Friday’s Labor Folklore

Preserve the Monument and Final Resting Place of Mother Jones at Union Miners Cemetery

MotherJonesThere is a shrine that deserves a pilgrimage by all labor-minded persons.  It is the Union Miners Cemetery in Mount Olive, Illinois.  Each one who visits will be touched, for this is the resting place of that “grandmother of agitators,” Mary Harris “Mother” Jones; and this is a place filled with the spirit of good union men.  They are the coal miners she called “her boys,” among whom she asked to be buried at the time of her death in 1930.

Beyond the wrought iron gate to the little burial ground rises a granite obelisk on which is a great medallion bearing the likeness of Mother Jones.  She is guarded on either side by a larger-than-life bronze statue of a coal miner with his sledge. At the base is a simple stone nestled in the grass, Mother Mary Jones.

In 1936, fifty thousand people attended the dedication of the monument which was erected by the Progressive Miners of America.  Since that time the monument and the historic miners cemetery surrounding it have weathered many storms; both are in need of repair and restoration.

The Illinois AFL-CIO is organizing the Mother Jones Monument Restoration Project  to enhance and maintain the Mother Jones monument and burial site in Mt. Olive.

In partnership with the Union Miners Cemetery Perpetual Care Association, Illinois Senator Andy Manar, the Illinois Labor History Society, the United Mine Workers of America and the Mother Jones Foundation efforts are underway to raise funds to preserve this national landmark and leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.

Funds will be used to preserve, restore and maintain this national landmark.  A pavilion will be erected with seating and historic information will be provided to enhance the visitor experience.

You can honor Mother Jones by donating to the project.  With a gift of $500 or more, donors will be recognized on a permanent marker at the site.

Donations may be sent to: Mother Jones Monument Fund c/o Illinois AFL-CIO, 534 S. Second St., Springfield, Ill.  62701.

Contact Amy Rueff, 217-492-2633 or Email:; Facebook /Mother Jones Monument.  For brochure: Click here. With thanks to Illinois Labor History Society.

Dec. 7, 1930 Mount Olive, Ill. (AP)

Mine workers throughout Illinois and from the coal fields of many other states gathered here today to pay last tribute to Mary (Mother) Jones, who will be buried in the Miners’ Union Cemetery here tomorrow morning.

The Odd Fellows’ Temple, where her body has been lying in state since the arrival here from Washington, proved far too small to house more than 4,000 persons who sought admission to hear the service.

Loud speakers on the outside of the building carried the sermon of the Rev. J. W. R. McGuire of Kankakee, Ill. to those unable to gain entrance. The eulogy was broadcast over the American Federation of Labor radio station, WFCI of Chicago.

“Wealthy coal operators and capitalists throughout the United States,” Mr. McGuire said, “are breathing sighs of relief while toil-worn men and are weeping tears of bitter grief. The reason for this contrast of relief and sorrow is apparent. Mother Jones is dead.”

Our job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.  
     —  Mother Jones