Raid on The Socialist and Labor Star

Huntington Advertiser
May 9, 1913

Socialists Taken To State Capital By Guard Officers

No Demonstration When Men Arrested Thursday Night Passed C. & O. Shops

Men Left Without Protest

Efforts to Induce Lawyers to Take Case Before Civil Courts Proved Futile

W. H. Thompson, editor of the Socialist and Labor Star, Elmer Rumbaugh, reporter, R. M. Kephart, George Gillespie and F. M. Sturm, socialists connected with the paper, were taken to Charleston this afternoon by Major T. B. Davis, Lieutenant Foster Templeton, Lieutenant Heber Rice and Lieutenant Rippetoe, the lat[t]er a member of a Charleston Company. The men left without protest and without making an appeal to the civil courts. There was some tendency to believe that there would be a demonstration when the train passed the Chesapeake & Ohio shops but this belief proved groundless.

A telegram instructing Sheriff P. C. Buffington to deliver the five men arrested this morning when the military authorities swooped down on the Socialist and Labor Star over to Major Thomas B. Davis, who in his turn had been previously instructed to leave with the men on Chesapeake & Ohio train No. 8 for Charleston, was the first development of the day in the sensational affair. When the word was received W. H. Thompson, editor, and Elmer Rumbaugh, reporter, were in cells in the county jail, George Gillispie and R. M. Kephart, officers of the stock company owning the paper, were in the jailer's office down stairs and F. M. Sturm was out of the jail in the custody of his brother-in-law, George Sidebottom. The message was received about eleven o'clock and the deputy sheriff immediately started to find Sidebottom in order to be sure to have Sturm at hand when the military officer called for the prisoners.

The men were arrested in the small hours of the night on a warrant issued by the governor, charging them with giving aid and comfort to the enemy in the military district comprising parts of Kanawha, Fayette, Raleigh and Boone counties and with inciting to riot through the columns of the Socialist and Labor Star, a weekly newspaper published in Huntington. This warrant was placed in the hands of D. W. Frampton, deputy sheriff, who made the arrests.

In the meanwhile the military officers, including Major Thomas B. Davis, Lieutenant Foster Templeton and Lieutenant Heber H. Rice of Huntington and Lieutenant Rippetoe of Charleston went to the office of the Socialist and Labor Star, 2007 Seventh avenue, and took possession. The soliders proceeded to pi the galleys of type which had been set for the issue of the Socialist and Labor Star which was to have been issued this week. The military people state that they merely threw down the type, not damaging it at all.

The owners of the plant assert that the type was beaten and mutilated and that the shop and fixtures were damaged to the extent of $1,500.

It is an interesting fact that the warrant calling for the arrest of the five men charged with responsibility for the utterances of the Star did not give any authorization for the seizure of the plant or the destruction of the type prepared for the forthcoming issue of the paper. It is explained that the action at the plant was taken under direction of the higher military authorities.

Deputy Sheriff Frampton did not have anything to do with this phase of the affair. He was not called upon to take part in it and did not go to the plant at all.

It is said that one of the reasons for the taking of the decisive step Thursday night was the desire of the military authorities to prevent the issue of the paper this week, of the contents of which they are supposed to have had advance information.

The people connected with the paper deny that the edition which was censored contained any repetition of the bitter attack on Governor Hatfield which was contained in the last previous issue of the Star.

Thompson and Rumbaugh, the editorial and reportorial writers for the paper, were placed in cells when they were arrested. Rumbaugh, the reporter, armed with a rifle and a huge revolver was guarding the office when the military men arrived to arrest him. The rifle and revolver, together with the "copy" found in the office were seized and carried away by the soldiers.

The fact that Gillespie and Kephart have not been actively connected with the paper, although they are part owners, but have been working at their trade as machinists led the deputy sheriff to arrange that they be given a place in the jailer's residence in which to sleep. In the morning they were brought down to the jailer's office and allowed to remain there. Sturm, according to Editor Thompson, some time ago ceased his connection with the Star, but through neglect his name was allowed to continue at the mast head. He had been business manager.

Thompson declared this morning that he expected to do nothing to gain his own release or that of Rumbaugh. "For," he sair [sic], "there is no law in West Virginia now." He did say, however, that he believed in fairness that Gillespie, Kephart and Sturm should be released.

The warrant providing for the arrest of the men, all of whom are members of the socialist party, does not provide that they be brought to trial, but orders that they be arrested and confined in the "common jail of Cabell county," as long as necessity therefor[e] shall appear," or until further orders from the governor.

The socialist say that the Star plant is under mortgage held by Barnhart Brothers & Spindler of Chicago, and they expect this corporation to take action against the military men for their alleged action in defacing the type.

After they were informed that they were to be taken to Charleston in the afternoon, the Socialist and Labor Star men who had previously indicated that they would make no immediate attempt to gain their freedom, began to seek legal aid to prevent their being taken out of the county. After several law firms had been consulted they decided that they would be unable to prevent their removal, and, to all intent, gave up any idea of resistance to the order of the governor. Mrs. George Gillispie visited her husband at the jail and Mrs. Thompson and another woman appeared at the prison to visit the editor. They were taken to the cell in which Thompson and Rumbaugh were confined. The visitors brought the news that Mrs. Kephart was in a very distressful condition over the plight of her husband. Kephart, before his departure, asked some of his friends to look after his wife, requesting that she get his money from the Chesapeake & Ohio pay car and go to Washington to remain with relatives until such a tim[e] as his freedom shall have been regained.

The men espesially [sic] Gillispie and Kephart, took their confinement stoicly, betraying no emotion at any time save when they were told that they were to be taken to Charleston, when Gillispie's mouth, already a white line, grew a little tauter.

While the affair has been rather generally discussed about the street, the day, up till one o'clock was more than ordinarily quiet, with no tendency whatever to disorder.


West Virginia Archives and History