Ella’s Strike Ballads



Come all of you good people, and listen while I tell,
The story of Chief Aderholt, the man you all knew well.
It was on one Friday evening, the seventh day of June,
He went down to the union ground and met his fatal doom.

They locked up our leaders, they put them into jail,
They shoved them into prison, refused to give them bail.
The workers joined together, and this was their reply,
“We’ll never, no, we’ll never, let our leaders die.”

They moved the trial to Charlotte, got lawyers from every town,
I’m sure we’ll hear them speak again upon the union ground.
While Vera, she’s in prison, Manville-Jenckes is in pain,
Come join the Textile Union, and show them you are game.

We’re going to have a union all over the South,
Where we can wear good clothes, and live in a better house.
Now we must stand together, and to the boss reply,
“We’ll never, no, we’ll never, let our leaders die.”

ILD SONG – Ella May     

Toiling on life’s pilgrim pathway,
Wheresoever you may be.
It will help you, fellow workers,
If you will join the ILD.


Come and join the ILD
Come and join the ILD
It will help to win the victory.
If you will join the ILD.

When the bosses cut your wages,
And you toil and labor free.
Come and join the textile union,
Also join the ILD.

Now our leaders are in prison,
But I hope they’ll soon be free.
Come and join the textile union,
Also join the ILD.

Now the South is hedged in darkness,
Though they begin to see.
Come and join the textile union,


All around the jailhouse
Waiting for a trial;
One mile from the union hall
Sleeping in the jail.

I walked up to the police man
To show him I had no fear;
He said, “If you’ve got money
I’ll see that you don’t stay here.”

“I haven’t got a nickel,
Not a penny can I show.”
“Lock her up in the cell,” he said,
As he slammed the jailhouse door.

He let me out in July,
The month I dearly love;
The wide open spaces all around me,
The moon and stars above.

Everybody seems to want me,
Everybody but the scabs.
I’m on my way from the jailhouse,
I’m going back to the union hall.

Though my tent now is empty
My heart is full of joy;
I’m a mile away from the union hall,
Just a-waiting for a strike.


 Two little strikers, a boy and a girl,
Sit by the union hall door
The little girl’s hand was brown as the curls
That played on the dress that she wore.

The little boy’s head was hatless,
And tears in each little eye.
“Why don’t you go home to your momma,” I said
And this was the children’s reply

“Our momma’s in jail, they locked her up.
Left Jim and I alone,
So we’ve come here to sleep in the tents tonight,
For we have no mother, no home.

“Our papa got hurt in the shooting Friday night,
We waited all night for him,
For he was a union guard you know,
But he never came home anymore.”


The boss man wants our labor, and money to packaway,
The workers wants a union and the eight hour day.

The boss man hates the workers, the workers hates the boss,
The boss man rides in a big fine car, and the workers has to walk.

The boss man sleeps in a big fine bed, and dreams of his silver and gold,
The workers sleeps in an old straw bed and shivers from the cold.

Fred Beal he is in prison, a-sleeping on the floor,
But he will soon be free again, and speak to us some more.

The union is a-growing, the ILD is strong,
We’re going to show the bosses that we have starved too long.


We leave our homes in the morning,
We kiss our children good bye,
While we slave for the bosses,
Our children scream and cry.

And when we draw our money,
Our grocery bills to pay,
Not a cent to spend for clothing,
Not a cent to lay away.

And on that very evening,
Our little son will say,
“I need some shoes Mother,
And so does sister May.”

How it grieves the heart of a mother,
You everyone must know,
But we can’t buy for our children,
Our wages are too low.

It is for our little children,
That seems to us so dear,
But for us nor them, dear workers,
The bosses do not care.

But understand, all workers,
Our union they do fear,
Let’s stand together, workers,
And have a union here.