is notorious
throughout Washington as the hireling of the lumber interests. In 1917 he
prosecuted "without fee" all laboring men on strike and is attorney for
the Cosmopolis "penitentiary" so called on account of the brutality with
which it treats employes. Located in one of the small towns of the state
Abel has made a fortune prosecuting labor cases for the special
Regarding the deportation of I.W.W.'s for belonging to an organization
which advocates such things, Secretary of Labor Wilson had stated a short
time previously: "An exhaustive study into the by-laws and practices of
the I.W.W. has thus far failed to disclose anything that brings it within
the class of organizations referred to."
Other of the loggers were buoyed up with the many victories won in the
courts on "criminal syndicalism" charges and felt that the raid would be
too "raw" a thing for the lumber interests even to consider. All were
secure in the knowledge and assurance that they were violating no law in
keeping open their hall. And they wanted that hall kept open.
Of course the question of what was to be done was discussed at their
business meetings. When news reached them on November 4th of the
contemplated "parade" they decided to publish a leaflet telling the
Citizens of Centralia about the justice and legality of their position,
the aims of their organization and the real reason for the intense hatred
which the lumber trust harbored against them. Such leaflet was drawn up by
Secretary Britt Smith and approved by the membership. It was an honest,
outspoken appeal for public sympathy and support. This leaflet--word for
word as it was printed and circulated in Centralia--is reprinted below:
To the Citizens of Centralia We Must Appeal
[Illustration: The Chief Fink
Frank P. Christensen, who was the "fixer" for the prosecution. As
Assistant Attorney General he used his office to intimidate witnesses and
in the effort to cover up actions of the mob. He is reported to have been
responsible for the recovery and burial of Everest's body, saying: "We've
got to bring in that body and bury it. If the wobs ever find out what was
done and get it they'll raise hell and make capital of it."]
"To the law abiding citizens of Centralia and to the working class in
general: We beg of you to read and carefully consider the following:
"The profiteering class of Centralia have of late been waving the flag of
our country in an endeavor to incite the lawless element of our city to
raid our hall and club us out of town. For this purpose they have inspired
editorials in the Hub, falsely and viciously attacking the I.W.W., hoping
to gain public approval for such revolting criminality. These profiteers
are holding numerous secret meetings to that end, and covertly inviting
returned service men to do their bidding. In this work they are ably
assisted by the bankrupt lumber barons of southwest Washington who led the
mob that looted and burned the I.W.W. hall a year ago.
"These criminal thugs call us a band of outlaws bent on destruction. This
they do in an attempt to hide their own dastardly work in burning our hall
and destroying our property. They say we are a menace; and we are a menace
to all mobocrats and pilfering thieves. Never did the I.W.W. burn public
or private halls, kidnap their fellow citizens, destroy their property,
club their fellows out of town, bootleg or act in any ways as
law-breakers. These patriotic profiteers throughout the country have
falsely and with out any foundation whatever charged the I.W.W. with every
crime on the statute books. For these alleged crimes thousands of us have
been jailed in foul and filthy cells throughout this country, often
without charge, for months and in some cases, years, and when released
re-arrested and again thrust in jail to await a trial that is never
called. The only convictions of the I.W.W. were those under the espionage
law, where we were forced to trial before jurors, all of whom were at
political and industrial enmity toward us, and in courts hostile to the
working class. This same class of handpicked courts and juries also
convicted many labor leaders, socialists, non-partisans, pacifists, guilty
of no crime save that of loyalty to the working class.
"By such courts Jesus the Carpenter was slaughtered upon the charge that
'he stirreth up the people.' Only last month 25 I.W.W. were indicted in
Seattle as strike leaders, belonging to an unlawful organization,
attempting to overthrow the government and other vile things under the
syndicalist law passed by the last legislature. To exterminate the
'wobbly' both the court and jury have the lie to every charge. The court
held them a lawful organization and their literature was not disloyal nor
inciting to violence, though the government had combed the country from
Chicago to Seattle for witnesses, and used every pamphlet taken from their
hall in government raids.
"In Spokane 13 members were indicted in the Superior Court for wearing the
I.W.W. button and displaying their emblem. The jury unanimously acquitted
them and the court held it no crime.
"In test cases last month both in the Seattle and Everett Superior Courts,
the presiding judge declared the police had no authority in law to close
their halls and the padlocks were ordered off and the halls opened.
"Many I.W.W. in and around Centralia went to France and fought and bled
for the democracy they never secured. They came home to be threatened with
mob violence by the law and order outfit that pilfered every nickel
possible from their mothers and fathers while they were fighting in the
trenches in the thickest of the fray.
"Our only crime is solidarity, loyalty to the working class and justice to
"Let the Men in Uniform Do It"
On November 6th, the Centralia Post of the American Legion met with a
committee from the Chamber of Commerce to arrange for a parade-another
"patriotic" parade. The first anniversary of the signing of the armistice
was now but a few days distant and Centralia felt it incumbent upon
herself to celebrate. Of course the matter was brought up rather
circumspectly, but knowing smiles greeted the suggestion. One business man
made a motion that the brave boys wear their uniforms. This was agreed
The line of march was also discussed. As the union hall was a little off
the customary parade route, Scales suggested that their course lead past
the hall "in order to show them how strong we are." It was intimated that
a command "eyes right" would be given as the legionaries and business men
passed the union headquarters. This was merely a poor excuse of the secret
committeemen to get the parade where they needed it. But many innocent men
were lured into a "lynching bee" without knowing that they were being led
to death by a hidden gang of broad-cloth conspirators who were plotting at
murder. Lieutenant Cormier, who afterwards blew the whistle that was the
signal for the raid, endorsed the proposal of Scales as did Grimm and
McElfresh--all three of them secret committeemen.
Practically no other subject but the "parade" was discussed at this
meeting. The success of the project was now assured for it had placed into
the hands of the men who alone could arrange to "have the men in uniform
do it." The men in uniform had done it once before and people knew what to
The day following this meeting the Centralia Hub published an announcement
of the coming event stating that the legionaires had "voted to wear
uniforms." The line of march was published for the first time. Any doubts
about the real purpose of the parade vanished when people read that the
precession was to march from the City Park to Third street and Tower
avenue and return. The union hall was on Tower between Second and Third
streets, practically at the end of the line of march and plainly the
objective of the demonstrators.
[Illustration: Bridge from which Everest Was Hanged
From this bridge, over the Chehalis river, Wesley Everest was left
dangling by a mob of business men. Automobile parties visited this spot at
different times during the night and played their headlights on the corpse
in order better to enjoy the spectacle.]
"Decent Labor"--Hands Off!
A short time after the shooting a virulent leaflet was issued by the
Mayor's office stating that the "plot to kill had been laid two or three
weeks before the tragedy," and that "the attack (of the loggers) was
without justification or excuse." Both statements are bare faced lies. The
meeting was held the 6th and the line of march made public of the 7th. The
loggers could not possibly have planned a week and a half previously to
shoot into a parade they knew nothing about and whose line of march had
not yet been disclosed. It was proved in court that the union men armed
themselves at the very last moment, after everything else had failed and
they had been left helpless to face the alternative of being driven out of
town or being lynched.
About this time eyewitnesses declare coils of rope were being purchased in
a local hardware store. This rope is all cut up into little pieces now and
most of it is dirty and stained. But many of Centralia's best families
prize their souvenir highly. They say it brings good luck to a family.
A few days after the meeting just described William Dunning, vice
president of the Lewis County Trades and Labor Assembly, met Warren Grimm
on the street. Having fresh in his mind a recent talk about the raid in
the Labor Council meetings, and being well aware of Grimm's standing and
influence, Dunning broached the subject.
"We've been discussing the threatened raid on the I.W.W. hall," he said.
"Who are you, an I.W.W.?" asked Grimm.
Dunning replied stating that he was vice president of the Labor Assembly
and proceeded to tell Grimm the feeling of his organization on the
"Decent labor ought to keep its hands off," was Grimm's laconic reply.
The Sunday before the raid a public meeting was held in the union hall.
About a hundred and fifty persons were in the audience, mostly working men
and women of Centralia. A number of loggers were present, dressed in the
invariable mackinaw, stagged overalls and caulked shoes. John Foss, an
I.W.W. ship builder from Seattle, was the speaker. Secretary Britt Smith
was chairman. Walking up and down the isle, selling the union's pamphlets
and papers was a muscular and sun-burned young man with a rough, honest
face and a pair of clear hazel eyes in which a smile was always twinkling.
He wore a khaki army coat above stagged overalls of a slightly darker
shade,--Wesley Everest, the ex-soldier who was shortly to be mutilated and
lynched by the mob.
