Local news

Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

A “pitched battle” between Italian railroad laborers and Wobbly organizers resulted in tragedy in the small town of Wilson Creek, north of Moses Lake.

A group of labor organizers from the Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World) were apparently talking to the Italian work crew in the Great Northern rail yards. The Italians claimed that the Wobblies were trying to persuade them to quit work and go on strike. An argument ensued and, according to the Italians, the Wobblies started throwing rocks.

One of the Wobblies, apparently the leader, charged the Italians. The Italians hit him in the head with a rock and then he was “beaten down.”

His skull was crushed, and he remained where he fell until he died hours later.

No clue to his identity was found, beyond a Wobbly songbook and a map of Washington. The Italians refused to tell police who struck the fatal blows. The surviving Wobblies also refused to tell police anything.

Police took a photo of the dead man and sent it to Wobbly headquarters, hoping someone would recognize him. The man was buried in the town’s potter’s field.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1943: The federal government began withholding income tax from paychecks.



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