Though not make a Federal holiday until 1887, Wheeling's first Labor Day was celebrated on August 28, 1886. The Wheeling Intelligencer reported of the day, "Saturday's demonstration of organized labor under the auspices of the Ohio Valley Trades and Labor Assembly was the most imposing display of the kind, if not of any kind, ever witnessed in the city. Over 3,000 men were in line, and they stuck pretty well over the long line of march, notwithstanding the dust and the burning sun. After the procession had formed at the south end of the Fifth ward market house, and been on the march for some time, an actual count showed that there were still in line nearly 3,000 men. The trades represented, embraced almost every industry in this city and vicinity; the ranks of the various lodges were generally very full, the marching of the members was excellent, the order almost perfect, and the enthusiasm of the men and spectators all that the most ardent could wish."
This real photo postcard from the Library's archival collections shows tobacco workers marching down Main Street near the corner of 12th Street, for Wheeling's Labor Day parade, September 2, 1907.
The Wheeling Intelligencer reported the next day in their Tuesday, September 3rd, 1907 issue: "Many in Uniform - The Elm Grove carpenters attracted attention through the neat uniform they wore, while the plasterers in white suits carried laths; the painters wore white suits with a small paint brush pinned on them; the leather workers, brewery workers and other wore white caps, while the tobacco workers carried red, white and blue umbrellas."
It seems the tobacco workers were ahead of the game this Labor Day in 1907 as the major headline for the day read "Heavy Rain Interferes With Doings" and further reported, "Everyone suspended work yesterday the national Labor Day, with the exception of the weather man."
While the Library will be closed on Labor Day, access is always available to many library services remotely. With an internet connection, you can enjoy online services from anywhere, including digital copies of our microfilmed Wheeling newspapers. Browse and borrow downloadable books, audiobooks, and videos from the West Virginia Downloadable Entertainment Library Initiative (wvdeli.overdrive.com) and Hoopla (hoopladigital.com).
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