Frank Little

Frank Little

Frank Little was born in 1879. Little is known about his family background but he told friends that he had "Indian blood". However, Sal Salerno argues that he had a Cherokee Indian mother and Quaker father.

Little joined the Industrial Workers of the World in 1906 and took part in the free speech campaigns in Missoula, Fresno and Spokane and was involved in organizing lumberjacks, metal miners and oil field workers into trade unions. On one occasion he was sentenced to 30 days imprisonment for reading the Declaration of Independence on a street corner.

Other members of the IWW included: William Haywood, Vincent Saint John, Daniel De Leon, Eugene V. Debs, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Mary 'Mother' Jones, Lucy Parsons, Hubert Harrison, Carlo Tresca, Joseph Ettor, Arturo Giovannitti, James Cannon, William Z. Foster, Eugene Dennis, Joe Haaglund Hill, Tom Mooney, Floyd B. Olson, James Larkin, James Connolly, Frank Little and Ralph Chaplin.

In 1910 Little successfully organized unskilled fruit workers in the San Joaquin Valley. Sal Salerno has argued that he was a "fearless and uncompromising agitator, he was repeatedly beaten and jailed for his union-forming activities." This brought him to the attention of the national leadership of the Industrial Workers of the World and by 1916 was a member of the party's General Executive Board.

Little was a strong opponent of the USA becoming involved in the First World War. The leader of the party, William Haywood shared Little's opinions, but this was a minority view in the party. When the USA joined the war in April, 1917, Ralph Chaplin, the editor of the trade union journal, Solidarity, claimed that opposing the draft would destroy the IWW. Little refused to back down on this issue and argued that: "the IWW is opposed to all wars, and we must use all our power to prevent the workers from joining the army."

In the summer of 1917, Little was helping organize workers in the metal mines of Montana. This included leading a strike of miners working for the Anaconda Company. In the early hours of 1st August, 1917, six masked men broke into Little's hotel room in Butte. He was beaten up, tied by the rope to a car, and dragged out of town, where he was lynched. A note: "First and last warning" was pinned to his chest. No serious attempt was made by the police to catch Little's murderers. It is not known if he was killed for his anti-war views or his trade union activities.

The lawyer representing the Anaconda Company said a few days later: "These Wobblies, snarling their blasphemies in filthy and profane language; they advocate disobedience of the law, insults to our flag, disregard of all property rights and destruction of the principles and institutions which are the safeguards of society.... Why, Little, the man who was hanged in Butte, prefaced his seditious and treasonable speeches with the remark that he expected to be arrested for what he was going to say... The Wobblies... have invariably shown themselves to be bullies, anarchists and terrorists. These things they do openly and boldly."

Lillian Hellman claimed in Scoundrel Time (1976) that Dashiell Hammett, while working for the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Montana, turned down an offer of $5,000 to "do away with" Frank Little. Hellman recalled: "Through the years he was to repeat that bribe offer (to kill Frank Little) so many times, that I came to believe, knowing him now, that it was a kind of key to his life. He had given a man the right to think he would murder, and the fact that Frank Little was lynched with three other men in what was known as the Everett Massacre must have been, for Hammett, an abiding horror. I think I can date Hammett's belief that he was living in a corrupt society from Little's murder."

There are about one hundred I.W.W. men in jail now with different charges, but all are arrested for the same offense. Only a few of the I.W.W. men have been tried. Some of the best speakers were tried and convicted of vagrancy, by juries of business men. Four of them got six months apiece, although they proved that they were not vagrants. Many of the boys have been imprisoned for fifty-one days, today, without trial. This happened not in Russia, but in sunny California. Frank Little was arrested on the charge of vagrancy.

Frank Little was arrested on the charge of vagrancy. Frank is one of the 94 I.W.W. men confined in a bull pen, 47 x 28 feet. The officers of the state board of health say that there is air enough in the pen for 5 men. Most of the men confined in the bull pen have been out in the open air only once or twice since they were arrested. A good many of the men have been in there 53 days today.

