Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wanted for Murder...

This handwritten letter on Waddell-Mahon detective agency letterhead shows Raleigh's signature and that he was working as a labor spy for the company in 1914.

This memo-style letter from "D. L. Robinson" of the Rees, Robinson, and Petermann legal offices to O.F. Bailey, an official with C&H, shows that both the law firm and C&H knew the whereabouts of Thomas Raleigh and were employing him to spy against the WFM in New York City. 
For almost 100 years now people have wondered what happened to Thomas Raleigh, the man who was charged with murder in the deaths of Alois Tijan and Steven Putrich in the infamous Seeberville shootings. It was thought that he had fled the country, and even Houghton's Special Prosecuting Attorney brought in to expedite cases during the strike opined that he was unable to be found.

Where did Tom Raleigh go? Well we've "found" him almost 100 years later in the historic record, and what we have uncovered is damning evidence against the Calumet & Hecla (C&H) mining company officials, the legal firm of Rees, Robinson, and Petermann, and the Waddell-Mahon detective agency.

It seems that Thomas Raleigh was working for C&H through Waddell-Mahon to spy on the WFM mineworkers union in New York City. Correspondence between C&H agent O.F. Bailey and a lawyer from Rees, Robinson, and Petermann--a firm representing C&H throughout the strike--gives documentary proof that C&H knew of Raleigh's whereabouts and even employed him in subterfuge during the strike while he was wanted for murder in the Copper Country.

Handwritten letters from Raleigh on Waddell-Mahon stationary also prove that this so-called detective agency, employed by Houghton County Sheriff James Cruse to keep peace in the Copper Country, also knew the whereabouts and shielded Raleigh from being brought to justice in the Copper Country.

It seems that Raleigh had learned little in his brush with a murder charge in the Copper Country because while in New York he reported back to C&H and his handlers at Waddell-Mahon that he had busted into the offices of another rival detective agency and wanted to fight the men inside, but that the "four Jew detectives there would not fight."

Always classy, Raleigh's correspondence with C&H gives a good picture of a bad man, and also highlights the lengths and lowly depths C&H, their legal representatives Rees, Robinson, and Petermann, and Waddell-Mahon went to hid a murderer from justice.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


The Houghton County Democratic Party added this caption to the above photo on their website, "Our Keynote Speaker was historian and author, Gary Kaunonen, who spoke about events during the 1913 mining strike in Houghton County."
The May presentations have come and gone with two presentations given to two outstanding audiences. The first presentation given in mid-May was to the Houghton County Democrats as part of their program, "1913-2013: A Century of Solidarity." I was one of four speakers at the event, and though I gave the keynote, any one of the four speakers could have fit this billing. The presentations were an excellent accounting of organized labor's past, present, and future in Houghton County. Among the other speakers were former Michigan Senator and Steel Workers member Mike Prussi, current Michigan House of Representatives member and union member Scott Dianda, and Michigan Education Association member Terry Lajuenesse.

My keynote included updates on research from Community in Conflict, the 1913-14 Strike's national significance, and why a strike that happened 100 years ago has relevance today. The 1913-14 strike's relevance to today's labor situation is very noticeable in Michigan, where we are seeing our rights to free speech, freedom of assembly, and the right to collectively bargain being whittled away, and sometimes shamelessly stolen in the middle of the night by autocrat governor Rick Snyder and his anti-labor goons. Today, organized labor is in the fight of its life, and lessons of solidarity and commitment to a cause can easily be appreciated and understood by examining the efforts of working-class families during the 1913-14 Strike.

I was graciously given a standing ovation for my remarks by the 60 or so people in attendance, but getting to talk with folks after the program was the real "payoff." Copper Country residents are so proud of their history, regardless of political affiliation, and talking with folks at this event really highlighted the importance of remembering the past to inform our future.

Giving a presentation as part of Keweenaw National Historical Park's Fourth Thursday in History series. The presentation location, in Calumet's Visitor Center, was a unique experience in a historic venue.

There were 75 plus people in attendance for this presentation, which was a part of Keweenaw National Historical Park's 4th Thursday in History program. I spoke on the work I did as Project Historian for the "Tumult and Tragedy" traveling exhibit's project team, which was rounded out by Project Manager Erik Nordberg and Project Graphic Designer Mike Stockwell. After the presentation I joined people in the Visitor Center's traveling exhibit space to answer questions on the exhibit. 

The local newspaper, the Daily Mining Gazette, covered the event, and the story on the presentation can be read by clicking on this link:


Monday, May 6, 2013

Upcoming Talk

1913-2013: A Century of Solidarity

I (Gary) will be speaking at the upcoming Houghton County Democratic Party's annual dinner and awards banquet. Scott Dianda, a member of Michigan State Employees Association union and current Michigan State Representative, will be speaking along with former state senator Mike Prussi and Michigan Education Association director Terry Lajuenesse. I'm not always encouraged by party politics, but I voted for and strongly endorsed the "Union" candidate Scott Dianda, and am excited to meet him this Saturday.

A link to their event, and ticket sales information:

Friday, May 3, 2013

Community in Conflict MSU Press Catalog Listing

More proof that we've been working; the MSU book catalog page for Community in Conflict. Please right click on the image to enlarge and read. Special thanks to Erik Nordberg for the incredible quote in support of the book.

We're Back

After a long hiatus from blogging, we're back. The last three months have been busy ones, filled with finishing the book, writing articles on information from the book, presenting, and preparing for a summer of "touring" to get the word out about our work.

In April, Aaron and I ventured to East Lansing and Michigan State University to give a talk at the Our Daily Work, Our Daily Lives "Brown Bag" series. We were invited by John Beck, who was also gracious enough to give us a tour through the MSU Museum's exhibit on labor history and work.
John Beck explaining a museum exhibit to Aaron before our talk at the Our Daily Work, Our Daily Lives "Brown Bag" presentation at Michigan State University

The talk went well as we spoke to over 50 people about our research and some of the new information we have found regarding the strike and the Italian Hall tragedy. It was a great trip. We got to meet new folks, talked with staff at MSU Press, answered some questions regarding the strike and labor history, and had some great food.

Aaron speaking to a packed room in the Michigan State University Library. We received some great questions and used this presentation to gear up for our packed summer of presentations.
It was also an historic trip from the perspective of weather. I picked Aaron up at O'Hare in Chicago, which was in the middle of flooding...same was true for East Lansing.

So, all in all the trip was a pretty incredible one that we soon won't forget.