History threads — St. Patrick’s Day brawl

This is the latest in an occasional series of posts about the history of the garment industry in Warren, Washington, Saratoga and Essex counties.

It’s not clear what provoked the brawl between two women workers at the Warrensburg shirt factory on St. Patrick’s Day 1887 that divided workers into factions for some months to come.

“St. Patrick’s Day, the shirt factory at Warrensburg was the scene of a pugilistic encounter which recalls the famous battle of the Boyne (at Ireland in 1690),” The Granville Sentinel reported on March 25,1887. “It was the result of animosity aroused between two operators, women wearers of the orange and green, respectively.”

Orange and green can refer to different geographic sections of Ireland, or to Protestants and Catholics.

“The combatants confined themselves to no rules, but each justly and awkwardly essayed to make it necessary for the other to wear a wig,” the Sentinel reported. “The battle was short, but not necessarily decisive, as a third lady stepped forward and, in the capacity of mediator, separated the combatants.”

The fight ended, but not the hard feelings.

“A pronounced line of division was soon established among the friend of the belligerents, one side recognizable by their green badges, the other showing their preference with orange emblems. Feeling ran high.”

Click here to read the most recent previous post in the series.

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Maury Thompson

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY