Woman of the Century/Eva McDonald Valesh
VALESH, Mrs. Eva McDonald, labor agitator, born in the village of Orono, Me., 9th September, 1866. The McDonald family is Scotch- Irish. Mrs. Valesh's father is a carpenter in Minneapolis. Her mother, from whom she inherits whatever of poetry there is in her nature, is at the age of fifty years a remarkably handsome woman. Mrs. Valesh is the oldest of a family of seven children. Her schooling developed no great promise. She was a bright child, but full of mischief, and she had an annoying habit of saying unpleasant truths in a blunt fashion without respect to the feelings of her teachers. In 1877 she moved with her family to Minneapolis, and so close was her application to her books that in four years, at the age of fifteen, she was graduated from the high school, to embark upon a career of many experiences. After leaving school she learned the printer's trade, and she began to take object-lessons to prepare her for the work before her She was employed on the "Spectator." In due time she became a member of the Typographical Union and still holds a card from the Minneapolis Union. Her father had built a house in what was then a well out-of-town section, and Eva was put in charge of a little grocery store, which occupied the front of the building. The young girl harnessed up the delivery horse, delivered the goods to customers and brought to the store the supplies for the day. She grew fond of the horse and big black dog that always followed her. She also worked in stores and several factories until the age of twenty, when she attended the Minneapolis teachers' training-school for a year and was graduated. She had set her mind upon teaching, but by a chance recommendation of Timothy W. Brosnan, then district master-workman of the Knights of Labor of Minnesota, she began EVA McDONALD VALESH. newspaper work, and printer's ink has clung to her lingers ever since. A shop girls' strike had been in progress. Many of the girls, who were engaged in making overalls, coarse shirts and similar articles, belonged to the Ladies' Protective Assembly, Knights of Labor, into which Eva had been initiated but a short time before. She was not personally interested in the strike, but she attended all the meetings of the strikers and repeatedly addressed them, urging the girls to stand firm for wages which would enable them to live decently. The strike was only partially successful, but it opened an avenue for the talent of the young agitator. In March, 1887, she began a series of letters on "Working Women" for the St. Paul "Globe." These were continued for nearly a year and attracted wide attention. She began to make public speeches on the labor question about that time, making her maiden effort in Duluth in June, 1887, when not quite twenty-one years of age. After the articles on the work-women of Minneapolis and St. Paul ceased.she conducted the labor department of the St. Paul "Globe," besides doing other special newspaper work. She continued her public addresses in Minneapolis and in St. Paul, and she was a member of the executive committee that conducted the street-car strike in Minneapolis and St. Paul in 1888, and subsequently wrote the history of the strike, publishing it under the title of "A Tale of Twin Cities." During the political campaign of 1890 she lectured to the farmers under the auspices of the Minnesota Farmers' Alliance. She was elected State lecturer of the Minnesota Farmers' Alliance on 1st January, 1891, and on the 28th of the same month, in Omaha, she was elected assistant national lecturer of the National Farmers' Alliance. Miss McDonald became Mrs. Frank Valesh on 2nd June, 1891. Mr. Valesh, like his wife, is a labor leader. He has been a prominent member of the St Paul Trades and Labor Assembly for years and is president of the Minnesota State Federation of Labor. During the last year Mrs. Valesh has turned her attention more especially to the educational side of the industrial question, lecturing throughout the country for the principles of the Farmers' Alliance and in the cities for the trade-unions. By invitation of president Samuel Gompers she read a paper on "Woman's Work" in the national convention of the American Federation of Labor in Birmingham, Ala., 12th December, 1891, and was strongly recommended for the position of general organizer among working women. Home duties prevented her from accepting the position, though she still manages an industrial department for the Minneapolis "Tribune" and contributes an occasional magazine article on industrial or political matters.