Raid on The Socialist and Labor Star

The Socialist And Labor Star (Huntington)
May 30, 1912

Star's Plant Destroyed and Its Staff Sent to Jail

Last Act of Tyranny of The Hatfield Military Regime.

To the 'Star' readers who are no doubt wondering why they failed to receive the little truth teller the last few weeks we dedicate this explanation.

There was a reason!

On the morning of Friday May 9th, between the hours of 1 and 2 the printing establishment belonging to the Socialist Printing Co., and in which the mechanical work on the Star had been done for the last few months, was raided by militiamen acting under orders from Governor Hatfield. The raiding party was composed of Major Tom Davis and Lieutenants Rippitoe and Templeton who ruthlessly destroyed job work, type printing material, plates, etc.

The type "forms" of the Star had just been completed and were ready for the regular issue of the paper. Some of the type in the newspaper pages was beaten to a shapeless mass of massed metal. After the types and plates had been beaten and broken, the "forms" were hurled from the composing stones and their contents scattered over the office and street. Portions of the wrecked material were found the next morning two squares from the Star office.

Not satisfied with their destruction of the Star forms, the valiant soldiers proceeded to demolish departments in which the Socialist Printing Co. did commercial job printing. Every job in the department, including forms for several sets of By-Laws for local unions, which had not yet been printed, were smashed and printed matter ready for delivery to local merchants was destroyed. All of the account books, letters, invoices, files, and copy in the office were confiscated and carried away.

The Socialist Printing Co. incorporated under the laws of W. Va. authorized to do business in this state, has suffered a loss conservatively estimated at $2,000.

While the state soldiery were working the will of the governor upon the inanimate printing plant the civil authorities of Cabell county were busily engaged in carrying out the orders of the same military commander - in another direction. Sheriff Buffington had received lettres de cachet for W. H. Thompson, editor of the Star, Elmer Rumbaugh, reporter, F. M. Sturm, a former employee of the Company, R. M. Kephart, Geo. W. Gillespie, officers of the Socialist Printing Co. The warrants were placed in the hands of Deputy Sheriff Frampton who, as befits one dealing with secret arrests of such desperate criminals, surrounded the residences of his sleeping victims with his posse in the wee small hours of the morning, awakened them and spirited them away to the Cabell county jail. A message from Gov. Hatfield early Friday morning directed Sheriff Buffington to turn his prisoners over to the military officers who wrecked the printing plant.

The victims of the midnight raid vigorously protested to the sheriff against such action being taken, pointing out to him that they were citizens of Cabell county and that they should not be deported without due process of law. Their protests were unheeded however, and they were taken to Charleston Friday evening May 9th and landed in the Kanawha county jail - the foulest, filthiest, most crowded bastile in the state.

Saturday night Gillespie, Kephart and Sturm were released from custody, it being discovered that they were by no means the ferocious criminals indicated as in the letters of arrest. Thompson and Rumbaugh were held 14 days and then released without ever having had charges of any kind made against them.

After Editor Thompson was arrested and safely lodged behind bars at the Charleston jail, Lieutenan[t]s Templeton and Rippitoe went to his home where his wife was alone and ill from shock and proceeded to ransack the house, carrying away numerous private papers and books. Mrs. Thompson protested against this last outrage and demanded to know by what authority these men were invading and looting her home.

They showed no warrant and said the search and seizure was made by order of Major Tom Davis. It should be said to the credit of Sheriff Frampton that he too protested to the soldiers against the searching of private residences and the destruction of private property without warrant of law. The militiamen informed him that they were acting under secret orders which must be obeyed.

We almost forget to state that these midnight proceedings were orderer [sic] because The Labor Star and its ownere [sic] had dared to disagree with Gov. Hatfield in the matter of the miners strike which he has just settled (?) so satisfactorily - to Tim Scanlon and the Huntington Chamber of Commerce.


West Virginia Archives and History