"I Hope to Jesus Nothing Happens"
The atmosphere of the meeting was already tainted with the Terror. Nerves
were on edge. Every time any newcomer would enter the door the audience
would look over their shoulders with apprehensive glances. At the
conclusion of the meeting the loggers gathered around the secretary and
asked him the latest news about the contemplated raid. For reply Britt
Smith handed them copies of the leaflet "We Must Appeal" and told of the
efforts that had been made and were being made to secure legal protection
and to let the public know the real facts in the case.
"If they raid the hall again as they did in 1918 the boys won't stand for
it," said a logger.
"If the law won't protect us we've got a right to protect ourselves,"
"I hope to Jesus nothing happens," replied the secretary.
Wesley Everest laid down his few unsold papers, rolled a brown paper
cigarette and smiled enigmatically over the empty seats in the general
direction of the new One Big Union label on the front window. His closest
friends say he was never afraid of anything in all his life.
None of these men knew that loggers from nearby camps, having heard of the
purchase of the coils of rope, were watching the hall night and day to see
that "nothing happens."
The next day, after talking things over with Britt Smith, Mrs. McAllister,
wife of the proprietor of the Roderick hotel from whom the loggers rented
the hall, went to see Chief of Police Hughes. This is how she told of the
"I got worried and I went to the Chief. I says to him 'Are you going to
protect my property?' Hughes says, 'We'll do the best we can for you, but
as far as the wobblies are concerned they wouldn't last fifteen minutes if
the business men start after them. The business men don't want any
wobblies in this town.'"
The day before the tragedy Elmer Smith dropped in at the Union hall to
warn his clients that nothing could now stop the raid. "Defend it if you
choose to do so," he told them. "The law gives you that right."
It was on the strength of this remark, overheard by the stool-pigeon,
Morgan, and afterwards reported to the prosecution, that Elmer Smith was
hailed to prison charged with murder in the first degree. His enemies had
been certain all along that his incomprehensible delusion about the law
being the same for the poor man as the rich would bring its own
punishment. It did; there can no longer be any doubt on the subject.
[Illustration: Carting Away Wesley Everest's Body for Burial
After the mutilated body had been cut down in laid in the river for two
days. Then it was taken back to the city jail where it remained for two
days more--as an object lesson--in plain view of the comrades of the
murdered boy. Everest was taken from this building to be lynched. During
the first week after the tragedy this jail witnessed scenes of torture and
horror that equaled the worst days of the Spanish inquisition.]
The Scorpion's Sting
November 11th was a raw, gray day; the cold sunlight barely penetrating
the mist that hung over the city and the distant tree-clad hills. The
"parade" assembled at the City Park. Lieutenant Cormier was marshal.
Warren Grimm was commander of the Centralia division. In a very short time
he had the various bodies arranged to his satisfaction. At the head of the
procession was the "two-fisted" Centralia bunch. This was followed by one
from Chehalis, the county seat, and where the parade would logically have
been held had its purpose been an honest one. Then came a few sailors and
marines and a large body of well dressed gentlemen from the Elks. The
school children who were to have marched did not appear. At the very end
were a couple of dozen boy scouts and an automobile carrying pretty girls
dressed in Red Cross uniforms. Evidently this parade, unlike the one of
1918, did not, like a scorpion, carry its sting in the rear. But wait
until you read how cleverly this part of it had been arranged!
The marchers were unduly silent and those who knew nothing of the lawless
plan of the secret committee felt somehow that something must be wrong.
City Postmaster McCleary and a wicked-faced old man named Thompson were
seen carrying coils of rope. Thompson is a veteran of the Civil War and a
minister of God. On the witness stand he afterwards swore he picked up the
rope from the street and was carrying it "as a joke." It turned out that
the "joke" was on Wesley Everest.
"Be ready for the command 'eyes right' or 'eyes left' when we pass the
'reviewing stand'," Grimm told the platoon commanders just as the parade
The procession covered most of the line of march without incident. When
the union hall was reached there was some craning of necks but no outburst
of any kind. A few of the out-of-town paraders looked at the place
curiously and several business men were seen pointing the hall out to
their friends. There were some dark glances and a few long noses but no
"When do we reach the reviewing stand?" asked a parader, named Joe Smith,
of a man marching beside him.
"Hell, there ain't any reviewing stand," was the reply. "We're going to
give the wobbly hall 'eyes right' on the way back."
The head of the columns reached Third avenue and halted. A command of
'about face' was given and the procession again started to march past the
union hall going in the opposite direction. The loggers inside felt
greatly relieved as they saw the crowd once more headed for the city. But
the Centralia and Chehalis contingents, that had headed the parade, was
now in the rear--just where the "scorpion sting" of the 1918 parade had
been located! The danger was not yet over.
"Let's go! At 'em, boys!"
The Chehalis division had marched past the hall and the Centralia division
was just in front of it when a sharp command was given. The latter stopped
squarely in front of the hall but the former continued to march.
Lieutenant Cormier of the secret committee was riding between the two
contingents on a bay horse. Suddenly he placed his fingers to his mouth
and gave a shrill whistle. Immediately there was a hoarse cry of "Let's
go-o-o! At 'em, boys!" About sixty feet separated the two contingents at
this time, the Chehalis men still continuing the march. Cromier spurred
his horse and overtook them. "Aren't you boys in on this?" he shouted.
At the words "Let's go," the paraders from both ends and the middle of the
Centralia contingent broke ranks and started on the run for the union
headquarters. A crowd of soldiers surged against the door. There was a
crashing of glass and a splintering of wood as the door gave way. A few of
the marauders had actually forced their way into the hall. Then there was
a shot, three more shots ... and a small volley. From Seminary hill and
the Avalon hotel rifles began to crack.
[Illustration: Elks Club, Centralia
It was here that the Centralia conspiracy was hatched and the notorious
"secret committee" appointed to do the dirty work.]
The mob stopped suddenly, astounded at the unexpected opposition. Out of
hundreds of halls that had been raided during the past two years this was
the first time the union men had attempted to defend themselves. It had
evidently been planned to stampede the entire contingent into the attack
by having the secret committeemen take the lead from both ends and the
middle. But before this could happen the crowd, frightened at the shots
started to scurry for cover. Two men were seen carrying the limp figure of
a soldier from the door of the hall. When the volley started they dropped
it and ran. The soldier was a handsome young man, named Arthur McElfresh.
He was left lying in front of the hall with his feet on the curb and his
head in the gutter. The whole thing had been a matter of seconds.
"I Had No Business Being There"
Several men had been wounded. A pool of blood was widening in front of the
doorway. A big man in officer's uniform was seen to stagger away bent
almost double and holding his hands over his abdomen. "My God, I'm shot!"
he had cried to the soldier beside him. This was Warren O. Grimm; the
other was his friend, Frank Van Gilder. Grimm walked unassisted to the
rear of a nearby soft drink place from whence he was taken to a hospital.
He died a short time afterwards. Van Gilder swore on the witness stand
that Grimm and himself were standing at the head of the columns of
"unoffending paraders" when his friend was shot. He stated that Grimm had
been his life-long friend but admitted that when his "life-long friend"
received his mortal wound that he (Van Gilder), instead of acting like a
hero in no man's land, had deserted him in precipitate haste. Too many eye
witnesses had seen Grimm stagger wounded from the doorway of the hall to
suit the prosecution. Van Gilder knew at which place Grimm had been shot
but it was necessary that he be placed at a convenient distance from the
hall. It is reported on good authority that Grimm, just before he died in
the hospital, confessed to a person at his bedside: "It served me right, I
had no business being there."
A workingman, John Patterson, had come down town on Armistice Day with his
three small children to watch the parade. He was standing thirty-five feet
from the door of the hall when the raid started. On the witness stand
Patterson told of being pushed out of the way by the rush before the
shooting began. He saw a couple of soldiers shot and saw Grimm stagger
away from the doorway wounded in the abdomen. The testimony of Dr.
Bickford at the corner's inquest under oath was as follows:
"I spoke up and said I would lead if enough would follow, but before I
could take the lead there were many ahead of me. Someone next to me put
his foot against the door and forced it open, after which a shower of
bullets poured through the opening about us." Dr. Bickford is an A.E.F.
man and one of the very few legionaires who dared to tell the truth about
the shooting. The Centralia business element has since tried repeatedly to
In trying to present the plea of self defense to the court, Defense
attorney Vanderveer stated:
"There was a rush, men reached the hall under the command of Grimm, and
yet counsel asks to have shown a specific overt act of Grimm before we can
present the plea of self-defense. Would he have had the men wait with
their lives at stake? The fact is that Grimm was there and in defending
themselves these men shot. Grimm was killed because he was there. They
could not wait. Your honor, self defense isn't much good after a man is
The prosecution sought to make a point of the fact that the loggers had
fired into a street in which there were innocent bystanders as well as
paraders. But the fact remains that the only men hit by bullets were those
who were in the forefront of the mob.
