Mother Jones came to the Washington D.C. area often and this area was where she had friends who took care of her in the final days of her life. She went to D.C. with the army of the unemployed in 1894. She came back in 1897 with petitions to President McKinley and refused to leave until he saw her. After 1907, she testified before Congress and met with Presidents, advocating the release of labor’s prisoners or Mexican Revolutionists.
In Maryland, she developed a fame among coal miners in 1900. She “set the mining region afire” and “solidified the strikers” according to local newspaper reports. She was determined to organize the miners, their wives, their daughters and sons and even their little children, another remarked, to be part of the campaign. “So famous has she become in this region that men and women stand in groups on the street of the mining villages and cheer the very mention of her name,” reported another.
In recent years, Saul Schnidermann of the Labor Heritage Foundation and AFSCME located the home where Mother Jones was cared for by a truck farm family in Silver Spring, Maryland in the last days of her life. You can read about that in Saul’s article, “Mother Jones’ Final Sojourn” which also is a wonderful example of “digging where you stand,” an adage from folklorist who advocate uncovering the stories that bring reminders of alternative histories wherever you area.
Saul’s efforts resulted in the placing of a marker to Mother Jones in Maryland, and a yearly commemoration on May 1. This usually coincides with the D.C. LaborFest. If you are in the area, check it out.