Christmas Eve, 1913

This is a Christmas story you probably won’t hear retold during those sleek holiday shopping advertisements or around the flush tables of Don Blankenship or other mining company executives. Because this is the supposed season of joy, you may never have heard about Christmas eve in Calumet, Michigan in 1913. Perhaps it’s best to let Woody Guthrie tell it first:

Up on northern Michigan’s upper peninsula copper belt, seventy-five people–the brunt of them women and children–were crushed to death in the staircase of the Italian Hall where they had gathered for a holiday party organized by the Women’s Auxiliary of the Western Federation of Miners. It was the height of the 1913-1914 Copper Strike. Someone–historians of the disaster believe it was mine management, newspapers of the time variously describe the man as drunk, bearded, and “maudlin”– yelled “Fire!” (there was no fire) and the ensuing stampede crushed those who could not exit from the blocked doors at the bottom of the second floor stairwell. Readers of the New York Times awoke on Christmas morning to the gruesome details:

The grown persons trampled the children under foot and dozens of the smaller children were killed at the first onrush of the crowd. One man was seen to stoop to pick up his little girl, only to be pushed forward with such great force that he fell on her and crushed her to death. A woman who seized three small boys were crushed with them as she sought to shelter them in her arms.

Images such as this filled the newspapers:

Rereading the New York Times story this morning, of course, reminded me of 34-year old Jdimytai Damour, a temporary worker at a Wal-Mart store in Valley Stream, New York who was crushed to death on the “Black Friday” shopping day in 2008. For those of you who don’t remember the story, you can watch Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez’s coverage of the story on Democracy Now here.

Both of these stories–the Christmas Eve Massacre of 1913 and the Black Friday Wal-Mart killing of Jdimytai Damour–remind us of the price paid by immigrant families and migrant workers during these short days when, across America, the halls are said to be decked with holly and chestnuts are supposedly roasting on open fires.

This holiday season, let us remember Jdimytai Damour, the victims of the 1913 Calumet massacre, and all the other workers and workers’ families who lives were unnecessarily lost while engaged in labor–including those in the global mining sector whose deaths continue to be documented on this site.

*

For interested readers, a list of those who died on December 24, 1913, along with their age, gender, and nationality, appears below. Other versions of this list can be found here.

