Miners Memories in the Whitby area
|JR Vied, former Miner has worked at Fireco, Anjean, and Willibet.
I want to thank Ron Shuck, JR Vied, Fred Grubbs and anyone else I have yet to mention in the creation of this series of pages. This is a STARTER series and as such there will many revisions.
Mining in Whitby and the immediate area is the hardest thing I have yet had to write about on this site. Mining is soul draining work. There is no other way to put it really. With hard work, there were hard times. Mine managers and workers each had their say and their place in mining. I want to stress that these pages are the miners and mine managers in their own words. The goal is to preserve a very unique time in American history. I have no wish to use this or any page here as a statement for or against mining or miners in any way shape or form.
Miners Memory 1
My dad was a coal miner at Whitby , started in the early 50's. He would load coal by hand and each car of coal he loaded was checked in by a metal tag that he placed on the car when it was loaded. This metal tag was checked in outside in the tipple by 2 employees. One employee was a union man and the other was a company man. It was done this way to prevent the company from cheating the coal miner (Which was done frequently until the union placed a man at the check station) and not recording the tons of coal loaded correctly. In this day and time the coal miner was paid "travel time " plus paid for the amount of coal that he loaded. Travel time was about $14 a day during this time I beleive> If the coal miner had a bad area to work in and loaded all rock or "slate" all he would get paid for the day was the travel time. Travel time was paid for going all the way into the mine to your work area. Some days my dad would load rock all day maybe 2- 3 days before he got good coal. The kids favorite thing was to ask " how much coal did you load today? Plus we always checked his lunch bucket to see if he had a cake or pie left over from his lunch. Maybe some one else can add to this. This is what I remember.
Miners Memory 2
Walter Hall was my grandfather. He worked at Lillybrook Number 2. Mom says this is what she remembers from when she was a small child.
The Hall family got up early every day and had a big breakfast together before Walter left to go to work. Edith always packed a lunch for him in his dinner pail. It had a bale and three sections. The bottom held water. The middle section was used for sandwiches. Usually biscuits and jelly or bacon.Sometimes he would have cold fried chicken. The top section which was shallow held a dessert of some kind. Edith made a lot of fried apple pies.Or baked a cake.
Miners worked ten to eleven hours a day with a half hour for lunch. At that time they were still using mules to pull the little coal cars back inside the mine. A team of four mules could only pull two or three loaded cars at a time out of the mine. It was Walter's job to drive the mules in and out.
The miners wore hats made of duck cloth and leather. Thecarbide lamps were attached so they could see inside the mine. The lamps had water in the top and carbide in the bottom. A little switch of sorts on top of the lamp controlled how much water dropped onto the carbide to produce the gas that burned as a flame. Later, after the danger of gas exploding in the mine became well known, those carbide lamps were replaced by battery operated lamps.
Back then they didn't have bath houses so Walter would come home covered in coal dust. His youngest son, Glen "Glennis" Hall, would sit on a big rock at the bottom of the hill and wait for Walter to appear. Walter always saved a bit of his dessert for Glennis.
It was hard work, but it provided money for the necessities of life. People came from all over the United States and foreign countries to find work in the coal mines of West Virginia.
Walter's father was Benjamin Franklin (Piney) Hall. He sold the land to the coal company where Fireco was built and he moved to Green Sulpher Springs.
Miners Memory 3
I WORKED AT ANJEAN WAS PAID 18.00 DOLLORS A DAY WE LOADED IT ON A
PAN LINE OR LOADED WITH A JOY MACHINE. I LEFT IN 53 LOW COAL, AND BAD TOP.