Thursday, January 18, 2018

When a Druid Doctor Burned Jesus Christ

Dr. William Price in full Druid regalia.


On January 18, 1884 an old man with white beard nearly to his knees and dressed in green clothing, a red sash, and a fox fur draped across his head, ascended a mountain overlooking the Welch town of Llantrisant.  Muttering invocations in a form of “ancient Welsh” of his own invention, he lit a pyre and laid the body of his five-month-old son, Iesu Grist, Welsh for Jesus Christ.  Townspeople investigating the fire fell upon the old man in a rage and pulled the unconsumed body of the infant from the flames.
Dr. William Price had to be rescued from the mob by the local constabulary who promptly charged the old man with the illegal disposal of a corpse under the assumption that cremation, long banned by Church tradition which held a belief in bodily resurrection on Judgment Day, was illegal.  He escaped a charge of infanticide when an autopsy showed that the boy died of natural causes.  
Dr. Price attempting to cremate his son Iesu Grist.  His arrest and highly publisized court case would pave the way for full recognition, legalization, and regulation of cremation in Great Britain.
Price was brought to trial at Cardiff before the riveted attention of the British press.  Price argued that there were no statutes that either sanctioned or forbad cremation.  It turned out he was right.  The judge was forced to free him.  Price returned to Llantrisant and before a crowd of hundreds of supporters, completed the cremation.  He erected a 60 foot high pole surmounted by a crescent moon on the site and declared his intention to be burned there in his own time.
There was already a small movement to permit cremation in Britain based on various religious beliefs, and for reasons of sanitation.  The new Cremation Society of Great Britain saw the ruling as precedent.  They promoted cremations at Working in 1885 and encouraged the founding of the first British crematorium at Manchester in 1892.  But it was not until the Parliamentary Cremation Act of 1902 that the practice gained the full sanction and regulation of law.
For his part, Dr. Price enjoyed the national celebrity the case bestowed upon him and took advantage of it by selling medallions and religious tracts promoting his Neo-Druid sect and the Welsh nationalism he had long embraced.
But the case was just one episode in the long life of a man described as “both one of the most colourful characters in Welsh history, and one of the most remarkable in Victorian Britain.”
Price was born in a cottage at Tyn-y-coedcae Farm (The House in the Wooded Field) in Risca, Monmouthshire, Wales on March 4, 1800.  His father was an Anglican priest and his mother had been an illiterate servant girl—a scandalous marriage across class lines.  The first surviving son and fourth child, he was raised in a Welch speaking home and knew no English until he began his formal schooling.  His father was a Welch nationalist and by local accounts quite mad, often speaking to trees, spitting on stones, and apt to fits of violence.
Young William attended school in nearby Machen from the ages of 10 in 13.  He proved to be a brilliant student and not only mastered English but completed his course work in only three years and successfully passed his examinations.  In defiance of his father, who wanted his son to be a solicitor, the boy apprenticed himself to successful surgeon, Evan Edwards, at Caerphilly in south Wales.  
William Price in 1822 as a medical student.
Completing his apprenticeship in 1820, Price entered the London Hospital in Whitechapel for a year of instruction under Sir William Blizard and then at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital studying with surgeon John Abernethy.  He found private employment caring for wealthy patients to finance his studies.  By 1823 he had earned his place in the Royal College of Surgeons.
Despite being tempted to go to India, Price decided to return to Wales and set himself up as a general practitioner.  For seven years he practiced at Craig yr Helfa in Glyntaff and rented a nearby farm on which he raised goats.  But some sort of trouble arose and he was evicted from the farm.
While maintaining his Glyntaff practice, Price moved to the industrialized Taff Valley near to Pontypridd.  Serving the working people there, he was elected in 1823 as chief surgeon at the Brown Lenox Chainworks, a job he kept—with as we will see some interruptions—1871.  He also became a private physician to the wealthy Crawshaw family who owned the ironworks at Merthyr and Treforest.
The Crawshaws were ardent Welsh nationalists and helped Price renew his interest in Welsh culture and identity.  He began to be noticed in nationalist circles when he delivered an impassioned address at the Royal Eisteddfod, a Welsh festival of literature, music and performance, in 1834 and became judge of the annual bardic competition at the Eisteddfod.  He awarded a prize to Taliesin, the son of the famous Welsh nationalist and Druid, Iolo Morganwg, perhaps sparking his interest in the religion of the ancient Celts.
He joined the Society of the Rocking Stone, a Neo-Druidic group that met at the Y Maen Chwyf stone circle in Pontypridd, and by 1837 had become one of its leading members.  He also began the first of repeated efforts to establish a Druidic museum of in the town.
At the same time his close association with the workers and the time he spent in Treforest, a hot bed of working class radicalism, drew him into the Chartist Movement.  Although the movement’s goals of electoral reform and one man, one vote seem mild in retrospect, to the national Tory establishment it was considered revolutionary and anarchical.  Welsh workers were among the most militant in the nationwide movement and many were convinced that it would take armed revolution to achieve their ends.
Price joined the movement and rapidly rose in local leadership.  Price sided with the revolutionaries and began helping them amass arms for the day of insurrection.  By 1839 he had secured seven pieces of field artillery and assorted small arms.  Despite his militancy, Price feared that a planned march on Newport was premature and sure to be crushed by the Army.  He and his followers stayed away from what became known as the Newport Rising and the bloody battle with the Army that left more than 20 workers dead and 50 wounded.  In the aftermath scores of Chartist leaders were arrested and 24 were put on trial for their lives

