EVERETT — Ninety-seven years ago today, at least five union members known as Wobblies and two local deputies died in a waterfront gun battle. Those shootings are now known as the Everett Massacre.
What happened Nov. 5, 1916, was a tragic finale to weeks of labor unrest. Shingle weavers had been on strike in Everett. Members of the Industrial Workers of the World — the Wobblies were outsiders — had been coming to town to speak up for workers here.
A week before the shootings, 41 Wobblies had been beaten by citizen deputies at Beverly Park, according to a HistoryLink essay by Everett historian Margaret Riddle.
That Sunday, Nov. 5, the steamer Verona and a second vessel from Seattle, the Calista, brought about 300 Wobblies to Everett. Shots rang out as the Verona approached the City Dock at the end of Hewitt Avenue. Historians don’t know which side fired first, defenders of Everett’s ruling establishment or the Wobblies.
Riddle also wrote an account for the Everett Public Library, which said as many as 12 Wobblies may have died, and their bodies pulled from the water in secret. Jefferson Beard and Charles Curtis were the slain deputies.
In a 2011 Herald interview, Riddle said the killings weren’t spoken about in Everett for decades. It wasn’t until the 1970 publication of Norman Clark’s book “Mill Town: A Social History of Everett” that light was shed on this bloodiest chapter in Northwest labor history.
In the past, the preservation group Historic Everett has held public events commemorating what also became known as Everett’s bloody Sunday. “I don’t know of any major events this year,” said David Dilgard, history specialist at the Everett Public Library.
Everett Massacre events have been held at the Anchor Pub, but the tavern near the massacre site closed in June.
A reading group discussed Clark’s “Mill Town” at the library last week. “It was a good discussion,” Dilgard said. “It’s interesting to get a mix, people who have lived here forever and others from somewhere else sizing it all up.”
- More from the University of Washington’s digital collection.
- More from The Herald’s Nov. 6, 1916 issue and others in our collection of historic front pages.
- Tale of 1916 Everett Massacre retold in style of radio play
- Everett Massacre’s lessons are relevant today
- On anniversary of Everett Massacre, memories live on