Tag Archives: coal mining

You murdered that you and your wives might have palaces

Mary Harris Jones (1837-1930), better known as Mother Jones, was an American labor organizer and one of the founders of the Social Democratic party (1898) and the Industrial Workers of the World (1905). Her August 1912 speech to striking coal miners in Charleston, WV was one in a series of organized activities which were blamed […]

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The mule I drove was called Old Red

You hear young folk singers today sing happy work songs about mule drivers and mule-skinners. I sometimes wonder if any of them know what driving a mule is really like, and if they’d still sing so merrily if they knew. 
My first job was carrying water on the Interstate Railroad grade at Josephine, about a […]

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Dey didn’ pay me nothin’ fer gittin’ my legs cut off

“I went to West Virginia to work in de coal mines. I made eight dollars and one penny er day er drivin’ er mule in dem mines. Later on, I made ten er twelve dollars er day loading coal. ‘At wus hard work but de more you worked de more money you made. Awe, I […]

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Had to furnish my own horse; bought one from the coal company

John Holt (1870-1918), a coal miner in Murray City, OH, kept a journal of his daily life. John Holt and the coal miners he worked with outside of the mine in Murray City. April 1907- “The miners here geting 57 cts per ton for screened coal and two dollars and fifty six cents per day […]

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He said if miners picketed his mine he would slaughter them

By January 1, 1941, Harlan and Bell Counties were 95 per cent organized. The only nasty non-union outpost was the Fork Ridge mine just across the Kentucky line in Tennessee, a short distance from Middlesboro. The mine was operated by C. W. (Dusty) Rhodes, president and general manager. Searchlights were placed on the tipple and […]

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