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Peace and conflict in an industrial family : Colorado Fuel & Iron's Cameron and Walsen Camps, 1913-1928

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Title:
Peace and conflict in an industrial family : Colorado Fuel & Iron's Cameron and Walsen Camps, 1913-1928
Series Title:
Pan, Denise. "Peace and conflict in an industrial family : Colorado Fuel & Iron's Cameron and Walsen Camps, 1913-1928." Mining History Journal. 1996, pp. 67-75
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Pan, Denise
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Canon City, CO
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Mining History Association
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Journal Article

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Collected for University of Curacao's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Matthew Mariner.
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Mining History Journal

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Full Text
Pan Peace and Conflict in an Industrial Family
67
Peace and Conflict in an Industrial
Family: Colorado Fuel & Irons
Cameron and Walsen Camps, 1913-1928
Denise Pan*
T
X he United Mine Workers of America (U.M.W.A.)
began the 1913-1914 Colorado coal strike on Septem-
ber 23, 1913 to protest working conditions, wages,
and a lack of union representation. After several
months, Colorado Fuel & Irons (CF&I) striking
miners and families of the tent colony at Ludlow
needed to uplift their spirits. The entire community
celebrated Greek Easter. Men, women, and children
of all nationalities attended service, played baseball,
ate dinner, and sang hymns. Nobody realized that the
next morning, April 20, 1914, the shooting would
start. As the camp residents began to stir, shots rang
out across the prairie. Miners grabbed their rifles and
tried to protect their families. Women and children
ran away from the camp or found cover from bullets
in the cellars beneath their tents. By the afternoon the
miners had run out of ammunition. Their attackers,
comprised of company guards and National Guards-
men, entered the colony and began to loot and set the
tents on fire. Miners tried to help women and chil-
dren escape their burning tents, but they could save no
one. When the smoke settled, the Red Cross doctors
and nurses sifted through the debris. They found the
bodies of two women and twelve children who died of
asphyxiation in the cellar of their burning tent. This
notorious incident became known as the Ludlow
Massacre.
The 1913-1914 Colorado coal strike became known
in labor history for its tragic end and its hopeful
display of class consciousness and camaraderie across
ethnic lines. For fifteen months French, Germans,
Greeks, Hispanos, Italians, Portuguese, Russians, and
Slavs formed a unified strike community. The bitter
strike received national attention when Americans
learned of the Ludlow Massacre. From the publics
perspective, CF8cI and its owner, John D. Rockefeller
Jr., were responsible for allowing this tragedy to
* Denise Pan is a Ph.D. student in history at the
University of New Mexico.
occur. To help diminish widespread criticism,
Rockefeller began to initiate welfare capitalism pro-
grams.1 Furthermore, in the years after the 1913-
1914 strike, his programs inadvertently encouraged
friendly contact among diverse miners and their
families that promoted working-class unity and
participation in strikes.
Rockefeller began to implement welfare capitalism
six months after the Ludlow Massacre. He made a
trip to Pueblo, Colorado, the heart of the southern
Colorado coal fields, to convince miners that labor
and capital must work in partnership. He described
the relationship as a table. Each leg of the table
represented the pillars of the company: stockholders,
directors, officers, and employees. Those pillars, he
believed, should support a balanced surface that
protected corporate profits. He then placed a handful
of coins on the table and tilted the table to demon-
strate what would happen if any of the legs could not
hold up their share of the weight. Such imbalances
meant lost profits. Neither labor nor capital could
stand alone, all the legs needed to work in tandem.
Rockefeller elaborated by saying that, only when
every man connected with that square corporation
which is on the level, is interested unselfishly, not in
what he can get out of the corporation, but what he
can put into it for the benefit of every man in the
concern, will that man himself get the most out of
it.2
At this point, Rockefeller introduced his Industrial
Representation Plan (IRP). To end future conflicts
between labor and capital, he was going to create a
company union. Part of this new organizational
scheme, a plan Rockefeller devised with W. L.
Mackenzie King, the former Canadian Minister of
Labor, allowed employee participation in company
decision-making. Although the plan gave workers
little control, the company union suggested to the
miners that they held some authority over living and
working conditions. Rockefeller hoped this symbolic
power would reduce or perhaps eliminate miners and
their families grievances, creating content and loyal


68
1996 Mining History Journal
Above is a map of cities and counties of Colorado. Note the shaded-in counties which represent the
CF&I coal districts.
company communities. To his delight, Rockefeller
was able to convince a majority of miners to endorse
the Industrial Representation Plan.3
Rockefellers IRP created regional employee commit-
tees that addressed various workplace and community
concerns. CF&I executives divided their Colorado
coal fields into four districts Trinidad, Walsenburg,
Canon City, and Western Slope located in Las
Animas, Huerfano, Gunnison, and Fremont Counties
respectively (see Figure 1). Employees elected repre-
sentatives from their own ranks to serve on joint
committees: safety and accidents, sanitation,
health, and housing, recreational and education,
and industrial co-operation and conciliation.
Committee representatives, one elected for every 150
employees, articulated worker grievances at the joint
committee meetings. Final decisions on complaints
were made by CF&I officials.4
Employee representation fit into the companys plan
to initiate welfare capitalism. As historian David
Brody has explained, large industrial companies, like
CF&I, implemented policies from the top-down to
promote employee welfare. Workers had greater
opportunities to better their quality of life through
group insurance, better working conditions, medical
services, recreational activities, educational opportuni-
ties, and land for gardening, which were all made
available through this system.5 According to historian
Lizabeth Cohen, large businesses instituted welfare
programs to discourage worker
grievances. With the threat of
strikes lessened, the enlightened
corporation could quietly sat-
isfy its workers and create an
environment conducive to
shared company-worker goals:
a prosperous operation based on
mutual loyalties.6
Rockefeller instigated welfare
capitalism as a reaction to previ-
ous labor-management conflicts
such as the 1913-1914 strike,
the Ludlow massacre, and the
public vilification of CF&I
management that followed. An
examination of CF&Is
Cameron and Walsenburg camps
provides a context7 for positive
relations in the multi-ethnic
workforces.8 The company
sponsored social programs like
the Young Mens Christian As-
sociation (Y.M.C.A.) to establish
camp communities and company loyalty. In the end,
however, management could not dictate these associa-
tions impact.
