Coal miners (Hess, Hornyak, Elekes, Belotsky, Merriweather), interviewed by M.H. Ross, 1971-05-17

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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M. H. ROSS: Fairmont Clinic Conference Room on May 17, 1971. With me is John J. Belotsky, a UMW Representative, and four UMW pensioners for discussion of labor history. Let me first ask you, Mr. Merriweather, you're Ross Merriweather and you live where?

ROSS MERRIWEATHER: Carolina, West Virginia.

M. H. ROSS: All right, when did you first go to work in the mines?


M. H. ROSS: Where was that?

MERRIWEATHER: That was in Bay View, Alabama above Birmingham, for the Tennessee Coal Mine Company.

M. H. ROSS: All right. Can you tell us a little bit more about how large the mine was, how far underground you were, maybe? Anything?


MERRIWEATHER: The mine employed, presumably, about four or five hundred men.

ROSS: And where did you live then -- in a mining camp, a company town?

MERRIWEATHER: In an adjoining mining camp called East Mulga.

ROSS: How far was all this from Birmingham?

MERRIWEATHER: It was about 14 miles above Birmingham.

ROSS: And do you remember anything about the company rent then or any other --

MERRIWEATHER: No, I don't remember anything about rent because I was not married and I just --

ROSS: Did you live in a boarding house or with other families or -- ?

MERRIWEATHER: Well, I lived in a boarding house.

ROSS: Okay. Were these mines which employed a majority of Negro people at that time?

MERRIWEATHER: I don't think it was a majority but there were quite a few there.

ROSS: And was there a discrimination in a sense that the whites would be favored 2:00for head miner positions?

MERRIWEATHER: Yes, it was.

ROSS: How did it work? The system --

MERRIWEATHER: Well, of course, the head positions were but we never got over into anything

of that concept such as a foreman. That is a foreman and well, you might get to be

a shop far or rather you would take over an entire section and get a group of what

they called chalk irons, that's just a group of men who work for them they give

them so many cars.

ROSS: Chalk irons?

MERRIWEATHER: Chalk irons. That's what they called them.

ROSS: That was the nickname for the men who worked what, for a contract miner?

MERRIWEATHER: For a contractor.

ROSS: He contracted with the company, I mean he got paid by the ton and he paid these other men?

MERRIWEATHER: Well, he'd give you so many cars. Yeah, presumably. He would get all of the coal and he would give you maybe five cars or four cars, if you were 3:00good. He give him about four places and he headed the work and then we'd clean them up. Forty-four cars a night to four men.

ROSS: Now, let me before I get you to where you migrated here, this was a non-union mine at that time?

MERRIWEATHER: Non-union mine.

ROSS: Had they had a union?

MERRIWEATHER: I don't know whether they had or not but they tried to get one.

ROSS: While you were there?


ROSS: When was that?


ROSS: Did they organize?

MERRIWEATHER: Well, I don't think they did because I joined, well, they did organize and

I joined that night and that next night they run all of us away from there.

ROSS: Where did you meet to hold the meetings?

MERRIWEATHER: In the woods.

ROSS: And they ran off what -- most of the people on the shift? Did they have a

spy in the meeting do you think?

MERRIWEATHER: I wouldn't be at all surprised if it wasn't the company 4:00authority or some of their secretaries who handled the inside thing. I didn't know any of the representatives. Everybody was going to the union meeting and I went along with them. And I joined and they give you a little receipt.

ROSS: Did you pay to join?

MERRIWEATHER: No, no. You didn't pay anything, but the next night the pay comes that was when the pit foreman come around and asked the questions. Was you at the meeting last night? And that was it. And when I got outside there was 147 men out there (inaudible).

ROSS: They fired 147 of you in 1916 you think that was?

MERRIWEATHER: About 1916. Because I left there and come to Pennsylvania.

ROSS: You left there right then and went to Pennsylvania.



UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You went to the Army shortly after that, didn't you?


ROSS: You went to the Army later?

MERRIWEATHER: No, later on. I got to Pennsylvania, I was drafted from Pennsylvannia.

ROSS: You hold it just a minute. I've got the beginnings of your story and then we'll come back to you, Mr. Merriweather. I want to just sort of get each person started and find out who's here. All right, Mr. Elekes. Your name is spelled?


ROSS: E-L-E-K-E-S. That's Charles. Any initial?

ELEKES: [Les?]

ROSS: Okay. And you're how old now, Mr. Elekes?

ELEKES: I'm sixty-six, will be sixty-seven September --

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Seventy, not sixty-seven!

ELEKES: Seventy-seven!

ROSS: Oh, you're seventy-six now and you'll be seventy-seven on September 18. Okay. You've

been retired from the mines how long?

ELEKES: Since 1959, September 18.


ROSS: All right, and tell us about when you began to work in the mines and where.

ELEKES: I started working in the mine in 1911, November 19, Jamison Coal Company Number Nine.

ROSS: Jamison Number Nine outside of Farmington?


ROSS: All right. Do you remember much about how it was in 1911 at Number Nine?

ELEKES: Well, I know when I started to be a loader a three-and-a-half ton car, forty-four cents in a wide place and forty-eight cents for a narrow place. And you have to (unintelligible) on a hole. And if you don't load your car, clean it 7:00up, they dock you. Then it happened in 1915 that Coal Company did furnish the powder back in 1911 to 1915 then they tried to give a five cents raise on a car and they want make you to buy your own powder which would take approximately a dollar to spend to buy the shooting powder and you only gained about thirty cents because a five or six car coal was in the place. So they was come out to strike.

ROSS: When was this strike?

ELEKES: 1915.

ROSS: And was that just Number Nine striking?

ELEKES: Number Nine, Number Eight.

ROSS: The Jamison Mines?

ELEKES: Jamison Mines.

ROSS: But it wasn't a general strike like in '24,

ELEKES: No, they didn't have no union.

ROSS: You didn't have a union. This was just the men reacting to buying the 8:00powder and all. (inaudible)

ELEKES: No, this was work but you don't participate in it.

ROSS: Now this was 1915. Okay. What was the strike about? You wanted them to do what?

ELEKES: Concerning the powder.

ROSS: Okay. And what happened?

ELEKES: Finally some of us tried to, some stooge tried to go to work and got in a fight then they, about twelve or thirteen deputy sheriffs coming out, tried to arrest a couple fellows so they got fights.

ROSS: How long did you stay out that time? Over that issue?

ELEKES: Well, it was happened in February 15 when we come out, and it last about three weeks three weeks because after the trouble was happening --


ROSS: -- They broke the strike.

ELEKES: -- one deputy sheriff got killed.

ROSS: Oh, no one knows how he got shot.

ELEKES: They don't think he got shot -- they think he got hit. I think thirty-two went to penitentiary.

ROSS: They indicted thirty-two people? For -- what did they claim they'd done -- assaulted


ELEKES: Yes, assault.

ROSS: They beat him up, is that it?

ELEKES: Yeah. And they all got life.

ROSS: That was out of that Jamison Number Eight and Number Nine strike in 1915.

ELEKES: A fellow named Pete Shaprell.

ROSS: What was his name?

ELEKES: Pete Shaprell.

ROSS: Yeah.

ELEKES: And Rock Holleran and Doc Urich.

ROSS: They got life?

ELEKES: Right. The rest of them got five, six, three and two years. And Frank Kinney, he was a United Mine Workers District President.


ROSS: Did he come up during this strike?

ELEKES: Nobody come up. And I think 1917 late Frank Kinney he got these three men out of life.

ROSS: He went to the governor or somebody and got them out. All right, let me see if I understand it. This strike was not a UMW supported strike.

ELEKES: No, no. We tried to organize --

ROSS: But the union later took an interest in it because in between, they organized this field, huh? All right, do you remember when suddenly the union organized this field right after that?

ELEKES: 1917.

ROSS: Yeah. What was the cause of that in your opinion?

ELEKES: Well now, naturally I think that some way the United Mine Workers work out some way to -- they let the union into West Virginia.