On August 1st, of 1917, in Butte, Montana, a cripple, Frank Little, a member of the Executive Board of the IWW, was forced out of bed at three o’clock in the morning by masked citizens, dragged behind an automobile and hanged on a railroad trestle. Were the offenders punished? No. A high government official has publicly condoned this murder, thereby upholding lynch-law and mob rule.

Traitor and demagogue,

Wanton breeder of discontent -

That is what they call you -

Those cowards, who condemn sabotage

But hide themselves

Not only behind masks and cloaks

But behind all the armoured positions

Of property and prejudice and the law.

Staunch friend and comrade,

Soldier of solidarity -

Like some bitter magic

The tale of your tragic death

Has spread throughout the land,

And from a thousand minds

Has torn the last shreds of doubt

Concerning Might and Right.

Young and virile and strong -

Like grim sentinels they stand

Awaiting each opportunity

To break another

Of slavery's chains.

For whatever stroke is needed.

They are preparing.

So shall you be avenged.

Six men drove up to his house at midnight, and woke the poor woman who kept it,

And asked her: "Where is the man who spoke against war and insulted the army?"

And the old woman took fear of the men and the hour, and showed them the room where he slept,

And when they made sure it was he whom they wanted, they dragged him from his bed with blows, tho' he was willing to walk,

And they fastened his hands on his back, and they drove him across the black night,

And there was no moon and no star and not any visible thing, and even the faces of the men were eaten with the leprosy of the dark, for they were masked with black shame,

And nothing showed in the gloom save the glow of his eyes and the flame of his soul that scorched the face of Death.

Through the years he was to repeat that bribe offer (to kill Frank Little) so many times, that I came to believe, knowing him now, that it was a kind of key to his life. I think I can date Hammett's belief that he was living in a corrupt society from Little's murder.

It was in a boardinghouse in Butte, Montana, in 1917 that the owner, Mrs. Nora Byrne, was awakened one night by voices in the room next to hers, room 30, men's voices saying there must he some mistake here, and then feet in the hall, then men at her door, pushing it open, and Mrs. Byrne, having jumped out of bed, held her door with all her strength as some men with guns pushed it in anyway. They held the gun on her, saying, "Where is Frank Little?" and she told them. Then they went away again, and kicked down the door of room 32 and went in and woke the man sleeping there, who made no outcry or objection and demanded no explanation. Because he had a broken leg, they had to carry him out.

Then, in the morning, he was found hanging from the trestle with a warning to others pinned to his underwear. Some people said his balls had been cut off. The warning came from the Montana vigilantes, though it was hard to see what the citizens of Montana stood to gain from the death of this poor man. Only the mine owners stood to gain from the death of this agitator, a Wobbly. Wobblies were stirring up a lot of trouble among the miners at Butte.

"These Wobblies," said the mine owner's lawyer a few days later, "snarling their blasphemies in filthy and profane language; they advocate disobedience of the law, insults to our flag, disregard of all property rights and destruction of the principles and institutions which are the safeguards of society." He was trying to show that Mr. Little had brought his lynching on himself. "Why, Little, the man who was hanged in Butte, prefaced his seditious and treasonable speeches with the remark that he expected to be arrested for what he was going to say." Perhaps he had not expected, however, to he hanged, but what were decent Americans to do with such rascals?

The mine owner's lawyer, noticing no contradiction, inconsistency or irony, proclaimed that the Wobblies "have invariably shown themselves to be bullies, anarchists and terrorists. These things they do openly and boldly," unlike (he did not add) all the decent American vigilantes who came masked by night. The young Hammett, in Montana at the time, noticed the ironies and inconsistencies with particular interest because men had come to him and to other Pinkerton agents and had proposed that they help do away with Frank Little. There was a bonus in it, they told him, of $5,000, an enormous sum in those days.

