Fierce Fight With Mob

August 9, 1902


An angry mob of over 5,000 coal strikers causes “a reign of terror” in Shenandoah. Many policemen fire into the crowd and kill some strikers, but ultimately they “ran for their lives”, forcing 1,200 soldiers to intervene "to maintain peace".


Infuriated Strikers Caused Reign of Terror at Shenandoah.
Troops Sent To The Scene
Sheriff Could Not Preserve Order and Appealed to Governor.
Officers Ran For Their Lives.
Deputy's attempt to escort non-union men through strikers' lines started battle, in which many were injured, some fatally-- twelve hundred soldiers, under General Gobin, to maintain peace.

Shenandoah, Pa., July 31.-- A reign of terror, compared with which the scenes enacted during the riots of 1900 seem insignificant, held Shenandoah in its grasp last night. Centre street, which is one of the principal streets of the town, was in the hands of an infuriated mob. Four of the borough policemen were shot, two perhaps fatally. Joseph Beddal, a leading merchant and cousin of Sheriff Beddal was brutally clubbed, and upwards of a score of strikers whose names could not be ascertained, were shot by policemen and it is expected that many deaths will result. Sheriff Beddal arrived from Pottsville at 7:45 o'clock with a posse of deputies. He admitted that he has asked Governor Stone to send the militia.
The trouble started about six o'clock last evening when Deputy Sheriff Thomas Beddal attempted to escort two non-union workers through the strikers line of pickets. The workmen were dressed in their street clothes, but one of them carried a bundle under his arm and this aroused suspicion of the strikers. The bundle was torn from him and when it was found to contain a blouse and overalls the man was taken from the deputy and beat almost to death.
In the meantime Beddal opened fire on the mob, which had gathered by this time and emptied his revolver. Two of the shots took effect, one man being shot in the leg and the other in the foot. The deputy and the other strike breaker were now compelled to fly for their lives, and took refuge in the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad depot. The depot was soon surrounded by an angry mob of 5,000, which was becoming more threatening and demonstrative every moment. Joseph Beddal, a hardware merchant and brother of the deputy sheriff, was seen making his way through the crowd in an effort to reach his brother, and the mob, divining that he was carrying ammunition to those inside the depot, seized him and beat him with clubs and billies into insensibility.
Shortly after this the entire borough police force arrived on the scene and escorted the deputy sheriff and his man to an engine which had been backed into the depot for that purpose. When the mob realized that their prey was about to escape they surrounded the engine and the engineer was afraid to move. In a few moments, however, the police fired a volley, dispersing the crowd for a brief period, and the engineer turned on full steam and got away with his men. Stones were thrown thick and fast about the heads of the police, whereupon Chief John Fry gave the order to fire. At the first volley the mob fell back, and several were seen to fall. Their retreat, however, was but momentary. They turned, and, with revolvers, stones and even a few shotguns, they charged on the little band of policemen and made them fly for their lives. The policemen turned in their fight at short intervals and fired volley after volley at their merciless pursuers, but the more seemed thoroughly infuriated, and smoking revolvers seemed to have no terrors for them. When the Lehigh Valley Railroad crossing was reached a passing freight trails blocked the progress of the police, two of them were caught and brutally beaten.
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Brooke Royer


“Fierce Fight With Mob,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed February 20, 2024,