Social Reformer. She was born in Ireland, moved to Canada with her family when they fled the Great Famine in the late 1840s, and then when she was 23, she moved to the United States. She became a teacher in Michigan in 1859. She moved to Chicago, and later to Memphis, where in 1861 she married George E. Jones. George and their four children died in 1867 during a yellow fever epidemic. She returned to Chicago, then she lost everything she owned in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. After this she joined the Knights of Labor, then became involved mainly with the United Mine Workers, as an organizer and educator. She was known for organizing the wives and children of striking workers in demonstrations on their behalf. She assumed the persona of "Mother Jones" by claiming to be older than she was, wearing outdated dresses and calling the male workers that she helped as "her boys". After 1900, she began to fight against child labor. In 1903, she organized child laborers to take part in a march with banners demanding "We want to go to school and not the mines!" She attempted to get newspaper publicity for the bad conditions experienced by child laborers, and she tried to meet with the president to discuss the plight of child laborers, but the president refused to meet with the marchers. During the Paint Creek–Cabin Creek strike of 1912 in West Virginia, she spoke to and organized laborers. She was eventually arrested and tried in a military court, and was sentenced to twenty years in the state penitentiary. After almost three months of confinement, she was released when the Senate began an investigation into the conditions in the local coal mines. Later she helped organize coal miners in Colorado, was arrested and served some time in prison, and was escorted from the state. She attempted to stop striking miners from marching into Mingo County, West Virginia, in late August 1921, by claiming (possibly bluffing) to have a telegram from President Warren Harding offering to work to end the private police in West Virginia if they returned home. She remained a union organizer for the UMW into the 1920s and continued to speak on union affairs almost until she died. An account of her experiences in the labor movement was published in 1925, called The Autobiography of Mother Jones.
Bio by: Pete Mohney
Plaque in center, just above her grave marker:
"SHE GAVE HER LIFE TO THE WORLD OF LABOR, HER BLESSED SOUL TO HEAVEN. GOD'S FINGER TOUCHED HER-AND NOW SHE SLEEPS."
Plaque on Upper Center:
WE COUNT IT DEATH TO FALTER, NOT TO DIE
ERECTED AND DEDICATED OCTOBER 12, 1936. IN HONOR AND TO THE EVERLASTING MEMORY OF MARY "MOTHER" JONES, "GENERAL" ALEXANDER BRADLEY AND THE MARTYRS OF THE VIRDEN RIOT OF 1898, BY THE MEMBERS OF THE PROGRESSIVE MINERS OF AMERICA AND THE WOMEN'S AUXILIARY OF THE PROGRESSIVE MINERS OF AMERICA, ASSISTED BY MANY LOYAL AND DEVOUT FRIENDS, SYMPATHIZERS, AND LABOR AND FRATERNAL ORGANIZATIONS.
MARY "MOTHER" JONES
WHEN THE SUN, IN ALL HIS STATE,
ILLUMED THE EASTERN SKY,
SHE PASSED THROUGH GLORY'S MORNING GATE,
AND WALKED IN PARADISE.
SLEEP THE SLEEP OF NOBLE BLEST,
FOR IN LIFE YOU SACRIFICED AND GAVE.
WE PLEDGE TO FILL YOUR LAST REQUEST,
"LET NO TRAITOR BREATHE O'ER MY GRAVE."