Coal Mining

How much were coal miners paid in the 1890’s? Find out here.
Star Junction Coal Miners

Thanks to Rosemary Shavel Knapp, a Star Junction native (like your Webmaster), sent these photos of the coal miners in her family.
Left Photo:  Rosemary’s Dad, John E. Shavel, Jr.
Right Photo: (l to r) Andrew Shavel, John E. Shavel, Jr., Michael Shavel, and Rosemary’s Grandfather John E. Shavel, Sr. All are deceased.

These photos were taken sometime in the mid-1940's in John E. Shavel, Sr.'s back yard at the bottom of the brick hill
on Church Street. "New" 51 had yet to be built, but it would be in the background. Very much visible in the background
in the left-hand photo is the outhouse. Originally only foremen and other ranking mine officials lived in houses with indoor plumbing.

(Webmaster's comment: Michael Shavel‘s lunch box is unusual in that it appears to be a standard steel box with space for a Thermos
at the top. I have never known a miner to use a steel lunch boxes because of the possibility of the steel striking a tool or rock and creating
a spark that might ignite methane gas and cause an explosion. John E. Shavel Sr.'s "dinner bucket" is a typical miner's dinner bucket.
It had a removable top section that held food and a larger reservoir at the bottom for water. The bucket was made of soft aluminum with zinc or
brass fittings. The soft aluminum at the bottom of the bucket would wear through quickly in the rough conditions of the mine and I recall
seeing my Dad repairing holes in his dinner bucket with brass rivets.)

Banning No. 4 Mine
Louis Earl Illig, the webmaster’s father, at the end of a midnight shift at Banning No. 4 in 1969, shortly before his retirement.
Lou Corsi writes: Banning No. 4 was located on the west side of the Youghiogheny River near Buddtown and just south of West Newton. It was owned by Republic Steel Corporation. The abandoned site is easily visible on Google Maps (use Hybrid Map-Satellite View) by looking for the first river bend south of West Netwon. The mine site is inside the river bend. There is high-resolution overhead photography available. It appears from the overhead view that the Buddtown was never very large. Buddtown Road ends where a half-dozen or so of houses are situated on the river bank. There is also a Budds Ferry Road; the implication is that it once led to a ferry that crossed the Youghiogheny.

Another Coal Mining Hazard: Murder at the Hands of the Coal Barons
I wrote on the previous page about the hazards of coal mining, and I have written about a coal miner’s pay in the late 19th century. So pervasive was the
power of money—bribery—at every level of government in Pennsylvania that the coal barons could call on armed police and even the National Guard to
supress miner’s demands for better pay and working conditions. This sign near Mount Pleasant, Pa. describes the murder of nine miners near Mount Pleasant by
sheriff’s deputies who were thugs hired by the H.C. Frick Coke Co. The marker below, describing the bullet wounds that killed these miners, tells the story:
these were execution-style murders. The miners were armed only with clubs. No sheriff's deputies were killed or injured. A number of miners
and deputies and H.C. Frick officials were arrested in this incident. Ten miners were convicted. The murderers and their bosses walked away unpunished.
The Sheriff who led the deputies who committed these murders persuaded the Governor of Pennsylvania to send elements of two armed National
Guard regiments under the command of a general to threaten the thousands of miners and their families who attended the funeral. The funeral was
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