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Michael Mooney and the Leadville Irish: Respectability and resistance at 10,200 feet, 1875--1900

Dissertation
Author: James Patrick Walsh
Abstract:
Between 1877 and 1900, Leadville, Colorado experienced one of the greatest silver rushes in American history. During this time, thousands of Irish immigrants travelled to Leadville, settling on the east side of town and in the many gulches in the mining district east of town. This community quickly grew into the largest Irish enclave in the history of the state, with first and second generation Irish residents numbering over four thousand by 1880. Chapter one deals with the migratory networks of the Leadville Irish. U.S. Federal Census reports and the baptism and marriage records at Annunciation Catholic Church in Leadville reveal that the Leadville Irish came from mining towns and camps across Ireland, the British Isles and North America. In chapter two, a detailed exploration of the 1880 Federal Census for Lake County, Colorado reveals the kinds of work opportunities afforded to Irish and Irish Americans. This data also allows us to understand the kinds of labor and upward mobility that were afforded to Irish men and women in Leadville. Chapters three and five explore two major strikes led by Irish miners. In the spring of 1880, Dublin-born miner Michael Mooney led a walkout of the mines. The miners demanded four dollars per day, an eight hour day, and more control over their workspaces. Sixteen years later, the miners in Leadville went on strike again, this time as part of the Western Federation of Miners. The demands were largely the same as in the first strike. In both cases, state troops were called into Leadville to break the strikes. Newspaper accounts of the strikes and the personal journals of labor spies, recruited by the companies to break the strikes, provide valuable insight into these conflicts and the role played by Leadville's Irish community. Chapter four explores the ethnic organizations created in Leadville by Irish immigrants in search of respectability. These include fraternal organizations such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Knights of Robert Emmet, ethnic militias such as the Wolfe Tone Guard and Rocky Mountain Rifles, and nationalist organizations such as the Land League.

The final copy of this thesis bas been examined by the signatories, and we find that both the content and the form meet acceptable presentation standards of scholarly work in the above mentioned discipline.

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Walsh, James Patrick (Ph.D., History Department)

Michael Mooney and the Leadville Irish: Respectability and Resistance at 10,200 Feet, 1875-1900

Thesis directed by Associate Professor Ralph Mann

Between 1877 and 1900, Leadville, Colorado experienced one of the greatest silver rushes in American history. During this time, thousands of Irish immigrants travelled to Leadville, settling on the east side of town and in the many gulches in the mining district east of town. This community quickly grew into the largest Irish enclave in the history of the state, with first and second generation Irish residents numbering over four thousand by 1880. Chapter one deals with the migratory networks of the Leadville Irish. U.S. Federal Census reports and the baptism and marriage records at Annunciation Catholic Church in Leadville reveal that the Leadville Irish came from mining towns and camps across Ireland, the British Isles and North America. In chapter two, a detailed exploration of the 1880 Federal Census for Lake County, Colorado reveals the kinds of work opportunities afforded to Irish and Irish Americans. This data also allows us to understand the kinds of labor and upward mobility that were afforded to Irish men and women in Leadville. Chapters three and five explore two major strikes led by Irish miners. In the spring of 1880, Dublin-born miner Michael Mooney led a walkout of the mines. The miners demanded four dollars per day, an eight hour day, and more control over their workspaces. Sixteen years later, the miners in Leadville went on strike again, this time as part of the Western Federation of Miners. The demands were largely the same as in the

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first strike. In both cases, state troops were called into Leadville to break the strikes. Newspaper accounts of the strikes and the personal journals of labor spies, recruited by the companies to break the strikes, provide valuable insight into these conflicts and the role played by Leadville’s Irish community. Chapter four explores the ethnic organizations created in Leadville by Irish immigrants in search of respectability. These include fraternal organizations such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Knights of Robert Emmet, ethnic militias such as the Wolfe Tone Guard and Rocky Mountain Rifles, and nationalist organizations such as the Land League.

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| ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS |

I wish to recognize some of the many people who have supported me throughout this journey.

