July 13, 1917

Deported I.W.W.’s, Barred from New Mexico, Return to Arizona


Two Men Reported Killed in the Business of Ridding the Metal Mining Camps of Slackers and Bums – Strangers Forced to Go to Work or Take Passage on “Desert Special” – Gov. Campbell Asks Military Intervention.

      COLUMBUS, (N.M.) July 12. – Nearly 1200 persons, deported from Bisbee today, arrived here about 9 o’clock tonight.  F. B. King, division superintendent of the El Paso and Southwestern Railway, was in charge, and was arrested by the local authorities for bringing in the deportees.  There were more than 200 armed guards on the train.

      Local authorities refused to permit the men to be unloaded here.  The army officer in command here, who had not issued any orders up to the time of their arrival, threw out a strong guard about the military establishment.

      Later King was released when he agreed to take the men away and the train was started back toward Bisbee.  It was said here the men would be detrained at Hermanas, N.M.

      BISBEE (Ariz.) July 12. – More than 1100 alleged Industrial Workers of the World, deported from Bisbee today, are aboard twenty-four cattle cars tonight speeding toward New Mexico.  Their announced destination is Columbus.  The special train carrying them left Warren, four miles form Bisbee, at noon.

      The men were driven from the city by deputy sheriffs and about 2000 armed men, members of an organization known as the Citizens’ Protective League.  Two men were killed during the work of deportation.

      A strike was called here by the mine workers’ branch of the Industrial Workers of the World about two weeks ago. Since then, according to officials, all those strange men have been in Bisbee.  These men are alleged to have prevented miners from returning to work.  Plans for the “round-up” of alleged undesirables were made at midnight by Harry C. Wheeler, Sheriff of Cochise county.  Within two hours the Sheriff had deputized 1200 men and ordered them to report at various points at 4 o’clock this morning.


      When the bands of citizens assembled those who were not already armed were given rifles and revolvers with instructions to use them only in self-defense.

      “Until the last I.W.W. is run out,” was the watchword passed to the waiting men.

      At 6:30 o’clock special newspaper editions containing a proclamation by Sheriff Wheeler ordering women and children to keep off the streets during the day and instructing deputies to arrest “on charges of vagrancy, treason and being disturbers of the peace of Cochise county, all those strange men who have congregated here from other parts and sections for the purpose of harassing and intimidating all men who desire to pursue their daily toil,” were circulated on the streets.

      Simultaneously five bands of armed citizens appeared as if by magic.  Some hurried from alleys, others came streaming from storerooms and some sprang down from low roofs of business buildings.  All marched in a business-like manner to the center of the town.


      Every strange man on the streets was challenged.

      “Hold on, Stranger, what’s your business?”  “What are you doing in Bisbee,” and “How long have you been here?” were some of the questions asked by the little groups as they surrounded each man.  Every suspicious looking individual was arrested.

      Fifty pickets at the entrance to the Copper Queen mines, in front of the postoffice, were arrested when twenty-five armed citizens rushed from the lobby of the postoffice and surrounded them.  Four squads of citizens, coming from different parts of the city, reached the center of town at the same time.  Each band was marching with several hundred prisoners.

      As each man wad detained he was ordered to put his hands in the air and deputies quickly searched him for weapons.  As the prisoners marched along the streets hundreds of rifles were leveled at their heads form all sides.

      After an hour’s wait, captors and captured marched to the depot, where another squad on duty had taken charge of several hundred more men.  At 8:30 o’clock the prisoners were lined up two abreast.  Flanked by 2000 heavily-armed citizens, the captives were ordered to march down the railroad tracks toward Warren.  At Lowell, a suburb, about 300 more alleged I.W.W.’s were merged into the procession.


      The baseball park at Warren was chosen for the place of assembling the men to be deported.  Word of the “clean-up” had preceded the Sheriff and his men, and when the prisoners reached the park the hundreds of spectators on the scene set up jeers and shouts.

