One of the last living survivors of the Ludlow Massacre celebrates 104th birthday
Ermenia “Marie” Padilla Daley has a lot of reasons to celebrate.
She turns 104-years-old on Saturday, clearly an incredible feat in itself.
She's also one of the last living survivors of the Ludlow Massacre of 1914, according to her son Bill.
Marie was born on January 13, 1914, in the coalmining camp just outside Trinidad. Her father was one of the miners there.
At the time, many of the workers were on strike and had been for over a year.
Many of the miners worked for the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, part of the Rockefeller enterprise and went on strike to call for improved working conditions, higher wages, freedom from company control and union recognition. The strikers and their families were promptly evicted from their company-owned homes and they created temporary tent colonies, like Ludlow.
The months-long labor struggle among the miners, the union, the company, and the Colorado National Guard erupted on April 20, 1914.
Fearing the violence that was to come, many of the women and children - including 3-month-old Marie, along with her siblings and mother - were evacuated from the camp to Trinidad by train.
A day-long battle ensued and somewhere between 19 and 26 people were killed. After the battle ended, the militia set the tents on fire. It wasn't until morning that two women and eleven children were discovered dead from suffocating under a burning tent.
The Ludlow Massacre quickly generated national attention and sparked publicized investigations into coal mining conditions. It remains one of the most horrific events in the struggle for labor fairness and equality and, in part, led to Congress enacting child labor laws and an eight-hour work week in 1915.
In Marie's case, the evacuation led to her family's separation.
Bill said Marie was raised by different families across the San Louis Valley before eventually ending up in an orphanage in first Pueblo and then Denver.
She worked as a housekeeper for a while after high school and eventually met her husband, Al Daley.
Through his work as a consultant, Al and Marie lived in Saudi Arabia for two years. While abroad, they took the time to travel the world, bringing home souvenirs and photographs Marie's family still owns.
Marie now lives at the Eastern Star Masonic Retirement Campus in Denver.
She still dresses up every day and loves to go for walks and be outside.
She's also known around the campus for singing and dancing.
She says turning 104 feels "fine" and that there is no secret for living a long life.
"Do as you wish," Marie said.