ROSS: Right.

ELEKES: And Mother Jones travelled the field that was Robinson Number Nine and they organized to set up the Local Union 4042.

ROSS: They say, I don't know the truth, that with the -- the man up here, Watson, wanted the United States senate seat and in order to get it he had to stand for election. And up till then they used to buy the seat --

ELEKES: That's the truth.

ROSS: -- so he had to secretly agree not to shoot the organizers and kill the meetings and let them in.

ELEKES: Prior to that, if any organizer come in a field, they'd find out they were waiting for the station, beat them up and tell them to take the next train out.

ROSS: Now how do you know that? That was what you were told?

ELEKES: That's a rumor I heard.

ROSS: Yeah. That's true. It would really happen. When did you first hear Mother Jones or see her?

ELEKES: In 1917.


ROSS: This was now legal. She could call a meeting. Where did she call a meeting?

ELEKES: At Oakland Number Nine by the schoolhouse.

ROSS: At the present schoolhouse or an earlier one?

ELEKES: An old one.

ROSS: An old wooden schoolhouse?

ELEKES: No, it was a brick school, down by the Methany Church down there.

ROSS: Oh, at the bottom down near where the bodies were brought, not where the bodies, but after the explosion where that church held the meetings for people.

ELEKES: Yeah, yeah. That's right.

ROSS: Now how many people came to hear her, would you guess?

ELEKES: A lot of people.

ROSS: Yeah. How far was it?

ELEKES: That mine was a new mine, that I come from. And, naturally, the length of time was grown spreading but still it was working probably about 150, 200 people in there.

ROSS: Now this was just a meeting for Number Nine?

ELEKES: Just for Number Nine mine and they set up a local union, elected, 13:00appointed a temporary chairman.

ROSS: Do you remember who anyone was in that meeting?

ELEKES: Oh, God, no.

ROSS: Okay. And they met in the schoolhouse.


ROSS: Did she hold other meetings all around here then at the same time?

ELEKES: Oh, yeah.

ROSS: Do you remember what time of year 1917 this was?

ELEKES: It was in early fall.

ROSS: And what did she say? Can you remember anything?

ELEKES: She was, believe me, a sharp talking lady.

ROSS: Yeah?

ELEKES: She said nobody can buy them. Even a coal operator can beat me or put me in jail, but still I'm for organized labor.

ROSS: She was then quite old, as you know, already. Where are you from originally, Mr. Elekes? Had you immigrated to this country?


ROSS: From where?

ELEKES: Hungarian.

ROSS: Hungary. At that time at Number Nine, would you try to describe the work 14:00force? What nationalities there were, how many local people there were?

ELEKES: Most at what you call Occo Hill --

ROSS: What -- say that again?

ELEKES: What you call Occo Hill --

ALL: Echo Hill.

ELEKES: -- was Hungarian and Croatian. That was the most and they had a couple Lithuanian[?] people and I think they had one Irish. The rest were all Croatian and Hungarian.

ROSS: Then Number Nine was mostly that working force you're describing to me? Hungarian, Croatian majority?

ELEKES: Men on line, yeah.

ROSS: How many native people were there from around here? Were there any local people born and raised around here?


ELEKES: Oh yes, there was some outside people naturally was, Wilbur Springer was at work outside. They --

ROSS: Oh, the inside jobs were usually foreigners, is that the way it went?

ELEKES: That's right.

ROSS: And the outside jobs were mostly the native Americans.

ELEKES: That's right.

ROSS: There were, not at that point, Negro people in the mine?

ELEKES: Not at that time, no.

ROSS: Not at that time, all right. Were there many Italian at that time?

ELEKES: Yes, they had a few.

ROSS: Russian? Polish?

ELEKES: Well, they had a couple, three Russian.

ROSS: Yes but that particular mine was a little different, Hungarian and Croatian, huh?

ELEKES: On that what you call Echo Hill. On the Dingville --

ROSS: What hill?

ELEKES: Dingville.


ROSS: D-I-N-G, Dingville.

ELEKES: You know when you go, when you go to Number Nine hit the top --

ROSS: Yeah, what we call Number Nine, right up on the top there?

ELEKES: That's Dingville.

ROSS: All right.


ELEKES: And on the other side of the hill, that was Echo Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It hasn't been there very long, has it?

ROSS: Okay. That's just above the mine this side of it as you're going out there?

ELEKES: Up over there, they had a few American people live up there.

ROSS: Okay. Now what about company store at that time?

ELEKES: Company store, you buy at the company store.

ROSS: You do? What if you don't?

ELEKES: Well, they don't like it.

ROSS: Yeah, what do they do about it?

ELEKES: Well, you know I'm not too much acquaint with them because I was just a young kid.

ROSS: You were single.

ELEKES: Single. And the only things I know (inaudible) buy I didn't pay attention to. Now I know --

ROSS: How about fun? What did you do for fun?

ELEKES: Fun? You get up about 4:30 in the morning, go into the mine about 5:00 and comeout about 6:30.

ROSS: Now that -- let me see if I got it right. You worked how long at the face 17:00in 1911? How long did you have to work?

ELEKES: Ten hours.

ROSS: Ten hours. How long would it take you from the time you entered the -- what kind of mine was it, a slope or --

ELEKES: No, a shaft mine.

ROSS: How long in travel time was it?

ELEKES: Well, in those days they don't have too much travel time because they was new mines, beginning, of course, now later on spread.

ROSS: Yeah.

ELEKES: The [air passed by?]

ROSS: But at that time --

ELEKES: (unintelligible)

ROSS: All right, now. Would you say, you got up around what, 4:30, when did you enter the shaft, when did you get to the --

ELEKES: About 5:00, 5:30, 6:00.

ROSS: Okay. How did you get hired? Who hired you?

ELEKES: Pit boss.

ROSS: Let me just ask you to react to this a minute. At Monongah, after the explosion, in 190--



ROSS: Seven. I think. (crosstalk) Seven, 1907. Now. They don't list the men by name, they list them by nationality. You know, fifty-four Italians, sixteen Hungarians, thirty-four Americans. What about the way they handled the men? Like how did they put you on? There was no Social Security. How did they know your name for sure?

ELEKES: (inaudible) composition.

ROSS: How did they know your name for sure?

ELEKES: They take your name. They take your name and give you a check number.

ROSS: Now they gave you a check number.

ELEKES: My number was eight.

ROSS: You remember that -- check number eight.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Tell them your name, too.

ROSS: Yeah, did they get your name straight, Elekes? Tell me about that, how they changed your name.

ELEKES: Well, I'll tell you my name, really Laszlo Elekes. Les Elekes.


ROSS: Laszlo was your first name? And the last name was Elekes?


ELEKES: Yeah. Now these people here, I couldn't speak a word.

ROSS: You came straight from where, Mr. Elekes?

ELEKES: Hungarian.

ROSS: Hungary? You landed in New York?

ELEKES: New York.

ROSS: How did you get here?

ELEKES: Well, what happened, when we starts from home, we supposed to go Jones Point, New York, the brickyard. And we meet the lady, a Mrs. Mike Tote,

he's working Number Nine and she told us her husband worked Farmington Number Nine West Virginia. We asked her how much your husband make? Oh, he say he makes three dollars. [He loading coal?] So naturally, where we were supposed to go, it was a dollar and sixty cents and ten hour. So we took her address and her husband name and when we got to Ellis Island naturally we showed the address and 20:00we bought the ticket and we had tag too and when --

ROSS: What tag? Your name was on a tag?

ELEKES: There was no name on it. Just a number. Number two.

ROSS: You were number two where? On your boat or on Ellis Island?

ELEKES: No. On Ellis Island, where you got your ticket. So when she got her, she had number one, and one of them, we was four of us, and one of us went to that brickyard and three of us come to Farmington. So this fellow was about twenty-four years old and he say, Mrs., let me help you carry your bundle because she had a bundle. She said, no, you're not going same place

as I do. So I was the youngest kid, and then she tell us and I went back to 21:00ticket office, showed the ticket, showed the address because I couldn't speak a word, then he shook her head, she was a lady, and well it was about almost 9:00 when the train was due.