Through the Hall Window
How the raid looked from the inside of the hall can best be described from
the viewpoint of one of the occupants, Bert Faulkner, a union logger and
ex-service man. Faulkner described how he had dropped in at the hall on
Armistice Day and stood watching the parade from the window. In words all
the more startling for their sheer artlessness he told of the events which
followed: First the grimacing faces of the business men, then as the
soldiers returned, a muffled order, the smashing of the window, with the
splinters of glass falling against the curtain, the crashing open of the
door ... and the shots that "made his ears ring," and made him run for
shelter to the rear of the hall, with the shoulder of his overcoat torn
with a bullet. Then how he found himself on the back stairs covered with
rifles and commanded to come down with his hands in the air. Finally how
he was frisked to the city jail in an automobile with a business man
standing over him armed with a piece of gas pipe.
Eugene Barnett gave a graphic description of the raid as he saw it from
the office of the adjoining Roderick hotel. Barnett said he saw the line
go past the hotel. The business men were ahead of the soldiers and as this
detachment passed the hotel returning the soldiers still were going north.
The business men were looking at the hall and pointing it out to the
soldiers. Some of them had their thumbs to their noses and others were
saying various things.
[Illustration: City Park, Centralia
At this place the parade assembled that started out to raid the Union hall
and lynch its secretary.]
"When the soldiers turned and came past I saw a man on horseback ride
past. He was giving orders which were repeated along the line by another.
As the rider passed the hotel he gave a command and the second man said:
'Bunch up, men!'
"When this order came the men all rushed for the hall. I heard glass
break. I heard a door slam. There was another sound and then shooting
came. It started from inside the hall.
"As I saw these soldiers rush the hall I jumped up and threw off my coat.
I thought there would be a fight and I was going to mix in. Then came the
shooting, and I knew I had no business there."
Later Barnett went home and remained there until his arrest the next day.
In the union hall, besides Bert Faulkner, were Wesley Everest, Roy Becker,
Britt Smith, Mike Sheehan, James McInerney and the "stool pigeon," these,
with the exception of Faulkner and Everest, remained in the hall until the
authorities came to place them under arrest. They had after the first
furious rush of their assailants, taken refuge in a big and long disused
ice box in the rear of the hall. Britt Smith was unarmed, his revolver
being found afterwards, fully loaded, in his roll-top desk. After their
arrest the loggers were taken to the city jail which was to be the scene
of an inquisition unparalleled in the history of the United States. After
this, as an additional punishment, they were compelled to face the farce
of a "fair trial" in a capitalistic court.
But Destiny had decided to spare one man the bitter irony of judicial
murder. Wesley Everest still had a pocket full of cartridges and a
forty-four automatic that could speak for itself.
This soldier-lumberjack had done most of the shooting in the hall. He held
off the mob until the very last moment, and, instead of seeking refuge in
the refrigerator after the "paraders" had been dispersed, he ran out of
the back door, reloading his pistol as he went. It is believed by many
that Arthur McElfresh was killed inside the hall by a bullet fired by
In the yard at the rear of the hall the mob had already reorganized for an
attack from that direction. Before anyone knew what had happened Everest
had broken through their ranks and scaled the fence. "Don't follow me and
I won't shoot," he called to the crowd and displaying the still smoking
blue steel pistol in his hand.
"There goes the secretary!" yelled someone, as the logger started at top
speed down the alley. The mob surged in pursuit, collapsing the board
fence before them with sheer force of numbers. There was a rope in the
crowd and the union secretary was the man they wanted. The chase that
followed probably saved the life, not only of Britt Smith, but the
remaining loggers in the hall as well.
Running pell-mell down the alley the mob gave a shout of exaltation as
Everest slowed his pace and turned to face them. They stopped cold,
however, as a number of quick shots rang out and bullets whistled and
zipped around them. Everest turned in his tracks and was off again like a
flash, reloading his pistol as he ran. The mob again resumed the pursuit.
The logger ran through an open gateway, paused to turn and again fire at
his pursuers; then he ran between two frame dwellings to the open street.
When the mob again caught the trail they were evidently under the
impression that the logger's ammunition was exhausted. At all events they
took up the chase with redoubled energy. Some men in the mob had rifles
and now and then a pot-shot would be taken at the fleeing figure. The
marksmanship of both sides seems to have been poor for no one appears to
have been injured.
This kind of running fight was kept up until Everest reached the river.
Having kept off his pursuers thus far the boy started boldly for the
comparative security of the opposite shore, splashing the water violently
as he waded out into the stream. The mob was getting closer all the time.
Suddenly Everest seemed to change his mind and began to retrace his steps
to the shore. Here he stood dripping wet in the tangled grasses to await
the arrival of the mob bent on his destruction. Everest had lost his hat
and his wet hair stuck to his forehead. His gun was now so hot he could
hardly hold it and the last of his ammunition was in the magazine. Eye
witnesses declare his face still wore a quizzical, half bantering smile
when the mob overtook him. With the pistol held loosely in his rough hand
Everest stood at bay, ready to make a last stand for his life. Seeing him
thus, and no doubt thinking his last bullet had been expended, the mob
made a rush for its quarry.
"Stand back!" he shouted. "If there are 'bulls' in the crowd, I'll submit
to arrest; otherwise lay off of me."
[Illustration: Blind Tom Lassiter
Tom Lassiter is the blind news dealer who Was kidnapped and deported out
of town in June, 1919, by a gang of business men. His stand was raided and
the contents burned in the street. He had been selling The Seattle Union
Record, The Industrial Worker and Solidarity. County attorney Allen said
he couldn't help to apprehend the criminals and would only charge them
with third degree assault if they were found. The fine would be one dollar
and costs! Lassiter is now in jail in Chehalis charged with "criminal
No attention was paid to his words. Everest shot from the hip four
times,--then his gun stalled. A group of soldiers started to run in his
direction. Everest was tugging at the gun with both hands. Raising it
suddenly he took careful aim and fired. All the soldiers but one wavered
and stopped. Everest fired twice, both bullets taking effect. Two more
shots were fired almost point blank before the logger dropped his
assailant at his feet. Then he tossed away the empty gun and the mob
surged upon him.
The legionaire who had been shot was Dale Hubbard, a nephew of F.B.
Hubbard, the lumber baron. He was a strong, brave and misguided young
man--worthy of a nobler death.
"Let's Finish the Job!"
Everest attempted a fight with his fists but was overpowered and severely
beaten. A number of men clamoured for immediate lynching, but saner
council prevailed for the time and he was dragged through the streets
towards the city jail. When the mob was half a block from this place the
"hot heads" made another attempt to cheat the state executioner. A wave of
fury seemed here to sweep the crowd. Men fought with one another for a
chance to strike, kick or spit in the face of their victim. It was an orgy
of hatred and blood-lust. Everest's arms were pinioned, blows, kicks and
curses rained upon him from every side. One business man clawed strips of
bleeding flesh from his face. A woman slapped his battered cheek with a
well groomed hand. A soldier tried to lunge a hunting rifle at the
helpless logger; the crowd was too thick. He bumped them aside with the
butt of the gun to get room. Then he crashed the muzzle with full force
into Everest's mouth. Teeth were broken and blood flowed profusely.
A rope appeared from somewhere. "Let's finish the job!" cried a voice. The
rope was placed about the neck of the logger. "You haven't got guts enough
to lynch a man in the daytime," was all he said.
At this juncture a woman brushed through the crowd and took the rope from
Everest's neck. Looking into the distorted faces of the mob she cried
indignantly, "You are curs and cowards to treat a man like that!"
There may be human beings in Centralia after all.
Wesley Everest was taken to the city jail and thrown without ceremony upon
the cement floor of the "bull pen." In the surrounding cells were his
comrades who had been arrested in the union hall. Here he lay in a wet
heap, twitching with agony. A tiny bright stream of blood gathered at his
side and trailed slowly along the floor. Only an occasional quivering moan
escaped his torn lips as the hours slowly passed by.
