ABOUT THE BOOK
My great-grandfather, Philip FRANCIS, was urged by his children and grandchildren to write a book about his colorful life. He wrote the manuscript in the 1930's when he was over eighty years of age. He died March 25, 1945, at the age of 91. As I was less than 2 years of age at that time, this book has been my opportunity to learn about my great-grandfather. As the book was written for family alone, it was never published for distribution outside the family. The publisher was instructed to create hardcover editions for each of his eight children and soft-cover editions for each of his grandchildren. The following has been transcribed from my father's copy, which is now in my possession.
In transcribing the book, I have made very few changes.
I have capitalized surnames for easier genealogical searching. I
have corrected a few spelling errors that might have misled readers (he
misspelled the County of Glamorgan, Wales, as "Glanmorgan" and his name
was written as Phillip in the book, although he had always spelled his
first name as Philip). I have left many of his misspellings and grammatical
errors intact for historical accuracy.
Excerpts from the book were originally posted on the Schuylkill County rootsweb list (PASCHUYL-L@rootsweb.com) and on the Cumberland River list (CUMBERLAND-RIVER@rootsweb.com). I was contacted by the coordinator of the Schuylkill County web site to collate the excerpts and to give my permission to post them on the Schuylkill County site. I was happy to do this, and decided to include the entire book rather than the excerpts. The page numbers are from the original book and are at the bottom of each original page.
In addition to sharing this information that may be of genealogical interest to descendants of individuals named in the book, I would be very interested in obtaining additional information about those individuals. I am especially interested in contacting distant cousins who might exist. They would be descendants of Thomas JAMES, including his son, Arthur C. JAMES, who are half-cousins, and descendants of my second-great grandmother's sister, whose name I do not know. but one of her sons was named James THOMAS, born circa 1850-1855. His widowed mother had remarried and lived with her new husband and blended family on upper Center Street in Mahanoy City, PA circa 1870. I hope that you find the book entertaining and useful.
To contribute information, or to learn more about the people in this book, please contact:
Bailey Francis email@example.com
SEVENTY YEARS IN THE COAL MINES
Manuscript Assembled and Typed by
GEORGE D. DOMINICK
I am now past 90 years of age. Seventy-two years of my life have been working underground, coal mining. There have been three short publications of my life given by newspapers. My relatives and friends asked me to write my full life. Having had only a few months of schooling in a village school when a young lad, the story of my life will be crude. It would be too difficult for me, as I would have to rely on my memory for things that have passed away long ago. My memory still retains scenes that transpired more than 75 years ago. We may wander away and mingle with the world's fierce strife and form new associations and friendships and fancy we have almost forgotten the land of our birth, but at some evening hour, as we listen, perchance to autumn winds, the remembrance of other days comes over the soul and fancy bears us back to childhood scenes. We roam again the old familiar haunts and press the hands of companions long ago since passed on and we listen to the voices that we shall hear on earth no more. It is then that a feeling of melancholy steals over us which, like music is pleasant, though mournful and sad.
After life's rush is over, may you retain memories that are pleasant.
It is not difficult to find self-made men in America. Locating self-made men who have retained their principles while making themselves is more difficult.
Such a man is Phil Francis, as he is lovingly called by thousands who know him and his work in Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee. He climbed from a penniless orphan boy in the anthracite mines of Pennsylvania to a coal operator in the above states, fighting and clawing his way every step of the road, but never losing the consideration and fairness that restrained him from taking advantage of an adversary or claiming more than a modest share of any returns from an accomplishment. He has, therefore, left a benediction in his wake, and today dwells midst the scenes of his labors, universally respected and beloved.
Philip Francis belongs to that group of vanishing Americans who possesses ruggedness of purpose and character, who have not been softened by the modern conveniences of living or commerce, and whose feet are firmly planted upon granite principles which no expediency can persuade them to forsake. Philip Francis was forceful enough to batter down every obstacle that blocked the way to sane, comfortable living for his family, yet soft enough to relish the odor of the most delicate perfume; hard enough to drive the pick's point into anthracite coal faster than
any man on the job, yet soft enough to touch the keys of a piano with the gentleness of a maid; hard enough to conquer with his fists the frontier ruffians of another day, yet soft enough to speak of the love of God to men of this day; hard enough to endure the elements in the mountains for days while prospecting or hewing timbers, yet soft enough to enjoy the flowers around his home; hard enough to rush to the conflict with a zeal clearly displayed in his flashing, black eyes, yet soft enough to admonish all to "Keep Serene" if they would get the most out of life.
Now past ninety years of age, Philip Francis is still vigorously going forward. His hand is to the plow, and he is not looking back except to recount, as in the following pages, some of his experiences along the way. Perhaps because he spent seventy years underground is the reason why he made a hobby of studying the heavens and their plants. Perhaps this study is the reason why he has preserved himself while making himself. Maybe this looking up has lifted him as he has lifted all who came in contact with him. As one of these, I commend this book to its readers and vouch for the character and accomplishments of the man of the story.
T. RUSS HILL
Nov. 10, 1943
SEVENTY YEARS IN THE COAL MINES
In the year of 1853, on the 7th day of June, in Danville, Pennsylvania, the writer, Philip FRANCIS, was born. His parents came from Caerphilly, Glamorgan, South Wales. They arrived in America in the year 1851. Their destination was Danville where my father was to work in an iron mill, as there was considerable demand in America for workers in the iron mills.
Wales at that time was well advertised for that class of labor. Many thousands of the Welsh left Wales with their families and located where there were state quarries and iron works in operation. It was natural for America to look to Wales for that class of labor as there were many skilled iron workers and coal miners there. These skilled laborers were needed in Pennsylvania.
My grandfather's name was Richard FRANCIS. He lived on a farm by the name of Evalt Farm near Caerphilly, Glamorgan, South Wales. I have never visited Wales and cannot give a description of the farms, but when I was about ten years of age, I received a letter from him stating that he would like for me and my sister, Margaret, who was then about 12 years old, to come to Wales and live with him; to take care of the horses and to do other work that was necessary on the farm. I did not know where my sister was as she had been separated from me years before. He also stated in his letter that I was the nearest heir to the property. Having no one to advise me, as my parents were dead, I stayed in Pennsylvania.
My father died when I was only two months old, at Danville. I was informed that he was sick only a few days. My mother then came to Minersville; from there to St. Clair; from there to East Delaware or East Norwegian. This last place mentioned is the first place that I can remember in my childhood days. It was there in a very old frame house, with leaky roof and cheerless surroundings, that mother died. Two years ago, I visited the old house, still there, but almost ready to fall down. Part of it had been removed and I was told it would all be torn down soon. My mother must have had a very hard time, with two small children to take care of. the years 1857-58 were desperate in the coal fields. Just on the verge of civil war between the North and South.
During these years my mind was just beginning to realize the many things that were going on about me. When I would hear some one speak of the colored man, or slave, it was difficult for me to understand. There were no colored people in that part of Pennsylvania near my old home.
There was a small hill called Peacock Hill in East Delaware. Men and women would gather there and listen to some man, who was a good reader, read from a newspaper at the evening hour, the latest news from Washington. I can remember that many of them would become greatly excited when the reader would emphasize certain passages. This reading continued when the war was going on. At that time newspapers were scarce.
I can vividly remember when the Government
called for men to join the Union Army. Some men would hide from the Government officers, sent to bring them. I have seen them run through fields and woods with officers after them. There was no let up until they were caught; then they must go to the front or else find a substitute to take their place.
A few years after my father's death, my mother married again. Her husband was a man named David JAMES, a coal miner. They were married at St. Clair and moved from there to East Norwegian. From that marriage one son was born, Thomas JAMES, four years younger than myself.
At the time of my mother's death I was too young to remember what it all meant to me. Shortly after her death my sister left to live with others. My half brother was also taken care of by some neighbors; leaving me alone with my stepfather. As he drank a good deal, he would leave me alone for several days and nights. He would only come in to sober up. Then he would go to the mines to earn more money. After a few days in the mines he would repeat his drinking spree again. He kept up this drinking habit as long as I knew him.
During those drinking spells, no food was provided for me. I have often been hungry. I would go out on the hills in search of tea leaves, birch bark and slippery elm bark in an effort to ease my hunger. There was plenty of good water to drink. Some times a neighbor would bring in a few slices of home-made bread, very dry and hard, with common lard spread over it in place of butter. Salt was spread on it to
give it seasoning. No matter how hard the bread was, it tasted good to me then.
Without the counsel of a father or the gently hand of a mother to guide me, I was growing up wild. I was left-handed and had the habit of stone throwing. This got me in trouble with other boys; especially Irish Catholic boys, who would make fun of me and call me names which caused me to run them with stones which I always kept handy about me.
Fighting was common in those days with men and boys and also much drinking. It was natural, with such influences around me to grow up wild. I took the stand that I must fight my way through the world, if I expected to live.
Let me relate one incident that made me bitter against those who mistreated me. I was standing alone between a railroad and a creek. A full grown man, an Irishman, called me to come to him. I was always shy of going close to anyone, but I did cautiously go to him. Suddenly he picked me up, carried me to the creek and held my head under the water, almost stopping my breath. The water came from the coal mines and it was strongly impregnated with sulphur. Twelve years after that, I was a grown man. I looked for him but could not find him.
Another incident that caused trouble in my life. I was sent to a public school near by. I had been there but a short time, when I got into a fight with a boy named HINKLE. While we were punching and biting each other between the seats, Mr. KELLY, the teacher, came rushing down to us. I had HINKLE down between the seats. He thought I started the fight.
He threw me out the door over three steps. I landed on my feet, picked up a piece of cinder, the size of a baseball, and as he looked toward me, when he was closing the door, I threw it and struck him on the eye. Next day, I was watching him from a distance, and saw he had a bandage around his head. My school days were over. I was suspended by the trustees. HINKLE and I had fought several times. The teacher should not have placed us on the same seat. I did wrong by throwing at the teacher, but my finger was bitten so badly and pained me so that I had forgotten that I was at school and had no chance to explain.
An incident happened to me shortly after my school trouble that I have never forgotten to this day. I was walking along the railroad track and noticed a man coming toward me. I tried to avoid him but the place was narrow. He spoke to me in a kind voice, placing his hand on my head, he said, 'Where are you going my boy?' Not being accustomed to kind words, I could not look up nor speak to him. Even to this day I have never forgotten the kind tone of his voice. I have followed his example all through my life. Whenever I meet a boy looking like I felt at that time, I can not pass him without speaking to him kindly and giving him some coins, and leaving him with kind words. If I had known, at that time that some day I would write these things down, I would have kept many letters that I have received from men, now grown up, thanking me for my advice and kindness to them when they were boys.
I am writing about scenes that happened at East Norwegian. My age when I first went to work, was
about 8 years. In the year 1861, I picked slate a few months in Breaker; then underground as a fan boy; then I helped my step-father to mine coal. This mine was driven down on Slope Way; very gasious; no open lights allowed; lights used were Old Davy safety lamps.
One Sunday evening I stood about 200 feet from the mouth of the Slope. Suddenly I heard a heavy rumbling and the ground shook under my feet. I looked toward the mine and saw heavy timbers being hurled into the air from the entrance of the mine. It being Sunday there was no one in the mine. The mine was wrecked inside. No one could give any explanation as to what caused the explosion. The name of the mine was Old Boreas Slope.
In the year 1862, a change took place in my life. We moved from East Delaware, sometimes called Norwegian. One day my step-father said to me to get ready and go with him and my half-brother Tom who was about five years old, to Pottsville, a distance less than two miles away. After arriving there we met Mrs. GRIFFITHS, a widow. She had three sons with her. Their names were Griff, Edward, and Joseph GRIFFITHS, all under ten years of age. Mrs. GRIFFITHS and my step-father talked in Welsh language. I understood that I was going to a new home and also that I now had a step-mother.
We all left Pottsville and walked up another valley, less than two miles from Pottsville. We stopped at a small house alongside of the road. It was a story and a half high, had three rooms, a frame building. This, I understood was to be my new home. It looked
better to me than where I had lived. It was on the side of a gently sloping hill with about one acre of ground around it. Here Mrs. GRIFFITHS lived with her three sons.
The house has been burned down. The site is now covered with coal and dirt from the Wadesville Shaft which was near by. Wade, as it is now called, is a small village. In the early sixties, four anthracite mines were in operation. At present, September 15, 1936, none are in operation.
Conditions were much better for me in my new home than they were in my old home as I had no one to discipline me or guide me in my former home. I was naturally wild and getting into trouble by fighting and throwing stones; being left-handed, it was easy for me to throw stones.
The three sons of Mrs. GRIFFITHS, now Mrs. David JAMES, were very good boys. They regularly attended Sunday School and church. I can not remember any of them ever getting into trouble. Their quiet behavior surprised me. At my former home I resented all attacks from the boys. I thought it would be the same wherever I went, although the surrounding towns and villages were strange to me. My age at this time was about nine years.
As there have 74 years elapsed since I left my former home to come to Wadesville, many changes have taken place. All the GRIFFITHS boys married. Their children and grandchildren are living in Wadesville, and nearby towns. Griff, the oldest, was killed in the mines by falling slate and coal. Edward moved to another county. He took sick and died. Joseph, the
youngest, died a few years ago of heart trouble. My step-father and step-mother have passed away many years ago. My step-father met a horrible death at a coal mine by being drawn into coal crushing rollers and died almost instantly.
My half brother (Tom JAMES) died in California in the year 1926. The cause of his death was heart trouble. His occupation was a mine expert on metals. He was versed in Geology. During the World War I, he was employed by the U. S. Government to search for rare metals in the U. S. and Mexico. In the year 1880, he married an English girl named Carrie GOUGE. The marriage took place in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania. The three years previous to this he had been with me in Leadville, Colorado, a silver mining town. He returned to Leadville, took his wife with him and they lived there a short while.
Then his wife returned to Mahanoy City, and lived with her relatives for a while. She received help from her husband to pay her expenses. Then it stopped. About this time she gave birth to a son and named Arthur C. JAMES. I lived in Mahanoy City then and her relatives, with whom I was not very well acquainted, came to my home and wanted information about Carrie's husband; where he was and why he quit corresponding, and that she needed assistance. They seemed to be angry and were under the impression that I knew where he was and the reason why he quit sending her money to provide for her. I told them he had not written to me for some time. The last time I had heard from him, he was in Leadville, Colorado, and that I knew of no reason why he neglected writ-
ing and why he did not provide for his wife. Tom knew that if he kept up his correspondence with me I would have blamed him for not providing for his wife.
After seven years of silence on his part, in the year 1884, I moved from Mahanoy City to Dowlais, Kentucky, a mining town near Jellico, Tennessee. He called on me and he lived in Colorado and was on a visit to Florida. He told me he represented the Rights of Labor in that state and was now on his way to Chicago. For twelve years I heard nothing from him. I was looking over some mining journals from the West and in one advertisement I noticed one name, T. F. JAMES, mine expert. He had no middle letter to his name when he left. I wrote to that address, Los Angeles, California, and received an answer. It was Tom, my step-brother. We corresponded with each other. He wrote that he had married a judge's daughter of Portland, Oregon. After a few years together she died. It was his second marriage. A few years later he married again, but they separated in a few years. Tom had a stroke of paralysis, or heart trouble and died in Los Angeles, California.
Tom's first wife and son are living near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mrs. JAMES, number 1, (Carrie GOUGE JAMES) married a grocer. Her son, Arthur C. JAMES, is a Methodist preacher. Let me relate an incident that caused trouble between Tom and Carrie, his first wife. In the year 1878 I left Mahanoy City. Tom was living there also. I went to Leadville, Colorado. While there my partner was killed in a shaft. I sent for Tom to come to Leadville, Colorado. Tom came, as the mines were not working steady in Mahanoy City. One day Tom received a letter stating that Carrie had walked home
From a picnic with a man named PARSEL. Tom and PARSEL had been enemies forsome time and this information made Tom furious as he was engaged to her. He was awfully jealous about her and said he would not go back nor marry her. It was some time before I could reason with him. When I was ready to leave Leadville, I persuaded him to leave with me. When we arrived at Mahanoy City, Tom got married.
Shortly after this Tom took Carrie to Leadville, Colorado. They lived there nearly one year together. Carrie came back to her relatives and lived with them. Tom never returned, nor saw his wife again in the many years they both lived. Although Tom's son was born in Mahanoy City, his son Arthur, never saw his father for nearly forty years after. His mother kept all knowledge from her son about his father. When her son would ask for information about his father she would leave the information with him with impression that his father was dead.
On one of my visits to Philadelphia, I called him up and told him to come to a certain hotel. When he came I told him all I knew about his father and he was greatly surprised. Shortly after this he went to Los Angeles, California and saw his father for the first time. Then he visited Los Angeles for the second time at his father's sudden death. He there met his stepbrother from his father's second wife. He was then living in Los Angeles, California. Nearly five years have passed since I have seen Arthur C. JAMES. I met him at Pottsville, Pennsylvania. He is now living near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at this writing. I do not know whether his mother is living or not.
I will return to Wadesville, where I spent seven years of my life as a young boy. From the age of nine to sixteen, the first nine years I lived at East Delaware, then moved from there to Wadesville. In the latter place the conditions were much better for me. I received less than three months schooling as I had to go to work in the mines with my stepfather. My stepfather could not read or write. He was a native of Wales and followed coal mining for his living. During my stay with him I never knew him to enter any church. He spent a great deal of his time in saloons drinking always after receiving his pay. While there he would meet others like himself, making bets on dog fighting or selecting their sons to wrestle for a gallon of beer or kegs of beer.
Often on Saturday afternoon I would have to go with him to other places or towns and wrestle with others of my age who were strangers to me, knowing he would be cross with me if I should not come out the victor. I always did my very best. It was more like a fight and suited the rough crowd of miners standing around in a circle and cheering one or the other and betting on which lad would win. In those days miners were paid monthly in cash. Other boys would receive from their fathers a dime or sometimes a quarter. They would ask me, "What did your daddy give you, Phil?" I would answer, "Nothing."
A feeling would come over me that my stepfather was not treating me like the other boys were being treated. I had worked hard for him, loading coal under ground into cars that took all my strength to lift; lifting lumps of coal into cars that were high and
large. Often have I been so tired and weak that it was difficult for me to walk from the mines to my home, two miles. My back ached and my head troubled me from bad air and I would lie down to rest. My stepfather seemed to be indifferent to my condition. I could not call him father. A feeling came over me that those conditions could not continue much longer. I was obedient to both of my stepparents. They always told me that I was bound to them until I was 21 years old. They always received my monthly pay envelope from the mines. Never did I receive a dime. Other boys received small coins from their parents. This aggravated me and caused trouble between me and other boys. Twice I had fights with other boys coming out of Sunday School, and in other places. There was a tough boy whose nick-name was Rhodesy, much heavier and older than I was. I had several arguments with him before we could walk together peaceably.
I had a very strong friendship with some other boys. This I kept until two years ago when the last one, Henry THOMAS, passed away with a heart attack, aged 81 years. His wife died 12 years before him. Henry lived a clean life and never got into trouble; neither did he drink or swear. He was a member of the Methodist Church. In September, 1936, I visited his daughter, Mrs. RAYBOLD, at Pottsville, Pennsylvania, with whom he lived.
In the year of 1865, in Wadesville, the time when Abraham LINCOLN was assassinated, I was in Sunday School when the word came and when the news was read. Many sobbed and tears flowed. They could not
continue the services. We all walked to our homes with sad faces. This continued for several days in our young minds; not knowing what would happen next.
In the year 1866 I worked at The St. Clair Shaft, under ground as a coal pusher with several other boys. An incident happened that almost caused me to change my mind about being a coal miner which I had always wanted to be. One morning I was told to go to a certain chute to push coal down to a man who was loading it into a mine car. As I started to go there through a small door, another boy named PRICE, older than I was, pushed me aside, cursing and said that was his place. I protested but gave way to him. I went to another chute, close by and commenced to work. I only worked a few minutes when another boy by the name of ROGERS came running to me and called out, 'PRICE is killed.' I ran to the place with the man that was loading the car. I saw a large flat lump of coal weighing several tons, which had fallen on the chute, covering PRICE. I could only see part of his hand protruding from under the lump. It had crushed him flat. Soon several men came with levers and wedges and slowly raised the lump so that they could pull his body out. It was crushed so that it was carried out of the mine in a canvas sack. During the excitement, I stood close by thinking what a narrow escape I had. It was known by others that it was my place to have been where PRICE met his death. As this was my first close escape from death, it troubled me a great deal.
On my way over the hill to Wadesville, where I stayed, I came very near deciding that it would be best for me to quit the mines. It was customary in those
days that the mine would suspend operations three days when a miner was killed. After those days were over my stepfather ordered me to go back to work. It was some time before I could forget the scene of PRICE's death, with his loud swearing a few minutes before his death. I never swore in all my long life, nor would I work with one who had the habit of swearing.
In the year, 1867, I worked at Beechwood Colliery, Mt. Laffee, loading coal with my step-father. On one occasion, by only a few minutes, I missed a trip of cars being hoisted up a very steep slope and killing all that was riding on it. My step-father and I arrived just as the crash occurred. After the coal dust settled, I noticed one body lying near by. His name was COX, a one-legged man. Only a wide leather belt was around his body. He worked near me. As he passed me he called out, "Come on home, it's quitting time." Some of his relatives were killed with him.
I have been in this mine when several explosions occurred. Certain parts of the mine were worked with safety lamps. Explosions would often take place and burn miners. I have been tossed around several times with its force. I would lie down close to the bottom, as I could keep timbers or other loose materials from hitting me. Then all that could would rush to the bottom of the slope, anxious to get outside of the mine and know who was burned or injured.
In the year 1868, an incident happened which made a change in my life and caused me to leave Wadesville one autumn evening. Several of my boyhood friends were whistling and calling me to come out with them.
As I stepped out of the doorway, my stepfather placed a water bucket at my feet without saying a word to me. I understood that it meant for me to go to the spring, some distance away for a bucket of drinking water. This would prevent me from going out with the boys. I knew also that there was sufficient water in the bucket for the next day's use. His only purpose was to prevent me from going out. Up to this time I had always obeyed him, but this time I could not, regardless of the consequences. My temper got the best of me. I gave the bucket a kick on my way out. Suddenly I felt a hard kick which came from him. As he wore heavy boots, it lifted me off my feet. I turned and looked at him for a moment. I felt no pain only that I was being humiliated before my companions. No tears came to give me any relief.
It was several hours afterward before my boy friends came. They gathered around me. I told them to keep away from me as I wanted to be alone. As the shades of night were coming on, I went up the side of the hill to find a place to be alone and to think what to do. One thing was sure. I would not stay in that home nor would I stay in Wadesville. I looked for a place to sleep under some bushes. While waiting for sleep to come over me I heard my stepmother's voice calling me. It was some time before I would answer her. I did not want anyone to know where I was going to stay that night. As we met she wanted me to come into the house, but I answered her, "No", every time she asked me. She then left me. From where I stayed I could see the house. I had made up
my mind I would watch the house for a chance to get in for some clothes that I wanted. I had also a little over two dollars in change there. I had earned this by picking up loose pieces of iron, bone and rags and selling them to the rag man who came around once a month. In those days this was a common way to get a few pennies.
As I looked toward the house the next morning, I saw my stepfather leaving. Then shortly after that my stepmother went out. I came from my hiding place and went into the house. I gathered up my clothes, tied them into a bundle, then walked over the hill, then to St. Clair, then up another hill called Mt. Hope, then I came onto a road that would take me to Mahanoy City, a mining town.
It was a strange way to leave Wadesville and my boy companions whom I thought so much of. I was now on a strange mountain, on a strange road, and going to a strange town and not knowing how far it was away. And when I got there where I would sleep tonight? These thoughts troubled me. But I had slight information that I had an aunt there whom I had never seen; also that I had cousins living there.
