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450 S Michigan Ave, AUD 1851
Chicago IL 60605
United States


Illinois Labor History Society

Biographies: F-G

Biographies: F-G

Samuel Fielden, Haymarket Martyr


(1846-1922) Grave 16, Sector A

Fielden was born into a poor, working-class family in Lancashire, England. As a child he did not go to school but operated a loom in a textile plant. In his late teens he became a Methodist preacher with a very "worldly" orientation, combining the religious zeal that he inherited from his mother with the political bent of his father. He came to New York in 1868 and the moved to Chicago in 1869, where he became active in the labor movement and headed the city's largest atheist group. He eventually became an anarchist and joined as a charter member Chicago's first Teamsters Union. In a brief trip to the south, he saw the brutal enslavement of African-Americans under the sharecropping system after the Civil War, and was greatly disturbed. In the 1870's, Fielden worked for a while dredging the Sag Canal.

It was a strange twist of fate that Fielden was speaking at a meeting on DesPlaines Street when the Haymarket bomb was thrown. He had intended to merely address a group of clothing workers organized by Lucy Parsons and then come home. Instead he was arrested and imprisoned with the other Haymarket martyrs. In 1893 he was pardoned by Governor Altgeld. He later moved to La Veta, Colorado, where one of his admirers had left him a ranch. He died there at age 75, and is believed to be buried there, although county records do not show this. Fielden was married to Sarah and the couple had 2 children. He is the only one of the Haymarket Eight not buried at Forest Home Cemetery.

Jane Finder

(1920- 2005) [ashes scattered]

Jane Finder was proud of her German Jewish ancestry. Her father had been a 'free thinker' and she became interested in socialism from an early age. She grew up in Chicago's south side where she lived for most of her life. Jane earned her Bachelors in Library Sciences from the University of Chicago in 1946, and worked as a librarian for the next 30 years. The culmination of her career was heading the South Shore branch of the Chicago Public Library.

Jane Finder's association with Modern Bookstore began during WWII when one of her brothers asked her to purchase an item at the bookstore and send it to him. She started as a customer and then in the 80's and 90's became a stalwart supporter and volunteer. Her knowledge of history, Marxist philosophy, literature, geography, the civil rights and trade union movements was notable. After Jane retired she continued to volunteer, working for the CPUSA and the Daily World newspaper.

Adolph Fischer, Haymarket Martyr

(1858-1887) Grave 17, Sector A

Adolph Fischer came to the U.S. at age 15 from Germany and worked as an apprentice compositor at a German language newspaper. He was a member of the German Typographical Union in St. Louis, where he was married. He brought his wife, Johanna Pfauntz and children to Chicago in 1883, when he came to work for the anarchist daily Arbeiter-Zeitung and its editor, August Spies. As editor of the journal Der Anarchist, Fischer was active in the extreme left of the anarchist movement in Chicago. He helped plan the Haymarket meeting, but left the assembly before the bomb went off. At the time of his arrest he was foreman of the Arbeiter-Zeitung composing room. He was hanged on November 11, 1887.

Fischer was married to Johanna Pfauntz in 1881 and the couple had 3 children.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

(1890-1964) Grave 18, Sector A

Flynn, "The Rebel Girl," was born in Concord, New Hampshire, in a poor working-class family. Her mother was a suffragette. Flynn's exposure to the poverty of textile workers in New Hampshire and later New York City had a profound effect on her. In 1906 she began speaking at Socialist Party street meetings and she joined the IWW in 1907.

She soon emerged as an outstanding labor organizer and agitator, displaying stunning leadership abilities in the Lawrence Strike (Massachusetts, 1912) and the Paterson Strike (New Jersey, 1912-13). She had a vibrant, militant style and was widely heralded for her extraordinary energy and courage. Flynn worked closely with Big Bill Haywood and Eugene Debs. She also helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union.

In 1937 she joined the CPUSA. In the McCarthy period she was convicted under the Smith Act and received a three-year prison term. In 1961, after the death of Eugene Dennis, she became the chair of the CPUSA. While traveling in the Soviet Union she became ill. She died in Moscow, where a state funeral – attended by Nikita Khrushchev and other Soviet Party leaders was held. She authored two autobiographical volumes. Her ashes were returned to the U.S. for burial at Forest Home.