While the companys president was acting predict-
ably, the multi-ethnic employees may have viewed the
program from different perspectives. The Y.M.C.A.
served immigrants from Mexico, Austria, Italy,
Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, and Bohemia9 who took
the opportunity to unite across ethnic lines, as a class
of workers, as families, and as individuals, whether
adults or children, to create a shared identity within
the companys system.
Throughout the 1920s, CF&I officials sponsored
activities that promoted company and community ties.
Managers organized a wide range of social activities
for employees and their families, improving the
quality of life and making the camp experience more
enjoyable. A more content camp community, the
company rationalized, discouraged outside unioniza-
tion, strikes, and reinforced loyal ties between CF&I
and its workers. Social activities ranged from club-
house games to annual picnics and company spon-
sored baseball games. CF&I management also coordi-
nated social activities independent of the company
with the Y.M.C.A., which offered daily entertainment
as well as recreational and educational curriculum for
men, women, and children. Workers children also
had the opportunity to attend a Y.M.C.A. summer
camp.


Pan Peace and Conflict in an Industrial Family
69
In exchange for these benefits, the company
expected efficiency, dedication, and loyalty from the
miners and their families. Simultaneously, CF&I
managers hoped to instill in the workers middle-class
values based on religious and educational instruction,
and an adherence to American citizenship. The
Y.M.C.A. offered self-improvement classes, lectures,
library books, and free stationery. Classes were
offered under the direction of the Y.M.C.A. Secretary
for Mining Properties to teach Spanish, typing, min-
ing, public speaking, debating, commercial arithmetic,
elementary music, and scientific management. The
Y.M.C.A. also conducted an Americanization program
through monthly community-wide meetings and
citizenship classes during the week. English instruc-
tion and Americanization lessons were offered to
CF&I workers and their wives.10
Each camp had its own clubhouse that offered a
wide variety of facilities such as billiard rooms,
bowling alleys, confectioneries, parlors, and assembly
rooms. Walsens clubhouse, Theresa Fink recalled,
offered activities for the whole family: at night
[children] would go to the clubhouse for basketball.
The men would play cards, and the women played the
piano and sang .n Bowlers in Cameron and
Walsen camps competed in Y.M.C.A. tournaments.12
Camp residents went to the Y.M.C.A. auditoriums
to watch movies, attend meetings, and dance. As a
young boy during the 1920s, Louis Guigli recalled
seeing silent movies and buying ice cream cones,
banana splits, and drinks at the confectionery in
Walsens clubhouse.13 Clubs, lodges, organizations,
and religious groups used the Y.M.C.A. assembly
rooms for their own activities conferences and
dances. Teenagers gathered once a month to dance to
music from a phonograph as well.14
The Y.M.C.A.s services also included Camp of the
Whispering Pines for girls and boys from the coal
mining communities. CF&I officials set aside land at
Stonewall, Colorado -- located in the mountains about
50 miles southwest of Walsenburg for recreational
purposes. In 1920, company officials offered the
camp to employees children at a cost of five dollars
for ten days; four years later the expense was raised to
ten dollars. The fee paid for the activities, food,
housing, and transportation. Not all miners, however,
could afford to send their children to camp. As a
result, some communities held fund-raisers to subsidize
camp expenses. Boys and girls attended Camp of the
Whispering Pines at different times, although they
enjoyed comparable entertainment. The Walsens boys
went on an all-day hike and played sports during the
summer of 1920. Similarly, the girls hiked and played
games, but also learned handicrafts and folk dancing.15
Camping was available to CF&I children through
the Boy Scouts and Campfire Girls. These Protestant
Christian childrens organizations were supported by
management. Seven Boy Scout camps and ten Girl
Scout camps were located on CF&I property for
outings and camping trips. Seven girls from Cameron
and Walsen camps, for example, went on a ten-day
camping trip at Stonewall camp with the Campfire
Girls. On their trip, the girls learned arts, crafts, folk
dancing, and attended Sunday school.16
Beginning in 1915, CF&I officials sponsored annual
picnics called Field Days. This activity promoted
inter-ethnic and cross-camp contact. Cameron and
Walsen residents, for instance, participated in the
Trinidad and Walsenburg district Field Days held at
Central Park in Trinidad. Activities at the 1920 Field
Day featured contests and races, in addition to conces-
sion stands, automobile parades, baseball games,
needle-work and gardening exhibits, and evening
dances. Contests focused on athletic competition,
such as foot races, coat races, three-legged races, shoe
races, wrestling, swimming, and volleyball. To
promote fair athletic competition, the company
grouped races according to ages: men older than
sixteen in one group, boys less than sixteen in an-
other, ten to twelve year olds in yet another, and
finally those under ten. Girls from ten to sixteen
competed as did those under ten. Other contests
included first aid, band playing, rope splicing, best
decorated automobile in the parade, and nail driving
for women. The company awarded cash prizes, toys,
and gift certificates redeemable at the company store.17
Only five Cameron and Walsen residents success-
fully won individual prizes at the 1920 Field Day in
Trinidad: Matilda Jones, Sey Atencio, and Mrs. Dave
Jones of Walsen, and Walter Schenkeir and Robert
Andrew of Cameron. The following year, six of
Walsens residents won eight prizes in contests:
Charles Buckland, A. D. Farrior, Mrs. Dave Jones,
Abedon Lucero, Alice Patterson, Dorothea Peet, and
Albert Sanchez. Only Walter Schenkeir won for
Cameron.18 The winners surnames suggest that
Anglos and Hispanos were allowed to compete to-
gether.19 Since the editors of the company magazine
listed the names of winners along with their camp
affiliation, the company officials encouraged camp
residents to take pride in their achievements on
individual and community levels.
