Sellins, who helped to organize thousands of steel and iron
workers in western Pennsylvania's Alle-Kiski Valley was murdered just
before the strike began. Born Fannie Mooney in New Orleans in
1872, she later moved with her family to St. Louis where she worked in
a clothing factory and helped organize Local # 67 of the United
Garment Workers. Her union activities brought Sellins to the
attention of Van Bittner, presidentof the United Mine Workers District
5. In 1913 she went to work for the UMWA in Colliers, West
Virginia, aiding families who had been driven out of their homes by
the Pennsylvania and West Virginia Coal Company. Sellins moved
to the Alle-Kiski valley in 1916, where her work with the miners'
wives proved to be an effective way to organize workers across ethnic
barriers. She also recruited black workers, who originally came
north as strikebreakers, into the UMWA. During a tense
confrontation between townspeople and armed company guards outside the
Allegheny Coal and Coke company mine in Brackenridge on August 26,
1919, Fannie Sellins and miner Joseph [Strzelecki] were brutally
gunned down. A coroner's jury and a trial in 1923 ended in the
acquittal of two men accused of her murder."
Excerpt from Peter Gottlieb,
"Shaping a New Labor Movement, 1917-1941", Keystone
of Democracy, A History of Pennsylvania Workers. Howard
Harris ed., 1999. p. 170.