Although an active Welsh Chartist leader, Dr. Price feared the march on Newport was premature and doomed.  He and his group sat out the attack but in its wake he still had to flee the country.
Rightly figuring that he was in danger, Price fled the country disguised in women’s clothing.  He wound up in the traditional European home of political exiles, Paris.   It was there while visiting the Louvre that he had a religious epiphany and a vision which has been compared to that of Joseph Smith and the Gold Tablets of Mormonism.  He became fixated with an ancient Greek stone with an inscription which he believed depicted and ancient Celtic bard addressing the Moon.  That no one else shared this insight did not bother him in the least.  In fact he intuited a whole story from the stone that it represented prophecy given by an ancient Welsh prince named Alun, that a man would come in the future to reveal the true secrets of the Welsh language and to liberate the Welsh people.  Price was sure that he was that liberator.
When it was safe, Price returned to Pontypridd and set himself up as a chief Druid.  Charismatic, he drew a following.  He began to grow his hair and beard and took to wearing special costumes both in daily life and at the rituals he led at Rocking Stone.  He carried a long staff surmounted by a crescent moon.  Many of his followers carried elaborately carved sticks and staffs as well.
After declaring that marriage was an illegitimate exploitation of women that reduced them to chattel, Price took as a partner Ann Morgan who presented him with a daughter in 1842.  At a Rocking Stone ritual he named the girl Gwenhiolan Iarlles Morganwg (Gwenhiolan, Countess of Glamorgan).
As time went by his vision became more grandiose.  He allied himself with the Order of True Ivorites, a so-called Friendly Society, which conducted all of its business in Welsh and which fostered working class solidarity and mutual aid.  In place where trade unions were suppressed the secret society gave them cover under which to operate.  In 1855 Price then led a parade of the Ivorites, through the streets of Merthyr Tydfil, accompanied by a half-naked man calling himself Myrddin (Merlin) and a goat.
Price resurrected his dream of a Druid museum and school and secured the patronage of a local landowner.  But he had a falling out with the patron and the scheme once again fell through, this time leaving Price heavily in debt.  Once again he fled to Paris in 1861.
While in the City of Life, he began to send letters to the Welsh and English press with new claims.  He proclaimed himself Lord of the Southern Welsh.  He also made claims that “All the Greek Books are the Works of the Primitive Bards, in our own Language!!!!!!!… Homer was born in the hamlet of Y Van near Caerphili. He built Caerphili Castle… the oldest Books of the Chinese confess the fact!!”  Then, as now, writing with extraneous exclamation marks was considered a sign of mental instability.
Yet Price pressed on.  Upon returning to Wales in 1866 he settled in Llantrisan opening a new medical practice which thrived despite his eccentricities. By this time Ann Morgan had died and his daughter Gwenhiolan had grown up and was living an independent life.  
He began work on a master opus, in what he claimed was the pure and original form of Welch, from which the Greeks learned.  It was an invented dialect that no one but he and his most devoted followers could read.  The Will of My Father, Price described the universe being created out of a snake’s egg by a supreme Father God.  Perhaps this recalled one of his own father’s many eccentricities—collecting and carrying small snakes by the pocketful on his wild roaming.
The book, which no one could read, was published in 1871 and sank into almost immediate obscurity.
Dr. Price with his young wife Gwenllian Llewelyn and their two surviving children, Penelopen and the second Iesu Grist.
In 1881 the now elderly Price with his famous long beard took a new partner, a 21 year old farmer’s daughter named Gwenllian Llewelyn.  Despite his previous declarations against marriage, he wed her in a Druidic ceremony on March 4, 1881.   In 1883 Gwenllian gave Price the ill-fated son who died after only five weeks of life.  Together they would have two more children, including a second Jesus Christ and a daughter Penelopen.
Price died on January 23, 1893 after drinking a final glass of Champaign.  On January 31 10,000 people gathered to watch him be laid on a pyre of two tons of coal beside the spot where his son was burned.  By all accounts it was a spectacular sight.
Gwenllian abandoned Druidism, married the road inspector for the local Council, was baptized Christian, and changed her son’s name to Nicholas.
The statue of Dr. William Price in Llantrisant
Today Price is a kind of folk hero in Wales.   A statue of him adorns his longtime home of Llantrisant in 1982, depicting the doctor in his characteristic fox-skin headdress, arms outstretched in an odd Christ like pose.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Chicago Plutocrats in Terror—Lucy Parsons and the March of the Unemployed



