Mary Harris, second child of Richard Harris and Ellen Cotter, born in County Cork, Ireland

Richard Harris and a son immigrate to North America

c. 1851
Ellen Cotter Harris and the rest of her family would immigrate to North America. The entire Harris family would settle in Toronto.

Late 1857-early 1858
Mary Harris attends classes at the Toronto Normal School.

Harris accepts a position as a teacher at a Catholic school in Monroe, Michigan. She would stay less than a year.

Harris moves to Chicago and became a dressmaker. Again, she would stay less than a year, moving to Memphis late in the year.

c. 1861
Harris marries iron molder George Jones in Memphis. The couple has four children between 1862 and 1867.

George Jones and all four of their children succumb to a yellow fever outbreak. After a period of mourning, Mary Harris Jones moves back to Chicago and opens a dressmaking business.

The Great Chicago Fire destroys much of the city, including Jones’ home and business. Biographer Elliott Gorn speculates it was during this time she began to take more notice of the gap between rich and poor and became more involved in the labor movement.

Jones probably becomes involved with the Knights of Labor in Chicago. She establishes lifelong friendship with Knights of Labor leader Terence Powderly

May 4, 1886
Haymarket Affair in Chicago occurs. The event may have led Jones to the point of being totally consumed with the labor movement.

Jones first appears in a newspaper article supporting Coxey’s Army, a movement led by Jacob Coxey to march to Washington D.C. to demand jobs. Jones gives speeches to raise money for the movement. The Kansas City Star refers to her as the “mother of the commonwealers,” thus giving her the name “Mother” for posterity.

Jones participates as an organizer and supporter for unions and labor on many fronts, including Pennsylvania and Alabama.

Jones is hired as a paid organizer for the United Mine Workers of America. West Virginia was her first target as a United Mine Workers employee, and she successfully made inroads in many of the southern coal fields.

June 20, 1902    
Jones and others are arrested in Clarksburg, West Virginia, for violating a federal judicial order against mine demonstrations. At a hearing July 24, Jones was given a 60-day suspended sentence. It was at this hearing that United States District Attorney Reese Blizzard allegedly labeled her “the most dangerous woman in America.”

In an effort to highlight the problem of child labor, Jones organizes a march of children from Philadelphia to New York to seek an audience with President Theodore Roosevelt. Though they were unsuccessful, her effort brought national attention to child labor issues.

After the strike ends in West Virginia, Jones moved on to Colorado to organize in the mine fields there. Jones and UMWA President John Mitchell, who had previously been close friends, split over the strike there, as Mitchell encouraged strikers in the state’s northern fields to accept a contract while Jones opposed this.

October 1904    
Colorado strikes end. Jones blames United Mine Workers of America for lack of support, as well as the government and mining companies.

Jones breaks with United Mine Workers of America after being told that she must end her support of more radical labor groups like the Western Federation of Mines. She accepts an offer previously made by the Socialist Party of America to become a traveling lecturer.

Jones becomes involved in raising money for the defense of Mexican labor leaders (Partido Liberal Mexicano) who were arrested in the U.S. and charged with planning a conspiracy to overthrow the Mexican government from American soil. The PLM leaders were sentenced to 18 months in prison in 1909, but were released in mid-1910.

Jones breaks with the Socialist Party due to philosophical disagreements over the direction of the Party. Later that year, Jones returned to the United Mine Workers if America as a paid organizer, going to the anthracite fields of Pennsylvania.

June 1912    
Jones returns to West Virginia after a strike begins again, with open violence occurring in many areas. Jones encouraged miners to defend themselves.

September 1912    
West Virginia Governor William Glasscock creates a commission to recommend mining settlement, but also declares martial law in the strike zone. National Guard troops called in, and military courts are setup.

Troops withdrawn and violence recommences. Jones and supporters go to Charleston with a petition for Glasscock protesting the arrest of only union men and not mine guards. Jones and other arrested and charged with conspiracy. Jones is jailed for three months before being released after U.S. Senate authorized investigation into West Virginia violations. The United Mine Workers of America organize central part of state, one of Jones’ greatest achievements.

Sept. 2, 1913    
Jones returns to Colorado to assist in organizing. Unofficial martial law called in October, with National Guard to put down strikes.

Jones banned from Trinidad, Colorado, by National Guard General John Chase. She slipped quietly back into the town January 12th, and was subsequently placed under house arrest for nine weeks.  She was freed March 15th, but arrested once again March 22nd when she tried to return to Trinidad yet again. This time, she is held 26 days before she is freed.

April 19, 1914    
National Guard troops, who may have actually been mine guards, open fire on a miner tent city at Ludlow, Colorado, killing 20 people, including women and children. The event is now referred to as the Ludlow Massacre.

April 23, 1914    
Jones testifies before the U.S. House Committee on Mines and Mining about the labor strife in Colorado. In aftermath of Ludlow murders, Jones calls for moderation by the unionists. Lack of funding and no further hope for conciliation from operators forced miners to call off the strike in December.

Jones invited to speak at the Pan-American Federation of Labor Conference in Mexico City.  She continues to make appearances at other labor events into the mid-1920s, as her health began to decline.

Feb. 18, 1922    
Jones addresses the convention of the United Mine Workers of America for the last time, and the organization's President John L. Lewis, who Jones opposed, would not reappoint her as an organizer.

Jones makes her last appearance at a strike during a dressmakers rally in Chicago.

Jones published her autobiography with the help of editor Mary Field Parton.

May 1, 1930    
Jones celebrates her “100th” birthday at the home of Walter and Lillie May Burgess in Hyattsville, Maryland, where she lived.

Nov. 30, 1930    
Jones dies at the Burgess home at the (true) age of 93. She is buried in the Union Cemetery in Mt. Olive, Illinois. She had requested the place of burial since it was the only union owned cemetery in the U.S. and was the resting place of miners killed in a fight with mine guards at Virden, Illinois, in 1898.

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