RIPPLES OF A LIE, A Biography of Eugene Barnett, a victim of the Centralia, Washington conspiracy of 1919, brings together the story of what actually happened that day from an inside view. Eugene Barnett was my father. He was framed and convicted of being the actual shooter and eight innocent men were sent to prison to serve from twenty-five to forty years. I have selected principal incidents that formed his character. Sent to work in the coal mines at the age of seven, he worked until age seventy-two. His early work experiences sparked an interest in unions and labor laws that would influence the rest of his life. Therefore I have included employment, wages, prices, and daily life, amid historical facts. Barnett was much more than a victim of the Centralia conspiracy, but that lie changed his life and ours. It has been my lifelong goal to have one book out there that tells the true story and the aftermath.
While several books and articles have been written about the trial, the attorneys, the soldiers, the union, and the economics of 1920, very little has been said about those eight men. RIPPLES is the first book written from the perspective of the prisoners or by a family member. Although this is my father’s life story it must include these men he lived so closely with in prison. RIPPLES is unique in that it shows them as the men they really were, their personalities, families, struggles, and personal letters. Because the prisoners remained close friends for life, I was fortunate to know some of them and their children. I am the youngest living child of the prisoners. Others have shared their father’s personal papers, letters and photos with me. I have combined information from several sources, family and friends who were there, my father’s papers and prolific writing, his personal letters, deeds, receipts, and my own experience growing up with him. RIPPLES also refutes several un-true statements seen elsewhere.
Think of my book like Paul Harvey’s “The Rest Of The Story” with CNN’s Candy Crowley’s historical background research. Although it is a history book, it is also timely in view of the present day civil rights, unemployment, union struggles, and the economy. The Centralia Case was the trial of the century at that time and it is still being discussed in college classes throughout the country and I receive at least one letter each year from students doing a term paper or master’s thesis on that trial. In 1997 a mural was dedicated in Centralia depicting this incident and a documentary was made. It is now a yearly event. Lewis County has never recovered economically or otherwise from that incident. A woman is currently raising funds in Washington State to make a movie called “Hangman’s Bridge” about the death of a union man that day. The trial was followed around the world and is not a forgotten incident in history.
RIPPLES is regional, historical, informative, and factual, yet it will reach every emotion of readers, and includes footnotes so that sources may be checked. It is written in story form that makes history come alive. My father's name is well-known in union circles and among university professors.