Mudcat Café message #3734337 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #158038   Message #3734337
Posted By: GUEST,Mike Yates
31-Aug-15 - 04:21 AM
Thread Name: Joe Hill - 100 year anniversary
Subject: RE: Joe Hill - 100 year anniversary
When I was researching the life of the English communist writer Ralph Bates I was told the following story by a friend of one of Ralph's brothers:

"As a young man, Ralph Bates had gone to Montana, where he joined the "Wobblies". There Ralph worked organising a union in the copper mines, but a comrade was murdered by the mine bosses and Ralph was told to leave, otherwise he would be thrown down a mine shaft."

I know that Ralph Bates never went to Montana during this period of his life and I do rather wonder if this apocryphal tale was based on the story of IWW member, and political song-writer, Joe Hill (1879 1915), who was executed in Utah on a trumped-up murder charge. The song "Joe Hill" (which begins with the lines I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night/Alive as you and me/Says I, "But Joe, you're ten years dead"/I never died says he, I never died says he) became extremely popular within British left-wing groups from the 1940s onwards, so did somebody in England link Ralph Bates, who did go to live in America in 1941, with Joe Hill? And is this a case of folkore in the making?