After walking 18 miles I came to the top of a mountain, and looking down into the valley, I noticed a town. I walked down to it and found it was Mahanoy City. It was a new mining town. The streets had very little pavements to walk on. The shades of night were falling fast. I must hurry and find my relatives. At last I found that they lived on the upper end of Center Street. It was now getting dark. I went into
the house and asked for James THOMAS, whom I had met in Wadesville, about four years before. He told me he was my cousin as his mother and mine were sisters. He also told me he had three brothers and four stepbrothers and one sister. I explained to him the reason why I left Wadesville. It was now getting bedtime. I noticed the house was not very large. There was already eleven in the house and not many rooms. My aunt said she would make room for me, some way. So she crowded nine of us boys into two beds.
Next morning, cousin James and myself looked over the town and got acquainted with other boys. As we returned to his home I received word that my stepmother from Wadesville had come to take me back to Wadesville. I was bound to them until I was 21 years old. She had papers to that effect. Not knowing whether they had any paper binding me to them, I kept out of the way for three days and nights among large rocks just behind the P. R. Railroad Depot. The two dollars which I had saved in Wadesville came in handy now. My cousin, James, brought bread and sausage up to me. After the third day I got word that my stepmother had left. I was informed that she could not produce the papers. I returned to my aunt's home and made arrangements with her to board with her. There was no more attempt made to take me back to Wadesville. It also cleared the situation as to whether I was bound to them or not, until I reached the age of 21.
As there were many mines around Mahanoy City, and two railroads, P. and R., and the Lehigh Valley
Railroad, I realized soon that I must find work, as my board bill must be paid. My cousin James (THOMAS) was about my age. He had worked, driving a mule in a coal mine. I had inquired at several mines before I found work driving a mule underground at a mine named Meyersville Mine, three miles from Mahanoy City.
It was difficult for a boy to get work as a miner. Coal seams pitched in many mines as high as 65 degrees, making mining dangerous. Only skilled miners were needed for that class of work. In two years I was able to take up mining in pitching seams of coal. This class of mining was by contract, either by yardage or by tonnage. So much per yard or so much per ton. I have always preferred to mine by contract.
My step-uncle decided to move from Mahanoy City to Meyersville. I still boarded with them although we were crowded together. Mines worked irregular for two years, then closed down owing me $140.00. Two years later I received $70.00 as a compromise. In the years 1872 and 1873, business was fast going into bankruptcy. In the year 1873, it affected the coalmines. I could not find work elsewhere and had to go into debt for my board, $122.00. This disturbed me a great deal. At last I found work at a mine called Primrose. The mine was a level seam of coal. I worked extra at nights and paid my board bill in two months time, and this was the last time I ever went in debt. While living in Meyersville, I made the acquaintance of George HUNES. He was about my age, badly pitted with small-
pox marks. We were constant companions. We worked together in the mine. One day in the mine he and another miner named SHANKLIN were having a friendly wrestling match. He could throw my partner. I was called upon to try and throw SHANKLIN, who was larger and heavier than I and somewhat of a bully. I threw him. He got angry and struck my companion full in the face. Then, I struck him in the face as my companion would not return the blow, as he was of a quiet disposition. I took it up for him. I stood in position, expecting SHANKLIN to come on and get even with me, but he did not. He swore a great deal and then quieted down. I had to watch him closely. He had no right to strike my companion. I was the one he should have struck.
There was a state law against striking a man under the ground; a fine of $50.00 was the penalty and then he got his discharge. The next morning, as I arrived at the mine, quite a crowd of the miners were still around preparing to enter the mine. My companion and SHANKLIN were among them. I could see that both of them had a black eye. I expected to be called to the Company office, but no call came nor was I fined or discharged. I never knew why the law was not enforced. I was only too glad to keep quiet, if that would keep me from having to pay a fine.
As the mines were not working regularly many young men of my age were leaving the coal mines to work in the Lehigh Valley railroad shops, at Delano, a small town close by the mines. My companion, George HUNES, quit the mines and got a job as brake-
man on a freight train. There was a wreck and George was killed.
My step-uncle decided to move back to Mahanoy City where he formerly lived. He opened a liquor store on Main Street, but in less than a year he abandoned the business. It had left its effect on him, however, and as long as he lived it stayed with him. Not many years afterward, he died from its use at Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.
By nature he was kind and generous. When he moved to Mahanoy City, I went with him and boarded there for a few months until an incident happened that changed my whole life. Once a year Lanier's troup and brass band from California would play at Mahanoy City. The character of the play this night was East Lynn. I was not in the habit of going to shows or plays, but I decided to go one night. When I arrived at my boarding house, I found the door locked. After a few minutes of thinking, I came to the conclusion that I would change my boarding place. As the night air was chilly, I went up to the Lawton coal mine. I sat near the steam boilers until the early morning. Then I went to the boarding house and got ready to go to work. In the mine, I spoke to a companion of mine, Walter LEWIS. I knew that his father kept a few boarders. I told Walter what happened to me the last night and asked him to see his father about taking another boarder. Next morning Walter told me that there was room for me. I was glad to make the change, but I did not know who I would meet there.
That evening I packed my trunk, threw it on my shoulder and carried it half a mile, to Pine Street. It was not so crowded. I had better conditions there. I got better acquainted with the LEWIS family. There were the father and mother and three sons. After the evening meal, my attention was attracted to a young woman who came in after we all had eaten supper to help Mrs. LEWIS wash the dishes. After we all had eaten we would retire to the second floor. I had no opportunity to see who the young lady was. One day I caught a glimpse of her as she was leaving for her home, only a few doors above. I recognized her as the young singer who sang with another young lady of the same age, at a Welsh Baptist Sunday School exhibition. The title of the song was "Old House at Home Where My Forefathers Dwelt." It was a great surprise to me as I had never forgotten her or the song.
I thought of many ways to get acquainted with her and decided to speak to her when she was leaving the boarding house. As she came out the low floor door I spoke to her and asked her if she would sit on the porch and talk a while. After some hesitation, she said quietly, "If you want to speak, you can come up on my porch." I gladly accepted the invitation. We sat together for about one hour and talked about things that were going on around us and made an engagement to meet again.
As I returned to my boarding house and thought over our conversation, I felt that I had met a real woman and I looked forward to another meeting. Little did I think that that first meeting in the year 1873
would continue, unbroken on to the year, 1933. It was broken then by death.
On November 19, 1936, a beautiful day, I walked to Lynnhurst Cemetery in Knoxville where she now rests. My memory goes back to those happy days. As I stood alone by the mausoleum, my memory went back and I thought of an old song, "We have roamed and we have loved amid the bowers when the downy cheeks were in their bloom; now I stand alone mid the flowers while they mingle their perfume o'er thy tomb." Oh! The hours grow sad while I ponder near the silent spots where thou art laid and my heart bows down when I wander by the streams and the meadows where we strayed.
For nearly two years we kept meetings, thrice a week. One winter evening, January 9, 1875, we decided to go to the pastor, Rev. Thomas, of the Welsh Baptist Church. I can remember right well, some snow was on the ground when we reached his home. We were not sure that we would find him at home as it was then only eight o'clock p.m. We were fortunate in finding the pastor and his wife at home. The pastor's wife was the only witness to our marriage. As we had no arrangements made for our home and knowing that empty houses were hard to find, I went to my boarding house and my wife to her father's.
In about one week, we found two rooms with a private family on the second floor, not a very convenient home to begin a new life in. To reach our rooms we had to go down the front steps leading into a dark alley under the house, to the backyard, and then go
up two flights of stairs to our rooms. We had trouble in getting what little furniture we had up those narrow stairs. Annie and I did not let those little inconveniences worry us. We had to put up with the odor of sauerkraut cooking underneath our rooms. They were a German family with several children and used kraut with every meal. We would both smile when the odor would be unusually strong. We lived here only a few months, then found a better location in the same part of town.
We moved into six different houses in nine years before we were settled. Owners of empty houses would call on Annie, wanting her to rent, as they knew their rent was sure. Our seventh move was to Jellico, Tennessee, in 1884. Our home was in Kentucky, less than a mile from Jellico, a border line town, from the years 1865 to 1875.
There were troublesome times in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, in the anthracite coal fields caused by Mollies, a secret organization who murdered all that interfered with their plans, causing a reign of terror. I knew many of the Mollies. I knew also several of those they murdered.
May I relate one incident that happened to me. I was standing on the sidewalk in Mahanoy City one day. From the valley below two thousand miners came up the street. Two of them came from the rank over to me and asked me if I wasn't a miner and did I belong to the union. I told them that I did. Get in line, they said. I knew it was useless not to. They gathered all miners standing around and made them
march in line. First, we marched to the jail to get some miners out who were in jail for being too rough in the city. The police and eighteen citizens were there all armed to defend it. It was then and there that I first saw Jack KEHOE, a leading Mollie, with his pistol in hand, arguing with the police at the jail door. At times they would place their pistols at each other's breast. Just as it got to a critical point an old man with very white hair rushed up. His name was Squire GROODY. He said he would go on the three miners' bonds. The Squire's action saved lives as I found out that many miners, who were strangers to me, had their guns in their hands to shoot the police and the squad of citizens.
We all got orders to form in line, marched a short distance to a small mine called a drift mine; there we gathered around the opening of the mine. Now our number was five thousand. Orders were sent into the mine for all to cease work and come on out. Suddenly a voice called out, "Here comes Sheriff WARREN" of Pottsville, a town eighteen miles away.
With a posse of eighteen and two uniformed police on each side of him, the sheriff ordered the crowd to disperse. No one moved. He then drew out a long document and began reading it. There was so much shouting and cursing, I could not hear his voice although I was only a few feet from him. A pistol cracked and the crowd, paused from its noise, forced those in front on towards the sheriff and police. Suddenly I saw several hands reach over and heckle the police. ELLISON, standing by the side of the sheriff, was picked up bodily and passed back over their heads.
ELLISON was a very large man and was fully able to put up a strong fight. Why he allowed himself to be handled in that way I never could understand nor find out unless he was in sympathy with the miners. No harm was done to him. The other policeman stood his ground and told them not to crowd him. His name was LIGHTENBERGER, a German. He had served four years in the Civil War. But the crowd in the rear kept pushing us on. It was impossible for me to get out of line of the shoving which I knew would soon commence. I could see LIGHTENBERGER's eyes and his firm chin. He backed away about twenty feet, placed both elbows to his side and began shooting rapidly. There was no need to aim. We stood so close together. Every shot found its mark. After every shot we could hear cries of "Oh! Oh!". A large man on my left cried out in pain, "I'm shot", and fell over on me in a faint. I got my shoulder under his arm pit and pushed him and partly carried him to the side of the hill out of the range of the shooting. He wore a heavy flannel shirt. I tore this from his neck where I saw much blood where the bullet entered, smashing his shoulder and part of his neck. When he could, he called on the blessed Mary to save him. After examination I told him that the bullet did not enter his body. I thought he would get all right. I asked him his name and he told me his name was Shean and he lived down the valley close by us. Some miners were lying behind rocks shooting with carbines. The miners were leaving hurriedly, fearing state troopers would arrive. As a miner, I never was in sympathy with others in violating the
laws. It was rumored that several were killed. When I looked over the ground, I expected to see several bodies lying around. They must have been carried off with the wounded man, Shean. Not much was said about the shooting as it might cause future trouble for them.
It was after the panic of 1873 that times were very hard. Strikes occurred often. In the years 1874 and 1875 I had been idle; at one time, seven months. House rent and provisions were getting me down too close. Feeling uneasy over these conditions, I decided to leave this coal field after a strike of seven months.
Primrose mine commenced operation, where I worked under a 33% reduction. I was very eager to work and wanted to work every hour that I could as I was getting down close to my last dollar. The few months the mine worked that year, 1875, I worked with four different buddies or partners. Ventilation was very bad. We had to use much powder in blast mining a Buck Mountain seam. My first partner to fall down near me was Johnny BEVAN. It kept him from worrying (I think he meant "working") again for six months. Then came, next, Dave RICHARDS, then, a John EVANS. Then my half-brother, Thomas JAMES. All these were my sick men. Not once did I fall, but kept on my feet and was able to carry out my men to where they could get better ventilation until they recovered. It was quite amusing to hear them say their first words, "How did I get here?" I would explain to them what had happened. It affected me with a very severe headache and burning in my eyes, causing me to see rings of different colors around a light. I was anxious to work so I kept
on working, doing my best to get ahead again and knowing more strikes would take place again or that slack work would come again soon.
In the year 1876, Mr. Jack JEFFRIES, a coal miner, told me he was going to Knoxville, Tennessee, to work in the mines there that his brother-in-law operated. I at once decided to go with him. On January 1, 1876, we left Mahanoy City for Knoxville. My first impression of Knoxville was agreeable to me. We left for the mines, nearly 40 miles away, on the Southern Road and came to a small town called Caryville. We worked in a drift mine and batched together in a private home and rented an upstairs room. We could earn three dollars a day each. We could live on less than twenty dollars for both each month.
The Coal Creek mines were only seven miles
away. One mine, the Fraterville Mine, came out on a strike.
State convicts were brought in to take the places of the strikers and it
caused trouble, crowding the mine where JEFFRIES and I worked. JEFFRIES
left with many others. I remained a month longer. As the mines
in Pennsylvania commenced to work
again, I decided to go back to Mahanoy City again which I left four months before. There were six Welsh miners at Caryville and four of them were from Mahanoy City. The last one died more than twenty-five years ago, before 1900. Jack JEFFRIES got killed in a Missouri mine by falling slate.
Another one of our party who was a fine looking man, died by poisoning. He was too fond of whiskey and women. He had a wife in Mahanoy City, but
neglected to write her. She came to Tennessee to hunt him up. His Tennessee woman heard that Jack WILLIAMS' wife from Pennsylvania had come to hunt him up. So she put poison in his whiskey and gave it to him to drink. He walked a short distance from her cabin and laid down and died. She said if she could not have him no other woman should. As far as I know nothing was done to the woman. It was a sad Mrs. WILLIAMS who returned to Pennsylvania. I went back to Pennsylvania and worked in the mines until the fall of 1878. Work was not steady enough for me, so I decided to try the West. Railroads had many posters put up in their depots advertising the West. Reading them I decided to go West. So I went to Denver, Colorado.
My family had now increased. Two children were born:
Margaret and Louis. Margaret was born December 18, 1875 and Louis
was born July 31, 1878. After carefully thinking over my plans, I
purchased a ticket at the Lehigh Valley Railroad Station for Denver, Colorado.
My first change was at Buffalo, New York, at nighttime. My only baggage
was a valise and a blanket rolled up. I had a few hours to wait there
before I took the next train to Detroit.
I felt I could pass the time better by taking a short walk up the street near the depot in Buffalo. The streets were lighted in some places. There had been a heavy fall of snow. The snow was piled high on either side of the pavements. Walking slowly along I turned quickly around and noticed three men near a street light, looking toward me. It seemed to me they had been whispering together. They were not there
when I passed a few minutes before. I walked fast for a block and then turned on a side street, making my way back to the depot. I felt that they were still following me. Looking back as if I was indifferent as to what was going on, I could see them skulking in the shadows and still trying to head me off. Every step brought me nearer to the depot. They disappeared when they got near the station.
I had read a great many books on "sharpers" and "bunco men" and I had confidence that I could take care of myself, but new traps were laid. Many posters, placed in stations, stated to look out for "sharps" and stay in the station. Trains were slow in those days with long waits. I had purchased a low rate emigrant ticket, forty dollars to Denver. At last there was a train call for Detroit, and we started for Detroit. I boarded a very common looking car and I noticed that the train was a long one. I found a seat and the conductor came along and looked my ticket over. He said for me to back in another car. I picked up my baggage and took my seat in another car thinking I am right now. Along comes the conductor and calls for my ticket again. I handed it to him. Again he gave orders for me to go to another coach. Picking up my baggage once more, I walked back and came to a car that looked like a box car. As I opened the door, I could see it was crowded with Italians, emigrants going West with their wives and children. I had never before seen so many of them. They were in strange costumes. Men with heavy red sashes tied around their waists and with daggers stuck in their waists. They had a common heating stove chained to
the floor and doing their cooking on it. One young woman was their guide. They had all just come over from Italy. It was a show for me to ride with them to Detroit.
I had to make another change at Detroit and had to wait over three hours for the next train to Cheyenne, Wyoming. I sat in the station observing the things around me. I got into a conversation with an old Irishman, who had been to Ireland and was now on his way back to Nebraska.
While we sat talking, a man about thirty years of age sat down near me. He asked me if I had the time. I gave him the time. Then he asked if that was Buffalo time. I told him it was. He then started up a conversation with me. He wanted to know where I came from and where I was headed for. I told him that my work was mining. He then told me he had an uncle who was a foreman of a silver mine in Colorado and would help me to get work in his mine. When he told me he could assist me in getting work, his words sounded good to me for that was my purpose in going West. It put me off guard.
He said his wife and mother-in-law were here in Detroit and he was now waiting for them to come to the station as they had planned to take the train to Denver. He was uneasy about them not being there. He then said to me, "I am going to the place where I left them", and asked me if I would go with him; that he had left some packages of silk at a wholesale house; had left them there to be shipped, but now
if I would go with him we could bring the packages to the station. I went with him.
As we walked along, he kept up a regular conversation. I asked him his name. He said his name was THOMPSON. We kept on walking. I asked him how much further did we have to go. Only a short distance, he said. I noticed that we were getting too far from the station. Nobody was in sight. Then we heard a voice, "Hello, THOMPSON." Looking back to the corner of the street we had just passed, I saw a short, heavy built man with a very long black overcoat on. He walked hurriedly up to where we were standing. I noticed that he kept both of his hands in his overcoat pockets. It was not very cold. THOMPSON introduced us. I did not like his face. I noticed the sign of coal dust in the corners of each of his eyes. I could not see his hands. He kept them in his pockets.
My suspicions were aroused and I kept both in front of me. THOMPSON asked him if his wife had paid him for the goods he bought from him. THOMPSON had introduced him as a merchant and I had a feeling he was trying to act like one. THOMPSON reached into his inside coat pocket and took out a large check book and commenced to write. He then handed the check to the merchant, but the merchant refused to take it, stating that the banks were closed at this hour and he wanted the cash. Then THOMPSON said, "I'm sorry that I haven't got the cash with me. I intended to take the next train to Denver with my
friend here." The merchant said, "I will have to detain you." Then looking at me, he said, "Has your friend got the money to lend you?" While they talked, I had a feeling that something was going wrong.
I also noticed the way that they looked at each other. THOMPSON said to me, "The amount is only two hundred dollars. I will give it back to you when we get to Denver." I said to him, "I haven't got the money." He said "search" to the merchant with his hands in his overcoat pockets. He kept moving closer trying to get behind me. This I did not let him do. I had a two dollar bill loose in my pocket. I drew this out, quickly folded in my hand and said to them, "That is all the money I've got", although I had sixty dollars in another inside pocket. One of them saying "search" was all the time trying to get behind me. This I would not let them do. Had I known at that time that they intended to rob me by using their billy on me, most likely there would have been trouble. Turning to THOMPSON, I said to him, "I am going to the station", and as I was going into the station, it suddenly occurred to me that they were "bunco sharps".
The old Irishman who sat near me when THOMPSON came up, (I had left my blanket and valise with him to take care of) I told him about the trip. He said to me that the man I went out with was a "sharp". I made a resolve then and there that I never would go out on another such trip with strange men. If they wanted me they would have to carry me. That resolve helped me in less than two years later.
A call came for the train for Omaha and all points
West. I got on the day coach. It was an all night's ride. When morning came I noticed we were in a flat country nearing the plains. At one place, several buffaloes were in an enclosure near the railroad track and also near the railroad track there was a prairie dog village that could be seen. Then again the train started ahead and startled a herd of deer that were grazing near the railroad. They scampered away. Some of the passengers lifted up their windows and drew heavy revolvers and commenced shooting at them, but I did not see any of them fall. The deer were soon out of range. I was seeing those things that were new to me.
I thought of the contrast that had taken place in a few days. The Pennsylvania mountains were rough and many of them. The land around me now was level as far as one could see. Those scenes around me caused a feeling of newness to come over me. I was thinking as I rode along what other new things would I see and when and where would I find work. Suddenly a passenger cried out, "Look at the Rocky Mountains." All the passengers looked toward the place he pointed out. With me the sight was wonderful. Peak upon peak kept rising higher and higher, all snow-capped. The more you looked at them, the more you wondered at their grandeur, a sight one can not forget.
The train was now nearing Cheyenne, Wyoming. There, we had to change for Denver, one hundred and ten miles away. Cheyenne is a typical western town. I noticed the people were looking toward mountains called the "black hills", 150 miles away. It was there that CUSTER and his company of soldiers were slain by
Indians a few years ago by Chief Sitting Bull. Again came the
call to take the train for Denver.
We reached Denver that evening. While walking around to find a sleeping place, I noticed a large foundation being laid. I was told it was TABORS, who struck it rich in Leadville, Colorado. There was great excitement in Denver over silver found in Leadville. Miners were crowding in from all the states by the thousand. All headed for Leadville.
Next morning was Sunday. I met two men from Missouri. They were large and heavy built. They also headed for Leadville. We agreed to go together and walk all the way. We looked toward the mountains which appeared to only be a few miles away. At that time I did not know that rarefied air deceives you. It makes objects seem so much closer than they really are. The real distance from Denver to the foot of the mountain was nearly 23 miles. When the three of us started out that morning we expected that we could be at the foot of the mountain in two hours.
All around, strange and wonderful things could be seen. We traveled through South Park. All Nature's work, but it seemed like the hand of man had helped, but I was told that it was all Nature's work. I could see coyotes running across the park. We were now getting further into the mountains and we came upon a gang of Chinese looking for mineral. They had many red flags out and they said it was to keep the evil one away. My age was now about twenty-five years. These were the first Chinese I ever saw. Their peculiar dress and appearance were strange to me. Their camp
was close to the trail leading to Leadville by way of Mosquito Pass.
We were told that a storm was raging on the mountain top and that it was unsafe to go that route. My companions and I decided that we would go the south end of the mountain way, many miles further. I noticed that my two companions were slowing up in their walk. They said their legs were giving away and that they would have to stop at the first camp we came to. When we came to one, there they stopped. That was the last I saw of them.
I went on. Kept on the stage road that was the only means of conveyance for passengers from Denver to Leadville at that time. It was very rough riding on them as they were build unusually strong. In some places it was dangerous. Stages were crowded, inside and on top. There were six fast horses to each coach and driven as fast as they could stand it. Many of them dropped dead; I could see many of them lying in the snow. Every ten miles horses were changed at a camp provided for that purpose. In a few minutes fresh horses were in their places. Then off they go again as fast as flesh can stand it. Breathing is difficult in rarefied air. If you go too fast, the heart will stop suddenly.
Many hundred of men were also walking, all with packs on their backs, hurrying on. Some machinery was being hauled in wagons with signs on them reading, "Leadville or bust". At last I reached a camp at the foot of a mountain. A heavy snow was falling, stopping us all from going on. We all had to sleep
on the floor or on the outside in the snow. I rolled up in my blanket. Some had buffalo skins. These were fine in a snow bed. My blanket was very short and light. My boots were also light. I was getting a whole lot of experience. Many of the men were rough and drunk. It was my good luck to meet a man there who was looking for a place to lie down and get some rest and sleep. He said, "Pard, I am hunting a spot, too." I said, "Yes, there's a place over there among that crowd lying on the floor."
I was fortunate in meeting this man whose name was HARRIS. He told me he was a merchant going to see about finding a location in Leadville. As we stepped over men lying around on the floor we came to a small place just large enough for us both to lie down. My blanket was small and too light for stormy weather. He had a large buffalo robe which covered both of us. It kept me warm all night. When morning came it was still snowing. Men were in groups talking about venturing over the mountains. Many of them advised us not to risk it as the trail was covered with several feet of snow. They were all eager to reach Leadville as soon as possible, but decided to wait for the storm to cease.
