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Text from Historical Marker; for the indoor exhibit, see link below. Mary Harris was born in Cork, Ireland in 1837. Her family fled to Toronto during the famine. She moved to Memphis in 1860, married George Jones, an iron molder and proud union man. They had four children together. In 1867, yellow fever killed her whole family. Mary Jones moved to Chicago, worked as a seamstress, but lost everything in the 1871 fire. She was an obscure working-class immigrant, a poor widow. But by the 1890s, she joined a growing movement for worker rights. She transformed herself into Mother Jones, a symbol of resistance, and helped to shape a new style of unionism. She organized for the United Mine Workers and the Socialist Party. No one more successfully moved workingmen and women to fight for better wages and conditions. The novelist Upton Sinclair wrote, “she had the fire of indignation — she was the walking wrath of God.” Author Meridel LeSueur thought of her as the true mother of workers, “the emboldened and blazing defender of all her sons and daughters.” Mother Jones was especially beloved among the half-million men who mined coal in states like Illinois. They fought bloody wars here, and in Colorado and West Virginia, and changed the course of history. Before she died, Mother Jones asked to be buried with her “brave boys” slain in the 1898 Virden Massacre. She is buried in Mount Olive’s Union Miners Cemetery in the heart of Illinois Coal Country. “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!”– Mother Jones Learn more about Mother Jones' history at motherjonesmuseum.org and access more stories and tours from that site.


Text from Outdoor Historical Marker

Mary Harris was born in Cork, Ireland in 1837. Her family fled to Toronto during the famine. She moved to Memphis in 1860, married George Jones, an iron molder and proud union man. They had four children together. In 1867, yellow fever killed her whole family.

Mary Jones moved to Chicago, worked as a seamstress, but lost everything in the 1871 fire. She was an obscure working-class immigrant, a poor widow. But by the 1890s, she joined a growing movement for worker rights.

She transformed herself into Mother Jones, a symbol of resistance, and helped to shape a new style of unionism. She organized for the United Mine Workers and the Socialist Party. No one more successfully moved workingmen and women to fight for better wages and conditions. The novelist Upton Sinclair wrote, “she had the fire of indignation — she was the walking wrath of God.” Author Meridel LeSueur thought of her as the true mother of workers, “the emboldened and blazing defender of all her sons and daughters.”

Mother Jones was especially beloved among the half-million men who mined coal in states like Illinois. They fought bloody wars here, and in
Colorado and West Virginia, and changed the course of history.

Before she died, Mother Jones asked to be buried with her “brave boys”
slain in the 1898 Virden Massacre. She is buried in Mount Olive’s
Union Miners Cemetery in the heart of Illinois Coal Country.

“Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!”– Mother Jones


Audio Performance available at the links below

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