Hammett's inclinations had probably always been on the side of law and order. His father had once been a justice of the peace and always went to the law when necessary with confidence, for instance, when his buggy was damaged by the potholes on the public road; and he worked for a lock-and-safe company, and at other times as a watchman or a guard. There was thus in the family a brief for caring about the property of others, putting oneself at risk so that things in general should be safe and secure.

But at some moment - perhaps at the moment he was asked to murder Frank Little or perhaps at the moment that he learned that Little had been killed, possibly by other Pinkerton men - Hammett saw that the actions of the guards and the guarded, of the detective and the man he's stalking, are reflexes of a single sensibility, on the fringe where murderers and thieves live. He saw that he himself was on the fringe or might be, in his present line of work, and was expected to be, according to a kind of oath of fealty that he and other Pinkerton men took.

He also learned something about the lives of poor miners, whose wretched strikes the Pinkerton people were hired to prevent, and about the lies of mine owners. These things were to sit in the back of his mind.

And just as he learned about the lot of poor miners, and about the aims of trade unions, so at some point he learned about the rich. He saw their houses - maybe as a Pinkerton man, or maybe it was back in Baltimore that he noticed the furniture and pictures in rich people's houses, different from the crowded parlor on North Stricker Street, or from the boardinghouses and cheap hotels he stayed in.

New book about Frank Little, a fine labor history

A giant hole in American labor history has been filled. By Jane Little Botkin in her new title, Frank Little and the IWW: The Blood That Stained an American Family.

Frank Little’s great-grandniece has explained every known detail of the great union organizer’s life. A hundred and twenty-five pages of careful research testify to her ability as a historian of the first rank. She also reveals family records hidden for a century. She has written not only the best biography of Frank Little possible, but she also put the events of his life and times in context so that a reader can, from this one book, draw the important lessons of the missing chapters—1905-1919—of American history.

Why Frank Little and his times matter

Frank Little was a top organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World—the IWW, the Wobblies, the One Big Union or OBU. At the time he was lynched, one hundred years ago on August 1, he was Chairman of the IWW General Executive Board. Not all details are known, but his legacy probably includes:

  1. Implementation of passive resistance tactics decades before Gandhi or Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  2. Organizing itinerant farm workers decades before Cesar Chavez
  3. Industrial organizing—as opposed to craft organizing—decades before the CIO
  4. Champion of the argument that workers should stay out of World War I.

If Frank Little had survived his 39th year, and if his ideas had survived, civil rights would have been greatly advanced. Labor would have put aside all arguments against minorities and immigrants long ago. Itinerant farm workers would have been organized far earlier. Divisions in the ranks of organized labor would have melted away. Thousands of soldiers’ lives would have been saved and American workers would have had a far better understanding of capitalism, imperialism, and socialism than they do now or have ever had. This last point is based on Frank Little’s adamant opposition to World War I. He was one of the most outspoken labor leaders in the world on this point. Another was V. I. Lenin in Russia.

In our spare time, my wife and I have tried to collect what little we could find out about Frank Little. I posted it years ago at

Botkin’s new book shows that I was wrong on several small details but my only general mistake was to have underestimated the man and his importance.

Why didn’t we already know all this?

Within a month of Frank Little’s lynching at the hands of the copper bosses of Montana, the United States government launched the fiercest attack against the working class in our history. Free speech, one of Frank Little’s greatest causes, was trampled. Unionists were hunted down and deported or arrested and tortured. Heavy jail sentences were laid on many hundreds railroaded for having “conspired with Frank H. Little” to undermine war production.

Union halls were raided and all records were confiscated. History, especially any history associated with Frank Little, was wiped clean. Fear was so great that even Frank Little’s relatives dared not remember him. The fear silenced his story for almost 100 years, until now.

The author will speak in Butte, Montana, on July 31, at the book reading and signing hosted by the Butte-Silver Bow Archives, Butte Labor History Center, and Clark Mansion.

