Original Document
Original Document
The McKees Rocks Strike, 1909.

Strikers Cut Loose And Riot

Two Men Hauled From Car and Beaten Up.


Women Raid Schoenville Restaurant. Troopers Charge.

Wild rioting at Schoenville during which a bomb was hurled at State troopers, attempts were made to blow up the big office building of the Pressed Steel Car Company and street cars were assailed and captured by strikers, closed the week in the strike zone last night.

Starting soon after 7 o'clock the rioting continued until a late hour last night. Repeated charges were made by troopers, who were met by showers of bricks and clubs.

The seriously injured.

SALVATORE MERENA, a civil engineer of 1469 fifty-ninth street, Brooklyn, N.Y. Scalp wounds, broken finger and painful cuts and bruises all over body. Sent to Homeopathic hospital.

JOHN ANDERSON of Council Bluffs, Ia. Cut on head and bruised about body. Sent to Homeopathic hospital.

Dragged From Street Car.

Merena and Anderson were dragged from a street car leaving Schoenville before 9 o'clock, after strikers forcibly took possession of the car. A howling mob of foreigners pounced upon the men when they were shoved to the street, far from the car plant, and beat them until the numbers of the strikers permitted the escape of the strikebreakers.
Merena and Anderson quietly stole out of the plant intending to spend Saturday night and Sunday in Pittsburgh. Spies of the strikers saw them, and reporting to other strikers, followed the car until it was out of sight of the troopers. They then boarded it and dragged off the two men.

With a daring attempt, partly successful, to blow up the big office building of the company, the rioting started soon after 7 o'clock last night.

The attempt on the office building was the signal for several serious clashes. A dozen men were dragged from street cars, and strikers, suspecting them of being strike-breakers, beat them severely.

Clamor for Bread at Restaurant.

Soon after 7 o'clock 600 women and children gathered about the company's restaurant in Ohio street clamoring for bread. State troopers were just preparing to sit at the tables for the evening meal and, hearing the outcry outside, rushed for their horses.
Seeing that only women and children opposed them, the troopers held back, then slowly walked their horses at the mob. Bricks and clubs were hurled at them, inflicting bruises on several troopers.

Lieutenant Smith was still loathe to order a charge and the troopers walked their horses into the yelling mob, attempting to disperse it. Husbands and fathers of those in the crowd stood aloof and from the porches of their homes urged the women and children to attack the troopers.

One woman, emboldened by the hesitation of the troopers, ran to within a few feet of the horsemen and, drawing what appeared to be a bomb from a fold of her gown hurled it beneath the horses" hoofs.

The troopers believed for a[n] instant they were doomed. The bomb, however, instead of exploding, as expected, spluttered for a few minutes and then died out owing to a defect in making it.

One of the troopers, after safety was assured, got the bomb, which Lieutenant Smith later said was crudely fashioned by someone not familiar with explosives. When the woman saw she had failed in her purpose, she quickly hid herself in the crowd. Lieutenant Smith ordered the men to return to their barracks.

A large fire hose was then attached to a plug in the yard of the plant. The water was turned on and the crowd of women scattered right and left. One woman, more brave than the rest, faced the stream and denounced troopers who had remained on the outside. At the order of Lieutenant Smith she was placed under arrest and taken to the box car lockup. She is said to be the first woman prisoner the box car has contained.
While the women were engaging the attention of the troopers at the front of the building, about 50 of their companions raided the kitchen of the restaurant, which was deserted except for Negro cooks.

Attacking these with spoons, ladles and other weapons, the women routed the cooks, and made off with two barrels of potatoes, a barrel of onions, meat cooked and uncooked, and even cauldrons of soup. These edibles were carried out to the street by the rear door and taken to homes.

Many Attacks by Strikers.

While the disturbance was going on in Presston, the scene at the other end of Schoenville, near O'Donovan's bridge, was even more exciting. Hordes of strikers attacked persons whom they thought to be strike-breakers.

At the Schoenville end of O'Donovan's bridge, more than 100 shots were fired in the air. All passing street cars were stopped and each passenger was scrutinized. Several were dragged out and beaten. Many of the women passengers, terror-stricken, fled from the cars screaming.

Yesterday was pay day for the strike-breakers in the plant of the car company, and it was rumored during the afternoon and early evening that many of the men would come to the city for an evening of fun. The strikers as a result were in waiting for the enemies.
Many persons in no way connected with the strike suffered at the hands of the strikers and it was unsafe for pedestrians to be out after the trouble started.

While the troopers were quelling the uprising of the women, someone made an attempt to blow up the company's fine new office building at the lower end of Ohio street in "Hunkeytown." Several nitro-glycerine caps were used. These were carefully concealed between the building and the company fence a dozen feet distant and when they exploded a large section of the basement stone work was torn away, leaving a gaping hole.

No Clue to Culprits.

There is no clue to the person who placed the caps, but the strikers" executive committee say it was none of the strikers.

A small riot in which two men were beaten occurred on the Helen street transfer line car, at 9:25 o'clock. Two foreigners had refused to pay their fares, and an argument ensued between them and the conductor, C.F. Ludin. The foreigners insisted they had paid.
When the car reached the end of O'Donovan's bridge, a fight ensued. One of the foreigners made a lunge at Ludin. Motorman Orlande Kizer took a hand and the men were finally put off the car.

A shot was fired in the air by one of the strikers, and this seemed to be a signal for an attack on the two foreigners, who were unmercifully beaten by the crowd. They were then driven over the bridge by the hooting mob.

The jewelry store of W.H. King, of 313 Island avenue, McKees Rocks, was entered by thieves early yesterday and many valuable articles were taken.

The commissary department provided food for nearly 17,000 persons yesterday. The strikers" committee asserts the men will be able to hold out indefinitely until their demands are granted by the company. A mass meeting will be held on the Indian mound at 9 o'clock this morning.

Make Charges of Peonage.

Appeal was made yesterday to the Federal authorities for the release of about 60 workmen from the works of the Pressed Steel Car Company, at Schoenville. In an information filed with United States Commissioner W.T. Lindsey by Attorney William N. McNair, and sworn to by Albert Vamos, a Hungarian, employed by the car company and recently discharged from the Ohio Valley hospital, it is alleged workmen are being held in a condition of peonage by Samuel Cohn and President F.N. Hoffstot, of the company.
Vamos appealed to Edgar L.G. Prochnik, imperial and royal acting consul of Austria and Hungary, who is located in Pittsburgh.

The information will be examined by United States District Attorney John H. Jordan to-morrow, and if the case has a legal standing under the Federal laws warrants may be issued at once.

Charges of Misrepresentation.

According to the statement of Vamos to the Austrian vice consul, he was brought to Pittsburgh from New York and put to work with the understanding that he was to receive $3 per day, and when he demanded his money was offered payment at the rate of $1.50 a day. He alleged that any attempt to quit work resulted in the workman being beat up by Cohn and his men, who guarded them with clubs. It is alleged that four other workmen are in the Ohio Valley hospital suffering from ptomaine poison from eating food furnished the strike breakers.

When Vamos was dismissed from the hospital, where he was a patient from August 16 to August 20, he sought assistance at the commissary department of the strikers at Schoenville, and was given a severe beating by strikers and their wives, before he was rescued by President Wise, of the strikers" committee.

Credit: The Pittsburgh Post, Sunday, August 22, 1909.
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