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The Calumet news. [volume] : (Calumet, Mich.) 1907-1938
Place of publication:
Calumet, Mich.
Geographic coverage:
  • Calumet, Houghton, Michigan  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Mining Gazette Co.
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 15, no. 295 (Oct. 23, 1907)-v. 46, no. 197 (June 25, 1938).
Daily (except Sunday)
  • English
  • Calumet (Mich.)--Newspapers.
  • Houghton County (Mich.)--Newspapers.
  • Michigan--Calumet.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01213615
  • Michigan--Houghton County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01214775
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
sn 86086633
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The Calumet news. [volume] October 2, 1909 , Image 1


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The Calumet News

The Calumet News, of Calumet, Michigan, first appeared in 1907. It was a relaunch of the Copper Country Evening News, founded by Frederick MacKenzie (1832-1902) in 1892, and then owned by the Mining Gazette Company which controlled the Daily Mining Gazette  in nearby Houghton. The News was an eight-page daily published each afternoon (excluding Sundays).Like its predecessor, the Calumet News was effectively controlled by the mining interests in Michigan’s Copper Country. This would become particularly important as the paper reported on the Copper Strike of 1913-14, led by the Western Federation of Miners (WFM).           

The strike, which lasted for nine months, was driven by the miners’ dissatisfaction with their wages, working hours, and the recent introduction of the one-man drill, which resulted in significant layoffs and drastically reduced family incomes. The miners from the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company, the largest on the range, first struck on Wednesday, July 23, 1913, basing themselves at tje Union Hall on Sixth Street in “Red Jacket” (as modern Calumet village was then known). On Saturday, with Michigan National Guardsmen arriving on Governor Woodbridge Ferris’ orders, the Calumet News carried statements from both the mining companies and union side-by-side. But the banner headline read: “Order Complete Martial Law if Rioting is Renewed.”

As the strike continued into the fall of 1913, the mines were able to operate with a small number of workers who crossed the picket lines and many miners brought in from other states and abroad. Bitterness increased with the shooting of two innocent men in Seeberville (south of Houghton) at a boardinghouse in August 1913, whose bunkmates had allegedly trespassed on company property. These deaths, which ultimately resulted in three guards and a deputy sheriff being convicted of manslaughter, pale to insignificance when compared with the Italian Hall disaster that December.

On Christmas Eve 1913, several hundred men, women and children were packed in to the Italian Hall in the heart of Red Jacket for a party organized by the WFM. Constructed in 1908 with exemplary safety features, the Hall was the pride of the Copper Country’s Italian population. Somebody shouted “fire” in the second floor hall. Although the individual who did so was never identified at the time, a number of recent historical treatments name a company affiliated man who promptly left town in the aftermath. The shout caused panic and sent the crowd charging down the stairs and out into the street. At least 75 people, including 59 children, were crushed to death. The Calumet News, in an unusual decision,led its next (December 26) edition with a fundraising drive, assuring its readers: “Ample financial aid is assured for all of the grief stricken families.”

The paper’s customary pro-management stance resumed the next day, however, when it dismissed President of the WFM Charles Moyer’s accurate account of being beaten and shot in the back by men in company employ before being forcibly placed on a train out of Calumet. While noting his bandaged head, the paper confidently stated: “Stories told by Moyer are not substantiated.”  As the battle continued, strike organizers drifted away or were forced out of the region. Finally the WFM ran out of money for strike benefits, and on April 13, 1914, the miners voted to end the dispute.

By April the union, which had boasted a membership of 9,000 on the range at the outset, was reduced to just 2,500 members. Those who remained were forced to destroy their membership cards before being allowed back into the mines. While an eight-hour day had become the norm during the strike, the attempt to improve wages and working conditions had failed. On April 14 the News relegated the mine owners’ victory to a short piece headlined: “Professional Strikers and Others Quitting District.” In many ways the end of the strike also marked the coming end of economic prosperity in the region. After World War I, and the loss of wartime demand for copper, Calumet and the wider region entered into a period of long-term economic and population decline.

In 1943, the Calumet News merged with its long-term stablemate, the Daily Mining Gazette, after first rebranding itself as the Evening News-Journal  in 1938 in an unsuccessful attempt to maintain an independent existence.

Provided by: Central Michigan University, Clark Historical Library