Mary Harris Jones

by mlane786
Last updated 9 years ago

Social Studies

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Mary Harris Jones

"Pray for the dead, but fight like Hell for the living."

Mary Harris Jones

"Mother Jones"

Mary Harris Jones was born in Cork, Ireland in 1836 or 1837, although Mary told people she was born in 1830. She was born to Richard and ____Harris. She was one of five children. Her siblings were Richard Jr., Catherine, William, and Ellen. The Harris family relocated to Toronto, Canada as a result of seeking work outside of Ireland during the potato famine. During her youth, Mary desired to be a teacher, one of the few jobs that women were allowed to hold. Mary enrolled in the Normal School which was a teacher training school in Toronto. Mary studied for a year, left the school, moved to Monroe, Michigan, and began teaching in a convent on August 31, 1859.

Mary got bored of teaching and decided to work as a seamstress in Chicago, working in a small shop. Mary tired of dress making and in 1860 moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and found a job teaching. While teaching, she me George Jones, a blacksmith and a member of the Iron Molders' Union. They married, had four children, and lived through the Civil War unscathed. Sadly, a yellow fever epidemic struck Memphis in 1867, taking the lives of Mary's four children and her husband. More tragedy struck Mary years later while working as a dressmaker in Chicago. The Great Chicago Fire in 1871 destroyed Chicago's central businesses - including Mary's dressmaking shop. She lost all of her posessions and became one of the 100,000 people left homeless because of the fire.

Across the street from me, ten persons lay dead from the plague. The dead surrounded us. they were buried at night quickly and without ceremony. All about my house I could hear weeping and the cries of delirium. One by one, my four little children sickened and died. I washed their little bodies and got them reeady for burial. My husband caugth the fever and died. I sat alone through nights of grief. No one came to me. No one could. Other homes were as stricken as was mine. All day long, all night long, I heard the gratiing of the wheels of the death cart.-Mary Mother Jones (Gay, 25)

Early work, Marriage, and Tragedy

Mary first illustrated her fighting personality shortly after her husband and children died. She obtained a permit from the city of Memphis to travel from house to house, nursing the sick. These actions were a symbol of her slogan (see the quote above). Once the yellow-fever epidmic ended, Mary moved to Chicago and with a partner, opened a dressmaking shop. Mary began comparing the lives of the aristocrats with the poor. She noted that the wealthy and big businesses had no regard for the 'poor' and it did not bother the businesses one bit that there were many who went hungry, cold, and jobless.

Growing Up

A Fighter

poster yourself

An Activist

"The most dangerous woman in America"


Industrial Workers of the World


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