Many thanks to the following for their research guidance: James Jeffrey, Wendel Cox, Bruce Hanson, and Joan Harms at the Western History and Genealogy Department at Denver Public Library. William Convery and staff at the Colorado Historical Society research library. Janice Fox and Nancy Manly at the Lake County Public Library.

Special thanks to Kathy Micklich at Annunciation Catholic Church in Leadville, for your constant warmth and hospitality.

Thanks to Kathleen Fitzsimmons and Luke Finken for friendship and laughter at altitude.

Thanks to Rich Rodgers for your time and skills with maps and imagery.

Thanks to Sandy Oliver for sharing your family photo collection.

Thanks to Paul Malkoski, Erica Younkin, Rianna Riegelman for your great help with technical and editorial headaches.

Thanks to Gerdie Harrington and Fergus Fitzgerald for assisting me in Ireland.

Thanks to Fr. Jay Jung and Fr. Tom Killeen for your welcoming spirit when I made my first visits to Annunciation.

Thanks to Anne Moyer for the ribbon.

Thanks to Leslie Lomas, Scott Miller, and Nicki Gonzales, for reminding me that others were paying attention.

Thanks to Tom Noel and Dennis Gallagher, for recognizing the importance of this work.

Thanks to my uncle Jack Walsh, for showing me that I’m green on the inside, and to my parents, Doug and Lois Walsh, for teaching me to love humble people.

Thanks to Michael Mooney, wherever you now lie, for loaning me a bit of your spirit.

Special thanks to Ralph Mann and Mark Foster, for never giving up on me, for your patience and good humor throughout.

Special thanks to Gabriela Flora for her countless hours of editing, collecting photographs, advising, and showing me the path.

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| CONTENTS |

LIST OF TABLES………………………………………………………………… vii LIST OF FIGURES………………………………………………………………. ix LIST OF MAPS…………………………………………………………………… xi LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS………………………...…………………………... xii INTRODUCTION……………………………………………………………….... 1 CHAPTER I. IRISH MINERS IN MIGRATION…………………………………… 24 II. BROTHELS, BOARDINGHOUSES, AND BARE KNUCKLES…… 63 III. MOLLIES ON THE MARCH………………………………………… 101 IV. IRISH RESPECTABILITY IN LEADVILLE………………………… 177 V. IRISH IN UNMARKED GRAVES…..………………….…………… 243 CONCLUSION…………………………………………………………………... 337 BIBLIOGRAPHY………………………………………………………………… 368

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| LIST OF TABLES |

Table 1.1 Colorado Districts with Greatest Number of Irish-Born Residents, 1870………………………………………………….... 26

Table 1.2 Most Common Paid Occupations for Irish-Born Women in Colorado Territory, 1870……………………………………….. 28

Table 1.3 In Ranking Order, the Most Common Birth States for Spouses and Children of Irish-Born Residents, Colorado Territory, 1870………………………………………….. 29

Table 1.4 Irish Surname Frequency of Beara Peninsula, Compared with Leadville City Directory and Federal Census of 1880 for Lake County, Colorado. Listed in Order of Frequency……….. 41

Table 1.5 Percentage of Leadville’s Irish-Born Residents from Various Counties as Listed in Annunciation Baptism and Marriage Records…................................................................... 44

Table 1.6 Birthplaces for Lake County Irish Born Outside of the U.S., Listed in Ranking Order of Frequency.......................... 46

Table 1.7 Percentage of Leadville Irish Listed in Annunciation Baptism Records (1878–1888) Born in Places Other than the U.S. .......................................................................... 47

Table 1.8 Percentage of Leadville Irish Listed in Annunciation Marriage Records (1882–1908) Born in Places Other Than the U.S…………………………………………..................... 47

Table 1.9 States of birth, in Ranking Order, for U.S.-Born Annunciation Irish (Excluding Colorado), as Listed in Marriage Records (1882–1908) ...................................................... 54