      When the prisoners were all inside the inclosures half of the armed bands formed a guard around the park, while the other half started a systematic search of the entire district for men who were connected with the I.W.W. or could not account for their presence in a satisfactory manner.  Armed men went through rooming houses and restaurants questioning everyone.  Those who did not answer satisfactorily were marched between long lines of citizens to the park.

      For two hours leaders of the I.W.W. attempted to make themselves heard above the hoots and jeers of the crowds.  When it seemed as if the park would hold no more, six additional squads of prisoners were packed in and the guards were increased.

      Shortly before noon a special train of cattle cars rolled up to the park.  The prisoners were marched in single file from the inclosure, up the runways and onto the cars.  As each man entered the car, according to the authorities, he was asked if he wanted to go to work or if he could give the name of a reliable citizen who would vouch for him.  Those who expressed a desire for employment were held for further investigation.


      Several prominent citizens of Bisbee and Lowell who openly declared they were in sympathy for the I.W.W. movement were forced into the cars with the unkempt crowds.  Among these was William B. Cleary, an attorney widely known through Arizona, who was taken into custody when the raid first started.  Cleary was alleged to have spoken openly in favor of the I.W.W. movement.

      The train left at noon.  As it departed cheers and jeers were mingled.  Some of the deported ones waved their hands and their caps and shouted:  “Good-by Bisbee.”

      All afternoon the citizens continued the work of questioning everyone on the streets.  Tonight hundreds of men are patrolling the streets. Every male citizen is armed, some with shotguns, and others with a variety or pistols, revolvers and rifles.

      The victims of today’s activities were Orson P. McRae, a member of the Citizens’ Protective League and shift boss at one of the Copper Queen mines, and James Brew, a former employee of the Denn mine, which closed down the first day of the strike. McRae was killed when Brew fired through the door of his room at McRae and several other men, who were rounding up I.W.W. sympathizers. McRae, it is said, was unarmed. Brew fired several more shots and then stepped out of his room. Three of McRae’s companions fired at him and he fell beside his victim, dying five minutes later.

      Bisbee was quiet tonight.

      A censorship on telegraph and telephone service during the day prevented authentic reports from reaching outside districts. The censorship was said to have been invoked by two army officers at Douglas. The ban on use of the telegraph offices at Bisbee and Douglas was not lifted until after 4 o’clock this afternoon.

      One message was stopped after it had reached El Paso on its way to Denver, according to the transmitting telegraph company.

      A dispatch giving facts concerning the deportation of men from Bisbee was filed at Douglas at 6 o’clock this morning, but was delivered, the telegraph company declaring a censorship had been imposed.

      At 6:30 o’clock this morning a message giving facts concerning the deportations was filed at Bisbee, but was refused by telegraph company employees at Douglas, who informed the sender via telegraph that no strike news dispatches were being accepted. Frequent inquiries throughout the day until 4 o’clock elicited similar refusals to handle the dispatches telling of the deportations.


      This work of deportation took almost exactly twelve hours. Six hours later those who had participated in it, with very few exceptions, had returned to their homes, put away their weapons, and were going about their business in a normal way. The lack of greater disorder was believed to be due to the suddenness of the step and the excellencies of the organization which preceded it.

      Although hastily organized, the armed citizens showed none of the characteristics usually attributed to a mob. A white handkerchief about the arm was the badge of the armed citizens. Those without it were stopped and questioned.

      In the early stages of the “round-up,” when several hundred persons had been marched to a square in the town, they were searched. Some of them urged the armed citizens to “come on, shoot your brother,” and a few mere boys pleaded to be released.

      As the prisoners were marched through the streets a machine gun, hastily mounted on the Sheriff’s automobile, covered the marchers.

      At the Warren baseball park some of the prisoners attempted to deliver harangues on Industrial Workers of the World principles, but their voices were lost in the jeers of the crowd of spectators.

      The only time the crowd stopped jeering as the men were loaded on the train was while W. B. Cleary, a Bisbee attorney, marched into a car.