The infamous Matewan Massacre will be reenacted this month in the town where it originally happened nearly a century ago.
The battle of Matewan happened on May 19, 1920, when local coal miners engaged in a bloody shootout with Baldwin-Felts detectives out of Bluefield who had been sent into Matewan to evict families that had been living at the Stone Mountain Coal Camp on the outskirts of town.
After evicting several families, the detectives went to the train depot to catch a train back to Bluefield, but were met by Matewan Police Chief Sid Hatfield, who was intervening on behalf of the evicted families.
Hatfield supported the miners’ efforts to start a union in the coalfields.
After both Hatfield and the Felts brothers produced warrants for each others’ arrests, the detectives were surrounded by armed miners. A gun battle blazed between miners and the detectives that left seven detectives and four townspeople dead, including both Albert Felts and his brother, Lee, and Matewan Mayor Cabell Testerman. The battle marked a major turning point in the battle for miners’ rights.
Each year, a theater production group out of Matewan and the surrounding communities gather to reenact the massacre that made the town famous.
This year, it’s being held on the 92nd anniversary of the battle. There will be two shows on May 19. The first show will be performed at 11 a.m. and the second show will begin at 3 p.m. Both shows will be performed in downtown Matewan in front of Local United Mine Workers Union Hall 1440.
UMWA President Cecil Roberts will be the guest speaker for the event, that will also feature a ATV/dirt bike/UTV scavenger hunt, street vendors and live music.
There will also be a free bean dinner and cookout, compliments of the local union.
Door prizes will also be awarded during the event.
For more information, call Outback ATV’s Jeff Hatfield at 304-426-5152.
Those who register will ride the Buffalo Mountain Trailhead between Matewan and Delbarton.
To contact Staff Writer Michael Browning, call 304-752-6950, extension 309, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.