ROSS: This is a train from New York coming this way.

ELEKES: Yeah. Then a policeman was working up there this way in front of the train and I showed the ticket and showed the address and he check it. So when we got on the train, we come all night, next morning we change train in Grafton. They take us off and they put us up in the train over here --

ROSS: Now how did they know? You couldn't speak English, Did your ticket say?

ELEKES: Well, ticket (unintelligible).

ROSS: Yeah, you didn't have like a tag on it.

ELEKES: No. We still had a tag.


ROSS: Number two tag.

ELEKES: But we had train ticket.

ROSS: Where did you come from in Hungary?

ELEKES: Seli[?] by Village Diosa[?].

ROSS: Where is that near?

ELEKES: That's in Transylvania.

ROSS: And what was it, mountains like this? High mountains?

ELEKES: No. It's rolling ground at father one end, Transylvania was mountains.

ROSS: And what did your people do there?

ELEKES: My people farmers.

ROSS: Small farming plot or what?

ELEKES: Oh, about fifty acres of land.

ROSS: Fifty acres of land. And the reason you were emigrating was because of hard times there? Or adventure or what?

ELEKES: Adventure.

ROSS: Or were you trying to get away from bad government, maybe?

ELEKES: I wanted to get something better than I had.

ROSS: It was a bad, hard life, too, huh?

ELEKES: It was a hard life, yeah.

ROSS: Did you think then that you were going to get into some of the scraps you got into later here?

ELEKES: Well, I tell you in 1913, they killed that hunch of people in Colorado. 23:00Then I didn't really know nothing about the union. I never dreamed, what is a union?

ROSS: Did the Ludlow Massacre have a big effect on you?


ROSS: Why?

ELEKES: Well, when you kill innocent people and kid then you kill a man, but when you kill a woman and children. Then you got a man with no feeling in him. They shouldn't, they think about it and find out what is it. Now really I don't know union what that means till we was in the trouble back in 1915. We don't have -- what have you got? Those, they are law for the coal company.


ROSS: All the law was corrupt. It was the coal company owned it?

ELEKES: Well, I can prove they're corrupt but I know what the coal company wants pulled through they pull it through.

ROSS: That was the deputies at the mine where you worked?

ELEKES: No, they don't have. They had this company police.


ROSS: Did you have Baldwin-Felts at Number Nine? I know they were in southern West Virginia --

ELEKES: I don't know that he would call them police officers.

ROSS: But they may belong to the county and they were picked by the company?

ELEKES: No, company.

ROSS: Company. They were detectives or were they open with badges?

ELEKES: He don't have anything. Just hang around.

ROSS: Did he carry a gun?

ELEKES: No, I don't know if he carried one.

ROSS: But if he pointed out that you had to get off the property, did you have to get off?

ELEKES: That's right. Yeah.

ROSS: So everyone knew to be afraid of certain guys, huh?

ELEKES: Well, you not afraid because you don't do nothing because you don't know 25:00nothing. But after this trouble was (inaudible) --

ROSS: In Colorado was the first thought. How did you know that? Did you read it in a Hungarian paper? What were you reading there?

ELEKES: A Hungarian paper.

ROSS: Now, that's what I want to find out, too, and I hope you will tell -- educate us what were the issues then. In the labor histories they mention foreign language newspapers, some of which were pro-labor, some were socialist, some favored Mother Jones -- they were all over the lot. Now, how much of an education did a person get from some of these foreign newspapers to learn what was going on before you could speak English?

ELEKES: This paper, what you call American Liberty, this was the name of it.

ROSS: Was it printed in English?


ROSS: It was called American Liberty in Hungarian? (crosstalk; inaudible)

ELEKES: As a matter of fact, say freedom.

ROSS: All right, freedom.


ELEKES: And that's what was the main paper and originated from Cleveland, Ohio, and subscribed it all through the country.

ROSS: All right. Now did it give you labor news in there? If there was a big killing in Ludlow, Colorado, would it tell you about it?

ELEKES: They did tell.

ROSS: In other words they wouldn't hide like the local newspapers some of the stories that people needed to know.


ROSS: Was it friendly to the union in its -- ?

ELEKES: Well it was [neutral?]

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ask him who was responsible first, in his opinion, of the Ludlow massacre.

ROSS: Who did -- how did you understand what happened at Ludlow in Colorado?

ELEKES: Rockefeller owned a group of mines.

ROSS: So you knew that the Rockefeller millionaires owned this mines and they had murdered these men, women and children in those tents -- burned them out.

ELEKES: His henchman and militia, I think.

ROSS: Right. Yeah, you're right. The state militia was called out in Ludlow, 27:00right. All right, now, is there anything else like would the Italian people be reading Italian papers at that time?

ELEKES: Oh, yeah.

ROSS: And this would help them more than the Fairmont papers which they couldn't read anyway and it would tell them what was going on.

ELEKES: Now, in 19--

ROSS: When did you first read -- were you first able to read in English a labor paper? When was the first time?

ELEKES: Well, I just learned [little by little?].

ROSS: When do you think you could first read them a little bit and enjoy them?

ELEKES: Oh, probably about 1917.

ROSS: By then you were starting the Mine Workers or some other local papers. Okay.

ELEKES: And I'm not positively sure, it was 1915 or '16 a fellow named Martin Himler --

ROSS: Who was Martin Himler?

ELEKES: Well, he was a --

JULIUS HORNYAK: Hungarian crusader for the laboring class.

ROSS: Did he come here? (crosstalk; unintelligible)


ELEKES: He can see fifty years ahead.

ROSS: His name was Himler and he was a Hungarian speaking crusader.

ELEKES: He was a Jewish born (crosstalk) and he organized the Hungarian Miners Journal.

ROSS: Hungarian Miners Journal? Was that its name or did it have a Hungarian name?

ELEKES: Hungarian name of Magyar Banyaszlap. (crosstalk)

ROSS: What does Magyar mean?

ELEKES: Hungarian. And Banyaszlap is the miner paper.

ROSS: Okay. Good.

ELEKES: So this man, he's, he's he was --

ROSS: Does anyone have any copies of that, let me interrupt you? Do you have any old copies? (crosstalk)

ELEKES: If his dad was lived, I know he had.

ROSS: Your father had them?

ELEKES: Oh, yeah.

ROSS: Your father was active in this?

HORNYAK: Oh, he was one the greatest active in the country.

ROSS: I want to hear about this. Okay.


ELEKES: So he went to the coal mine first beginning to sell just like a peddler and finally he seen the condition in the coal camp and finally he started the paper and subscribed reader and started to live by a little at Great East.

ROSS: Where did it come from, this paper? Where did he send it from? Mail it from?

HORNYAK:: Last part was from Kentucky, Charlie. Last part Kentucky.

ELEKES: I believe --

ROSS: Did he stay around here? Would you see him several times a year?

ELEKES: Oh, I meet him several times.

ROSS: When? When did you first meet him?

ELEKES: I tell you first time I meet him 1940 in the working the large convention.

ROSS: 1940?


ROSS: But when did it really begin? Much before that? Because back into World 30:00War I is what you were talking about.

ELEKES: Before, I don't -- I never meet him.

ROSS: But was he publishing it back then? Way back?

ELEKES: Yeah. He did. Yeah.

ROSS: Do you know when your father first might have met him?

HORNYAK: Dad met him several times.

ELEKES: Oh, yeah.

HORNYAK: Dad went to Kentucky even to --

ELEKES: Now Julius, I believe, now this paper was started --

HORNYAK: In New York.

ELEKES: Right.

HORNYAK: And then was transferred to Kentucky. That's where he had the next headquarters.

ELEKES: I couldn't tell you now it's that mine when he was organized -- he operate, organized a coal-operating mine in Kentucky.

