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Before the summer was over, six men—all Welsh or German—paid with their lives. Landlords' agents were threatened, beaten, and assassinated. He lost his teeth. He said the airway, a passage off the main slope, went about feet east. If you are not pleased with your item I will refund your purchase. Let Linden get up a vigilance Schuyllkill. Marie Davis.
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Boyle, a "young widow". Jun 8 Nun sex wikipedia. Linder, Douglas O. Hi Joe, Thanks for that info! Campbell, just before his execution, allegedly slapped a muddy handprint on his cell wall stating "There Schuylkill miners wife proof of my words. It is on my great great grandfathers tombstone. Authors who accept the existence of the Mollies as a violent and destructive group acknowledge a significant scholarship that questions the entire history. Boyer and Herbert M. He served in the Air Force for 13 years and was formerly employed Schuylkill miners wife at Reading Sheet Metal in the maintenance department. The probability is that as a man, "Bully Bill Thomas", a Welshman, was no better than his enemies, but he was remarkable in other ways. Irish miners in this organization employed the tactics of intimidation and violence used against Irish landlords during the " Land Wars " yet again in violent confrontations against the anthracite, or hard coalmining companies in the 19th century. State officials say they were rescued by their fellow coal miners.
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- A year-old Gordon, Schuylkill County, miner was killed yesterday in a fall of coal in his second day on the job at the Rothermel Coal Co.
- State officials say the roof of a coal mine collapsed trapping two miners.
- It allows us to follow them through the ups and downs of their personal narrative, even as the township where they lived played centre stage to a wider national narrative of labour organisation, draft resistance and the rise of the Molly Maguires.
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It allows us to follow them through the ups and downs of their personal narrative, even as the township where they lived played centre stage to a wider national narrative of labour organisation, draft resistance and the rise of the Molly Maguires.
Ultimately, it ends by taking us from the Pennsylvania Coal Region to a hospital bed in Illinois, as a father hears news from his son. Mining coal three miles underground in Pennsylvania, c. Laois in Their part of Ireland was known for one particular trade- coal mining.
Here [Rathaspick] are the extensive coal mines of Doonane, worked by a company; they are drained by a steam engine, and supply stone coal to all parts of the surrounding country, which is principally conveyed by carriers. There are about five other works in the same range: the shafts are first sunk through clay, then succeeds a hard green rock, and next slaty strata, in contact with which is the coal: it is worked on either side by regular gangs, each member having a specific duty: the number of each gang is about thirty, and when the pit is double worked there are sixty; each crew works ten hours, but they are particularly observant of every kind of holiday.
Through their years in Ireland he and Catharine went on to have twelve children, eight of whom four boys and four girls survived to adulthood. Then, in , the couple decided to take their family to America. Instead they made for rural Pennsylvania, bound for a specific county in the eastern part of the state. When the Delaneys arrived in Schuylkill County, they were joining large numbers of their fellow Irish who were working the anthracite coal mines scattered throughout the area.
Indeed, a large proportion of the Irish miners in s Schuylkill had emigrated from the coalfields around Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny- only five miles from Rathaspick. As a result, the Delaneys were surrounded by former neighbours and work colleagues who they knew from home. Almost immediately upon arrival Thomas Delaney went to work in the industry he had come to know so well. An explosion in the mine blinded Thomas in one eye, leaving him with only partial sight in the other.
Minersville, Schuylkill County, as it appeared in The Census finds the family in the largely Irish Cass Township, Schuylkill County; Thomas and his eldest boys are all recorded as miners. One of the younger boys, Thomas Jr. Sometime that year he started work in the nearby Forestville mine. Part of the reason for this was the fact that the miners were not afraid to organise themselves in order to achieve what they viewed as their working entitlements.
By the miners in Cass Township were fed up, and many went on strike in search of higher wages. The Militia were called in to restart the mine pumps, but were forced to withdraw when they were attacked by rioters. Eventually over troops had to be summoned to quell the situation. Not long afterwards, the Militia Act of 17th July, authorised the implementation of state drafts to supply the Union with men. Again, Cass Township responded.
Up to 1, miners marched to a nearby town, where they stopped a train load of draftees heading towards Harrisburg- troops were again needed to quieten the area.
