The Cliftonville Riot

Wheeling Intelligencer
July 18, 1922

Woman Eyewitness Tells Of Cliftonville Battle

Mrs. Louis Bennett, Who Runs Boarding And Rooming House, Saw Entire Struggle From Home.

Man Who Led Mob Wore Army Uniform and Carried Flag - Bullets Flew All Around Her House.

"Suddenly there was a shot. Then another, and then hell itself seemed to break loose on earth."

Such was the way Mrs. Louise Bennett, an American woman, a widow who is the landlady of a rooming house in Cliftonville, described the shooting in the little mine settlement that claimed at least four lives and resulted in a number of others being wounded.

"We knew trouble was coming, but even though we had braced ourselves to be ready for the worst, we were badly frightened, and never shall I forget today," said Mrs. Bennett...

...then I saw it all. About five hundred men, or so it seemed to me were marching along the ridge in a clearspace where I could see them plainly. At the head of the column was a man dressed in what looked like an army uniform. He was carrying a banner. They seemed to split about at the middle of the clearing, and one half went south and the other came over the hill.

Shouting And Firing

"They disappeared in the woods but I could still see them coming over the hill. Then the Hell broke loose. The men coming over the hill were shouting and firing their guns. Our men waited and then they started. I hardly remember what happened. One column of what seemed to be a couple hundred men came around the hill and swept down on the tipple. That brute carrying the American flag as I could then see was waving it like fury and shouting. He was one of the first to rush into the tipple, and then he stuck his head out of one of the windows still waving his flag. The next thing I knew the tipple was on fire.

"I got scared and ran out of the house. It was daylight, and just across the creek there I saw a man standing with a big rifle, pointing up the hill. As soon as he saw me, he pointed at me, and fired. Come upstairs and see what happened.

Escorting the reporter upstairs, she pointed to a window. There was a bullet hole. The bullet had town away a part of the window casing, glanced downward across the glass and burying itself in the other side of the window frame. The place where it lodged was not fifteen inches away from the place where a man had been lying in bed ten minutes before. There was another bullet hole in the glass.

Mozingo Was Game

Going back downstairs, Mrs. Bennett continued describing the scenes about the settlement. She told of other women looking out of the windows, some crying, others shouting., while still others looked mutely upon what was happening on the hillside and watching the tipple burning.

"And then I went out the other door for I was afraid of getting shot and there, on the end of the footbridge was another. He did not shoot, but I 'ducked' inside the door too quickly.

"There I was with my four children, who were crying and sobbing, a defenseless women [sic]. What could I do? We crouched into one corner and there we sat and prayed until it was all over.

"When the shooting had stopped, we went out. They were bringing Mozingo down and then came Duval's body.

"Mozingo was placed in one machine and they started out. As the car went across the creek, he looked back and smiled, and then coughed up some blood. He was bleeding awful, but he was still game. The sheriff, may his soul rest in peace.

Mrs. Bennett is said to be quite popular about the little town, and has been keeping about twenty-five men who worked in the mine or about the place as guards.


West Virginia Archives and History