Original Document
Original Document
Terence Powderly, on John Siney at Avondale in 1869.

Early in September, 1869, while I was employed at Dunmore, an explosion occurred in the mines at Avondale some twenty-three miles south of Scranton. On the 9th, a day or two after the explosion, I went to Avondale and for the first time saw and heard John Siney, then the moving spirit of the Miners and Laborers' Benevolent Association, who came from his home at St. Clair in Schuylkill County to lend his effort in behalf of the stricken people of Avondale.

...Siney...was the first man I had ever heard make a speech on the labor question. I was just a boy then, but as I looked at John Siney standing on the desolate hillside at Avondale, with his back toward a moss grown rock the grim, silent witness to that awful tragedy of ignorance, indifference, thoughtlessness, and greed, and listened to his low, earnest voice, I saw the travail of ages struggling for expression on his stern, pale face. I caught inspiration from his words and realized that there was something more to win through labor than dollars and cents for self. I realized for the first time that day that death, awful death such as lay around me at Avondale, was a call to the living to neglect no duty to fellow man. John Siney gave expression to a great thought at Avondale when he said: "You can do nothing to win these dead back to life, but you can help me to win fair treatment and justice for living men who risk life and health in their daily toil." The thought expressed in that far away time became my thought...

Credit: Terence Powderly, The Path I Trod: The Autobiography of Terence Powderly, ed. Harry J. Carman. New York: Columbia University Press, 1940.
Back to Top