CF&I managers also promoted employee unity and
camp cohesiveness through sponsored baseball teams
and games. Every camp had their own baseball team
managed by camp superintendents. The company


70
1996 Mining History Journal
created leagues that had district champions from Las
Animas and Huerfano counties. At Trinidads Field
Day, these two countys champions played each
other.20
Baseball entertained and integrated the people
simultaneously, while offering a positive multicultural
experience. While living in the camps as a youth,
Virgil Ladurini remembered that baseball games
brought everyone together. A mixture of nationalities
sat in the stands cheering their camps multi-ethnic
players. The line-up for the 1925 Walsenburg cham-
pions who defeated Cameron for the crown came
from a multitude of ethnicities with Hispano, Anglo,
and Eastern European surnames: Pat Valdez, Ed
Fulong, Alex Muir, Steve Pospahalla, Dan Ratkovich,
Ed Merritt, William Ryan, John Muir, John Zubal,
Frank Zubal, William Shaw, Charles Countryman.21
They played together on an integrated diamond, where
ethnic differences made no difference.
The experience of Crist Lovdjieff s family indicates
baseballs impact on multi-cultural interactions.
Lovdjieff and his family encountered a wide range of
ethnicities because they attended home and away
games. After the games, the different camps usually
held dances which gave men and women the opportu-
nity to mix.22 Attending games suggest loyalty and
support of ones own camp, and a willingness to forge
ties with other communities.
Another way CF&I officials attempted to cultivate
loyal workers and good Americans was through
education. Children of different backgrounds were
integrated in primary schools. Company managers
planned a curriculum designed to mold ideal em-
ployees and proper wives. Although CF&I did not
own schools on its property, its managers dominated
the school boards, dictating teacher appointments,
classroom instruction, and facility maintenance.22
Professor W. E. Holloway articulated the companys
goals for the public schools in the company magazine,
the Bulletin. He characterized the school as the
bulwark of American institutions. Courses were
intended to develop thinking skills, good health
practices, appreciation of beauty, citizenship and social
skills, and a work ethic desirable characteristics for
any CF&I camp member. According to Holloway,
schools should teach students the value of hard work.
In addition to academic work, teachers designed
classes to teach boys and girls vocational skills for
future employment in the mines or as managers of the
home. Therefore, the curriculum reinforced tradi-
tional gender roles in which boys were trained to
work with tools, while girls learned to cook and sew.24
The schools influence on children extended beyond
classroom instruction, and included social activities.
The school children celebrated Christian and American
holidays. Children of Cameron and Walsen gave
Christmas performances, assisted by the Y.M.C.A. In
Cameron, students sang patriotic songs and delivered
addresses on Washingtons birthday, and danced
around a may pole for May Day. Josephine Marcon,
who grew up in Cameron, fondly remembered the
school picnics and other patriotic activities.25
Part of the companys patriotic demeanor manifest
itself with the integration of the schools. Regardless
of the childs ethnicity or nationality, CF&I officials
placed them in the same programs, expected them to
live by the same policies, and set the same goals for
them. Cameron and Walsen camps only had one
primary school for each camp.26 Consequently, all
grade school students attended the same school,
facilitating the acceptance of diverse cultures and the
development of cross-cultural friendships.
Childrens school friendships also tied the young
people more deeply into the diverse neighborhoods of
the mining camps. The boys and girls, for example,
played together after school, mixing regardless of
ethnic background and often in each others neighbor-
hoods. The heterogeneous population did not neces-
sarily foster ethnic segregation as in many other parts
of the nation. Carmen Amaro Bakker, Crist Lovdjieff,
and Ed Tomsic remembered that integrated students
played a variety of games -- the girls hopscotched and
gossiped, and both sexes enjoyed jacks, marbles, and
chinldes ( small round bits of glazed clay) at recess.
Boys and girls also played baseball, softball, soccer,
football, kick-the-can, and run-sheep-run together.27
Children of different ethnicities also entertained
each other away from school.28 Crist Lovdjieff
recalled that teenage boys from the Martucci, Wilkins,
and Tomsic families built dams and splashed around
in little ponds. Regardless of their Croatian, Italian,
Hispano, and Slovenian backgrounds, these boys had
fun mud crawling together.29 In Cameron and
Walsen camps, children felt comfortable bringing
friends of different ethnic backgrounds home with
them. Virgil Ladurini and his friend Bob Lopez would
often go to each others homes for dinner. Josephine
Marcon, who went with a Hispano friend to visit the
girls grandmother, learned how to cook the best-
tasting beans. She continues to use this Mexican
recipe even today.30
In contrast to children, when left to their own
activities adults preferred to socialize with family
members and close friends of the same ethnicity.
Since some of the men did not work on Saturdays,
and no one worked on Sundays, everyone waited until


Pan Peace and Conflict in an Industrial Family
71
the weekends to go visiting. Having lived in various
CF&I camps, Theresa Fink observed that most camp
residents were expected to participate in regular
weekend gatherings. On Sundays the house would be
full. My mom always cooked and expected someone
to come. She always had something prepared.31
Raised in Walsenburg, while her father worked in the
mines, Minnie Grace Branch remembered that visitors
often drove their horses and buggies five or six miles
to see relatives and friends in other camps.32
Entertainment did not consist just of evening visit-
ing, however. In the summer, miners worked only
two or three days a week. Consequently, workers and
their families passed the time picnicking at places like
Cuchara, Colorado located southwest of Walsenburg
in the San Isabel National Forest. Ethnic groups
socialized in small gatherings of friends and families.
