A gun battle took place on October 12, 1898, in Virden, Illinois, and this year is the 125th anniversary of that event; October 8, in Union Miners Cemetery, located at 5585 Mt Olive Rd, Mt Olive, a commemoration of the battle will be held at noon.
John Alexander will be the keynote speaker. Additional speakers include IL AFL-CIO President Tim Drea, Mother Jones, and General Alexander Bradley. Bradley was present at the gun battle and wrote in a telegram asking the Mt. Olive miners not to send more men but to send doctors instead.
The Macoupin County Illinois Board, on September 11, unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the importance of an October 12, 1898, gun battle in Virden to the county’s history. Eight miners lost their lives that day when gunfire broke out between locked-out UMWA members and company guards as a trainload of replacement workers arrived.
This incident is why Union Miners’ Cemetery on the outskirts of Mt. Olive was created. Three of the miners killed that day are buried there. It remains the only union-owned cemetery in the USA and is where the legendary Irish firebrand Mother Jones is buried. In 1923, Jones requested to be buried there with “…those brave boys” who died in the gun battle.
Jones is an international figure and the only labor figure of note who has a festival in her name in the country of her birth, Cork, Ireland, and at her final resting place.
With the resolution, the board recognized Virden historian John Alexander for his diligent research into this incident and for making it widely available.