A memorial to Mary Harris Jones, better known as Mother Jones, has stood in Union Miner Cemetery in the Macoupin County town of Mt. Olive since the 1930’s. And preservationists say it needs an upgrade.
Jones was a teacher turned organizer who protested child labor in Pennsylvania. She also fought for the rights of striking coal miners… including those who fought in the 1898 Battle of Virden, a violent clash with strikebreakers that left 13 dead. Amy Rueff with Illinois’AFL-CIO says when Jones died in 1930… she was buried in Mt. Olive, just 40 miles from Virden.
“She requested that she be sent back to be laid besides those brave boys who gave their lives in Virden. Her role was really to talk to people stand up for themselves, she organized the men’s wives, she organized children and they respected her, and listened to what she said when it came to activism.”
Rueff says the Mt. Olive monument needs more than 100-thousand dollars of work, including upgrades to the site entrance, the cleaning of statues, and upgrading plaques that explain the history of the Virden riots.
A portion of that funding will be announced Tuesday… when plans are also unveiled to raise money for a Mother Jones museum in Mt. Olive. The goal is to have both completed by June 2015.