Ansel Johanssen Murder

 

In February, 1913, Wobbly labor organizer Ansel Johanssen was shot and hung from a juniper tree. Johanssen had settled in Germaine a few years earlier with his wife and two children. He went to work at the Van Bibber Mill and soon became fed up with inequities he saw around him. When a Wobbly organizer passed through town in the summer of 1912, Ansel signed up, and immediately began organizing the other men at the mill.

After a one-day strike in February of 1913, Isaac Vernon Van Bibber, owner of the mill, fired several men, including Johanssen. But Johanssen returned the next day and began agitating the remaining workers. He was driven off by armed security guards, but vowed to organize a protest the following week, backed up by an IWW group in Portland.

Alarmed that the town was about to be overrun by “Anarchists” and “Criminals,” a group of local business owners dragged Johanssen from his home, where they shot him in front of his wife and children, and hung his body from a juniper tree in his front yard.

No one was ever punished for the murder of Ansel Johanssen.

Old Johanssen House
Old Johanssen House

Murder of Ansel Johanssen


Type: Historical Event
Dates: 1913
Persons: Ansel Johanssen; Van Bibber; Unknown mob of local businessmen
Location: Old Johanssen House,
Description: In 1913, a mob of mostly businessmen from Germaine attacked an murdered labor organizer, Ansel Johanssen.