Illinois History Minutes

June 22 Illinois History Minute


It’s June 22, marking the second day of the Herrin Massacre, which took place in Williamson County in southern Illinois in 1922. On June 21, striking miners at the W.J. Lester coal mine near Herrin exchanged gunfire with Lester’s guards, and three miners were killed. On the 22nd, the guards were gone, and hundreds of striking miners and other local residents attacked non-union replacement workers from Chicago. The nonunion workers were marched out of town with a promise of safe passage, but nineteen of them plus the mine superintendent were killed along the way, often brutally. Their bodies were put on public display in a makeshift morgue in Herrin, and most of them were buried in unmarked graves. Although six men were put on trial, no one was ever convicted in connection with the Herrin Massacre.