The miners were just as angry with their employers as they were with the draft. The following March, when enrolling officers arrived in Schuylkill to record the names of men in the area for the Enrollment Act draft, they were driven off. Often exaggerated and almost hysterical reports were being sent to Washington. The events in the s saw the continued rise in Schuylkill County of a secret organisation known as the Molly Maguires, who would dramatically leap to prominence in the s read more about the Molly Maguires here.
The Delaneys from Rathaspick found themselves in the midst of these turbulent times. Either way, they would have borne witness to life in one of the most agitated areas of the Union during the Civil War. But they also had problems of a more personal nature to consider during this time- chief among them was the death of Catharine Delaney, who passed away on 14th March in Minersville.
That December he and his comrades were moved to Union City, Tennessee. In January Thomas Jr. The weather took a severe toll on the men, freezing one of them to death. That February he wrote home:. I now think it near time that I would let you hear from me and how I am. I am here in the hospital with me feet pretty badly frozen, other ways my health is good and I trust in God these few lines will find you in the enjoyment of good health.
Let me know how the times are and how you are getting along, let me know if the work is brisk or not and if it is steady. Let me know when you heard from Dennis how he is getting along. We had pretty bad times of it down here and there was a great [number] of the soldiers badly frozen one man of our regiment was froze to death.
The Regt has now started on an expedition which is to do some thing great. I dont know what they will do with me here as yet they may discharge me or probably send me to the Invalid Corps. I have not received any pay yet but I expect it about the middle of next month and when I get it I will send it to you.
I want you to write to me as soon as you receive this letter. I will send you all my money except what I want for tobbacco. Give my love to brothers and sisters and all inquiring friends and accept of the same yourself ,No more at present but remains your,. Located in a series of warehouses, each warehouse was designated as a ward, with 20 or 30 men assigned to each.
It is my painful duty to inform you of the death of your son Mr Thomas Delany of the 19th Pa. It must be a great consolation to you to hear that he died a happy and a holy death. He received all the rites of the church and was fortified by the sacraments in his last moments.
He used to speak of you in the most affectionate manner and says it was you that taught him how to say prayers and his catechism. I send you a lock of his hair in memory of him. May his dear soul rest in grace amen.
If you write to Dr. Wardner the surgeon in charge of Mound City Hospital he will send you his money or any other effects he may have had. He claimed that all his sons had served in the Union army it is unclear if this was true or not and were all now laborers and mechanics.
All his children bar his youngest daughter year-old Catharine were now married. It seems he had left the mining life in Schuylkill County behind, but was living in extreme poverty. A team from NARA supported by volunteers are consistently adding to this treasure trove of historical information. Mound City National Cemetery.
Thomas Delaney Jr. Lewis, Samuel Topographical Dictionary of Ireland. Very interesting story. I know you did your research but there seems to be an issue with Mr Lewis and his sense of distance. Rathaspick is actually about 10km north of the Doonane coal works at Newtown and Castlecomer is 10km south Newtown. The discription of the Rathaspick with a rath adjacent to a church would also match with the townland further north.
A line between Doonane and Wolfhill marks the NE boundary of the workable Castlecomer coal field that extended almost as far south as Kilkenny City. This was probably the largest exploitable coal field on the island but as far as I know there were never any pits as far north as Rathaspick. Many thanks for the comment- that is interesting. I wonder why Lewis referred to Doonane in reference to being in Rathaspick parish, particularly given the distance you cite.
I confess it is not an area I am familiar with, though I do hope to visit the coal heritage of the area this summer. Your query is something I hope to look into further, along with the reason behind so many from the region going to this county in Pennsylvania in the mid 19th century beyond the obvious connections.
Do you know if there was a falling off in the industry in Ireland during this period? I still think it almost certain that the Delaneys were coal miners in Laois, given their subsequent history. Undoubtedly just one of hundreds of families who had a mining heritage on both sides of the Atlantic.
There were a number built around this time in the area. The land in the area is very poor so I would imagine the population, even pre famine, was very low. I agree it makes sense that the Delaneys were coal miners in Ireland before emigrating. Always remember the Irish tradition of a couple marrying in the brides home parish. You are right re the brides home parish.
One of his deponents said that although he had not been at the wedding they had married in Kilkenny, which was incorrect, but I suspect as so many in Schuylkill were from that Kilkenny mining tradition that he was saying it to help with the application. Also I suspect there may be a number of other people who have similar mining stories in the pension files- something I am going to keep an eye out for in the future! That letter from Thomas Jr is really touching too.
