It was April 16th, 1906 when Windber’s history was changed forever.
It began when members of Windber’s Mine Worker Union were in need of justice and transparency.
“Windber experienced economic slavery. They simply were not paid the wage for the amount of work that they did.”
That’s what Bill Koshute a Windber miner descendant and 1906 Memorial Committee member said about his ancestors.
So, the miners went on a peaceful strike that Easter Monday.
Although, their company hired private guards with guns.
“For whatever reason, the guards at the time opened fire indiscriminately into the crowd of unarmed miners and citizens,” Koshute said.
Three unarmed miners were instantly killed, along with a child who was hit by a stray bullet.
“The victims of that day were Stefan Popovic, Matus Tomen, Simeon Vojcek, and Curtis Kester,” Koshute told 6 News.
Over a dozen others were also shot and wounded that day.
Now exactly 115 years later Windber residents are still remembering the victims with services.
“This is part of our labor history,” Koshute said.
The community could attend service at SS. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church Friday morning, or another service that evening at St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Cemetery Altar.
“We try to remember those four that lost their lives on Windber’s darkest day,” Koshute said.
There’s even a book about Windber’s miner history written by Millie Allen Beik of Windber.
She said it’s important to pass the story down to future generations and keep the story alive.
“People need to know about it because they’re going to have to live in the future. They’re going to have to fight some of these same kids of battles over and over again in order to get their rights,”
Over a century later, the 1906 Memorial Committee is trying to educate the next generation about the 1906 shooting and reach out to miner descendants in the area.
“Windber miners and miner descendants never forgot, never forgot their loss. We like to invite them to our memorial services. That’s one of our goals,”