Jane Little Botkin
Frank Little and the IWW: The Blood That Stained an American Family
University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2017,

Montana History Revealed

A top field organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (the IWW, or the Wobblies), Frank Little stepped gingerly from the train in Butte on July 20, 1917, still bearing marks of a beating he took while agitating on behalf of striking copper miners in Bisbee, AZ. Life as the Wobblies top field organizer had few perks and more than a bit of personal risk. Like a prophet from the Old Testament, Frank wandered the West from one labor hotspot to another, preaching the gospel of the One Big Union. His mission was simple: affiliate the Metal Mine Workers’ Union with the IWW and force the company officials running the Anaconda Company from the sixth floor of the Hennessy Building “’down below with a muckstick.’”

When Little arrived in Butte, the mining city was in the midst of a general strike. Three months earlier, the U.S. had entered World War I. A month earlier, on June 5, miners rioted, protesting the implementation of a compulsory draft. Then, on June 8, a fire in the Granite Mountain/Speculator mine claimed the lives of 165 miners. Workers were demanding safer working conditions and higher wages. The state had responded by sending in troops. Butte was under martial law.

MHS Ephemera File
Neither the Anaconda Company nor the leaders of Metal Mine Workers Union (MMWU) were happy to see Little. The Anaconda Company’s unhappiness was self-explanatory. But Butte’s labor leaders also rejected his radical rhetoric, objecting both to the IWW’s hardline stance against the war and its commitment to overthrowing of the capitalist system.

These inflammatory positions were particularly dangerous since the start of the war. Even IWW president William “Big Bill” Haywood was cautioning his field organizers to lighten up on the rhetoric lest they incur the federal government’s wrath and feel the full weight of its opposition. But if Frank Little got the message, he chose to ignore it.

Instead, Little passionately preached the IWW message. During a speech at Finlander Hall, Little referred to U.S. soldiers as “uniformed thugs” and stressed his opposition to the draft and the war. Why, he asked, would workers choose to fight for their capitalist masters, when instead they could end the war by turning on their masters and overthrowing the capitalist system?

The Anaconda Company—delighted to tar labor as treasonous—had its papers report Little’s speeches. It also joined local political leaders in asking U.S. Attorney B. K. Wheeler to arrest Little, claiming that his “treasonous utterances” violated the Espionage Act of 1917. Wheeler refused: according to the attorney, Little had not violated the Espionage Act but had only exercised his right to free speech.

Nevertheless, Little was soon silenced. In the early morning hours of August 1, six men entered the boarding house where Frank Little was staying and physically removed him from his room. They tied him to the bumper of a waiting car and dragged him to the edge of town where they beat then lynched him from a railroad trestle with a warning pinned to his chest.

Frank Little, Death, Missoula, Montana Free Speech Fight, 1917
Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

In the wake of the brutal murder, Governor Stewart received a flood of messages from across the nation from labor organizations and concerned citizens. The message left on Little’s body harkened back to the vigilante days of early Montana and the initials at the bottom corresponded with the last names of the leaders of the MMWU strike: Frank Little (with the “L” circled), Bill Dunne, Tom Campbell, Daniel Shovlin, Joe Shannon, Jim Williams, and John Tomich. The use of 3-7-77 legitimized the action in the eyes of some, who believed that if authorities would have arrested Little under the charge of treason reasonable men would not have felt the need to act. It would also help justify, less than a year, later the passage of the Montana Sedition Act and Criminal Syndicalism Act during a special session of the legislature.

Frank Little, Funeral, Montana Free Speech Fight, 1917
Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

The murder of Frank Little remains unsolved even though most agree the Anaconda Company played some role in his death. While his message for the most part fell on deaf ears, his murder gave rise to an impassioned citizenry who four days later gave Frank Little an epic send off with the largest funeral in the history of Butte. They laid Frank Little to rest in the pauper section of the Mountain View Cemetery.

Photo courtesy of the author

Today, his headstone faces “the Hill” and standing at the foot of his grave one can see the memorial the North Butte Mining Company erected to the memory of those unidentified miners who died in the Granite Mountain/Speculator Mine fire. I think Frank would appreciate that.

