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Mother Blizzard


Labor activist Sarah ‘‘Mother’’ Blizzard (October 6, 1864-September 28, 1955) was born Sarah Rebecca Rogers in Edmond, Fayette County. She spent her early life on the family farm and witnessed the advent of coal mining in southern West Virginia following the coming of the railroads in the 1870s and 1880s. Blizzard was deeply involved in the United Mine Workers of America, from the organization’s early beginnings in the late 19th century. She encouraged her husband, Timothy Blizzard, and her children to participate in union activities. Her support for the 1902 coal strike led to her family’s eviction from their home in Kilsyth, Fayette County.

The family resettled in the Cabin Creek district of Kanawha County, where Sarah Blizzard allowed striking miners to camp on her land during the violent 1912–13 Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike. During the strike, she participated in the umbrella march with Mother Jones, whom she knew and to whom contemporaries often compared her; on this occasion the women armed themselves with umbrellas, Jones and Blizzard allegedly striking policemen with theirs. Blizzard also organized a group of women to sabotage a rail line, blocking the return of the armored Bull Moose Special to the miners’ camp.

Remembered as ‘‘Mother’’ or ‘‘Ma’’ Blizzard by the miners she helped to look after, Sarah Blizzard was the mother of UMW District 17 President Bill Blizzard and great-grandmother of UMW President Cecil Roberts.

Written by Shae Davidson