1880 Hocking Valley Coal Fields Map

Coal, the Diamonds of the Hocking Valley

The Millfield Coal Mine Disaster
Area Coal Mine photos
Buchtel Moonshine article
Diary of Murray City Coal Miner John Holt
Also a relevant topic: Read and Post a Response to Sandy's essay on Appalachian Language!
Tennessee Ernie Ford's Ballad "Sixteen Tons"

Smoke in the Valley

Southeastern Ohio Coal Industry and History

Murray City coal mine # 5,  view towards the lower end of town

(Photo postcard owned by Sandra Mitchell-Quinn)

A large part of the history of Athens, Hocking and Perry counties in Ohio is the local coal industry.

"To the person not a native of the coal regions, it is difficult to comprehend how completely coal mining dominated every aspect of the life and physical appearance of the communities in the coal counties.  At the peak of hard coal mining, patch towns were as ubiquitous as the breakers and mines. The term "patch town" originated with the custom of the wives of the miners having small garden patches to supplement the meager wages of their husbands. These patch towns were constructed by the mine owners to house the throngs of immigrants from various European nations who were recruited to work in the mines. The houses were built cheaply and crudely near to the mine workings so that the miners could walk to work." Eric McKeever (see his URL at end of page)

The paragraph above so eloquently describes the coal mine camp towns of Southeast Ohio

Our ancestors bravely went to work in the dark, damp coal mines to support the needs of their growing families and their lives were tough, often they were cheated out of the pay they deserved by the coal barons of the industry. Working conditions were dangerous and miners died from falls of slate.  If they were to strike over the poor conditions they were working in, the coal barons would bring in men from southern states and foreign countries to fill their positions, leaving the miners with little options, angry wives and hungry children.  Many miners resorted to making Moonshine to sell during the prohibition years so they could feed their families. We need to lift our hard working ancestors names up in history and give them the honor they deserve for the tough lives they lived in order to provide for their families.


The Knights of Labor union party, and United Mine Workers of America was formed in the early 1880's due to unrest among mine workers when asked to take a cut in pay mayhem resulted with miners striking out against the coal barons (Syndicate). The Syndicate requested help from the Governor and he sent in the Pinkerton Guards to protect the strike breakers and new laborers which were brought in to replace the striking miners.  During the mine wars of 1884 some coal mines in New Straitsville, Coal township, Perry county and Sand Run in Hocking County, were set ablaze by striking miners and some are still on fire to this day. The fires were set in response to the mine owners putting out the striking miners and their families from company owned  housing. 

"Mouth of the Buchtel coal mine illustration from Harpers Weekly January 3, 1884 p.4, 7. "Mouth of the mine at Buchtel.  The indications are that this disastrous strike is practically at an end.  Many of the strikers are returning to work, although more than two thousand are still idle...Great sympathy is felt for the distressed miners and their families, and influential men are making strong endeavors to effect a compromise, as well as to prevent violence toward the imported laborer.  It seems probable that these efforts will be successful, although the Miner's Association as a body still endeavors to prevent individual members from acting on their own."  Harpers Weekly Illustration from the Ohio Historical Society. (History of Coal Mining by Douglas L. Crowell, 1995 page 89)

Hocking Valley Miners Strike 1884 Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper v. 59 p. 161, 167

"Mine no. 25, a Pinkerton guard is exchanging shots with a belligerent party on the hillside, while two or three terrified "black-leg" miners scramble frantically for the friendly shelter of the pit mouth.  Guards armed with Winchester rifles protect the mines and such Hungarians and Negroes as have been brought in to replace the striking miners.  Illustration courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society." (History of Coal Mining by Douglas L. Crowell, 1995 page 89)

For a wonderful illustrated history of the Ohio Coal Industry, contact the Division of Geological Survey, 614-265-6576 to order a copy of Douglas L. Crowell's "History of Coal Mining" book.

I dedicate this section to my (and my husbands) hardworking fathers and ancestor grandfathers who worked in the Hocking Valley Coal Mines in Southeastern Ohio

Proud to be a coal miner's Descendant ~ Your webmaster Sandra Mitchell-Quinn

Click on Underlined names to see Photo of miner

Chester and son Clifford Mitchell, motormen on  the

Hocking Valley Coal Train for the Pittsburgh

 Coal Mine # 7 near Murray City, Ohio

Charles "Ike" Mitchell- coal miner at Murray City; see photo below; buried in Nelsonville

"Stan" Robinson working on coal tracks at Orbiston, Ohio

Charles "Ike" Mitchell driving heavy equipment in a Murray City coal strip mine about 1945.

Photo courtesy of the Ike Mitchell family copyright 1999 "We sure do miss you Grandpa!"

Please sign the Coal Miner Stamp Petition! Let's honor our ancestors! Go to

Eric McKeever's  Pennsylvania Coal Mine Stamp Website

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Sandra Mitchell Quinn ohgen at alltel dot net

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