I wonder if the Katy he mentions was his sweetheart. It is a fascinating piece of history- I have read a bit about the miners here previously and there has been a fair bit of work done on them, but it is something I must explore more.
Re Katy, I was wondering was that his younger sister Catharine, but it may equally be a sweetheart. As with so many of these letters though, it is extremely touching. If you go up to Scranton you can head down in the mines. They do a good job of describing the health, safety, and class issues, the importance of the United Mineworkers Union, and the impact on workers of living in a company town.
Now that is something I would love to do. I would also like to do a visit to the Marble quarries in Vermont where lots of Irish in this period ended up- you could do quite a nice trip just focusing on this aspect of the emigrant experience! Almost all of my Irish Ancestors are from the same place in Laois and Kilkenny counties.
His wife as Ann Daley who was from Clonbrock, only a mile down the road, but in the parish of Arles. Also my gg grandparents Patrick and Catherine Delaney Brennan were from the same place. They settled first in Cass, Reilly and Branch townships.
Men, if you must die with your boots on, die for your families, your homes, your country, but do not longer consent to die, like rats in a trap, for those who have no more interest in you than in the pick you dig with. Jul 7 Posts. This was probably the largest exploitable coal field on the island but as far as I know there were never any pits as far north as Rathaspick. Hoover, of Williamstown, Debra J. He had a true passion for cooking. Knorr was born in Ashland. Mar 4 Posts.
Schuylkill miners wife. Description
His wife, LaRae M. Deeter Lucas, passed away May 24, He was also preceded in death by his father and by a brother, Robin E. He is survived by son, David A. Lucas Jr. Lucas, of Joliett, Gary R. Lucas, of Donaldson, Kevin T. Lucas, of Donaldson, Darryl "Bimmer" W. Hoover, of Williamstown, Debra J. Cinqmars, of Williamstown, Christine J.
Morgan, of Valley View, Donna E. Funeral services will be held at 11 a. Curtis Zemencik officiating. There will be no viewing or visitation prior to the service. Private burial will be in Salem Cemetery, Ashland.
Condolences can be left for the family at www. Sign the guest book at republicanherald. Read More. Listen to Obituary. Remember Share memories or express condolences below. View All. Add Message. Add Photos. Add Videos. Give others a chance to express condolences. Share on Facebook. Some historians such as Philip Rosen, former curator of the Holocaust Awareness Museum of the Delaware Valley believe that Irish immigrants brought a form of the Molly Maguires organization into America in the 19th century, and continued its activities as a clandestine society.
They were located in a section of the anthracite coal fields dubbed the Coal Region , which included the Pennsylvania counties of Lackawanna , Luzerne , Columbia , Schuylkill , Carbon , and Northumberland.
Irish miners in this organization employed the tactics of intimidation and violence used against Irish landlords during the " Land Wars " yet again in violent confrontations against the anthracite, or hard coal , mining companies in the 19th century. A legal self-help organization for Irish immigrants existed in the form of the Ancient Order of Hibernians AOH , but it is generally accepted that the Mollies existed as a secret organization in Pennsylvania, and used the AOH as a front.
There is some evidence to support the charge The evidence brought against [the defendants], supplied by James McParlan, a Pinkerton, and corroborated by men who were granted immunity for their own crimes, was tortuous and contradictory, but the net effect was damning The trial temporarily destroyed the last vestiges of labor unionism in the anthracite area.
More important, it gave the public the impression Authors who accept the existence of the Mollies as a violent and destructive group acknowledge a significant scholarship that questions the entire history. Horan and Howard Swiggett write sympathetically about the detective agency and its mission to bring the Mollies to justice.
They observe:. The difficulty of achieving strict and fair accuracy in relation to the Mollie Maguires is very great. Sensible men have held there never even was such an organization We do believe, however, that members of a secret organization, bound to each other by oath, used the facilities and personnel of the organization to carry out personal vendettas During the midth century, "hard coal" mining came to dominate northeastern Pennsylvania,  a region already afforested twice over to feed America's growing need for energy.