While we were waiting, my friend HARRIS said to me, "Pard, your boots are not heavy enough for this snowy country. There is not a place nearer than Denver to buy them. I can help you." He looked around and found a coffee sack and some twine. I did not know that the coffee sack was called a "gunny sack". He cut the sack in two; one part he wrapped around my boot, commencing at the toe of my boot
and up to my knee; then he laced twine over it. He did the same with the other part of the sack, making it more comfortable for walking in deep snow. I was certainly getting new experiences. I had always thought I could face any snow storm. We live to learn. My condition was good. I had two loaves of bread inside the lining of a short overcoat with two pounds of bolony.
Then came word that the storm was ceasing and to get ready to go and that some men with cattle would lead the way and we were to follow in their tracks. We started but could not see the front of the line nor the end. I noticed all of them had blankets over their heads for protection when the top of the mountain was reached. A wise precaution. The wind was terrific. We could not speak with each other nor could we look up. We kept our eyes on the tracks in the snow. It was impossible to look up. At last the mountain top was reached and we began to descend. For some distance down we could hear the storm still roaring above us. As far as I know we all got over safely. We were traveling now with less effort. The lower altitude made breathing easier. The snow was two feet deep. This was now being packed on top of snow that had fallen earlier and was tramped down by men and animals going to Leadville.
I have seen scores of fine looking horses, lying dead, along the side of the narrow trail. They had slipped off the trail into deeper snow and it was very difficult to get them back on the trail. Many had died from being driven too hard. Their hearts would stop suddenly. I left Denver early Sunday morning and
arrived at Leadville late Thursday evening, nearly five days tramping in the snow and it was still snowing.
I thought of my friend, HARRIS. I missed him as we lined up to go over the mountain peak. The "gunny sack" he wrapped and laced over my light boots was still in fair condition. I was told that it was hard to find a place to sleep. I came to a low shed that had been hurriedly built. I found a place to lie down on the rough floor among others at a cost of 50 cents per night. There was no undressing, but just rolled up in your own blanket. I soon fell asleep as I had walked nearly two hundred miles.
A little after midnight, I was awakened by a big burly man with a candle in his hand and a pistol in the other, demanding to know who I was. I told him who I was and that I was hunting for work and that I had only slept a few hours. He told me that some S. of a B. had committed a nuisance on the floor and that he would kill him if he could find him. The odor was strong. I went back to sleep again.
Early in the morning, I was awakened by men talking around me and hurrying to get out to stake out lots for building purposes. It was government land. Any land that was not staked, you had a right to stake it by placing light logs in form as if you were going to build. This would hold a lot for six days. By that time you were supposed to make some improvement on it to keep possession of it longer. As there were thousands of fallen fir trees, that had fallen and dried up lying around, it was easy to put logs up. Hundreds
of men were doing this and they all expected to realize on them in this silver mining camp rush.
It was all strange to me, but I was learning slowly. My only thought was to hunt a job of any kind. I walked around and listened to rough men with two guns hanging on their belts. They were talking of silver strikes in different places. Looking up the street, I noticed a man loading a pack on a burro. As I stood by, a hand was placed on my shoulder. I turned to see who it was and the man said, "Pard, are you looking for a job?" I told him that I was. I was weary looking for it.
I looked him over and had a feeling that he was all right. He told me he was up against it now looking for work of some kind. He had only been here a few days. Had just come from Texas and had had bad luck there by fire which burned up $8,000.00 worth of ties for a new railroad. We walked around and found a man who wanted an out-house moved and then wanted a stable built. We purchased a hand saw and a hatchet and went to work and finished the job. It was built of rough lumber.
We walked around some more and heard some men saying that a business man would grub stake two men. We hunted him up and made arrangements to meet him next day. We met at a supply store. He purchased the supplies and told us that we should go with him to a new mining field about thirty miles away. New strikes were being made in silver and miners were rushing to new fields.
Our sled was finally loaded and pulled by two
horses. In one place the driver said, "We are on top of a divide. This is a small pond of water. Should you kick some water that way it would go into the Pacific Ocean. Then do the same on the other side and it would go into the Atlantic Ocean. One by way of the Arkansas River and the other by way of the Colorado River." All around, the scenery was wonderful. Mountains were covered with snow. At the foot of the mountains, there was a ring of green fir trees, giving them grandeur.
We could not linger. The shades of night would be coming soon and we must be at the camp, miles away, so we hurried on. I noticed a whole side of beef lying in the snow. The driver said it must have fallen off the sled of someone going ahead. He said it would not spoil for sixty days or more. The road we were now on connected Leadville and Georgetown, a mining town further north. It was near getting dark with a few miles to go. At last the driver stopped and said here we must unload. After unloading we stood around awhile, my partner and I, deciding whether we should sleep here or not. All around it was very dark. Suddenly we saw a light a few hundred feet away. We both went in the direction that we saw the light. We found a cabin with two men in it.
We knocked on the door and a voice said, "Come in." I told them we had a load of supplies unloaded at the trail and wanted some place to sleep. They were kind enough to give us a place. We carried our supplies to the cabin. They told us they were prospectors. We told them that we were hungry and would like to have something to eat and some hot coffee. We had
flour and coffee which we had brought from Leadville. I never had any experience in making biscuits or coffee. I watched very closely how one of those men made it. All cooking was done on a light sheet-iron wood stove, very light to pack and carry over mountains. A mixture of flour, baking powder and water poured in a square tin pan, then placed in the oven and quickly baked. My partner and I enjoyed this quick lunch. We slept on the cabin floor that night. Next morning we looked around. We were informed that there was a tent close by where we could send and receive mail. It was called "ALEY's and DUN's tent". Another place close by just forming, was called "Kokomo".
As there were many shafts being operated, prospecting for ore was profitable. Some of them had found paying ore. Many claims had been staked out. A claim was 1500 feet by 500 feet, all Government land. My partner, Frank BRISBANE, decided that we would prospect on the other side of the mountain From where we stood. We carried our supplies across a flat bottom of land
about one and a half miles to a place where it was thickly timbered with fir trees. Having no nails, we placed a pole across between two trees resting on branches. Then we cut the tops off of other trees leaning on one side of the pole, then covered them over thickly with branches to keep the snow off our bed. We scattered small branches in one corner to sleep on. The top of the trees we used for a door. We had been told that wild animals were around.
After sleeping quarters were finished, we located nearby, a place to sink the shaft. We had nothing to
guide us that mineral would be found in that place. Snow was several feet deep everywhere. We just took a chance and sank a shaft down 65 feet. No sign of mineral was found. My partner BRISBANE began to complain and was getting more discouraged every day. He said he was not used to living like this and that he had a good home in Saginaw, Michigan; had a wife and two children. We would both try and sing some song to try to keep from getting too lonesome when the shades of night would come. He left and went back to Leadville and found a job as clerk in the Clarendon Hotel that had just been built, on a salary of $125.00 per month.
Prospecting to me was fine, but I had my wife and two small children depending on my earnings. While I was prospecting, I was not earning but spending. One day I went over to "ALEY and DUN's tent" to look for mail. I received a letter that my son, Louis, had died suddenly. He was only fourteen months old. He was buried several weeks before I received word. Mail was slow in those days.
While at ALEY's tent I heard that men were wanted to shovel snow on a stage route and that they would pay four dollars per day and so I went to work. I noticed that some men had goggles on, protection for their eyes. I did not do anything to mine, thinking they were strong enough to stand the glare of the sun on glistening snow. After a week's work my eyes began to trouble me. I had to stay in the Spruce House for several days. It seemed like they were full of sand. It was hard to keep them open or shut. Let
me say I was getting a whole lot of western experience that one cannot forget.
After my eyes were strong enough I decided that I would go to the top of a very high mountain peak. I could see a dark formation of rock that looked very much like a coal seam. I prepared two pieces of light box board three feet long and ten inches wide. I cut holes through them with my pocket knife so I could tie them on my boots with strong cord. Without this protection I would sink deep in soft snow. When I reached the steep part of the mountain I could take them off and carry them with me. I rose early the next morning. The sun was shining and I saw it would be a nice day. I shuffled along on my home-made snow shoes. I noticed several large jack rabbits would sit up and look at me, only a few feet away. I knew I would have to keep moving to find my way to the top of the peak. I heard the peak was 14,000 feet high. It would take some effort to get there.
I had to walk in a gulch called "May Flower". I notice heavy tracks in the snow going in the direction that I was going, so I took my heavy pocket knife and cut a good sized club from a fir tree. As I moved along, the tracks turned to the right behind a large boulder. The tracks made were larger than a man's fist and about one foot apart. I kept on going until I reached the foot of the mountain. I started to climb slowly. Breathing was difficult in that high altitude. The higher I went, the more difficult it was to breathe. I was determined not to give up. I rested a few minutes at a time to get my breathing more regular. I felt strong as I was in good condition. At last, I reached
rocky ground. Above the cliffs ahead of me was gently rising ground. I could not see the top nor could I stand up and walk. I got down on my hands and feet. I could then only go thirty feet without stopping. I was getting some more experience of the great Rockies.
I kept moving slowly upward looking toward the top and using all my will power to keep going on. I noticed some small animal nearly the size of a small rabbit, (white) and also a bird the size of a quail and as white as the snow. It made a peculiar noise. It was hard to see them unless they were moving for all was pure white around them. After eight hours of climbing, I reached the top of the peak. I would not look around until I got my breathing right, then I stood up on my feet. I felt something give way at the very bottom of my lungs. Then I felt it roll up in my throat. I spat it down at my feet. It was three small dry balls of anthracite coal dust. There was no pain nor any blood. I was aware that it occurs at high altitudes. Nor did I feel any great distress when I stood still.
The sun was shining brightly and the wind was not stirring. That was something unusual. Where I stood, the snow had been blown clear away. I looked toward the east. What a wonderful view right at my feet. You could look down three thousand feet. Mountain after mountain could be seen as far as the range of my eyes could see. Glistening lakes among the mountains, making a picture not often seen nor ever forgotten. Then I turned and looked west and another magnificent scene was before me to gaze upon. As I looked I could see the Mount of the Holy Cross. I had
heard of it and now I could see it. It appeared to be less than fifty miles away. It was hard to leave such a wonderful view. I almost forgot what I had struggled up the mountain for. I looked along the side of the peak and saw the dark croppings on my right. Making my way toward it, I came suddenly to a gap, fully 150 feet across it. This could not be seen at the foot of the mountain. There was no way only by going down to the foot of the mountain and making another effort. I could now feel a gentle wind stirring.
I made haste to go down and sat on my snow shoes and slid down some distance to the cliffs. It was late that day when I reached my bush cabin. I slept very soundly that night. The next morning I decided to investigate "May Flower Gulch", less than a mile away, which led me up to the top of the range that I was on yesterday. As I traveled up the gulch I noticed what looked to me like a small mound of snow. I went to it, brushed the snow off with my foot and found ore. It looked like dark iron ore. Someone had been there before me and dug it up. Having no shovel to move the snow, I could not see the place where it came from as it was on a line with a cropping on top of the high peak which I had tried to reach the day before. As all land around was Government land, the first prospector has a right to place stakes with marks stating his claim. A claim in Lake County, Colorado, is 500 feet wide by 1500 feet long. You are supposed, after you stake a claim to do a certain amount of work on it every year to hold it, according to Government law.
A few days before my partner, Frank BRISBANE left me to go back to Leadville, we made a trip to Elk
Mountain, only a few miles away, having heard that silver was found there in places. We took just enough food along for one day and also some tools to work with. We prospected on the south side of the mountain. In many places the snow had melted away around sage brushes exposing the surface. Many prairie chickens would fly a short distance away and look at us, probably never having heard the sound of a gun. We could also see many large bones lying around, supposed to be elk bones or mountain sheep bones that had died years before. The Ute Tribe of Indians reservation is not far from this mountain. Prospectors were not allowed on their land. I could see prospectors' holes and shafts with windlass on them, but no miners were in sight. Some were located on ore seams, but other shafts had not yet found ore. BRISBANE and I found good cropping indications of ore after digging and following the ore cropping. I would give out at times and BRISBANE would shout out, "This looks good. Right now I would not sell this property for anything." Then he would say, "FRANCIS, what will you take for your part?" In a few hours more digging it gave out. We both felt discouraged over it.
The next day BRISBANE left me and went to Leadville to clerk in the Claredon Hotel which had recently been built. Two months later I met him in Leadville. One day a man came to my brush home and said his name was William JAMES and that he was from Joplin, Missouri. He said that he was just looking around and that he had followed the snow tracks which led him up there. I said to him, "You are of Welsh nationality." He said , "Yes, my people are in Wales, but I
can not speak Welsh." He was short of stature and heavy built and about thirty-five years old. We discussed conditions around us and decided to be partners. He left me saying he would be back in a few days with his pack.
I was glad to have another partner. I was very lonesome when the night came. I had been alone two weeks. I would listen to the sighing of the wind in the tree tops. It was interesting to see squirrels by the hundreds leaping from one branch to another just before sundown, then the stillness of night came on and I was alone with my thoughts, thinking of home and those left behind with its comforts; but I stopped dreaming. I had come here for a purpose and I must carry it out.
When morning came, I could see fresh tracks of different animals
in the snow around the cabin. Having no gun of any kind, I kept a
heavy axe at the head of my bed when I slept. There was no door to
the cabin. The tope of the trees served for a door. My bed
was a blanket with small spruce branches laid one foot thick on poles.
I called it a Colorado feather bed.
While waiting for my new partner to come, a man from "ALEY's and DUN's Tent" brought me news that two men from Pennsylvania wanted to see me. I went back with them. This place took the place of the post office. It was there I sent and received mail. I was surprised to meet Richard MEYRICK, my father-in-law, and William REESE, both from Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania. MEYRICK was an old 1849 California miner and he wanted to try it again in this desert.
After our greeting MEYRICK said, "We must leave in the morning. Neither of us can breathe in this high altitude." As there was no place to sleep here they got their packs together and started over to my shack. I had to carry both packs. Both of them were past middle age and were troubled with coal miners' asthma. It was difficult for them to breathe regularly, neither could they do any work. When morning came I started them back to Leadville and from there they went by stage to Denver. Two years later I met them both in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania. They said they were both glad to get away from that climate.
The following day my new partner, JAMES, came back with his pack. That night we discussed the situation around us. As he was the oldest, I let him take the lead. We decided to go down Eagle River for one day and look for prospects. The next morning we had early breakfast: biscuits, beans and coffee. We took away a few extra biscuits. In many places, the top of the snow was firm enough to hold one's weight from breaking through as the snow was deep. Many times we would break through, delaying us and making our trip slow and tiresome. My partner, JAMES, was a slower walker than I was. I would have to stop and wait for him. Our plan was to go down Eagle River as far as we could. Then turn to the right and come back by the way of Elk Mountain-a high mountain.
As we traveled onward, we came to a place where several large trees were recently cut down as if some prospector or hunter was going to build a cabin, but no one was seen near. We went on some distance
further. Suddenly we heard in the distance a rumbling sound.
As we continued on, the sound was getting louder and we decided it was
a waterfall. Both of us wanted to see it. On our right there
was a gulch leading up to the place where a large body of solid water fell
over a cliff nearly 100 feet high with a continuous roar. It was
impossible for us to speak to one another and be heard. We could
only motion to each other. Mountains around us were like huge bee
hives towering up into the sky. We could not see the tops, they were
so close together. It was very easy to get lost or to lose our sense
It was now afternoon and getting shady as if snow would come. If we should be caught by it we would be in a bad fix. We knew many prospectors who had lost their lives in just such surroundings as we were now in should a storm come up. Signs were now appearing that one was on the way. We now turned our faces back toward the place we started from by going over Elk Mountain. Just as we got above the timber line the snow commenced to fall slowly. By hurrying on I thought we could get across before the snow fell thickly and prevented us from seeing our way ahead, as there were no markers or signs to guide us. Before we reached the top of the mountain the snow began falling thickly.
A slight wind commenced to blow by the time we reached the top. It was terrific, almost lifting us off our feet and every minute getting stronger. We had a feeling that we must leave as soon as possible. It was impossible for us to speak with each other on account of the velocity of the wind. I have always had
a good sense of direction and felt sure of the way I was going although I had no guide to go by. My experience in coal mining helped me now. I made motions to my partner by pointing in a certain direction. He pointed in another direction and started away from me. I did not know how much experience he had had in this kind of weather and on a mountain top and thinking also that it would not do for us to separate, I gave in and followed him.
I had noticed that when we reached the top of the mountain we turned slightly to the right. I now had a feeling that he was going down another gulch in the direction of the waterfall. We traveled down the gulch and when we got down into the timber line of spruce and fir, we could speak to each other. The storm was now raging overhead and it was still snowing heavily. I spoke to JAMES and told him that we were going the wrong way, that we were turning away from ALEY and DUNN's Tent, but he argued against me. I tried to convince him where he made his mistake when he turned to the right on the top of the mountain and kept leaning to the right for some distance on account of the strong wind blowing against our left side and forcing us to the right more and more as we struggled along. The shades of night were coming on fast. We were getting hungry and our struggles through deep snow were using up our strength. The more we argued about the right direction to go, the more bitterness came into our voices and finally we both stopped saying anything. Who was right and who was wrong? I turned to my partner and said to him, "Well then if it must be, you take the lead and I will follow." He
started and went some distance. We walked on some distance. It was now getting darker and the snow continued to fall heavily. The wind was moaning in the tops of the trees. I did not feel any bitter cold. All our walking was done in silence. At times I felt like leaving him, knowing that I was risking my life by following him. Should we continue on much further we would get bewildered and lose our sense of direction. That is the end of many prospecting miners. We were both aware of this danger. JAMES stopped. We both stood still. I could see fear in my partner's face. I spoke to him and said, "Bill, we are lost", with a voice that had a tremor in it. He said, "Yes, I believe we are."
Knowing it was useless for me to again bring up argument as to where he lost his course on top of the range, I did tell him that I thought we were now between seven and eight miles from the top of the range and if we want to get our bearings right again we must locate the waterfall we found this morning. So we continued on in silence. I took the lead because I could see Bill was getting worried and also tired and hungry and walking slower every hour. Being heavier than me, he was a slower walker. At last I heard a sound like distant thunder miles away. We came to the foot of the gulch where the waterfalls were located, then we turned our faces east. We kept on struggling through the snow.
After walking several miles Bill took the lead again. I noticed that he turned off at a right angle from the course that I thought we should take. It was still snowing heavily. I called to him. He was
going off the course we should go. He said, "No, that he was on the right course for DUNN's Tent." I told him we were not and that I would not follow him going that way. Right there and then we separated. Every once in a while I could hear his voice calling and I would answer back. We got further apart until we could hear no sound from each other. It was now near midnight and each one of us for himself.
This year, 1879, May 13th, brings back memories of hard struggles for mind and body. Let me describe my feelings on this date. When I told my partner we were lost his answer was, "Yes." He said it in such a manner that it left no hope that we could find our way out. For myself, I was not sure. We could hear water falling. My partner was silent and gloomy and it was making its impression on me. The surroundings we were in added to our feelings and I wondered if this was my end and would I ever see my wife and children again.
Such thoughts would come over me as we walked silently along and listened for the waterfalls. If the worst came I would keep struggling on as long as my strength held out. When the location was found a feeling of relief came, although we would have to travel some distance to be safe. When Bill and myself separated, I kept on a course that only my sense of direction gave me. A thought came to mind that I might come to a place where trees had been recently cut down. Snow was still falling, now more slowly. Suddenly I thought I saw a flash of light ahead of me. I stood still and waited, thinking I might see it again, but did not. I kept on my course and saw a light
again. I kept on a direct line to it. I noticed it was a candle light in a newly built log cabin. The snow ceased, making it easier for me to find my way. I approached the cabin, found the door and knocked. A voice said, "Hello! Who's there?" I answered that I was lost in the snow storm and wanted to know my way to DUNN's Tent. I did not expect him to open the door and let me in and he did not. He told me that trees were newly barked 5 feet above around every 60 feet back of the cabin and the distance to DUNN's Tent was three and one-half miles. For more than twenty hours I had very hard walking without a rest. I was getting tired, but a few miles more did not discourage me because I now felt safe. I followed the blazed marks on trees and at last reached DUNN's Tent.
I called them up and told them who I was and that I was hungry and tired. They let me in and warmed some coffee and biscuits. I soon felt strong again. I told them that my partner, Bill JAMES and myself, separated and that we could not agree about the direction we should take. I told them that the distance from here to where we separated would be, according to my guess, about eight miles. They said that if he should keep on the same course he was on when he left you, he would most likely hit the new stage road being cut through the snow between Leadville and here. They thought it best to wait eight or ten hours and should he not turn up by that time we would try and get a party and trace him up.
The following afternoon my partner, JAMES, came struggling into DUNN's Tent, a hungry and tired man. He was surprised to find me there. He felt sure that
I had taken the wrong direction. After he had eaten and rested, we went across to another mountain where our shack was. We argued a great deal as to which one of us made the mistake. I contended that when we hit the blizzard on top of Elk Mountain that he turned too much to the right. He would not give in. The subject got to be very unpleasant and our feelings were being aroused. I have read that it is easy for men to quarrel over trivial things when alone in the mountains. There is something in the air or the surroundings that causes bitter disagreement.
Both of us agreed to go to Leadville and find work as we needed some cash. We got our packs ready and left early the next morning. As there was a stage road going to Leadville, we followed it. The snow was beaten down, making walking easier. On one side of the road, I noticed four newly covered graves with no marking. Later on we met other prospectors. We asked them about the new graves. They told us that some young bucks or Indians had killed them. They were four white men. They also said that Sitting Bull had been on the warpath with two hundred Indians and that they thought they were the slayers. It was very easy for Indians to surprise prospectors in the mountains and slay them. Many miners had no weapons to defend themselves. Although the U. S. Government had Indian scouts to watch the Indians, the Ute Tribe of Indians on their reservation were just over the mountain where white men were not supposed to trespass on their land.
After we reached Leadville, we were told that Indians had slain the PRICE and MEEKER families in a
sudden uprising and understood that these families were on the reservation to instruct the Indians how to cultivate their land. It was rumored in Leadville that the Indians had sent word that they would massacre all white men in Leadville. This was too big a job for them and they never tried it. Many Indians could be seen now and then in Leadville, but they seemed friendly.
I remember one 4th of July, several Indians came to Leadville to take part in the celebration, such as wrestling and racing against the white men. These exercises were different on account of the high altitude, especially with newcomers or "tender feet" as they were called. Indians were more accustomed to the climate and they carried off most of the prizes.
My partner, JAMES, and myself agreed to separate and to in different ways to hunt work of any kind and we would meet at a certain place that evening and also to find a place where we could sleep that night. After some hours of walking around, I was fortunate enough to meet a working man. I told him what I wanted. He said he had a half interest in a cabin on Stray Horse Gulch. It is less than a half mile from the center of Leadville, and that he would sell me his interest for thirteen dollars. His partner who owned a half interest never came back. He had left him a few days before for a six months trip down the Gunniston River to prospect and the Indians may have gotten him. He was a Frenchman. I took him up on his proposition and paid him the thirteen dollars. I hunted up my partner, JAMES, and told him where we could sleep. We found the cabin easily and
we both thought it a fair start to have a cabin. We were satisfied with the trade we had made.
The following morning, after a good night's rest, we started out to look for work. We went in different directions. I overheard some men speaking. They wanted a man to work sinking a well, who was familiar with the use of dynamite. I told them I could handle the explosive. He gave me directions how to find the place. I hurried to be the first on the job. I found a man whose name was LLOYD, a real Yankee from Maine. He had recently built a rough residence and a stable for his horses. His occupation was that of a teamster. Hauling was in demand between Denver and Leadville and also into the mountains for prospectors. He happened to be in his stable. I asked him if he wanted to hire a man to work in a well. He said he did and he spoke to me about dynamite. I told him I was used to handling it. He showed me the well and it had a windlass over it. The man who had sunk it down nearly twenty feet struck rock and said he could not handle explosives.