Since Louis Guiglis family had a car, they went to the
mountains on Saturdays and Sundays to play bocci,
cook, and have a good time with the other Italians of
their neighborhood.33
At family celebrations, little ethnic mixing seems to
have occurred. Weddings were sometimes the excep-
tion. Some large weddings were attended by ethni-
cally diverse guests. While living in Cameron camp as
a child, Italian Josephine Marcon attended a Slavish
double wedding -- when two sisters married two
brothers. After the newlyweds settled in their homes,
groups of friends would shivaree them.34 The shivaree
participants made lots of noise outside the new cou-
ples home; in response, the newlyweds would treat
everyone to cookies and candy. This camp tradition
had no particular ethnic associations and included
people of different nationalities. Wedding receptions
also proved to be multi-cultural mixers. As a child,
Crist Lovdjieff remembered a Walsenburg wedding
where Italian women made buckets of raviolis and a
Yugoslavian orchestra performed for the dance.35
In contrast to the private weddings, funerals were
public, being well attended by the entire camp.
Communities were especially distraught when a miner
died or was killed. Concerned citizens came out in
force to support the grieving family. Camp residents
could not deny that the mines were extremely danger-
ous accidents occurred regardless of ethnicity or
race. All families with loved ones in the mines lived
with the constant fear that they might lose their
husband, son, father, or brother. The death of a
miner had an emotional and economic impact on the
family they grieved his loss and suffered from the
deprivation of financial support. Invitations were not
needed to attract a large gathering. The neighbors
played a dual role as mourners and providers of food
and other assistance. At the wake, the family dis-
played the deceased in the living room so that every-
one could pay their last respects. Afterwards, a
procession of miners in automobiles accompanied the
hearse to the cemetery.36
As mentioned earlier, children more than adults,
formed tighter social bonds based on ethnicity and
race. On the other hand, adults maintained peaceful
relations in their multi-ethnic neighborhoods. Numer-
ous oral history accounts describe how everyone got
along and trusted each other. Growing up in various
coal camps, Ann and Walt Laney remembered camp
cohesiveness even though families often had to move
from camp to camp for work. They explained that
[the communities] accepted you, when you
moved in. Ann Laney noticed more friendly social
relationships in coal camps than in Walsenburg. She
believed that towns people had a grudge against
you.37 As a child, Virgil Ladurini recognized that the
different ethnic groups did not socialize, yet they did
communicate and understand each other. Despite
language barriers, they were able to communicate at
a rudimentary level.38
This community spirit created mutual trust among
camp residents that often compelled neighbors to help
each other. While living in CF&I camps Shorty
Benson observed that neighbors got along well. They
associated and helped each other in the mines and
camps. While living in CF&I camps, Donald Mitchell
often loaned money to a neighbor without any con-
cern for re-payment. He explained that, [y]ou could
trust your neighbor. He could come and ask you, let
me have $20. You let him have it. Never thought no
more; it was a good as putting it in the bank.39
Trust for CF&I miner John Tomsic and his wife
Caroline meant leaving their doors unlocked at
home.40
Oral histories suggest a lack of crime and violence
as well. CF&I camp resident Mary Frances Kravic
recalled very little ethnic or racial tensions. While
working in the CF&I mines, Mike Livoda remembered
that miners acted as one big family. John and Caro-
line Tomsic recalled that the miners and their families
watched over and protected each other. These ties in
many ways reflect the necessary trust miners had to
have in one another while underground. That connec-
tion extended into the communities which did not
condone ethnic fighting or derogatory racial slurs.41
Despite community cohesiveness and the integrative
impact of the Rockefeller program, workers were
sometimes dissatisfied and, therefore, not always loyal
to the company and its communities. In CF&Is
magazine, officials protested against accusations that


72
1996 Mining History Journal
they sponsored picnics instead of providing better
wages and working conditions.42 Such sentiments
must have existed or officials would not have had to
defend their social program publicly. The plan failed
to address workers complaints properly, and, in the
end, company sponsored welfare programs could not
prevent labor unrest.
In the years after the implementation of the Repre-
sentation Plan, CF&I miners initiated four strikes: in
1919, 1921, 1922, and the great strike of 1927-1928.
Miners were displaying their dissatisfaction with the
company officials unwillingness to recognize inde-
pendent unionization. As a result, miners and their
families went on strike on their own or under the
direction of independent unions such as the United
Mine Workers of America (U.M.W.A.) and the Indus-
trial Workers of the World (I.W.W.).43
Like other coal miners in the United States, CF&Is
workers wanted independent representation. Conse-
quently, they responded to nationwide U.M.W.A. coal
strikes in 1919 and 1922. Their support of the
U.M.W.A. in these strikes illustrates their dissatisfac-
tion with the Representation Plan and CF&I. Even
though the national walkouts failed to air local
complaints, CF&I miners directly benefited from
U.M.W.A.s successes because management routinely
accepted union set wage scales after a strike.44
CF&I employees, however, did not rely solely on
the U.M.W.A. to resolve grievances. In 1921, local
miners initiated a strike when company management
cut wages to 1917 levels due to the post-World War I
recession. Company officials argued that a majority
of employees from each camp had signed petitions
accepting wage reductions. The workers responded
that the petitions failed to constitute a collective
bargaining agreement: managers did not circulate
petitions to all mines, employees felt coerced into
signing the petitions, and the miners believed that
ultimately the company would not back down from its
wage offer.
If the company union had successfully improved
communication and had properly addressed worker
grievances, miners would not have had to go on
strike. The inability of the company union to address
complaints drove workers to join outside unions, first
as members of the U.M.W.A. and later in the I.W.W.
