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100 years ago in Spokane: Downtown funeral shows Wobblies still a force to be reckoned with

A funeral for a former Wobbly drew hundreds to downtown Spokane. (Spokesman-Review archives)
A funeral for a former Wobbly drew hundreds to downtown Spokane. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The Industrial Workers of the Word (Wobblies) seemed to be under siege in the Northwest, subject to governmental raids and widespread vituperation.

Yet a funeral procession on Riverside Avenue showed that the Wobblies remained a large and unified force in Spokane.

“One of the largest funerals ever tendered a workman in Spokane” took place at the Wobblies Hall on West Main Avenue. The funeral crowd was estimated at 900 people, and it was followed by a 400-person procession down Riverside Avenue.

The funeral was for Dan Edmonds. He was a Wobbly, but not a particularly prominent member. He died of natural causes – a sudden hemorrhage. “There wasn’t any particular reason why Edmonds should be given a big funeral,” the I.W.W. said, “Except that he was the first member to pass away in Spokane for a long time, and he was a likable fellow.”

Red was the predominant color at the funeral, and the eulogy was delivered in front of a large red flag. Wobbly orator Lena Morrow Lewis said that Edmonds was cut down in his prime because of his hard life as a woodsman. “Capitalism stands indicted at the death of this man who lies here before us,” she said. “In the general scheme of capitalism he was compelled to go from place to place to seek a job that he might earn his livelihood.”

As the crowd marched down Riverside, it sang, “Workers of the World, Awaken,” “Solidarity Forever,” and “Hold the Fort.”


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