Note:  Interest in the long life of labor agitator and anarchist has been rising for some time as the labor movement has begun re-embracing its radical roots and during the spontaneous mass actions around the country represented by the Occupy Movement a few years ago.  Despite her purposefully obscured racial identity, she has also inspired Black women of the Black Lives Matters movement.  Now a new biography, Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical by Jacqueline Jones has ramped that interest even higher.  The book, based on new research and discoveries, challenges the commonly accepted story of her origins with mixed Mexican, Native American, and mulatto Texas roots and identifies her as originally a Virginia born slave.  Interesting.  I have not yet read Jones’s new book, but it is at the top of my must-read pile.  The Social Justice Team at my Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry, Illinois is planning to sponsor a group read and discussion of the book later this year.  Meantime I am resurrecting this 2015 post about Lucy, but be aware that it reflects an earlier understanding of her origins.  

Jacqueline Jones's new biography breaks new ground in identifying Lucy Parsons's origins.
There were hard times in Chicago on January 17, 1915.  Hell, there were hard times across the country.  The nation had never really recovered from the Panic of 1910, then plunged again into a sharp recession that had been dragging on since 1913.  Business activity had fallen off a staggering 25%.  Unemployment was not yet measured accurately, but was staggering especially in the great industrial cities like Chicago.  Hardest hit were the armies of casual laborers who in the best of times floated from temporary work to temporary work, the mass of unskilled and semi-skilled industrial workers, immigrants, and the flood of displaced farm and small-town workers who flooded the city looking for non-existent work. 
On top of the winter of 1914-15 was one of the harshest since the turn of the century. Tens of thousands of the ragged homeless roamed the streets, their bodies found frozen in the soot-grimed snow.  Some found refuge in train stations and even police precincts and fire houses on the most brutal nights.  Soup kitchens could not keep up with demand.  In addition to the bums and hobos the city was accustomed to seeing even in good times, there were more and more women and children among the homeless as wave after wave of evictions hit the slum districts.  Newspapers wrung their hands—not so much at the plight of the poor, but at the impositions their suffering placed on respectable citizens.  Something had to be done and one woman, Lucy Parsons, knew damn well what to do.
Parsons was one formidable woman with decades of working class struggle behind her and a reputation that literally terrified the powers that be.  Just a few years later the Chicago Police would report that the then septuagenarian was “more dangerous than a thousand rioters.”

