Typical Mining House
This building did become the post office. We would turn down the road to get to my aunt's house at the end of the road. Her name was Mrs. K. Gayda.
Thanks to Amy Korczoski for this information.
|Mom remembers the Rezins,
Volks, Nomals, Digitis, Walkers. They told me about the mine,
strikes, disasters and how one of their friends, who came to USA with
them, John Vertnik was killed in the mines leaving 6 children. We
found some of grandpa's pay stubs from the mines, sometimes earning
only a few dollars a week. One week, he owed them money , after
they took off for dynamite, mule usage et al.
Memories of: Polona Straus Filpi, Marie Straus, Roseann Podpechan, Wilma Prosence
|When the miners were being
laid off there were a lot of house fires. It was rumored people
were collecting their insurance money and going to Chicago to find
jobs. Memory of Frances O'Blak and Margaret Kennedy
|John L. Lewis was the national
president of the United Mine Workers Union and I think stationed in
Pennsylvania. He literally saved the miners by his tough
negotiations and fighting for the miners rights. At the time they
had no rights and no collective bargaining until John L. Lewis came
along with the United Mine Workers Union.
There is a little town in Southeast Colorado that was a mining town. They have a very extensive museum. In front of the museum is a large miner's statue. In I think 1918 the miners in this town went on strike- the mine owners kicked them out of the mining houses they lived in and they encamped on the edge of town in tents- the women of the town had a march one day in protest- they called the National Guard- the National Guard formed a line with men with rifles and shot these women down, killing some children also. It was horrible. They shot unarmed ladies and children. Our forefathers lacked status in this country at one time. They were treated like dirt.
My Grandfather was more farm orientated. He came to this country and started a saloon in Fleming, a town that is no longer there close to Weir. After two years, he borrowed $5,000 from a fellow Slovenenian saloon owner and bought our present farm(110 acres then). He was not subject to the politics and the disclipine of the mine. There of course was miners all around the farm. There were horrible stories of maltreatment of the miners, from working them too long, to pay to little and to how the structure of the mine leadership was. The foreman were all scotch-irish mostly and really mean buggers. Some of them would go to the miners shack during the day and have their way with the miner"s wife and the miner could do nothing about it. If he did, he lost his job and was blacklisted. This meant the loss of income, the loss of housing as they kicked you out on the street. There was no social security then or unemployment or any kind of help.
My Uncle Dutch(Leo Cukjati) was a smiling, great looking guy, small and wiry but as tough as nails. He would hear of something like I mentioned above and go to the foreman's house, drag the guy out on the street and beat the crap out of them. He didn"t have to worry about anything at the mine as he lived and worked here on the farm.
That sets the mood on the maltreatment of the miners- John L. Lewis was their friend and savior. He singularly did more for the miner than anyone. His changes and pressure made mining much safer and retired miners received compensation from the government for pulmonary silicosis(Black Lung Disease) from inhaling coal dust.
As a boy, I would look at his large picture hanging in the Community Center. He looked tough. He had great big bushy eye brows. Later in life, I had a client in Irving Texas named Ray Lewis from Bonner Springs, Kansas. One day we were talking and he told me he knew I was from Southeast Kansas and if I knew his Uncle, John L. Lewis!!!! What a coincidence.
Memory of Joe Cukjati
Francisek Lipovsek (my dad) worked in the area coal mines when work was available. Before sunrise he walked to work through fields and sometimes through a creek for over a mile, returning home after 4 pm. He was responsible for the purchase of the tools he used in the mine – shovel, pick, pit helmet with a carbide lamp, etc. His tools were stored in a dynamite box. The demand for coal was lower in the warmer season so he worked 3 days a week in the summer. Francisek had an entry in the mine which enabled him to earn more money. He worked at Western Coal Company mines #16, 20, 21, 22 and 50. The work was hard, dirty and dangerous. Records of mining accidents reflect the hazards encountered every day, and Francisek’s name is included in the accident records. It has been said that if one’s ancestor was a minor, his name would be listed in these records at least once.
During the miner’s strike, Marija and the neighboring women would beat their wash tubs in protest as the company “scabs” walked down the road toward the mines. It was a difficult time for the miners and their families.
In those days there was no workman’s compensation or unemployment insurance – now work, no income. They lived off the land as much as they could. When Francisek came home from a long, hard day’s work at the mine, he would eat supper, then hitch up his horse and plow the fields of grain. The family raised cows, pigs, chickens. Marija planted a vegetable garden. From their orchard they gathered fruit for the family.
Memory of Mary Lipasek Maxwell