S. E. Crance to W. F. Merrill, strike violence

In the wake of the 1888 strike, railroad officials worked to compile lists of violent protesters and their victims; in this report, S. E. Crance lists violence at strategic points along the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad line.

. Copy.
H.F. Merrill Esq. Gen. Mangr. St. Joe.

Dear Sir:-

In reply to your message of May 1 asking for reports of violence during strike, I have the following report to submit which I have prepared from my memory and the memory of officials at the other points in re to this matter.

At. Brookfield.

On the second day of the strike, fireman McCollum and 2 other new firemen were coming from the Clark Hotel to the depot to go out on runs, when they were met by strikers and driven back to the hotel, 2 of them being struck on the head with brass knuckles.

On same date, 2 firemen who came to Brookfield on an engine with Mr. Paradise from Hannibal were driven out of the round house by strikers. It is claimed one of the strikers named Watts drew his revolver in order to enforce demands.

Mar. 2, train No. 1 struck some ties on the track about 2 miles west of Brookfield, one tie getting fast in engine truck and had to be sawed out. About one hour afterwards, east bound pass. train again found obstructions about 1 miles east of where they were encountered the first time.

Mar. 3 one of the striking engineers named Watts came on Co. ground where notices were posted, warning people to keep off, got onto engine, and was endeavoring to get the engineer to leave. One Geo. Bostick, deputy sheriff, followed engineer Watts onto the engine, and had him get off. Afterwards some trouble occurred bet the two, which resulted in Bostick shooting and instantly killing Watts.

About Mar. 4 or 5, engineer who was running switch engine, was dragged from his boarding house at the Lentner, severed pounded and driven off, nothing having been heard of him since.

About the same time, engineer Gross and his fireman, while returning to bunk room from lunch counter, were assaulted by a party of strikers near the depot, but not severely injured.

On the night of Mar. 18 fireman Goss came out of the Clark Hotel to see a fire near by, and was struck over the head with a club and severely injured.

About Mar. 28, engineer Jas. Murray, while passing a saloon on his way from a restaurant, was assaulted by a crowd of strikers, knocked down and very severely pounded and cut about the head. Murray fired one shot at his assailants, and succeeded in getting away.

About the same time, engineer Sullivan was enticed into a saloon by a crowd of strikers and aggravated, until it was known he had a revolver in his possession, whereupon he was arrested and fined $50.00 for carrying concealed weapons.

H.F. M. 2.

Following this, engr Hoodruff of the switch engine at Brookfield, on his way to the Clark Hotel, was stopped by strikers, who made some severe remarks and started after him. Hoodruff drew a revolver, stopped the crowd, and got inside of Co. ground. He was afterwards arrested for carrying concealed weapons, but beat the case.

Eng. 18, which had been in Brookfield shop sometime for repairs, was going to be taken out to go west on train No. 21. Before eng left the house, it was noticed that emery had been placed in the boxes and eccentrics. This was removed, and a day later, engine was taken out. After it had been put in train, engineer in looking it over, found that engine had again been given a bad dose of emery; it had to be returned to the shop.

On train No. 11 during the latter part of Mar. engine 62, Sharritt engr, leaving Brookfield, was fired upon from Ambush near convent at top of hill west of Brookfield, 2 bullets striking cab; one of the bullets was afterwards dug out of cab; cab windows broken.

About Apl. 10, engr Jas. Murray was again assaulted on the street in day light by a discharged brakeman, T.J. O'connor, who was in sympathy with the strikers. Murray drew his revolver and routed O'Connor. Murray was arrested for carrying concealed weapons, but beat the case; aftewards he was rearrested for flourishing a deadly weapon, but got out of the scrape by paying costs.

About 2 weeks ago, fireman Anderson, who was going to the Clark Hotel, his boarding house, in the afternoon, was assaulted by J.J. McCarthy, a striking fireman. As Anderson was going into the hotel, McCarthy struck him with a club from behind. Anderson had cheek bone crushed in, making a very severe injury, and at first it was thought serious. McCarthy fled to the country, not returning till yesterday, when he came in and gave himself up to the authorities, and was put under $300.00 bail to appear before the grand jury.

There were other minor cases of slugging at Brookfield details of which I am this date unable to give.