A Little History

My wife found this for me. It’s a great read. Although I have no idea who to cite for accreditation, it is presented here, unedited and unaltered.

Dr. Frank Mayfield was touring Tewksbury Institute when, on his way out, he accidentally collided with an elderly floor maid. To cover the awkward moment Dr. Mayfield started asking questions,

“How long have you worked here?”

“I’ve worked here almost since the place opened,” the maid replied.

“What can you tell me about the history of this place?” he asked.

“I don’t think I can tell you anything, but I could show you something.”

With that, she took his hand and led him down to the basement under the oldest section of the building. She pointed to one of what looked like small prison cells, their iron bars rusted with age, and said,

“That’s the cage where they used to keep Annie.”

“Who’s Annie?” the doctor asked.

“Annie was a young girl who was brought in here because she was incorrigible – nobody could do anything with her. She’d bite and scream and throw her food at people. The doctors and nurses couldn’t even examine her or anything. I’d see them trying with her spitting and scratching at them.

I was only a few years younger than her myself and I used to think, ‘I sure would hate to be locked up in a cage like that.’ I wanted to help her, but I didn’t have any idea what I could do. I mean, if the doctors and nurses couldn’t help her, what could someone like me do? I didn’t know what else to do, so I just baked her some brownies one night after work. The next day I brought them in. I walked carefully to her cage and said,

‘Annie I baked these brownies just for you. I’ll put them right here on the floor and you can come and get them if you want.’

Then I got out of there just as fast as I could because I was afraid she might throw them at me. But she didn’t. She actually took the brownies and ate them. After that, she was just a little bit nicer to me when I was around. And sometimes I’d talk to her. Once, I even got her laughing.

One of the nurses noticed this and she told the doctor. They asked me if I’d help them with Annie. I said I would if I could. So tha’t how it came about that every time they wanted to see Annie or examine her, I went into the cage first and explained and calmed her down and held her hand. Which is how they discovered that Annie was almost blind.”

After they’d been working with her for about a year – and it was tough sledding with Annie – the Perkins institute for the Blind opened its doors. They were able to help her and she went on to study and she became a teacher herself.

Annie came back to the Tewksbury Institute to visit, and to see what she could do to help out. At first, the Director didn’t say anything and then he though about a letter he’d just received. A man had written to him about his daughter. She was absolutely unruly – almost like an animal.

The father had been told she was blind and deaf as well as ‘deranged.’ He was at his wit’s end, but he didn’t want to put her in an asylum. So he wrote the institute to ask if they knew of anyone who would come to his house and work with his daughter.

And that is how Annie Sullivan became the lifelong companion of Helen Keller.

When Helen Keller received the Nobel Prize, she was asked who had the greatest impact on her life and she said,

“Annie Sullivan.” But Annie said,

“No Helen. The woman who had the greatest influence on both our lives was a floor maid at the Tewksbury Institute.

Above images are both courtesy of Top is the original logo of the hospital, which originally went by the name of Tewksbury Almshouse, and was an asylum for the poor. Bottom is Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller. Bottom image is public domain and courtesy of Wikipedia.

Photograph of Helen Keller at age 8 with her tutor Anne Sullivan on vacation in Brewster, Cape Cod, Massachusetts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The History of 'Ten Little Indians'

Many of us remember learning and singing the bubbly little pre-school nursery rhyme "Ten Little Indians" as we sat in a circle with our legs crossed, Indian style. And what appeared to be an innocent way to educate and stir young imagination through 𠇌omic” song was also a peculiar way of mental conditioning. The coded historical narratives, found in many children’s nursery rhymes, were to circulate an ideology that followed generations intended to define Indians as “inferior” and �kward.” The song coupled the Anglo-constructed definition of “savage” with American Indian consciousness, but the ultimate legacy of this children’s nursery rhyme was the systematic murdering of Indians, leaving “One little Indian boy livin’ all alone":