Table 1.10 States of Birth, in Ranking Order, for U.S.-Born Annunciation Irish (Excluding Colorado), as Listed in Baptism Records (1878–1888)…………………………................. 54

Table 1.11 States of Birth, in Ranking Order, for Leadville’s Irish Americans, Including Parents, Spouses, and Children, as Listed in 1880 Federal Census Report for Lake County.............. 55

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Table 1.12 Birthplaces for Pennsylvania-Born Irish in Leadville, as Listed in Annunciation Church Baptism and Marriage Records......................................................... 58

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Table 2.1 Irish Ethnic Population in Lake County, Colorado, 1880................. 63

Table 2.2 Number of Foreign-Born Persons in Leadville, in Terms of Nation of Origin, in Ranking Order, According to 1880 Federal Census......................................................................... 64

Table 2.3 Most Common Forms of Employment for Irish-Born Residents of Lake County, 1880....................................................... 67

Table 2.4 Most Common Forms of Employment for Second- Generation Irish Americans in Lake County, 1880.......................... 68

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Table 3.1 Leading Causes of Death Listed in Annunciation Parish Internment Records, 1880–1900....................................................... 115

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Table 4.1 Residential Locations for Forty-Two Members of Rocky Mountain Rifles, 1893....................................................................... 238

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Table 5.1 Nationalities of Replacement Workers Recruited in New Mexico, Utah, Michigan, Wisconsin........................................ 269

Table 5.2 Number of Person from Various Countries Living in Lake County, Colorado 1900............................................................ 277

Table 5.3 Counties in Rocky Mountain States with Largest Percentage of Residents Born in Ireland—1900............................... 321

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Table c.1 Places of Marriage of Former Parishioners of Leadville's Annunciation Church—from incomplete listings in Annunciation Baptism Records…………………………...……..... 340

Table c.2 Colorado Counties with Largest Irish-born Populations, 1910…… 343

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| LIST OF FIGURES |

Figure i.1 Catholic Free Section, Evergreen Cemetery, Leadville, Colorado.......................................................................... 11

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Figure 1.1 Leadville’s Harrison Boulevard, circa 1880s................................... 32

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Figure 2.1 Miners in Early Leadville................................................................. 66

Figure 2.2 Billy Irwin Posing at the Height of his Boxing Career, circa 1896………………………………………………………….. 74

Figure 2.3 Workers in Nineteenth Century Leadville Laundry Business........... 76

Figure 2.4 Irish Women and Children Pose Next to Free Coinage Restaurant near Leadville................................................................. 82

Figure 2.5 Boardinghouse on Carbonate Hill near Leadville............................. 86

Figure 2.6 Fitzgerald’s Boardinghouse in Leadville, circa 1880s...................... 87

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Figure 3.1 Leadville Miners 1889...................................................................... 102

Figure 3.2 Union Miners on the March, circa 1890........................................... 103

Figure 3.3 Fryer Hill, just East of Downtown Leadville.................................... 107

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Figure 4.1 View of Leadville from Fairview Hill, circa 1900. Photo shows Leadville’s East Side with Annunciation Church steeple prominent in center.................................................. 178

Figure 4.2 Annunciation Catholic Church in the Twenty-first Century, Facing West toward Mt. Massive...................................................... 183

Figure 4.3 Annunciation Catholic Church in the Twenty-first Century............. 185

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Figure 4.4 Original St. Vincent Hospital, circa 1880s........................................ 192

Figure 4.5 Original St. Vincent Hospital on Right, Next to New Hospital Built in 1900.............................................................. 199

Figure 4.6 St. Mary’s Catholic School Structure, Now Used as Eagle’s Lodge............................................................................... 201

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Figure 5.1 Commemorative Ribbon to Cloud City Miners Union, Date Unknown.................................................................................. 249

Figure 5.2 Two Women Pose Next to a Typical East Leadville Miners’ Cabin................................................................................... 288

Figure 5.3 Members of Colorado National Guard Pose with General Brooks and Governor McIntyre at Camp McIntyre............ 290