By the s, powerful financial syndicates controlled the railroads and the coalfields. Coal companies had begun to recruit immigrants from overseas willing to work for less than the prevailing local wages paid to American-born employees, luring them with "promises of fortune-making". Herded into freight trains by the hundreds, these workers often replaced English-speaking miners who, according to labor historian George Korson :.
Injuries and deaths in mine disasters, frequently reported in the newspapers, shocked the nation. About 22, coal miners worked in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. Injured miners, or those too old to work at the face, were assigned to picking slate at the "breakers" where the coal was crushed into a manageable size.
Thus, many of the elderly miners finished their mining days as they had begun in their youth. Wages were low, working conditions were atrocious, and deaths and serious injuries numbered in the hundreds each year. On 6 September , a fire at the Avondale Mine in Luzerne County, took the lives of coal miners. The families blamed the coal company for failing to finance a secondary exit for the mine.
In Schuylkill County alone miners had been killed and 1, had been seriously injured over a seven year period The miners faced a speedup system that was exhausting. In its November issue, Harper's New Monthly Magazine published an interviewer's comments: "A miner tells me that he often brought his food uneaten out of the mine from want of time; for he must have his car loaded when the driver comes for it, or lose one of the seven car-loads which form his daily work.
As the bodies of the miners were brought up from the Avondale Mine disaster, John Siney, head of the Workingmen's Benevolent Association WBA , climbed onto a wagon to speak to the thousands of miners who had arrived from surrounding communities: . Men, if you must die with your boots on, die for your families, your homes, your country, but do not longer consent to die, like rats in a trap, for those who have no more interest in you than in the pick you dig with.
Siney asked the miners to join the union, and thousands did so that day. In the s, s, and s, some 20, Irish workers had arrived in Schuylkill County. By an estimated one-fifth of the nation's workingmen were completely unemployed, two-fifths worked no more than six or seven months a year, and only one-fifth had full-time jobs.
Franklin B. Gowen, the president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railway , and of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company and "the wealthiest anthracite coal mine owner in the world", hired Allan Pinkerton 's services to deal with the Mollies. Using the alias "James McKenna", he made Shenandoah his headquarters and claimed to have become a trusted member of the organization.
His assignment was to collect evidence of murder plots and intrigue, passing this information along to his Pinkerton manager. He also began working secretly with a Pinkerton agent assigned to the Coal and Iron Police for the purpose of coordinating the eventual arrest and prosecution of members of the Molly Maguires. McParland wrote: I am sick and tired of this thing. I seem to make no progress. The union had grown powerful; thirty thousand members — eighty-five percent of Pennsylvania's anthracite miners — had joined.
But Gowen had built a combination of his own, bringing all of the mine operators into an employers' association known as the Anthracite Board of Trade. In addition to the railroad, Gowen owned two-thirds of the coal mines in southeastern Pennsylvania. He was a risk-taker and an ambitious man.
One of the burning questions for modern scholars is the relationship between the Workingmen's Benevolent Association WBA , the Mollies, and their alleged cover organization, the Ancient Order of Hibernians. But "the Molly Maguires themselves left virtually no evidence of their existence, let alone their aims and motivation. After beginning his investigation, he estimated that there were about members of the AOH in Schuylkill County.
While Kenny observes that the AOH was "a peaceful fraternal society", he does note that in the s the Pinkerton Agency identified a correlation between the areas of AOH membership in Pennsylvania, and the corresponding areas in Ireland from which those particular Irish immigrants emigrated. The violence-prone areas of Ireland corresponded to areas of violence in the Pennsylvania coalfields. But [Gowen] saw an opportunity to paint the union with the Molly brush, which he did in testimony before a state investigating committee I do not blame this association, but I blame another association for doing it; and it happens that the only men who are shot are the men who dare disobey the mandates of the Workingmen's Benevolent Association.
Their reports indicate that violence could be traced to the time of the Civil War, but that in the five-year existence of the WBA, "the relations existing between employers and employees" had greatly improved. The Bureau concluded that the union had brought an end to the "carnival of crime".
Most Irish mine workers belonged to the WBA and roughly half the officers of its executive board in bore Irish names. But, in addition to the WBA, there existed a loosely organized body of men called the Molly Maguires, whose membership appears to have been exclusively Irish Both modes of organization But the strategy of the trade union was indirect, gradual, peaceful, and systematically organized across the anthracite region, while that of the Molly Maguires was direct, violent, sporadic, and confined to a specific locality.
