Thursday, October 16, 2008
LIFE IN THE COAL REGION
“ONCE A MAN TWICE A BOY”
THE LIFE OF A COAL MINER
SHOULD HE ESCAPE FALLS OF ROCK AND COAL
HIS LIFE BEGINS AS A SLATE PICKER, AND GRAUALLY IS PROMOTED AS SKILL IS ACQUIRED
WHEN AGE CREEPS O’ER HIM HE GIVES WAY TO THE YOUNG AND VIGOROUS.
Few people outside of those who work in and about the mines are aware of the workings of such industries and the manner in which the employees are rewarded after spending their whole life in the work.
Briefly, it follows; First, the boy of eight or ten years of age is sent to the breaker to pick the slate and other impurities from the coal which has been brought up from the mine. From there he is promoted and becomes a door boy, working in the mine.
As he grows older and stronger he is advanced to the position and given the pay of a Driver boy, the boy who takes care of the mules and works with them throughout the whole shift. He will groom, feed and drive the mules. Next job is the laborer. There he gains the experience which secures him a place as a miners helper, and he acquires skill and strength he become, when in the height of his manhood and vigor, a full fledged miner.
If he is fortunate enough to escape the falls of rock and coal he may retain this position as a miner for a number of years. But as age creeps on and he is attacked by some of the many diseases incident to working in the mines, he makes his way for those of the younger and more vigorous following him up the ladder whose summit he has reached.
He then starts the descent, going back to become a miner’s helper, then a mine laborer, now a gain a door boy, and when old and decrepit he finally returns to the breaker where he started as a child, earning the same wages he as he received by as a boy. So is the average miner’s life. He cannot reach places of eminence and wealth. Only one in five hundred can even be given place as foreman or superintendent, and these are positions which few miners care to hold.
Written to the Pottsville Journal, January 4, 1902.
And you know as hard a life as these men, our ancestors had, I never heard a word of complaint, only pride in what they did. We owe so much to the miners of the anthracite region for they supplied the power and heat for the USA. For well over a century. And I am proud to say my family worked the mines.
The Black Maria...Coal Region Ambulance
ANOTHER COAL REGION TRAGEDY
MOTHER DIED FROM GRIEF
UPON LEARNING OF THE DEMISE OF HER SON.
An aged and esteemed resident of Mahanoy Plane, follows closely in the wake of a member of the family that met a sad end.
Mrs. Mary Joyce, the widowed mother of James Joyce, the young man who was killed the day before Christmas by a heavy timber falling on him at the Draper Colliery, died at her home in Mahanoy Plane of illness super induced by the shock at the terrible news of her son’s tragic death.
Deceased was 59 years of age and was believed and esteemed by a wide circle of friends. She had been a resident of that place for many years. A family of six children, three sons and three daughters survive. They are almost distracted with grief over their bereavement, in which they have sympathy of everyone.
Her funeral occurred on Wednesday morning and was largely attended. A Requiem High Mass was celebrated in the Church of the Holy Rosary.
Pottsville Journal January 4, 1902