IWW artist Carlos Cortez reflected the ethnic pride of many Mexican-Americans in Lucy Parson's claim of Hispanic origins in the 1986 Spanish Language lino-cut poster created for the centennial of the Haymarket Affair.
Her exact origins were obscure and made intentionally murkier by her own efforts.  Lucia Eldine Gonzalez—the birth name she claimed—was born somewhere in Texas around 1853, almost surely in slavery.  She was apparently of mixed ethnic and racial origins.  Surely, she was part Black and lived among Blacks.  In the immediate post-Civil War Era she was married to or lived with an ex-slave named Oliver Gathings.
Around 1870 she met Albert Parsons, a dashing former Confederate soldier who had become a passionate Reconstruction Republican.  He edited Republican newspapers in Texas, supported full suffrage for Freedmen, and railed against night riders like the emerging Ku Klux Klan.  He was under constant threat to his life, had been beaten, kidnapped, and shot in the leg in various incidents.   Lovely young Lucy became Parson’s fearless ally and then lover.  She abandoned Gathings to be with him and their relationship only fueled anti-miscegenation rage. 
In 1872 the couple fled for their lives and settled in Chicago in 1873 where Parsons eventually found work as a typographer for the Chicago News.  Lucy worked as a seamstress and dressmaker.  They lived as man and wife although no marriage documents have ever been found.  Due to bitter social ostracism and criminal liability she denied Black heritage and explained her brown skin as the result of Mexican and Indian—Creek—lineage in addition to White ancestry.  This apparently fooled few people, either Black or White.  She was regularly denounced as a Mulatto in her lifetime.

Former Confederate soldier turned Texas Reconstruction Radical Republican turned Chicago anarchist labor leader Albert Parsons did cut a dashing figure and together they made a stunning couple as they moved together to the forefront of the workers' movement in the city.
Both of the Parsons rapidly rose to leadership in Chicago’s working class movements.  Albert was active in his craft union and the Central Labor Council.  Becoming increasingly radicalized both joined the infant Socialist Labor Party (SLP) in 1876.  He would run for City Council under it banner.
When the Great Railway Strike of 1877 swept into the city, Albert emerged as an important leader and spoke to crowds of 25,000 or more.  While not giving up previous affiliations, both joined the International Working People’s Association—the so-called Anarchist First International and became its most influential English language leaders in a movement dominated in the city by Germans.
Albert was black balled from work at his trade eventually becoming editor of the English language anarchist paper Alarm!  Lucy opened a dressmaking shop to support her husband and a young son but also became a leader in efforts to organize the needle trades and other women dominated occupations.
In 1886 the IWPA became the principle organizer in Chicago of the May 1st national Eight Hour Day Strike.  As many as 350,000 workers walked off their jobs in the first three days of May making Chicago the effective epicenter of the national movement.  There were also coincidently major on-going strikes, including one by thousands of workers at the McCormack Reaper Works.  Albert was one of the speakers to a rally of strikers there on May 3 when police opened fire on the crowd killing four workers and wounding scores.  At the same time Lucy was leading women garment workers on strike.
Both helped publicize and promote a protest rally at the Haymarket on the rainy evening of May 4, but neither were able to be at the event.  None-the-less when a bomb went off amid charging police Albert was among the anarchists sought by police.  Alerted to the danger, Albert managed to escape to Wisconsin where he hid out for several days.  Lucy was arrested and closely questioned, but released.  Eventually Albert returned to the city to turn himself in to stand trial with six other anarchists for the riot.
Lucy visited Albert in jail daily where she took dictation of his memoirs and gathered profiles of all of the other defendants. These she published in pamphlets as part of her relentless campaign to support the accused.  She raised money for the defense, spoke at numerous rallies and meetings, and wrote articles and letters that made the trial an international cause celeb.  