In the years following the Colorado coal strike of
1913-1914, the U.M.W.A. began to decrease its
activity in the state. After spending large sums of the
union s funds on the 1913-1914 strike and failing to
produce U.M.W.A. representation in the Colorado
mines, the executive board of the union decided to
evacuate the Colorado mine fields and focus on
eastern coal miners. Regardless, CF&I miners showed
their support for the U.M.W.A. during the 1919 and
1922 strikes. Yet, because the union failed to address
local grievances, the Colorado coal miners felt be-
trayed by the U.M.W.A. in the mid-1920s.45 The
I.W.W. then filled this void.46
In March, 1927, southern Colorado coal miners
conveyed strong support for the I.W.W. strike that
protested the conviction of Nicola Sacco and
Bartolomo Vanzetti.47 Colorado support continued for
the next two years. On August 8, 1927, for example,
the Walsenburg district leaders placed 42 percent of
the workforce on strike. In the end, as much as 25
percent of Walsens miners walked out during the
demonstration strike. A third of the miners from the
Cameron mine participated in the strike.48 CF&I
miners strong participation in the nationwide sympa-
thy strike demonstrated their support for the I.W.W.
and their dissatisfaction with CF&I. Union organizers
recognized the potential success of a statewide I.W.W.
supported walk out.49
During the 1927-1928 Colorado coal strike, the
company encouraged multi-ethnic community identity
which was converted into a class consciousness
separate from CF&I and its mining camps. CF&I
miners appreciated changes in the mines and camps
due to welfare capitalism, but still wanted more
autonomy in the work place. Social reforms and
company loyalty could not compensate for the low
wages and dangerous working conditions.
Miners demands for wage increases, better working
conditions, and the right for outside union organiza-
tion initiated the 1927 strike. Near Walsenburg, camp
workers responded inconsistently to the strike. In
Cameron, only 40 miners of 162 (25%) joined the
walk-out while 214 of Walsens 381 miners (56%)
went on strike. Away from the Walsenburg district
and across the state, nearly 50 percent of the miners
walked out 6,340 of 12,690 miners. In the south-
ern Colorado coal mines as a whole, about 60 percent
of the miners struck. In Fluerfano county, 45.5
percent of miners walked out.50 With such strong
participation, the coal companies could not deny that
workers were dissatisfied.
The ethnic make-up of the strikers reflected CF&Is
heterogeneous workforce. On January 20, 1928, the
companys fuel department produced a list of 668
I.W.W. supporters.51 Clearly half of the strikers were
Hispanos. Of the remaining ethnics represented, the
Italians were the largest group with seventy-one
(10.6%) members. In general, Eastern Europeans
comprised 17.2 percent (115) of I.W.W. supporters,
southern Europeans totaled 13 percent (87) of strikers,


Pan Peace and Conflict in an Industrial Family
73
and U.S.-born workers of European descent equaled
7.6 percent (51).52 Although Hispanos represented the
vast majority of the I.W.W. membership, the multi-
ethnic participation illustrates how different peoples
created a shared working identity and went on strike
together for common goals.53
Surviving during the strike also required cooperation
among the multi-ethnic workers. Eleven days after the
strike began, for example, the strikers had to coordi-
nate housing for workers and their families who had
been evicted from company houses in Huerfano
County. Management told miners that they needed
the houses for working employees. To combat this
injustice, Colorado miners established the Colorado
Miners Relief and Defense Committee to build tent
colonies for the evicted families, who were now
directly involved in the strike.54
Nine non-employee women (along with 668 men)
also appeared on the fuel department list. Five of
these women were Hispanos, one Italian, one Aus-
trian, one Eastern European, and one woman of
unknown background. Among them, Concepcion
Dominquez, Patricia Gaburi, and Antonia Martinez
held I.W.W. union cards.55 The multi-ethnic make-up
of these women strikers further reveals the common
bond among the workers and their strong support for
the I.W.W. and the goals of the strike.
Men, women, and children together defied state law
to participate in the strike. Newspaper reports told of
picketing wives getting thrown in jail. On January 4,
1928, for instance, the police arrested four Hispano
women for picketing at Walsen Mrs. Marques, Mrs.
Medino, Cecilie Martinez, and Concepcion
Dominquez. Although Mrs. Marques was a divorcee
of fifty and Mrs. Medino was a housewife of forty,
they made sacrifices and went to jail along with
Martinez and Dominquez, both 23. These four
women, in fact, were arrested with 110 men.56
Some family members exhibited their support for
the strike by visiting prisoners, participating in pa-
rades, and attending union meetings. Mothers took
their children to visit their fathers in jail together with
strike leaders, who often risked their own arrest by
visiting their colleagues. Ten days after the strike
began, more than a hundred automobiles full of strike
supporters from northern Colorado paraded through
Walsenburg; one car was filled with girls waving
American flags. On November 11, 1927, as many as
a thousand men, women, and children attended an
I.W.W. demonstration, followed by a parade through-
out the northern coal fields, near Lafayette,
Colorado.57
Some women expanded their role beyond rank-and-
file participation and became strike leaders. Santa
Benash, Milka Sablich, and Julia Talentino were three
of the female activists. Milka Sablich, recognized by
the red dress that she wore, became a strike leader
after her sister, Santa Benash, was arrested. The two
sisters were compelled to join the strike because their
father worked as a miner in Trinidad.58 Womens
involvement in worker protests illustrates the depth of
the importance of jobs for husbands and fathers.
Unlike single men, workers with families often had the
support of their daughters and wives during strikes.
Family men recognized the possible benefits for their
families if they achieved independent unionization and
higher wages. Consequently, they endured the imme-
diate repercussions of participating in walkouts the
temporary loss of work and pay, and possible arrest
and violence. In the end, entire families suffered
short-term hardships in hopes of winning long-term
gains such as independent unionization.
The strike finally came to an end for families on
February 20, 1928. From managements perspective,
the four-month strike cost the company $10 million.