Figure 5.4 Figure 5.4: Colorado National Guardsmen Patrol Streets of Leadville during 1896-97 Strike................................................... 297

Figure 5.5 East Fifth Street, Leadville, Approximate Location of Conflict between Colorado National Guardsmen and Irish Residents, 1896.................................................................. 298

Figure 5.6 Coronado Mine, circa 1890. Photo shows the close proximity of the mine to east Leadville residences........................... 303

Figure 5.7 Soldier Guards Robert Emmet Mine during 1896-97 Strike............ 309

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Figure c.1 Leadville’s St. Patrick’s Practice Day Parade, September 2008................................................................................ 337

Figure c.2 Leadville Residents and Jim Walsh dressed as Michael Mooney at the St. Patrick’s Practice Day Parade, September 2002............... 338

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| LIST OF MAPS |

Map 1.1 Irish Population in 1870 Colorado................................................... 25

Map 1.2 Location of Baera Peninsula and Most Common Counties of Origin for the Leadville Irish........................................ 35

Map 1.3 Location of Cleator Moor in Northern England.............................. 48

Map 1.4 Nova Scotia and Glengarry County, Ontario, Canada: The Two Most Common Birthplaces for Leadville Irish Canadians................................................................................. 50

Map 1.5 Most Common U.S. Birthplaces for Leadville Irish Americans................................................................................. 53

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Map 3.1 Routes of the Miners’ Marches, May 26-27, 1880........................... 105

Map 3.2 Leadville Street Map and Irish District, 1880 .................................. 170

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Map 5.1 Key Western Federation of Miners (WFM) Mining Towns With Significant Irish Communities, 1895–1900............................. 251

Map 5.2 Leadville Street Map and Sites of Attacks on Coronado and Robert Emmet Mines................................................. 253

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| LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS |

AOH Ancient Order of Hibernians

APA American Protective Association

CCMU Cloud City Miner’s Union

CHNC Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection

GAR Grand Army of the Republic

KRE Knights of Robert Emmet

LSR Leadville Strike Reports

RMR Rocky Mountain Rifles

SCL Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth (Kansas)

THG Tabor Highland Guard

WFM Western Federation of Miners

WCMRG West Cumberland Mines Research Group

WTG Wolf Tone Guard

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| INTRODUCTION |

Beyond Baby Doe Tabor and Molly Brown The Irish in the West did not have it easier than their countrymen and women who remained in eastern urban enclaves. Legions of poor, desperate, and at times hungry men and women drifted through networks of mining camps throughout the American West in search of respect and stability. Upward mobility was not a part of their everyday lives. Their stories remain largely unexplored. They appear in the historical record when they commit violent or racist acts. They were too poor to notice and too transient to locate. They have become statistics instead of stories. This is a study of a working class Irish community that existed in Leadville, Colorado in the late nineteenth century. From 1877 to the mid-1890s, Leadville experienced one of the greatest silver rushes in North American history. During this period, several thousand first and second-generation Irish Americans sought their fortune in Leadville, creating an enormous working class Irish community, a community where upwards of ninety percent of the men, and perhaps a larger percentage of women, worked in unskilled jobs directly related to the mining industry. The dominant narrative of Irish American historiography explains that the Irish in the American West somehow had an easier time than those who labored in midwestern industrial towns or eastern urban ghettos. The farther west an Irish immigrant went, the argument goes, the easier it was for him or her to gain acceptance and to find success. The problem with this argument is that the evidence used to support it comes from major urban areas such as San Francisco and Denver. Indeed, the Irish in the urban West did