Four Haymarket Martyrs including Albert Parsons went to the gallows at Cook County Jail while Lucy was held naked in cell to prevent her attendance.
Parsons and her children went to visit her husband one last time, but she was arrested, stripped naked, and thrown into a cell at Cook County Jail on November 11, 1887 as Albert was lead to the gallows singing her favorite ballad Annie Laurie in his clear tenor voice.  When it was over she was allowed to go home.  But she first vowed to the press to continue the fight.
Lucy lost her dress shop and was reduced to stark poverty after Albert’s death.  Supporters formed the Pioneer Aid and Support Society which raised money for the Monument at the Haymarket Martyr’s grave site at German Waldheim Cemetery and also provided Parsons with a meager $8 a month subsistence stipend. 
Parsons continued to work to preserve the memory of her husband and his co-defendants and to advance the causes of anarchism and a militant labor movement.  She sold the pamphlet biographies and later a handsomely mounted book, The Autobiography of Lucy Parsons which consolidated them all with steel engravings into one volume to support herself and her work.  She also made speeches and attempted to lecture.  But the relentless Chicago Police broke up her meetings and threatened hall owners who might rent to her for her lectures and repeatedly arrested her when she tried to sell her pamphlets and books on the street.
The harassment just made Parson’s more determined and made her a leading voice for free speech as well as for worker’s rights.  In 1893 the courts finally ruled that even anarchists had free speech rights although police harassment of her continued.
Despite these travails, Parsons grew in stature world-wide.  In 1888 she was invited to London to address the Socialist League of England on a program in which she shared the dais with the Russian anarchist Prince Peter Kropotkin.  During the same trip she was invited to become a contributor the leading French radical periodical, Les Temps Nouveaux.
The same year back in Chicago she became a harsh critic of labor leaders who threw their lot in with the Democratic Party in hopes of moderate reforms and “practicalconcessions.  Parsons believed that such half-measures not only cheated the working class, but delayed the systematic revolution that would abolish capitalism once and for all.
Previously a trade unionist Parsons looked at the open class warfare engendered by disputes like the Homestead Steel Strike in Pennsylvania and in the silver mines of Coeur D’Alene, Idaho and concluded that they were harbingers of successful social revolution and that industrial unionism was the strongest organizational tool of the working class.  Parsons expounded these views in Freedom: A Revolutionary Anarchist-Communist Monthly which she founded and co-edited.  She found her views confirmed in the Pullman Strike of 1894.
Her recognized leadership among American anarchists was challenged by a younger rival, Emma Goldman, after Goldman emerged from prison for her part in her lover Alexander Berkman’s attempted assassination of steel baron Andrew Carnegie’s partner and right-hand man Henry Clay Frick.  Goldman took to the lecture platform and often spoke to middle-class and upper-class liberal audiences for money, which Parsons considered a betrayal.  Worse, Goldman strayed from single minded attention to the class struggle to embrace many issues of personal freedom including free love. 
Although Parsons was resolutely feminist in advocating for the complete emancipation of women and their equality with men in work and social arrangements, she felt that free love was both a bourgeois indulgence and a threat to the family as the bulwark of strength for workers of both sexes.  The two bitterly sniped at each other in their writings and occasionally in public confrontations for years.

From the Official Proceedings of the Founding Convention of the IWW.  Lucy Parsons is listed as an aye vote to establish the union.
In 1905 Parsons attended the Continental Congress of the Working Class which united socialists, anarchists, syndicalists and trade unionists in a new militant organization that almost perfectly mirrored Parsons’s views—the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).  She took out the second Red Card issued to a woman and joined the likes of radical industrial unionists William D. “Big Bill” Haywood of the Western Federation of Miners and William Trautman of the Brewery Workers, Daniel De Leon of the SLP (much changed since her early membership of that organization years before), and Eugene V. Debs former leader of the American Railway Union and founder of the Socialist Party (SP.)
Although first De Leon in a 1906 huff and much more quietly Debs some years later departed the IWW for its refusal to engage in electoral political action, that was just fine with Parsons who had no faith in either reformism or politics.  Although she never was employed by the union, she voluntarily worked for it and promoted its goals in public appearances and in a new periodical, The Liberator supported by and supporting of the union which made women’s equality issues a major focus.
During and after the string of panics and recessions that began in 1907, Parsons became particularly interested in the plight of the unemployed.  In San Francisco Parsons and IWW members assumed leadership of the Unemployment Committee which began staging mass meetings and marches to demand public works projects to put people to work.  When police threatened Parsons famously led one parade with hundreds of women.  Almost two years of agitation the unemployed of the city gained some concessions from the city.
Parsons had always been leery of reformist demands like public works programs, but came to see how the mass struggle for them emboldened the working class, gave it experience in self-organization, and could be a pathway to ultimate revolution

Back in Chicago during the cruel winter of 1914, Parsons had a model and the experience to stage a similar campaign.  Just the announcement of the march set the city nabobs on edge.  After all, Parson’s had never minced her words.  The mighty Chicago Tribune quoted her as recommending during the terrible depression of 1882-85: 

Let every dirty, lousy tramp arm himself with a revolver or a knife, and lay in wait on the steps of the palaces of the rich and stab or shoot the owners as they come out. Let us kill them without mercy, and let it be a war of extermination.

As handbills advertising the planned march spread around the poorest precincts of the city and announcements were printed in the active and multi-lingual radical press stirred up so much excitement that Ralph Chaplin, the editor of the IWW’s publication Solidarity, was moved to furnish an anthem for the march.  He already had some verses that he had penned while working with Mother Jones during the bitter 1912-’13 Kanawha County, West Virginia coal miner’s strike.  He polished them up and added a new, particularly incendiary verse:

    Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,
    Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
    Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?

