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Nathan Wesley Everest (December 29, 1890 in Newberg, Oregon — November 11, 1919 in Centralia, Washington) was an American member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and a World War I era veteran. He was lynched during the Centralia Massacre after killing Dale Hubbard in what the union called self-defense, though the American Legion called it murder.
Everest was drafted into the army in November 1917 and was a member of the Spruce Production Division in Vancouver, Washington, which supplied timber for building airplanes, railroad cars, and other vital wartime equipment. Everest spent much of his time in the Vancouver stockade for refusing to salute the American flag. Contrary to virtually all published accounts, Everest never served in France and was never sent overseas. After serving during World War I, Everest worked in Centralia, Washington as a lumberjack. He also was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World.
The Centralia Massacre
During the celebration of Armistice Day in 1919, members of the American Legion stormed the IWW Union Hall, although it is debated who initiated the incident. The American Legion claimed that they were fired upon before they attacked the hall. The IWW claimed that the Legion attacked before they fired. The result was a fight that resulted in deaths of six men, while others were wounded. After firing from inside the IWW hall, Everest ran out the back door and was pursued by a mob. He killed Dale Hubbard before he was overpowered, beaten, and dragged to the town's jail. It was said that, during the incident, Everest uttered the words, "I fought for democracy in France and I'm going to fight for it here. The first man that comes in this hall, why, he's going to get it."
During the evening of November 11, Everest was turned over to the lynch mob by jail guards, taken to a bridge over the Chehalis River, lynched and then shot. The next day his body was cut down and lay in the river bottom until sunset, when his body was returned to the jail. There it lay with the rope still around his neck, in full view of the IWW members rounded up after the shootings. Later his body was buried in the paupers graveyard. No one was charged with the crime even if those involved in the lynching were well-known to townsfolk in Centralia.
As a result of the shootings, seven IWW members were sentenced to prison terms of 25 to 40 years. The last prisoner was released in 1939.
Many books about the Centralia case state that Everest was castrated while being driven to his lynching. A careful review of the historical record strongly suggests that castration never took place. The first published account of castration appeared over four months after the fact. The IWW members who saw Everest's body in the jail after the lynching said nothing about mutilation in interviews with the press at the time. The coroner's jury, which examined the body on November 13 was likewise silent. The IWW defense lawyers said nothing about castration during the three-month trial when it might have done some good for the defense. Those who placed his body in the coffin said nothing about castration. A 1930 objective account of the Centralia case, published by the Council of Churches, concluded that the castration story "has not been clearly established."
One significant piece of evidence makes a strong case to discredit the castration story. After Everest's body was returned to the jail following his lynching, a man (presumably a police officer) examined his body and filed a police report dated November 12. The report includes a set of fingerprints and a description of the body, including the color of his eyes and hair. It estimates Everest's height and weight. Then it notes: "No scars that could be located on the body outside where rope cut neck[.] hole that looked like bullet hole[.] Prints taken in the Jail at Centralia, Wash. room very dark to see any thing on the body in line [of] scars: rope was still around the neck of the man." If the police officer was looking for scars and could see the color of Everest's eyes and hair, he could hardly miss evidence of castration.
- "1919: The murder of Wesley Everest". libcom group (Libertarian Communism), London. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
- "Wesley Everest, IWW Martyr, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, October 1986, pages 122-129, by Tom Copeland: http://libcom.org/files/Wesley%20Everest,%20IWW%20martyr.pdf
- John Dos Passos, "Paul Bunyan", in: U.S.A.: 1919, New York 1932, ed. 1996, pp. 747–750
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