ROSS: What does that mean -- a coal operating mine?

ELEKES: Cooperating.

ROSS: Oh, cooperating, like the Finns and the Norwegians.

ELEKES: Always Hungarians.

ROSS: Oh, he brought all Hungarian people that owned their own mines. (crosstalk)

ELEKES: No, he was doing pretty good but then this crush come in in the 31:00twenties, naturally they lost everything.

ROSS: I'll come back and maybe bring together just a few Hungarian miners to talk about that thing. I just want to get enough of a picture. Was this journal part of your education about Ludlow? Did it describe all that?

ELEKES: Yes it was.

ROSS: And that meant every struggle the union got into, this was on the side of the miners.

ELEKES: That's right. A lot of times criticize the officials --

ROSS: Yeah. It might criticize the leaders of the union but it was still pro-union.

ELEKES: Never was against the organization.

ROSS: Yeah. Okay. Now. Was there anything that good in the other nationalities or was this outstanding -- this paper? In other words, each nationality couldn't have had this much of a miners' journal.

ELEKES: Now, I couldn't --

HORNYAK: This was outstanding. (crosstalk)

ELEKES: As far as the Hungarian people it is --

ROSS: Let me follow the Hungarian people. Just help me understand a little bit 32:00more here.Were the Hungarian people who were here overwhelmingly Roman Catholic or were there also --

HORNYAK: Yes, mostly.

ROSS: Mostly. But there were also Protestant?


ROSS: But let me ask was the church say doing as much for them as some of these other influences on them do you think? Were they left a little bit deserted here?

HORNYAK: Well, you'd have to get a priest from Uniontown or --

ROSS: That would talk your native language.

HORNYAK: Once a year who'd come in here and they'd cooperate. The Catholic wouldcome in and then maybe a Catholic man would invite the Protestant priest in and that's how --

ROSS: Oh, I see. There were both Hungarian Protestant ministers and Hungarian Catholicpriests. But the people would go to someone who spoke Hungarian. That was the main thing they were seeking was some leadership? Yeah. Now would they go 33:00towards Pennsylvania where there were more Hungarians, I assume?

ALL: Oh, yes, (crosstalk).

ROSS: How far -- where were the biggest gatherings of Hungarian immigrants in this region?

ELEKES: This region?

ROSS: You had, now Farmington was one place?

ELEKES: I think it was Baxter, Farmington and around Uniontown they had --

ROSS: But in this county they weren't in Fairmont much or in Monongah?

ELEKES: Baxter was more Hungarian.

ROSS: And where did they work, the Baxter people?

ELEKES: They had a mine.

ROSS: Right at Baxter. They didn't go as far as Grant Town. Okay.

CROSSTALK: Grant town too. They had a good many of them.

ELEKES: Most originated from Baxter. Then they consolidate at Baxter mine. Some of them come from Number Nine --

ROSS: All right, let me move on if I can now and Mr. Hess, is that right?



ROSS: What is your -- ?

HESS: Ralph Hess.

ROSS: Ralph Hess. And how old are you?

HESS: I'll be seventy-six next Sunday.

ROSS: Oh, that's getting close. I'll give you congratulations early. Mr. Merriweather, you said you were --

MERRIWEATHER: Seventy-six.

ROSS: Boy, we're all together here, grouped up except for this young man. Okay. What about when you began? You said you began in the mines -- at what age?

HESS: Must have been 15 years old.

ROSS: Yeah. And what year was it?

HESS: 1910.

ROSS: And where was it?

HESS: Jamison Number Eight mine in Farmington.

ROSS: Okay. Now would you tell me about your background, where you were raised and what -- ?

HESS: I was raised down in the country in Farmington from the time I was eight years old. I was born in Topeka, Kansas, but I came to Farmington when I was about eight years old.

ROSS: Right. What did your dad do?

HESS: He got killed when I was four years old. My mother died when I was 35:00thirteen months old and my father got killed when I was four years old.

ROSS: Who raised you then? Is that why you came here to relatives?

HESS: I was like (inaudible), I just shift here and there.

ROSS: Who was raising you in this area when you got here?

HESS: One of my grandfathers.

ROSS: Your grandfather? So your folks had emigrated from here out to Kansas and you had to come back. Huh?

HESS: Yeah. I had to come back here because my grandfather lived here.

ROSS: What did he do? Was he farming out there?

HESS: Farming. Always farming.

ROSS: Right. All right. Now 1910, what job did you go to?

HESS: I started [snapping?] on Main Line [Motors?]. Johnny Jarvis was one of them and I was a snapper.

ROSS: Where is Johnny Jarvis now?

HESS: I think he's dead. The last time I knew him he lived in Morgantown.

ROSS: And tell me about how the local farm people, the native population as you remember then, there was a huge immigration in here for the coal mines. Right?

HESS: Yeah.


ROSS: How did that affect and how did the people view it who were local then?

HESS: Well, at that time there was an awful lot of Scotch people, which if you learn to understand, (inaudible) but there was a whole lot of Scotch people and they was an awful lot of -- several Austrian people and they was Russian people. And a few Italian people.

ROSS: Now, you're speaking of the people in the mines?

HESS: In the mine. Yes.

ROSS: In addition to what's -- in other words the Croatians and the Hungarians there were these important groups. There were a lot of Scotch around.

HESS: Not many Hungarians that worked there then.

ELEKES: Not Number Eight.

ROSS: No. You were at Number Eight. Now, Number Eight, that's who you're telling me was a lot of Scotch, now did they go underground as well? Had some of them come from

Scotland or were these children?

HESS: Come from Scotland over here.

ROSS: So some of them could have worked in the Scottish coal mines.

HESS: Could have, yeah.

ROSS: Okay. Because that's where Phil Murray began, was in the Scottish mines. 37:00Now, what do you remember as an early action? What -- the union --

HESS: I can start my (unintelligible) back when I was a kid. And the first time I ever realizedwhat the hell was going on in this country. I -- they was -- I was about twelve years old and Harry Keller, and after him and I worked some together in the mine before he died, Bob McNeil, he was a Scotsman. Oftentime, say for instance we'd go different places and the first time I remember things happening like it happened, this Mr. Snyder had a furniture store in Fairmont. His father, he was a very much union man, and they called it socialism then. But of course, (unintelligible) Communists, there ain't no Communists to it, but they -- he was running for different office, you know, and making speeches for organizing --

ROSS: This was Snyder?


HESS: Mr. James Snyder.

ROSS: Who owned the furniture company?

HESS: Yeah. His son owns it now. Mr. Snyder died.

ROSS: But they were calling him a socialist and the union men were backing him?

HESS: And these damn thugs that Consolidated Coal Company had and that Watson Coal Company had lived out here on Fairmont Avenue -- that big mansion -- Clarence Watson, Buddy Watson and them -- they had thugs who rode the street cars from Fairmont to Mannington all the durn time and if you just think, talked about union they'd kill you and throw you in the river. They --

ROSS: Now, you said you were about twelve years old before you went to work in the mine when these political events happened which helped to open your eyes because you knew these people? And what did you see that these company men were opposed to them or what did they do about it -- anything that you know of?

HESS: You couldn't do a durn thing about it. I told Johnny one day, I said, my God, there's one damn thing sure, I just said [for a joke?] but I've always thought that ever since, I said, my God, I said, there's something wrong here. Howard Taft was president of the United States and the railroad was on a strike 39:00trying to get eight hours and we worked for ten hours $1.75 for ten hours and they're trying to hold the whistle from 5:30 'til 6:00 getting more coal. But Johnny and I knew there was something wrong. We wouldn't work that extra time.

ROSS: Now, what were you paid at that time?

HESS: $1.75 for ten hours but they wanted to put another half hour onto it.

ROSS: Now, Mr. Elekes, do you remember what you were making in 1911 at Number Nine when you started on a -- you were on tonnage, huh?

ELEKES: Not tonnage. Car.

ROSS: All right. Car. What were you making? What would you bring home a day or hour?

