Today in the 1913 Copper Strike

The Putrich family after moving to St. David, Illinois. Standing, left to right: Fabian, Frank, Mary (Mrs. Joseph Tadejevic), and Paul. Sitting, left to right, John, Sylvia (Mrs. John Tomlianovich), Antonia (Grubisich), Joseph, Josephine (Mrs. William Aubrecht). [The family's boardinghouse in Seeberville, near Painesdale, was the site of an August 1913 shooting. Strike deputies fired shots into the building, killing Steve Putrich and Louis Tijan.]

This picture is of the Putrich family after they moved to St. David, Illinois, circa 1925. Mrs. Antonia Putrich is seated in the middle of the photo. The family’s boardinghouse in Seeberville, near Painesdale, was the site of the shooting that claimed the lives of Steven Putrich and Alois Tijan, whose death inquest was adjourned for one week on this day in 1913. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives, Keweenaw Digital Archives)

The inquest into the death of Seeberville murder victim Alois TIjan, which started yesterday, was postponed at noon today when Angus Kerr, attorney for the family of the deceased, provided a list of sixteen additional witnesses to be subpoenaed.  The inquest was postponed for one week. There were a few witnesses on the stand today, including Mrs. Antonia Putrich, who lived in the house at the time of the shootings, and a neighbor, Mrs. Liisa Miitka. The deputies charged with the shootings were scheduled to take the stand but they did not testify, resting on their Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination.

Putrich and Miitka did their best to provide their witness testimony, although it was difficult for Mrs. Putrich, a native Croatian speaker, because the regular court interpreter could not be obtained for the morning session. Putrich provided testimony through a substitute interpreter and testified that “She took a baby into her arms and ran ‘down the road,’ returning when the firing ceased.”[1] However, despite attempts to provide her account of the events, Mrs. Putrich was dismissed and recalled later, with today’s testimony stricken from the record, because the stand-in interpreter proved to be inadequate.

When Mrs. Miitka took the stand she testified that she witnessed the events after the shooting started. She did not know how the trouble began. She claimed she saw the deputies (“strangers” as she called them) standing close to the house with their guns shooting directly into the open windows of the Putrich house. Mrs. Miitka wasn’t sure how many men there were, only that there were many, and that one of the strangers was shooting at “every window.” The Calumet News noted that interest in the Seeberville case was high and the courtroom where the inquest took place “is crowded daily.”[2]

In other news from the strike, intimidation cases are cropping up regularly in the local papers. Mile Lonchar, a striker, was arrested last night and sat in jail today on the charge of assault and battery. He was sentenced to sixty days in jail after throwing a stone at a deputy on the C&H property.  Mone Orlich was arraigned this evening in 1913 after being arrested for intimidation of several workers passing through the C&H field last night. Orlich allegedly shook his fist at these men, threatened them, and warned them to quit working for the mines. A postal employee from Calumet was one of the men stopped but claimed he was not threatened by Orlich.


[1] Calumet News, “Tijan Inquest is Adjourned for One Week,” August 22, 1913.

[2] Ibid.

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