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Shawnee in Perry County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Knights of Labor Opera House

 
 
Knights of Labor Opera House Marker, Side One image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, August 22, 2018
1. Knights of Labor Opera House Marker, Side One
Inscription.  In 1869 a secret organization. The Knights of Labor, was founded in Philadelphia. The K.O.L. promoted an ideal society based on bettering life for others with the slogans. “labor was the first capital” and “an injury to one is the concern of all.” Shawnee’s Local Assembly No. 169 Knights of Labor was organized in 1876 and quickly became a powerful voice for labor in Ohio. National labor leader, William T. Lewis. later Labor Commissioner of Ohio, taught free grammar classes at night for the miners. Lewis initiated “The Ohio Plan,” the first free employment bureaus in the United States. William H. Bailey, later head of National District Assembly No. 135 of Miners and T.L. Lewis, President of the United Mine Workers in 1910, also started their careers here. Meetings involving these leaders led to the formation of the United Mine Workers in 1890.

The K.O.L. became an open organization in 1879. The Opera House was built in 1881, a demonstration of pride that the K.O.L. was no longer a secret organization. The building cost $8,200 for basic construction. The bricks were molded by hand and
Knights of Labor Opera House Marker, Side Two image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, August 22, 2018
2. Knights of Labor Opera House Marker, Side Two
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hauled to be fired at the edge of town. The building housed a cooperative store on the first floor, a theater on the second floor. and a library with a classroom and meeting space on the third floor. The centerpiece of social life and entertainment for the area, the auditorium was used for plays, graduations, dances, and gatherings such as the annual Bobby Burns celebration and the Welsh Eisteddfods. As a more trade union oriented labor movement led to the formation of the American Federation of Labor, K.O.L. membership diminished. The building was sold in 1902 to the Knights of Pythias and was sold again 1943 to Hannah Brothers Furniture.
 
Erected 2011 by The Village of Shawnee, Ohio, and The Ohio Historical Society. (Marker Number 13-64.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EducationLabor Unions. In addition, it is included in the Ohio Historical Society / The Ohio History Connection series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1869.
 
Location. 39° 36.231′ N, 82° 12.689′ W. Marker is in Shawnee, Ohio, in Perry County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street and 2nd Street, on the left when traveling east on Main Street. It is Saltlick Township Memorial Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Shawnee OH 43782, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker
Knights of Labor Opera House Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, August 22, 2018
3. Knights of Labor Opera House Marker
, measured as the crow flies. Tecumseh Theater (within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome to Shawnee and the Little Cities of Back Diamond Region (within shouting distance of this marker); A Boom Town (within shouting distance of this marker); Black Diamonds and Bricks (within shouting distance of this marker); A Little City in the Forest (within shouting distance of this marker); World’s Greatest Mine Fire (approx. 1.3 miles away); New Straitsville Mine Fire and Rock Run Reclamation (approx. 1.3 miles away); Robinson’s Cave (approx. 2.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Shawnee.
 
Also see . . .
1. Wikipedia entry for Knights of Labor. “In 1869, Uriah Smith Stephens, James L. Wright, and a small group of Philadelphia tailors founded a secret organization known as the Noble Order of the Knights of Labor. The collapse of the National Labor Union in 1873 left a vacuum for workers looking for organization. The Knights became better organized with a national vision when they replaced Stephens with Terence V. Powderly. The organization became popular with Pennsylvania coal miners during the economic depression of the mid-1870s, then it grew rapidly. The KOL was a diverse industrial union open to all workers. The leaders felt that it was best to have a versatile population in
Knights of Labor Opera House image. Click for full size.
Photographed By TeamOHE, November 7, 2020
4. Knights of Labor Opera House
order to get points of view from all aspects. The Knights of Labor barred membership from five groups: bankers, land speculators, lawyers, liquor dealers and gamblers. Its members included low skilled workers, railroad workers, immigrants, and steel workers.” (Submitted on September 2, 2018.) 

2. Knights of Labor Opera House - Shawnee Historic Walking ... (Submitted on November 12, 2020, by Robert Baughman of Bellefontaine, Ohio.)
 
Insignia on the Opera House image. Click for full size.
Photographed By TeamOHE, November 7, 2020
5. Insignia on the Opera House
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 18, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 2, 2018, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 351 times since then and 79 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 2, 2018, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.   4, 5. submitted on February 17, 2021, by TeamOHE of Napoleon, Ohio.
 
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Oct. 3, 2022