Paint and Cabin Creek Murders

Cleve Woodrum

Cleve Woodrum was born in Kanawha Co on October 12, 1884, and was married to Laura A. Dickens. In 1912, when the strike started, Cleve and Laura lived in Lamont Hollow near Cabin Creek with their five children.
Cabin Creek operators hired mine guards and undercover men from the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency at Bluefield. Don F. Slater was one of the guards hired by the operators. According to Fred Mooney, on page 27 of his book, Struggle in the Coal Fields "Slater was a bruiser. He was bold, ruthless, and entertained no scruples against taking human life. He passed up no opportunity to crack the head of a striker or even a miner who dared to talk of unionism."
On August 6, 1912 Mother Jones gave a speech to a miner's meeting in Eskdale and the strike was on. On September 2,1912 Governor W. E. Glasscock proclaimed martial law for Paint and Cabin Creek because of so much fighting between the miners and the guards. The state militia was called in, and were welcomed at first. But then they became worse than the guards in the miners' eyes. They patrolled the areas and enforced an 8:00 p.m. curfew and broke up any gathering of three of more miners.
On September 19, Cleve went for the doctor as Laura was in labor. He was stopped by a patrol, but they let him pass. The doctor went back to Cleve's home to deliver the child. It was after 8:00, so naturally they had the lights on in the home. Guards banged at the door and told them to turn out the lights as it was after curfew. Cleve and the doctor both went to the door to explain, but the guard still insisted that they turn off the lights or cover the windows. In anger, Cleve told them to go ahead and shoot and slammed the door, and a guard shot the light out. So the baby had to be delivered in a semi-dark world.
The Paint Creek operators signed a contract with the UMWA on July 1, 1913. Yet the struggle continued on Cabin Creek. On July 23, 1913, men gathered at Cleve's home and were entertained by Laura playing songs on her organ and and singing. Cleve left with the men and they gave the excuse of going "huckleberry picking." The next morning, men brought Cleve's body back to his home.
There was a shootout that night at Red Warrior's Mine. Cleve Woodrum was the only miner killed. Don Slater, Frank Ginn and Lee Woodrum were the casualties on the guard's side. Don Slater and Cleve Woodrum had a hand-to-hand combat. Cleve died instantly. Don lived long enough to be taken to the hospital, where he died in the operating room.
A week later a settlement was reached in the Cabin Creek area. Laura Woodrum later remarried, but every Memorial Day, she and her new husband would visit Cleve's grave. When her husband died, Laura still continued the visits to Cleve's graveside until her death in 1959.
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Written by Gracie Stover
SOURCES:
"Blood Flows on the Creeks", by Lois MCLean. Goldenseal Magazine The Goldenseal Book of the West Virginia Mine Wars; page 25.
"Struggle in the Coal Fields" by Fred Mooney, page 27; McClain Printing Co, 1967
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