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 Post subject: Lattimer Massacre
PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 2:01 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:16 pm
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Location: Anthracite Region of PA
U of Maryland professor researches Lattimer Massacre
By Jim Dino (Staff Writer)Published: November 22, 2010

A University of Maryland anthropology professor interested in the Lattimer Massacre says he's found bullets fired from guns at the site.

Where those bullets were found will further tell the story of how 19 unarmed immigrant coal miners died on Sept. 10, 1897, at the hands of a Luzerne County sheriff's posse.

Dr. Paul Shackel, along with graduate students and other volunteers, spent last weekend near a monument on the site and believes they found bullets from the massacre.

"We did a survey of the area to see if we could find any evidence of the shooting," Shackel said. "We found the remains of several bullets close to the monument, across the street. We found some bullets that looked like a mushroom (meaning they had been fired and hit something) and some casings."

Shackel said he knew where to look based on a variety of sources.

"There were some written records, and oral histories, which indicated the bullets may be near the gum tree," Shackel said. "The gum tree does not exist anymore, so we searched in an area of several hundred feet near the monument. We were able to find a definitive pattern."

Shackel and the others found the bullets and casings in one place, off Lattimer Road near the monument.

"We found about a dozen bullets and fewer casings, all parallel to the road," Shackel said. "The bullets and casings were found together, which looks like there was a firing line. I can't be 100 percent certain, but that's the way it looks."

Shackel said he's reasonably sure the bullets are from the massacre.

"The bullets look the approximate age of those bullets," he said. "They came from guns of the type and caliber used during that time. They were found approximately 6 inches underneath the surface. Considering the time that has passed, it would have taken this much time to cover them 6 inches.

"The condition of the bullets also indicates their age," Shackel continued. "The wear on them indicates they have been in the ground for about 100 years. Hunters would not hunt toward the road. No one would fire a gun toward the road. I'm almost 100 percent sure they are from the massacre."

Shackel said he had help with the survey from about 10 people.

"Dan Sivilich, president of the Battlefield Restoration and Archaeological Volunteers Organization (BRAVO), coordinated several volunteers, and Michael Roller, a graduate student who intends to make Lattimer his master's degree dissertation, was also there," Shackel said.

Sivilich, a native of Wilkes-Barre who now lives in Freehold, N.J., said he believes the area where the bullets and casings were found is where the gate to the mine property was located.

"The sheriff was not stupid," Sivilich said. "As soon as those miners entered the gate, and they entered mine property, someone opened fire on them. At that point, they were trespassing, and deadly force is allowed when someone is trespassing on your property."

Roller said digital technology will enable researchers to chart the area where the massacre occurred.

"The area where we found the bullets and casings is being reduced to a map," Roller said. "We can map the landscape, and create digital maps where people were standing, and where they ran."

Roller said the historical accounts he read were very vague, and different from one another.

"The time (the massacre) took to happen varies between two and five minutes," he said. "The amount of people firing a gun varies between 86 and 120. There were contradictory reports on where the bullets were, but we found evidence that leads to an account of the massacre that is unique."

Sivilich said those doing the survey knew various versions of the story, but determined by what they found - and where - which story is the right one.

"There were stories the deputy sheriffs stood in a semi-circle, or another story that they stood on a ridge," Sivilich said. "But none of those stories makes sense. The story (where) they were standing by the gate makes sense."

Sivilich said BRAVO was a little out of its element.

"Our group specializes in military conflict archaeology, the Civil War and Revolutionary Way," he said. "But this provided a challenge every bit as exciting."

Shackel and Roller said Lattimer interests them for the same reasons - labor, coal and immigrant history.

Sivilich said his interest in mines is a lifelong one.

"I grew up in Wilkes-Barre," he said. "My father, several of my uncles and both grandfathers were miners."

Shackel said he was grateful local attorney Pasco Schiavo allowed the team onto the land he owns.

Shackel said he has established a website about the project,

The Lattimer Massacre occurred Sept. 10, 1897, when Luzerne County Sheriff James Martin and a sheriff's posse were ordered by coal company operators to fire at between 300 and 400 unarmed immigrant miners who were marching - to protest poor working conditions in the mines - from Harwood to Lattimer. About 19 of the unarmed marchers were shot to death and about 47 more were wounded., 570-455-3636

Scott K
"Watch Your Top"

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