Violence broke out during the 1911 strike at the Water Valley shops. "Mr. Bob Ward said the night of shooting was brought about by some irresponsible speeches urging violence," Bruce Gurner says.
"The men met at the courthouse early in the evening. Many went home and got their guns and took up positions behind a cut of cars near the paint shop. The strikebreakers were quartered in a building that lay parallel to the main line."
Ward told Gurner he knew 18 were killed because McLarty's, a local business, furnished that many coffins which were loaded into a baggage car for the trip North on #6 the next morning.
"Doctors patched up a number of wounded who left the next afternoon on #24. The men lost that strike and had to come back to work on the I.C.'s terms. Some, like Mr. Ward, never went back except for an occasional contract job."
According to Gurner, among the stories to have come out of the strike is one about two of the strikebreakers who headed east out of town when the shooting began. "Next morning they hailed a farmer who was milking his cow. They asked the name of the next town and the farmer told them Paris. The men acknowledged coming a long way but neither remember swimming an ocean."
The community of Paris is 11 miles east of Water Valley in Lafayette County.
Copyright © 1998 Jack Gurner