The Ashes of Joe Hill

Ashes of Joe Hill

Ashes of Joe Hill

“My body? Oh, if I could choose / I would to ashes it reduce, / And let the merry breezes blow, / My dust to where some flowers grow.”
The great labour troubadour, JOE HILL, was executed in Salt Lake City one hundred years ago today, following his conviction on what was widely perceived to have been a trumped-up murder charge. Following his death his comrades in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), acting in the spirit of his last will (above), sent his ashes to IWW branches throughout North America and elsewhere in the world. Tom Barker, then a leading member of the IWW in Sydney, Australia, described receiving Joe Hill’s ashes in his memoir:

“After Joe had been executed, one Saturday morning, to my astonishment, I got a parcel from the IWW organization at Salt Lake City, containing a portion of the ashes of Joe Hill. We decided we would have a ceremonial depositing of the ashes on the following Sunday in the garden near the Domain… The plan would have worked except for one thing – about two hours afterwards the police raided us. We were all thrown out, the police went through the place and threw out Joe Hill’s ashes… I went to the Central Police Station and asked the Chief about them. ‘Oh, he said, ‘you’re too late. I threw them on the back of the fire’. So that was the end of Joe Hill’s ashes. They went at the back of the fire in police headquarters. But that didn’t cut down the status of Joe Hill in our minds.” http://labourhistorycanberra.org/…/Tom-Barker-and-the-IWW-E…


The reception of Joe Hill’s ashes in New Zealand is described here by Jared Diamond:https://libcom.org/…/remains-be-seen-tracing-joe-hills-ashe…

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