ELEKES: Well now, if you did make $60, $65 a month you were doing very, very good. Now, if you worked labor it was $1.85, labor.

ROSS: Ten hour shift?

ELEKES: Ten hour shift. And outside was $1.65. A trackman helper was $2.10 and 40:00trackman, head trackman $2.40.

ROSS: That was in 1911 when you started?

ELEKES: Yeah. And a driver was $2.20.

ROSS: Were there still trapper boys or any other -- ?

ELEKES: Some place they had trapper, yeah. They, I think they get about $1.00 maybe $1.10. And --

ROSS: How young would they be, the trapper boys? Still younger than fourteen?

ELEKES: Thirteen, fourteen years old. And machinemen load by with a cut by day, he's paid $3.00 for ten hour.

ROSS: Do you remember, Mr. Merriweather, what you were making when you started in 1915 in Alabama?

MERRIWEATHER: I think they was paying thirty-two cents a ton.


ROSS: How much would you make a month? Do you remember that? When you started out single?

MERRIWEATHER: Well, now, we worked about eight hours of a shift until we cleaned up. I don't really remember how much time --

ROSS: How much would you make in money a month? Do you remember that? Do you have any idea?

MERRIWEATHER: I don't know about the month, but I know about the day. We make about $3.60 a day.

ROSS: If you were getting a lot of production -- by 1915, by this time it's World War Iand there's been some inflation, I assume from these prices.

MERRIWEATHER: Well, in 1915 I didn't do very much work in the mines.

ROSS: That's right. All right, would you remind me of your father, we've been discussing already, but I want to get your full name straight.


HORNYAK: Mine is Julius, J-U-L-I-U-S, middle initial J, H-O-R-N-Y-A-K.

ROSS: H-O-R-N-Y --


ROSS: And it's pronounced?

HORNYAK: Hornyak. The way it's spelled. Hornyak and I was born in Europe also.

ROSS: In Hungary?

HORNYAK: In Hungary, and came here as an immigrant.

ROSS: Right. What part of Hungary did you and your father, I assume -- ?

HORNYAK: Zemplén. The province of Zemplén. And it's the same town that the Hungarian George Washington, Lajos Kossuth was born. Same town.

ROSS: You pronounce that name Kossuth?

HORNYAK: Kossuth.

ROSS: All right. When did you go to work in the mines?

HORNYAK: I worked at coal mine Number Nine at the age of fourteen and a half.

ROSS: And what year would you place that? Was it right at 1919, did we guess?

HORNYAK: Latter part of 1919, yes.

ROSS: Or 1920, right in there. Okay. Now how about telling us a little bit 43:00about your father because apparently he was very active. How long has he been dead, by the way?

HORNYAK: My dad, he was, he was very active. He had Hungarian nationality to his heart for the simple reason that at that time we had the foreign element. That regardless the Hungarian, Polish, whatever it may be, we were in the same predicament as the colored race is going through now. The same thing. And my dad was pretty well educated and he kind of got on the ball and he kind of looked after the interest of the Hungarians and they all cooperated.

ROSS: Now where did you live when you came here? You landed in New York and you must have been a child?

HORNYAK: No, we landed in Baltimore with my mother. My dad was here at Baxter already.

ROSS: He came over here -- ?

HORNYAK: He came over a little bit -- a few months ahead of us.

ROSS: And he was at the Baxter mine and that was a large Hungarian grouping?


HORNYAK: Oh, yes. There were two Italians and, I think, two colored people and the rest of them that worked inside the mine. At that time, see, the American class people they were afraid to go inside the mine. They all worked outside. They were really afraid, now that's a fact. And they worked outside like hoisting, chopping, things like that.

ROSS: Right. Now, was this part of the pattern that the companies may have, in other words the companies were treating the inside jobs as dirtier jobs, so to speak, more dangerous jobs?

HORNYAK: Oh, yes. They were dangerous jobs.

ROSS: And so they were reserving them, so to speak, for foreign and later for the Negroes when they came, and so forth?

ELEKES: Now, let's take it this way. Regardless of what a man know, he couldn't 45:00speak the language and he can use a job or have to have it --

ROSS: Yeah. He could take simple orders but if he's going to -- he couldn't read a blueprint, in a machine shop he'd have more trouble at that point -- (crosstalk)

ELEKES: Maybe he could read a blueprint but he can't talk. He don't understand the language --

ROSS: He can't communicate? Yeah. Now, how about communication? Let's talk about it a minute. When you take people who are working under, say, under English-speaking foremen, okay? -- mine foremen, superintendents. And some of them have just come over from the old country. Now how much safety in one sense 46:00can you have if the communication is this serious?

HORNYAK: We didn't have much safety. If I recall my dad, see my dad just as soon as he could he got his fire boss papers. He bossed for years. And of course he right away learned to speak as much English as he could and he was pretty much of an interpreter for people around here when they had to go to the courthouse or in the moonshine days, you know, they bled the foreign element, the prosecuting attorney would say give me $600 and you can go free. So that's the way it was around there in those days.

ROSS: What was your dad's, name?

HORNYAK: John A. Hornyak.

ROSS: When you say he was educated, how did he get his education?

HORNYAK: Well, I mean to tell you, when he came Europe he wrote the Hungarian paper, he used to write article after article to the Hungarian Miners' Journal, 47:00to the [Summit Chart?] (audio distortion). He always wrote for those papers.

ROSS: He would be the local West Virginia correspondent, he'd get them the news?

HORNYAK: Around this territory, he wrote.

ROSS: That's what I mean, Baxter. Now, you must have gone with him because you were young then. Where else would he go? Would Uniontown be of any importance?

HORNYAK: He traveled quite a bit, yes. He went to Pennsylvania occasionally. But you couldn't go on the train then, you know. Pennsylvania, and he traveled hither and yon occasionally, and he also got, he was in with the Hungarian Lodge, that's the William Penn now in Pittsburgh. And at that time, (inaudible; audio distortion) and the Working Man's Sick and Benefit Federation, now it's the William Penn.

ROSS: Would you tell me, your father was not able to work after 1946, and what did you think he was disabled with?


HORNYAK: I think he had, I think he had black lung --

ROSS: Yeah. His breath was short and he had a little cough, especially in the morning?

HORNYAK: Oh, yes. A fierce cough.

ROSS: Did he bring up any phlegm -- any black phlegm?

HORNYAK: Yeah. He was in bad shape. And of course he didn't get anything because, six months or --

ROSS: When did he work last?

HORNYAK: I forget what year was it, Charlie -- '46?

ELEKES: I think either last, way last part of '45 or first part of '46. And what happened, and Mr. Hornyak got sick. And the doctor, he wouldn't let him in the mine no more. And 1946, the first of July --

ROSS: That's right, it was a date. After that date --

ELEKES: They'd come in at [welfare?] And actually it was (inaudible). Mr. 49:00Hornyak was bright enough, intelligent enough. He said (inaudible) nothing he could do about it. They give him medical care, and when (inaudible) gave him eighty dollars for this people who had, he don't get any pension, I don't know how long that lasts but then they you there and mother, yes he did --

HORNYAK: No he didn't Charlie, he only got Social Security.

ELEKES: Mr. Hornyak get it, and old man [Golombush?] even who was living in Cleveland and they he got it because she come over here and read the record. (inaudible) You ask your sister Helen, I bet you she remember.

ROSS: Well, the point is the miners' pension had a cutoff date like Social Security had and if you didn't work out to the cutoff date then you were cut 50:00out. But somewhere there's a date if you carry, if you carried these people in then somewhere else there'd be a date. Somebody has to get hurt whenever you start a program. But the people that were deserving like he was, obviously it hurts worse because they had done a lot. Tell me, had your father ever been active in the UMW, Mr. Hornyak?

HORNYAK: Oh, yes. He was a very active man. I think to the extent --

ROSS: Did he help organize some of the locals or -- ?