"Here Is Your Man"
Later, at night, when it was quite dark, the lights of the jail were
suddenly snapped off. At the same instant the entire city was plunged in
darkness. A clamour of voices was heard beyond the walls. There was a
hoarse shout as the panel of the outer door was smashed in. "Don't shoot,
men," said the policemen on guard, "Here is your man." It was night now,
and the business men had no further reason for not lynching the supposed
secretary. Everest heard their approaching foot steps in the dark. He
arose drunkenly to meet them. "Tell the boys I died for my class," he
whispered brokenly to the union men in the cells. These were the last
words he uttered in the jail. There were sounds of a short struggle and of
many blows. Then a door slammed and, in a short time the lights were
switched on. The darkened city was again illuminated at the same moment.
Outside three luxurious automobiles were purring them selves out of sight
in the darkness.
The only man who had protested the lynching at the last moment was William
Scales. "Don't kill him, men," he is said to have begged of the mob. But
it was too late. "If you don't go through with this you're an I.W.W. too,"
they told him. Scales could not calm the evil passions he had helped to
But how did it happen that the lights were turned out at such an opportune
time? Could it be that city officials were working hand in glove with the
Defense Attorney Vanderveer offered to prove to the court that such was
the case. He offered to prove this was a part of the greater conspiracy
against the union loggers and their hall,--offered to prove it point by
point from the very beginning. Incidentally Vanderveer offered to prove
that Earl Craft, electrician in charge of the city lighting plant, had
left the station at seven o'clock on Armistice day after securely locking
the door; and that while Craft was away the lights of the city were turned
off and Wesley Everest taken out and lynched. Furthermore, he offered to
prove that when Craft returned, the lights were again turned on and the
city electrician, his assistant and the Mayor of Centralia were in the
building with the door again locked.
These offers were received by his honor with impassive judicial dignity,
but the faces of the lumber trust attorneys were wreathed with smiles at
the audacity of the suggestion. The corporation lawyers very politely
registered their objections which the judge as politely sustained.
The Night of Horrors
After Everest had been taken away the jail became a nightmare--as full of
horrors as a madman's dream. The mob howled around the walls until late in
the night. Inside, a lumber trust lawyer and his official assistants were
administering the "third degree" to the arrested loggers, to make them
"confess." One at a time the men were taken to the torture chamber, and so
terrible was the ordeal of this American Inquisition that some were almost
broken--body and soul. Loren Roberts had the light in his brain snuffed
out. Today he is a shuffling wreck. He is not interested in things any
more. He is always looking around with horror-wide eyes, talking of
"voices" and "wires" that no one but himself knows anything about. There
is no telling what they did to the boy, but he signed the "confession."
Its most incriminating statement must have contained too much truth for
the prosecution. It was never used in court.
When interviewed by Frank Walklin of the Seattle Union Record the loggers
told the story in their own way:
"I have heard tales of cruelty," said James McInerney, "but I believe what
we boys went through on those nights can never be equaled. I thought it
was my last night on earth and had reconciled myself to an early death of
some kind, perhaps hanging. I was taken out once by the mob, and a rope
was placed around my neck and thrown over a cross-bar or something.
"I waited for them to pull the rope. But they didn't. I heard voices in
the mob say, 'That's not him,' and then I was put back into the jail."
John Hill Lamb, another defendant, related how several times a gun was
poked through his cell window by some one who was aching to get a pot shot
at him. Being ever watchful he hid under his bunk and close to the wall
where the would-be murderer could not see him.
Britt Smith and Roy Becker told with bated breath about Everest as he lay
half-dead in the corridor, in plain sight of the prisoners in the cells on
both sides. The lights went out and Everest, unconscious and dying, was
taken out. The men inside could hear the shouts of the mob diminishing as
Everest was hurried to the Chehalis River bridge.
[Illustration: Bert Bland
Logger. American. (Brother of O.C. Bland.) One of the men who fired from
Seminary Hill. Bland has worked all his life in the woods. He joined the
Industrial Workers of the World during the great strike of 1917. Bert
Bland took to the hills after the shooting and was captured a week later
during the man hunt.]
None of the prisoners was permitted to sleep that night; the fear of death
was kept upon them constantly, the voices outside the cell windows telling
of more lynchings to come. "Every time I heard a footstep or the clanking
of keys," said Britt Smith, "I thought the mob was coming after more of
us. I didn't sleep, couldn't sleep; all I could do was strain my ears for
the mob I felt sure was coming." Ray Becker, listening at Britt's side,
said: "Yes, that was one hell of a night." And the strain of that night
seems to linger in their faces; probably it always will remain--the
expression of a memory that can never be blotted out.
When asked if they felt safer when the soldiers arrived to guard the
Centralia jail, there was a long pause, and finally the answer was "Yes."
"But you must remember," offered one, "that they took 'em out at Tulsa
from a supposedly guarded jail; and we couldn't know from where we were
what was going on outside."
"For ten days we had no blankets," said Mike Sheehan. "It was cold
weather, and we had to sleep uncovered on concrete floors. In those ten
days I had no more than three hours sleep."
"The mob and those who came after the mob wouldn't let us sleep. They
would come outside our windows and hurl curses at us, and tell each of us
it would be our turn next. They brought in Wesley Everest and laid him on
the corridor floor; he was bleeding from his ears and mouth and nose, was
curled in a heap and groaning. And men outside and inside kept up the din.
I tried to sleep; I was nearly mad; my temples kept pounding like
sledge-hammers. I don't know how a man can go through all that and
live--but we did."
All through the night the prisoners could hear the voices of the mob under
their cell windows. "Well, we fixed that guy Everest all right," some one
would say. "Now we'll get Roberts." Then the lights would snap off, there
would be a shuffling, curses, a groan and the clanking of a steel door.
All the while they were being urged to "come clean" with a statement that
would clear the lumber trust of the crime and throw the blame onto its
victims. McInerney's neck was scraped raw by the rope of the mob but he
repeatedly told them to "go to hell!" Morgan, the stool-pigeon, escaped
the torture by immediate acquiescence. Someone has since paid his fare To
parts unknown. His "statement" didn't damage the defense.
[Illustration: Ray Becker
Logger, American born. Twenty-five years of age. Studied four years for
the ministry before going to work in the woods. His father and brother are
both preachers. Becker joined the Industrial Workers of the World in 1917
and has always been a strong believer in the cause of the solidarity of
Labor. He has the zeal of a prophet and the courage of a lion. Defended
himself inside the hall with an Ivor Johnson, 38, until his ammunition was
exhausted. He surrendered to the authorities--not the mob.]
The Human Fiend
But with the young logger who had been taken out into the night things
were different. Wesley Everest was thrown, half unconscious, into the
bottom of an automobile. The hands of the men who had dragged him there
were sticky and red. Their pant legs were sodden from rubbing against the
crumpled figure at their feet. Through the dark streets sped the three
machines. The smooth asphalt became a rough road as the suburbs were
reached. Then came a stretch of open country, with the Chehalis river
bridge only a short distance ahead. The cars lurched over the uneven road
with increasing speed, their headlights playing on each other or on the
Wesley Everest stirred uneasily. Raising himself slowly on one elbow he
swung weakly with his free arm, striking one of his tormentors full in the
face. The other occupants immediately seized him and bound his hands and
feet with rope. It must have been the glancing blow from the fist of the
logger that gave one of the gentlemen his fiendish inspiration. Reaching
in his pocket he produced a razor. For a moment he fumbled over the now
limp figure in the bottom of the car. His companions looked on with stolid
acquiescence. Suddenly there was a piercing scream of pain. The figure
gave a convulsive shudder of agony. After a moment Wesley Everest said in
a weak voice: "For Christ's sake, men; shoot me--don't let me suffer like
On the way back to Centralia, after the parade rope had done Its deadly
work, the gentlemen of the razor alighted from the car in front of a
certain little building. He asked leave to wash his hands. They were as
red as a butcher's. Great clots of blood were adhering to his sleeves.
"That's about the nastiest job I ever had to do," was his casual remark as
he washed himself in the cool clear water of the Washington hills. The
name of this man is known to nearly everybody in Centralia. He is still at
The headlight of the foremost car was now playing on the slender steel
framework of the Chehalis river bridge. This machine crossed over and
stopped, the second one reached the middle of the bridge and stopped while
the third came to a halt when it had barely touched the plankwork on the
near side. The well-dressed occupants of the first and last cars alighted
and proceeded at once to patrol both approaches to the bridge.