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seem to climb the ladder of success more quickly than their eastern counterparts. Nevertheless, when mining camps—where an enormous percentage of Irish immigrants lived in the American West—are held up to the light, the foundation of this idea begins to collapse. In late nineteenth-century America, Irish immigrants in western hard rock mining camps such as Leadville found themselves squarely at the bottom of the ladder. Throughout this project, I attempt to move the historiographic lens back toward the invisible Irish in the West, the miners and common laborers who were ubiquitous in virtually every mining camp. I also try to explore the complicated issue of Irish working class identity. In Leadville, the Irish community twice led massive strikes—1880 and 1896-7—both of which were crushed by the Colorado National Guard. In both instances, a culture of solidarity and defiance is evident. In the later strike, an undercurrent of violence and retributive justice doomed the strike and led to the deaths of at least eight and perhaps as many as two dozen Irishmen. This is not a simple story with a clear conclusion. Peering into the lives of transient working class people provides an array of perspectives. Many working class Irish residents of Leadville attempted to achieve a sense of social respectability in their community, participating in fraternal and military organizations, constructing churches and hospitals, and taking part in elaborate parades and social balls. For some Irish men and women in Leadville, negotiating a course between resistance and social respectability was a challenge. It is important to state what I am not attempting to accomplish in this project. This is not a study of Leadville history itself, nor of the mining history of that region. This is not a history of a mining camp. I have not attempted to explore other ethnic or

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cultural groups in Leadville, except for the moments when their stories intersect or clash with the Irish story. I am not interested in detailing the mining science or techniques of this era, only exploring these areas briefly where the information provides valuable context in understanding labor issues. I am also not interested in highlighting the stories of the small group of financially secure Irish Americans in Leadville who held positions of social and economic power. Glimpses of these stories will appear only where they provide needed background in understanding the events that shaped the lives of the working class Irish. Instead, this project walks us into a nineteenth century working class Irish enclave, granting agency to the poorest and most desperate in this community. The trail of Leadville's Irish poor can be found on primary sources such as census reports, church records, labor spy reports, newspaper archives, unpublished local histories, and oral tradition. This is a distinctly class-based ethnic history, a community excavated from a thin paper trail. Along with tracking the migration patterns of the Leadville Irish, this project explores their social institutions, work lives, and daily activities. Two major labor strikes will have a prominent role here. The strikes help to shed valuable light upon the social and economic struggles of Leadville’s “stovepipe Irish” while revealing that labor activism in Leadville during these years was largely Irish activism. The strikes lead us directly into the ideological and emotional consciousness of Leadville’s Irish population, and toward larger questions of Irish working class identity and traditions of defiance and resistance. Although both strikes were failures as far as advancing the rights of miners, they do shed valuable light upon the desperation of the Irish, a desperation that fueled their

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desire to risk everything, including any hard-earned social respectability. The vast majority of Leadville’s Irish community was willing to engage in massive work shutdowns, threatening the economic stability of the entire state of Colorado. Twice, Colorado governors used state troops to put down Irish-led uprisings in Leadville. Twice the Leadville Irish engaged in a battle of nerves against the most powerful interests in the state. Irish miners and their families in Leadville were hungry for a sense of dignity and stability. The Leadville Irish used the tool of the strike to challenge the status quo directly and in doing so heightened the suspicions of the largely native-born professional classes that dominated Leadville politically, economically, and socially. Although there was nothing radical about the goals of each strike—higher pay, shorter work hours, better safety conditions, and the right to organize—the striking miners were certainly treated as dangerous radicals by Leadville's business community and the Colorado state government. Each strike was met by vigilante-inspired violence and repression. Each strike ended with Irish defiance and resistance toward unwarranted military authority. At times, this defiance was violent, highlighting a secretive undercurrent of Irish radicalism that existed apart from their unions or militias. The “labor radicalism” that we find in Leadville must have existed in many other parts of the American West at this time. Indeed, many other historians have mentioned or highlighted moments of western labor radicalism among Irish miners. 1 This

1 Irish-led strikes are mentioned in the following studies of nineteenth century mining camps: Elizabeth Jameson, All That Glitters: Class, Conflict, and Community in Cripple Creek (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 79-80. Ralph Mann, After the Gold Rush: Society in Grass Valley and Nevada City, California, 1849-1870 (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1982), 183-188. Ronald M. James, The Roar and the Silence: A History of Virginia City and the Comstock Lode (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1998), 140-141.