Ten little Injuns standin’ in a line, One toddled home and then there were nine Nine little Injuns swingin’ on a gate, One tumbled off and then there were eight. One little, two little, three little, four little, five little Injun boys, Six little, seven little, eight little, nine little, ten little Injun boys. Eight little Injuns gayest under heav’n. One went to sleep and then there were seven Seven little Injuns cuttin&apos up their tricks, One broke his neck and then there were six. Six little Injuns all alive, One kicked the bucket and then there were five Five little Injuns on a cellar door, One tumbled in and then there were four. Four little Injuns up on a spree, One got fuddled and then there were three Three little Injuns out on a canoe, One tumbled overboard and then there were two. Two little Injuns foolin’ with a gun, One shot t’other and then there was one One little Injun livin’ all alone, He got married and then there were none (Septimus Winner, 1868).

The original version was written by songwriter Septimus Winner in 1868 and performed at minstrel shows𠅊 form of American entertainment consisting of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music. The traditional folk tune has a Round Folk Song Index number 13512 to establish the traditional origin of the work. However, today’s modern lyrics are believed to be in public domain, allowing for various renderings of the song to be created, especially in nursery schools. Sure you can change the words to "Ten Little Indians" to "Ten Little Puppies," but it is still degrading when trying to compare spilled milk to spilled blood.

In 1869, Frank J. Green adopted the song as Ten Little Niggers which became a standard of the blackface minstrel shows, especially after the Civil War and later into the 1920’s lampooning black people as 𠇍im-witted,” lazy, 𠇋uffoonish” and “musical.” Eventually the song became widely known in Europe, where it was used by Agatha Christie. The song was included in the first film version of And Then There Were None (1945), which largely took Green’s lyrics and replaced the already sensitive word “nigger” with “Indian” (in some versions “soldiers”) as African Americans began to score legal and social victories at the turn of the 20th century:

Ten little Indian boys went out to dine One choked his little self and then there were nine. Nine little Indian boys sat up very late One overslept himself and then there were eight. Eight little Indian boys travelling in Devon One said he&aposd stay there and then there were seven. Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks One chopped himself in half and then there were six. Six little Indian boys playing with a hive A bumblebee stung one and then there were five. Five little Indian boys going in for law One got in Chancery and then there were four. Four little Indian boys going out to sea A red herring swallowed one and then there were three. Three little Indian boys walking in the zoo A big bear hugged one and then there were two. Two Little Indian boys sitting in the sun One got frizzled up and then there was one. One little Indian boy left all alone He went out and hanged himself and then there were none (Frank J. Green, 1869).

In 1954, Bill Haley and the Comets did a rock &aposn’ roll version of the song for Essex records. Haley and his Brylcreem split curl and electric hollow-body Gibson guitar, crooned, “John Brown had a little Indian . . . One little Indian boy.” And in 1962, The Beach Boys released their version on their album, Surfin&apos Safari. Three Little Indians was the second single from their record and where the Indian word “Squaw,” originally meaning female or young woman, now a racist and sexist term meaning vagina, is repeated throughout the tune: “The first little Indian gave squaw pretty feather The second little Indian made her an Indian dollar (Fighting over a squaw) Well the third little Indian gave her moccasin leather The squaw didn&apost like em’ at all.” The song became The Beach Boys’ lowest charting single (number 49), on American radio.

Now, the song is called to attention by recent conversation at a local espresso shop. The waitress, an Italian and speaks perfect English, asked me how my Italian language lessons were going. I said, “Today I am learning how to count numbers.” She replied, “I learned how to count numbers in English by being introduced to the "Three Little Indians" song by my instructor.” She continues, “They are using that song in many Italian schools teaching students how to count.”