In contrast, union officials considered the strike a
partial victory because miners achieved important
gains in organization, even though the coal companies
never formally recognized their list of demands. Also
disappointing was the CF&I officials decision not to
settle with the miners and recognize the U.M.W.A. as
the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company had done begin-
ning in May, 1928.
The miners did win some vindication when the U.S.
Commission on Industrial Relations -- a federal
commission composed of public, labor, and business
representatives who evaluated strikes and worked to
improve labor and management relations -- con-
demned the CF&I managers actions which had
precipitated the strike. The commission acknowledged
that miners were justified in going on strike. Most
importantly for the miners, the commissioners argued
that the strike could have been prevented with inde-
pendent collective bargaining. Despite these rulings,
CF&Is president, Jesse F. Welbom, still interpreted
the strike as a fight for union recognition and not as
a reflection of the ineffectiveness of the Representative
Plan and worker dissatisfaction.59
After four strikes, Rockefeller still had a strong faith
in his company union. He would never acknowledge
the failure of the Industrial Representation Plan. Only
after Congress had passed section 7a of the National
Industrial Recovery Act in 1933 did Rockefeller
recognize U.M.W.A., and ratify its contract for the
southern Colorado mining districts.60
The Industrial Representation Plan lasted for eigh-


74
1996 Mining History Journal
teen years. Rockefeller never anticipated miners and
their families response to welfare capitalism. Inadver-
tently, his programs aided class consciousness by
offering points of contact for all camp residents. With
time the workers recognized their common grievances
against CF&I and joined together in opposition to
management. CF&Is work force periodically demon-
strated their complaints against the plan and their
desire for independent union representation in formal
protests with strikes in 1919, 1921, 1922, and 1927.
Despite these demonstrations of dissatisfaction, the
company failed to address miners grievances. Instead,
managers continued to sponsor welfare capitalism for
camp residents in vain hope that commonly shared
and nurtured company and community identities
would prevent miners and their families from support-
ing unions and participating in strikes.
During the 1910s and 1920s, CF&I officials suc-
ceeded in forming a sense of community. This
achievement, although not universal, was a result of
time and place. With the legacy of the 1913-1914
strike, the southern Colorado coal camps had devel-
oped an inter-ethnic class consciousness exemplified
by the camaraderie of the workers and their families
of Ludlow.61 This exceptional tradition continued and
even matured for Cameron and Walsen miners and
their families. Camp residents interacted with each
other in peaceful ways. Their relations ranged from
close friendships between children to neighborly
politeness among adults. Camp residents company
and community identities, however, never eliminated
their class and ethnic identities. Class consciousness
and ethnic ties fluctuated with the changing relations
with the company; when worker grievances were low,
men and women spent their leisure time maintaining
family and ethnic traditions; during worker upheavals,
strong class consciousness allowed people of different
ethnicities to unite. Walk outs involved entire fami-
lies: men, women, and children joined picket lines,
became strike leaders, and faced police arrest and
imprisonment. And in the end, despite the companys
insistence on maintaining its own union, Rockefellers
welfare programs encouraged friendly relations among
the multi-ethnic workers and their families, and even
served to unite them in their common cause to create
independent unionization.
NOTES
1. Sarah Deutsch, No Separate Refuge: Culture, Class, and Gender
on an Anglo-Hispanic Frontier in the American Southwest,
7 SSO-1940. NY: Oxford University Press, 1987, 87-106;
Priscilla Long, The Women of the Colorado Fuel and Iron
Strike, 1913-1914, Women, Work, & Protest: A century of US
Women s Labor History, Ruth Milkman, ed., Boston: Routledge
& Kegan Paul, 1985, 62-85; H. Lee Scamehom, Mill and Mine:
CF&I in the Twentieth Century. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska
Press, 1992, 38-39; John Thomas Hogle, The Rockefeller
Plan: Workers, Managers and the Struggle Over Unionism in
Colorado Fuel and Iron, 1915-1942, Ph.D. diss., Univ. of
Colorado, Boulder, 1992, 1; John Graham, Introduction,
The Coal War: A Sequel to King Coal, by Upton Sinclair,
Boulder: Colorado Assoc. Univ. Press, 1976, xxxiv-xlviii.
2. Quoted in Graham, p. vii.
3. Graham, liii-liv; Ben M. Selekman and Mary van Kleeck,
Employees Representation in Coal Mines: A Study of the
Industrial Representation Plan of the Colorado Fuel and Iron
Company. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1924, 59-63.
4. Selekman, 59-63, 116-118, 120, 144; David Montgomery, The
Fall of the House of Labor: The workplace, the state, and
American labor activism, 1865-1925. NY: Cambridge University
Press, 1987, 350.
5. David Brody, Workers in Industrial America: Essays on Twenti-
eth Century Struggle. NY: Oxford University Press, 1980, 48-
81.
6. Lizabeth Cohen, Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in
Chicago, 1919-1939. NY: Cambridge University Press, 1990,
160-161.
7. Much of the material used to produce this article originally
appeared in my masters thesis, Peace and Conflict in an
Industrial Family: Company Identity and Class Consciousness
in a Multi-ethnic Community, Colorado Fuel and Irons
Cameron and Walsen Coal Camps, 1913-1928, masters thesis,
Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, 1994. To capture the thoughts of
individual camp residents I relied on oral histories. I selected
interviews of men and women who lived in CF&I coal camps
after the 1913-1914 strike from two oral history projects: the
Coal Project and the Huerfano County Ethno-History Project.
I also conducted my own interviews of former Cameron and
Walsen residents.
