Heritage \ Writings \ Industry: Lumbering

1870 Lumber Strike at Bay City.
Workers protest 12 hours days.

1870 - Sheriff Perrott puts down strkers. (Contributed by Jim Petrimoulz, Feb., 2009)

The Bay City Tribune - Sunday April 21, 1895 (Page 7)

Some Reminiscences Attorney McHugh Tells Of The Late P.J. Perrott

Mr. Perrott Once With Slight Assistance Quelled
A Mob Of Lumbermen In Bay City

Attorney Lawrence McHugh knew the late Patrick J. Perrott well. In an interview with a Tribune reporter he gave a few reminiscences of the redoubtable ex-sheriff and late deputy marshal.

“I became acquainted with Patrick J. Perrott after I came to Bay City in 1867” said Mr. McHugh yesterday “Mr. Perrott was absolutely without fear. In fact he did not know what such a thing was. Let me give you a bit of local history. There were many stories told of his daring and courage when he was sheriff. He had many personal combats with prisoners, who attempted escape. I was appointed a member of the police force in the year 1869. Leonard Heumann who was drowned on the way to Germany, was marshal then. He organized the first regular uniformed police in this city. The force consisted of John Hanlon, Tom Carter, Michael Malter and myself. Perrott was deputy sheriff at the time. I became well acquainted with him, coming into daily contact and admired his manner of transacting business. He was never excited, always cool and ready for action and never at a loss for a plan. He moved instantly.”

“In the spring of 1870 there was considerable unrest among the mill hands. Complaints were made about being compelled to work 12 hours a day. There was plenty of work and good wages in those days. Attempts were made to organize the laborers on both sides of the river. An organization of a rather loose nature was made. About July 4, steps were taken to have the mill hands go on a strike to reduce working hours to ten hours per day. The strike took place about July 5. The men organized at the Third Street Bridge and marched down to the farthest mill on the east side and attempted to compel the hands at the various mills to quit work and join the procession. It was augmented by other laborers and all were armed with pieces of siding. Trouble took place at Langstaff’s mill below Essexville and Folsum’s . Hon. James Shearer and his brother George had a mill near where the Michigan Central depot now is. Here there was some friction.”

“There were wild rumors afloat that great violence had been done and the business men feared much property would be destroyed and a conference was held with Isaac Marston, the city attorney. Michael Malter, marshal and Deputy Sheriff Perrott. It was decided that measures should be taken to quell the riot, and prevent breaches of the peace. The large crowds of strikers were addressed at the Third Street Bridge by a labor leader named Charles Drago. At the conclusion of his speech they fell into line as I have related . I was called and Deputy Sherriff Perrott, two deputies, the marshal, John Hanlon, Tom Carter and myself marched down Center Street to meet the procession. I walked alongside of Perrott and on our way he related to me about a fishing adventure he had on the AuSable. We met the procession at the corner of Water Street, opposite the Tribune office . The men carried a couple of flags and marched in fairly good order, four abreast and 1,500 strong. Perrott never spoke of the coming combat nor gave any directions. When almost abreast of the procession, Perrott half wheeled and said to us “For your lives stand closely together” and he made a dash for the head of the procession. He said to me “hand cuff that man” meaning the first man at the head of the procession. The man alongside struck at me with his piece of siding. Perrott stuck his revolver in the man’s face and said “If you make any further resistance I will blow your head off.”

“The men threw up their hands and inside of one-half minute we arrested 35 men. Joseph Eastwood , Charles Jay, Lime Barkley and Fred Whittemore and other citizens taking charge of the prisoners. The procession was scattered men running in every direction some climbing over lumber piles 35 feet high. It was as if a bomb had burst at the head of the procession. This broke up the whole riot.”

Related Notes & Pages

Langford Mill

Related pages:
Lumbering Pictorial
People Referenced
Barkley, Lime
Carter, Tom
Eastwood, Joseph
Drago, Charles
Eastwood, Joseph
Hanlon, John
Heumann, Leonard
Jay, Charles
Malter, Michael
Marston, Isaac
McHugh, Lawrence
Perrott, Patrick J.
Shearer, George
Shearer, James
Whittemore, Fred
Subjects Referenced
AuSable river
Bay City, MI
Bay City Tribune
Essexville, MI
Folsom mill
Lanstaff mill
Lumber strike
Michigan Central depot
Third Street Bridge
Related References
None at this time.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.