Appalachia, Blackberry City, coal, crime, deputy sheriff, fire marshal, history, John Hall, Kentucky, Logan Banner, M.C. Kindleberger, Matewan, Mingo County, P.J. Smith, Stone Mountain Coal Company, Tom Davis, Tug Fork, War Eagle, West Virginia, West Virginia Federationist, Williamson
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, we find the following story dated 27 May 1921:
The headhouse of the Stone Mountain Coal Company at Matewan, in the heart of the Tug river battle zone, on the West Virginia-Kentucky border, was burned early today, reports received by Major Tom Davis, acting adjutant general on Governor Morgan’s staff, stated.
P.J. Smith, superintendent of the company in Williamson said until he makes an investigation, he could not estimate the amount of damage. The minimum loss, he added, would not probably be less than $25,000.
M.C. Kindleberger, deputy state fire marshal, here to investigate the recent firing of the headhouse at War Eagle, departed for Matewan immediately. Two automobiles containing members of the state constabulary accompanied him. He said he would report to Major Davis.
The Stone Mountain mine has been abandoned by the miners recently, said Superintendent Smith.
Although Chief Deputy Sheriff John Hall gave out the statement that he had made a personal inspection of the fighting area as far east as Blackberry City, and everything was quiet, and that sniping had ceased, the emergency defense organization composed of former service men and other citizens was said by Captain Brockus, of the state police, to be growing. Seventy-two rifles were issued late Saturday night and more have been ordered. In all, said Captain Brockus, several hundred men are under arms prepared for another outbreak. An organization today issued an order temporarily discontinuing the publication of the West Virginia Federationist, a labor paper.
An incident connected with the recent shooting along the Tug river is the reluctance of taxi-cab drivers to take their passengers east of Williamson. Their invariable call at the railroad station to prospective fares is discontinuing.
Source: “Headhouse in Mingo is Burned,” Logan (WV) Banner, 27 May 1921.
To see a coal company headhouse photograph, follow this link: http://wvhistoryonview.org/catalog/wvulibraries:14752
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, we find this story about food conditions in the Logan coal fields, dated 9 December 1921:
Seasonal fruits and fresh vegetables brighten the menu of the Logan field miner and his family just as they do the average householder in the larger cities. Visitors have noted with surprise that this is true–that even the most isolated mining communities, cut off from civilization by rugged mountains and difficult creek beds, have their fresh strawberries in season and make quite as much of an event of the canning period as do their northern neighbors.
But what the average visitor cannot know, unless he delves with unusual energy, is the cost in money and time which it means to have such products brought to the miner’s table from the produce centers of the country.
In the first place, many of the mines in the field live five, ten, fifteen and even twenty miles from the town of Logan. The roads in many cases are almost impassible. In others, there are no roads at all. It is common occurrence to use the creek bed as a thoroughfare. A rather hazardous feat, it appears to the visitors on his first trip, but he soon grows accustomed to this. At first he is inclined to cling tight to his seat as the motor truck plows through the shallow water over well rounded stones. The drivers think nothing of fording innumerable creeks. They have lost all solicitude for their tires. In fact, many of them aver that the tires last quite as long as they do on hard-paved roads and point to examples in the form of weather-beaten casing to prove that the usual 10,000 mile guarantee is not at all impossible of achievement in this difficult territory.
Sloshing along through creeks, alternating with mud roads which would bring a rattle to the finest car built they consider the trips to the mines with foodstuffs a mere routine. That it is more than routine, however, is graphically revealed by the wrecks along the roadside–broken-down trucks and motor cars, buggies and wagons.
The road to Holden, four miles from Logan, is a mud road most of the way, featured by innumerable sharp turns. That leading to the mine town of Omar covers nine miles of the most diversified transportation. In that nine miles one single creek must be forded eleven times, and often instead of crossing directly, motor trucks are forced to plow through the water for a considerable distance.
Some sixth sense apparently tells the driver where the “water road” lies, for to the casual observer one part of the creek is as good as another. All he can see is water and, beneath, a solid bed of white boulders. Time has worn them smooth. Sliding down the mud road into the creek bed the driver unerringly picks out the right route. It is as if he carried a sextant, for never, however many times he makes the trip, does he deviate in his course a yard.
