Joe Hill Chronology

October 7, 1879: Birth of Joe Hill (as Joel Hägglund) in Gävle, Sweden.

December 7, 1887: Joe Hill’s father, Olof, dies during operation to treat injury from job accident.

October 3, 1900: Joe Hill released from hospital after surgery and long convalescence from tuberculosis contracted as a rope maker (a trade he began work at at the age of 12). Returns to Gävle – working in shipyard, plays piano in local cafés, and joins the Gävle Workers’ Federation.

January 17, 1902: Joe Hill’s mother, Catharina, dies.

October 28, 1902: Joe Hill (and his brother) arrives in New York City from Sweden.

April 18, 1906: Joe Hill in San Francisco Earthquake; writes about it for Swedish newspaper Gefle Dägblad.

August 27, 1910: Joe Hill publishes his first article in the Industrial Worker.

March 2, 1911: IWW wins Fresno, California, Free Speech Fight.

April 30, 1911: Joe Hill leaves San Pedro, California, to join Mexican Revolution.

June 22, 1911: Joe Hill flees to California after Mexican troops crush Magonista rebellion.

July 6, 1911: Joe Hill’s song “The Preacher and the Slave” (Long-Haired Preachers) published in IWW’s Little Red Songbook.

September 30, 1911: Nationwide strike of more than 40,000 railway shopmen inspires Joe Hill’s song “Casey Jones – the Union Scab.”

March 20, 1912: Joe Hill joins San Diego Free Speech Fight.

March 27, 1912: Start of 8-month Fraser River Strike by IWW railroad construction workers, British Columbia. Joe Hill joins 1,000-mile picket line, writing several songs to bolster spirits on the picket line.

March 31, 1912: Joe Hill is IWW speaker at Free Speech League rally in San Francisco Building Trades hall, speaking on San Diego Free Speech Fight, in which he participated.

April 8, 1912: Joe Hill arrives in Fraser River Valley, Canada, to support striking IWW railroad construction workers.

May 9, 1912: Joe Hill’s song “Where the Fraser River Flows” published in Industrial Worker.

July 18, 1912: Joe Hill elected secretary of San Pedro IWW longshore strike committee.

August 1, 1912: San Pedro longshore strike defeated, Wobblies blacklisted.

January 1913: Joe Hill’s song “Mr. Block” published in Industrial Worker.

February 16, 1913: Joe Hill song “Scissor Bill” published in Industrial Worker.

March 6, 1913: Joe Hill’s “There Is Power in a Union” first appears in IWW Little Red Songbook.

April 3, 1913: Joe Hill’s anti-war song “Should I Ever Be A Soldier” first published in Industrial Worker.

April 10, 1913: Joe Hill’s song “The White Slave” first published  in Industrial Worker.

May 29, 1913: Joe Hill’s song “Stung Right” published in Industrial Worker.

July 9, 1913: Joe Hill leaves San Pedro, California, jail after 30 days on vagrancy rap stemming from his role in longshore strike. Blacklisted, he soon heads to Salt Lake City.

July 10, 1913: Industrial Worker reports IWW win in strike against Utah construction contractors.

August 12, 1913: Gun thugs break up IWW street meeting, Salt Lake City.

January 10, 1914: Murder of Salt Lake City grocer provides pretext for frame-up of Joe Hill.

January 12, 1914: Salt Lake City police arrest man who likely committed the murder Joe Hill was executed for.

January 14, 1914: Salt Lake City police shoot, nearly kill, Joe Hill in his bed.

January 22, 1914: Joe Hill pleads not guilty; police condemn him as writer of IWW songs.

January 28, 1914: Joe Hill’s preliminary hearing; police soon “lose” transcript.

June 10, 1914: Jury selection begins in Joe Hill trial; judge packs jury pool to defeat defense challenges.

June 19, 1914: Judge in Joe Hill trial “corrects” witness testimony to preserve prosecution case.

June 24, 1914: Defense testimony shows Joe Hill could not have been shot during Morrisey robbery.

July 8, 1914: Joe Hill sentenced to death.

September 19, 1914: IWW newspaper Solidarity publishes Joe Hill’s song, “Workers of the World, Awaken.”

May 28, 1915: Utah Supreme Court hears Joe Hill appeal; rules state has no obligation to prove charges.

October 16, 1915: Utah Pardons Board “considers” Joe Hill’s fate as Salt Lake newspaper falsely ties him to 1911 robbery. (Hill was in Mexican Revolution at the time.)

October 31, 1915: Salt Lake City IWW Secretary R.J. Horton shot in back, killed; the killer is feted the next day at the Elks Club.

November 9, 1915: Huge New York City rally demands Joe Hill be freed. Speakers include Joe Ettor, John Reed and Jim Larkin.

November 16, 1915:  American Federation of Labor convention delegates demand new trial for Joe Hill.

November 19, 1915: IWW organizer and songwriter Joe Hill murdered by Utah authorities.

November 25, 1915: Tens of thousands pack Joe Hill funeral, Chicago.

February 14, 1929: Real killer freed by Salt Lake cops in Joe Hill case involved in St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Chicago.

November 18, 1988: Last of Joe Hill’s ashes released from federal government custody. They had been seized from the mails by the government in 1917 under the Espionage Act and secretly held for decades.

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