Chapter 42

The story so far: Milo’s last thought before he died was of Brina.


The deputized force of criminals showed restraint just long enough for the last out-of-town newspaperman to leave town.

Although they had all the rights of a U.S. deputy, their salaries and lodging were paid for by the Oliver Mining Company. Johan Koski tried to organize the businesses in town. “Do not sell anything to the Oliver guards,” he said, and the business owners agreed. On the first day of the boycott, Timo from Timo and Simo’s Bar and Sauna refused to serve two deputies. One took out his Luger and proceeded to shoot every bottle of alcohol in sight. More violence ensued until, finally, all but the co-op buckled under the threats of the deputies and guards.

Two days after Milo’s funeral, a group of strikers organized a parade in defiance of the group assembly law. They marched down the Main Street of Hibbing. By the time they had marched two blocks, twenty-five strikers had been shot and five more were dead.

By the beginning of July, shootings, threats and beatings were commonplace. People tried to walk in groups. If the deputies found a miner walking alone, they would confront him: “Go back to work, commie.” If the miner spoke back, he was shot, usually in the foot. If he said nothing, he was beaten senseless.

Dr. Andrea Hall was one of the only doctors on the Range who openly treated injured miners. But her services were in such demand, she couldn’t keep up. She began a nurses training program and taught women how to help tend to wounded strikers and townsfolk.

With no paychecks or credit, families relied more heavily on Anton’s food supply. Mothers had no acceptable answer for children holding their stomachs and asking “Mama, where’s the food?”

Eventually, a few miners began to cross the lines. Because the picketers could only assemble in groups of three or risk going to jail in violation of the anti-assembly law, it was easy, physically at least, to cross. Psychologically, it was much more difficult. The taunts workers who crossed the line endured were fierce. Some only managed to work a single day before their consciences got the best of them. For others, their guilt at betraying their fellow workers was assuaged by the coins in their pockets. The mining company now was paying replacement laborers triple normal wages to cross. And they paid them daily.


Tomorrow: Chapter 42 continues.