HORNYAK: Well, I wouldn't say help organize, but when we came out on strike, we came out on strike he was head of that (unintelligible) that Working Man's Sick and Benefit Federation and they pay the strike, he was the head of it here in the district and he looked after the Lodge. In other words, he didn't go back to work. He didn't go back --

ROSS: This was later in the 1920's strike, probably. All right. Let me digress a minute and now that you all have put in something you know so we've got you 51:00participating on this thing, what -- I realize that some of you began to work in the mines at this point when you were very young so your concerns may not have been about the question I'm going to ask. What do you remember about medical care? Did they take off for a doctor from your pay, and how -- who remembers it and what did they do? (everyone speaks at once) Okay. Let's start out. Go ahead, you said you --

ELEKES: Fifty cents they took at first beginning.

ROSS: That was for a single man?

ELEKES: Single man. For married man it was $1.00.

ROSS: That's back in 1910. Who was the doctor that was paid to?

ELEKES: Well, now, don't go back to 1910 because they don't have, (inaudible) German doctor were, (inaudible), I don't know what's the name. He was come out at night.

ROSS: He was on the company from the check-off. What did you call that -- the check-off then too?

ELEKES: They come out the check-off, but no that was later on probably about 1914, '15.


ROSS: All right. At that point, when you first went to work they didn't have a company doctor?

ELEKES: They don't have any.

ROSS: All right. When you went to work at Number Eight did they have a company doctor?

HORNYAK: They had a fellow named Kulp, a cousin of mine.

ROSS: What was his name?


ROSS: Was the doctor?


ROSS: He was a cousin of yours?


ROSS: And he was the doctor right in Farmington or where?

HORNYAK: He was right in Farmington. Best damn doctor I ever seen in my life.

ROSS: How many doctors were in Farmington in 1910?

HORNYAK: At that time? Well I believe he was the only one at that time. Dr. Smith came after that. Arthur Smith come after that.

ROSS: Arthur Smith came later? Okay.

ELEKES: And Dr. [Traw?]

HORNYAK: Dr. Traw came after.

ROSS: That was Dr. Arthur Smith on a check-off too, to the company?


ROSS: And after him came Traw?

BELOTSKY: Traw, I don't know if he was a --

ELEKES: No, he never was a company doctor.

ROSS: Never was. He was just located there. And you had to pay him fees.

HESS: Yeah. But you remember these here you're talking about you want the facts. These fellows -- we paid these fellows but they was company doctors. They worked 53:00for the company all the time.

ROSS: So let me see if I understand.

HESS: If the company had somebody got sick and they wanted to dispose of him they say he wasn't able to work anymore something like that unless you take him to any two other doctors and prove that he was all right.

ROSS: When did the Workmen's Compensation come in? It was after Monongah? Was it about that time -- World War I?


HESS: First (inaudible) there workmen's compensation, I paid out of that $1.75 when I first, when we first started working in the mines.

ROSS: What was the $1.75?

HESS: That was what, $1.75 I got for ten hours work. And I had --

ROSS: But you paid for your doctor, you paid fifty cents a month for your doctor when you were single.

HESS: I had to pay state compensation out of that --

ROSS: And at that time the worker had to pay part of the compensation in 1910?

HESS: All of it. All of it. Had to pay all of it.

Did you pay it too? It was only later that the company paid it?

HESS: The company didn't pay a durn thing and we --

ROSS: So, let me see if I got it. These company doctors, you paid for them under 54:00deduction but the company handed them the money and they controlled them. They could appoint them or fire them. Right?

HORNYAK: Yes. Controlled them all the time.

ROSS: Were any of the company doctors sympathetic to you?

ALL: I never seen one.

ROSS: Well, do you ever remember -- now down in Kentucky, some of them sided with the miners when the violence started.

HESS: One man, Dr. Barr, he used to be, he lived at --

ROSS: Do you believe he was --

HESS: He used to be the doctor at Carolina once --

ALL: Who?

HESS: Dr. Barr.

ROSS: Where was he the doctor?

HESS: Huh?

ROSS: Where'd you say he was the doctor?

HORNYAK: Carolina.

ROSS: You think he was sympathetic?

HESS: I'm certain he was sympathetic.

ROSS: Not on a strike issue, that is?

HORNYAK: That's a matter of opinion, I don't think he was.

BELOTSKY: I know he talked to J. C. Collins once.

ROSS: Sympathetic?

BELOTSKY: Yes, sir.

ROSS: About what? To support just the union or a man or what?

BELOTSKY: A man, a union and all.

HESS: I knew him.

BELOTSKY: You knew Dr. Collins.

ROSS: J. C. Collins was in Grant Town.



ROSS: What years was he there, John?

BELOTSKY: Well, he was there for forty-six years.

ROSS: Till when?

BELOTSKY: Till 1948.

ROSS: Okay. All right. I just want to get an aside here. Now in Farmington, did the Jamisons run one big company store? For both Eight and Nine? (crosstalk)

HESS: At the beginning of the George Creek Coal and Iron Company. When I first --

ROSS: George Creek.

HORNYAK: They had everything there -- undertaker, everything there. In that big brick building.

ROSS: Was all company? In other words, let me see if I got it. The company owned the whole town.

ALL: Yeah. That's right.

ROSS: In effect the post office was theirs, if you died --

ALL: No, no, no.

ROSS: Well, I mean yeah, but you couldn't be a postmaster without --

ALL: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

HESS: At that time, every time administration changed they'd call it -- if we were fool enough to let it (crosstalk) -- but now it's different.

HORNYAK: I remember, listen I remember in 19-- when we came out on strike at 56:00Idamay in 1925, March 31st, from then on for about three, four years we tightened crews by brother Elekes here, we, he and I could only walk mill to the road, the county road and I remember they

owned the courthouse. They owned the courthouse.

ROSS: Now, I want to get this. Now, let me just jump a minute. I want to follow each of you real fast. I want to come back to you personally and some of you in between. Right now, we're going to jump from when you first went to work, do you follow me? Like 1910, 1911 different times. The biggest thing you all ever were participating in was in the 1920's. Is that right on the union, during that struggle? And when they broke the union contracts and they locked the men out and all that? Is that the roughest period, all of you?


(crosstalk; indistinguishable)

ELEKES: Mine started in 1915.

ROSS: Well, I got your story. In 1915 there were prison sentences and all. Then when was the next big organizing? Then the union was recognized in '16. Did you come -- well, you weren't here yet. And you weren't Seventeen? Then you came under union contract in '17. Right? You did too?

HESS: No, I was in the army.

ROSS: You were in the army. All right, by then, Mr. Merriweather, you've gone to Pennsylvania -- in the mines first after you left Alabama?

MERRIWEATHER: No, I never did work in the mines. I work around the mines.

ROSS: What, in coke ovens or what?


ROSS: In coke ovens? Steel? Or what?

MERRIWEATHER: No, they were building a community there. Just like you seen in --

ROSS: What community?

MERRIWEATHER: Building houses.

ROSS: What was the name of the place, do you remember?


ROSS: All right. Then you went to service in World War I?


ROSS: All right. What did you serve in?


MERRIWEATHER: I served 851st Transportation Company.

ROSS: Okay. And what did you serve in, Mr. Hess?

HESS: One hundred and seventeenth Machine Gun Battalion. [Thirty-second?] Rainbow Division. Best division ever in the United States Army I reckon. We seen more action than any damn division ever been in the United States Army, that's for sure.

ROSS: Now, when you came back, Mr. Merriweather, you went back to Pennsylvania?

MERRIWEATHER: No. I went straight to Alabama.

ROSS: What did you do then?

MERRIWEATHER: I went there and stayed there two years and I took off the same amount of time at home on the farm after the war was over that I gave to the, in the army.

ROSS: Yeah. Was your father that had this farm?

MERRIWEATHER: Yeah. My father owned the farm.

ROSS: Now that means before you went to work outside of Birmingham, you had earlier beenraised on a farm? How far from Birmingham?

MERRIWEATHER: A hundred and five miles.

ROSS: Which way? South?


