Book tells another side of Redstone patriarch Osgood
CARBONDALE John Cleveland Osgood, the celebrated industrialist who founded Redstone as a model coal mine company town in the early 1900s, had a darker persona that has been largely overlooked for more than a century.So reveals Crystal Valley author Darrell Munsell in his new book, From Redstone to Ludlow John Cleveland Osgoods Struggle Against the United Mine Workers of America.In it, he paints Osgood as the main villain in the coal mine labor dispute of 1913 and 1914 that led to the infamous Ludlow Massacre in southern Colorado on April 20, 1914, in which 20 people were killed. The outbreak of violence led to the 10 Days War, one of the bloodiest labor disputes in American history, during which scores of people on the side of both labor and mine management were killed.The book is a study of John Cleveland Osgoods labor policies, and particularly his anti-union policies, Munsell said.As the leading coal operator in Colorado, he was dubbed the fuel king of the west, he said. What a lot of people dont know is that he was the most aggressive opponent of unionism, and really shaped the anti-union policy in Colorado.Munsell gives a lecture and will be signing copies of his book at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Gordon Cooper Library in Carbondale. The event is free, and light refreshments will be served.A former professor of Victorian English History at West Texas A&M University from 1965-97, Munsell has written a couple of books on that topic. When he and his wife, Jane, retired to the Crystal Valley in 1997 he was appointed to the Redstone Historic Preservation Commission and began learning about Osgood and the story of Redstones founding.It was former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. George McGoverns 1972 book, The Great Coal Field War about the Colorado coal mine strike of 1913-14 that prompted Munsell to look a little deeper into Osgood and his role.I heard McGovern speak in Pueblo, and it was he who said there needed to be more research on Osgoods role in that affair, Munsell said. So, I decided Id be the somebody to do it.According to Munsell, one reason Osgood had never been pursued is that, at his instruction, upon his death his third wife, Lucille, had burned all of his private papers and business documents.However, there was still a tremendous paper trail through government documents and newspaper accounts, and the diaries of some of the contemporaries of Osgood, he said.Part of his business policy was to develop the model industrial village, using paternalism to wean workers away from the union, Munsell said.The Redstone experiment itself didnt last very long. Osgood lost control of Colorado Fuel & Iron Co., the company that built the town and ran the nearby mines in Coal Basin, to John D. Rockefeller in 1903. But Osgood went on to form Victor American, which continued the company town approach at its coal mines in southern Colorado.When the coal miners went out on strike in September 1913, many were living in company houses and were evicted along with their families. The union set up tent colonies for the miners, including the largest at Ludlow. Tensions grew until then-Gov. Elias Ammons sent in the militia, and the violence began.Osgood was the most influential of the coal operators and had a great amount of influence in state politics, Munsell said. He was the mastermind of the strategy and policies to defeat the strikers.However, one of the most fascinating aspects of the story is that Osgoods role in the massacre was overlooked because those who investigated the strike matter wanted to place all of the blame on John D. Rockefeller Jr., Munsell concludes.Copies of Munsells book are available at the library, and at local bookstores. Copies will also be available during Thursdays event.Contact John Stroud: email@example.com
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