Monday, January 21, 2013

BINGHAM LOPEZ SAGA by EUGENE HALVERSON


RAFAEL LOPEZ SAGA
by Eugene Halverson
Dinkeyville top center  Copperfield business district low left
Upper Bingham, later Copperfield was wonderful place to grow up.  Lots of kids to play with and we had wonderful mountains to play in.  I lived in Telegraph, not Copperfield.  Most of the Mexicans lived in Dinkeyville and were proud of it.  There were no kids in Greek Camp but above and below the Copperfield stores we had lots of Greek kids.  Jap Camp had kids to play with there too. We played with all nationalities and I loved them all.
I was one of the second generation kids in Bingham.  We cared nothing about skin color or nationality.  I still have more Mexican friends than Mormon friends. 
In 1948 the US MINE and KENNECOTT COPPER gobbled up our home and was we were forced us to move to the Valley. I was not a happy camper in West Jordan.  I will always miss Bingham and especially its people.
The US Mine as well as the Utah Copper Mine built some modern homes above the business district right to the top of Copperfield.  These were built for the “whites”, (bosses, Mormons and superintendents.)  Even I was not allowed to live there, even if they were empty.  Greeks, Serbians, Italians, and other nationalities just lived where they could.  Janie Torres Montoya said she visited a friend at the “Circle“ in Copperfield but only “Anglos” lived there.

 Copperfield Business  KKK crosses burnt above houses right
We played “Cowboys and Indians”, I always wanted to be the poor old Indian.  He was supposed to be the “bad guy”.  When we played “Robin Hood, no one wanted to be the “nasty Sheriff of Nottingham”.   (Sheriff of Bingham)

“LOPEZ” was our hero”,  I never got to pretend to be Lopez, there were too many Mexicans in town for an “Anglo” guy like me to be him.  They worshiped him. He was the under-dog who survived against great odds and he beat them all.  He evaded the largest man-hunt Utah has ever had.  He must have laughed all the way to Mexico.

LOPEZ was a Hero” to the Mexicans, Greeks, Croatians, Slovenes, and Swedes like me and the Irish.
This is not Lopez I just liked it

The BIG 1912 STRIKE had just ended a few months earlier.  Sharp-shooters from the State, the four or five hundred heavily armed Deputies from the Mines had been harassing and killing these poor foreigners.  They knew that there was no justice.  There had been a real brutal war waged by the so-called lawmen.  Martiall Law with Curfews was imposed on the town’s people.  We had a real “SHOOTING WAR” in the mountains, the Mines and the streets.  Company gunmen roamed the streets pointing guns at everyone.  So trigger happy they even killed one of their own.  People stayed home, some businesses closed, what a mess.  Mothers were afraid to send their children to school.  Carbon County also had a 1912 Union- Company Shooting War in the mountains and in Price.  A man from Helper could be arrested if he came to Price by their Mormon Sheriff. 

When the strike was finally over the police were “cleaning up the town” sending the unemployed away especially Mexicans, Greeks and any none-white.  Greeks and Italians and others left the mining business.  John Leventis ran a coffee house in Copperfield.  He said, “Let the owners get the ore themselves”, so they formed partnerships to open grocery stores, drug stores; hotels etc.  But, Prejudices still followed them.
Ellen Vidalakis (Furgis) told about the Ku Klux Klan when they were burning crosses in Dinkeyville.  “You could see them everywhere and people were just terrified.”  A Mormon Bishop’s was caught “burning crosses” above  Magna.  Salt Lake and Price had crosses burning there, yet there were no arrests by police anywhere.    
Frog Town, many Greeks came here
the Ku Klux Klan burnt Crosses to intimidate us

1913 was Bad Time to come to Bingham
This was when LOPEZ came to Bingham he was an experienced miner and worked as a “leaser”.  He made lots of money and spent it freely on his friends.  He was noticed and watched by the police.  He was not a “Scab” yet he was treated like some kind of animal.  I remember stories of an educated, honest and honorable person, from an aristocratic Spanish family from Mexico.  (I later found out that he had a Mexican or Spanish father and an English mother). 
Mormons were taught to hate outsiders especially people of color.  Deputy Sheriff Sorensen was a Mormon and waited for his chance to get Lopez.   Lopez fought two men to save two girls from these men, he was a hero.  Refusing to believe the young ladies Sorenson pistol-whipped Lopez and hauled Lopez to jail.  Lopez had a terrible temper and wanted revenge.  LOPEZ knew he had no life in Bingham so when he was released he found an old enemy and killed him.  (There are many other versions of why he killed Valdez).  He left Bingham and headed over the mountain on foot, there was snow on the ground and he left a trail.  The “Posse” followed him on horses caught him west of Lehi where he killed three of those who found him. 
Copperfield below--Dinkeyville above Terrace Heights center
LOPEZ left tracks in the snow and the chase was on.  Several Posses from as many cities and counties began chasing like he was some kind of animal.  LOPEZ began circling until no one knew who was following who.  There were reports of gun battles at Mosida, a town south of Utah Lake.  Posses thought they had him near Eureka.  Others had him at Cedar fort. Fifty men plus 25 Indian Trackers had him at Skull Valley.   Others had him in Little Valley, south-west of Vernon,   Morris Valdez who living on McIntire Summer Ranch had no idea Rafael was a criminal so he housed and feed him.    