1. Lempi Ala……………………..12 years…………………….Female…………………..Finnish

2. Herman Alla………………….60 years…………………….Male……………………..Finnish

3. Sanna L. Aaltonen…………..39 years…………………….Female…………………..Finnish

4. Syvia Altonen…………………3 years………………………Female…………………..Finnish

5. Wilama Altonen………………9 years………………………Female…………………..Finnish

6. Will Biri…………………………7 years 11 mo…………….Male……………………..Finnish

7. Ivana Bolf………………………9 years 4mo……………….Female………………….Croatian

8. Katarine Bronzo…………….21 years…………………….Female…………………..Italian

9. Victoria Burcar……………….9 years 4 mo………………Female…………………..Croation

10. Joseph Butala……………….7 years 8 mo………………Male……………………..Slovenian

11. Nick Cvetkovich…………..33 years…………………….Male……………………..Croatian

12. Jenny Giacoletto……………9 years 10 mo…………….Female…………………..Italian

13. Katarina Gregorich……….10 years 10 mo……………Female…………………..Croatian

14. Edwin Heikkinen…………..7 years………………………Male……………………..Finnish

15. Eino Felpus O. Heikkinen.10 years 5 mo…………….Male……………………..Finnish

16. Eli Issac Heikkinen………..9 years 5 mo………………Male……………………..Finnish

17. Ina Isola………………………33 years……………………Female…………………..Finnish

18. Tilma Isola…………………..5 years 4 mo………………Female…………………..Finnish

19. Barbra Jesic…………………25 years…………………….Female………………….Croatian

20. Rosie Jesic…………………..5 years 6 mo………………Female………………….Croatian

21. Uno Jokepil………………….13 years…………………….Male……………………..Finnish

22. Anna E. Kalunki…………….9 years 7 mo……………..Female…………………..Finnish

23. Brida Liisa Kalunki…………42 years……………………Female…………………..Finnish

24. Efia P. Kulunki……………….8 years…………………….Female……………………Finnish

25. Johan Emil Kiemaki………..7 years……………………..Male………………………Finnish

26. Katarina Karich……………..7 years……………………..Female…………………..Croatian

27. Kristina Klarich………………11 years ………………….Female……………………Croatian

28. Mary Klarich…………………9 years……………………..Female……………………Croatian

29. Johan Hendrik Koskela……10 years……………………Male………………………Finnish

30. Anna Kotajarvi……………….4 years…………………….Female…………………… Finnish

31. Anna Kotajarvi……………….39 years…………………..Female…………………….Finnish

32. Mary Krainatz………………..11 years…………………..Female…………………….Croatian

33. Hilja K Lanto………………….5 years……………………Female……………………..Finnish

34. Maria G. Lanto……………….40 years………………….Female……………………..Finnish

35. Sulo Rubet Lauri………………8 years…………………..Male…………………………Finnish

36. Mary Lesar…………………….13 years………………….Female……………………..Slovenian

37. Rafael Lesar……………………2 years 6 mo……………Male………………………..Slovenian

38. Arthur Lindstrom……………..12 years………………….Male………………………..Unknown

39. Lydia Johanna Luoma……….10 years………………….Female……………………..Finnish

40. Alfred J.W. Lustic…………….7 years 9 mo……………Male………………………..Finnish

41. Elina Manley……………………26 years………………….Female……………………..Finnish

42. Wesley M. Manley……………4 years……………………Male………………………..Finnish

43. Ella E. Mantanen………………8 years……………………Female………………………Finnish

44. Mathias E. Mantanen………..10 years………………….Male…………………………Finnish

45. Y.H. Mantanen………………..13 years………………….Male…………………………Finnish

46. Agnes Mihelchich……………..7 years……………………Female……………………..Croatian

47. Elizabeth Mihelchich…………5 years……………………Female……………………..Croatian

48. Paul Mihelchich………………..9 years……………………Male…………………………Croatian

49. Walter Murto…………………..9 years……………………Male…………………………Finnish

50. Edward Emil Myllykangas….7 years…………………….Male…………………………Finnish

51. Johan W. Myllykangas………10 years…………………..Male…………………………Finnish

52. Abram Niemela………………..24 years………………….Male…………………………Finnish

53. Maria Elizabeth Niemela…….22 years………………….Female………………………Finnish

54. Annie Papesh…………………..6 years……………………Female………………………Slovenian

55. Mary Papesh……………………14 years………………….Female………………………Slovenian

56. Kate Petteri……………………..66 years………………….Female………………………Finnish

57. Saida M. Raja………………….10 years………………….Female………………………Finnish

58. Terresa Renaldi………………..12 years………………….Female………………………Italian

59. Elma W. Ristel………………….6 years…………………..Female………………………Finnish

60. Emilia Rydilahti…………………16 years………………… Female………………………Finnish

61. Heli Rydilahti……………………13 years………………….Female………………………Finnish

62. John Saari………………………..5 years 11 mo………….Male…………………………Finnish

63. Elida Saatio……………………..11 years 9 mo………….Female……………………….Finnish

64. Mary Smuk……………………..5 years……………………Female………………………Solvenian

65. Antonia Staudohar…………….7 years……………………Female…………………….Croat/Slov

66. Elisina J. Taipalus………………6 years……………………Female………………………Finnish

67. Sandra M. Taipalus……………4 years……………………Female………………………Finnish

68. Edward Richard Takola……..9 years……………………Female……………………….Finnish

69. Lydia E. Talpaka………………10 years…………………..Female………………………Finnish

70. Kaisa G. Tuippo……………….45 years…………………..Female………………………Finnish

71. Mamie Tuippo…………………10 years…………………..Female………………………Finnish

72. Hilja Wualukka ………………..8 years…………………….Female………………………Finnish

73. Johan Peter Westola………….48 years……………………Male…………………………Finnish


About this entry