Lynching--An American Institution
Wesley Everest was dragged out of the middle machine. A rope was attached
to a girder with the other end tied in a noose around his neck. His almost
lifeless body was hauled to the side of the bridge. The headlights of two
of the machines threw a white light over the horrible scene. Just as the
lynchers let go of their victim the fingers of the half dead logger clung
convulsively to the planking of the bridge. A business man stamped on them
with a curse until the grip was broken. There was a swishing sound; then a
sudden crunching jerk and the rope tied to the girder began to writhe and
twist like a live thing. This lasted but a short time. The lynchers peered
over the railing into the darkness. Then they slowly pulled up the dead
body, attached a longer rope and repeated the performance. This did not
seem to suit them either, so they again dragged the corpse through the
railings and tied a still longer rope around the horribly broken neck of
the dead logger. The business men were evidently enjoying their work, and
besides, the more rope the more souvenirs for their friends, who would
prize them highly.
This time the knot was tied by a young sailor. He knew how to tie a good
knot and was proud of the fact. He boasted of the stunt afterwards to a
man he thought as beastly as himself. In all probability he never dreamed
he was talking for publication. But he was.
The rope had now been lengthened to about fifteen feet. The broken and
gory body was kicked through the railing for the last time. The knot on
the girder did not move any more. Then the lynchers returned to their
luxurious cars and procured their rifles. A headlight flashed the dangling
figure into ghastly relief. It was riddled with volley after volley. The
man who fired the first shot boasted of the deed afterwards to a brother
lodge member. He didn't know he was talking for publication either.
On the following morning the corpse was cut down by an unknown hand. It
drifted away with the current. A few hours later Frank Christianson, a
tool of the lumber trust from the Attorney General's office, arrived in
Centralia. "We've got to get that body," this worthy official declared,
"or the wobs will find it and raise hell over its condition."
The corpse was located after a search. It was not buried, however, but
carted back to the city jail, there to be used as a terrible object lesson
for the benefit of the incarcerated union men. The unrecognizable form was
placed in a cell between two of the loggers who had loved the lynched boy
as a comrade and a friend. Something must be done to make the union men
admit that they, and not the lumber interests, had conspired to commit
murder. This was the final act of ruthlessness. It was fruitful in
results. One "confession," one Judas and one shattered mind were the
result of their last deed of fiendish terrorism.
[Illustration: The Burial of the Mob's Victim
No undertaker would handle Everest's body. The autopsy was performed by a
man from Portland, who hung the body up by the heels and played a hose on
it. The men lowering the plank casket into the grave are Union loggers who
had been caught in the police drag net and taken from jail for this
No undertaker could be found to bury Everest's body, so after two days it
was dropped into a hole in the ground by four union loggers who had been
arrested on suspicion and were released from jail for this purpose. The
"burial" is supposed to have taken place in the new cemetery; the body
being carried thither in an auto truck. The union loggers who really dug
the grave declare, however, that the interment took place at a desolate
spot "somewhere along a railroad track." Another body was seen, covered
with ashes in a cart, being taken away for burial on the morning of the
twelfth. There are persistent rumors that more than one man was lynched on
the eve of Armistice day. A guard of heavily armed soldiers had charge of
the funeral. The grave has since been obliterated. Rumor has it that the
body has since been removed to Camp Lewis. No one seems to know why or
"As Comical as a Corner"
An informal inquest was held in the city jail. A man from Portland
performed the autopsy, that is, he hung the body up by the heels and
played a water hose on it. Everest was reported by the corner's jury to
have met his death at the hands of parties unknown. It was here that Dr.
Bickford let slip the statement about the hall being raided before the
shooting started. This was the first inkling of truth to reach the public.
Coroner Livingstone, in a jocular mood, reported the inquest to a meeting
of gentlemen at the Elks' Club. In explaining the death of the union
logger, Dr. Livingstone stated that Wesley Everest had broken out of jail,
gone to the Chehalis river bridge and jumped off with a rope around his
neck. Finding the rope too short he climbed back and fastened on a longer
one; jumped off again, broke his neck and then shot himself full of holes.
Livingstone's audience, appreciative of his tact and levity, laughed long
and hearty. Business men still chuckle over the joke in Centralia. "As
funny as a funeral" is no longer the stock saying in this humorous little
town; "as comical as a coroner" is now the approved form.
Acting on the theory that "a strong offensive is the best defense," the
terrorists took immediate steps to conceal all traces of their crime and
to shift the blame onto the shoulders of their victims. The capitalist
press did yeoman service in this cause by deluging the nation with a
veritable avalanche of lies.
For days the district around Centralia and the city itself were at the
mercy of a mob. The homes of all workers suspected of being sympathetic to
Labor were spied upon or surrounded and entered without warrant. Doors
were battered down at times, and women and children abused and insulted.
Heavily armed posses were sent out in all directions in search of "reds."
All roads were patrolled by armed business men in automobiles. A strict
mail and wire censorship was established. It was the open season for
"wobblies" and intimidation was the order of the day. The White Terror was
An Associated Press reporter was compelled to leave town hastily without
bag or baggage because he inadvertently published Dr. Bickford's
indiscreet remark about the starting of the trouble. Men and women did not
dare to think, much less think aloud. Some of them in the district are
still that way.
To Eugene Barnett's little home came a posse armed to the teeth. They
asked for Barnett and were told by his young wife that he had gone up the
hill with his rifle. Placing a bayonet to her breast they demanded
entrance. The brave little woman refused to admit them until they had
shown a warrant. Barnett surrendered when he had made sure he was to be
arrested and not mobbed.
O.C. Bland, Bert Bland, John Lamb and Loren Roberts were also apprehended
in due time. Two loggers, John Doe Davis and Ole Hanson, who were said to
have also fired on the mob, have not yet been arrested. A vigorous search
is still being made for them in all parts of the country. It is believed
by many that one of these men was lynched like Everest on the night of
[Illustration: Court House at Montesano--And a Little "Atmosphere"
The trial was held on the third floor of the building as you look at the
picture. The soldiers were sent for over the head of the judge by one of
the lumber trust attorneys of the prosecution. Their only purpose was to
create the proper "atmosphere" for an unjust conviction.]
Hypocrisy and Terror
The reign of terror was extended to cover the entire West coast. Over a
thousand men and women were arrested in the state of Washington alone.
Union halls were closed and kept that way. Labor papers were suppressed
and many men have been given sentences of from one to fourteen years for
having in their possession copies of periodicals which contained little
else but the truth about the Centralia tragedy. The Seattle Union Record
was temporarily closed down and its stock confiscated for daring to hint
that there were two sides to the story. During all this time the
capitalist press was given full rein to spread its infamous poison. The
general public, denied the true version of the affair, was shuddering over
its morning coffee at the thought of I.W.W. desperadoes shooting down
unoffending paraders from ambush. But the lumber interests were chortling
with glee and winking a suggestive eye at their high priced lawyers who
were making ready for the prosecution. Jurymen were shortly to be drawn
and things were "sitting pretty," as they say in poker.
Adding a characteristic touch to the rotten hypocrisy of the situation
came a letter from Supreme Court Judge McIntosh to George Dysart, whose
son was in command of a posse during the manhunt. This remarkable document
is as follows:
Kenneth Mackintosh, Judge
The Supreme Court, State of Washington
George Dysart, Esq.,
My Dear Dysart:
November 13, 1919.
I want to express to you my appreciation of the high character of
citizenship displayed by the people of Centralia in their agonizing
calamity. We are all shocked by the manifestation of barbarity on the
part of the outlaws, and are depressed by the loss of lives of brave
men, but at the same time are proud of the calm control and loyalty to
American ideals demonstrated by the returned soldiers and citizens. I am
proud to be an inhabitant of a state which contains a city with the
record which has been made for Centralia by its law-abiding citizens.
(Signed) Kenneth MacKintosh.
"Patriotic" Union Smashing
Not to be outdone by this brazen example of judicial perversion, Attorney
General Thompson, after a secret conference of prosecuting attorneys,
issued a circular of advice to county prosecutors. In this document the
suggestion was made that officers and members of the Industrial Workers of
the World in Washington be arrested by the wholesale under the "criminal
syndicalism" law and brought to trial simultaneously so that they might
not be able to secure legal defense. The astounding recommendation was
also made that, owing to the fact that juries had been "reluctant to
convict," prosecutors and the Bar Association should co-operate in
examining jury panels so that "none but courageous and patriotic
Americans" secure places on the juries.
This effectual if somewhat arbitrary plan was put into operation at once.
Since the tragedy at Centralia dozens of union workers have been convicted
by "courageous and patriotic" juries and sentenced to serve from one to
fourteen years in the state penitentiary. Hundreds more are awaiting
trial. The verdict at Montesano is now known to everyone. Truly the lives
of the four Legion boys which were sacrificed by the lumber interests in
furtherance of their own murderous designs, were well expended. The
investment was a profitable one and the results are no doubt highly
But just the same the despicable plot of the Attorney General is an
obvious effort to defeat the purpose of the courts and obtain unjust
convictions by means of what is termed "jury fixing." There may be honor
among thieves but there is plainly none among the public servants they
have working for them!
