Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 32° Partly Cloudy
News >  Spokane

100 years ago: Troops establish presence as Wobblies descend on St. Maries

Tensions were rising throughout St. Maries, as hundreds of Wobblies converged on the town and guardsmen and soldiers staked out a presence of their own. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Tensions were rising throughout St. Maries, as hundreds of Wobblies converged on the town and guardsmen and soldiers staked out a presence of their own. (Spokesman-Review archives)

About 52 Fort George Wright soldiers and 55 Idaho Home Guard soldiers arrived in St. Maries to keep order in the aftermath of the previous day’s Wobbly riot in which the Benewah County sheriff was knocked down and beaten.

More Wobblies also arrived by train, which heightened the tension. There were now 400 Industrial Workers of the World members in St. Maries. The Spokane Daily Chronicle reported that the Wobblies put out a call for more members to converge on St. Maries and “it is feared that every boat and train will bring more disturbers.”

Ironically, a number of Wobblies were also attempting to leave on the same trains – presumably those who might be facing charges in the previous day’s rioting – and authorities refused to let them enter the trains.

‘“Every avenue of escape from the city is guarded,” according to authorities.

Those authorities were still trying to decide what to do with those Wobblies. “It is suggested that they be turned over to the military,” said the paper.

Meanwhile, Wobbly official W.W. Nelson, the cause of the riot, had been moved from the jail in St. Maries to the jail in Coeur d’Alene. The riot occurred when a crowd of Wobblies was told that Nelson’s trial was being moved to Coeur d’Alene, upon which they attempted unsuccessfully to break him out of the St. Maries jail.

Tensions were high all over North Idaho. Other Wobblies were in jail awaiting trial in both Moscow and Sandpoint, and officials of both cities feared trouble when those trials got underway. The farmers of Latah County “have been asked to supply the Moscow Home Guard with arms.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.