The town was sharply divided on who was the good guy and who was the bad guy.  A man in a Bar in Bingham stated the Police deserved what they got for treating people the way they did.  The police beat him up, put him in jail and the judge fined him $50.00 to get outl.  All of Lopez’s friends were rounded up; searched for any kind of weapons and jailed (this is what they did to minorities during the strike).  Hundreds of Mexicans in every Mormon town were arrested while the “Newspapers” called for all Mexicans to be deported (just like the Mormons in Utah today).  They were even rounding up Mexicans as far away as California.
Highland Boy mountains where Lopez returned

Eventually one man quit following orders and found tracks going back over the mountain to Highland Boy.  But no one believed him.  Lopez was found when an old friend betrayed him, he said he was hiding in the Apex Mine.  Now he was cornered like a rat in a trap.  Of course they went after him and two more men were killed. 
The mine was searched and searched again; poison gasses fumigated the mine and then searched again and again, but no Lopez.  He was a “HERO” to many of the searchers and unknown to the Sheriffs they were leaving food, water, clothing and blankets.  LOPEZ even came down and talked to some of the searchers.  Now his friends who betrayed him were afraid to stay in town. 

.  My friend Joe Tome came to Bingham the same year as Lopez.  Joe said he liked Lopez and thought he got a bum-rap.  Joe said, the mine was shut down, so some volunteered to search for Lopez.  The searchers were paid with a five-dollar gold coin.  When the police thought he was dead or gone, the searchers suddenly found a new track or sign of Lopez to keep the gold coins coming.    
The Union- Company War ended only to be replaced by Lopez-Police War.  The people were sick and tired of guns and killings.  The Police were just as unpopular as Lopez but by now many people turned a “blind eye” about helping the police.
 The Apex siege eventually ended with no Lopez.  He escaped right under the noses of the  sheriffs and guards posted everywhere. LOPEZ  VANISHED AGAIN WITHOUT BEING SEEN.
Highland Boy people not mining any more

Sheriff Smith, the Town Officials, the Company officials and the Mormons were embarrassed again.  They thought it tarnished Bingham’s image.  (Even today our “Leaders” still hate any foreigner who comes to Utah).  I was shopping in Springville one day with my grandmother as I went to enter a store she said, “Do not go in there, they are not one of us”.

Money came from everywhere to honor and bury the Deputies but not a dime to bury Valdez (his first victim).  Months went by and Valdez was still sitting in the corner of Joe Berger’s Bar.  He was the town’s undertaker.  Finally Joe put up a sign and charged admission to come and see poor old Valdez.  They came and he was buried.

the National Guard Machine-gun used on strikers family
INDUSTRIAL WARS—MONEY AND GREED
THE ROCKEFELLER EMPIRE --He built an empire with questionable business practices, in other words he was a thief.  Under him Standard Oil controlled the world’s oil.

I first found Rockefeller in Trinidad (where Bingham’s Joe Dispenza’s father was shot) and Ludlow coal mines in Colorado where Rockefeller personally ordered the National Guard to machinegun the tents of strikers after removing them from their Company houses.  An Engineer moved his train between the strikers and the guns and allowing most of the people a chance to escape.  A disappointed Rockefeller ordered the Tent Town burnt; soldiers on horse-back with torches burnt everything.  Four men, three women and eleven children were burnt alive.  No law was broken.    My friend, Wayne Herlevi’s father was shot in Winter Quarters, Utah
hundreds National Guard soldier sent to kill

In 1903 Rockefeller bought all the mines and claims the US Mine owned, Rockefeller already owned the D&RG Railroad who built the B&G to Bingham, Rockefeller money and influence helped start the Utah Copper.  The D&RG bought up most of the Coal Mines in Carbon County, Utah.

 UNIONS
Every strike in Utah, Arizona, Idaho and Montana for the next forty-four years were brutally crushed and lost. 

