Today in the 1913 Copper Strike

Funeral procession in Calumet for Putrich and Tijan, the victims of the Seeberville murders. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives, Keweenaw Digital Archives)

Funeral procession in Calumet for Putrich and Tijan, the victims of the Seeberville murders.  The funeral services took place in Calumet, some 20 miles north of Painesdale and Seeberville, at the only Croatian Catholic church in the area.  (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives, Keweenaw Digital Archives)

The funeral for Steven Putrich and Alois Tijan, the victims of the shootings at Seeberville, took place today in the Calumet district.   The outpouring of sympathy was overwhelming as estimates of 3500-5000 strikers, strike sympathizers, and community members showed up for the funeral procession, with several hundred attending graveside services.  The caskets were carried in horse-drawn carriages, with young women dressed in white behind 18-year old Tijan’s carriage, a Croatian custom. As Tijan died an unmarried young man the Daily Mining Gazette reported that the custom signified “that the dead died with his life incomplete, as he had not married and reared a family.”[1] The procession was a blend of somberness and solidarity for the strikers and their sympathizers. At the gravesite in Lakeview Cemetery, which had been adorned with eight American and Croatian flags, strike leaders made passionate speeches and paid their respects to the fallen. One WFM leader blatantly accused Houghton County Sheriff Cruse of the murders because of his support of the Waddell-Mahon men, and went on to note that any mining officials and community members against the strikers had blood on their hands from the Seeberville incident.

Although the two were buried in unmarked graves, Putrich family descendants started a family collection for a headstone and a marker was placed at the grave on May 8, 2004. One family member said “If you don’t know and remember your people in the past, you have one generation and that’s it – no one would know what your family did.”[2] The marker serves as a monument and commemorative tool, providing a link to the past events at Seeberville.


[1] Daily Mining Gazette, August 19, 1913.

[2] Daily Mining Gazette, May 22, 2004.

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