Filed Under Labor History

Frank Little Tour: Mountain View Cemetery

Frank Little's Gravesite

Little was buried in the largest funeral in Butte's history.

From the murder site, Frank Little’s body was sent back uptown, to the Duggan Mortuary on North Main, right across the street from the old blown-up Miner’s Union Hall. From there, the body travelled back down south for burial in the Mountain View Cemetery. But Little didn’t travel there alone.

On August 5, thousands of miners, unionists, Irish nationalists, and many other Butte residents gathered to escort, or honor, Little as he was taken to his grave. According to an oral history with John Harrington, a Butte resident who attended the funeral, the streets were “black with people.”

With such an outpouring of support, it is easy to forget that Frank Little was not from Butte. He’d only been there two weeks. Little’s family was based in Oklahoma, and initially they made plans to bring his body back there for burial. But the IWW leadership contacted the family and requested he be buried on “fighting ground.” The family acquiesced.

So, on August 5, in the largest funeral in Butte’s history, Frank Little was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. The cemetery, built in 1910, was where many of Butte’s workers of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds were buried. The gravestones reflect the multitude of languages spoken, and religions adhered to, in Butte. A disproportionate number of the gravestones were for miners who had died young due to accidents or lung disease. Many of the miners who had just been killed weeks before in the Granite Mountain Mine disaster were buried there.

As Little’s funeral wrapped up, the attendants sang the French national anthem “La Marseillaise” -- a song about fighting against tyranny. Little’s casket had been draped in a red banner that said, “Martyr to Solidarity.” And on his gravestone were etched the words: “SLAIN BY CAPITALIST INTERESTS FOR ORGANIZING AND INSPIRING HIS FELLOW MEN.”

Little’s martyrdom came quickly. Across the nation he was memorialized in writing and, in some cases, in protests, and he has remained an inspiring figure for more than 100 years. People regularly make pilgrimages to his grave, leaving flowers, copper pennies, booze (although Little did not drink), and labor organizing mementos.

Audio

John Harrington - Frank Little John Harrington discusses Frank Little, his abduction from the boarding house (the Steele Block building), and his massive funeral, where the streets were “black with people.” Source: Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives

Images

Newspaper Coverage of Frank Little's Funeral Frank Little’s murder made national headlines across the country. So did his funeral, which brought thousands of people into the streets of Butte. They took his body from the mortuary in uptown Butte down to Mountain View Cemetery for burial. Creator: Butte Miner newspaper Date: 1917
Never Forget Poster Little’s violent murder, which many workers believed to be the result of his union organizing, immediately made him a national martyr. The IWW requested he be buried in Butte, on the “fighting ground,” and they may have created this poster, which urged workers to never forget Little. Source: Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives Creator: C. Owen Smithers, photograph; creator of poster unknown Date: 1917
Frank Little's Grave Frank Little’s martyrdom was not short lived. The IWW’s urging to “never forget” was successful in many ways. Little continues to be venerated by people attracted to radical politics and labor organizing. His grave attracts admirers from across the nation (and beyond), who adorn his grave with a variety of objects. Source: Orin Blomberg Creator: Orin Blomberg

Location

3910 Harrison Avenue | Public

Metadata

Leif Fredrickson, “Frank Little Tour: Mountain View Cemetery,” Story of Butte, accessed January 27, 2023, https://storyofbutte.org/items/show/3419.