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
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):
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...
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...
In May of 2007, I took a quick flight to Ohio to investigate several cemeteries in which I believed I’d find some Woodruff, Sager, and other assorted family graves. My first order of business was to locate Seceder Cemetery, a site my living family was unaware of, in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Once a bustling small city of its own, Reynoldsburg is now a strip-mall-infested suburb of Columbus.
After much circling, turning around, and near-resignation, I spotted what appeared to be headstones between the slats of a tall privacy fence along the back parking lot of one of the aforementioned strip malls.
Behind the privacy fence, the cemetery occupies a small hill surrounded by a chain-link fence, apartment buildings to the north and west, golf course to the south. The gate has a large padlock, but, since it was Memorial Day weekend, someone from the city had thought to leave it unlocked for potential visitors.
I found what I was looking for in the northwest corner, backed up to the fence.
My great-great-great-great grandfather Wiard Woodruff was born in 1764 in Litchfield, Connecticut. He moved with his father and probably other family members ...more...
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...
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...