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 Joe Hill

Joe Hill

Original Name Joel Emmanuel Hägglund
Gavle, Gävle kommun, Gävleborgs län, Sweden
Death 19 Nov 1915 (aged 36)
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Burial Cremated, Other, Specifically: Ashes distributed to Industrial Workers of the World Members in every US State except Utah (Also some are in the Kremlin)
Memorial ID 2666 · View Source
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Labor worker, activist and songwriter. He was born under the name of Joel Emmanuel Hagglund in Gävle (formerly Gefle) in the province of Gastrickland, Sweden, the ninth child of railroad worker Olof Hagglund and his wife Margareta. After the death of his parents between 1887 and 1902, he and his brother Paul emigrated to the United States where, as a migrant laborer, he moved from New York to Cleveland, Ohio, before settling on the west coast under a new name of Joseph Hillstrom; and was in California at the time of the 1906 earthquake. At around 1910 he joined the Wobblies (members of the Industrial Workers of the World) and later wrote a letter to the newspaper called "Industrial Worker", identifying himself as a member of the IWW local in Portland, Oregon, under the name of Joe Hill. He traveled widely and organized workers under the IWW banner, made speeches, and wrote satirical poems and political songs. These songs included "The Tramp", "There Is Power in a Union", "Rebel Girl", "Casey Jones: Union Scab", and his most notable song "The Preacher and the Slave" (a parody of a hymn called "In the Sweet Bye and Bye"), where he coined the phrase "pie in the sky." Hill became an itinerant worker who moved around the west in freight trains before finding a job as a laborer in Silver King Mine in Park City, Utah, in the early 1910's. On the evening of January 10, 1914, John G. Morrison (a police officer) and his son Arling were murdered by two armed intruders in red bandannas at a Salt Lake City butcher store; meanwhile, Hill came to the home of a local doctor, bearing a bullet wound inflicted by a gunshot, it is said, in an argument over an unidentified woman. However, suspicion was aroused by the police who arrested Hill for murder along with twelve other people after a red bandanna was found in Hill's room, but the pistol purported to be in Hill's possession was not found. At his trial, Hill resolutely maintained that he was not involved in the murder of Morrison, with whom he had no previous connection; but in a few hours, Hill was nevertheless condemned to death on June 27, 1915, and chose the firing squad over hanging as a method of execution on July 8. Many people believed that Hill's trial was unfair, and, after an unsuccessful appeal to the Utah Supreme Court, the IWW launched a campaign to halt the execution. Many contacts, including those of the people of Sweden, President Woodrow Wilson, and activist Helen Keller, were made for Governor William Spry to halt the execution or give Hill a new trial, but they were refused. On the eve of his execution, Hill wrote a farewell letter to IWW leader Bill Haywood, stating, "I die like a true blue rebel. Don't waste any time in mourning. Organize." On November 19, he was executed by firing squad, it is said, on his own final command of "Fire!" His body was transported to Chicago, Illinois, where a funeral was attended by the IWW; and, at the fulfillment of his request written in his last will, he was cremated, and his ashes were mailed to IWW members in every place in the U.S. except Utah, and around the world. Hill's legacy lives on in movies, books, media and songs, including a song called "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night" by Earl Robinson, which was based on a poem written by Alfred Hayes in a tribute to Hill.

Bio by: Debbie Kearns

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2666
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Joe Hill (7 Oct 1879–19 Nov 1915), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2666, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Other, who reports a Ashes distributed to Industrial Workers of the World Members in every US State except Utah (Also some are in the Kremlin).