Thurston-Lewis-Mason Central Labor Council
The Centralia Massacre Part 2
Updated On: Nov 19, 2021

The parade was scheduled to begin in the afternoon. In the morning, Attorney Elmer Smith made a trip to the IWW hall to confer again with Britt Smith. Tom Morgan, the IWW member who testified as the state’s witness, claimed to have witnessed this conversation. He testified that he saw Britt Smith pointing to the buildings across the street where IWW riflemen were to be stationed. If true, this would mean that Elmer Smith knew, and tacitly approved of the non-legal plan for self-defense. Elmer Smith only remained in the hall a few minutes.

In the afternoon some of the IWW members left the hall to station themselves elsewhere. There were several inexpensive hotels nearby which catered to loggers who lived in the logging camps on weekdays and who regularly rented rooms on the weekend.

The seven who remained in the hall were Wesley Everest, Ray Becker, Tom Morgan, Britt Smith, James McInerney, Mike Sheehan, and Bert Faulkner. Everest, Becker, Britt Smith, and McInerney were armed with a pistol. Two groups of defenders left the hall to station themselves elsewhere. Three men armed with rifles stationed themselves on Seminary Hill over a thousand feet east of the hall. They were Loren Roberts, Bert “Curley” Bland and Ole Hanson (Hanson was never apprehended.). O.C. “Commodore” Bland and John Lamb occupied a second floor room in the Arnold on the opposite side of Tower Avenue and a little north of the hall. “John Doe” Davis went with a concealed rifle to the Avalon Hotel on the opposite side of Tower Avenue and slightly south of the IWW hall. Davis was never apprehended. There was testimony that Eugene Barnett was also in or near the Avalon, but two witnesses corroborated his testimony that he was in the lobby of the Roderick Hotel when the gunfire took place which was next door to the IWW hall.

Usually there are few spectators at the very end of the parade since it is quite some distance from the heart of the business district; but quite a crowd had gathered in the area near the IWW hall. Why was this so? There were many, according to one commentator, who remembered the raid eighteen months earlier of the old IWW hall which took place while a Red Cross parade was passing nearby. Some spectators had undoubtedly heard the rumors or seen the handbills passed out by the local IWW members. Those who wanted some excitement got more than they expected that day. Curiously, one of those bystanders near the IWW hall was the county prosecuting attorney.

Warren Grim gave the command to “Halt, close up ranks!” The Centralia Legion group had already fallen well behind the Chehalis Legion group.


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Contact Info
Thurston-Lewis-Mason Central Labor Council
PO Box 66
Olympia, WA 98507
 

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