On this Day July 5, 1918: Utah’s Cretans Organize


Waves of Cretans began arriving in Utah to work in numerous mines in the late 1800s. By the early 1900s there were thousands, working in such places as Price, Bingham and Carbon County. From their arrival, the Cretans (and all Greeks) were discriminated against by the established laborers in the region.

They received lower wages and were often given the most dangerous jobs to perform. The Cretans were the most rebellious of the immigrant groups, often involved in strikes, working as strike-breakers and forced to carry their own arms to protect themselves.They were also known throughout the region as the expert moonshine makers.

A strike in 1922 in Carbon County strike exploded in violence. The Cretans were the most militant group after one of their men was killed by a deputy sheriff. Union activity and, particularly, striking was condemned as un-American and immigrants who participated in these activities were characterized as ingrates and unfit for American citizenship.

Cretan immigrants in Salt Lake City, UT showing off their guns and moonshine.

Cretan immigrants in Salt Lake City, UT showing off their guns and moonshine.

The Ku Klux Klan targeted the Cretans and all Greeks in increased campaigns against them in 1922-23. The Klan burned crosses in Salt Lake City and in the industrial towns and camps, marched down streets, sent threatening letters to businessmen, and rampaged through Greek stores in Helper, Utah and forced out the American waitresses and clerks and warned them not to work for Greeks.

The Cretans organized their community and formed an association called “Minos” in Salt Lake City, Utah, on July 5, 1918, as an independent, mutual aid, philanthropic, progressive and educational organization.

Like most early Cretan associations formed throughout the nation, the goal of Minos was to assist fellow Cretans with financial assistance and support cultural and philanthropic endeavors relating to their community.


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