Mary Harris "Mother" Jones (1837- 30 November 1930) was an Irish-American schoolteacher and dressmaker who became a prominent labor and community organizer. She helped coordinate major strikes and co-founded the Industrial Workers of the World. Mary Harris was born on the north side of Cork City, Ireland, the daughter of 

Roman Catholic tenant farmers Richard Harris and Ellen Cotter. She was baptized on 1 August 1837, which indicates she most likely was born in late July. Jones worked as a teacher and dressmaker, but after her husband and four children all died of yellow fever and her workshop was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire in 1871,she began working as an organizer for the Knights of Labor and the United Mine Workers Union.  From 1897, at around 60 years of age, she was known as Mother Jones. In 1902 she was called "the most dangerous woman in America" for her success in organizing mine workers and their families against the mine owners. In 1903, upset about the lax enforcement of the child labor laws in the Pennsylvania mines and silk mills, she organized a Children's March from Philadelphia to the home of then president Theodore Roosevelt in New York. Mother Jones magazine, established in 1970, is named for her. She strongly believed that "working men deserved a wage that would allow women to stay home to care for their kids." 

Jones uttered words still invoked by union supporters more than a century later: "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living." Already known as "the miners' angel" when she was denounced on the floor of the United States Senate as the "grandmother of all agitators," she replied: I hope to live long enough to be the great-grandmother of all agitators. 

She died in Adelphi, Maryland  at age 93 on 30 November 1930. She is buried in the Union Miners Cemetery in Mount Olive, Illinois, alongside miners who had died in the 1898 Battle of Virden. She called these miners, killed in strike related violence, "her boys".  Wikipedia has a long list of her accomplishments. 

The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Cork there will be held this July  honoring Mary Harris “Mother” Jones and In St Louis money has been raised from 17 states led by mine workers to restore and repair the monument to her. She is guarded on either side by a larger-than-life bronze statue of a coal miner with his sledge. 

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Tags: Cork, Genealogy, Women

Comment by Fran Reddy on July 7, 2014 at 2:20pm

That is one feisty Irish woman ; )

Comment by Gerry Regan on July 9, 2014 at 9:46am

Some attribute to Mother Jones the mission statement: "My business is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."[

Comment by Joe Gannon on July 10, 2014 at 12:03pm

I wrote a 3 part article for WG on "Mother Jones" several years ago: Mary Harris Jones: One Tough 'Mother' - Part 1 of 3: The Genesis of...


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