The Cliftonville Riot

Wheeling Intelligencer
July 18, 1922

Believe Two Dead In Ruin Of The Tipple

Cliftonville People Anxious For Opportunity to Search Debris.

Cliftonville, W. Va., July 17 - By The Associated Press) - Closely guarded by a large force of deputy sheriffs and state policemen, the people of Cliftonville stood around tonight discussing excitedly the events of early today which cost the lives of Sheriff H. H. Duval and at least four of the men who marched over from the Pennsylvania union coal field and attack the non-union mine of the Richland Coal Company here.

The were impatiently waiting for burning ruins of the tipple which was blown up in the fight to cool in order that they might search for the bodies of two men, one of whom appeared to be the leader of the attacking force, and who, they believed, went down when the structure collapsed.

Similar scenes were being enacted in a tent colony not far away where the families of some 50 striking miners have been living since they left the employ of the company last April. State constables were constantly on guard, but there was no disorder.

Bodies Dragged Through Weeds

Captain White, commanding the state forces, did the search in the vicinity of the mine for the bodies of men reported killed in the action. Although, the troopers said, there was ample evidence that bodies had been dragged through the weeds, and in some places they had found little pools of blood, their search up to nightfall had not added to the list of fatalities. Seven men found hidden in the woods were picked up and sent to Wellsburg after being closely questioned. Three of them had been wounded, and one of them who, the troopers said, gave the name of "George Harvey," had told them he knew Sheriff Duval had been killed by a man from Avella, Pa. An effort was being made tonight to check up his story with the Washington county, Pa., authorities.

The story of the fight, as told by Superintendent Edwards and E. J. Sexton, manager of the company store, agreed in its essentials with the stories told by some of the miners who live in Cliftonville. It detailed a battle in which the sheriff's men, outnumbered more than 10 to one, kept up a firing until their assailants abandoned the field.

Story Of Fight

Superintendent Edwards said that a fight had occurred near the tent colony about midnight Sunday after Sheriff Duval had been notified that men were marching on the mine. Two hours later there was an explosion near the colony followed at irregular intervals by skyrockets. At 5:15 o'clock, as the miners were on their way to the mine opening to begin the day's work, a shot was fired from the hill above the opening and almost immediately after, Edwards said, the firing became general from the other hills around the town. It was heaviest from the height above the tipple.

A man carrying an American flag rushed the hill followed by what to Edwards seemed to be 200 or more men. They reached the tipple and the leader with a companion climbed to the top where, Edwards declared, he saw the man stand, wave the flag and shout:

"Come on, boys, she's ours."

Fire the Tipple

The men crowded into the tipple, oil was poured on the floor and the structure burst into flames, meantime, Edwards said, some of the company miners tried to save the tipple by blowing up the burning section with dynamite. A moment before the explosion he said he saw the leader and a companion at the top, but when the burning section collapsed they were nowhere to be seen.

There had been a great deal of shooting before the explosion but immediately after it the fight seemed to center around the power house where the deputy Irwin Mozingo, and one of the miners were on guard. Men climbed to the roof and fired on them through a ventilator, one being killed before Mozingo was shot.

Terror stricken by the fighting and fearful of the bullets which seemed to come from every direction the miners barricaded doors an[d] windows of their houses with mattresses and put the women and children behind them, the superintendent said.

Attackers Retire.

Sheriff Duval and Deputy Hough, were fighting side by side, the superintendent said, but had to retreat down the hill, while other deputies had taken positions near the mouth of the mines. After a time there was a forward movement by the deputies and a few minutes later the attacking crowd had retired over the hill.

The fighting, according to Superintendent Edwards, lasted for almost one and one half hours.


West Virginia Archives and History