Some have argued if you erase the song, you erase a part of history. The thought that songs, poems, and couplets that belittle or denigrate a group of people have no place in today’s global world and should be eradicated from the languages of humanity. The idea that whites still degrade people of color𠅊ny color—with the same centuries old stereotypes of inferiority is demeaning. It is also demeaning to whites as well. Any notion or behavior that has to tear down one portion of the human race for the superiority of another is detrimental to all and that we can all count on.

Little Sissabagama

Various Native American tribes first inhabited the area known as Wisconsin. The Chippewa (a.k.a. Ojibwe), Menominee, Oneida, Potawatomi and Winnebago tribes lived in the area until the late 1800's at that point many of the tribe move away or were relocated.

Little Sissabagama and the surrounding area was home to various Native American tribes over the years. The abundant wildlife and dense giant white pine forests made the area both an attractive place for Native Americans to live and flourish. Trappers and French explores traded goods for furs with the Native Americans during the centuries when no roads existed and travel was exclusively by water. Sissabagama is a native term roughly translated as "lake of many bays."

It is believed that a survey from 1813 indicates a camp was located on Big Island (Frank Stout Wilderness Preserve). The area remained a wilderness with only footpaths and few inhabitants until around 1880 when the U.S. Government and Wisconsin Government began granting land to companies like the Wisconsin Railroad Farm Mortgage Company for development. This land was later sold around the late 1800's to logging companies such as Rice Lake Logging and Stout Lumber and still later sold again to smaller independent loggers that took the downfall timber. The next to own the land were the immigrant farmers who often failed and left. The mineral rights for much of the land around the lake was sold and gifted to Cornell University, which still holds title to it.

Logging ended by 1910 when it was said, "no trees stood between Little Siss and Stone Lake or Birchwood". Canals were cut between each of the area lakes to Rice Lake to float the giant pines to the mills. The canals can still be seen near Blueberry Bay on the northeast end of Little Siss along with earthen dams, also visible by Slim Lake.

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The Boxing Camp Era

During the early 1930s, boxer Jimmy Braddock trained at the Ogren boxing camp located on the north end of the lake. Braddock was immortalized in the film, "Cinderella Man." Many of the building that were part of the camp have been renovated and still exist to this day. Historical images used with permission from the Stone Lake Historical Society.

Early tourists

Somewhere around 1905 the islands known as Isle of Pines and Big Island hosted fisherman and rugged outdoors men's camps and buildings. These men were "looking for sport fishing and hunting". Later one these fishing camps became a permanent fixture.

The Isle of Pines did not become a true destination for vacationing outdoorsmen and families until the I920's. The railroad connected to Chicago and it became all the rage to travel to the wilderness and go fishing and stay at a resort. The lake had several resorts by the late 20's and early 30's. These resorts were both public and private. The best know of the resorts were Gerlach Island (now known as Isle of Pines) and Karl Ogren's Boxing Camp (now known as Black Eagle Lodge and Boulder Lodge).

In 1992 Frank Stout, heir to the Stout lumber fortune, turned over the deed to Big Island to the lake association for the purpose of establishing a nature preserve. His grandfather gave Frank the island when he was born. The island at that time was called Moonbeam Island. After Frank's death the island was renamed Frank Stout Wilderness Preserve in his memory. Frank Frazer and Jim Kissinger are to be thanked for actively pursing the actions that allowed the association to become an owner of this remarkable island.

Hiking the islands

The lake offers a variety of islands that are excellent for roaming and hiking. The Frank Stout Wilderness Preserve offers 40 acres of old growth forest and some unique flora. Fires are not permitted and overnight sleeping is only available on the state owned islands.

Bluesman Frank ‘Little Sonny’ Scott Jr. gave his all to Maxwell Street for half a century

Since 2004 Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) has used the Secret History of Chicago Music to shine a light on worthy artists with Chicago ties who've been forgotten, underrated, or never noticed in the first place.

  • Frank "Little Sonny" Scott Jr. is at far left in this footage of Maxwell Street veterans reunited at the 2008 Chicago Blues Festival.
  • Frank Scott plays acoustic guitar on this track by fellow Maxwell Street preservationist Johnnie Mae Dunson.