It was arranged for me to commence the next morning. He would pay me two dollars per day and board. I went back to my cabin in the gulch and met my partner, JAMES. I told him I had found a job and that I would be away for a few days. I was on hand early the next morning. Mr. LLOYD had a hand to windlass for me. I was lowered down into the well with some tools and commenced to work. I found the rock was not a solid foundation and was easily broken through. I did not need to use explosives. Mr. LLOYD was pleased as he was in need of water. I worked three
days and struck a good stream of water. I ate my meals in his house. Two women cooked the meals-his wife and a sister.
After finishing the well job, Mr. LLOYD asked me to work another day to cut some kindling wood for him. He had a pile of dried spruce trees near the house for that purpose. Early the next morning I commenced to chop the wood for him. It was snowing but not cold; at least I did not feel the cold. I can remember the day well. I felt good and strong. My lung power was fine in that high altitude. The call to dinner for me sounded good for my appetite was very keen. I took my place at the dinner table with the other men. I had plenty of boiled beef and beans, just the right kind of food for a working man in that climate. As soon as I was done eating I hurried back to my chopping place. I had a good pile already cut. My day's work would not cease until dark came. Snow was still falling slowly. Whenever I looked toward the house I could see the two women watching me all the afternoon, and knowing they could not find anything wrong with my work. I had already quite a large pile of wood cut and it was growing larger every hour.
When supper time came I ate with the rest of the men. Then we sat around for a few hours talking before retiring to the barn where we all slept. As we were all about to go out, Mr. LLOYD, whom I had not seen all day, called me aside and told me not to leave for a while. I wondered what he wanted with me. So I waited and at last he came and said he wanted me to come back to the kitchen. He told me to sit on a bench at the table and I did so. Soon his
wife and sister came in smiling with a large pan full of ginger cake just baked. It smelled good. He cut it in blocks or squares. Mr. LLOYD said, "Let's eat", and we did eat. Why the rest of the workers were not invited I do not know. Mr. LLOYD may have looked at the pile of cut wood which would do him for quite a while. Whenever I eat ginger cake I always think of Mr. LLOYD.
I went back to my cabin on Stray Horse Gulch and found my partner, JAMES. He had found some odd jobs, but no regular work. There were several miners on Fryer Hill shipping silver ore. I had some experience traveling around looking for work. Many of the superintendents were Irish and others were Odd Fellows, and as I was neither, I was not employed.
I wanted work in an ore producing mine. It was safer and more regular and not as wet as shaft sinking. Shafts were most dangerous. You had to use high grade explosives and also the flimsy machinery to let a man down and to hoist him up. At last I found work at a shaft named El Paso and very wet. A miner with rheumatism or weak lungs could not work many days. Conditions in shaft sinking would soon lay him up. Three eight hour shifts with from one to two men on shifts, and size of shaft three by six in the clear and the depth fifty to five hundred feet. Should paying ore be found, the shaft was made larger.
I worked in El Paso shaft several months. DUVALS, from California, was the owner. I had considerable trouble with water. It would rise eight feet per hour when the pump would fail. My cabin was one-half
mile from the shaft. They would send a man after me to get the pump working again. One month I had forty-five days to my credit. I felt no serious effect from the dampness, only a numbness and weakness about my ankles. Mr. DUVAL told me he would build a house for me and pay my expenses if I would move here from Pennsylvania. I could not think for a moment of bringing my wife and two small children to such a rough country. My partner, JAMES, found work for both of us in another shaft called the Olive Branch. It was not so deep. It was only two hundred feet and was not for from El Paso. Olive Branch worked three shifts with one man on each shift. JAMES and myself worked about three months. We got along agreeably in our cabin and also in the mine. On this week my shift was from 7 a. m. to 3 p. m. JAMES followed me from 3 p. m. to 11 p.m.
One night about ten o'clock I was sleeping soundly in the cabin when I heard a voice calling me. "Ho, FRANCIS." It woke me up. I felt at once that there was something wrong by the tone of his voice. I got up quickly and asked him what was the matter. He told me that JAMES was badly hurt. I asked him where JAMES was. He told me at the bottom of the shaft. I hurried over to the shaft and just got there in time to take hold of him as his head and shoulders came through the opening top of the shaft. He stood upright in the bucket with one arm around the rope which was attached to the bucket as the hoisting rope was pulled up on the drum by horse-power-very slowly hoisting. A wood fire was burning near. We moved him to it; took off his rubber coat and his hip boots
and we realized that he was badly injured. His right shoulder was crushed and his arm was injured. When I took off his boots blood poured from them and a large hole just above his right hip could be seen. Blood was flowing from his side. JAMES was a strong man in the prime of his life, but I could see that he was getting weaker. Something must be done and that quickly.
The opener of the shaft came and looked at JAMES' shoulder and said that his arm would have to be taken off. JAMES heard him and cried out, "No, no. I won't have it off." He was growing weaker now and getting very weak. Someone said, "Let's take him down to Leadville. There is a Sister Hospital just opened up there." I had not known this. We hurriedly placed some boards together and carried him to Leadville, less than a mile away. JAMES was growing weaker but was not complaining. He surely had a lot of nerve. Not even a groan came from his lips. It was rough carrying. The hour was midnight. When we reached the hospital, they opened the door and we carried JAMES in. A doctor instructed us to lay him on a platform or a table and he made a quick examination; then he shook his head. We understood.
I went back to my cabin and prepared to go to work at the shaft by seven o'clock a. m. It was a one man shift. It was important that I should be on time and also I wanted to know how the accident occurred. There was a man from Scranton, Pennsylvania who operated the hoisting of the bucket. His name was REES. As the bucket was hoisted above the trap doors on top of the shaft he failed to close them. A one hundred and fifty pound truck was kept close by to
lower heavy buckets on. Then it was pushed out and dumped. When he pushed the truck it fell down the shaft 260 feet and struck JAMES. He failed to close the trap door. I worked until three o'clock, the end of my shift. I felt badly about my partner, JAMES. I hurried to my cabin, cleaned up a bit. I had only the one suit that I worked in.
Then I went down to Leadville. When I came to the hospital door an elderly sister met me and asked if the injured man we brought in last night was my partner. I told her that he was. Then she told me he was dying and that if I had any questions to ask him I should ask them quickly, that he would soon be unconscious. As I reached his bedside he faintly recognized me. I asked him about his relatives. He had never told me anything about them. He faintly answered, "Bag Knorving"-he had an old-fashioned carpet bag. Knorving he should have about two hundred dollars." I asked him about it. He whispered faintly "Corner cabin. Cobble stone." These words came faintly, slower and slower. JAMES was dying far from his home in Wales. I stood by seeing my partner passing out. After JAMES died, I left the hospital and notified all hands that worked at the shaft. The next morning four of us dug his grave outside of Leadville in ground set aside for that purpose as many unknown men were being buried there.
Death comes quickly to one in sickness or to one who gets injured here. They lose their identity and surroundings. We prepared to bury JAMES late in the afternoon. Just five of us carried him all the way to the grave. A Cornish miner had an extra suit of
clothes which he loaned me for the funeral as I had no extra suit for that occasion. After we filled the grave up I spoke to Mr. REES, the man from Scranton, Pennsylvania, who had made the mistake in pushing the truck into the open shaft, causing the accident to JAMES. I told him to come with me to my cabin.
I looked for JAMES' money and his belongings there. We searched the cabin in one corner. We found the cobble stone and right behind it in a hole we found his leather pocketbook with nearly two hundred dollars in it. Then we looked through his clothes and then searched his satchel or carpetbag. In it we found a half-written letter to a friend in Joplin, Missouri. We also found the photograph of a young woman on a card. We also found a slip of paper with a name and an address on it. Betsy JAMES, 127 Wellington St., Glamorganshire, S. Wales. I wrote to that address the William JAMES was seriously hurt. A few months later I received a reply from Mrs. JAMES stating that she had a son in America somewhere.
I wrote her again that William JAMES had died and was buried in Leadville and that I had some money belonging to JAMES and I would like to send it to his relatives and could she send me references that she had a son. I enclosed the young woman's photograph in the letter. After some waiting I received a letter informing me that she had a son here and the photo of the young woman was also verified. As there was some little expense from the funeral which I paid and what was left I took to the bank at Leadville and received a draft from them for twenty-seven pounds and ten shillings. This amount I sent to his mother.
Later on another letter came from her thanking me for the money sent and stating that her son had some money in a bank and could it be found out some way? Having no papers or other information, I could not find out whether he had or not. At least there were no papers to that effect in his valise.
As I was walking the street one day in Leadville, I heard a voice say, "Hello, FRANCIS." I looked back to see who it was and found that it came from my first partner, Frank BRISBANE, who left me back in the mountains six months ago. He said he was bookkeeper for the Clareton Hotel and was getting along all right. He persuaded me to come to a show with him that night, that it would not cost us anything. My work at the shaft commenced at 11 o'clock p. m., so I thought I could go and see the show. BRISBANE told me the play was "Rip Van Winkle". I was not in the habit of going to shows. I noticed as we went in we passed the doorkeeper with a nod, then we ascended a flight of stairs. When we landed on the second floor there was a drinking bar. The most kind of drinks was champagne. BRISBANE led the way to a row of private boxes. We selected one and both sat down. I noticed that there were two rows of private boxes curtained all around on each side. The opening could be in front to look down on the stage. Boxes on the opposite side were all occupied by men and girls drinking. The floor below was crowded with rough miners.
The music started with piano, violin, and cornet. I was fond of music and I listened to the strains of music. My partner, BRISBANE, said to me, "I am going
downstairs for a while," and I said to him, "All right, will wait." As I listened intently to the music, a woman's voice said, "Don't you want company?" I noticed she was very young and was dressed as if she was a stage girl. I said to her, "I have a partner," and she withdrew. The play was now beginning. I was getting interested in the acting. There were no dull minutes. When an actress pleased the audience there was a shower of gold pieces thrown to her and at her feet. This would cause her to come back for an encore and to pick up all the pieces of gold. Many of these gold pieces were ten dollars and twenty dollars. Such men as Travor HILL would throw the money around by the thousands of dollars when they were pleased with the play.
All these scenes were new to me. I finally wondered why my partner did not return. It was now nearing the time when I would have to leave so as to be at the shaft ready for work by 11 o'clock. As I leaned over the railing looking down on the stage, a voice said, "Hello!" I turned around in my chair and a young girl had parted the curtains and came in. She smiled and said, "A fine show, ain't it?" I said, "Yes." With that she sat down in my lap. She began to pet and smiled some more. She was real young and nice looking. She had on a light gauzy dress and looked as if she were a stage girl. It was supposed that when a girl came to interest you that you would order champagne from the bar nearby. It would cost about three dollars per glass. She would receive a per cent from the drinks. It was time now for me to
treat or retreat. I made up my mind to retreat, which I did.
As I passed the bar, several girls were standing near and they followed me to the top of the stairway saying, "Where are you going?" I told them I was coming back again. I was glad to get on the outside. I suspicioned that Mr. BRISBANE had something to do with sending those girls to me. I always had on my working clothes. It was money those girls wanted. Clothes made no impression on them. Money was their sole object and the making of money was good in Leadville, but what a life! Soon they fade.
I hurried back to my cabin and got ready to go to work in a short time. What a change from music and laughter to the bottom of a gloomy and wet shaft for eight hours. How lonesome! Your only companions are a pick and shovel and a stick of dynamite. One month after BRISBANE left me at the theater, I accidentally met him on the street. He was walking slowly and was looking very sick. I asked him what was wrong and he told me he was so weak and sick and that he was going to his room. He hinted to me that he had been going too fast since he came to Leadville. I was sorry for him. He was an engineer. He had a good education and a home in Saginaw, Michigan. He also had a wife and two small children. His father, Gen. BRISBANE, took position hunting Indians for the U. S. Government who were implicated in Gen. CUSTER's massacre. I tried to find out what became of Frank BRISBANE. He passed out of my life. I often wondered whatever became of him.
I went back to my cabin thinking about the uncertainty of health and life. I decided that I ought to have another partner. I had a half brother a few years younger than myself who was a coal miner in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania. I sent for him to come to Leadville. I sent him a tracing to show him how to find my cabin on Stray Horse Gulch. I was now working in a shaft called "Montana Load". This was a very wet and dangerous shaft. It had caved in several times on account of bad timbering. On each shift there were two men.
A new man came to me and said, "Superintendent?" I told him to work with me. We both went down into the shaft in the same bucket. With one hand you held your candle while the other grasped the rope attached to the bucket with one foot outside to guide it and to keep it from springing around and to keep the bucket from striking the timbers that were projecting out into the shaft. I told my partner to hold fast to the rope with both hands. He let his candle drop if he was not sure of one hand holt. The wooden drum that dropped us down was not round and would suddenly let us go rapidly for twenty feet. This was repeated all the way down. If there was no swinging of the bucket or striking of timbers, it would not be so dangerous. When we reached the bottom of the shaft and got out of the bucket my companion drew a long breath and did not speak. If he did he knew it would be troublesome. By the light of the candle I could see his pale face. Breathing was difficult, caused by black damp. We could not strike a match. Only the best sperm candles would burn when dynamite was
near. Its fumes gave you a terrible headache. My pard, as we called each other with only a slight acquaintance, told me he wanted to work so that he could send some money home to his parents in England. I like the way he talked and I had a feeling that he would not be able to work his eight hours. There was a space behind the timbers 150 feet up the shaft that at that place had caved in frequently. Mud and small pieces of rock would fall down on our heads, causing a feeling that the shaft was closing in on us. My pard said, "Let me go up. It is too wet. I ma getting weak and can't work." I signaled to the man on top to hoist slowly, man coming up. Three rings. We signaled by pulling a small rope attached to a clapper placed near the hoisting man.
I had no companion to work with me the next day. After my day's work, I went to my cabin where my partner was and found him in his rough bed suffering from rheumatism. I was sorry for him. His hopes were not bright. I do not know what became of him.
The bottom of the shaft was not nearing where we should be. One morning as I came to the top of the shaft to commence work at seven o'clock a. m., I was told by Mr. LOVE, superintendent, that he had charge of the six men; that shaft had closed in near the bottom. He gave me instructions about timbering, to make the shaft smaller. It was now seven o'clock in the morning. I stepped into the bucket and I was lowered down to the place 150 feet from the bottom; the place where the former cave-in occurred. It was poorly timbered. The shaft narrowed at that
point. The timbers appeared to be twisted. Let me say that I knew the danger of going 150 feet below and staying there eight hours.
When I was lowered to the bottom of the shaft I commenced to load the bucket with mud and water. I could not lower it any. I noticed that mud came from the space behind the timbers 150 feet from the bottom of the shaft. I knew it was useless to keep sending the loose mud up as the two shifts did before me. It was like poking your finger in the river and pulling it out and trying to see the hole. With a plan in my mind, I rang the bell to be hoisted up.
I found Mr. PETERSON, one of the owners. He was anxious to know how conditions were. I told him and then I told him the plan I had in mind to keep the shaft the same size. I prepared short pieces of boards, then I descended down the shaft with them in the bucket. It took me near two hours to place them in position. After this was completed I began to fill the bucket. After a few buckets of mud and water were taken out of the way, I rang the bell for them to send down timbers full size. After placing the first set in place it completely stopped the caving in at the bottom. I rang the bell again to hoist me up. When I reached the top of the shaft, Mr. ANDERSON, one of the company, stepped up to me and said, "Well, you stopped the caving in." He looked pleased. I tried to speak back to him but could not utter a word. My voice was gone. It was some time after that I had warmed myself by a wood fire that my voice came slowly back. I had been
down the shaft over fourteen hours. In all this time I had not used my voice, any. It was chilly and very wet. Mr. PETERSON would not let the 11 o'clock shift change me so that is why I stayed down over two shifts.
The next morning when I came to work Mr. PETERSON came to me and told me to take charge of the timbering and the workers with increased pay. With the continued sinking good signs of ore were commencing to show.
Let me relate one incident that took place in this shaft. On this shift I worked alone. I had charged a hole with very high explosives, lighted the fuse and rang the bell; stepping quickly into the bucket I was hoisted up six feet. The bucket stopped. I could feel a slight jerking movement on the ropes. With every movement I expected to be hoisted away from the blast. I realized there must be something wrong with the machinery on top. I was always customary when a charge was lighted to hoist quickly when the bell rang. If possible there should not be one second's delay. Your safety depended on your being clear out of the shaft because of flying rocks. For me to stay in the bucket when a blast exploded meant death. I must do something. The fuse was burning under six inches of water. I jumped out of the bucket, drew my pocket knife out, reached under the water where the hole was and cut the fuse off close to the hole. I noticed that the fuse had not quite burned to where I had cut it off. What a relief! Had I delayed acting quickly it would have been too late.
When I looked up to see the bucket, it was gone. It seemed that when I leaped out, my weight relieved the strain on the hoisting drum. I rang the bell for them to send down the bucket so I could go up and prepare another charge. This was done. As I reached the top of the shaft, they told me what had happened. The motive power was a horse and when I gave a signal to hoist, the horse balked after going a few steps and would not do any pulling. They were all greatly excited, knowing the dangerous position I was in. I worked in this shaft several weeks longer. They had good signs of mineral. The company decided to stop and wait for buyers to come.
After hunting around for a day or two I found work at a shaft only sixty feet deep. There was only work for two men, one on the bottom digging and the other to turn the windlass. I was to do the digging. I noticed that when I came to work the next morning, a heavy rifle and a revolver were lying on the ground. I asked the windlass man why he had guns lying around and if they were loaded. He told me that both of them were loaded. He told me that both of them were loaded and ready for use. Again I asked him for what purpose; and he said, "Do you see that shaft down the mountain about 500 feet. It is on a line with this shaft that we are sinking here. Those fellows down there say that we are on their claim and if we did not get off soon they would come up and shoot us off." The windlass man had told them that he would not get off and that he would go back down and tell the one who sent him to start shooting and that he was some shooter himself. I also
found out from that several men he had employed before me had quit. They did not like to be down in the shaft as they would be helpless there should those men below come up and back up their words. Having never seen the men closely, I could not tell how rough they were. But I needed work and I worked there two weeks. Nothing happened in that time.
It was now nearing the time for my half-brother, Tom, to arrive in Leadville. At certain times, I would go down to Leadville and look around. Rough men, fully armed, hung around dance halls in full swing. Prospecting miners from the mountains were showing ore samples. All were greatly excited. One afternoon I stood on State Street, opposite a new opera house being built. The place where I was standing, many gambling houses were near. All of them had tough records. A man came up behind me and then stood beside me. He commenced to speak about new buildings going up all around us. Then he began to speak about the muddy streets. He spoke about the muddy streets. He spoke about Nevada where he came from. He said the streets there were macademized. All this time I was looking him over. I judged him to be about 35 years old. He did not look like a slicker nor a miner. While he was speaking, I noticed three young men sitting down on the opposite side of the street. I could tell by the way they looked over at us, that they were interested, but I could not hear what they said. As I looked up the street I saw a well dressed man standing. He had on a high hat and was swing a cane. I had a feeling that he had been watching us.
Again, I had a feeling that this was another Detroit experience. But I acted as if I had not seen anything. All this time the Nevada man was talking. He asked me what I was doing. I told him shaft sinking; that my cabin was on Stray Horse Gulch. By the way, he said, would you mind taking a hand full of circulars and put them up at the half-way house? You have to pass it on your way. I'll pay you two dollar for it. Then I asked him what he was advertising. He said things that miners like in their cabins-knives and forks, spoons, and jewelry, to send back home. Then I asked quietly where have you now got this ware? He jerked his thumb quickly over the shoulder. Then I said to him, why don't you take those bills to Half-way House yourself and save two dollars? Well, he said, if I am able to pay two dollars easy money to you, ain't that all right? I said to him, "No, it isn't." With that I turned to him. "You are fooling your time away with me trying to get me back in these dens. So look for better fishing and get away from me." He kept looking away from me and he looked scared. I did get warmed up over what he was trying to do, but he left quickly.
Then suddenly I heard a voice say, "What is the trouble about?" I turned around to see who it was speaking. There he stood, the man with the top hat and cane, fully dressed and really sporty and a gambler. I said to him, "You both know each other and before you could get me away from here, you would have to pick me up and carry me away." Then he said, "That fellow who was trying to work you, he got worked that way and he now tried to work you to get
even." I walked over to the three men across the street. They said to me, "He didn't get you." They must have known him. "We thought sure he had you."
It was now getting close to the time for my half-brother, Tom, to arrive in Leadville. One evening when I came in from work, I found him in the cabin. We exchanged greetings. After supper was over, we laid our plans. I told him where I was working and also told him of the conditions of the shaft. We were working with guns lying around. Tom thought it best for me to quit. He said those fellows working below may come up and commence shooting. The job doesn't pay you enough to work and fight. Tom and myself walked around for several days and looked at many prospective holes.
I went to California Gulch, investigating to see the miners panning
for gold. I came to a place on the side of the Gulch, a drift driven
in the rock twenty feet. I could see a streak of pure silver in the
rock. This was a rich strike. We then walked up the Gulch several
miles. The day was fine. In the month of August, date 14th.
We continued on to nearly the top of the mountain. We found some
snow and it was packed hard. I could not form it into snowballs.
It would not hold together. It structure was like sand particles.
Small flowers were growing near the snow. The grass was strikingly
green. It was now time for us to return to our cabin. As we
came down the mountain, in many places, the grass looked like a well kept
In one spot, less than one acre, we found many
buffalo heads lying close together as if they had been slaughtered. The bones were perfectly dry. I could see buffalo trails all around. Should you walk on the trail going down it would surely lead you to water. Those trails were hard beaten paths. Many thousands of them must have tramped to those grazing spots many years. A live buffalo was never seen near Leadville for years in 1878-1879, but their trails will remain for years to come.
Brother Tom and myself enjoyed those new and wonderful surroundings. Gold and silver was the only topic of conversation in Leadville those days. One evening as I came home I noticed a jack or a burro near my cabin door and inside I found a mine prospector. He told me that he owned a one-half interest in this cabin and that he was expecting to find his pard here. I told him that I had met his partner back in the mountains and that he had sold half interest to me for thirteen dollars. He was a Frenchman and was very agreeable. He told me that he had come to Leadville for a load of supplies to take with him before the snow came as he could not come back here again before six months.
He said, "I am prospecting in a new territory near the Ute Indians reservation." He told me that the Indians were on the warpath again and had slain the PRICE and MEEKER families, who were placed there to show them how to farm by the U. S. Government. The uprising was caused by the young Indians, two hundred in number, and they were led by Sitting Bull, a chief. I asked him if he was afraid of them, but he said, "No, as I was coming in I met several In-
dians. See here", he said and showed me a pocket on the side. It was cut clear down to his knees with a knife. He told me an Indian squaw did it in a playful manner. He wore buckskin pants.
He then showed me many samples of silver ore he had picked up in different places. The pieces were of pure silver. Some pieces were several inches square and some looked as if fire had melted them on the ground. He was very kind and told me to take what I liked of them for he could get more. I did not accept his offer. Many times after that I wished that I had done so. He said that he would leave in two or three days and why couldn't I come with him and be his partner. We would surely make a strike in that new territory. I felt like it was a good chance for me. I was in good condition and strong enough to go anywhere. Once I crossed over the mountains, there would be no mail nor could I send out mail for six months; that prevented me from accepting his offer. We bid each other goodbye. I do not know what became of him. He had prospected for twenty years.
Brother Tom and myself found work at a shaft high up on the mountain-a windlass shaft. This work was of solid formation. We were using high explosives when charges were exploded. One of us would go down soon to load the bucket. The fumes would be very strong, causing headaches and burning eyes. We worked at this mine several months. There were two brothers who owned this mine and lived in a tent on top of the shaft. Their names were CLARK. They were hard men to work for. We heard that they could not hold their men that they employed. Tom
and myself worked from six p. m. to six a. m. Long hours! They watched their workers day and night.