He set it to music and rushed copies to the printer to be sung by the marchers.  Solidarity Forever became not only the theme song for the IWW, but the great anthem of the whole labor movement, although more conservative unions would expunge that verse and modify others when they used it.
As many as 15,000 of the unemployed and their labor movement supporters marched behind Lucy Parsons on January 17, 1915 demanding immediate relief.  Parsons, naturally, was arrested. 

Lucy Parson's mug shot after her arrest for leading the 1915 march of the unemployed in Chicago.

The impressive success of that march encouraged more moderate members of the labor movement to act.  The IWW’s bitter conservative craft union rival the AFL, the Socialist Party, and Jane Adams Hull House organized a second massive demonstration on February 12. It was a one-two punch, the labor equivalent of bad cop/good cop.  The interventions of the relative moderates gave city officials an opening to announce immediate plans to decentralize emergency relief including soup kitchens and shelters as well a beginning projects to hire the unemployed for everything from hand shoveling snow from city streets and pot hole repair to building sidewalks and paving previously muddy side streets.  None of which would have happened if Lucy Parsons hadn’t scared the crap out of them first.

Within three years Ralph Chaplin would be one of the 101 IWW leaders tried in Chicago for war-time subversion under the Espionage Act.  Like all the rest, and 64 others tried at Leavenworth, Kansas he was sentenced to prison and served four years of a twenty-year sentence.
Parson’s rival Emma Goldman was one of the aliens rounded up in the post-war Red Scare and was deported on the so-called Bolshevik Arc to the Soviet Union.
Parson’s turned her attention to defense work.  By 1924 she had drifted from the IWW because its General Defense Committee would not extend it support to Communists.  She also began to believe that the classic anarchism that she had long advanced had failed to ignite revolution but that the Soviet experience showed a new way.  It was not an overnight thing. 

In 1925 she began working with the National Committee of the International Labor Defense which was backed by the Communists and worked on behalf of unjustly accused African Americans such as the Scottsboro Boys and Angelo Herndon. 

During yet another Depression the now 80-year-old returned to agitating for the unemployed and advocated the formation of unemployed unions.  She spoke regularly at Chicago’s Bughouse Square free speech forums where a kid named Studs Terkle listened with rapt attention to her still fiery speeches.  The Chicago Police still wasted no opportunity to harass her and friends had to always be ready to bail her out on petty charges.

Despite the estrangement from the official IWW and her increasing closeness to the Communists, she remained attached to the social circle around the IWW headquarters and local branch.  She attended socials and picnics, and attended educational meetings although she was no longer invited to speak.

Young Industrial Worker editor and organizer Fred W. Thompson, who also was a Socialist Party member, got to know her and admire her despite their political difference.  Fred, who was my friend and mentor in the IWW, spoke of her fondly and much later helped Carolyn Ashbaugh research her ground-breaking biography, Lucy Parsons: American Revolutionary and shepherded it to print by the old Socialist publisher Charles H. Kerr & Co.  Ashbaugh’s book was recently reissued by Haymarket Books
.
The recent Haymarket Books reissue of Carolyn Ashbaugh's  1977 biography.
Although records have never been found, some historians believe that Parson’s finally officially joined the Communist Party in 1939 after years of resisting putting herself under rigorous party discipline.  Others are not so sure.  When she died the Daily Worker’s extensive and laudatory obituary failed to claim her as a member.
Her death was particularly tragic and horrifying.  She burned to death along with her mentally disables adult son in a fire at her house in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago’s Northwest Side on March 7, 1942 at the presumed age of 89.  She was by then nearly blind.
In a final indignity, her irreplaceable library of over 1,500 volumes of labor and anarchist books along with all of her personal paper and memorabilia of her long career which had survived the fire with only minor damage, was seized by Chicago police and immediately destroyed.

This simple stone marks the ashes of Lucy Parsons near the Haymarket Memorial and the remains of her husband and other Haymarket Martyrs.  They are all surrounded by scores of anarchist, socialist, Communist, and labor activists including Lucy's rival Emma Goldman.
Lucy was laid to rest near her husband and the Haymarket Martyrs monument.  A few feet away the ashes of Emma Goldman rest beneath another stone and she is surrounded by generations of unionists and radicals.  Others like Joe Hill have had all or part of their ashes scattered there.
The site of the house she died in now lies beneath the Kennedy Expressway.  Almost as if the city was still trying to expunge her from memory.