8. Note on Terminology: Considering that I am unable to
determine how all individuals might refer to themselves, I have
struggled to define ethnic groups in a consistent manner. For
people of European background, I use their place of birth to
indicate an ethnicity. As a result, some of the ethnicities that
I list do not necessarily exist today. Using place of birth for
European immigrants emphasizes their ethnic diversity. For
people of Spanish-sumames I use the term Hispano to
include both people whose settled before 1900 and those who
immigrated from Mexico more recently. I chose to group all
Spanish-surnamed people together to emphasize their common
experience. I had the most difficulty establishing an appropri-
ate term for people who did not recently immigrate to the U.S.,
possessed U.S. citizenship by birth, aid not have a Spanish-
sumame, and were not people of color. I use a convenient but
inaccurate term Anglo.
9. Colorado Fuel and Iron Industrial Bulletin (Hereafter: Bulletin),
5 (April 27, 1920): 11.
10. Scamehorn, 96; Bulletin, 3 (January 31, 1918): 15; 11 (June
15, 1926): 11; 2 (October 31, 1916): 4; 5 (April 27, 1920):
11; 5 (June 21, 1920): 13; 2 (January 1917): 12; 10 (February
15, 1925): 6.
11. Frank and Theresa Fink, Huerfano County Ethno-History
Project, Western Research Room, Me Clellan Public Library,
Pueblo, Colorado (Hereafter: Frank and Theresa Fink Inter-
view).
12. Bulletin, 2 Ganuary 1917): 11; 3 (April 30, 1918): 4; 3 (April
30, 1918): 15.
13. Louis Guigli, interviewed by Eric Margolis, July 17, 1979, Coal
Project Ori Flistory, Univ. of Colorado Archives, Univ. of
Colorado, Boulder, Colorado (Hereafter: Louis Guigli inter-
view).
14. Virgil Ladurini, interviewed by author, Walsenburg, Colorado,
April 16, 1994, (Hereafter: Virgil Ladurini interview); Frank
and Theresa Fink interview.
15. Curtis, Fosdick, & Belknap, Industrial Relations Staff, Report
on Industrial Relation in the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company,
(typescript, ca. 1925), 113, CF&I Archive, Pueblo, Colorado;
Bulletin, 5 (April 27, 1920): 3; 12 (October 1927): 20; 5
(August 18, 1920): 11.
16. Bulletin, 2 Ouly 31, 1917): 6, 20.
17. Bulletin, 6 (November 14, 1921): 12; 5 (August 18, 1920): 4.
18. Bulletin, 5 (November 24, 1920): 3; 6 (November 14, 1921):
12. The Bulletin also listed Walter Schenkeirs name as Walter
Schenkier.
19. Bulletin, 5 (November 24, 1920): 3-4. Current sources available


Pan Peace and Conflict in an Industrial Family
75
failed to produce any list of participants. However, the
Bulletin documented the name of individuals who won a
contest and their camp. I used these lists as a snapshot of Field
Day participants.
20. Bill Lloyd, interviewed by Eric Margolis, Florence, Colorado,
Mav 18, 1978, Coal Project Oral History, Univ. of Colorado
Archives, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado (Hereafter: Bill
Lloyd interview).
21. Virgil Ladurini interview; Bulletin, 10 (October 15, 1925): 17.
22. Carmen Amaro Bakker, Crist Lovdjieff, and Ed Tomsic,
interviewed by author, Aurora, Colorado, April, 2, 1994
(Hereafter: Group interview).
23. Curtis, Fosdick, & Belknap, 111; Selekman, 139-143.
24. Bulletin, 10 (August 15, 1925): 20-21; 5 (June 21, 1920): 7; 7
(January 19, 1922): 14.
25. Bulletin, 6 (January 21, 1921): 13; 6 (April 7, 1921): 12; 2
(July 31, 1917): 5; Josephine Marcon, interviewed by author,
Walsenburg, Colorado, April 16, 1994 (Hereafter Josephine
Marcon interview).
26. Record of Students, 1924-1940, Huerfano County School
District Records, Walsenburg, Colorado.
27. Josephine Marcon interview; Virgil Ladurini interview; Group
interview; Louis Guigli interview; Albert and Johanna Micek,
interviewed by Sandra Carson, January 17, 1980, Huerfano
County Ethno-History Project, Western Research Room, Me
Clellan Public Library, Pueblo, Colorado (Hereafter: Albert and
Johanna Micek interview).
28. From the Huerfano County Ethno-History Project, the Coal
Project Oral History and interviews that I collected, I did not
find any specific accounts of ethnic children playing with
African-American children. This does not imply, however, that
it did not occur.
29. Group interview. Although the Wilkins family of Cameron
camp had a Welsh name, the family lived in Mexico for three
generation before immigrating to the U.S. Mr. Wilkins retained
only the Welsh name, and not its ethnicity, nationality, or
traditions.
30. Virgil Ladurini interview; Josephine Marcon interview.
31. Frank and Theresa Fink interview.
32. Minnie Grace Branch, January 8, 1980, Huerfano County
Ethno-History Project, Western Research Room, Me Clellan
Public Library, Pueblo, Colorado.
33. John and Caroline Tomsic, interviewed by Eric Margolis, Utah,
Coal Project Oral History, Univ. of Colorado Archives, Univ.
of Colorado, Boulder (Hereafter: John and Caroline Tomsic
interview); Virgil Ladurini interview; Louis Guigli interview.
34. Shivaree is altered from the word charivari, which is defined as
a noisy demonstration or mock serenade to a couple on their
wedding night.
35. Josephine Marcon interview; Group interview.
36. Long, 67; Josephine Marcon interview; Virgil Ladurini inter-
view.
37. Ann and Walt Laney, and Jake and Cora Hribar, Huerfano
County Ethno-History Project, Western Research Room, Me
Clellan Public Library, Pueblo, Colorado (Hereafter: Laney and
Hribar interview).