ROSS: Near Selma or Montgomery?

MERRIWEATHER: About fifty miles from Selma.

ROSS: Okay. And you went back to work on the farm. What were you raising in those years?


MERRIWEATHER: Cotton and corn and peas and then --

ROSS: Was this a place that he owned or that he contracted?

MERRIWEATHER: Yeah. We owned that place. My father you understand he owned a thousand acres there at one time but he give it away to buy himself more new property.

ROSS: All right, then after two years what did you do?

MERRIWEATHER: Well after the two years, then I come back to, I come to Pennsylvania.

ROSS: Still construction?


ROSS: Construction?

MERRIWEATHER: No, I was in the mine then.

ROSS: What mines?

MERRIWEATHER: [Edright?] Pennsylvania, out from Avonmore, Pennsylvania.

ROSS: Edright.

MERRIWEATHER: Edright from Avonmore, Pennsylvania.

ROSS: Avonmore. Okay. How far is that from Pittsburgh?

MERRIWEATHER: Oh, I guess that's about forty miles from Pittsburgh.

ROSS: Which way?

MERRIWEATHER: Down toward Saltsburg. I don't know.

ROSS: Okay. Now that was non-union mines?

MERRIWEATHER: No, it was organized.

ROSS: At that time, the UMW was in there?


ROSS: What do you remember about the scales?


MERRIWEATHER: Well, I don't know just exactly but we made plenty of money.

ROSS: What did you do for fun?

MERRIWEATHER: Well, we'd go to shows, ball playing and things of that kind. Dancing. We had a real fine setup around there for entertainment.

ROSS: Now, none of you have mentioned getting married yet. Did you get married in this period?

MERRIWEATHER: No, I got married in '25.

ROSS: All right. By then you were in West Virginia?

MERRIWEATHER: Yes. I was in Pennsylvania, no, Fitz Henry Pennsylvania, just below, between Connellsville and West Newton.

ROSS: All right. Now you worked for which companies? Did you work for the --

MERRIWEATHER: Pennsylvania, I mean Pittsburgh Coal.

ROSS: All right. And these were all union jobs in those years, the 1920s?

MERRIWEATHER: All union jobs. We wouldn't work unless it was union. We had several mines we went, they went bad and we quit them and went to the union mines.


ROSS: Okay. Had you ever been in a bad accident yet up to this point?


ROSS: Okay. Now the companies, Pittsburgh Coal had company stores, too, though?


ROSS: Even with the union, but were you compelled to buy from the store anymore?

MERRIWEATHER: No. You wasn't compelled.

ROSS: Okay. Now had you ever heard any of the International Officers at that point or Mother Jones or anything like that?

MERRIWEATHER: I heard Phil Murray.

ROSS: Phil Murray? Where in Pennsylvania in those years?


ROSS: He was the president of that district, wasn't he?

MERRIWEATHER: Presumably he was the president of District Five. But I was thinking about the day when we lost that strike in [East Point?].

ROSS: Where? In Pennsylvania?


ROSS: And when did you start this strike? Let's pick up this story. Tell me the story of the strike.

MERRIWEATHER: I don't know just when this strike started.

ROSS: When was it about?

MERRIWEATHER: Twenty-five.

ROSS: They were breaking the contract?



ROSS: They claimed they couldn't stand the competitive situation, huh?

MERRIWEATHER: Yeah, that was the same thing.

ROSS: But now you got into that strike around 1924 and 25 when it began?


ROSS: Now, if I'm not mistaken, you all correct me, my reading of that period is that I think it was called the Baltimore Agreement and these big companies reneged on it and smashed this agreement.

MERRIWEATHER: Jacksonville was. (all talking at once)

ROSS: Jacksonville. Yeah, but this part of it through here to apply the Jacksonville Agreement was signed in Baltimore. They called in Frank Kinney, they called in all the District Officers and the International and this district had been acting up a great deal, you remember, in West Virginia. But that didn't have anything to do it when Pittsburgh Coal and the Watson Interest decided to smash it, they just pulled out and left the people. Had just signed a three-year 63:00agreement, as I understand it, from '24 to '27.

HESS: But they give a separate agreement to Johnny Jones Coal Company that owned Rachel mine and he owned two other mines and they give them Baltimore Agreement instead of Jacksonville Agreement and that's when it started.

ROSS: All right. I want you to tell me all that and let's see if we're all getting together. You followed Mr. Merriweather's story, he's been working now for how long? Three years in these, or four years in these Pennsylvania mines?

MERRIWEATHER: Yeah. Just about.

ROSS: Now, do you get thrown out or locked out or do you quit?

MERRIWEATHER: No, Phil Murray, that was the time he said they'd lost the strike. In fact, we was striking or rather picketing from Pittsburgh to Smithton. We go up there, get on a train, come down with everybody on there.

ROSS: Now, who paid your way? The union?

MERRIWEATHER: We paid our own way. (crosstalk)

ROSS: All right. You either walked or rode the train, you were trying to shut 64:00down the ones that were scabbing.

MERRIWEATHER: Yeah, that's right.

ROSS: How would you go about shutting them down? You walked in there? How would you scare a man by walking in?

MERRIWEATHER: -- before sunup and blocked them. We took the superin--

ROSS: How many of you?

MERRIWEATHER: Oh, about eleven or twelve. From (unintelligible) down to Jacobs Creek. A lot of mines.

ROSS: How many would march at a time? Was this during the 1924-25 strike? How long did you picket? How long were you on strike?

MERRIWEATHER: That dragged out approximately about a year and a half.

ROSS: All right. Now who supported you? Did they have barracks yet? Did they put in the barracks up there, too?

MERRIWEATHER: No, no. We were groundhogged. We were trying to live somehow. But see, that's when I saw Phil Murray. He spoke at Jacobs Creek to about 10,000.

ROSS: Jacobs Creek, 10,000. And where was this? Where was Jacobs Creek near?


MERRIWEATHER: That's there near Connellsville.

ROSS: All right.

MERRIWEATHER: And he spoke there and told them that the strike was lost.

ROSS: In 1925 he sees the strike is lost?


ROSS: Now, what did he urge them to do?

MERRIWEATHER: To find work wherever we could, he said. We're coming back.

ROSS: Now, these were very hard years for the union. We all agree?


ROSS: And these were very tough years and there were arguments inside the union about tactics, weren't there, that some of you, huh? Very serious arguments inside the union between districts and between leaders as to what were the right tactics -- to retreat or to, you know,attack again or what to do.

HESS: I think the biggest trouble, what -- I think the biggest trouble that I seen in the districts was this: at that time, we had autonomy which I believe in, autonomy. But when they mention that word I get scared to death for the simple reason I have seen this district sell out. I have seen McClary, Jim 66:00McClary --

ROSS: Who was Jim McClary? Now, you identify all this so we can get all of it.

HESS: He was a district man, a board member, we nominated and elected.

ROSS: What year?

HESS: He was in about '23 or '4 we elected him. It was Jim McClary. He sold out to the Jamison. Went to work at Number Eight.

ROSS: You mean, he had just been elected, this long strike was on?

HESS: I don't know how many months he worked in the district, but anyway. . .

ROSS: Then he went to work as a scab or as a boss or what?

HESS: He went to work as a scab or something at Number Eight. I never could find out.

ROSS: Were you there when he went there?

BELOTSKY?: No. I never could --

HESS: Then Fornash sold out to the Consolidation Coal Company.

ROSS: Fornash?

HESS: Fornash. To the Colsol. He got the compensation job and there was, what was the other man's name?

ELEKES: [McComas?]



HESS: Yeah, and there was another one. What was his name? I forget.

ROSS: Let me ask you because your father was very active in all this stuff. Maybe I ought to get you in just a minute to identify him. (crosstalk) This was before your time but you know something about him.

(All talking at once)

HESS: But that's what happened --

ROSS: Hold just a minute, men. Mr. Hess, hold just a minute because I want to hear it in just a minute, what you're saying. Go ahead.

