Saturday, August 11, 2007

Working in the Coal Mines

A hundred years ago, a bunch of my male ancestors were stuck working in coal mines -- on my father's side, in Indiana and Illinois; on my mother's side, in Pennsylvania. Most of them eventually died of black lung. But not all of them.

A couple of days ago, my mother showed me three April 1904 newspaper clippings I'd never seen before. These clippings are about Charles Heater, her mother's uncle. (My mother's mother, Catherine Currier, was born in 1914 and turned 93 earlier this week). Here's the content in three brief articles:

Charles Heater, a 16-year-old boy living on West Market street died in the Moses Taylor hospital this afternoon from injuries he received in the Cayuga mine a week ago. Heater was a driver boy and was hit in the head by flying pieces of coal from a blast. As a result he sustained a compound fracture of the skull and was otherwise seriously injured. Since the accident he has been hovering between life and death.

The funeral of the late Charles Heater will be held tomorrow morning from the residence of his parents, Mr. And Mrs. E[manuel] Heater, No. 611 West Market street, with appropriate ceremonies. The cortege will proceed, headed by the deceased’s fellow members of the United Mine Workers of America to Puritan Congregational church, where, at 10 o’clock Rev. R. J. Rees will conduct services. Internment will be made at Forest Hill cemetery.

Charles Daily Heater, the 15-year-old son of Mr. And Mrs. E. Heater, of Scranton, formerly of Pocono Lake, died at Moses Taylor hospital, Scranton, on the 14th inst. [April 14, 1904] and was buried on Saturday. His death was the result of an accident in the Cayuga mines. Among the floral tributes was a beautiful pillow from his boy comrades in the mines.

Today's Rune: Defense.

Birthdays: Eiji Yoshikawa, Louise Bogan, Enid Blyton, Lloyd Nolan, Angus Wilson, Alex Haley, Mike Douglas, Fernando Arrabal Terán, Andre Dubus, Joe Jackson, Richie Ramone (Reinhardt), Hadiqa Kiyani.

Charles Heater, RIP.


JR's Thumbprints said...

Our current President would probably react to Black Lung in the following way: "Hey, at least they get a free turkey at Christmas."

Interesting bit of family history, Erik.

the walking man said...

Interesting read Erik, family history aside, the funeral cortege was preceded by his union fellows. he must have lived through some violent times as they unionized the mines. Personal family histories are always interesting.

Uhhh our current president would probably just say "fuck 'em" they can be replaced we have a surplus of labor available and those turkey's they were going to get, send them to China after all they are doing most of the work for this country anyway."



Charles Gramlich said...

"Boy comrades in the mines" is such a chilling line. I don't think there were any members of my family who ever worked in underground mines. Some worked with the strip mines in the south. Most have been farmers, though

Pythia3 said...

Hi Erik,
Wow, all this family history lately, uh. And what they went through to get us here . . . although they did not know we were waiting in the wings (or maybe they did?)
So sad, such a young boy and such a dangerous job.
Someday, I'm sure the accidental shootings of young, innocent children in our city will be remembered as the rough times we've endured.
Times really don't get any better or any worse, do they?
Hope you're having a great weekend!

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