[Illustration: Mike Sheenan
Born in Ireland. 64 years old. Has been a union man for over fifty years,
having joined his grandfather's union when he was only eight. Has been
through many strikes and has been repeatedly black-hated, beaten and even
exiled. He was a stoker in the Navy during the Spanish War. Mike Sheehan
was arrested in the Union hall, went through the horrible experience in
the city jail and was found "not guilty" by the jury. Like Elmer Smith, he
was re-arrested on another similar charge and thrown back in jail.]
The only sane note sounded during these dark days, outside of the
startling statement of Dr. Bickford, came from Montana. Edward Bassett,
commander of the Butte Post of the American Legion and an over-seas
veteran, issued a statement to the labor press that was truly remarkable:
"The I.W.W. in Centralia, Wash., who fired upon the men that were
attempting to raid the I.W.W. headquarters, were fully justified in their
"Mob rule in this country must be stopped, and when mobs attack the home
of a millionaire, of a laborer, or of the I.W.W., it is not only the right
but the duty of the occupants to resist with every means in their power.
If the officers of the law can not stop these raids, perhaps the
resistance of the raided may have that effect.
"Whether the I.W.W. is a meritorious organization or not, whether it is
unpopular or otherwise, should have absolutely nothing to do with the
case. The reports of the evidence at the coroner's jury show that the
attack was made before the firing started. If that is true, I commend the
boys inside for the action that they took.
"The fact that there were some American Legion men among the paraders who
everlastingly disgraced themselves by taking part in the raid, does not
affect my judgment in the least. Any one who becomes a party to a mob bent
upon unlawful violence, cannot expect the truly patriotic men of the
American Legion to condone his act."
Vanderveer's Opening Speech
Defense Attorney George Vanderveer hurried across the continent from
Chicago to take up the legal battle for the eleven men who had been
arrested and charged with the murder of Warren O. Grimm. The lumber
interests had already selected six of their most trustworthy tools as
prosecutors. It is not the purpose of the present writer to give a
detailed story of this "trial"--possibly one of the greatest travesties on
justice ever staged. This incident was a very important part of the
Centralia conspiracy but a hasty sketch, such as might be portrayed in
these pages, would be an inadequate presentation at best. It might be
well, therefore, to permit Mr. Vanderveer to tell of the case as he told
it to the jury in his opening and closing arguments. Details of the trial
itself can be found in other booklets by more capable authors.
Vanderveer's opening address appears in part below:
May it please the court and gentlemen of the jury:--As you have already
sensed from our examination of you and from a question which I propounded
to counsel at the close of his statement yesterday, the big question in
this case is, who was the aggressor, who started the battle? Was it on the
one side a deliberately planned murderous attack upon innocent marchers,
or was it on the other side a deliberately planned wicked attack upon the
I.W.W., which they merely resisted? That, I say, is the issue. I asked
counsel what his position would be in order that you might know it, and
that he said was his position, that he would stand and fall and be judged
by it, and I say to you now that is our position, and we will stand or
fall and be judged by that issue.
In order that you may properly understand this situation, and the things
that led up to it, the motives underlying it, the manner in which it was
planned and executed, I want to go just a little way back of the
occurrence on November 11th, and state to you in rough outline the
situation that existed in Centralia, the objects that were involved in
this case, the things each are trying to accomplish and the way each went
about it. There has been some effort on the part of the state to make it
appear it is not an I.W.W. trial. I felt throughout that the I.W.W. issue
must come into this case, and now that they have made their opening
statement, I say unreservedly it is here in this case, not because we want
to drag it in here, but because it can't be left out. To conceal from you
gentlemen that it is an I.W.W. issue would be merely to conceal the truth
from you and we, on our part, don't want to do that now or at any time
The I.W.W. is at the bottom of this. Not as an aggressor, however. It is a
labor organization, organized in Chicago in 1905, and it is because of the
philosophy for which it stands and because of certain tactics which it
evolves that this thing arose.
[Illustration: James McInerney
Logger. Born in County Claire, Ireland. Joined the Industrial Workers of
the World in 1916. Was wounded on the steamer "Verona" when the lumber
trust tried to exterminate the union lumberworkers with bullets at
Everett, Washington. McInerney was one of those trapped in the hall. He
surrendered to officers of the law. While in the city jail his neck was
worn raw with a hangman's rope in an effort to make him "confess" that the
loggers and not the mob had started the trouble. McInerney told them to
"go to hell." He is Irish and an I.W.W. and proud of being both.]
A Labor Movement on Trial
The I.W.W. is the representative in this country of the labor movement of
the rest of the world It is the representative in the United States of the
idea that capitalism is wrong: that no man has a right, moral or
otherwise, to exploit his fellow men, the idea that our industrial efforts
should be conducted not for the profits of any individual but should be
conducted for social service, for social welfare. So the I.W.W. says
first, that the wage system is wrong and that it means to abolish that
wage system. It says that it intends to do this, not by political action,
not by balloting, but by organization on the industrial or economical
field, precisely as employers, precisely as capital is organized on the
basis of the industry, not on the basis of the tool. The I.W.W. says
industrial evolution has progressed to that point there the tool no longer
enforces craftsmanship. In the place of a half dozen or dozen who were
employed, each a skilled artisan, employed to do the work, you have a
machine process to do that work and it resulted in the organization of the
industry on an industrial basis. You have the oil industry, controlled by
the Standard Oil; you have the lumber industry, controlled by the
Lumbermen's Association of the South and West, and you have the steel and
copper industry, all organized on an industrial basis resulting in a
fusing, or corporation, or trust of a lot of former owners. Now the I.W.W.
say if they are to compete with our employers, we must compete with our
employers as an organization, and as they are organized so we must protect
our organization, as they protect themselves. And so they propose to
organize into industrial unions; the steel workers and the coal miners,
and the transportation workers each into its own industrial unit.
This plan of organization is extremely distasteful to the employers
because it is efficient; because it means a new order, a new system in the
labor world in this country. The meaning of this can be gathered, in some
measure, from the recent experiences in the steel strike of this country,
where they acted as an industrial unit; from the recent experiences in the
coal mining industry, where they acted as an industrial unit. Instead of
having two or three dozen other crafts, each working separately, they
acted as an industrial unit. When the strike occurred it paralyzed
industry and forced concessions to the demands of the workers. That is the
first thing the I.W.W. stands for and in some measure and in part explains
the attitude capital has taken all over the country towards it.
In the next place it says that labor should organize on the basis of some
fundamental principle; and labor should organize for something more than a
mere bartering and dickering for fifty cents a day or for some shorter
time, something of that sort. It says that the system is fundamentally
wrong and must be fundamentally changed before you can look for some
improvement. Its philosophy is based upon government statistics which show
that in a few years in this country our important industries have crept
into more than two-thirds of our entire wealth. Seventy-five per cent of
the workers in the basic industry are unable to send their children to
school. Seventy-one per cent of the heads of the families in our basic
industries are unable to provide a decent living for their families
without the assistance of the other members. Twenty-nine per cent of our
laborers are able to live up to the myth that he is the head of the
family. The results of these evils are manifold. Our people are not being
raised in decent vicinities. They are not being raised and educated. Their
health is not being cared for; their morals are not being cared for. I
will show you that in certain of our industries where the wages are low
and the hours are long, that the children of the working people die at the
rate of 300 to 350 per thousand inhabitants under the age of one year
because of their undernourishment, lack of proper housing and lack of
proper medical attention and because the mothers of these children before
they are born and when the children are being carried in the mother's womb
that they are compelled to go into the industries and work and work and
work, and before the child can receive proper nourishment the mother is
compelled to go back into the industry and work again. The I.W.W.'s say
there must be a fundamental change and that fundamental change must be in
the line of reorganization of industry, for public service, so that the
purpose shall be that we will work to live and not merely live to work.
Work for service rather than work for profit.
[Illustration: James McInerney
(After he had undergone the "Third degree".)
McInerney had a rope around his neck nearly all night before this picture
was taken. One end of the rope had been pulled taut over a beam by his
tormentors. McInerney had told them to "go to hell." "It's no use trying
to get anything out of a man like that," was the final decision of the
To Kill an Ideal...