Early one morning Tom went down the shaft to load up after a heavy blast. He loaded up several buckets, then shouted up to me to hoist him up. When he stepped out of the bucket he told me that the smoke was too strong for him and that his head was almost bursting. Well, I said, "Let me go down and try it." My eyes were burning me badly, too. I went down and loaded up several buckets. I wanted to clean up the shaft before six o'clock when the day shift would come on. Tom shouted down to me to come up. I was getting to feel badly from the hot smoke and I expected to do that. Tom's head was giving him trouble when he pulled on the windlass. He hoisted me up and said, "You are risking yourself staying down there so long." Just then one of the CLARK brothers came out of the tent with a heavy revolver in his hand. He was angry and said to Tom with an oath, "Why did you call him up? Tom told that we were both nearly down from the smoke. With that they both argued with many words. Tom started to go to him. CLARK raised his gun and pointed it at Tom. Then I rushed between them and pulled Tom away. We both left. That same day we went to Leadville to get our pay From another one of the mine owners. I told him about the trouble we had at the mine. He did not want to pay us off and tried to induce us to go back to work. Under no conditions would we return to work. Tom said that CLARK went too far by drawing a gun on him. There would be no further trouble if we went back to work. Anyway he reluctantly paid us off.
Tom and myself found work at another shaft and worked on up to the spring of 1880. Then we decided that we ought to take a trip to Pennsylvania. So we went down to Leadville and bought new outfits of clothes. One day a man by the name of HILL came and commenced to build a cabin near ours. He was a newcomer from the state of Connecticut. He was past middle age, spoke with a real Yankee drawl and was easy to get along with, a good axe man building a neat cabin with logs. I had given him the privilege to bake his bread in my stove.
One day he came in with a pan of dough to bake. Tom and myself were in the cabin. Tom was sitting on the bed. I was sitting on a block of wood. There were no chairs to sit on. When our neighbor, HILL, started to place wood in the stove Tom told him not to come here and bother us with his baking. When HILL heard him speak that way he picked up his pan of bread and started to leave. He was a quiet man and did not answer back. I told him to go on with his baking. He said, "I don't want you to get into trouble over me." I told him to go on and bake, that this was my cabin and stove. He finished his baking and then said, "I will not trouble you again." I was getting angry and I told to come and use my stove until he got his cabin built.
Tom's worst fault was that he would talk in a harsh tone. After HILL left I said to Tom, "Why did you talk so rough to him?" Then he said to me in an angry tone, "I don't want him in the cabin." We then argued over his coming again. "You heard me telling HILL to come." We were both getting warmed
up over the question. Tom made a move from where he was sitting toward me. I got up quickly and met him half way in the cabin. I said to him, "Don't you make a pass at me. If you do I will make it hot for you." We glared at each other for a while and then he went and sat down again.
Brother Tom often got into trouble with other men over his way of speaking He was nearly six feet tall, had broad shoulders and was well proportioned. He weighed 210 pounds. He had many rough and tumble fights in Pennsylvania coal fields. In a few days we forgot all about our disagreement and things went along smoothly until one day Tom received a letter from Pennsylvania. After reading it I could see he was disturbed. I asked him what the trouble was. He then told me that he had been going with a young woman by the name of Carrie GOUGE, an English girl, and was engaged to marry her. Now he was not going back. He gave me his reasons why. The letter tells me that Carrie went to a Sunday School picnic and walked back that evening with Morde PARCELL, a man Tom had a dislike for. I reasoned with him that he should not look at it in that way, but Tom was stubborn. At last he agreed to go back and investigate. I also told him that the first thing he should do was to talk to Carrie before he broke off the engagement. Tom was far from being pleased over the offer.
At last the day came for us to leave. We had been down to Leadville and bought a new suit of clothes each and a complete outfit. As we were leaving the gulch, looking ahead, I noticed a flat pocketbook lying
in the path; I picked it up and found thirteen dollars in it. There were no railroads to Leadville at that time. We took the stage for Denver and said goodbye to Leadville. The horses traveled in relays as fast as they could make it. They were changed after so many miles. In a few minutes we were off again, but it was hard on the horses. Many could be seen dead lying on the road side. The road was very rough in many places and dangerous too. After we got out of the mountains it was pleasant traveling through the parks and then on to Denver. A few years ago, I walked through them by moonlight and could see coyotes sneaking along the way. As soon as we arrived at Denver, we bought our tickets for home by way of Niagara Falls as we wanted to see this sight. We arrived there on a bitter cold day. It was snowing and freezing. We could not linger there long. We had the pleasure of seeing those wonderful falls of water.
We arrived at Mahanoy City after ten days riding and found my wife and children well, but what a change had taken place from rocky surroundings to one of comfort and cleanliness. you would have to go there and see those things to be able to fully enjoy the change. When we arrived the mines were working and after a few days rest we went to work at a mine close by my home. Brother Tom began to display himself by dressing up in a top hat, bright colors, bright neckties and finishing up with a gent's cane. He went strolling along the streets sporting his earnings and visiting beer saloons. Tom was a talker. He could argue on most
any subject. His method of speaking made his enemies. One Saturday night, in a saloon, he had to leave in a hurry. Several half drunken men rushed toward him. He fought with them, but was all the time getting nearer the door. On reaching the steps leading up to the street he evaded them, leaving his top hat and cane behind. They had a jolly time kicking his hat around in the saloon and they broke his cane to pieces. Tom mentioned this affair to me. He had two other fights. I helped him to straighten out by going on his bond.
The young lady, Miss Carrie GOUGE, and Tom
got married in a private wedding ceremony. Shortly after that they
both went back to Leadville, Colorado. In less than one year his
wife came back to Mahanoy City and made her home with her relatives.
She gave birth to a son and named him Arthur. For nearly two years
Tom sent money to her; then suddenly stopped, giving no reason why.....
I was not well acquainted with Carrie, as I had only seen her a few times.
She held her head erect and had a proud walk. She was nice looking
and of English descent. I knew some of her relatives named SYLVESTORS.
One evening Carrie came to my home and talked with my wife and myself. She wanted to know why Tom had not written nor sent her any means to live on. She seemed to think that I knew where he was.
I told her that he had not written me since he left and that I did not like the way he was doing. Her relatives who were coal miners, came to see me one month after. They were angry at the way Tom was treating Carrie. I told them that I felt that way also. They even said that they would go out west and hunt him up and later on they did go out to Denver.
I do not know how Carrie explained to Tom about her walking from the picnic with Mordi. PARSOLI told my wife he would not forgive nor forget. I was sure that this was the cause of their separation. Carrie grieved over the separation all her life. When her son, Arthur, grew up to manhood they moved to Philadelphia where she placed him in school to learn to be a Methodist preacher. In all this time, she had not told Arthur anything about his father although he inquired of her to tell him, but she always avoided his question and failed to tell him anything about him. Her son became pastor of the Covenant Methodist Episcopal Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
On one of my visits to see him, I found that he was now married and had a son about two years old. I had been asked not to speak about his father because his mother kept it from him. I felt that Arthur would do something desperate should he know of her past life. Arthur, like his father, was a good speaker. In the year, 1917, I then lived in Jellico, Tennessee. My wife and two daughters visited in Pennsylvania. I felt that Arthur should know about his father. I had
a feeling that he would use his reason about the separation. He was now old enough to think properly and could freely talk with his mother. I phoned Arthur that I would like to meet him and that we were returning to Tennessee. He came at once. I told him I would like to talk with him privately. We both went into a private room.
Then I told him all that I knew about his father; that he had been a representative for the Knights of Labor for eighteen years in Colorado. He then married a judge's daughter in Portland, Oregon, but that she died in two years and left a son who is now living in Los Angeles. Your father took sick and was nursed by a woman that he afterwards married. They lived together a short while and then separated. He then had a law suit over some property. 'Your father is now living with his son, your half brother, in Los Angeles, California'. He listened intently, but put no questions to me. I could see he was thinking seriously about the information given him about his parents. His mother had married again. I do not know how they talked it over between themselves. Carrie told my wife that she felt much better now as her son, Arthur, did not lose control over himself as she had expected and that she had worried over it.
When I arrived back in Tennessee, I received a letter from Arthur stating that he was going to California to see his father and brother whom he had never seen. He wanted me to go with him, but at that time I could not go. Arthur made the trip and wrote me that everything passed off pleasantly be-
tween them. His father and his second wife came to Knoxville on a visit to see me, but did not go East to see Arthur. So Carrie and Tom never saw each other since they separated in Leadville, now more than 30 years ago, nor did Arthur see his father alive again.
Some few years after his visit to see his father, his father had a stroke of paralysis and died suddenly. Arthur went to his burial. His death broke connection between us. I have not heard from Arthur for several years. It is strange how trivial actions will ruin what should be happy lives. This is one of many broken homes after marriage. Men like Tom were very jealous when a controversy would come up between young couples. Husbands, when they think of things done in the past, allow their jealousies to be aroused and then when it is almost too late, the marriage vows are forgotten. When Arthur was grown, his mother married again. I do not know whether she applied for a divorce or not. Neither do I know if Tom applied for one or not. It must have been some relief to Arthur's mother to know of the meeting of son and father and that everything passed off without the many things that might have happened.
For many years I had no word from Tom. He had been employed by the U. S. Government prospecting for minerals in the western states and Mexico with a crew of six men. Prospectors had a difficult time in Mexico. Many of them were slain. The papers stated that their names were unknown. I had come to the conclusion that brother Tom might have been one of them. After many years of silence in the years from 1884 to 1924 I was then living in Kentucky, and was
superintendent of three mines; one day I was looking over an engineering mining journal and I noticed an advertisement from an expert mining engineer reading, "Mines examined, complete reports made," and signed T. F. JAMES, Los Angeles, California. I sent a letter to that address. The reply came back to me that it was Tom. He said he had added a middle letter to his name, the letter F, a few years back. F meant Francis. We corresponded for some years. He came to Knoxville to see me, then on his way to New York to get a party to buy a silver mine in Arizona, near Chloride.
My son-in-law, J. W. WILLIAMS, and his brother, had me to go with
them to see the prospect. We looked the mine, or shaft, over and
found it to contain silver, copper and lead, but it was a long haul to
the smelter and just at that time the laws were about to be passed that
would lower the value of silver. So the silver mine was not taken
up. Mr. J. W. WILLIAMS hired Tom to look for a gold mine. After
several months of prospecting, Tom found a Tourquis Prospect equipment
which was bought and operated for a short while and then abandoned.
Mr. WILLIAMS had spent nearly seventy thousand dollars on the operations.
Tourquis would have to be shipped a long distance for polishing.
This was too expensive.
In the year 1883, many anthracite coal miners were leaving Mahanoy City for Washington territory. I also thought of making a change again. Work was slowing down again. Wages then were $10.20 per week for skilled miners, ten hours a day. David LEWIS and his wife were soon to leave for Jellico, Tennessee,
where new coal mines were opened up by the East Tennessee Coal Company. E. J. DAVIS was General Manager, and Arthur JENKINS, Secretary and Treasurer. JENKINS and his mother were from Mahanoy City, but now living in Knoxville. Also her sister, Mrs. E. J. DAVIS, lived there.
E. J. DAVIS came from Wales to Knoxville. His occupation was Slater. He met Miss Elizabeth JEFFRIES, then a school teacher. Arthur JENKINS' mother was her sister. There were four sisters of the JEFFRIES family and three sons: David, John and Shadrick, the youngest. He was an artist. He and his sister Mary died in Mahanoy City at an early age. Mary, the youngest sister, married Walter LEWIS, the son of David LEWIS. The reason why Walter came to Knoxville was that he owed his sister-in-law, Mrs. JENKINS, $3,000.00. Mr. LEWIS could pay her from his salary as Secretary-Treasurer of the East Tennessee Coal Company. This was paid to her.
Mr. David LEWIS, wife and son, Walter, and myself arrived in Jellico in the month of September, in the year 1883, and met Harry WYNN who had come on ahead of us. He also was from Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania. He was in charge of the developing of the East Tennessee Coal Mine. The mine was situated one mile north of Jellico in Kentucky, Jellico being the border town. It was a very tough place; drinking and shooting each other were very common. Two railroad terminals were there. The L. and N. and the Southern Railways both were completed about the same time. The mine had shipped some coal before we got there, but in a crude way. Few houses had been built.
We found a place to stay at Mr. PHILLIPS' home. Mr. PHILLIPS was a mine foreman. A home had been built for the LEWIS family and as soon as they placed furniture in it they lived there. They lived there for fourteen years and both of them had died in that time. Mr. LEWIS was first to pass away. Both of them were buried in Mahanoy City, where two sons, Tom and David, were buried. David was crushed in the coal mines. Tom died from a serious cold. Their graves have markers all in one lot.
Harry WYNN and myself boarded at PHILLIPS. Later on Thomas LEYSHON, a relative to the DAVISES, and JENKINS, who were owners of the East Tennessee Coal Company's mine and later on the WYNN family and LEYSHONS moved from Mahanoy City to Jellico. The name of the mining camp was called after a town in Wales, named Dowlais. Several Welsh families from Wales and Ohio who followed mining, located here with their families.
We were increased in numbers so that we could hold services in Welsh, with Welsh singing. The country people were well pleased to hear the Welsh singing of gospel hymns. Welsh children were often invited to sing at other churches around on Sundays. There were always crowded houses to hear them sing. There were many good voices and all loved to sing. And also there were many musicians among the men and women with good voices. It was a real singing camp, making good cheer to all who loved music. High class music like "Heaven Are Telling" and "Hallelujahs", choruses, and many other songs, quartets and solos would
be sung in competition with Knoxville Welsh singers who were very good in music.
There were many Welsh singers in Knoxville in the years 1880 to 1900. When I left Pennsylvania, I came with the intention of following my usual occupation of coal mining in case I should find conditions agreeable. If not, I would move on to the territory of Washington State, where new coal mines were being developed. Many miners from Mahanoy City had gone there. Although mining in Tennessee was quite different from that of Pennsylvania mining. Anthracite coal mining is done by blasting, but in Tennessee by pick mining. Mining here was less hazardous.
After working four months, Manager DAVIS asked me to accept a position as mine foreman in the place of Evan PHILLIPS, who was then foreman. After considering the proposition, I told him that the salary was not satisfactory to me, $70.00 per month. I could earn $40.00 or more per month as a miner. He came back with the advantages of house rent and coal free and household goods 10% above cost. He was anxious that I accept the position. I accepted the place with the explanation that I was not sure that my wife would come here.
After four months, Welsh families moved into the mining camp from Wales and other states. Camp conditions were improving, but the surroundings were still rough. The equipment of the mines was not completed for lack of funds. Manager DAVIS asked me to take some stock in Tennessee Coal Companies. Coal
prices were very low. There were hopes that it would get better. After some hesitation, I took 15 shares at one hundred dollars per share. I sent word to my wife to send me fifteen hundred dollars. This amount was placed to the credit of the East Tennessee Coal Company, and now since I had stock in the company, it kept me from thinking of going elsewhere.
Knowing that my wife had not made up her mind to move here, I wrote her that now I would have to stay here and that if she could not feel like moving from Mahanoy City, I would provide for her wants and would make a trip to see her as often as I could get off. In our correspondence my wife wrote me that she had decided to come to Tennessee. In the fall of 1884, she arrived in Jellico with the children, Maggie, Louis, and Mary. The families of LEWIS, WYNN, and LEYSHON, lived on each side of us, all from Mahanoy City, acquaintances of my wife, making it easier for all of us in our new surroundings. A schoolhouse was built close by, then church and Sunday School services were held regularly in both languages, English and Welsh, all striking for better conditions.
There was one Welshman named Jonathan JENKINS, a one-legged man, who came to Dowlais with another miner named PIETON. Both of them came from Maryland. They worked at Frostburg Coal Mines. PIETON drank a good deal. In one of his drinking sprees, he laid down on the railroad track and was killed. JENKINS was a religious man. When the schoolhouse was built, you would always find him taking a leading part, no matter how bad the weather would be. He would ring the bell for Sunday services and
also for the weekly services. His faithfulness was often spoken of in the camp. He mined coal for a few years and then he was offered a position as mine foreman at the Mountain Ash mine, six miles out from Dowlais. He married there and had one child, a daughter. She is now married and living in Knoxville. Later on JENKINS moved to Jellico and died there from a severe cold. He was buried at Williamsburg, Kentucky. He was reliable and perfectly honest. Many times have we talked together in and around the mines. He loved to sing Welsh hymns, songs he learned in his native land, Wales. He called on me often to come to the services and play the organ for him.
Although religious influences were active in the camp, some miners would drink and get rough. Whiskey was plentiful at Jellico and the towns nearby. Drinking and shootings occurred nearly every day. Most every Saturday and Sunday, men shot each other to death. It was not safe to go there on any business, especially in the evenings, for shootings were liable to commence at any time.
One Saturday evening, I went over to Jellico for a hair cut and shave. The barber shop was nearly on the state line, dividing the town. A young barber newly located there from Cincinnati was doing my work. I was partly shaved when a fight commenced just outside the door on the pavement. The door was open and the barber could see the fight. His hand trembled so that he could not hold the razor. Steady fighting was going on in less than twenty feet from us. I could not see them as I reclined in the chair, but I tried to encourage him to finish shaving me.
I told him I did not think that they would bother us. Suddenly he said, his voice trembling, "Oh! he's got him down with his knife in his hand and going to cut his guts out." "Go on and shave me", I said. "I can't", he said, "I'm afraid I'll cut you." Suddenly the fight quieted down and the crowd moved away from in front of the barber shop.
I waited a while for the barber to get his composure. He said to me, "I'm going to leave this wild town." As I lay in the chair, he began to lather my cheek again. He had done this several time before, trying to steady his hand. As he was about to commence shaving me, he backed behind the chair. I lifted my head slightly and looked toward the door. There I saw Billie LYONS, one of the worst gun fighters in Kentucky or in Tennessee. He stood in the doorway with two revolvers, one in each hand. He was bare-headed and with blood on his face. He looked desperate. As I was still reclining in the chair, LYONS stepped forward and peered closely into my face and then quickly left. That got the barber to shaking again. Six heavy revolver shots rang out, fired slowly as if at an object, sounding close by. Then it became very quiet again. At last the barber finished shaving me. I was told that he left town the following week. I had been in the chair nearly one hour and a half. All others who were waiting their turn had left. I was the only one that kept his seat in the shop.
The fight was between Marshal LOGAN of the Kentucky side of Jellico and LYONS, who lived on the Tennessee side. LYONS was very troublesome when on a drunk and would carry a rifle and parade the
streets for trouble. One Sunday afternoon, Thomas LEYSHON and myself were passing by the Bear Dive, a notorious place, where many of the fights occurred, when a shot rang out. Many men rushed out of the door way. In a short while, some few of them returned and went into the building. LEYSHON said, "Let's go in and see what the trouble is." He knew that LYONS was operating the Bear Dive and that more shooting might take place at any moment.
After going into the room where the drinking bar was, I noticed a middle aged colored man lying on his back and shot through the neck. I could see he was dying fast. He motioned feebly with his hand to a white man named Tom BRENNAN as if he wanted to speak. BRENNAN kneeled down by him and placed his ear close to the dying man's lips. Suddenly BRENNAN cried out as if in pain. The dying Negro had sunk his teeth into his cheek. It was his last dying effort. BRENNAN and the Negro were companions in gambling. Both worked the mine that I had charge of. In a few days BRENNAN was unable to work. His cheek had swollen badly, but after a month's suffering it healed up again. It was LYONS who fired the shot that killed the Negro.
There was a marshal on the Tennessee side of Jellico named WOOLWINE, a fearless officer. He and LYONS had some differences with each other. All knew that it was only a question of time when shooting would take place between them. One Saturday night and Sunday morning a great deal of shooting was going on. WOOLWINE and LYONS were shooting at each other. LYONS was standing in the door way of his
Bear Dive. Several others were mixed up in the shooting. Officer WOOLWINE fell over dead and then a shot fired from a railroad hotel killed LYONS. Several men were killed before the shooting quieted down.
At this time, Jellico was the toughest place in the states. Scores of men were killed there. Even school teachers were in danger from drunken and hasty parents. This condition kept up for at least fifteen years and then improved slowly. The influences of churches and schools were making conditions better. There were also firm rules among mine managers to discharge those who caused any disturbances in the mining camp. This had a quieting effect. The laws were lax. A discharge was more effective.
To give an idea, let me give a few personal experiences of my own. In the year of 1884, I accepted a position as mine foreman, then I followed it up a little later on by becoming general superintendent. This position I filled until the year 1896, leaving it to take charge of the Procter Coal mine; at that time one of the largest mines in the Southern coal field.
At the East Tennessee Coal Company my first experience happened on a Sunday evening, sitting on David LEWIS' porch with Harry WYNN, Walter LEWIS and Thomas LEYSHON. There was a wire fence built around the house with the gate directly in front. While we sat talking, I could hear yelling and it was getting closer. I could not see who it was as there was a slight hollow and also a turn in the road coming from Jellico and leading to the mining camp. The one doing the yelling came in sight, swinging a nickel plated revolver
over his head. I could see he had been drinking and was hunting trouble. His name was MALCOLM, a bricklayer. He came to build chimneys in the camp. I noticed that he came out of his way so that he would pass close to the house where we four sat. Mr. LEWIS told LEYSHON to get the shotgun and place it near the door so that he could get it quickly should MALCOLM try to make trouble. He was getting near and still swinging his revolver and yelling. He was doing this for our benefit, thinking we would leave and go into the house. When he reached the gate, he stopped and looked fiercely at us. Then he rested his gun on the gate post and sighted it at us as if taking careful aim. Elder M. LEWIS shouted at him to go on away. Walter LEWIS reached for the shotgun and I ran down the steps and leaped over the fence close beside him. He was a heavy built man, but before he could point his gun at me I caught his arm and twisted the gun out of his hand. He kept swearing all the time and demanding his revolver. LEWIS shouted to me to see if the gun was loaded. I told him yes, that it was fully loaded. Mr. LEWIS reached over the fence and placed the muzzle of his shotgun against his forehead, leaving a round ring of burnt powder but did not fire, but looking as though he would fire he told him to leave. MALCOLM turned to me and wanted his gun. I told him he could have his gun back in a few days. He left swearing and saying he would go to his cabin and get his rifle and come back. When he reached his cabin, he got his rifle and began shooting and kept it up for some time.
The next morning LEWIS and myself received word that he would get us. After we had breakfast, LEWIS
and myself started over to the store. LEWIS had a gun over his shoulder and I had the heavy revolver. Looking up the tramway, I saw MALCOLM with his rifle on his shoulder going to make good his threat. As we drew nearer to each other, he turned in another direction. He had seen LEWIS with the shotgun and backed off and went back again to his cabin more slowly. The next day, a team came into the camp to move him away. I sent his gun back to him. I do not know what ever became of him.
The following Sunday morning while walking down the track to the coal chute, I noticed several men crowded near a large tree close by the L. & N. Railroad bridge. From where I stood I could see the body of a man hanging from a limb. He was hung early that morning by lynchers. He was a colored man and kept batch on Black Oak. It was caused by a white woman visiting him. I knew several of the men that did the hanging. I told them they did wrong. If they had whipped the woman it would have a better effect. The colored man was very quiet and a hard worker.