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“radicalism” involved the demand that Irish miners and their unions be taken seriously, that miners receive a fair wage and have a voice in matters that relate to their work environment and safety. In Leadville, and presumably in other western mining towns, a faction of Irish miners was prepared to respond with violence if their voices were not recognized or their strikes were not effective. David Emmons has done important work on Irish miners in Butte, Montana, highlighting a kind of Irish labor conservatism in the American West. 2 According to Emmons, These western cities and mining camps suited them. They provided work, and the host society—assuming there was one—was reasonably tolerant of an Irish Catholic work force. In this more fluid social environment, Irish communities flourished—their life expectancy and influence limited only by the safety and stability of the jobs on which they depended. 3

Emmons goes on to explain that the Irish who were able to settle in western mining towns, “had job and family, the friendship of their mates, the fraternal companionship of their associations, the comfort of their Church, and a chance to act out in relative peace their image of themselves as exiled patriots—not a bad definition of a fair living, and nearer to it than that provided by any other place they had ever known.” 4

The problem with Emmons' conclusion is that it is based upon the experiences of the Irish in Butte, an exceptional place for Irish miners because the paternalism of were Irish-owned. According to Emmons, as Irish-born Marcus Daly began to develop the Anaconda copper mines in Butte, “the lure of Butte began to appear brighter because of

2 David Emmons, The Butte Irish: Class and Ethnicity in an American Mining Town, 1875-1925 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990) 3 Emmons, 10 4 Emmons, 10

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Daly's presence.” 5 As Leadville and other places demonstrate, the Irish in other western mining camps did not enjoy the same level of respect and stability. This kind of ethnic paternalism did not exist in many places outside of Butte. In Leadville, the Irish found themselves struggling for their very lives in a hostile and oppressive situation. Although this is in many ways a masculine story of miners struggling for a sense of dignity in the midst of a booming silver rush, Irish women figure just as prominently in this story. Working class Irish women are even more invisible in the historical record. They only appear when they are being mocked in local newspapers as violent lunatics, alcoholics, or prostitutes. We only find them when they defy authority. Their shadows appear in census and church records where fragments of their lives are illuminated. They washed clothes, sewed garments, ran boardinghouses, and worked as maids in the homes of the privileged classes. Some sold their bodies for survival. They screamed their disdain and outrage at the soldiers, scabs, and hired thugs who threatened their sense of justice and dignity. Like Irish men in Leadville, Irish women mostly came from other mining regions across North America and the British Isles. Their agency, along with their colossal determination and courage, is revealed through accounts of both major strikes. Here we find women refusing to embrace middle class norms of domesticity and passivity. They scream, they wail, they cry, they fight. While their voices were disparaged and mocked by newspaper reporters, military leaders, and labor spies of the day, male accounts of their wails, curses, and screams are in most cases the only record they have left us. Their raised voices were their only weapon.

5 Emmons, 20

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This work does not explore the lives of the two most famous Irish women in Leadville history: Margaret Tobin and Elizabeth McCourt, a.k.a. Molly Brown and Baby Doe Tabor. Both women have had numerous historical studies entirely devoted to them. Because of this, their stories, along with the legendary tale of Oscar Wilde's visit to Leadville, have come to define the Leadville Irish experience. These colorful tales of betrayal and charisma have seduced historians of Irish America away from the real story of survival and resistance, and for this reason I will leave their stories alone, opting instead to look beneath them, to the struggles and the agency of the hundreds of unknown Irish women in Leadville. Another theme of this study is an exploration of the institutions employed by the Leadville Irish to earn a degree of respectability. These included fraternal and benevolent organizations such as the Knights of Robert Emmet (KRE), Daughters of Erin (DOE), and the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) ; nationalist efforts such as the Land League and Ladies Land League; and militias such as the Wolfe Tone Guard (WTG), Tabor Highland Guard (THG), and Rocky Mountain Rifles (RMR). These organizations help to highlight the ways in which the Leadville Irish sought a toehold in mining camp culture apart from their labor identities. Irish fraternal and nationalist organizations provided a safe route to respectability, particularly for more privileged Irish and Irish American professionals, but also for many miners. Irish nationalism was an acceptable form of Irish rage and radicalism. Civic leaders and prominent politicians appeared at Irish nationalist rallies as cheerleaders, voicing their own outrage at the oppression suffered by the Irish at the hands of English rule. As long as the target of Irish unrest was across the Atlantic, the city’s ruling elite