Some time in September, counsel told you, the I.W.W., holding these
beliefs, opened a hall in Centralia. Back of that hall was a living room,
where Britt Smith lived, kept his clothes and belongings and made his
home. From then on the I.W.W. conducted a regular propaganda meeting every
Saturday night. These propaganda meetings were given over to a discussion
of these industrial problems and beliefs. From that district there were
dispatched into nearby lumber camps and wherever there were working people
to whom to carry this message--there were dispatched organizers who went
out, made the talks in the camps briefly and sought to organize them into
this union, at least to teach them the philosophy of this labor movement.
Because that propaganda is fatal to those who live by other people's work,
who live by the profits they wring from labor, it excited intense
opposition on the part of employers and business people of Centralia and
about the time this hall was opened we will show you that people from
Seattle, where they maintain their headquarters for these labor fights,
came into Centralia and held meetings. I don't know what they call this
new thing they were seeking to organize--it is in fact a branch of the
Merchants' and Manufacturers' Association of the United States, a national
organization whose sole purpose is to fight and crush and beat labor. It
was in no sense a local movement because it started in Seattle and it was
organized by people from Seattle, and the purpose was to organize in
Centralia an organization of business men to combat this new labor
philosophy. Whether in the mouths of the I.W.W., or Nonpartisan League, or
the Socialists, it did not make any difference; to brand anybody as a
traitor, un-American, who sought to tell the truth about our industrial
The Two Raids
In the fall of 1918, the I.W.W. had a hall two blocks and a half from this
hall, at the corner of First and B streets. There was a Red Cross parade,
and that hall was wrecked, just as was this hall. These profiteering
gentlemen never overlook an opportunity to capitalize on a patriotic
event, and so they capitalized the Red Cross parade that day just as they
capitalized the Armistice Day parade on November 11, and in exactly the
same way as on November 11.
And that day, when the tail-end of the parade of the Red Cross passed the
main avenue, it broke off and went a block out of its way and attacked the
I.W.W. hall, a good two-story building. And they broke it into splinters.
The furniture, records, the literature that belongs to these boys,
everything was taken out into the street and burned.
[Illustration: O. C. Bland
Logger. American. Resident of Centralia for a number of years. Has worked
in woods and mills practically all his life. Has a wife and seven
children. Bland was in the Arnold hotel at the time of the raid. He was
armed but had cut his hand on broken glass before he had a chance to
shoot. Since his arrest and conviction his family has undergone severe
hardships. The defense is making an effort to raise enough funds to keep
the helpless wives and children of the convicted men in the comforts of
Now, what was contemplated on Armistice Day? The I.W.W. did as you would
do; it judged from experience.
Patience No Longer a Virtue
When the paraders smashed the door in, the I.W.W.'s, as every lover of
free speech and every respecter of his person--they had appealed to the
citizens, they had appealed to the officers, and some of their members had
been tarred and feathered, beaten up and hung--they said in thought:
"Patience has ceased to be a virtue." And if the law will not protect us,
and the people won't protect us, we will protect ourselves. And they did.
And in deciding this case, I want each of you, members of the jury, to ask
yourself what would you have done?
There had been discussions of this character in the I.W.W. hall, and so
have there been discussions everywhere. There had never been a plot laid
to murder anybody, nor to shoot anybody in any parade. I want you to ask
yourself: "Why would anybody want to shoot anybody in a parade," and to
particularly ask yourself why anyone would want to shoot upon soldiers?
He who was a soldier himself, Wesley Everest, the man who did most of the
shooting, and the man whom they beat until he was unconscious and whom
they grabbed from the street and put a rope around his neck, the man whom
they nearly shot to pieces, and the man whom they hung, once dropping him
ten feet, and when what didn't kill him lengthened the rope to 15 feet and
dropped him again--why would one soldier want to kill another soldier, or
soldiers, who had never done him nor his fellows any harm?
I exonerate the American Legion as an organization of the responsibility
of this. For I say they didn't know about it. The day will come when they
will realize that they have been mere catspaws in the hands of the
Centralia commercial interests. That is the story. I don't know what the
verdict will be today, but the verdict ten years hence will be the verdict
in the Lovejoy case; that these men were within their rights and that they
fought for a cause, that these men fought for liberty. They fought for
these things for which we stand and for which all true lovers of liberty
stand, and those who smashed them up are the real enemies of our country.
This is a big case, counsel says, the biggest case that has ever been
tried in this country, but the biggest thing about these big things is
from beginning to end it has been a struggle on the one side for ideals
and on the other side to suppress those ideals. This thing was started
with Hubbard at its head. It is being started today with Hubbard at its
head in this courtroom, and I don't believe you will fall for it.
Vanderveer's Closing Argument
There are only two real issues in this case. One is the question: Who was
the aggressor in the Armistice Day affray? The other is: Was Eugene
Barnett in the Avalon hotel window when that affray occurred?
We have proven by unimpeachable witnesses that there was a raid on the
I.W.W. hall in Centralia on November 11--a raid, in which the business
interests of the city used members of the American Legion as catspaws. We
have shown that Warren O. Grimm, for the killing of whom these defendants
are on trial, actually took park in that raid, and was in the very doorway
of the hall when the attack was made, despite the attempts of the
prosecution to place Grimm 100 feet away when he was shot.
We have proven a complete alibi for Eugene Barnett through unshaken and
undisputable witnesses. He was not in the Avalon hotel during the riot; he
was in the Roderick hotel lobby; he had no gun and he took no part in the
In my opening statement, I said I would stand or fall on the issue of: Who
was the aggressor on Armistice Day? I have stood by that promise, and
stand by it now.
Mr. Abel, specially hired prosecutor in this trial, made the same promise.
So did Herman Allen, the official Lewis county prosecutor, who has been so
ingloriously shoved aside by Mr. Abel and his colleague, Mr. Cunningham,
ever since the beginning here. But a few days ago, when the defense was
piling up evidence showing that there was a raid on the I.W.W. hall by the
paraders, Mr. Abel backed down.
Why Were the Shots Fired?
I was careful in the beginning to put him on record on that point; all
along I knew that he and Mr. Allen would back down on the issue of who was
the aggressor; they could not uphold their contention that the Armistice
Day paraders were fired upon in cold blood while engaged in lawful and
What possible motive could these boys have had for firing upon innocent
marching soldiers? It is true that the marchers were fired upon; that
shots were fired by some of these defendants; but why were the shots
[Illustration: John Lamb
Logger. American. Joined the Industrial Workers of the World in 1917. Lamb
was in the Arnold Hotel with O.C. Bland during the raid on the hall.
Neither of them did any shooting. John Lamb has lived for years in
Centralia. He is married and has five children who are left dependent
since the conviction.]
There is only one reason why--they were defending their own legal property
against unlawful invasion and attack; they were defending the dwelling
place of Britt Smith, their secretary.
And they had full right to defend their lives and that property and that
home against violence or destruction; they had a right to use force, if
necessary, to effect that defense. The law gives them that right; and it
accrues to them also from all of the wells of elementary justice.
The law says that when a man or group of men have reason to fear attack
from superior numbers, they may provide whatever protection they may deem
necessary to repel such an attack. And it says also that if a man who is
in bad company when such an attack is made happens to be killed by the
defenders, those defenders are not to be considered guilty of that man's
So they had the troops come, to blow bugles and drill in the streets where
the jury could see; their power, however wielded, was great enough to
cause Governor Hart to send the soldiers here without consulting the trial
judge or the sheriff, whose function it was to preserve law and order
here--and you know, I am sure, that law and order were adequately
preserved here before the troops came.
"Fearful of the Truth"
They tried the moth-eaten device of arresting our witnesses for alleged
perjury, hoping to discredit those witnesses thus in your eyes because
they knew they couldn't discredit them in any regular nor legitimate way.
Fearful of the truth, the guilty ones at Centralia deliberately framed up
evidence to save themselves from blame--to throw the responsibility for
the Armistice Day horror onto other men. But they bungled the frame-up
badly. No bolder nor cruder fabrication has ever been attempted than the
ridiculous effort to fasten the killing of Warren Grimm upon Eugene
[Illustration: Court Room in which the Farcical "Trial" Took Place
This garish room in the court house at Montesano was the scene of the
attempted "judicial murder" that followed the lynching. The judge always
entered his chambers through the door under the word "Transgression": the
jury always left through the door over which "Instruction" appears. In
this room the lumber trust attorneys attempted to build a gallows of
perjured testimony on which to break the necks of innocent men.]