      1- “DEAD WORK” –Work not Paid for like, Timbering (posts to stop cave- ins),
       2-  Laying track,
    3-      Cleaning and watering dust from the floors of the mine (in May 1st 1900 200 men in Winter Quarters, Utah were killed.  On 8 March 1924 176 men were killed).  The two worsted mining disasters in Utah mining history was caused by safety violations by Utah Fuel a Rockefeller  company
an old picture of Telegraph
   4- There were many jobs not paid for, Tools like picks and shovels, blasting powder, but nothing was ever paid for a safety problem. 
    5-  Company hired Gunmen
     6-    Cheating miner at the scales—the only pay a miner received was number and weight of the coal at the tipple, a common complaint and practice.
     7- The Company Store—miners were paid with “Script” not money.  Every man, women and child caught with any food, clothing lost them when passing the “Guard Post”.

No water but I loved the mountains
UNIONS WERE OUTLAWED IN UTAH --Until 1944, I really don't think we won many strikes but we tried.  they deducted two years Strike-time from my poor-mans pension.

 Telegraph I was born here in 1928, after we were removed from here when my father almost died from Silicosis (mine dust).  Our new home was the Panos Apartments in Frog Town.  Chris Apostle, another Greek, with a grocery store feed us.   I have a great love and respect for Greeks.  It took many years to pay all these bills but we did.  When the US Superintendent’s son ran over my brother and I, dad was offered an outside of the mine job, running the US Air Compressor.   We lived here until 1948 until the “Giants” took it away.

Carbon County Mines
Winter Quarters I am related closely to the Halls, Nielsons, Thorpes, who were all good Mormons and had good jobs.  I was even related to the Parmleys who ran the Mine and the Wasatch Store.  He was caught by six “Big Austrian women” who threw him to the ground, took his revolver and “peed” on him.  You had to admire these Yugoslavian women they, heckled the Deputies to exasperation, defied martial law and refused to get out of the way to give their men folk a chance to get away.  As they entered Price fire hoses were turned on the women and children, yet they marched on. 
“Boot-legging was popular back then and the “Feds“were raiding the stills.  By the time they traveled the seven miles up Bingham the stills were all hidden. 
Castle Gate--now a Ghost Town--the "Giants took it"
every house is gone--they even "Blasted the Gate down
Sunnyside still fondly remembers when the National Guard was searching every house in town.  Yankovich’s daughter came running out of the house with a piece necessary evidence. The soldiers ran after her, but she disappeared.  She had climbed a tree.  Her father dyed her hair red and she was never caught.   

I am also related to the Houghtons in Castle Gate.  I have two brother-in-laws still working in the mines.  

Frank Bonacci (a relative) was fired and black-balled time and again.  During the 1922 Strike, Mine-guards pushed his wife and children out into the snow and carelessly threw all their possessions after them.  They moved to a shack at the edge of town.  When Frank tried to enter his new home the National Guard trained machine-guns on him.  The Bonacci  family were starved for a week until Ann Dolinski defied the guards, walked through the guns and delivered food.
Rockefeller richest man in world
gives a dime to a boy

Doctor Dowd threatened to shot any Company Guard who came to throw a lady who was pregnant and crying out in the snow.

Wild-cat Strikes in Bingham
A strike at the end of a contract was hard on us.  Everything was shut-down while they waited for a demand for copper and actually profited. “BUT” a Wildcat strike crippled production. 
I remember a four day Wildcat when the Machinist Union shut all entrances to the mine.  Nothing entered for two days.  The Company tried to break through with big busses but they never made it.  Can’t go anywhere with flat tires.  The County sent sixty maybe seventy Deputies, The State sent the Highway Patrol.  Deputies came with Company foremen to identify each one of us.  They handed out hundreds of  “JOHN DOE Warrants” signed by a Judge (one year in jail-$10,000.00 fine).    
Victor Lopez, Merlin Timothy, Tuba Kite, Marvin Pullan, Karl  Hoffman
2nd row-Ernie Bianchi, David Thorne,  ??? Trujillo 



Of course the Deputies thought it was fun to harass us.  When they got tired of one thing they tried another.  One was the “WEDGE” where every Deputy there took their places, joined arms and charged.  Nothing could stop them.  Anyone in front or under them paid the price.  What we asked for was not much and New York agreed with us and back to work we went.  


3 comments:

  1. Very good thank you for your hard work and history. I am from Lark. My father was killed in the mine. I left at the age of 4. Thanks again! Connie Pitts

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very good thank you for your hard work and history. I am from Lark. My father was killed in the mine. I left at the age of 4. Thanks again! Connie Pitts

    ReplyDelete
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