Post by Doris McCraw aka Angela Raines
|Photo property of the Author|
“THE state of Colorado ceased under the administration of James H. Peabody, to be republican in its form of government, and became a military oligarchy. The expressed will of the people was ignored by their chosen representatives; thus bringing upon the state a series of calamities, the magnitude of which may now readily be seen.”
The above is taken from the introduction to Emma's book “The Cripple Creek Strike, A History of Industrial Wars in Colorado 1903-4-5”. Regardless of your belief in who was right or wrong during this tumultuous time, this book is considered the definitive work on the region and events of the time and area. That it is written by a woman makes it even more amazing.
Here then is the story of Emma F. Langdon.
Emma was born September 29, 1875, in Tennessee. She married Charles Langdon, born June 9, 1870, in 1896. She also became a stepmother to Lucille M. Lockett with this marriage. In 1900 the family was residing in Junction City Kansas.
In 1903 Emma and her husband moved to Victor, Colorado, and worked at the Victor Daily Record. Although Emma had said a woman belonged at home and not in public life, her sentiment was not to be.
On May 15, 1893, in Butte Montana, the Western Federation of Miners was born. It was comprised of forty delegates from fifteen unions from the states of Colorado, Utah, Montana, Idaho, and South Dakota. Approximately six months later the unions negotiated shorter work days (eight hours) and an increase in pay ($3.25 a day) in the Cripple Creek-Victor area. In 1903 the tensions between miners and mine owners increased. The union supported the smelter workers who were working long hours and less pay.
The situation became so volatile that the mine owners censored and arrested anyone who opposed their edits. This resulted in the workers at the Victor Daily Record being rounded up so that this pro-union newspaper could not put out the next issue. When Emma was told of the 'arrest' she went to the paper and that night barricaded herself in, set type, and put out the paper on schedule. When she delivered the issue to the men who had been taken to the 'bullpen' the laughter of the captors changed and the incarcerated rejoiced.
In 1904 when the strike ended those who had supported the union were requested to leave. Emma moved to Denver Colorado where she remained until her death on November 30, 1937. She continued her work on behalf of the union.
The story of the Labor Wars in Colorado is full of people from both sides that made their mark on the region's history. From 1893-1914 and the Ludlow massacre, Colorado was a hotbed of conflict between the haves and have-nots with errors in judgment on both sides. Not an easy read, but a fascinating one.
Until Next Time: Stay safe, Stay happy, and Stay healthy.