These conspirators were clumsy enough in their planning to drive the
I.W.W. out of town; their intent was to stampede the marching soldiers
into raiding the I.W.W. hall. But how much more clumsy was the frame-up
afterward--the elaborate fixing of many witnesses to make it appear that
Grimm was shot at Tower avenue and Second street when he actually was shot
in front of the hall; and to make it appear that Ben Casagranda and Earl
Watts were shot around the corner on Second street, when they were
actually shot on Tower avenue, close to the front of the hall.
These conspirators were clumsy enough in their planning to drive the
I.W.W. out of town; their intent was to stampede the marching soldiers
into raiding the I.W.W. hall. But how much more clumsy was the frame-up
afterward--the elaborate fixing of many witnesses to make it appear that
Grimm was shot at Tower avenue and Second street when he actually was shot
in front of the hall; and to make it appear that Ben Casagranda and Earl
Watts were shot around the corner on Second street, when they were
actually shot on Tower avenue, close to the front of the hall.
Then, you will remember, I compelled Elsie Hornbeck to admit that she had
been shown photographs of Barnett by the prosecution. She would not have
told this fact, had I not trapped her into admitting it; that was obvious
to everybody in this courtroom that day.
You have heard the gentlemen of the prosecution assert that this is a
murder trial, and not a labor trial. But they have been careful to ask all
our witnesses whether they were I.W.W. members, whether they belonged to
any labor union, and whether they were sympathetic towards workers on
trial for their lives. And when the answer to any of these questions was
yes, they tried to brand the witness as one not worthy of belief. Their
policy and thus browbeating working people who were called as witnesses is
in keeping with the tactics of the mob during the days when it held
Centralia in its grasp.
You know, even if the detailed story has been barred from the record, of
the part F.R. Hubbard, lumber baron, played in this horror at Centralia.
You have heard from various witnesses that the lumber mill owned by
Hubbard's corporation, the Eastern Railway and Lumber Company, is a
notorious non-union concern. And you have heard it said that W.A. Abel,
the special prosecutor here, has been an ardent and active labor-baiter
Hubbard wanted to drive the I.W.W. out of Centralia. Why did he want to
drive them out? He said they were a menace. And it is true that they were
a menace, and are a menace--to those who exploit the workers who produce
the wealth for the few to enjoy.
Why Were Ropes Carried?
Was there a raid on the hall before the shooting? Dr. Frank Bickford, a
reputable physician, appeared here and repeated under oath what he had
sworn to at the coroner's inquest--that when the parade stopped, he
offered to lead a raid on the hall if enough would follow,--but that
others pushed ahead of him, forced open the door, and then the shots came
And why did the Rev. H.W. Thompson have a rope? Thompson believes in
hanging men by the neck until they are dead. When the state Employers'
Association and others wanted the hanging law in Washington revived not
long ago, the Reverend Thompson lectured in many cities and towns in
behalf of that law. And he has since lectured widely against the I.W.W.
Did he carry a rope in the parade because he owned a cow and a calf? Or
Why did the prosecution need so many attorneys here, if it had the facts
straight? Why were scores of American Legion members imported here to sit
at the trial at a wage of $4 per day and expenses?
They have told you this was a murder trial, and not a labor trial. But
vastly more than the lives of ten men are the stakes in the big gamble
here; for the right of workers to organize for the bettering of their own
condition is on trial; the right of free assemblage is on trial; democracy
and Americanism are on trial.
In our opening statement, we promised to prove various facts; and we have
proven them, in the main; if there are any contentions about which the
evidence remains vague, this circumstance exists only because His Honor
has seen fit to rule out certain testimony which is vital to the case, and
we believed, and still believe, was entirely material and properly
But is there any doubt in your minds that there was a conspiracy to raid
the I.W.W. hall, and to run the Industrial Workers of the World out of
town? Even if the court will not allow you to read the handbill issued by
the I.W.W., asking protection from the citizens of Centralia have you any
doubt that the I.W.W. had reason to fear an attack from Warren Grimm and
his fellow marchers? And have you any doubt that there was a raid on the
When I came into this case I knew that we were up against tremendous odds.
Terror was loose in Centralia; prejudice and hatred against the I.W.W. was
being systematically and sweepingly spread in Grays Harbor county and
throughout the whole Northwest; and intimidation or influence of some sort
was being employed against every possible witness and talesman.
[Illustration: George Vanderveer
This man single handed opposed six high priced lumber trust prosecutors in
the famous trial at Montesano. Vanderveer is a man of wide experience and
deep social vision. He was at one time prosecuting attorney for King
County, Washington. The lumber trust has made countless threats to "get
him." "A lawyer with a heart is as dangerous as a workingman with
Not only were unlimited money and other resources of the Lewis County
commercial interests banded against us, but practically all the attorneys
up and down the Pacific coast had pledged themselves not to defend any
I.W.W., no matter how great nor how small the charge he faced. Our
investigators were arrested without warrant; solicitors for our defense
fund met with the same fate.
And when the trial date approached, the judge before whom this case is
being heard admitted that a fair trial could not be had here, because of
the surging prejudice existent in this community. Then, five days later,
the court announced that the law would not permit a second change of
venue, and that the trial must go ahead in Montesano.
In the face of these things, and in the face of all the atmosphere of
violence and bloodthirstiness which the prosecution has sought to throw
around these defendants, I am placing our case in your hands; I am
intrusting to you gentlemen to decide upon the fate of ten human
beings--whether they shall live or die or be shut away from their fellows
for months or years.
But I am asking you much more than that--I am asking you to decide the
fate of organized labor in the Northwest; whether its fundamental rights
are to survive or be trampled underfoot.
The Lumber Trust Wins the Jury
On Saturday evening, March 13th, the jury brought in its final verdict of
guilty. In the face of the very evident ability of the lumber interests,
to satisfy its vengeance at will, any other verdict would have been
suicidal--for the jury.
The prosecution was out for blood and nothing less than blood. Day by day
they had built the structure of gallows right there in the courtroom. They
built a scaffolding on which to hang ten loggers--built it of lies and
threats and perjury. Dozens of witnesses from the Chamber of Commerce and
the American Legion took the stand to braid a hangman's rope of untruthful
testimony. Some of these were members of the mob; on their white hands the
blood of Wesley Everest was hardly dry. And they were not satisfied with
sending their victims to prison for terms of from 25 to 40 years, they
wanted the pleasure of seeing their necks broken. But they failed. Two
verdicts were returned; his honor refused to accept the first; no
intelligent man can accept the second.
Here is the way the two verdicts compare with each other: Elmer Smith and
Mike Sheehan were declared not guilty and Loren Roberts insane, in both
the first and second verdicts. Britt Smith, O.C. Bland, James McInerney,
Bert Bland and Ray Becker were found guilty of murder in the second degree
in both instances, but Eugene Barnett and John Lamb were at first declared
guilty of manslaughter, or murder "in the third degree" in the jury's
first findings, and guilty of second degree murder in the second.
The significant point is that the state made its strongest argument
against the four men whom the jury practically exonerated of the charge of
conspiring to murder. More significant is the fact that the whole verdict
completely upsets the charge of conspiracy to murder under which the men
were tried. The difference between first and second degree murder is that
the former, first degree, implies premeditation while the other, second
degree, means murder that is not premeditated. Now, how in the world can
men be found guilty of conspiring to murder without previous
premeditation? The verdict, brutal and stupid as it is, shows the weakness
and falsity of the state's charge more eloquently than anything the
defense has ever said about it.
But Labor Says, "Not Guilty!"
But another jury had been watching the trial. Their verdict came as a
surprise to those who had read the newspaper version of the case. No
sooner had the twelve bewildered and frightened men in the jury box paid
tribute to the power of the Lumber Trust with a ludicrous and tragic
verdict than the six workingmen of the Labor Jury returned their verdict
also. Those six men represented as many labor organizations in the Pacific
Northwest with a combined membership of many thousands of wage earners.
The last echoes of the prolonged legal battle had hardly died away when
these six men sojourned to Tacoma to ballot, deliberate and to reach their
decision about the disputed facts of the case. At the very moment when the
trust-controlled newspapers, frantic with disappointment, were again
raising the blood-cry of their pack, the frank and positive statement of
these six workers came like a thunderclap out of a clear sky,--"Not
The Labor Jury had studied the development of the case with earnest
attention from the beginning. Day by day they had watched with increasing
astonishment the efforts of the defense to present, and of the prosecution
and the judge to exclude, from the consideration of the trial jury, the
things everybody knew to be true about the tragedy at Centralia. Day by
day the sordid drama had been unfolded before their eyes. Day by day the
conviction had grown upon them that the loggers on trial for their lives
were being railroaded to the gallows by the legal hirelings of the Lumber
Trust. The Labor Jury was composed of men with experience in the labor