Grafton Riot

The (Grafton) Daily Sentinel
June 28, 1909

Riot and Bloodshed on the City Streets

Two Strangers Badly Beaten

Supposed That They Were Strike Breakers, but They Later Proved to be Race Horse Men Enroute from Clarksburg to Wheeling, to Attend Meet of Sportsmen in the Nail City

James Shieles [sic] Is In the Hospital

Affair Created General Indignation In City and Worked Harm to The Present Strike.

Machinist Leaders Were Indignant Over Matter

State That it Was Wholly Unauthorized and Claim They Are Not To Be Blamed.

One Arrest Made in the Affair Sunday.

Condition of Shields in Hospital Was Serious for a Time But He Will Now Recover.

In the very shadow of the court house, from which should eminate [sic] all law and order, in the heart of the city and a civilized community, a scene was enacted on Latrobe street about 9 o'clock Saturday night, that has created general indignation in the city.

Saturday night a car load of horses arrived in the city from the recent meet at Clarksburg on their way to Wheeling and they were accompanied by several attendants. The car contained, it is said, 13 horses, and it was hauled in on train 72. Upon the arrival of the car here, it was backed off on a siding to await the arrival of train No. 7, leaving several hours later, to which it was to be attached to be hauled to Wheeling. The horses belonged to J. D. Johnson of Meadsville, Pa., who has been racing them in the circuit to which Wheeling, Clarksburg and Fairmont belongs.

Upon the arrival of the car here, the attendants, several in number, came up street and, as horsemen are generally bibulous, all entered the saloon of Tom Shuttlesworth. There they called for a glass of beer and were, one of their number stated, treated very surly by the bartender, whose identity cannot be established. It appears that the men were mistaken for strike breakers, and they, of course, were totally ignorant of the conditions here, and were unaware of a strike being in progress, otherwise they stated they would have made their identity known.

One of their number went to the restaurant in the rear of the saloon and he stated Saturday night that they had asked for a glass of beer and that they were told to lay their money down first, and that the bartender who was slow in making the change was asked for it and replied:

"You'll get your change in a minute, and all that"s [sic] coming to you."

Upon this the men grew angry and one of their number stated that they would go some place else where their money was good. Meantime the man who had gone back to the restaurant purchased a fish sandwich, and the others left the saloon, he expecting to join them in a few minutes up street.

The ho[r]seman went up Latrobe street and two of them entered the Nusbaum store and were about to buy some clothing from John Pickett, the others waiting for them on the outside of the store, when from out of the saloon they had just left, a number of men came and set upon them.

The men were beaten unmercifully, knocked down and kicked in a brutal manner, while there were cries of "Scab! Scab!" "Get back down to the shops where you belong," and "This is the way we treat scabs here." One man, who, it is alleged, was struck first by Richard Barrett, was kicked and knocked down from the front of the Klein stores, to a point near the railroad foot bridge which leads to the depot. A total human wreck, a thing of misery and pity, and bleeding at every pore, he managed to reach the bridge and from there he was assisted to his car by several parties, where he was later attended by Dr. Warder.

Some allege that this man had called Barrett an ugly name, causing him to stop and strike him, but even if he did the provocation was not sufficient for the others in the crowd to set upon him and almost murder him. The scene was so absolutely brutal and revolting that many and two in particular, retreated within a nearby store to escape it. This man"s [sic] name could not be learned.

Another man, James Shields, of Erie, Pa., who was with the Johnson horses, was badly beaten up at a point near the McAvay saloon and was stretched unconscious for a time on the pavement. He was a cripple with only one eye, and the manner in which he was mauled was fearful. He was a sight of misery to behold where he lay for several minutes, until Dr. Powell, who came down the street, stepped over to his assistance. Shortly afterward Dr. Doyle also appeared, having been telephoned for, and he also assisted in ministering to the unfortunate man. He was taken to the City Hospital, where his life hung in the balance all Saturday night and it was not until Sunday that he regained consciousness.

The leaders in the Machinists' strike disclaim any participation in the trouble as an organization, and state that they are wholly irresponsible for the actions of their sympathizers, or more radical members, whom they are unable to hold in check, but nevertheless public opinion ran high on Saturday night and Sunday and the police and other officials were severely censured by many.

Barrett, who appearer [sic] to be the leader in the trouble, was arrested Sunday morning and placed in jail.

Barrett, who appeared to be the leader in the trouble, was arrested Sunday morning and placed in jail. Warrants were issued for several others, but they could not be found. The strike leaders state that Barrett is not even a member of their union, but belongs to one in Ohio. He was a former member of the local union, but severed his connection with it when he went to Ohio to work several months ago, and at the time the present strike was declared, he was not in the employ of the B. & O. at all and had not been working for the B. & O. for some time past.

No one saw the other men who were with the party after the trouble. Norman J. Ferrell, the engineer, was a personal friend of the men with the horses, and after the trouble he was in conversation with them. The men stated that they were trying to kill them and wondered what they had done to merit such violent abu[s]e.

This evening Shields is resting better at the hospital, but will not be able to leave the institution for several days. He is very quiet and does not talk or say much about the trouble of Saturday evening, though several efforts have been made to get his opinion of it, and it is not known whether he will be able to identify the men who came so near taking his life.

Many have been very outspoken against the police, stating that they made no effort whatever to quell the riot, or arrest the participants in it, and if this is true, then they are more blamable than the rioters themselves.

That there was no effort to disperse the crowd after the disturbance is true as gospel. The street was choked with people swarming about and the police made no effort to disperse them. Thos. J. McAvay protested against the blockading of the street, but no attention was paid to his protest.

An effort was made following the arrest of Barrett to get his release on bond, but on account of the serious condition of Shields at the time, and as it was then unknown whether he would live or die, the bond was refused. Unconfirmed rumors reached the city to the effect that the race horse owners would prosecute the matter, even though the participants of the meelee were lightly or heavily fined, and that they intended to institute an investigation and see that full justice is done.

One thing can by truthfully said. Several of those who were in the trouble were striking machinists, but they were the more hot headed of the organization and are of a character that would make trouble if they could whether they were on strike or not. The officers of the union and the better class of the membership, were, be it said to their credit, nowhere in sight when the trouble was going on and did not arrive on the scene until the trouble was at an end.

Mayor Love stated to the representative of the Sentinel Sunday that if it could be proven, as some charged that the police made no effort to quell the disturbance, he would discharge every man from the force, and he stated further that he will not tolerate any such disgraceful scenes as that of Saturday night, and that he will leave nothing undone to find out who the guilty parties are, and punish them according to their deserts.


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