by William J. Bechaver
WALSENBURG- This month is the 94th anniversary of the tragic events of the Battle of Walsenburg, part of the 1913-14 Great Coal Field War in southern Colorado. Both my paternal and maternal grandparents lived through the strike. Fortunately for me, I come from a long line of story tellers. The rich history with which they have entrusted me is my most precious possession. Below is a firsthand account of family life during the months of the strike.
My paternal grandmother, Frances Dlugopolsky, remembers a perilous journey home from school during the 1914 Battle of Walsenburg. A girl of eight at the time, she experienced events which would certainly make a lasting impression on a young girl’s mind. The family lived at Oakview, near the foot of La Veta Pass at the outbreak of the strike. They moved to a house on West Sixth Street, where they remained after the settlement. She recalls a day when she was in class at Hill School. A battle broke out on the nearby hills, between some of the striking miners and militia members stationed on Water Tower Hill.
It was during schooldays long before the inception of the "lock down", and all the students were sent home. She recalls making her way home with some of her young friends. Instead of going through the heart of town, the frightened young children decided to make their way home along the hills and back ways. She remembers hearing shots being fired as they made their way through the trees along the hog-back, and one can only suppose that they may have passed very close to the place where the actual fighting was occurring.