Many gather to commemorate 100th year since Herrin Massacre

HERRIN, Ill. (KBSI) – 100 years ago on June 22, Herrin, Illinois suffered a devastating massacre that killed 24 people. Wednesday, people gathered to commemorate those who died.

“The Herrin Massacre is remembered as one of the worst labor incidents of violence,” explained Jon Musgrave, a regional historian for Illinois. “There were 24 victims of the Herrin Massacre. Three Union miners and then 21 replacement workers and guards that were brought in for the southern Illinois coal mine.”

The riot began when William Lester, owner of the Southern Illinois Coal Mine, fired the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) as they were on a nationwide strike. Lester then hired 50 men from Chicago to replace them.

The day before the massacre, UMWA held a rally at the Herrin City Cemetery. The next day, the men in the mine surrendered. The men believed they were going to leave the county in trucks, although the trucks never arrived.

They later ran into mobs, killed the mine manager, and others. A Union worker then found them, took them to the woods, and shot them.

According to Musgrave, there should have been more than four dozen people, although half escaped.

Seventeen of the victims were buried in the Herrin Cemetery.

The gathering was a commemoration of the event to help educate the public.

“We study history so we can learn from the mistakes of our past. Because if we don’t learn from them, we will repeat them,” explained Musgrave.

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