In an unmarked grave near Portland, OR lies a very special Wobbly. Clayton E. “C.E.” Payne aka “Stumpy” (1869-1963). Born just after the Civil War, C.E. worked as a farm hand, railroad worker, carpenter, and stump rancher (hence the moniker “Stumpy”). He is considered one of the foremost IWW autodidactic (self-taught) intellectuals.
Little is known of his early years; however, by 1903 he had joined the Socialist Party and become an organizer. Later in 1904 he became the North Dakota Socialist Party Secretary. In 1905, he attended the founding convention of the IWW. He showed up with no credentials and no organization affiliation. He described himself on his paperwork as an “Unaffiliated Individual.”In 1911, Stumpy started a long career writing for the IWW and other left organizations. In the Industrial Worker, he covered famous historical events like the Free Speech Fights and the Everett Massacre.
In 1920, he was convicted in Washington State for Criminal Syndicalism. He spent nearly a year in Walla Walla Federal Penitentiary. However, he continued writing and by 1923 became the Editor of the Industrial Worker.
Stumpy wrote, edited, authored, and worked his way through WWII and by 1955 was recognized as one of the leading members of the IWW. From then to 1962 he served on the General Executive Board (GEB) of the Union.
To read his 1945 wartime pamphlet “Industrial Government” that he sold while soapboxing, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for the PDF.
Finally, after resigning due to poor health, he passed on October 1st, 1963. Fellow Worker Payne was buried in an unmarked grave at Park Hill Cemetery, Vancouver, WA. He was described by Carl Keller, Editor of the Industrial Worker: “He was a serious rebel with an amount of dignity and urbanity that was extraordinary. He remained a dedicated Wobbly to the end of his days.”