John Mitchell (1870-1919), was born in Braidwood, Ill. He began working as a miner in 1882 and worked in the Illinois coalfields as well as, briefly, in Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming. He also read law for a year during the 1880s. In 1885 he joined KOL National Trade Assembly 135.
A member of the Spring Valley, Ill., local of the United Mine Workers of America in the early 1890s, he was elected secretary-treasurer of the northern Illinois subdistrict of United Mine Workers' District 12 (Illinois) in 1895, became the lobbyist for District 12 in 1896, and was elected a member of the union's Illinois state executive board and appointed a national organizer in 1897. Mitchell was elected vice-president of the United Mine Workers in 1898, became acting president later that year, and served as the