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Hill, Joelocked

(07 October 1879–19 November 1915)
  • Melvyn Dubofsky

Extract

Hill, Joe (07 October 1879–19 November 1915), labor radical and troubadour, was born Joel Hägglund in Gävle, Sweden, the son of Olof Hägglund, a railway conductor, and Margareta Katarina (maiden name unknown). Raised in a devout Lutheran home with many siblings, he enjoyed considerable exposure to music but none to politics or labor affairs. When he was eight his father died as a result of a work accident, and the Hägglund family was left penniless. All the children had to work for wages, and young Joel found employment in a rope factory and later as a stationary fireman. Stricken with skin and joint tuberculosis in his late teens, he traveled alone to Stockholm where he received treatments for the disease, including a series of operations that left him scarred for life. Outside the hospital he worked at odd jobs. His mother died in January 1902, prompting all the surviving children to leave home. In the fall of 1902 he and a brother emigrated from Sweden to the United States....

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