At Quincy

On the second day of the strike, engine 41, coming out of Quincy on train No. 1, had a piece of iron put in the guides at Quincy depot, which was not discovered by engine men, and engine was disabled, having to give up train and go into shop.

Again last week, eng 21 was coming out of Quincy on No. 1, when it is supposed some one on or near the bridge put a piece of iron in the guides, disabling the engine so it had to give up train and go to Hannibal.

Last night, a piece of iron was put into the guide of eng 50, which was coming out of Quincy on No. 1. Eng had to give up train and go to Hannibal.

Aside from the strikers and sympathizers calling the new men names, there have no been many cases of violence at Quincy.

At Hannibal

On the night of Mar. 29, fireman J.N. Anderson was assaulted by a party of a dozen or more strikers on the corner of Main & Center Sts. and severely pounded, sustaining a black eye &c. He was rescued by citizens, who heard his cries. 2 non-brotherhood men were arrested and tried for this offense, one of them Dan McLoughlin and the other Geo. Coffman. The latter was fined ten dollars and costs, amounting to $32.00, all of which the brotherhood paid, as well as attorneys fees amounting to $100.00. The evidence submitted by the city in the interest of the Co. implicated quite a no. of strikers, and Judge Anderson filed complaint against them before the Grand Jury. H.H. Alshouse appeared as bondsman for the 2 men arrested.

In the afternoon of Mar. 29, a striker named Edwards standing in front of Treat's founry, threw a brick at switch engine No. 4, striking the cab about 6 inches below fireman's arm. Warrant was issued for his arrest, but owing to a leaky policeman he disappeared. Edwards' father afterwards appeared and pled guilty for him, and a fine of $32.00 was assessed, which was also paid by the brotherhood.

The night of Mar. 30 train No. 31 was stoned near 6th. street. No damage done, except cab windows broken.

A few days after this, eng 74 was stoned while backing into Union depot, parties making their escape into lumber yard near Union Depot switch

Apl. 10 engr Linton and fireman were on their way to round house to go out on No. 13, when they were asaulted by strikers but sustained only slight injuries.

Apl. 25, engineer Jones was assaulted by strikers near Union Depot, but sustained only slight injuries warrant has been issued for Chas. Coffman, a striking engineer for the latter offense, but Coffman has disappeared.

At Kansas City.

Eng 18 on No. 2 Feb. 27 had pin placed in the guides damaging guides and otherwise injuring engine. Eng was also stoned bet Union and Bridge Depots by a large crowd, and other attempts made to put obstructions in the machinery.

Mar. 1, eng. 75 train No. 16 died bet Harlem and Randolph, acc soap having been placed in tank at Kansas City, Eng towed back to Kansas City.

Mar. 31, switch engine No. 10 off track at scales, acc switch being misplaced by some one unknown. Slight damage.

Apl. 3 engineer Maine, was slugged on Union Ave. near Union depot, and severely injured about the head.

Also about Apl. 15, Mr. Geo. Thompson, foreman of round house K.C. was assaulted by strikers on Union Ave. and struck on the side of the head.

Apl. 13 train No. 14 on double track bet yard and bridge pins were pulled and thrown away. Train was cut in several pieces. Switchman J. Wilson, who was sent out as extra brakesman, deserted train and went away with the mob.

Apl. 16, switches were thrown under train 13, while pulling out of yard, and three cars derailed. Cars were all replaced and train went out. Engine was stoned in cut near Broadway Bridge and 12 or 15 pistol shots were exchanged bet the mob and special police on train. No one was hurt.

Other minor cases of slugging the new men have occurred at Kansas City, which I am now unable to give in detail.

Also there have been several cases of switches being thrown in front of switch engine and other engines, derailing them a number of times.

Obstructions have also been placed in the machinery of engines, but were discovered before causing damage.

Also engineer Viers on eng 44 east bound from Kansas City was fired on and stoned by Wabash crew at Harlem and Randolph one rock hitting fireman on the head. Viers and fireman returned the assault with 6 or 7 shots from their revolvers, but no further injury resulted, as far as known in this case.

Yours truly,

(Signed) S.E. Crance, Supt.

About this Document

  • Source: S. E. Crance
  • Source: W. F. Merrill
  • Collector:
  • Citation: Newberry Library, CBQ Archives 33 1880 9.5-9.51 1888 Strike Lists,
  • Date: May 2, 1888