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Frank’s Last Name: Finckle to Finkle to Finkel

This letter is from Naedene Shearer, Chief Deputy Auditor of Dayton, Washington. It states that, reviewing records at the Columbia County Courthouse in Dayton, Frank's last name's spelling drifted from Finckle to Finkle to Finkel through his life in Dayton.

His Widow’s Claim He Enlisted as Frank Hall

As detailed in Chapter Ten, “Starting the Fire, Wrong Smoke Signals”, Frank’s widow, Hermie, attempted to claim her husband’s pension, and in the face of anti-German sentiment at the time, states that he enlisted as “Frank Hall”. The fact that there was a real Frank Hall in the 7th Cavalry, who bore no physical resemblance to Finkel, resulted in years of confusion among those researching survivors of Custer’s Last Stand. Hermie’s application for Finkel’s discharge certificate, showing she claimed he enlisted as Frank Hall, is shown here.

August Finkle’s Physical Resemblance to Frank Finkel

This letter from Major General Edward F. Witsell, Adjutant General, dated 19 March, 1948, to Dr. Kannenberg, of the Oshkosh Public Museum, describes August Finkle’s height, pale eyes, and dark hair. These characteristics match the man known to us as Frank Finkel. Not incidentally, Frank Finkel confidentially told his son Ben that he had joined the Army under the name “August Finckle.”

Brancato was born in Sicily, Italy. He left his home in the early 1900s for America. He first settled in New York where he worked as a longshoreman and moved to Cleveland, Ohio in the early 1920s where he would rise up in ranks to become Cleveland's Street boss to many men in the organization. During the early 1930's, Brancato was a known bootlegger who had been charged with several murders in a brutal and deadly turf war over the profitable "Corn Sugar Wars" between the two strong and powerful rival Mafia families the Porrello's and the Lonardo's. Brancato became acting underboss for the John Scalish regime by the mid-1950s. For many years, FBI agents were under direct orders from the Director, J. Edgar Hoover himself to observe Brancato’s activities and attempt to collect information that would lead to a criminal conviction and his deportation. Throughout the 1950's and 60's Brancato derived much of his illegal earnings from gambling and loansharking, but by the mid-1960s he was making a move to become a power within the garbage hauling industry. Brancato used Danny Greene and other Irish-American gangsters to act as errand boys and muscle to enforce the Mafia's influence during the 1960s over the garbage-hauling contracts and other rackets.

He was allegedly promoted to consigliere in 1972 and died a year later of natural causes in December 1973.

The complete story on Frank Brancatos life can be found in the book, Brancato Mafia Street Boss.

Little Known Black History Fact: Frank Yerby

Frank Yerby became one of the leading novelists of the 20 th Century after releasing a series of novels between the 󈧬’s and early 󈨊’s. Today is the pioneering author’s birthday.

Frank Garvin Yerby was born in 1916 in Augusta, Ga. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Paine College and a master’s degree from Fisk University. While at the University of Chicago studying for a doctorate in education, Yerby dropped out to teach and then pursued a career in writing.

Eventually settling in Jamaica, New York, in 1944, Yerby’s writing was recognized with the O. Henry Memorial Award for his short story, Health Card, which focused on a Black soldier and his wife and the racial inequalities they faced. Two years later, Yerby released his first novel, The Foxes of Harrow, which became the first book by a Black author to sell over 1 million copies. That same year, Yerby was the first author to have their work purchased by a Hollywood studio.

In 1947, a film of the same name was nominated for an Oscar.

Many of Yerby’s 33 novels were set in the antebellum South and centered on white protagonists. While his debut was successful, many observers say his 1971 work, Dahomean, is the finest of his published writings.

In 1955, Yerby left the United States and moved to Spain where he remained for the rest of his life. He died of congestive heart failure in Madrid, where he was buried.

Watch the video: The Lynching of Frank Little (December 2021).

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