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Wednesday, August 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Man claims Wobbly assault, booked on suspicion of insanity

A Spokane fireman was on his way to fish at Marshall Lake when he heard moaning and a cry for water in the woods.

Upon investigation, he discovered Peter Olson, 41, lying in a “pool of his own blood.” He had been “mutilated” and badly cut by mysterious strangers, he told police.

Olson was a farm worker who had recently arrived from Minnesota to look for harvest work. He said he went downtown, where three men in an auto offered to give him a ride. He believed they were Wobblies “from their talk.”

Suddenly, they put something over his head and the next thing he knew, he was lying in the woods, badly wounded. He believed he had been chloroformed.

Police were apparently not convinced of his story and booked him as an insanity suspect. They also raised the possibility that there was a woman involved.

Doctors said Olson would recover, as long as infection did not set in.

From the Wobbly beat: All 28 Wobbly defendants were bound over to Superior Court to stand trial for the crime of wearing Industrial Workers of the World – or Wobbly, as the group was commonly known – buttons.

The judge found that there were grounds to send the cases on to the higher court and ordered all 28 men held on $1,000 bond.

Their attorney, George Vanderveer of Seattle, asked the judge to make a “test case” of one or two of the men and let the others go. But the judge would not agree.

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