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felt comfortable. Everyone, it seemed, was behind the Land League movement and its critique of the immorality of Ireland's landlord system.

Mooney

In many ways, this work is also the story of Michael Mooney, a young Dublin- born miner thrust into a leadership role when thousands of miners walked out of the mines in May of 1880. Mooney was an intellectual force who earned the respect of the miners and of the mine managers whom he attempted to negotiate with. Mooney's story, and that of his wife Sarah Gilgallon Mooney, is woven throughout the work. His ideas help to define a new sense of Irish working class identity of resistance. Mooney's respectable radicalism was rooted in sobriety, honesty, nonviolence, Irish nationalism, and ethnic pride. While Mooney does not at all represent the undercurrent of Irish working class radicalism and violence that existed in Leadville—or the racist anti- Chinese sentiment that pervaded nineteenth century mining camps in the American West—he does symbolize Irish working class resistance toward the cruelties of America's industrialized workplace and the impact of this system on immigrant communities. Mooney symbolizes an Irish working class intellectualism that runs counter to the caricature of the racist Irish worker desperate to achieve their membership in the whiteness club. His story—along with his ideology—challenges the standard caricature of working class Irish immigrants in America. Mooney comes to life through the transcripts of several interviews done by various Colorado newspapers. It is clear that he did not believe in violence in any form, although he did express “sympathy” for the Molly Maguires on one occasion. Mooney had ties to the Knights of Labor, Patrick Ford's Irish World, the Land League, and the

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nascent Greenback movement. Indeed, his rhetoric is closely connected to that of Knight of Labor leader Terence Powderly—an Irish American—Patrick Ford, and Land League founder Michael Davitt. Highlighting Mooney and his distinct form of working class Irish intellectualism allows us a clearer understanding of the culture of resistance that pervaded everyday life. More than anything, Mooney wanted respect and dignity for working class people and a sense of ethnic pride for Irish immigrants in America. The Mooneys lived in Leadville for less than ten years, leaving in 1887 for Seattle. They later moved to Butte, Montana. The last trace of them is the 1920 Federal Census, which has them living in Los Angeles, still renting their home. The Mooneys represent the transient, working class Irish who drifted farther and farther west in search of stability. Movement as agency.

Inspiration

When I was searching for a topic for my dissertation, I decided to visit Leadville, near the headwaters of the Arkansas River in the center of the Colorado high country. I knew only that I wanted to study a nineteenth-century Irish ethnic community in Colorado and the sources were all directing me to this small town, resting quietly now in the twenty-first century. Leadville is the highest town in terms of altitude in North America, at 10,200 feet. I could not imagine Irish people coming from sea level in the lush Erin’s Isle to this arid, rocky, and oxygen-deprived place. My first stop in Leadville was Annunciation Catholic Church, built in 1879 by the hands and the meager wages of Irish immigrant miners. After a quick review of the records there, I was directed to Evergreen Cemetery, on the outskirts of town. I was told

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to look for the “Catholic Free Section,” which is where Irish Catholic immigrants were buried, the ones without the means to afford a headstone and the expenses of a burial. Evergreen Cemetery was Leadville’s main cemetery during the boom years of the 1880s. It sits in a pine tree forest on the edge of town. During the nineteenth and much of the twentieth century, the cemetery was segregated by religion, with specific areas for Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. I drove to the back of the cemetery and saw a sign for the “Old Catholic” section, referred to in old maps as the “Catholic Free Section.” There were no distinct paths to walk on. I could not see more than a handful of headstones scattered throughout the area. I walked for a few minutes through the pine trees, enjoying the orange glow of a fall sunset beaming through the treetops. Finally, I saw them. On all sides of me I could make out beds where the soil had sunk, some six feet long, others one or two feet in length. For as far as my eyes could see through the trees there were indentations in the earth, not in any particular order, interrupted here and there by fallen branches and a few small wooden crosses, weather-beaten and broken. I stood there for nearly an hour just listening to the wind. I was walking on their graves.