Yet despite these difficulties in transportation it is comparatively cheap to get to any mine property in the Logan field. For a dollar, any of the buses operating from Logan, meeting all trains, will carry one to Omar, nine miles of difficult driving, while others take passengers 15 and 20 miles up the creeks for a slightly higher charge. For foodstuffs the cost is proportionately low. Drivers charge 25 to 42 cents per 100 pounds for first class freight to a point within 20 miles of Logan–and take every chance in the world of a breakdown. It is this low haulage charge which enables so many independent and company stores at the mines to meet the prices of retailers in large cities, and it is the dependability of this method of motor transportation which enables them to carry fresh fruits and vegetables in season to tickle the palates of the miners and their numerous progeny. Anyone who imagines that sow-belly and beans constitute the main diet of the miner has never seen the adequate stocks of merchandise kept by mining community establishments.
If there were not enough difficulties in the path of transportation of foods to the mines, the trip from the outside to Logan would provide enough more. Logan is unfortunate in that there are no through freight rates to it. Huntington, the State’s natural distributing point by reason of railroad facilities, does not figure in the traffic to Logan. Merchandise destined for this field must be reshipped at Barboursville, a junction point near Huntington, and this adds a freight charge of from 30 to 40 cents per 100 pounds. Adding this to the cost of haulage by truck to the mines, the differential in favor of the consumers in large cities mounts up. Yet, with all these barriers, prices in the mine towns are low–the result of keen competition and of quantity buying.
Source: “Camps Have the Best of Food: Despite Shipping Obstacles Miners Have Same Food as Their City Neighbors,” Logan (WV) Banner, 9 December 1921.
A.D. Robertson, Albert F. Holden, Amherst Coal Company, Appalachia, Big Creek Coal Company, Blair Mountain, Boone County Coal Company, Buffalo Creek, Buffalo Creek Coal and Coke Company, Buskirk Hotel, Clothier, coal, Cole and Crane Company, Cora Coal Company, Dobra, Draper Coal Company, engineer, G.W. Robertson, Gay Coal and Coke Company, Gay Coal Company, George M. Jones, Guyan Valley Coal Operators Association, Harry S. Gay, Herbert Jones, history, Holden, Huddleston Coal Company, Illinois, Island Creek Coal Company, John B. Wilkinson, John Laing, Logan County, Logan County Coal Operators Association, Madison, Main Island Creek Coal Company, Monclo Corporation, Monitor Coal Company, Moses Mounts, Mounts-White Fisher Company, Omar, Omar Mining Company, Pennsylvania, Peru, Princess Coal Company, Shamokin, Sharples, Stone Branch Coal Company, U.S. Coal and Oil Company, Vicie Nighbert, Virginia-Buffalo Company, West Virginia, West Virginia Coal and Coke, Wheeling-Pittsburgh Coal Company, Wilkinson, William H. Coolidge, William J. Clothier, Yuma Coal and Coke Company
What follows are brief notes from a forgotten source regarding early coal mines in Logan County, WV. Each of these companies and their communities have storied histories.
Gay Coal and Coke (organized in 1903)
Soon after 1900, Harry S. Gay, a mining engineer, came from Shamokin, PA, to observe the Logan coal fields. He stayed at the Buskirk Hotel. With money from friends A.D. and G.W. Robertson, he leased 800 acres from Moses Mounts of the Mounts-White Fisher Company for $20,000. G.W. Robertson was president of Gay Coal and Coke, while Gay was its secretary-treasurer. The company opened the Number One mine in the spring of 1903.
Monitor Coal Company (organized in 1904)
Monitor Coal Co. was organized in 1904 on the land of John B. Wilkinson. The accompanying town was named Wilkinson. Monitor merged with Yuma Coal and Coke Co. in 1935. In 1942, Wilkinson consisted of 166 company-owned houses. The mines eventually played out and real estate was sold through Monclo Corporation.
In 1905, seven coal companies existed in Logan County: Big Creek, Cora, Draper, Gay, Monitor, Stone Branch, and U.S. Coal and Oil Co. (Island Creek).
Island Creek Coal
Island Creek Coal also came to Logan during that time and created Holden. About 1902, William H. Coolidge and Albert F. Holden bought land from Vicie Nighbert. In early 1905, they established Island Creek Coal Sales Co. Holden was built by 1912.
Yuma Coal and Coke Company
Organized in 1905 by the same Pennsylvania interests behind Monitor Coal and Coke Co., Yuma Coal merged with Monitor in 1935.