Sixteen Italian men came at one time to learn coal mining. I arranged for them to batch near the mine in three log cabins in a small hollow. Everything went along smoothly for two months. Late one night heavy shooting could be heard in the hollow where the Italians lived. I got my gun and called LEWIS and WYNN. They told me a crowd was shooting to make the Italians leave. I said, "Let's go and stop it." They told me that nothing could be done with a lot of drunken men. I told them I was going to
see what I could do. It was dark when I reached the foot of the incline. When I was near enough I looked into his face. I knew him. His name was Abe YUNT. He had a rifle in his hand. I said to him, "What are you trying to do?" The shooting and yelling was still going on. I did not go direct to the cabins. I went up the incline which was 600 feet long and then came down towards the cabins in another way. I knew their guard YUNT would inform others by now, but I had gotten close to the cabins. There was silence for a few minutes and then a volley of shots were fired in the direction I had taken up the incline. From my position I could see the flash of guns pointing in the direction I had gone. My first thought was to return their fire, shooting into them as they were bunched together. I was angered some because they fired a volley up the incline. I could hear the Italians' voices. I walked right into their cabins. Some of them could speak a little English. They were greatly frightened. It seemed that they all talked to me at the same time. I went outside the cabin to see if any of the shooters were still around. I noticed someone skulking back of the cabin with a shotgun in his hand. I told him to step out where I could see him. I knew him by name. His name was JENKS. He was a tough one from Stearns, Kentucky, who had recently moved into the camp. He told me he heard shooting and had just got here. I knew he was lying. Later on I had some trouble with him. I stayed with the Italians for one hour. I told them that the shooting was over, that the purpose of the crowd was to scare them away from the mines.
Next morning I went to their cabins. They were all preparing to leave for Cincinnati. I knew it would be useless to try to persuade them to stay. They were not miners. The coal seemed thin and hard to mine with hand picks. They all left that evening. They started north on the L. & N. Railroad track, walking. I received a phone message from E. J. DAVIS from Knoxville, the President of the East Tennessee Coal Company, for me to go to Williamsburg, Kentucky, eleven miles north, the county seat and charges preferred against those men who were shooting to scare the Italians away. The next morning I went by train to Williamsburg. I explained the situation to the sheriff. He said he would attend to the matter, but nothing was done and no arrests were made. The Italians were glad to get away.
This was my first trip to this town. There would be no train until evening to leave for Jellico. I walked around town to pass the time away. It was now nearing the time for the train as I approached the depot. I noticed that the Italians were sitting with their packs on a freight loading platform. There was a crowd of natives looking at them. I guess they never had seen so many foreigners before. While I was speaking with one of them a yell was heard, then a heavy set young man appeared. He was wild with drink and looking for trouble. Several of the natives got out of his way. He bumped with his shoulders those who did not move quickly out of his way. I stood still as he came toward me. There was ample room for him to pass by. Instead of that he leaned over toward me. He gave me a slight push. I kept quiet, but
felt that I ought to call him down. He then walked up to one of the Italians who was sitting down on the loading platform and had his feet hanging over the edge about four feet above the ground. He caught the man by the back of his neck and pushed him roughly off the platform and tried to throw him on his head. When the Italian recovered himself he looked up at the tough and tried to talk to him. The tough cursed and told him to shut up or he would kill him. He jumped down off the platform on the Italian but did not strike him. Just at that moment all the other Italians came to his rescue. A large crowd had gathered. I also went to give help. I jumped down off the platform and placed my hand on his shoulder and told him to let the man alone, that he was not bothering him. He then looked me over and wanted to know who I was and where did I come from. I told him I am here now. Then he would slowly back away from me. I kept up close to him so I could look into his eyes in case he should try to pull a knife for a gun out. Somehow I had a feeling that he wanted to make a big noise, so I turned from him and walked away a short distance. He began cursing loudly and yelling. I knew that he was doing it for my benefit. Suddenly I turned back, but he had now left the crowd and was coming toward me. I turned around and met him. I placed my hand on his shoulder and looked him squarely in the eye. I asked him if he wanted any trouble with me. He looked at me for a moment and then took hold of my arm and said, "By God, let's you and me paint this town red tonight." With that he slipped his arm into mine. Then we both went to the south end of the depot. But all this time I was
watching him closely, thinking he was trying to get me off guard. There were several box cars near. He withdrew his arm from mine and climbed up a ladder by the side of the car, to the top and then came down. It was now getting slightly dark. Just as he placed his feet on the platform he reached back in his pocket and pulled out his revolver and shot close to my left hip. I had taken about two steps ahead of him. I turned around quickly and pointed my borrowed revolver, which I had with me, at him. In his excitement he dropped his revolver on the floor. I told him to pick it up, which he did. He then ran in a stooping position southward. The sound of the shot brought a crowd of men to the front of the depot. One man spoke to me and asked me if he shot at me. I told him yes. I asked him what the man's name was. He told me it was MUSTERN. "He thought you would run from him", he said, "then he would shoot after you; but by you standing up to him, he was the one to do the running." The train was nearly two hours late so I walked back to the mines, eleven miles away. The Italians left Williamsburg that night. They wanted to leave for Cincinnati. No action was ever taken against the men who were the cause of them leaving the mining camp or against the man who abused them at Williamsburg depot.
In those early years around Jellico such scenes were looked upon as natural. Such were the conditions in Jellico in those early years. With me I tried to be friendly with those with whom I came in contact, but so many of them drank and carried guns and would use them at the least provocation. I thought I would
have no more trouble and I went about my work at the mines as mine foreman. One day a middle aged man asked me for work as a miner. He said he had been a convict guard at another mine nearby, but convicts had been taken out. A new law had been passed in Kentucky, and he was now out of a job. His name was BATES and he would like to have a place on a certain entry where his cousin James CARTER worked. I told him I would get my tape, and measure off a place there so he could be near his cousin CARTER. As we went into the blacksmith shop to get the tape, he followed me in and I noticed that he was watching my movements. I just thought it was a peculiarity of his. Anyway I went into the mine only a short distance and measured off the distance where he wanted a place to work. He stooped down and began to examine the thickness of the coal. Then he began cursing and saying that the coal was thin and that it would be a wet place to work. I said to him, you asked for this place and if you don't want it you don't have to work the room. With that he started to swear louder. He was now working himself into a rage. He drew out a large hunting knife with a deerfoot handle to it; then in a stooping position took a step toward me with his knife drawn saying that if I said another word he would cut my guts out. For a moment I thought he was crazy. I took a step toward him, held out my hands and said, "Go on with your cutting if you have the nerve." I had stood close up to him. He was a large man with a heavy bearded face. He looked like a maniac under our lamp light. I had not got into a fighting mood because I thought he had a crazy spell. I began to feel that I should protect
myself. A few feet away I picked up a mining pick with the intention of using it on him. Suddenly I threw it down, and as I walked past him I said to him, "I will settle with you on the outside.'" As I traveled my way to the outside of the mine I began to lose control of my temper. The more I thought over BATES' actions and his watching me in the blacksmith shop the more I was convinced that he came prepared to make trouble. I decided to go to my home and get my father-in-law's gun, a cap and ball pistol that he had in California when a gold miner in the year 1849. With it I hurried back to the mine which I had left a half hour before. I asked the shop men if BATES had come out of the mine. They said he had and that he had gone over the hill to get his rifle and come back. I made up my mind to meet him half way on the road, but he did not show up. But he did come back to the mine again. Men about the mine knew there would be trouble between BATES and me. BATES was looked upon as a bad man to have trouble with. The next morning early as I arrived on top of the incline I noticed BATES talking with a track layer named RALSTON. As I walked toward them RALSTON called me. RALSTON spoke and said that BATES wanted to apologize for the trouble he caused yesterday. Looking at BATES I said, "I don't want anything from him. If he ever draws a knife on me again he will not get away with it."
BATES spoke hotly, "Do you want to pick a fight?" I said to him "Make a move and see what will happen." I had my gun in my hand. RALSTON left and told me afterwards that he thought there was going to be a killing and that he did not want
to be a witness. BATES and myself faced each other, looking hard at each other and waiting for a move. BATES turned around and walked away. Six months after that one of the miners came to me and asked permission from me to let BATES go into the mine to talk to a miner on some business, and I gave him my consent. This was the last I ever heard of him.
I have always tried not to get into an argument with my fellow men. In the position that I held it was difficult to carry this out without lowering my ability to handle the miners in those rough and wild days. No matter how much I resolved to prevent dangerous positions, they would come up quickly and I was forced to carry them through. One morning, at the entrance to the mine, a middle aged man applied for work as a miner. I told him I could give him a place in the mine. He did not want a house. He was a single man. He gave me his name as WILSON. He was tall and dashing looking with a red necktie and wore his hat, which had a large brim, on one side of his head, giving him a bold appearance. One evening, I was passing his boarding house. We sat down together and talked of things around Jellico. He told me he could hypnotize anyone. I asked him to hypnotize me. He said he would not and he would not give me any reason why. I noticed he kept looking around quickly as if he were nervous. Miners worked one-half time.
After he had been here a few months it was necessary to divide cars in the mine equally among the miners as the miners worked on a tonnage basis. Miners working at night would have their cars placed conveniently near to load them. This man, WILSON,
would take two to three cars and load them, depriving the miner who was entitled to them. The mule driver came to me one evening as he came out of the mine and said that he placed a number of cars for the night shift. I told the men that worked near there not to load any of them as they were for the night men. After I got a short distance away I could hear some one pushing cars around. I think it was that man WILSON. Then he said that man is dangerous. He carried a gun at all times. Don't tell him that I told you, or he will get me. In about two hours WILSON came out of the mine. I told him about taking the placed cars and that he need not come back to work tomorrow as I would see that he would get none to load. I also told him that this was the third time that he had taken cars belonging to others. He wanted to know who told me. I said no matter who told me. You must obey the rules of the mine the same as the others. I could see he was getting angry. As he turned away from me he hissed out a vile name. We were now only a few feet apart. I repeated to him what he had called me. As he backed away slowly he had his hand in his side coat pocket. I was on my guard, knowing that he would shoot if he could beat me to it. He had drawn his gun half way out of his pocket. I told him not to move any further or one of us would be a dead man. I had my gun ready. We were now only a few yards away from each other. He was now cursing and in a rage. He took off his mining cap and threw it down and stamped upon it, but did not try to use his gun. All this time I stood still with my gun in readiness. Once he stooped low with his hand on his gun and looked fiercely at me. I was most
sure he was trying to get me off my guard or that I would leave. This I determined not to do. I would face and beat him on the draw. He picked up his cap and lamp and shoved his gun back in his pocket and went down the incline to his boarding house which was only a few yards off the road which I had to pass every evening going from my work.
Several men who had seen the affair told me not to go that way as he would shoot as I walked past, through the door or window. I felt stubborn and told them that I would not go any other way. When the time came for me to leave the mine with my pistol in my hand and when I came opposite the door it opened a few inches and I could see he was peering at me, but I did not see any gun. There was a window facing the direction I was going. I thought that he might use it to shoot from. I walked side ways with my pistol in my hand by my side and passed without any further trouble. That evening several men told me to be on my guard, that he would surely try you again. He is the kind of a man that is not satisfied with the way things went off.
The next morning as I rode up the incline in the mine car and as I got out of the car I looked toward the mine and saw WILSON with a long coat on. I could see the bulk of two large revolvers in his pockets. As I walked toward him I was determined not to say anything to him. I had to pass the blacksmith shop door on my way. I decided to tell the two men there to witness what was going to take place this morning. WILSON was outside looking for more trouble and that I would not start it. I walked out of the shop and
stood with my back against the building with my gun in my hand. I was less than sixty feet from him. As it was early morning many miners stood around expecting to see the shooting take place. We stood facing each other for about five minutes. WILSON turned and walked over to the check board and got his brass numbers. He went over to the incline and went down. That was the last I ever saw of him. I am most sure he expected me to order him away from the mine. This I would not do if it prevented the shooting.
Just two weeks afterwards, a man by the name of LAWSON came to me and said he was a deputy sheriff; that he was looking for a man who went under different assumed names. He showed me a hand-bill and a cut of the man he was looking for and offering a reward of three thousand dollars for his arrest. He was accused of robbing a store in Ohio; of killing the watchman, and of burning the store down, with his brother. His brother paid the penalty by hanging. The deputy told me that he was a very desperate man and a good shot with a revolver. If he got the drop on you he was quick to use it. I do not know whether the deputy ever caught him or not. He told me he got a glimpse of him in Texas and had followed him this far into Kentucky.
Another incidentclosely followed the above. I discharged a colored man. His work was to place empty cars and to couple them to the incline rope. This he failed to do one day, causing a delay in the movement of coal. I went to the bottom of the incline and placed the cars on until another man took my
place. About four o'clock that evening, I was standing in the blacksmith shop door. The discharged man whose name was MOORE, approached me in an excited manner and said he wanted his pay. There were two strangers with him. I told him I would be at the office about five o'clock. The office was nearly one mile away. I noticed he had one hand in his side coat pocket as if he had a gun. He kept his side toward me and he was also in a stooping position. One of the men in the shop said that fellow is going to shoot FRANCIS. I leaped quickly from where I stood, upon him. I caught the wrist of the hand in his coat pocket and at the same time, with the other hand, I closed on his throat, shutting off his breath completely. We scuffled a few minutes, then I threw him to the ground. I loosened my grip on his throat and quickly struck him a hard blow between the eyes. Then I quickly jerked his hand from his pocket. He had an open knife in his hand. This I took from him and threw it away. He cooled down and I told him I would see him at the office and pay him off. This was done.
He laid around a few days. I had blackened
both his eyes. He sent another man to me to ask me if I would let
him have a job digging coal. I gave him the job. While his
eyes were still swollen a miner asked him who hit him. He answered
back that a good man did it. He seemed to be proud that he had had
a fight. Anyway, we got along without any further trouble.
The next trouble that I had was with a man named MALLICOAT. He worked for the company, cutting timber by contract to be used as props or rail ties. He
had four sons. The two oldest were inclined to be peaceable, but the two youngest were just the opposite. They always carried a gun. The father also was hard to get along with when under the influence of whiskey. The MALLICOATS and the PERKINS were related to each other. Both families were natives of Kentucky and Tennessee. All of them were of fighting stock and stood by each other in any trouble that should arise. My trouble with Mr. MALLICOAT came about by my lending him a 16 foot log chain. This chain was often used to place over the top of the mine cars when a cracked link or draw bar was unsafe in letting the car down the incline. He borrowed the chain From me for one day.
A few days later I told him that I needed the chain and could not get along without it. About three weeks afterwards, on pay day, he came to the window at the office and I asked him again for the chain. He began cursing me and the chain. I was sitting on a high stool counting the payroll money which I had carried over from the Jellico express office. My revolver was on the desk close by. I picked it up and pointed it toward him. He had a large rock in his hand ready to throw it at me. When he noticed the gun in my hand, he left suddenly, still cursing out loud. Among the men who were waiting to be paid was Sheriff LAWSON of Whitley County. He came to collect taxes and fines off the men. The sheriff got MALLICOAT a short distance away. He had been drinking and was pretty wild. In my position in the office, I could hear his voice still cursing me. I did not want any trouble with him so I went out to talk it over with him and
be friendly. When he saw me, he broke away from the sheriff. He had a large knife in his hand, and held his arm high as if he would strike when he got close enough to me. I stood still and put up my hand for him to stay back. He now looked wild and thought he would scare me with his cursing and looks. It was up to me to stop him. I quickly drew my gun when he was about ten feet away. I had it pointed at his forehead. When he saw that I would not take his scare he suddenly dodged behind a large post close by him. He was still cursing loudly. I know he was surprised because I did not run from him.
In about one hour afterwards, one of his sons who was pretty tough and the other son were close by. Another man by the name of WELSH whispered to me to be on my guard, that they had come to get me. As the tough one stood at the pay window, he said, "What about this trouble?" I explained it to him but I could see that he was far from being satisfied. He mumbled some words that I could not understand. Then I asked him if he expected me to be hit with a rock or did he want me to stand still and let him stick a knife in me. There was only a thin three-eighths inch sheeting ceiling between us. Our shoulders and heads were above the small pay window. I knew he had two guns on him. My gun was on the inside of the thin ceiling held in my hand. It was pointed directly at his breast, in case he should start anything. He walked away but was far from being pleased.
As I looked around, this man WELSH who was my friend, said to me, "I wasn't going to let the four of
them jump on you." He had a heavy rifle in his hand and told me that he stood behind the door with only the muzzle of the rifle in sight drawn on John MALLICOAT's forehead. MALLICOAT could see him. I was told that they would get me when I came out to go home. It was just a little dark when I left the office. I stepped out of the door with my gun in my hand; I looked around and could see some men a little distance away passing a cabin door. The door was open and I noticed some men sitting inside, but nothing happened as I went home. I was told afterwards that two of the MALLICOATs were in the cabin. A colored man who batched in it was alone when I passed by. One of the MALLICOATs carried a rifle around with him several weeks. Sometimes, I thought I would ask him who he was carrying the rifle around for and then I thought it best to let it go. People said they were a bad lot to get mixed up with. The father died a violent death and I was told that two of the sons died in the same way. I went to the mountain and found the chain that caused the trouble.
Another incident happened at the office where two bookkeepers were employed. WILLIAMS and HOSKINS sent word to me that Artie MARCUM was disturbing the bookkeepers by threatening to shoot them out of the office. I hurried down to the office and found MARCUM with a large revolver in his hand pointing it through a small pay window and looking as if he would soon begin shooting into the office. He was angry, because, as he said, he had been overcharged and he wanted them to make the correction right now or he would shoot it out with them. When I stepped from the
store into the office, he still had his gun on the window sill. I told him to take it off and not to point it this way and he began cursing. Suddenly I reached for a gun that was lying on top of the desk. MARCUM withdrew from the window, cursing and shouting. I said, 'This disturbance must stop.' With the pistol still in my hand, I went out to tell him to be quiet and if there was a wrong in his account, I would see that it would be corrected. When he saw me coming out, he ran behind a corner of the building twenty feet away, exposing only his head and his gun pointing directly at me. I advanced a few steps toward him and told him to lower the gun. This he did and as he lowered his gun it went off in front of me, throwing gravel and dirt into my face but doing no harm. I took his gun from his hand. All this time, I had him covered with my gun. This made him nervous. When he started away he said with an oath that he was going to get his rifle and come back, but he did not come back. He had a very bad reputation. A few years later, he killed a man and later on he got killed.
About this time, many shootings were taking place around Jellico and at the coal mines. One more incident happened to me at the East Tennessee mines. I had hired a man by the name of JENKS to mine coal. He came from the Southern Road. He was tough looking and about 40 years of age. A man by the name of NEAL, who knnew him, told me that he had a reputation of being a very bad man. He told me that he was going to make me go down on my knees some
day. I understood that this was a habit of his at other mines just to show off before their men. He made a statement to some men who were my friends that he had a shotgun loaded with ten penny nails for me.
I heard this kind of talk so much that I determined to end it. On Saturday, I saw him standing in the store talking to a crowd of men. I walked up close to him and told him what I had heard. The crowd now looked for trouble and began to move away. JENKS denied all the things I had heard. All this time, I kept my eye fastened on him so that he would get no advantage over me. I told him that I would take his word for it and that we would let the matter drop. He left the camp the next day. He did a lot of talking, but failed to do anything.
From September, in the year 1883, to March 1896, I worked at the East Tennessee mines. I worked five months as miner and then accepted a position as mine foreman and after that I was made superintendent and manager. I filled those two positions for thirteen years. In the year 1896, Dr. GATLIFF of Williamsburg, Kentucky came to see me to ask if I would accept a position with the Proctor Coal Company. This mine was the largest in the Jellico coal field at that time. It was also the largest shipper in the southern field at that time. For three years, there had been litigation among the stockholders as to who should manage their property. Dr. GATLIFF's party won the suit and I accepted his proposition and took charge in the year 1896 and was there until 1900.
My family was living in Knoxville at this time. I moved to Procter, called Red Ash, Kentucky. When I resigned, I bought a house in Jellico, Tennessee, and moved into it. I had an old miner friend named John STONE. We agreed to do some prospecting in the mountains around Jellico. The first month I was idle, I received eight different calls wanting me to accept a position with them. The calls came from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Western Virginia.
At the same time these calls were pressing me, I received a letter from John H. WHITE of New York, stating that I had been recommended to him as a coal expert. He wanted to employ me to locate all coal lands that could be purchased in eastern Tennessee and in southeastern Kentucky, and to build mines and railroads to them and then to lease to those who would operate them. He was a financier and an investor for several banks in New York. He sent me credentials of his connection with those banks. He said that I could purchase land in one hundred thousand dollar blocks at a time. This was a big proposition that he offered me and it would be a good investment for New York banks.
I thought over this new proposition and word came to me to meet Dr. GATLIFF at the depot. I met him and he told me he had sold out his interest in the Procter Coal Company for $90,000.00 to Judge FINLEY and he had promised him to use his influence to get me to take charge of the Procter mines again. I made no promise to GATLIFF as to what I would do. A few days later, Judge FINLEY called me and asked me to meet him at the hotel in Jellico. This I did, and he wanted
me to take complete charge of the mines. He also said, "If I had known you would not go back, I would not have purchased Dr. Ancil GATLIFF's interest." This I had been told since the purchase. He said, "I have bought a hole in the ground." I replied that there was sufficient coal to pay back his investment.
He pressed me to accept and I agreed to go back for two years on condition that he buy Joseph GATLIFF's stock as he and I did not agree on the manner of operating the mines. The stock was purchased for $14,000 and I took charge again, but I continued to live in Jellico. I had promised my wife I would not ask her to live at any more mining camps. She wanted to live where there were active churches and schools.
In the first year, Judge FINLEY received the money he had invested, paid back to him in full. He was greatly pleased over his gain. He was a man of very strong will power. Once your friend always your friend. I operated his mine for four years.
A Dr. Sam BENNETT came to see me and offered me twice the salary I was then getting if I would develop a coal lease he had on Powers Branch near Artemus, Kentucky. After examining the lease, it looked satisfactory. I resigned the second time from the Proctor Company, and organized a company to operate the Powers lease. There was no railroad connection with this lease, but an eight mile branch was being built from the L. & N. road from Artemus. We hauled all mine equipment to the mine about five miles by truck and were ready to load coal by the time the railroad reached the mine.
The coal seam was six feet thick. There was also an active demand for the output. It was a good proposition, but unforeseen delays came in regard to the car supply. This new branch of railroad of eight miles connecting with the L. & N. was being built by Pennsylvania parties. Engineer WHITTAKER had quarreled with some of the L. & N. officials. This caused a shortage of cars for BENNETT No. 1 mine, which I was manager of. This new road charged 20c per ton for handling cars to Artemus. This short supply of cars continued for about one year. There was no law to force the L. & N. to place cars on the siding of Brush Creek road. The remedy came when President Theodore Roosevelt appointed three commissioners to whom we could take our complaints. This helped our complaint of not receiving our fair share of cars. We then began to pay a good dividend.
Dr. BENNETT asked for a salary. This I objected to as I could easily fill all positions and save the company money. I wanted to pay all stockholders back their money before increasing expenses, but BENNETT did not like my attitude and laid plans to get rid of me. This he did at the next annual meeting. I had acted unwise in giving him a majority of stock in the mine. This he divided among his relatives, placing them on the board of directors. He wanted me to stay on. I told him I did not want to hold on as I had another proposition offered me. I had treated Dr. BENNETT well; better than he expected. He purchased this lease from Caleb POWERS for $12,500. This gave him $25,500 in stock, which gave him a majority. BENNETT's company was capitalized at $50,000. Some
of the stockholders would have me promise that I would not leave while they had their stock. This kept me from resigning.
A meeting was held and I was voted out and also let out as a director. Although I was the next largest stockholder to BENNETT, I was not even selected as a director. I was the only one with a mining experience and education. In less than two weeks, the mine boss and others quit the mine and so they go into trouble trying to operate. They then leased the mine. This did not prove satisfactory. Another meeting was called and a committee came to see if I would inspect the mine twice a month. Said they would pay me my price. BENNETT had opened another mine a half a mile away. He also wanted me to inspect that one. I was slow in consenting, but he was now feeling his mistake. He told some of my friends that he lost $25,000 by acting as he did. He afterwards did all that he could to please me. He was my friend until he died a few years afterwards.
