July 15, 2008
Frank Little Not Forgotten
By John Grant Emeigh, The Montana Standard, Butte
Jul. 15--Legendary union organizer Frank Little had one of the largest funerals in Butte history after his murder in the summer of 1917.Ironically, his plot at Butte's Mountain View Cemetery is humble, worn and easily overlooked for one of the Mining City's major historical figures.
Local union members are working on giving Little's final resting place what they believe are much needed improvements.
"When we're done with it, you'll be able to find his grave easy," said Mike Boysza.
Boysza, a member of the Carpenters' Union Local 112 in Butte, has been working with volunteers over the past few months to tidy the grave of this famous Wobbly. The group will clean the headstone, pour a fresh concrete cap over the grave, surround it with a small iron fence and make other improvements.
The union plans to have the project completed by Aug. 1, which is the 91st anniversary of Little's death.
Little came to Butte in 1917 to recruit the miners to join the Industrial Workers of the World, also called the Wobblies. That summer, he was kidnapped by a group of masked men, beaten, dragged out of town and hanged by the neck from a railroad trestle.
About 2,000 people participated in Little's funeral procession. Little was buried in the paupers' section of the Butte cemetery.
Boysza said the decision was made refurbish the grave during a meeting of the regional carpenters' union three years ago in Butte. The Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters agreed to donate $1,000 to the project.
Local people have volunteered their time to fix the historic site since the project got started.
Retired engraver Phil Dallas decided to lend a hand last month when he saw the group working on Little's grave. Dallas, 75, of Butte, approached Boysza and his volunteers in June and asked what they were doing. When he learned about the project, Dallas gladly volunteered his time to clean Little's headstone.
"They were donating their time, so, what the hell, I can donate my time," Dallas said.
Dallas cleaned the headstone and whitened in the engraved epitaph to make it easier to read. He said he was honored to work on the grave of this famous union leader.
"I was a union man, and always have been," Dallas said.
Dallas worked as an engraver for 35 years with Trevillion-Johnson Memorial Co. in Butte.
With all the volunteers, Boysza said he's confident the project will cost less than $1,000 to complete. He said all the leftover money will be used to purchase flowers and wreaths for Little's grave.
Dallas said he looking forward to seeing the grave when it's done.
"I think it'll turn out great," he said.
-- Reporter John Grant Emeigh may be reached via e-mail at [email protected]
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