Flynn inspired the IWW's Joe Hill to write a song about her, The Rebel Girl: "Yes, her hands may be hardened from labor, And her dress may not be very fine; But a heart in her bosom is beating That is true to her class and her kind. And the grafters in terror are trembling When her spite and defiance she'll hurl; For the only and thoroughbred lady Is the Rebel Girl."

Esther Abramowitz Foster

( ? -1965) Grave 19,  Sector B

Russian born Esther Abramowitz came to the U.S. as a child and worked in a sweatshop in the garment industry in New York City. In 1912 she married William Z. Foster and joined the Foster group in the Socialist Party. She later joined the CPUSA.

For the rest of her life she worked closely with her husband in their common cause of industrial trade unionism, equality and socialism.

William Z. Foster

(1881-1966) Grave 20, Sector B

Foster is a giant in the history of the U.S. working-class movement. He was born into a poor Irish family in Taunton, Massachusetts, and began work at age seven selling newspapers. He subsequently worked in dozens of other jobs all over the country and on the high seas, many which are described in his book, Pages From a Worker's Life.
Foster was a top-notch union organizer and played a vital part in many strikes.

He worked with the IWW, the American Federation of Labor (AFL), the Railroad Brotherhood, the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO) and various independent unions. He was a founder of the Trade Union Educational League (TUEL) in 1916, and was tireless fighter for industrial unionism and working-class unity.

In 1917, Foster worked with others to organize workers in the meatpacking industry— the first mass-production industry to be organized. This industry was the most difficult to organize because of its multi-national and multi-racial work force. Soon after, with reluctant help from AFL leader Samuel Gompers, Foster tried to organize the steelworkers. The Great Strike of 1919 came under attack by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer as a "Red Menace". The strike was broken when Gompers withdrew his support. Bitter but not defeated, Foster went on to help organize for the United Mine Workers.

In 1921, Foster became a member of the CPUSA and was it's candidate for president in 1924, 1928 and 1932. He played a leading role in the CPUSA for many years, and was a key figure in its reconstitution, after it was temporarily dissolved by Earl Browder in1946. A working-class intellectual, Foster was a prolific author, writing major books, including two autobiographical volumes and scores of pamphlets. Books include; History of the Other Americas, The Great Steel Strike and its Lessons, Negro People in American History and History of the Communist Party USA.

Johanna Goldberg

(1912- 2000) [ashes scattered]

Johanna was a lifelong member(a member for decades) of the Chicago Teachers Union where she supported union rank and file committee. She was a reader and generous supporter of the People's World newspaper and a long time member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

Emma Goldman

(1869-1940) Grave 21, Sector B

Emma Goldman was a noted anarchist lecturer, an agitator for free speech and champion of the arts. She was a leading feminist and pioneer advocate of birth control, and an untiring supporter of the Catalonian revolutionists during the Spanish Civil War.


Goldman was born in Russia, surrounded by oppression and injustice. Emigrated to Rochester, New York, she was eighteen years old when Parsons, Spies, Fischer and Engel were hanged. The hanging only deepened her hatred of political repression, and she became an outspoken anarchist.

Goldman was deported in 1919, and was allowed to return to the U.S. only once in 1935, when hundreds of people had to be turned away from a dinner in her honor at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. J. Edgar Hoover called Goldman and one of her early lovers, Alexander Berkman, "beyond doubt two of the most dangerous anarchists in the country." She died in Canada in 1940. Although she expressed disillusionment with socialism in the Soviet Union she remained a radical to the end of her life. In accordance with her last request, her remains were returned to the U.S. to rest beside the Haymarket Martyrs who had inspired her life. At Emma's burial, Roger Baldwin came to give the eulogy. Emma's lecture to Roger when he was a conservative Harvard graduate had led him to found the American Civil Liberties Union. Her autobiography, My Life, described her remarkable life as an anarchist and revolutionary. The bronze plaque on the gravestone of Emma Goldman was produced by the sculptor Jo Davidson. The stonecutter made a mistake on the year of her death; it was May 14, 1940, not 1939.