Kenny notes there were frequent tensions between miners of English and Welsh descent, who held the majority of skilled positions, and the mass of unskilled Irish laborers. However, in spite of such differences, the WBA offered a solution, and for the most part "did a remarkable job" in overcoming such differences. All mine workers, regardless of craft status, national origin, and religious background, were eligible to join the WBA.
As a result, many of its rank and file were members of the AOH, and there is evidence that some disgruntled trade union members favored violence against the wishes of their leaders, especially in the climactic year of But there were no Mollys among the leaders of the WBA, who took every opportunity they could to condemn the Molly Maguires and the use of violence as a strategy in the labor struggle.
While the membership of the trade union and the secret society undoubtedly overlapped to some extent, they must be seen as ideologically and institutionally distinct. Dewees, a contemporary and a confidant of Gowen, wrote that by "Mr. Gowen was fully impressed with the necessity of lessening the overgrown power of the 'Labor Union' and exterminating if possible the Molly Maguires.
The miners decided to strike on 1 January Another member of the AOH was shot and killed by the Modocs a rival Welsh gang operating in the anthracite coalfields led by one Bradley, a mine superintendent.
Patrick Vary, a mine boss, fired into a group of miners and, according to the later boast by Gowen, as the miners "fled they left a long trail of blood behind them". At Tuscarora , a meeting of miners was attacked; one miner was killed and several others wounded. A Pinkerton agent, Robert J. Let Linden get up a vigilance committee. It will not do to get many men, but let him get those who are prepared to take fearful revenge on the M. I think it would open the eyes of all the people and then the M.
Author Anthony Lukas wrote that the attack seemed "to reflect the strategy outlined in Pinkerton's memo". The victims had been secretly identified by McParland as Mollies. One of the men was killed in the house, and the other two supposed Mollies were wounded but able to escape. A woman, the wife of one of the reputed Mollies, was shot dead. When McParland heard details of the attack at the house, he protested in a letter to his Pinkerton supervisor. He did not object that Mollies might be assassinated as a result of his labor spying — they "got their just deserving".
McParland resigned when it became apparent the vigilantes were willing to commit the "murder of women and children", whom he deemed innocent victims. Friday: This morning at 8 A. I heard that a crowd of masked men had entered Mrs. O'Donnell's house McAllister whom they took out of the house and shot Now as for the O'Donnells I am satisfied they got their just deserving. I reported what those men were.
I give all information about them so clear that the courts could have taken hold of their case at any time but the witnesses were too cowardly to do it. I have also in the interests of God and humanity notified you months before some of those outrages were committed still the authorities took no hold of the matter. Now I wake up this morning to find that I am the murderer of Mrs. What had a woman to do with the case—did the [Molly Maguires] in their worst time shoot down women.
If I was not here the Vigilante Committee would not know who was guilty and when I find them shooting women in their thirst for blood I hereby tender my resignation to take effect as soon as this message is received. It is not cowardice that makes me resign but just let them have it now I will no longer interfere as I see that one is the same as the other and I am not going to be an accessory to the murder of women and children.
I am sure the [Molly Maguires] will not spare the women so long as the Vigilante has shown an example. There appears to be an error in the detective's report which also constituted his resignation letter of the vigilante incident: he failed to convey the correct number of deaths.
Two of the three men "were wounded but able to escape". Such notes, possibly containing erroneous or as-yet-unverified information, were forwarded daily by Pinkerton operatives. The content was routinely made available to Pinkerton clients in typed reports.
Pinkerton detective reports now in the manuscripts collection at the Lackawanna County Historical Society reveal that Pinkerton had been spying on miners for the mine owners in Scranton.
Pinkerton operatives were required to send a report each day. The daily reports were typed by staff, and conveyed to the client for a ten dollar fee. Such a process was relied upon to "warrant the continuance of the operative's services".
McParland believed his daily reports had been made available to the anti-Molly vigilantes. Benjamin Franklin, McParland's Pinkerton supervisor, declared himself "anxious to satisfy [McParland] that [the Pinkerton Agency has] nothing to do with [the vigilante murders. Another miner, Hugh McGeehan, a year-old who had been secretly identified as a killer by McParland, was fired upon and wounded by unknown assailants.
