From the Files: Perry Brooks and Family, 1920 Census

At the time of the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Perry Brooks and Emma Angeline Copas Brooks are living with five of their children in Pomeroy, Ohio. Pomeroy had been booming in the late 19th century, attracting many salt and coal miners, but it entered into a steep and lasting decline by 1890. Still, Perry earned his wages mining coal.

Perry Brooks and family, 1920 US Federal Census

Both Perry and Emma are 40 years old, report being able to read and write, and are living in a rented house. Their oldest daughter, Katie, died 19 years prior to this census, and Susan Mae is married and living in West Virginia. Their remaining children are Sarah, 17; John Leonard, 14 and attending school; Joseph, 11 and attending school; William Ray, less than 2 months shy of 5; and Phyllis, 3 months. They were all born in Ohio. There is also a boarder and coal miner named Cowell living in their home. With the exception of a farmer and a rubber factory worker, their nearest neighbors are coal miners and their families.

Lieutenant Andrew Thompson

Andrew Thompson is believed to have been born around 1750 in Ireland and immigrated to colonial America in his early 20’s. Shortly after his arrival, he joined a local militia in Washington County, Virginia, appearing as Ensign in Robert Doak’s Company of Militia in a list dated June 2nd, 1774. Later that same year, Doak’s Militia and hundreds of other Virginia militiamen fought in a little-known war of expansionism called Dunmore’s War, a fight between colonials and natives over the fertile lands of the Ohio River Valley. The Battle of Point Pleasant, October 10, 1774, was the war’s only major battle, ending with a victory for the Virginians, forcing the area’s native population to recognize the Ohio River as the new boundary between their land and the colonies. By the time many of Virginia’s militiamen returned home in mid-1775, the American Revolutionary War had already begun. Returning militias quickly routed Lord Dunmore, who had led Virginia’s assault against the natives but now commanded British troops against Virginians. Also in 1775, Andrew found time to marry Ann, and they had their first of 8 children later that year or early in 1776. The next time I am able to find Andrew Thompson on record ...more...

Thompson and Green Family Cemeteries

On July 1st, my dad and I, armed with a GPS and one 14-year-old hand-drawn map, set out in search of two of our old family cemeteries. Getting to each of them required some near-off roading and a bit of hiking, but we did finally find them. Green Cemetery ViewGreen Cemetery is located on Winifrede Mountain, just south of Winifrede, West Virginia. Fields Creek Road runs from the WV Turnpike and through Winifrede, ending at the gates of the Winifrede mine. A gravel road to the left leads under the coal tipple and around the mountain. Toward the end of the road, there are several houses and a path up to the cemetery. Although it appears to have begun as a cemetery for the Green family, it now contains headstones for about a dozen families, and it is still being used. Surrounding the large Green family headstones are dozens of mostly uncarved concrete stones that have recently been painted white. Evidence suggests many of these mark Green burial places.  

    More about Green Cemetery...
  Thompson Cemetery OverviewThompson Cemetery is located in a remote area of Lincoln County, West Virginia, ...more...

John Lucas, 91st Ohio Volunteers, Co. K

John Lucas

John Lucas

John Lucas enlisted in Company K of the 91st Ohio Volunteers on August 12, 1862 in Jackson, Ohio. He was 31, and like most Civil War volunteers, he signed on to serve 3 years. At their home at Berlin Crossroads in Jackson County, John left behind his wife, Catharine Wolfe Lucas and four children, Mary, Margaret, Caroline, and Thomas.
Berlin Crossroads, OH

Berlin Crossroads, OH

John mustered in as a Corporal at Camp Ironton, Ohio, on September 4 and was soon sent to Point Pleasant where the 91st camped from September 14th to the 26th. John wrote to his wife on September 16th (some spelling and punctuation corrected for readability):
Dear wife, It is with much I sit myself down to rite you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hearty, hoping these few lines may find you all enjoying the same state of health and to let you know that we have been in no fight yet. We have laid on our army gear two nites thinking we wood be attacked ...more...

The Battles of Blair Mountain

As the story goes, my great grandfather William “Crack” Thompson and his brother Jess carried their Winchester rifles to Blair Mountain in the late summer of 1921. They were on their way to America’s largest armed uprising since the Civil War. Nearly 90 years later, Blair Mountain, in the heart of West Virginia’s Appalachians, is again a battlefield. In 1921, the coal miners of southern West Virginia organized into a force nearly 10,000 strong, determined to bring justice to the coalfields. Coal companies had long treated miners and their families as if they were disposable. In each mining community, the company owned the town, the store, and even the church. Workers were paid per ton of coal—a variable measure at the discretion of the company—and in scrip, a company-minted currency that could only be used in the company-owned store. A miner who got uppity, perhaps by joining the union, was often simply fired, his family evicted and belongings confiscated to pay whatever debts the company decided he owed. Not only were miners dogged by poverty, but injury and death in the mines were daily realities. According to the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, it has been suggested that a soldier ...more...

Beginnings of Kanawha Valley Industry

Long before West Virginia made its Civil War split from Virginia, the Kanawha Valley was known for its mineral wealth. Pioneers knew of the valley's salt springs at least as early as the late 1750's when Mary Draper Ingles, an escaped captive of Shawnee warriors, recounted having seen the natives distill salt. In 1774, Andrew Lewis, a brigadier general in the Virginia militia, reported encountering the springs on his march to the Battle of Point Pleasant. It was his soldiers' defeat of the natives at Point Pleasant that would first open the Kanawha Valley to settlement and industry. Elisha Brooks* was the first to erect a salt furnace in the valley. At the mouth of Campbell's Creek, Brooks heated brine in large iron kettles and produced Kanawha Red Salt--red because of its iron impurities--beginning in 1797. The valley boasted 52 salt furnaces by 1815, and Kanawha's salt industry soon formed the Kanawha Salt Company, America's first trust, in order to regulate prices and discourage competition. A flood on September 29, 1861 drenched the valley, raising the Kanawha river an estimated 3-4 feet per hour. By the time the river peaked at nearly 47 feet, the bulk of the area's salt industry was in ...more...

United Mine Workers of America Founded, 1/25/1890

From History.com's "This Day in History":

January 25, 1890

On this day, a fleet of workers whose jobs were spread throughout the massive coal industry banded together to form the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). The UMWA rapidly became one of America's most potent, and at times most troubled, labor organizations. In its earliest incarnation, the coal union was a close affiliate of Samuel Gompers's America Federation of Labor (A.F. of L.). The partnership not only helped legitimize the UMWA, but also shaped its politics, as Gompers's A.F. of L. placed its conservative stamp on the new coal union. However, by 1935, UMWA chief John L. Lewis had grown disenchanted with the A.F. of L. and in the same year, Lewis and the UMWA joined forces with seven other unions to form the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). The partnership didn't last long, at least for the coal workers: in 1942, the UMWA pulled up its stakes and withdrew from the CIO. On its own, the UMWA often fell prey to the anti-union tendencies of the federal government: in 1946 and 1948, Lewis and his union were found guilty of criminal contempt for failing to avert coal strikes. The ...more...

In Memoriam

Margaret Marshie Thompson Brooks

Granny

1918-2007