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Figure i.1: Catholic Free Section, Evergreen Cemetery, Leadville, Colorado Source: taken by Jim Walsh

Evergreen Cemetery was used as the main cemetery for Leadville until the mid- 1880s, when, for Catholics, St. Joseph’s Cemetery became the main burial site. Evergreen continued its burials sporadically until well into the twentieth century. The Evergreen Cemetery records reveal that roughly 1500 people were buried in the Catholic section during the nineteenth century; over 1000 of them in the “Free Section.” Two thirds of the people buried there have distinctly Irish names. 6 I was standing on the graves of the invisible Irish—working class Irish immigrants who found themselves lost, alone, and adrift in this rocky and violent place.

6

Evergreen Cemetery [Leadville, Colorado]. Burial Records. Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Dept.

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I have a personal connection to this topic. I am from an Irish Catholic family in western Pennsylvania, the great-grandson of Irish railroad workers, domestic servants, and boilermakers. For fifteen years, I have been trying to trace my ancestry, to make connections back to Ireland. My parents did not know anything about the history of their Irish ancestors. Every generation in my ancestry—stretching back to the famine refugees who immigrated to Canada in 1850—has died in a different town than they were raised in. They were transient. They were poor. They were desperate. Their stories have not been preserved in journals, documents, or even oral tradition. Only a few photographs have survived the journey. Bit by bit, after many years searching through microfilm in library basements and county courthouses, my uncle and I have found traces of their trail, excavating fragments of their working class existence in industrial cities such as Oil City, Pennsylvania. I decided to focus my dissertation on a similar population in my adopted home state of Colorado, attempting to excavate the stories and struggles of this transient working class Irish community in Leadville. Irish America from the bottom up.

Full document contains 390 pages
Abstract: Between 1877 and 1900, Leadville, Colorado experienced one of the greatest silver rushes in American history. During this time, thousands of Irish immigrants travelled to Leadville, settling on the east side of town and in the many gulches in the mining district east of town. This community quickly grew into the largest Irish enclave in the history of the state, with first and second generation Irish residents numbering over four thousand by 1880. Chapter one deals with the migratory networks of the Leadville Irish. U.S. Federal Census reports and the baptism and marriage records at Annunciation Catholic Church in Leadville reveal that the Leadville Irish came from mining towns and camps across Ireland, the British Isles and North America. In chapter two, a detailed exploration of the 1880 Federal Census for Lake County, Colorado reveals the kinds of work opportunities afforded to Irish and Irish Americans. This data also allows us to understand the kinds of labor and upward mobility that were afforded to Irish men and women in Leadville. Chapters three and five explore two major strikes led by Irish miners. In the spring of 1880, Dublin-born miner Michael Mooney led a walkout of the mines. The miners demanded four dollars per day, an eight hour day, and more control over their workspaces. Sixteen years later, the miners in Leadville went on strike again, this time as part of the Western Federation of Miners. The demands were largely the same as in the first strike. In both cases, state troops were called into Leadville to break the strikes. Newspaper accounts of the strikes and the personal journals of labor spies, recruited by the companies to break the strikes, provide valuable insight into these conflicts and the role played by Leadville's Irish community. Chapter four explores the ethnic organizations created in Leadville by Irish immigrants in search of respectability. These include fraternal organizations such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Knights of Robert Emmet, ethnic militias such as the Wolfe Tone Guard and Rocky Mountain Rifles, and nationalist organizations such as the Land League.