Later, the McGeehan family's house was attacked by gunfire. The union was nearly broken by the imprisonment of its leadership and by attacks conducted by vigilantes against the strikers. Gowen "deluged the newspapers with stories of murder and arson" committed by the Molly Maguires.
The press produced stories of strikes in Illinois, in Jersey City, and in the Ohio mine fields, all inspired by the Mollies. The stories were widely believed. In Schuylkill County, the striking miners and their families were starving to death. A striker wrote to a friend: Since I last saw you, I have buried my youngest child, and on the day before its death there was not one bit of victuals in the house with six children.
Hundreds of families rose in the morning to breakfast on a crust of bread and a glass of water, who did not know where a bite of dinner was to come from. Day after day, men, women, and children went to the adjoining woods to dig roots and pick up herbs to keep body and soul together After six months, the strike was defeated and the miners returned to work, accepting the 20 percent cut in pay.
But miners belonging to the Ancient Order of Hibernians continued the fight. If the bosses exercise tyranny over the men they appear to look to the association for help. When the coalfield Irish sought to remedy their grievances through the courts, they often met delays, obfuscation, or doors slammed in their faces.
No longer looking to these institutions for justice, they turned instead to the Mollies Before the summer was over, six men—all Welsh or German—paid with their lives.
Authors Richard O. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais argue that the killings were not one-sided:. Militant miners often disappeared, their bodies sometimes being found later in deserted mine shafts.
After months of little progress, McParland reported some plans by the "inner circle". Gomer James, a Welshman, had shot and wounded one of the Mollies, and plans were formulated for a revenge killing. But the wheels of revenge were grinding slowly.
And there was other violence:. November was a bloody month what with the miners on strike In the three days around November 18, a Mollie was found dead in the streets of Carbondale, north of Scranton, a man had his throat cut, an unidentified man was crucified in the woods, a mining boss mauled, a man murdered in Scranton, and three men of [another Molly Maguires group] were guilty of a horror against an old woman, and an attempt to assassinate a Mollie by the name of Dougherty, followed and [Dougherty] at once demanded the murder of W.
Thomas, whom he blamed for the attempt. On the last day of the month, with Gowen's strikebreakers pouring in, the Summit telegraph office was burned, a train derailed, and McParland advised [his Pinkerton supervisor] to send in uniformed police to preserve order.
A plan to destroy a railroad bridge was abandoned due to the presence of outsiders.
He's heard the way the lungs of an old-timer rattle, listened to the eerie whistle of air pushing through a chest blackened by decades worth of coal dust.
And when asked, Buzzy Harner can still describe the cave-in back in that left him lying under a mountain of rock and coal, his hip shattered and the skin on his face ripped away from his jaw bone. And so he keeps going back. Harner, 59, is one of a small number - roughly 1, according to the Pennsylvania Coal Association - who still dig coal from the deep mines of the state's anthracite region.
At the anthracite industry's peak in , the mining region that includes Schuylkill and Carbon counties employed roughly , workers in the deep mines. Shapella was standing beside the coal-blackened dirt road that leads to the entrance where men descend into the mine each day to drill, blast and shovel coal. I was playing football and I broke my arm. I'm a little guy. My mom said no more football, and I said, well, no more school either.
That's gone now. His career has survived through almost three decades of the twisting fortunes of the nation's coal industry, an industry that has been marked in recent years by a steady decline in coal production in Pennsylvania, and which today continues to be hampered by a four-month strike by 1, miners in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. Production at Shapella's mine was stopped Nov. Four miners who were trying to repair the tunnel last week were forced to flee the area when part of the ceiling began to cave in.
No one was injured in either incident. Workers are now digging a new tunnel, and Bulino hopes the mine will be back in production next week. I had a good job, an easy job at a copper mill but it was the same old thing everyday. To Harner, Matalavage, Shapella and 11 others who work the Baylor Rush mine daily, the strike down south against Pittston is little more than another news story from a distant location.
Like virtually all of the remaining miners working underground in the anthracite region, they are employed by a small, independently-owned mine and don't belong to a union. Ray's union has 1, members digging anthracite in the region's strip mines. Coal companies have increasingly turned to strip also known as surface mining because it is less expensive.
