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White Slavery

White Slavery image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
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New Yokk, March 4. - Seveü Bohe nii.-ms, who were sene from an employj ment agency in Greenwich street to labor on the railroad near tbe Pocahontas coal mines in West Virginia, have written a letter to a Bohemian newspaper in this city that is a chapter from the blackest records of slavery. They arrived with immigrants of several other nationalities at Elkhorn, V. Va., in the latter part of November uuder the impression that they were to receive $1.20 a day and an allowance of SS a month for board. They signed a paper which was not read to them, but which bound them, they afterward found out, to servitude. Guarded Like Convicta. "We were put on a train at Norfolk after our arrival from New York," the letter reads, "and taken to Pocahontas. After leaving the train we were told that we would have to travel one day on foot, and that we would have to leave our trunks behind. Instead of traveling one day we travcled three. The cold was severe, and most of our own shoes gave out, so that we were almost barefooted. At Pocahontas we ere joined by two young men, who rode on mules and were heavily armed. The agent carried a pistol in his hand. What happened to us after we reached our destinatio i is sodreadful that it may seeni incredible to you. We are helplrss bere, as we are watched and guarded like prisoners. We did not get our trunks until a month after we got here, and our bodies were covered with vermin. Must Work, 111 or Heil. "The food is always the same, bitter, black collee and bacon three times a day. Whether a man 19 ill or not makes no difference to our masters. He must go to work, and when not able to work he is flogged until he is black and blue and told that he has signed the contract and must abide by it. We have received no money, and when we ask for it we are told that we owe $15 tor railroad fare and $11 for board. At the store we are charged doublé for what we get, so that some of us have debts amountiug to $35. Our labor is in vain, hard as it is; we are hungry, and our nights are sleepless becauso of the cold and the dirt. The Barbarous Punislunent. "We eat breakfast at 5 in the rnorning and go iiumediately to our work, which lnsts far into the night. Two men tried to escape on Jan. 18. One was a Russian Jew aud the other a Pole. They were caught and brought back. For punishment they were compelled to wade in water up to their waists and draw large boats after them. After this their coats were taken off and they were whipped until they begged on their knees for mercy. At night they were chained together so they could not escape. When we asked about our trunks and received an unsatisfactory answer we ref used to work. We were confronted with pistol sand told that we would be shot down like dogs uuless we resumed work. U 11, There OugUt To Be Help. "We bave been sold iike slaves. Is there no help? Oh, if we could nee from here and save others from a similar fate. Per haps this letter may be published, and through providence we may yet be saved." The letter is signed by William Hoffman, Joseph Langer, L. Langer, J. P. Mayer, Mike Hranyo, J. Mraz, J. Gerry. The address is given as Elkhorn, McDowell county, W. Va , care of J. Bowell, PurcelPs Camp, No. 2.