At a meeting held to displace me, at the office, all his friends and Dr. BENNETT also, with two men walking up and down in front of the office, carried revolvers. I suppose that they must have thought that I would make trouble at the meeting. With my friends, none of us were armed. I told some of them after the meeting that I did not understand why BENNETT and his friends should carry guns. I think they felt that they made a silly mistake and got scared. A party came and offered a good price for the mine and they all agreed to sell. A short while before the sale, I had opened a mine to work the coal
left in the old East Jellico Company's mine. I operated it a few years and then leased it to others.
I had received a proposition to become manager of other mines and could not feel free to accept any of them. For the past few years, I had had several attacks of indigestion. This was weakening me and was getting on my nerves. It seemed only a question of time when I would have to cease working. I tried my best to keep going and not to give up and it suddenly left me. I soon got worse and my strength almost left me for seven years.
One instance of importance happened while I had charge of the BENNETT mine. I was standing near the mine tipple one Saturday morning, in 1906, when I heard a peculiar rumbling sound much like a heavy blast near Williamsburg, Kentucky, on the L. & N. Railroad. They were doing railroad construction work through rock, and I thought that was the cause of the rumbling I heard. Late that evening, word came to me that a car loaded with dynamite had exploded at Jellico, Tennessee, a distance from where I stood of about twenty-five miles by air line.
As the lines were torn down, I could not get any news from Jellico and I decided to get over there some way, as I was living there at that time. I walked out to Artemus, five miles away, and took a train there to Corbin and from there to Jellico. I arrived in Jellico early in the morning. I could hear all sorts of rumors while on the train. I was uneasy about my family, knowing that my house stood on a hill and only 1500 feet from where the dynamite exploded. On
reaching the place, I found a great hole in the ground, torn up railroad cars and buildings torn to pieces and cattle dead in the fields from shock. I looked toward my home on the hill. It was still standing.
People all around were in great distress. I made my way up the hill to my home. I met my neighbor, U. S. JONES. When he saw me the first words he uttered were, "FRANCIS, what you told me one year ago has happened." I had repeatedly told those in charge of the depot that they would surely have an explosion by the reckless way they were handling explosives. I had to testify to this advice given before the explosion occurred. I was familiar with the handling of dynamite. Suit was brought by those who were damaged, but only enough to cover part of the loss. I received $600.00. I had spent $800.00 on repairs to the house. The house was split apart several inches and was moved several inches off its foundation. Later on, the house was torn down and built over into a new home. Eleven people were killed and many were injured.
It was strange to me why I decided to stay over at the mine for two days. I came to Jellico early one morning and then I would go down to see Joe SELLERS, the engineer for the Proctor mine. We were good friends and would have long talks together. No doubt he was looking for me when the dynamite exploded. Only parts of his body could be found. I could only recognize part of his cheek by a few days' growth of his beard. Other bodies were torn in the same manner. I had decided Thursday evening to stay over and spend one Sunday at the mining camp. There was
no reason for me to stay. I had not stayed over for two years. It was strange why I did so this one time.
On September 15, 1907, for the third time I took charge of the Proctor Coal Mines. These mines were connected with Jellico by a railroad 2 1/2 miles long, owned by the company mines in Kentucky near the border line between Kentucky and Tennessee. The coal was delivered to the Southern and L. & N. at Jellico, Tennessee. In the year 1896, when I first took charge of the mines, then a large mining camp, there were many rough men there. Drinking and shooting on pay days were common. The company gave me orders to discharge anyone for creating a disturbance in the mining camp. They were more afraid of a discharge than they were of the law. I also got rid of an organization known as the Knights of Labor. A contract made yearly would expire the first of April in 1908. I persuaded the company to meet their leaders in a general conference at Jellico every year in April with the other twelve operating mines. I gave them as a reason that I had gotten along well with the organization and without much trouble at the East Tennessee mines and that I had many good miners that would sit down with you and reason out any differences that would arise.
I made this proposition to the Proctor president, Dr. GATLIFF. He agreed to meet them at Sedger or in Jellico with the understanding that if they were unreasonable in their demands that I would help the company to fight it out. After several days of arguments on both sides, we agreed to adjourn. After several months of idleness, the mine operators held a
meeting among themselves. It was agreed not to have any further dealings with the Knights of Labor as an organization and also that any operator could try and operate his mine under the above conditions. All knew that this would cause trouble and expense. The time of the year was now approaching when the demand for coal was active. With this understanding, the Proctor Coal Company posted notices up that the mine was going to operate without a union recognition. The company hired guards after a few days and one miner went to work and then two more went to work. I kept on persuading the men to go to work. I went with them to the mine as there were many threats from the 19th District miners that some night they would get those who went to work. Much shooting was done from the top of the mountain to the mine as the men went to work in the morning. Bullets would strike the ground close to their feet. The mines kept working and increasing the output.
I hired two men who were miners. They were brothers, Phil and Dan QUIN from Pittsburg, Kentucky. They said, "You are having some excitement here and we want to be in it." They were two fine looking men. Phil was a good pistol shooter. One morning, as they were passing me on the road, I asked them where they were going. They said to Jellico. I tried to persuade them not to go as they would surely get into trouble. Many threats had come from there to the Proctor men. But they determined to go. Late that night in a dark alley, Phil was shot dead. He had no chance to defend himself. Dan was hit over the head with a rifle. Many thought he would die, but he recovered and was sent back to Pittsburg.
Another man by the name of BOWLING from Breathitt County, a miner, went to Jellico and visited a saloon. When he stepped inside another man named SARGENT, who before the strike worked at Proctor, a union man, said to BOWLING, "You scab", and jumped at him with an open knife in his hand. BOWLING quickly drew a heavy revolver from under his arm and shot SARGENT through the heart. The ball went through him and killed another young man behind him. Many other shootings took place. There was a strong feeling of bitterness against Proctor men. Many kept away from Jellico. Others who were more determined, would not take a dare and would defy anyone to call them a name. Often they would be shot at from a distance, but the ones who did the shooting always kept out of the way.
The mines were increasing tonnage every week. This caused much activity from the organization. All of the 19th District were still idle and so all their power was centered against the Procter Coal Company. One Sunday morning a crowd of 1500 Knights of Labor came to Procter and held a meeting just on the property line. They were debating whether they would go up into the camp and hold a meeting. I stood at the edge of the crowd and told them not to go onto the property as there was a guard in the camp and that they might get into trouble. I was then living in the camp. One of the leaders, John HOWE, said he could go through my yard if he wanted to. I told him that I could not stop a mob, but that I could stop him. The whole crowd had a good laugh at my remark. They voted to go on the property. I knew
many of the miners who were standing near me. I said to them, "Don't go, boys. Those guards don't know you. They would like to use their rifles on you." Many of them did not go, but went back to the Jellico mines.
They said that there was a post office in the camp and that they had a right to go. I told them it was not open on Sunday. About 500 of them went on to the center of the camp. There they opened a meeting by singing and prayer. They sang a religious hymn. A high officer from Illinois and one from Alabama and other from Jellico made speeches. Then an Italian from Procter got up to speak and said we all ought to join the union. I called him down. He said, "Three days ago that man, BOSSIE, told me that John MULLINS had 28 names on his book of men who wanted to join the union." This information he gave me secretly that John MULLINS would be discharged. In closing of his words to the crowd, BOSSIE jumped towards me. The leaders caught hold of him and said, "My God men, let's have no trouble", and they held him. I told them to turn him loose, but they held him. Many guns were drawn while watching BOSSIE the Italian. I heard a voice on my left saying let me put a ball through that gray S. of a B.'s head, meaning me. I could not take my eyes off of the Italian struggling to get loose. Then a voice I knew said, "You just try a move to shoot him." The voice was that of Nice HIGHTOWER, a real friend of mine. He was the only one that stood. All others ran away and scattered quickly. It was dangerous for a few minutes. But not one shot was fired, but many guns were drawn.
I never knew who the man was that wanted to shoot me through the side of my head. BOSSIE, the Italian, left in a few days with sixteen other Italians, who came with him. He was their leader. After this meeting on Sunday mornings, the Knights of Labor made stronger efforts to hinder operation of the Procter mines and the company made stronger resistance against them by employing guards to guard the camp at night. Strangers from surrounding mines would do much shooting at night and then leave quickly.
My next experience was with a blacksmith named Jim YONCE. He had worked several weeks and then joined the strikers. Then when he would meet a miner who continued to work, he would shout, "Scab!" This he did often but was quiet when I was near. I determined to stop him the first opportunity that came. One morning, he came to the office window demanding his pay. The bookkeeper asked him if he was moving out of camp. He replied with an oath, "No." Then I told him I would not pay him unless he was giving up possession of the house. Mr. WOOD, the bookkeeper, called me to explain what YONCE wanted. He stood just outside of a small window. I noticed that he had two strange men with him. I explained the contract and also read it to him. This contract had been in operation several years. He said he didn't care about the contract and he wanted his money. I looked into his face and saw that he wanted to make trouble. I had to go outside of the office to face him. I said to him, "You have been making a lot of noise in camp and it is time for you to stop it", and with this, I pushed him slightly backwards. He said, "If it was
not for those three links on your coat I would slap you." I said, "Don't mind the links." Just then one of his men came behind me and threw his arms around my arms. He was close to my side. He had locked his hands in front of me. This made me helpless. Before YONCE noticed he had his hands in his coat pockets as if he had a gun or a knife. I told the man holding me to turn me loose. He did so. YONCE was cursing. I went up close to him and said, "Jim, you talk right and there will be no trouble." We were both Odd Fellows. This held me back from being too hasty although he kept his hands in his pockets. I had to keep close to him. He would not quit cursing and so I struck him a blow on the nose and his upper lip. The blood flowed freely from him. He did not try to defend himself. I kept the two strangers in front of me and I gave them no chance to get behind me again. They both left quickly. YONCE was holding his head down so the blood would not get on his clothes. In a short time he went down to Dr. FINLEY's office and I went back into the office to talk to him. I decided to go to the doctor's office and apologize to him because we were both Odd Fellows.
When I went into the doctor's office, he was sitting in a chair having his lip sewed up. It seemed that the blow had cut his upper lip clear through near his nose and about 1 inch long. After the doctor got him sewed up I said to him, "Jim, I want to apologize for striking you." He answered, "We will make you pay for this." I answered back, "All right, go ahead."
In a few days a suit was brought against me for using brass knucks. The Knights of Labor were backing the suit. They had scored me much in their Labor Journals about fighting and using brass knucks. In my evidence before the court, I told them I never had any knucks in my hand. When the testimony was all taken YONCE and his two companions had planned to make trouble at the office window. The court dismissed the case.
About four months after the trial, one of the mine foremen cane to me and said if I was willing for YONCE to work, he would come back to the job. Yes, I said, "It is all right with me." On Monday morning I went to the mine to make an examination. I went to the shop door. YONCE was sharpening his pick. I spoke to him and said, "How are you, Jim?" He said, "All right, Mr. FRANCIS." He seemed glad to be at his job again.
Years after this, I was attending an Odd Fellows
meeting at Fountain City. An editor who scored me many times in the
Knights of Labor Journal came down to me where I sat in the audience and
would have me say a few words. I went on to the platform with him.
He introduced me to the audience saying that he had known me for a long
time and that I was a true friend to the working miner and he said many
other nice things about me. It is strange! "First Rocks and
In the year 1900, a cousin of mine, James THOMAS, from Pennsylvania came to visit me. About this time there was an active demand for blasting powder. He
gave me the thought that a mill would do well. After thinking it over and talking it over with others, a company was formed to build a stamping mill at a cost of ten thousand dollars. I went to Hamburg and found a man who was a builder of powder mills. He came to Jellico and located a place for the mill. I received a telegram from Howell DAVIS at Louisville who was manager of the Jellico Coal Company, then operated by the DUPONTs. The telegram stated that he wanted some stock in it. So the company was formed with a working capital of $30,000.00 to make powder by modern methods, but it was more dangerous than the stamping method. The mill was built and operated a short time. An explosion occurred, caused by carelessness of an employee. One man was killed and two burnt slightly. We replaced the building at a cost of $3,000.00. The Dupont Powder Company began to cut prices below cost in the Jellico region. This caused the Jellico Powder company to close and quit and to sell all of its machinery. My loss in the powder mill investment was about $10,000.00. The company was not able to compete with the DUPONTs.
In the year 1902, when the explosion occurred at Fraterville, causing the death of 184 miners; when the morning explosion happened, they wired for me to come at once and to bring experienced miners with me. This I did. When I arrived at the mine, all was confusion. A few bodies had been brought out. Men, women, and children were crying at the entrance of the mine. It was heart-rending to hear them. I met a Mr. DAVIS who had charge of a mine nearby. He
said he wanted me to take charge of getting the bodies out. There was no map near, but he drew a plan of the mine on the ground for me to go by. He told me he was sick and could not help but the risk was a lingering fire in the mine and may cause another explosion that would destroy all resources in the mine. This did really happen a few months before; one in West Virginia and one in Wyoming, taking all the lives that were in the rescue party.
Knowing this, I led the men into the mine, where bodies would be found nearly three miles underground. We had one safety lamp with us and it gave a very poor light. No open lamps were allowed for fear of coming in contact with gas. The ventilation was poor, as all batteries were blown down. We had to be cautious and careful and not go into gas. That would cause you to fall down and your breathing would soon cease unless someone picked you up and took you into purer air. Several of the rescuers had fallen down and were taken outside of the mine and laid in the blacksmith shop unconscious with the doctor working to restore them. The rescuers were not familiar with the effects of "black damp" in mines.
I had charge of several men. I told them that there could not be a living miner in the mine and that we should go carefully and not get into foul air, and that I would go in front. I knew the effects of "black damp" and "white damp". There comes a shortness of breath and a feeling of weakness in the knees and elbows and stillness. In that state, you must gather up all your will power to know where you are and what you are doing and not turn yourself around too
quickly or you may fall down and lose consciousness. In one damp, your light will not burn while in another damp, it burns and both are dangerous to life. No open lights were allowed in the rescue party. I carried my own safety lamp, but it gave a very poor light. The mine had penetrated into the mountain for nearly three miles at this time and I could not travel the main entry but by byways and airways and then had to travel in a stooping position. The height was less than four feet. This made traveling tiresome. Some of the men had no light, but followed along the best they could. Some were uneasy when told on the outside of the mine that some fire may be left in the old workings and that a second explosion may take place.
Only a few months previous, a second explosion occurred in the Wyoming coal mines and also one in West Virginia, where all the miners lost their lives. All this I knew before I entered the mine. Some of the men only went part of the way in the mine. Their courage failed them. On the inside, you must forget the cries of women and children and also forget many dangers that surround you in the mine. You have a duty to perform to a fellow miner and to remove dead bodies to their relatives on the outside. The first bodies we came to were four. Two of them were on their knees in a praying position, the other two being partly on their side, just a few yards away, at the head of the entry. The men were sitting close to each other with their arms on their knees folded and their heads on their arms. In this position 17 of them had died. I lifted their heads up so I could see their faces
to see if there could be any life there, but none was found.
Some faces looked calm, while a few looked distorted. Our lights were dim and I did not try to identify any of them. Those men had rushed from another part of the mine for safety, but after the damp took their breath, they must have passed over many dead bodies to reach this part of the mine. I made arrangements to remove the bodies to the outside of the mine. This was difficult on account of no conveyance. It could only be done by partly carrying and dragging them through low places until we got them to a point where they were loaded into mining cars and then taken outside and then into a building where the doctors washed them and prepared them to send them to their homes or relatives.
After removing 21 bodies from that section and as I was walking down the entry a short distance I came upon two bodies in a kneeling position. Their foreheads were touching the floor of the mine and they appeared as if they were alive. Placing my hand on the hip of the one nearest to me, I pushed slightly and the body fell over on it side. Looking closely at them I thought I knew them. They worked for me at Jellico. They were both young men. When we removed the bodies we concluded that they were part of the 17 men huddled together a short distance from where they died; it seemed that they had made an effort to escape. It was sad to think of young men dying in that manner--a slow, gasping death.
Going toward the main entry, where the force of the explosion could be seen, we came upon a body
terribly mangled. Then more bodies with several dead mules were lying around. Before the mules could be removed, their legs were chopped off, so that they could be taken outside, on account of the small places to go through. The men were now complaining. They felt sick and needed gloves on their hands to protect them while handling the dead bodies. They also wanted hot coffee. I sent word to the outside of the mine to supply these men with gloves and a galvanized wash tub. It was sent in almost full of hot coffee. This gave the rescuers more strength and the ventilation was getting better almost every hour. By replacing batteries and canvas curtains, the bodies were being removed to the outside rapidly.
There were not many large falls of slate on the entrance, so the explosion was terrific at the main entrance. Heavy steel mining cars' axles were broken off in the cars' wheels. Loaded cars were hurled against the side of the entries and broken to pieces. No flesh could stand against such force. I worked three days in getting all the bodies out.
The last evening, when I reached the outside of the mine, an old white haired man came running to me and asked me if we had found his grandson, who was a door tender on the main entry. He said he had a wide leather belt around his waist. The old man was heart-broken because, as yet we had not found the body of his boy. It took force to keep him from going into the mine. He could not sleep, watching everybody that brought out a body. He was broken with grief. Finally, part of a boy's body was brought out. It was his grandson. When clearing
up the mine they found a boy's torso with the belt still around his body.
The clothes that I wore in the mine, I had to destroy on account of the peculiar odor which could not be gotten rid of. The scene around the entrance of the mine could not be forgotten with 184 parts of many bodies that could be recognized by relatives.
A few years after the Fraterville mine explosion, another explosion took place at an adjoining mine called Cross Mountain Mine, taking the lives of 74 miners. A message was sent to me to come at once as they needed rescuers. I left Jellico on the morning train at 8 o'clock a.m. Coal Creek is about 30 miles away. Many other miners were on the train. As I arrived near Coal Creek several miners came to me and asked me where I was going. I told them that I was going to the mine where the explosion occurred. They then left me and went into another car. In a few minutes they came back to where I was sitting and said to me, "We have forty miners on the train going to the mine to help. We are all from Kense Mine, Kentucky. We held a meeting and all decided that if you would be our leader we would follow you into the mine. We know you took charge in the Fraterville explosion and we wondered why you would risk your life going into a closed shop Union Mine. The Procter Coal Company, with its three mines of which you are superintendent, have fought us for many years; men having been killed on both sides and the fight still continues." I said, "Yes, I have fought you hard but when I see my fellow miners in distress, I can not fight them for I am one of you. I was
willing to take the risk by helping out with my long experience in the mines", and I said, "I want to thank you men for placing your confidence in me." Let me say that I have considered this one of the greatest compliments that I ever received in my life, when others are willing to place their lives in your hands.
On arriving at the mine, the same sorrowful scene greeted us. Women and children were weeping and all in great distress. Once again I must control myself and not let my sympathy weaken me. I had work to perform. So I went into the mine with those forty men. It was a drift opening. After going in nearly one mile, I came to a body lying on one side of the entry. Black damp had taken his life. Some few men were building a brattress to carry on the air. I told my men to help and went on further into the mine. The air was foul. I met a man with a small cage with a dead canary in it. I asked him why he brought that bird in here. He said it gave him warning when he went into bad air, the bird would drop dead. The test after a gas explosion is not needed by an experienced miner.
I met another man with a gas mask on and carrying his oxygen with him. I asked him how far he could go. He told me about 300 feet. We were standing close to the foul air. He said it was very hot 200 feet further in. I asked him if he saw any bodies. He thought he had. There were coal, slate, and timbers lying loose everywhere. He took off his helmet and sat down. His breathing was not regular, it seemed to me. He was scared and would swear often. His thought was to keep his courage up. He told me
he was sent here by the state and that he belonged to the rescue squad. I did not like his swearing.
In all my long life underground, I would not work with any man who swore, especially when there were 80 dead in the mines, lying around and some of them near us and others further on in this sad, gloomy place. I left him and went back to help the men to place brattices back to carry on fresh air, that would move out foul air so that bodies could be found and taken outside of the mine. I worked up to late that evening and then went by train to Jellico. A little gas and fine dust make a strong explosion. It is impossible to go through the after damp, to breath it and live. Strong men have tried to break through the after damp and have given up their lives in the effort.
In the year 1921, two of my daughters, Hannah and Iris, were living in Middlesboro, Kentucky. One day my wife said to me that she would like to go and visit them. We lived at that time in Jellico, Tennessee. On the following Monday we both went to Middlesboro and stopped at the T. Russ HILL home. He married my youngest daughter, Iris. A Baptist revival was going on that week and was being held in a tent on Cumberland Street. When the evening came on, Russ asked me to go the meeting. I told him I did not go to revivals nor did I attend church much. I noticed a fine large library that Russ owned with many books that would please me to read. Russ was a literary man and a lover of books and a great reader every day and evening. Russ asked me to go to the meeting with him. My wife and daughter attended the meeting regularly.
On Wednesday evening, I laid the book aside that I was reading and did some thinking. I was putting questions to myself. Am I doing right in sitting here alone, when it would please my wife and daughter if I were with them. I decided that I was an unpleasant visitor, and I made up my mind that if Russ should ask me to go with them tomorrow evening I would go. Russ did ask me the next evening. It was Thursday evening. The meeting was being held in a large tent. There was a large crowd in attendance. I was introduced to several nice people. The singing was good and I enjoyed it. The preacher was Dr. F. F. BROWN, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Knoxville.
For the reader to understand me fully, I had a habit of looking a speaker over and judging him; wondering does he fully believe himself, what he trying to make others believe? On my first, second and third hearing of Dr. BROWN, I was impressed with his sincerity and his quiet way of explaining his thoughts and reasoning to others.
The following Sunday morning I was sitting in an auto with my daughter, Hannah. Dr. BROWN, with some others was passing by on the sidewalk. My daughter called to him. He came to us. I sat in the front seat with the window down. As he came close up, I was introduced to him. After we exchanged greetings I said to him, "Doctor, I have heard you speak three times and I believe you tell us with sincerity in your voice, of the things we should do in this and eternal life. I would like to ask you a question. Can you tell me absolutely and without any doubt in your mind that you are a saved man?" He
looked at me for a moment and then turned his face partly away from me, looking downward. Then turning around and looking at me with thought in his eyes he said, "Mr. FRANCIS, I can not say absolutely that I am a saved man, but this I can say, that I have put my trust in Jesus." I reached my hand out of the car window and placing it on his shoulder I said, "Dr. BROWN, that is the best answer I have ever received." I can not tell why I was prompted to put that question to him. I have heard other preachers say that they knew they were saved. To me that did not reason out right. To my way of thinking that would be making judges of ourselves here on earth. We must stand before the Great King of Kings and be judged and not till then will we fully know that we are saved.
Dr. BROWN's answer to me was agreeable. It told me his humility as a preacher by placing his trust in Jesus. That simplicity makes him lovable to those who know him. Yes, you may say, I can quote scripture that tells us how we can know we are saved. You are not dead yet. You may commit sin while in the flesh that may not be forgiven. Life is short and you may not have time to ask for forgiveness. As I came out of the tent Sunday evening, I noticed a very large man standing alone and looking anxiously toward the speaker's stand where a few men stood talking together. When I got close to him, I said, "We had a good sermon". He answered, "Yes." Again I spoke to him. "It is a good thing to live by and a good thing to die by", and again he answered, "Yes." The expression on his face made me linger. Again I spoke and said to him, "I do not know where you stand, but
if you stand where I stand it is time to make a change", and again he answered, "Yes." Thinking that he was waiting there for someone, I left.
That same evening I spoke to my son-in-law, Russ HILL, about him. Russ told me he was well-to-do and that he owned considerable property. He had been a gambler and a saloon keeper and was not afraid to face any man. He was a man to be left alone. He took a liking to me. He was waiting to see me as I came from the speaker's stand. I have spoken to him about his soul. I feel he will change soon. He is thinking about it seriously. This he has told other men. "I will strike fire out of a rock with my fist for Russ HILL." That was his way of emphasizing his friendship for anyone he liked. Russ gave me his name as Harrison AUSMUS.
