The Cliftonville Riot

Wheeling Intelligencer
July 18, 1922

Officers Defended Coal Mine Against Overwhelming Odds

Special Deputy Sheriff Tells How Sheriff Duval And Small Force Fought Against Big Mob.

Says Attackers Shot and Beat Sheriff and Continued to Shoot Him After He Was Down.

Defense of the Saledka mine of the Richland Coal company's mine at Cliftonville, W. Va., and McKinleyville, W. Va., was undertaken against tremendous odds, an Intelligencer reporter who visited the scene of the battle was told yesterday afternoon by Martin Joint, who was on duty at Cliftonville yesterday afternoon in the capacity of a special deputy sheriff.

Queried as to whether he and his associates were regular deputy sheriffs, Mr. Joint answered the reporter:

"No; I and these fellows you see here with me are chiefly employes of the mine who were sworn in as special deputy sheriffs for twenty-four hours when Sheriff Duval and the officials at the mine here were informed that the mine was to be attacked."

Orders to Await Attack.

"Sheriff Duval and a few deputies, including his son, Tom Duval, Irwin Mozingo and Roscoe Hough, were here a good part of the night. We were sworn in to act as special deputies, as I told you, for a period of twenty-four hours.

"It was learned that the invaders were coming in from Avella, Pa., along the valley road that runs close to the Wabash railroad. Six or seven of us went to the check house, near the top of the incline which leads from the mouth of the mine down the hill to the tipple.

"About daybreak," Joint said, "the attack began. In the breaking daylight we could see scores of men who had ascended the hill back of the mine, the majority of whom seemed to be bunched around the pole you see standing yonder on top of the hill" - indicating a light wire or telephone pole of a line that skirts the brow of the hill to the northwest of the mine.

"We were told," Joint said, "not to fire until we were fired upon. We obeyed the order, and the invaders began the shooting. Two of the six or seven men in the check house left for some reason. The rest of us stood to our posts and returned the fire.

Only Six Rifles.

"They were too many of us," Joint continued, "and we were short of fighting equipment. There wasn't more than six good rifles altogether on our side. They drove us out of the check house and we came down to the tipple at the bottom of the hill, under cover of the roof of the incline.

"Arriving at the foot of the incline, we took positions as best we could. I fired for some time from the little frame shack you see yonder by the tipple. But it was too hot for me there; snipers were firing from every direction. Men with guns were stationed in every hilltop in the rim of the cup of hills which surrounds the mine.

"I shifted my position to the little concrete building which stands yonder alongside of the tipple, and fired a few shots from there.

"There was a bawl-up; we got orders from the company to stop shooting - that maybe they would quit and leave. Right there is where the mistake was made, for I think that I in the cement block house and others of our men in better positions than they had occupied could have got the whole bunch grouped around the top of the mine.

"It was soon clear that the attack was not to be given up, and I cut loose again. I saw one man start over toward the top of the tipple. I shot him, and I saw him stagger into the incline shed. I am confident he never came out and that he burned up in the tipple.

How the Sheriff Was Killed.

"Led by a man waving an American flag, the mob marched against the top of the tipple. A flag was hoisted over the shed and it was set on fire. We dynamited a part of the incline to save the lower end of it and the tipple itself.

"We saw that we couldn't save the place in the way the defense was being made. Sheriff Duval and three or four deputies came over by the supply store and started up the hill to encircle the attackers. The sheriff encountered them up on the hill, and there he was killed.

"Poor old fellow! They shot him, beat him and shot him again while he was down. The powder burns on his face show that he was shot at close range after he was down and out."

Joint declared that he is certain, to his own satisfaction, that a number of the attackers were killed and carried away by unwounded members of their own party.

In this assertion he was supported by George Williams, a negro special deputy sheriff, who declared that he himself shot and killed one and wounded another on the slope back of the Clifton Supply company store.

The negro said that he dragged this man a short distance up the hill, and that others of the attacking party then picked up the body and carried it away over the hill.

