SID HATFIELD, UNION HERO
I'm very proud of this one. In the early 1990's, a group of folks from Logan county and Charleston, West Virginia asked me to do an illustration for a t-shirt that was being sold to benefit efforts to have historic Blair Mountain declared a National Landmark.
In 1921, Sheriff Sid Hatfield became a hero to striking miners when he stood up against Baldwin-Felts detective agency thugs in West Virginia. The affair was memorialized in John Sayles in the movie "Matawan".
Sayles' movie is wonderful. However, he didn't tell the rest of the story: "Two-gun Sid" was tried for the confrontation but acquited of all charges. As he walked down the steps of the courthouse, he was gunned down in broad daylight in full view of hundreds of witnesses by a cadre of Baldwin-Felts detectives.
Overnight, Sid Hatfield rightfully became a martyred hero. Thousands of miners took up arms, hi-jacked trains and made their way to Logan County to avenge his death, in what is thought to be the largest US civilian insurrection since the Civil War. I'm proud to say that I had relatives among the marchers. On Blair Mountain, the miners were met by machine gun toting coal company thugs and national guardsmen. General Billy Mitchell sent out aircraft to drop bombs on the strikers-- the first time that US planes were specifically directed against a civilian target.
Funny, ain't it-- the things they keep out of the history books?
The original t-shirt design was emblazoned with the words of the West Virginia State Motto: "Montani Semper Liberi"-- "Mountaineers are Always Free".
Recently, a writer from Appalachian Voice magazine asked me to submit an illustration for an article he was writing and I remembered this one.
(Medium: pen, brush & ink)