My wife and myself left Middlesboro Monday morning for Jellico, our home. After about four months I received a letter from Harrison AUSMUS stating that he was thinking about me. He wrote, "I am the man who had a heart to heart talk with you at the tent entrance. I have gotten over on the Lord's side and I am praying for you to come over too." I wrote him to keep on praying as I did not know when I would be ready to change. In about one year after receiving his letter, I made the change over to the Lord's side.
I visited Middlesboro again. Harrison AUSMUS heard I had come and he looked for me. We met near the Baptist Church. There was a seat nearby. We both sat down together and talked over the change
we had made in our lives and we both agreed it was the best investment a man could make in this life on earth. It gave contentment and a certainty to us as to where we were traveling. He told me all about his wicked life. He mixed with gamblers and card players and with drinking and fighting men and of fighting them when he caught them cheating. He said, "I have fought with them in Texas and in St. Louis and in other places. Now," he said, "I am over on the Lord's side and I feel like a man again and I am going to stay on His side."
A few months after our meeting, my wife and myself visited Middlesboro again to have Thanksgiving dinner with my two daughters. A prayer meeting was held in the Baptist Church. Harrison AUSMUS came in and sat close to me. I noticed that he had a bandage around his neck. He told me it was very sore. It was a carbuncle. There was a large crowd at the meeting and many of them spoke, telling how thankful they were. It came my time to say a few words. Then AUSMUS stood up and spoke. He said, "I have been a very wicked man. The apostle Paul would not have made a corporal guard for me." He had been so bad against things that were good. Before the meeting closed AUSMUS and myself were called upon to stand up in front so that the audience could shake our hands. We all felt good on leaving the Thanksgiving meeting.
A few months afterwards, I heard that AUSMUS was very weak and sick and then there came word that he had died from his carbuncle affliction and I went to his funeral. At the grave there were many
sad hearts together with my own. He had done many good deeds in Middlesboro, since he made a change in his way of living. He was a strong supporter of his church and all things that were good. We do not understand God's way when He takes away a strong man, who is trying to make amends for the things he has neglected in the past.
In May 1923, my wife and myself visited Knoxville to see two of our daughters and one son who lived in Knoxville. While there, they must have talked to their mother about moving to Knoxville and buying a home there so that they could be nearer to her. My wife spoke to me about what they wanted. I asked her if she wanted to change. She answered, "Yes, they want me to." After thinking over making the change, w both agreed about changing. We had a good home at Jellico, but it was now too large for only us two. All our sons and daughters were living elsewhere. When we built that home we thought it would be our last home on this earth, but in a long life there comes many changes.
We found a location on North Broadway about half way between Maggie and Louis, thinking it would be convenient to call when passing. The real estate men had already started to build. It was a small house compared to the one in Jellico. We purchased the house for $6900.00 cash. We made many changes in our new home before we could live comfortably in it. My son, Paul, bought the home at Jellico when we left Jellico. We left many friends and many were the happy days that we spent in that home with weddings and other forms of entertainment.
After being settled in our new home, I received a letter from Dr. BROWN, pastor of the First Baptist Church, stating that it would please him if we would place our membership in his church. This we did and we soon had many new friends. For nearly ten years my wife and myself attended church together there from 1923 to 1933.
On September 5th she passed away quietly after a few months sickness. Her last words whispered, "It is all right." Her remains now rest in Lynnhurst Cemetery in Knoxville, Tennessee. We built a mausoleum for her with room for ten more bodies to be placed inside. For nearly sixty years, we traveled together along life's pilgrimage. I was with her a few minutes before she passed away, but I did not think the end was so near. I left to meet Dr. BROWN and my son-in-law, J. W. WILLIAMS. As I was greeting them my daughter Hannah came to us said in a soft tone, "Mama's gone." I did my best to hold up. I felt as if the ground had given away from under me. Dr. BROWN and John asked me to go with them to the auto. We got in and they drove me around for a good while.
After coming back to the house, I asked, "Where is Annie?" Someone answered, "They have taken the body to Mann's to the mortuary." Then I said to Dr. BROWN, "I should have stayed and not gone away. Am I weaker than other men who have gone through the trial of their wife's death?" Many friends from the First Baptist Church came and expressed their sympathy. This helped so much in my hour of greatest trial.
My wife was deeply religious. I thought at times that she was too serious in following the teachings of the Bible, but I could see that it gave her much comfort. She would mark passages so that she could refer to them again. As I watched her my thoughts would be, what a good wife she has been to me all the years we have lived together. How many more years will we be together? Which one of us will be called first. Such thoughts as these would come over me. I have outlived her, but memory lingers with me. What comfort it is to retain memories of those who have gone before us. It seems to me that life is only a memory.
When alone and in a quiet hour, we can let our minds bring up memories of the past. We think we see them again only for a moment as a faint shadow and then it fades slowly away.
May I relate two instances that happened to me which made a vivid impression on my mind which I cannot forget. About one year and a half after my wife's death, when I was alone in the house at eight o'clock at night, I went to my room and was retiring for the night. My bed was near a window. A faint evening glow came through the window, some of it partly from a street lamp. As I lay quietly and not thinking of anything in particular, only to get to sleep as soon as possible, I was lying on my back when my attention was drawn to the foot of the bed. As I looked, a form seemed to appear faintly and very slowly on the foot of the bed. Then a face appeared which I recognized as that of my wife. Her eyes were wide open. She was looking steadily at me as I lay and the expression on her face was one that I
had seen many times in my life - a calm one. Then it slowly faded away.
About two years afterwards, lying on a couch one afternoon after I had been reading, my attention was drawn to a door only a few feet from me which was open and as I looked a form seemed to appear and stopped. My wife's face appeared looking at me with an expression of gladness and a lingering smile as it faded away from me. The room where this happened is the same room where she died. Her last words faintly whispered, "It is all right." Those words fit the expression on her face as I saw her standing at the door.
Knoxville, Tenn., July 7, 1936
Copy of an article written in Ohio by T. Russ Hill and published in "The Phiz", a salesman book.
For over sixty years, Philip FRANCIS of Knoxville, Tenn., has been digging under the ground. As a mere lad, not even in his teens, he started by picking slate out of the coal in the coal mines of Pennsylvania.
He can tell you about days of hunger, almost starvation, when as a boy, he ate raw potatoes to keep alive, Sunday after Sunday. A step father fitted him in fist fights against other boys. The prize was a bucket of beer to the father of the winner. Phil usually won.
Panics are not new to Philip FRANCIS. He vividly remembers those of the last century. During one of them he practically walked from Pennsylvania to the Rocky Mountains in search of work. He found it and again he was digging under the ground; this time for lead and other ores. He was one of the first developers of the coal fields of Kentucky and Tennessee. He went there when the coal sections were ruled by the fist and the gun as mine superintendent he handled those rough, pioneer men in their own way. He engaged in 21 bare knuckle fights during those days and the other fellow went to the hospital each time.
Today Philip FRANCIS is a successful coal operator. He is still vigorous and can outlast most men who are supposedly in their primes. These last few years haven't worried him. He has seen too many rough spots. His pet piece of advice is, "Keep serene and keep digging." Figuratively Philip FRANCIS has never dropped his pick and shovel. Almost from infancy he has been in love with his work. His faith in himself and his job has never waivered. It has been mentally easy for him to pay the price of success.
We commend his philosophy to you today. It will make this
last week of the sales period a success for you and your men.
(Taken from a copy of the Knoxville Sentinel, June 7, 1936): "FRANCIS 83 today. Rose to mining heights after start as a bound boy. Man who became noted expert, went back to work when 80 years old." Philip FRANCIS is 83 years old today. A man in his late 50's would consider himself fortunate to look and feel like Mr. FRANCIS does at 83, yet he says he did not attain his age by conserving his strength, but by working hard, even when it was no longer necessary.
Mr. FRANCIS spent 72 years mining coal. He mined coal with his tools even after he had risen to be a mining expert and manager.
Of Welsh parentage, he was born in Pennsylvania in 1853. His father died two months later and at the age of four Philip FRANCIS was an orphan, bound out, as was the custom, to a family of the mining town, Wadesville, now called Wade. He had a sister, but he never
saw her again until after he was grown. He doesn't know where
his parents are buried.
ENDS SCHOOL AT EIGHT
He received a few months of schooling about this time, but by
the time he was 8 he had done with formal education. He ran away
and went to work at less that 20c per day as a fan boy and slate picker
in the mines. Often he went hungry for days at a time. His
friends, the miners were English, Welsh, Irish and German. Others
had not begun to trickle into the Pennsylvania anthracite coal fields at
that time. It was in the early days as a coal miner that he first
escaped death by a small margin. This escape was to be followed by
many others. Two others drove him and his buddy away from their choice
station and a few minutes later the one who was standing where young FRANCIS
would have been, was killed by a falling block of coal. I walked
home thinking I'd never go back in a mine, he said.
JUST THE BEGINNING
Unnerved though he was, Mr. FRANCIS did return to the mine. His career under ground was just beginning. At Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, he married Annie MEYRICK, January 9, 1875. A year later he left his wife in Pennsylvania while he came to Tennessee, and Knoxville, with another man from Pennsylvania. Strike and labor disorders had made mine life in Pennsylvania very difficult. Mr. FRANCIS was impressed by Knoxville and its people. He liked the country. Pennsylvania was rocky and severe, but grass and
evergreens grew on the hills of East Tennessee. He loved to walk up the hills of East Tennessee. He loved to walk up the hill to the mines of Fort Sanders. The old fort and the cannons were still there, he said today. You can pick up musket and cannon balls. But he did not stay long in Knoxville. Caryville was his next destination. The East Tennessee Coal Co., was operating a little mine there. He worked there four or five months. Then the state brought in convicts to work the Fraterville Mine and Mr. FRANCIS returned to Pennsylvania. But Tennessee had left an impression with him which was to be transfigured into a desire to return. From the mining standpoint, Tennessee was superior to Pennsylvania for the mines were safer. The gas problem was not present.
He was not satisfied in Pennsylvania and left his family to go to Leadville, Colorado, in 1877. Mr. FRANCIS walked the 100 miles from Denver to Leadville and was not to return for three years. During that time he prospected on a grub stake and climbed 14,000 feet searching for silver and minerals. Again he returned to the mines of Pennsylvania in his longing to see his wife and children. But foreigners were invading Pennsylvania coal fields and native miners didn't trust them. In the mines the safety of your life on me and mine upon you was evident. If one man was careless all might be killed, Mr. FRANCIS explained. We didn't trust the foreigners.
In 1883 he came to Jellico, Tennessee. He mined for the East Tennessee Coal Co. three years and one day he was made foreman. Later he invested $1500 in the mine which was in bad financial condition. It looked like I'd thrown it away he recalled. But the condition of the mine improved and he was made General Superintendent of the Company. He was with the Company for 13 years. Then he went to work for the Proctor Coal Company and was there nearly 22 years as General Superintendent of their mines. He was out of the Company's employment for a while, when in 1900 he was employed by John D. WHITE, eastern millionaire, to buy up all coal lands in eastern Kentucky and eastern Tennessee by the $100,000.00 at a time.
BRAINS AS WELL AS BRAWN
But this advancement through the years couldn't come from mere hard work as a miner. It's a wise farmer who looks over the fence of his neighbor, Mr. FRANCIS declares. I learned about mining the last day I was in a mine, he will tell you. When one of my men got to know all about mines and said, "You can't tell me anything about mining", I let him go, he said. At this time Mr. FRANCIS had become a noted expert in mining, receiving as much as $300.00 for a day's visit to a mine. People had confidence in me, he said. I might never have seen the buyer of the mine and the owner whom I knew might offer me as high as 15% if the sale went through, but he made honest reports nevertheless. All this time his lack of education worried him. I kept my mouth shut to keep
people from knowing how ignorant I was, he said. He went back to Proctor and developed new mines for the Company.
MAYOR OF JELLICO, TENNESSEE
He was living in Jellico and citizens told him he was shirking his duty as a citizen by not holding public office. They elected him mayor in 1914 over his protest. At the next election he refused to campaign and lost the election by about 7 votes, but by the next election both political parties were anxious to have him for mayor. Again he was elected without opposition, but would not accept. They even let him select his own school board. I don't know why you should elect an ordinary coal miner with the town full of doctors and lawyers, he said to the people.
CONVERTED AT LAST
All my life, Mr. FRANCIS said, I had looked at the people inside the churches and said to myself, I am better than they are. I wouldn't think of doing the things they do. I was a moral man. I never swore. I kept my men from swearing and they were pretty rough men. I was never drunk in my life. I was afraid if I joined the church that I would do those things that church goers do. Then one night in 1923 I attended one of Dr. Fred BROWN's revival services at First Baptist Church of Jellico. I usually avoided revival services because when they asked for every one who wanted to be prayed for, who wanted to go to Heaven, stand; I just sat there and felt that I was bad for the morale of the meeting. But I loved music
and wanted to hear the people sing and for that reason I attended. It was Saint Patrick's Day. Dr. BROWN said that God gave man the will power to resist His kindness and to push His hand away. I was living in a fine house, had a splendid large family and believed I had done it all myself. But I thought of the circumstances. All the neighbors who had families smaller than mine, had deaths, but mine had none. It must be that He is kind to me, I said. I have made investments in mines but none in my soul and my soul is my greatest possession. I was pushing His hand away. I got up and walked right down the aisle and made a short statement.
Since 1923 Mr. FRANCIS' children, Mrs. John W. WILLIAMS, Louis FRANCIS, J. D. VAN HUSS and Mrs. G. W. STONE have all lived close to him. He is living at 2129 N. Broadway and his children live nearby. Tom and Paul FRANCIS are at LaFollette, Mrs. T. R. HILL lives in Toledo, Ohio. Other children and 16 grand children together with four great grand children, are scattered about.
BACK TO MINES AT 80
His wife died September 5, 1933. He went up to the mines, got his tools and went to work. He was 80 years old. He worked there two or three weeks and his sons persuaded him to return to Knoxville. He had intended to round out 75 years as a miner. Now he stays at home and reads on many topics. He is interested in astronomy. He will tell you of the cosmic ray, its tremendous power and the mystery surrounding it.
LED RESCUE PARTY
Mr. FRANCIS led the rescue party entering the Fraterville mine disaster of Coal Creek in which 184 men perished. He was in Jellico when he received a telegram calling him to the mine. Two years before he had detected gas in the mine when inspecting a fault in the seam. He warned against it and cautioned against open flame lamps. He took out all of the 184 bodies. A man can die going over the top out in the air with men around him in the light, but to die like a rat in a hole in the ground with no air is terrible. You feel like you would burst, Mr. FRANCIS said.
MINED BIGGEST BLOCK
A less gruesome experience for Mr. FRANCIS was the mining of the largest single block of coal ever mined in Tennessee. It weighed 3800 pounds. It took him two to three days, he said. He can mine a bigger one still when he can find a bigger entrance. Mr. FRANCIS had an uneasiness in passing out the position of mine inspector to politicians. Mine inspecting should be done by mining men, he declared. Mine safety depends in a large measure on the mine inspectors. Lawyers and people who have never been inside a mine in their lives, have been appointed, he said. The above pages were written by a Mr. ROBINSON, reporter for The Knoxville Sentinel, June 7, 1936.
"Seventy Years in the Coal Mines" by Philip FRANCIS was published originally without an index. For better genealogical searching, I have painstakingly created an index of names with page number references. Names are listed alphabetically in each of the four geographic locations shown below. Some identifiers are provided in parentheses following the name. Names are shown as they were spelled in the book (my great grandfather was self-educated). In some instances, possibly missing or extra letters are shown in parentheses. When only a given or surname is mentioned, the missing part of the name is shown by a blank line. A few famous names such as LINCOLN, CUSTER, and SITTING BULL are included, although the names were merely mentioned historically in the book, and the individuals played no role in the author's life. I am also including a brief index of significant events described in the book.
EVENT PAGE REFERENCE
1861 - Explosion in Old Boreas Slope mine, Schuylkill County, PA 18
1866 - St. Clair Shaft mine, death of boy named PRICE 25
1867 - Beechwood Colliery, Mt. Laffee, accident with deaths 26
Mahanoy City, PA - Confrontation between miners and police 35
1902 - Fraterville Mine explosion, Anderson County, TN 136
1906 - Explosion in Jellico, TN 127
Cross Mountain Mine explosion, Anderson County, TN 141
NAME PAGE REFERENCE
FRANCIS, Richard (grandfather of author) 13
JAMES, Betsy (mother of William) 74-75
SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
_______, Rhodesy (boy) 24
_______, Shean (possibly Sean) 37-38
BEVAN, Johnny 38
COX, ______(one-legged man killed in mine) 26
ELLISON, _______ 36,37
EVANS, John 38
FRANCIS, Louis (son of author) 40,54
FRANCIS, Philip? (father of author) 13-14
GILGOUR, Margaret FRANCIS LUDLOW 13,15
(sister of author)
JAMES, Carrie GOUGE, Carrie 20-21,90,92-95
(first wife of Thomas JAMES)
GRIFFITHS, Edward (step-brother of author) 18-19
GRIFFITHS, Griff (step-brother of author) 18-19
GRIFFITHS, Joseph (step-brother of author) 18-19
GROODY, _______, Squire 36
HINKLE, _______(boy) 16-17
HUNES, George (killed in train wreck) 30-32
JAMES, Arthur C. (half-nephew of author) 20,22,92-95
JAMES, David (step-father of author) 15,17,20,23-28,
JAMES, Mrs. David GRIFFITHS 18-19
(step-mother of author)
JAMES, Rebecca? HARRIS? FRANCIS 13-15
(mother of author)
JAMES, Thomas (half-brother of author) 15,20-21,38,78,83,85-92,95,96
JEFF(E)RIES, Jack 39
KEHOE, Jack 36
KELLY, _______, Mr. (schoolteacher) 16-17
LEWIS, Walter 31-32
LEWIS, Mrs. Walter 33
LINCOLN, Abraham 24
MEYRICK, Richard (from Mahanoy City, PA) 59-60
(father-in-law of author)
Molly Maguires 35
PARSOLI, Mordi (also spelled PARCELL) 22,90
PRICE, _______(boy killed in mine) 25-26
RAYBOLD, _______, Mrs. 24
REESE, William (from Mahanoy City, PA) 59
RICHARDS, Dave 38
ROGERS, _______(boy working in mine) 25
SHANKLIN, ________ (miner) 31
SYLVESTOR (relatives of Carrie GOUGE) 92
THOMAS, ______, Rev. (Welsh Bapt. Ch.) 34
THOMAS, Henry 24
THOMAS, James (first cousin of author) 29-31,135
WARREN, _______, (Sheriff of Pottsville) 36
WILLIAMS, Jack 39-40
WILLIAMS, Jack, Mrs. 40
ALEY, _______ 53-54,59,62
ANDERSON, _______ (mine worker) 80
BRISBANE, _______, General 77
BRISBANE, Frank (from Saginaw, MI) 51,53-54,57-58,75-77
CLARK, _______ (two brothers) 87-88
CUSTER, (George Armstrong) 45
DUN(N), _______ 53,59,62,64-65
DUVAL(S), _______ (from California) 70-71
HARRIS, _______ 48,50
HILL, _______ (from Connecticut) 89
HILL, Travor 76
JAMES, William (from Joplin, MO) 58,60-74
LLOYD, _______ (from Maine) 68-70
LOVE, _______ (mine superintendent) 79
MEEKER family 66,86
PETERSON, _______ (mine owner) 80-81
PRICE family 66,86
REES, _______ (from Scranton, PA) 72,74
SITTING BULL, Chief 46,66,86
TABORS, _______ 46
THOMPSON, _______ (probably an alias) 43,44
AUSMUS, Harrison 146-148
BATES, _______ (cousin of James CARTER) 111-113
BENNETT, Sam, Dr. (mine owner) 124-127
BOSSIE, _______ (possibly BOCCIA) 132-133
BOWLING, ______ (from Breathitt County, KY) 131
BRENNAN, Tom 103
BROWN, Frederick F., Dr. 144-145,149,158-159
CARTER, James 111
DAVIS, _______, Mr. 136
DAVIS, E. J. 97,99,108
DAVIS, Howell 135
DOMINICK, George D. Title Page
(grand nephew of author by marriage)
FINLEY, _______, Dr. 134
FINLEY, _______, Judge 123-124
FRANCIS, Annie MEYRICK (wife of author) 33-35,143-150,155,159
FRANCIS, Louis (s/o author) 100,148,159
FRANCIS, Mary (d/o author) 100
FRANCIS, Paul (s/o author) 148,159
FRANCIS, Thomas (s/o author) 159
GATLIFF, Ancil, Dr. (from Williamsburg, KY) 122-124,129
GATLIFF, Joseph 124
HIGHTOWER, Nice 132
HILL, Iris FRANCIS (d/o author) 143,159
HILL, T. Russ (son-in-law of author) Introduction,143-144,146,152
HOSKINS, _______ 120
HOWE, John (Knights of Labor leader) 131
JEFF(E)RIES, David 97
JEFF(E)RIES, Elizabeth 97
JEFF(E)RIES, John 97
JEFF(E)RIES, Mary (wife of Walter LEWIS) 97
JEFF(E)RIES, Shadrick 97
JENKINS, Arthur (from Mahanoy City, PA) 97
JENKINS, Jonathan (from Maryland) 100
JENKS, _______ (from Stearns, KY) 107
JENKS, _______ (miner) 121-122
JONES, U. S. (Jellico, TN, neighbor of author) 128
Knights of Labor 129-133,135
LAWSON, _______ (Deputy Sheriff) 117
LAWSON, _____ (Sheriff, Whitley County, TN) 118
LEWIS, David (from Mahanoy City, PA) 96,104-106
LEWIS, David (son of David LEWIS) 98
LEWIS, Tom (son of David LEWIS) 98
LEWIS, Walter (son of David LEWIS) 97,104-105
LEYSHON, Thomas (from Mahanoy City, PA) 98,103-105
LOGAN, _______ (Marshal of Jellico, KY) 102
LYONS, Billie 102-104
MALCOLM, _______ (bricklayer) 105-106
MALLICOAT, John 117-120
MARCUM, Artie 120-121
MOORE, _______ 117
MULLINS, John 132
MUSTERN, _______ 110
NEAL, _______ 121
Odd Fellows 134-135
PERKINS (family related to John MALLICOAT) 118
PHILLIPS, Evan (mine foreman) 98-99
PIETON, _______ (from Maryland) 100
POWERS, Caleb 125
QUIN(N), Dan (from Pittsburg, KY) 130
QUIN(N), Phil (from Pittsburg, KY) 130
RALSTON, _______ (mine track layer) 112
ROBINSON, _______, Mr. (reporter) 160
SARGENT, _______ 131
SELLERS, Joe (killed in explosion) 128
SMITH, Louis Title Page
STONE, Hannah FRANCIS (d/o author) 143-144,149,159
STONE, John (miner) 123
VAN HUSS, J. D., Mrs. (d/o author) 159
(should be VAN HUSS, I. D., Mrs.
WELSH, _______ (possibly WELCH) 119-120
WHITE, John H. (from New York) 123,157
WHITTAKER, _______, Engineer 125
WILLIAMS, _______ 120
WILLIAMS, John W. (son-in-law of author) 96,149
WILLIAMS, Margaret FRANCIS (d/o author) 40,100,148,159
WOOD, _______, Mr. (bookkeeper) 133
WOOLWINE, ______( Marshal of Jellico, TN) 103-104
WILSON, _______ (miner) 113-116
WYNN, Harry (from Mahanoy City, PA) 97,104,106
YONCE, Jim (blacksmith) 133-135
YUNT, Abe 107