McCord, Ross L. (P1R, C2, L4)
Private Ross L. McCord, 18, of Hopkinsville, Christian County, was accidentally shot on October 25, 1922 while on state active duty at Ilsley in Hopkins County, some 10 miles south west of Madisonville, with members of his unit – Troop C, 54th Machine Gun Squadron during a coal strike. McCord died of his wounds at the U. S. Veterans Hospital at Dawson Springs on October 28, 1922. McCord is buried in Section G of the Riverside Cemetery in Hopkinsville.
McCord was shot by fellow soldier Private John Weaver, 15, of Hopkinsville. According to newspaper accounts the bullet shattered vertebra in McCord’s neck. The incident occurred in front of a pump house at the Magic Collieries Company plant near St. Charles, Hopkins County. In his defense, Weaver said that he had his pistol in his hand to protect himself while walking his beat because he thought he was going to be attacked by an unknown assailant. McCord came around an automobile and Weaver did not recognize him in the darkness. Weaver said McCord seized his wrist and during the struggle between the two, the pistol was accidentally discharged.
McCord enlisted in the 125th Wagon Company of the Kentucky National Guard in Hopkinsville on August 5, 1922 listing his civilian occupation as laborer. His unit transitioned to Troop C. of the 54th Machine Gun Squadron on October 1, 1922. McCord almost certainly attended annual training at Camp Knox with his unit August 13 – 27, 1922. McCord and members of his unit were put on state active duty and ordered to the Madisonville area for strike duty immediately after annual training. They were assigned to the Sunlight Strip Mine. There was widespread unrest with union miners on strike as well as a national railroad strike during this time. Various units had been doing duty in the area since early June and sniper fire was directed at the mine site from the surrounding country side on several occasions and the latest just days before McCord’s arrival. A group had also tried to sabotage a steam shovel at the site but where scattered by machine gun fire from the Guardsmen on August 9th after ignoring orders to halt or respond to warning shots from pistols and rifles. There were no known casualties reported on either side during the duty.
AT RIGHT: This is a photo from the same time period and in Hopkins County and likely be similar to what was in use and the Sunlight Strip Mine. According to the Courier Journal, 10 August 1922, page 1 Attack on Pit is Halted by Machine Gun, it was described as the largest steam shovel in the country and had previously been used in construction of the Panama Canal.
Weaver was charged with manslaughter by a local grand jury and was acquitted of the charges after a trial on May 12, 1923. Weaver continued to serve in the Kentucky National Guard until he moved out of state and was honorably discharged on July 3, 1923.
Emotions were running high across the nation during the coal strike and there was concern in some quarters that outside agitators would come to the Madisonville area and that the Herrin massacre would be repeated in Kentucky. Herrin, near Marion, Illinois, was only some 100 miles away from Madisonville.
The Herrin massacre took place on June 21-22, 1922 in Herrin, Illinois, in a coal mining area during a nationwide strike by the United Mineworkers of America. Although the owner of the mine originally agreed with the union to observe the strike, when the price of coal went up, he hired non-union workers to produce and ship out coal, citing his high debt from start-up costs. Enraged that the owner had disregarded their agreement, on June 21, union miners shot at the strikebreakers going to work, where the mine had armed guards. When striking union members armed themselves and laid siege to the mine, the owner's guards shot and killed three white union miners in an exchange of gunfire. The next day, union miners killed Superintendent McDowell and 18 of 50 strikebreakers and mine guards, many of them brutally. A twentieth victim from the non-union group was later murdered, bringing the death total to 23. SEE Wikipedia Herrin massacre https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Herrin_massacre&oldid=847653645
Hopkinsville Boy Cleared in Killing While Guardsman
Messenger Inquirer Owensboro, KY 13 May 1923 Page 1
MADISONVILLE, Ky., May 12, -- John Weaver, Hopkinsville youth charged with the murder of Ross McCord, also of Hopkinsville, was acquitted by a jury in circuit court here after 30 minutes deliberation.
Weaver was indicted for the fatal shooting of McCord, which occurred near a pump house in the St. Charles section of this county while the Hopkinsville military company was doing strike duty here last fall. The shooting occurred in October, and McCord died several days later at the United States Hospital at Dawson Springs. Both were members of the Hopkinsville military company.
Weaver’s defense was that he thought he was going to be attacked by an unknown assailant when McCord came around an automobile and that he had his pistol in his hand to protect himself while walking his beat, when McCord, whom he did not recognize in the darkness, seized his wrist, and during the struggle between the two the pistol was accidentally discharged.
Owingsville outlook. (Owingsville, Ky.), 09 March 1922. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. < http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069620/1922-03-09/ed-1/seq-3/ >
Frankfort -- Adjt. Gen. Jackson Morris was notified by the War Department that the Kentucky National Guard will attend training camp at Camp Knox during August. The 138th Field Artillery. Louisville, will be in camp from July 30th to August 13 and the l49th Infantry. 38th Military Police Company, 38th Tank Company, 137th Hospital Company and 53rd and 54th Machine Gun Squadrons from August 13 to 27.
U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Ilsley, Kentucky