In 1910, seventeen coal companies existed in Logan County.
Boone County Coal Company (organized in 1911)
Organized in 1911, the Boone County Coal Co. was headquartered at Clothier. William J. Clothier served as its first president. Its buildings burned and new buildings were erected at Sharples. The company held 30,000 acres just above Madison and about 2000 of it came into Logan to the top of Blair Mountain. The company had stores at Clothier, Sharples, Monclo, and Dobra.
Amherst Coal Company
In 1911, George M. Jones and his brother Herbert became interested in the Logan field. They leased 1300 acres on Buffalo Creek and organized Amherst Coal Company in January of 1912. In 1916, the company purchased the Virginia-Buffalo Company and the Huddleston Coal Company. It later purchased Buffalo Creek Coal and Coke Company.
Main Island Creek
In 1913, John Laing leased 30,000 acres in Omar from Cole and Crane Company of Peru, Illinois. Mr. Laing was the first president of the company. Later, West Virginia Coal and Coke, the Omar Mining Company, and Wheeling-Pittsburgh Coal Company mined this land.
In 1913, the Guyan Valley Coal Operators Association organized. In 1918, it became known as the Logan County Coal Operators Association. (For more on the association, follow this link: http://www.wvculture.org/history/ms90-82.html.)
In 1920, over seventy coal companies existed in Logan County (most were small and few survived).
By 1960, there were about fifty coal companies in Logan County; four coal companies accounted for about eighty percent of production. The four companies were Island Creek, Amherst, Omar, and Princess.
From the Cincinnati Enquirer via the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, we find this editorial about coal dated 8 February 1927:
Coal is one of the present greatest factors in the life of civilization. But for this “bottled sunlight” we should have little other light or power. We ride the street cars, pass under the luminance of arc lights, enjoy the soft glow of the incandescents; we operate our mills and factories, we speed across the continents and oceans on trains and steamers largely because we have coal. Some day something else may take its place, but at present coal is the nerve of modern life and industry, of trade and commerce.
In the program being carried forward to make this city better known to its own people and to other peoples, the Chamber of Commerce does well to stress the importance of the city as a soft-coal center. The city is, in fact, the soft-coal center of the nation. The great cosmopolitan communities of the country would often be in hard way but for Cincinnati and its facilities with reference to soft coal distribution. We not only are the gateway to the South, but the gateway through which flows the essence which fires and lights practically the life and industry of the mightiest nation on the face of the earth.
The coal of West Virginia and Kentucky makes life brighter and more worth living on the island of Manhattan; it goes to the areas of cold and bleakness on, and beyond, the Northern lakes. It helps to feed the trains and ships which carry millions of passengers and billions of dollars worth of freight. It helps to light the Statue of Liberty and warm the halls of legislation. Blow out, over night, the effectiveness and influence of Cincinnati to serve the nation and chaos would be invited for a time.
There is a good deal to be known about Cincinnati–much that is valuable to the city, and much that is of value to the nation and to the world.
Appalachia, author, authors, Chicago News, coal, Elk River Coal and Lumber Company, Fancy's Hour, history, Island Creek Coal Company, J.G. Bradley, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Monaville, Mud Fork, National Industrial Secretary, Norman Schlichter, poetry, Rivers of West Virginia, West Virginia, Whitman Creek, Y.M.C.A.
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, we find this item dated 5 November 1926:
“Norman Schlichter, poet and story writer, has been reading from his books to the pupils of schools of the Island Creek Coal Company properties, at Whitmans, Mud Fork, Monaville, this week. His coming was due to the desire of General Manager Beisel and General Superintendent Hunt to give the schools an opportunity to hear work that is being received with delight by boys and girls all over the United States.
“Mr. Schlichter was for many years National Industrial Secretary of the Y.M.C.A. and is widely known among the mining men of the State. Recently he has been devoting all his time to writing and lecturing. His children’s poems and stories are attracting wide attention. The Chicago News radioed his book, ‘Fancy’s Hour.’ The author is loud in his praise of the great educational advances in West Virginia, especially in the mining communities. Last week he was the guest of Mr. J.G. Bradley at the properties of the Elk River Coal and Lumber Company. He is the author of the ‘Rivers of West Virginia,’ a poem widely known in his state. This poem is reproduced in another column.”
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