Last year, for example, 2. It's a way of thinking we've just grown into. And mining is a way of life they grew into as well. Matalavage's father was a miner. His great uncle worked in the s as a rock contractor: he hired men to blast through rock, creating the tunnels that led other men to coal. The job was dirty. Matalavage listened to stories about men using nails to pry out the dust that had caked in their nostrils.
Harner's father was a farmer until the Great Depression, when the sour economy forced him to begin bootleg mining - tunneling through a mine-owner's property and taking his coal. There wasn't many jobs around and the kiddies went out and helped by moving dirt and planks around. We missed school," says Bobby Reed, 50, who now trucks coal for Baylor Rush. Frank Shapella began work at the mine 32 years ago, when it was jointly owned by George Stenulis and the Bernitsky family - six brothers who once traveled up the mountain from the small village of New Philadelphia each day to work their mine.
It was a business which began in the s as the Bernitsky family gradually bought the mountain, and the two veins of coal that run through it, bit by bit. At times, the mine would lie idle as the coal industry suffered through hard times.
But there were years when coal sold well and the Bernitsky brothers and their employees were busy. Among the brothers was Albert "Bear" Bernitsky, who died in at age Only one of the Bernitsky brothers in the partnership; Vince, is still living. He'd tend bar at night. He'd drive a truck and he'd go to the mine," said his widow, Jane Bernitsky. He lost his hearing on one side.
He lost his teeth. I thought the mine would kill him," she says. But Bear Bernitsky loved his work. The miners who remember him describe him as the kind of man who'd yell at a worker when he saw a beam set incorrectly in the mine's main tunnel; Bobby Reed also remembers how he and his wife brought over a car load of groceries when he couldn't work because of a back injury. When Mike Bulino, a Pottsville native who had studied mine engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, took over managing the mine in April , it was in trouble.
Not a bucket of coal had been pulled from its black walls since December , and in preceding months much of the mine had been ravaged by fire and floods. The partnership of surviving family members was in disarray and tied up in legal battles over dividing profits from the mine. Bulino had found out about the mine from David Bernitsky, son of Edward Bernitsky, the fourth Bernitsky brother. He hammered out a legal agreement with the Bernitsky family to work the mine.
Bulino and Edward Bernitsky Jr. When it re-opened in October , former Bernitsky employees left the casket and glass factories where they'd picked up temporary employment. He hopes to mine 40, tons this year, which would make his one of the larger anthrecite deep mines. But I know there's a lot of people who wouldn't come down here. Maybe not, though Matalavage and other coal miners say their plight is considerably better than it was for previous generations of miners.
Rigorous safety inspections and advanced ventilation systems will save them from wheezing like the retired miners they meet in the New Philadelphia taverns, Matalavage says.
They know the stories of other men's disasters, the tales of miners killed by runaway cars and the mysterious underground rivers that can explode through walls with enough violence to tear a man's clothes from his body. If I had an impossible job to do, I'd call a group of coal miners to do it. He uses that talent to battle his way through the walls of rock that seperate him from the commodity his livelihood depends on. He uses it to know whether the mammoth ceiling of stone and coal balancing overhead is stable, whether the crude beams of cut timber can hold while he coaxes coal from the black walls surrounding him.
Then you're having to blast and run away from the smoke and that takes time," Matalavage says. But then there are the good days, days when the coal flows like blood from an artery. All a miner has to do between the jokes and the talk about the weekend's deer hunt is stand back and be proud of the cargo pouring from chute to railroad car.
And maybe that is why a handful of men still tap the veins of anthracite remaining from the region's boom years of more than 50 years ago. Harner describes the mysterious lure of the mines with an old folk song he heard many years ago; he doesn't remember the whole song, but a few phrases are embedded in his memory. The man in "Miner's Lament" sings about how he hopes that when he dies:.
But he also sings about how a miner may go home to his wife at night, but he inevitably chooses to go back to the mine each day:. Sign up for our Lehigh Valley School Zone education newsletter. It was almost enough to make him quit.
The man in "Miner's Lament" sings about how he hopes that when he dies: My body will blacken And turn into coal, And I'll look from on high In my heavenly home, And pity the poor miner Who's digging my bones But he also sings about how a miner may go home to his wife at night, but he inevitably chooses to go back to the mine each day: A man's blood will lust For the lure of the mines "Yeh," Harner says, "we love it.