Tag Archives: coal mining

Meeting her was the reason he drove all the way down there

The mines started laying off workers. Julia Varga had two boarders that had to leave because they were laid off. They left crying, owed money, and with promise to pay they left. Her husband Paul was laid off too; money in the bank was going down fast. Julia and Paul decided to invest in a […]

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Stearns KY emerges out of the Big Survey

Louis Bryant and Justus Stearns needed each other, and it’s surely no accident that their worlds finally intersected. Bryant, a bright young mining engineer, had moved into what is today McCreary County, KY at the beginning of the 1890s to consolidate mineral and land holdings acquired there by his father. But while the Bryant family […]

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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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