LUDLOW — Representatives from the United Mine Workers of America, historians, musicians and southern Colorado residents, many with ties to the southern Colorado coal wars, came together Sunday to recognize the sacrifices made, and lives lost at the site for the former strike colony tent of Ludlow. About 100 people listened as speakers Dr. Karen Larkin talked about the history of labor strife in the region, and Walsenburg’s Carolyn Newman gave a heart-felt first person presentation as 20th Century labor organizer Mother Jones. The keynote speaker was Dan Kane, UMWA International Secretary Treasurer who said the labor movement, especially the mine workers’ union, was not dead in the 21st Century. He said the incident at Ludlow brought the attention of the nation to the southern Colorado coal wars. Rick Jones, representing the UMWA local in Raton, NM gave the invocation and recently retired UMWA Regional Director, Bob Butero, a native of the Las Animas County town of Sopris, and now a resident of Trinidad, acted as emcee for the
anniversary. Newman, well-known for her reenactment of the fiery labor organizer, held the audience spellbound as she talked about her life (as Mother Jones), the loss of her children and her journey from the West Virginia coalfields to Ludlow in 1913. She told those gathered the importance of women in the labor movement, noting it was local women who took the first action in the strike that eventually led to the infamous Ludlow Massacre. At one point in her presentation, Newman/Jones solemnly reminded those sitting in the pavillion, they were mere feet away from the ‘Death Pit’, a hiding place dug under one of the Ludlow tents that became a smoke filled deathtrap for eleven children and two mothers. The dead were Patricia Valdez and four of her children: Elvira, 3 months old; Mary, 7; Eulalia, 8; and Rudolph, 9. Three Petrucci children were killed as well: Frank, 6; Joe, 4; and Lucy, 2. Two Pedregone children also died. Rogerio was 6 and Cloriva was 4. Fedelina Costa died with her two children, Onafrio, 6 and Lucy, 4. Their father, Charles Costa, was shot in the attack that day with their bodies were left to rot in the “Death Pit”. At the end of Newman/Jones’ presentation she asked all who wore the red bandana of solidarity to stand, wave their scarfs and shout ‘Workers Unite”! Music also filled the air as recognition of the events of Ludlow entered into its second century. Coal Town Reunion, featuring Trinidad native Jeff Montoya on standup bass and vocals; Mandolin player Chris Spurlock and Guitarist John Paul Maxfield of Denver and Minnesota native Sami Steidl on fiddle told the story of the Ludlow Massacre in their original song, Blood and Coal. They also played the well-known Woody Guthrie tune, Ludlow Massacre. The music of, and information about this band may be found on their Facebook page, look it up under Coal Town Reunion.