Interview with Clayton Turner, August 19, 1987
Project: Appalachia: Roving Pickets Oral History Project
Interview SummaryClayton Turner describes his involvement with the roving pickets' movement in the 1960s. He states that the movement began in Harlan Country and then spread northward into Perry and Letcher counties. He became involved with the Roving Pickets after moving from Lynch, Kentucky to Perry County, Kentucky. Turner maintains that the roving pickets' movement was a union-sponsored activity.
Turner also discusses the Roving Pickets' Washington trip in 1963. A bus filled with miners traveled to Washington to see the president. Unfortunately they were unable to meet with him, but they did speak with several key members of Congress and other federal officials. Turner believes that it was this trip that brought some relief to the people of Perry County. Food and clothing were donated to miners, and federal work programs such as the Unemployed Fathers Program ("Happy Pappy") began shortly after the Washington trip.
Turner also talks about the violence associated with the roving pickets' movement. Although he was sent to prison for his part in a conspiracy to dynamite a railroad bridge in Perry County, he maintains that not all the violence during that time period can be attributed to the Roving Pickets. He states that coal operators often blew up coal tipples and mining machinery to collect insurance and to turn public opinion against the pickets.
Other topics Turner discusses include the treatment of the Roving Pickets by law enforcement officials and Charlie Combs, the High Sheriff of Perry County. It seems that in addition to being sheriff, Combs was also a coal operator. Turner claims that Combs was particularly brutal in his dealings with the Roving Pickets. He remembers an incident when Combs arrested a man because his brother was a Roving Picket, and another time when Combs and his deputies opened fire on two men who were hunting near a coal mine.
Interview KeywordBerman Gibson Charlie Combs prison Roving Pickets United Mine Workers of America violence
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Interview UsageInterviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
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Turner, Clayton Interview by Doug Cantrell. 19 Aug. 1987. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Turner, C. (1987, August 19). Interview by D. Cantrell. Appalachia: Roving Pickets Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Turner, Clayton, interview by Doug Cantrell. August 19, 1987, Appalachia: Roving Pickets Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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