Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Mystery Of Frank Little's Death Was Never a Mystery in Butte

The problem with solving a 95 year old murder is that it was solved days after it happened. The real and subsequent problem, was that nobody prosecuted it. More on that in a bit.

I made the trip from Boise, from the Broadway Exit to the Excelsior Exit in Butte, Mt., in 5 hours and 50 minutes. On a heavily congested day, with road destruction and one stop, that is flat hauling ass. I have the trip at 475 miles.

I have always kind of viewed extremely rural speed limits as...suggestions. I will say this. The Elantra will go 118 MPH and no more. That bit of highway butchery was conducted in Montana. Upon arrival in Butte, I spent 2 hours in the Butte Archives and 3 hours in the Butte Library. Then I ordered two "John's Pork Chop Sandwiches" and I ate them both.

Tomorrow I will eat Pasties. At Joe's Pasty Shop. 

Butte is my childhood home. I come here often.  It is historic, fascinating, and you will never see another city like it. In your life, anywhere. It is one of a kind.  Giant black iron head frames dot the hill. Head frames with giant motors and cables were used to hoist men and rock- in and out of underground tunnels. There were hundreds of underground mines which were eventually abandoned for the Berkeley Pit. The pit is a particularly nasty gash and a monument to corporate decimation when left unchecked.  Now Butte is the number one Superfund site in the U.S. The capitalists raped this place. They left Butte for dead.

I learned something by the age of 9- that most people don't learn their entire lives. That corporations are greedy and ruthless. The Anaconda Company, which bought essentially all the mine holdings from the three Butte Copper Kings around 1900, was one of the most ruthless and murderous companies that ever existed. They owned all of the politicians in the state, all of the newspapers, and most of the cops. They employed spies and Pinkerton detectives. And in 1917, with the price of copper going through the roof, they weren't about to sit idly by while workers walked out on strike.

So after the great Granite Mountain/Speculator Mine disaster in June of 1917 which killed 168 miners...Frank Little came to town the following month. Frank Little was a union organizer for the International Workers of the World or the "wobblies." Frank was a fearless little bastard who had been tossed in jail numerous times, beat up, and kicked out of gawd knows how many towns. He never engaged in anything illegal that I have ever found. Little was very effective and direct- he spoke a number of times at union meetings during the last two weeks of his life.

And of course the great satan, the Anaconda Company had spies. Listening. They admitted that much. 

And on Aug 1, at 0300 in the morning- six masked gunmen showed up at Frank's boarding house. They kidnapped him, dragged him behind their car until his kneecaps were ground off, and lynched him.

It wasn't like the people of Butte didn't know who killed Little. They did. But in the lawless atmosphere of Butte, with it's corrupt cops and 21 unsolved homicides that year, they opted not to open their mouths. Most folks knew that at least one of the murderers was a cop, even though he was suspended at the time.

So that's why I am here. I know precisely where the boarding house is, I've been to the train trestle, and I have visited a couple of other notorious locations. I've got a few things I want to look at- new things. I am after three pieces of evidence or "holy grails" that I believe exist but that nobody has found.

Maybe I'll get lucky or maybe not. I wouldn't be the first person who's luck has run out in Butte. Not by a long shot.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Be careful, my friend!