38. Virgil Ladurini interview; Laney and Hribar interview.
39. Donald Mitchell, interviewed hy Eric Margolis, Walsenburg,
Colorado, February 5, 1978, Coal Project Oral History, Univ.
of Colorado Archives, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado.
40. Shorty Benson, Colonias, Colorado, May 31, 1979, Huerfano
County Ethno-History Project, Western Research Room, Me
Clellan Public Library, Pueblo, Colorado (Hereafter: Shorty
Benson interview); John and Caroline Tomsic interview.
41. Mary Frances Kravic, interviewed by Kathleen Rignall, August
5, 1979, Huerfano County Ethno-History Project, Western
Research Room, Me Clellan Public Library, Pueblo, Colorado;
Mike Livoda, interviewed by Eric Margolis, November 15,
1968, Coal Project Oral History, University of Colorado
Archives, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado (Hereaf-
ter: Mike Livoda interview); John and Caroline Tomsic
interview.
42. Bulletin, 10 (October 15, 1925): 3.
43. For more detailed accounts of the following strikes, please
consult Scamehom, Mill and Mine; Hogle, The Rockefeller
Plan; Ronald L. McMahan, Rang-U-Tang: The I.W.W. and
the 1927 Colorado Coal Strike, At the Point of Production:
The Local History of the I.W.W.. Joseph R. Conlin, ed.,
(Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981); Charles J. Bayard,
The 1927-1928 Colorado Coal Strike, Pacific Historical
Review 32 (August 1963): 235-250.
44. C.E. Wame and M.E. Gaddis, Eleven Years of Compulsory
Investigation of Labor Disputes in Colorado, Journal of
Political Economy 35 (October, 1927): 671-672; Hogle, 149-
154, 160-165.
45. Hogle, 161-164; McMahan, 196-198; Hogle, 178-180;
Bulletin, 11 (August 15, 1926): 3.
46. While both the U.M.WA and the I.W.W. were industrial
unions that included skilled and unskilled labor, they had
different ideological stances toward industrial capitalism. The
U.M.WA. recognized the wages system as a natural and
necessary aspect of industrialization. In contrast, I.W.W.s
supported more radical and socialist beliefs that called workers
ro unite together, take over means of production, and abolish
the wage system. Montgomery, The Fall of the House of Labor;
Melvyn Dubofsky, We Shall Be All: A History of the Industrial
Workers of the World. NY: NY Times Book Co., 1969; Priscilla
Long, Where the Sun Never Shines: A History of Americas
Bloody Coal Industry. NY: Paragon House, 1989.
47. Hogle, 184-185; McMahan, 199. Sacco and Vanzetti were
two Italian immigrant anarchists who faced severe charges for
killing a guard and robbing a shoe factory in South Braintree,
Massachusetts. Liberals, Wobblies, and immigrants protested
the conviction and sentencing of Sacco and Vanzetti on the
basis of circumstantial and insufficient evidence. Sacco and
Vanzetti symbolized the anti-foreign and anti-radical sentiment
in the U.S.
48. The Evening Picket Wire (Trinidad, Colorado), Walsenburg
Center of LW.W. strike, August 8, 1927, CF&I Clippings File,
CF&I Archives, Pueblo, Colorado (Hereafter: Picket Wire).
While Picket Wire cited 491 strikers of 1,158, the Walsenburg
Independent noted that 1,132 miners of 1,167 walked out on
August 9, 1927.
49. McMahan, 199. The LW.W. purposely downplayed their social
radicalism and encouraged miners to organize their own strike
activities. LW.W. organizers restricted their role to advisory
positions by acting as nonvoting members allowing multi-ethnic
union committees to represent the diverse workforce. I.W.W.
leaders made no mention of the abolition of the wage system or
the right of workers to control the workplace. The Wobblies
hoped to draw attention away from their Marxist ideology and
focus concern on miners grievances.
50. Hogle, 187; McMahan, 199; The Walsenburg Independent
(Walsenburg, Colorado), October 18, 1927, CF&I Clippings
File, CF&I Archives, Pueblo, Colorado (Hereafter: Walsenburg
Independent); Bayard, 239; McMahan, 200; Hogle, 188.
51. The ethnicity or race of strikers consisted of Anglo, Austrian,
Black, Bulgarian, Canadian, Croatian, Eastern European,
English, French, German, Greek, Hispano, Hungarian, Irish,
Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Scotch, Serbian, Slavic,
Swedish, and Welsh backgrounds.
52. The Eastern European group included Austrians, Croatians,
Hungarians, Poles, Russians, and Slavs. The Southern Europe-
ans group consisted of Bulgarians, Greeks, Italians, and Serbi-
ans. English, Irish, Scotch, and Welsh were grouped together
by their geographical origins in Great Britain, despite their
strong ethnic differences. French, German, Norwegian,
Tyrolean, and Swedish nationals were grouped under Western
Europeans.
53. The I.W.W. recorded the members name, age, nationality,
citizenship, last place employed, last known address, and card
number. List of I.W.W.s, Fuel Department, January 20, 1928,
CF&I Archives, Pueblo, Colorado.
54. Picket Wire, October 29, 1927.
55. List of LW.W.s.
56. Hogle, 189; Chronicle News (Trinidad, Colorado), October 20,
1927, October 21, 1927, CF&I Archives, Pueblo, Colorado
(Hereafter: Chronicle News); Picket Wire, October 21, 1927;
Walsenburg Independent, October 21, 1927; I.W.W. Pickets
Arrested at Walsen, January 4, 1928, CF&I Archives, Pueblo,
Colorado.
57. Chronicle News, October 28, 1927, October 31, 1927, Novem-
ber 12, 1927; Picket Wire, November 1, 1927.
58. Chronicle News, October 28, 1927, November 12, 1927.
59. Bayard, 249-250; Hogle, 200-201; McMahan, 203.
60. Hogle, 205-207, 209-216.
61. Long, 72-77; Deutsch, 105.