To a spectator it was easily seen that the defense of the Cliftonville mine was poorly organized and that, if stories of the special deputies and residents of the place are to be believed, the defenders of the village allowed the invaders to gain points of vantage on the rim of the cup of hills in which the town lies, from where they had a big advantage over the defenders down in the valley.

Names Alleged Slayer Of Sheriff H. H. Duval

Austrian Captured By State Police Says Steve Betts, Avella Itlaian, Did The Killing.

Claims He Was Forced to Join the March and Was Unarmed - Reiterates That Betts Was the Slayer.

In the presence of three Wheeling newspaper men, George Harvey, an Austrian striking miner of Avella, Pa., told State Policeman Hobart Smith of the state police station at Moundsville yesterday afternoon that the man who killed Sheriff H. H. Duval in the battle at Cliftonville Monday morning was an Italian named Steve Betts of Avella.

Harvey's capture was one of the more sensational incidents of the aftermath of the battle - the round-up of members of the invading party from Avella, many of whom lay hidden in the woods northwest of the mine at Cliftonville for hours after the fight in which several of their own number were slain.

Picked Up on Road.

Three state policemen, Corporal Arbogast and Privates Smith and McMillan, with Captain E. W. Athey of Moundsville, were driving down a mule-trail sort of a road leading from the Wellsburg-Avella pike in Cliftonville yesterday, in response to a call which brought them hurrying from Moundsville in a high powered automobile, when they came upon the man who later gave the name of George Harvey, walking toward the Avella road. They placed him under arrest, and in quick order secured a confession from him that he was one of the invaders from Avella. In a little while Harvey had told the state police the name of the man who killed the sheriff.

Three reporters, going to Cliftonville, came upon the car of the state police about 2 o'clock, standing in the narrow roadway a short distance from where Harvey was captured. He was alone in the front seat of the car, with Private Smith standing beside the machine.

How He Was Hurt

Fresh blood was plain on his head and collar. While the trooper with his prisoner waited for the return of the other three officers, Private Smith talked to Harvey in the presence of the reporters.

At this time Harvey repeated his own name, and declared that the man who killed Sheriff Duval was George Betts. Shown the written name, "George Betts," he said that was right.

Written inside Harvey's coat was his own name.

The return of Private McMillan from a search of the woods below the road revealed the cause of the wound on Harvey's head. The stock of the policeman's gun was broken, and Troop McMillan declared that he smashed it over Harvey's head when Harvey tried to make a getaway while being taken to show the troopers the scene of the fighting.

With the return of Corporal Arbogast and Captain Athey, the drive toward Cliftonville was resumed, the automobiles of the state police and reporters making the descent to the valley over a perilous narrow road that was lined with rows of trampled bushes, evidently where the invaders had lain awaiting the hour of the attack on the mine.

At Cliftonville Harvey was examined by a deputy sheriff who could talk Austrian. He declared he was forced to join the march on Cliftonville, being told that he would be thrown out of the miners' union if he refused to go.

Repeats Charge.

"I go this way," he said, indicating that he was not armed.

"How many men of you were there in the march on the mine?" Harvey was asked.

"Maybe two hundred; I don't know for sure," he answered.

Here Harvey repeated his statement through the interpreter, that the man who killed Sheriff Duval was George Betts of Avella, Pa.

No attempt to conceal hard feelings toward Harvey was made by special deputy sheriffs and coal company employes in their remarks to the prisoner. One even refused to permit the man to be given a drink of water. The state police, however, were more considerate, though equally firm, and Private Smith took the man to a pump to get a drink of water.

"You ought to got your water before you come across the Pennsylvania line," a special deputy sheriff hurled after Harvey as the prisoner was taken to the pump.

Jamaica Ginger.

State police are inclined to believe that the Cliftonville invaders may have been nerved to their attack by a supply of Jamaica ginger.

This belief is founded on the fact that a bottle of Jamaica ginger, double strength, was taken from Harvey's pocket after his arrest.

State police say that Jamaica ginger enables men to lie out at night without feeling discomfort, and even to sleep out of doors in cold and rain.


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