HESS: Then these fellows all at once the district went kaput, there wasn't anybody left in the district. Then they sent Vanny Bitner in here.

ROSS: All right. Van Bitner doesn't come in really to bail it out until the terrible destruction has taken place. Right? He comes in after.

ELEKES: I think he come in 1925.

ROSS: Now, which one of you remembers because I want to hear about Phil Murray, 68:00we've just heard about, you know, him at Jacobs Creek. I want to hear about Van Bitner later. Would you help me to refresh these names again. Now he's just given some. Do you remember any of the elected officers earlier, or things going so well in '21, '22, '23 that people might not have been going to the meetings until times get bad?

BELOTSKY: Who was the treasurer that got house blowed up at Four States?

ELEKES: District Seven, had a name --


ROSS: Is he still alive?

BELOTSKY: No, he got killed in there. The house blowed up at Four States.


ROSS: And what was he, he was an elected officer?

BELOTSKY: He was at one time the treasurer down here.

ROSS: Of the whole district?


HORNYAK: They always sold out, that was the big trouble.


ROSS: Under autonomy the democracy was good but you couldn't tell who would sell out. Yeah. Go ahead.

ELEKES: Let's get to the (inaudible).

ROSS: Yeah, do that.

ELEKES: Now back when this Jacksonville agreement was signed, some of the companies pulled out and some didn't and then they negotiate this Baltimore contract, 1924. Then he [got greedy?] and called and told these coal operators to go home, put the flag on the table, I'll give you protection.

ROSS: Now let me see. But this was the 1920's when that's how they were breaking all the unions then, right? The American Plan, they called it.

ELEKES: The union was tried to break back in the twenties. They started back 70:00down in Mingo Wyoming.

ROSS: You're right. That was civil war down there in those days.

ELEKES: I don't know how many good miners got killed. Even they had Joe Horvath. Who --

ROSS: Go slow. I want to get these names. These were men who went down into Mingo trying to -- ?

ELEKES: No he didn't went down, he was there.

ROSS: He came up here. Tell me the names of any men who came up here.

ELEKES: Joe Horvath.

ROSS: Is he still around here?

ELEKES: No. This old-timer, he's older than me.

ROSS: Horvath was a Hungarian?

ELEKES: Hungarian.

ROSS: And he was run out when the union was broke in Mingo --

ELEKES: Well, he run out, he escaped them because otherwise he would go to jail.

ROSS: Who else do you remember that were like exiled?

ELEKES: John Gall. He (inaudible) that part of the country.

ROSS: Gall? G-A-L-L? (crosstalk) Let me interrupt a minute. Do you remember at Blair Mountain, they had like a war, 10,000 miners with guns? Then they had 71:00sheriffs (inaudible) that would just kill a man, do you remember the murder of the men right on the streets?

ALL: Yeah.

ROSS: But you didn't have it that rough up here?

ELEKES: Well, no. When this happened in 19-- , started in '20, started in that part of the state, then Frank Kinney he was the District President. And he wrote every damn local union to send help.

ROSS: Up here --

ELEKES: [Charlie?] Jordan was chairman of local union 4042. We give him $200 to go to --

ROSS: Forty forty-two is still your number at Farmington?

ELEKES: Right. Then Charlie he went to Charleston, three days he come back.

ROSS: Charleston? He went there?

ELEKES: Yeah, he went to Charleston.

ROSS: When was that, 1920 you sent him down there?

ELEKES: Nineteen twenty. Yeah. I remember just like it happened today because I 72:00was weighing coal.

ROSS: You were what?

ELEKES: I were weighing coal.

ROSS: You were the check weighman for 4042 then?

ELEKES: Yeah. And well, naturally, they told him what they're going to face when he go there.So Charlie naturally backed out and come back home. So when they started to break that part of the country then they started port of, Maryland district -- Sixteen and come down and try break that one. Then in 1924 Brady, between Morgantown and Fairmont, they started they had a bunch of other ones. Then they started at Grant Town.

ROSS: Now, when was Brady broken up?

ELEKES: Brady was started, I think, in 1923 or '24. One or the other, I couldn't tell you what year.

ROSS: And where was Brady located?

ELEKES: Between Morgantown and Fairmont.


ROSS: On 19, along in there on the old road?

ELEKES: Well it's --

HESS: You go off of 19 --

ROSS: Near Everettsville?

ALL: The other side.

ELEKES: Then they started to Grant Town. Then John L. Lewis come in here --

ROSS: Hold a minute, Charlie, because I want to get it straight. At Grant Town was before the big break yet, they worked on Grant Town.


ROSS: How? What did they do at Grant Town?

ELEKES: Well they opened shop and put up a damn spot light and brought in I don't know, fifty, sixty yellow dog.

ROSS: Now, let's talk about them for a minute. Tell me what a yellow dog was. (all talking at once)

ELEKES: It's the lowest man can God create.

ROSS: Now is he a scab or is he a thug? What is he?

ELEKES: He's lower than a scab.

ROSS: Okay. Why?

HORNYAK: He was a man, I always said, didn't have any principle about him. That 74:00he would do anything, I mean not only to his fellow man but to his own family. That's what I always thought of them. They came here --

ROSS: All right. Where did they get them? They brought in yellow dogs to Grant Town.

ELEKES: From Chicago and New York --

ROSS: They weren't local men?

ELEKES: Oldest gangsters.

HORNYAK: They got some round these farms here like out from Buckhannon. They brought some of them in. They brought a few in from out in Buckhannon.

ELEKES: Let me tell you what I heard. This is not come from a miner. It not come from a miner leader. It come from a coal operator. He died not very long ago. We had a case, I don't know he was with us in the mine community that time, he was 75:00awarded the case, and Paul [Sable?] and [Freeman Davis?] were the district president. And say, Tom, what do you know sitting around just like over here talking 'bout this and that --

ROSS: You had a grievance under the contract?

ELEKES: Yeah. We had grievance. That was our purpose. But now this is a side talk about the grievance. When we went there we had this Tom Johnson.

ROSS: Tom Johnson represents Consol?

ELEKES: No. He represents Northern West Virginia Coal Association. (crosstalk) Let me tell you that story what happened to you. Now he operates the mine at Rivesville here at that time. So Tom Johnson tell me, he was the superintendent, and he had a bunch of yellow dog and he said work slipped down a bit, slipped down and naturally a mine that run back work and he don't need them dogs 76:00anymore. Then they let him loose, send him away, fired him. They paid him off. So one of us went in the office said now you got any friends? He said that will cost you $10, I'll put him away.

ROSS: For $10 he'd kill a man?

ELEKES: Yeah. That's the kind a fee paid. Now, this did come from a miner not for a mine leader.

ROSS: Where did Tom Johnson who represented the Coal Operators and operated a mine himself at Rivesville, when did he tell you this and where?

ELEKES: Freeman Davis was president after Frank Marley died, I couldn't tell you exactly the year.

ROSS: In the 1950's, 40's, something like that?

ELEKES: No, it was in the 40's.

ROSS: All right, and where were you meeting him? Where was this meeting?

(all talking at once)


ELEKES: Out there by 12th Street. That's the kind of people you deal with.

ROSS: All right, now these were thugs that would kill their mother, huh? And they brought them in from all over the United States or even from the mountains.

ELEKES: Every big city --

HESS: A man too lazy to work --

ROSS: Now, they didn't have families. That was practical, they came. What would they pay them in the 1920's, to do this? Did they issue them guns?

ALL: Oh, yes, sir.

ROSS: And did they wear badges?

ALL: No, no, no.

ROSS: They carried shotguns?

ELEKES: No, pistols.

HORNYAK: They carried pistols and they carried sawed-off shotguns and they carried 30-30 rifles.

ROSS: Now, they were the men who manned the watchmen's booths behind the fences and watched the searchlights. They were the men who kept the people in prison.

ELEKES: That's right.

ROSS: Now, did they ever work? They were not men who would work?

ALL: No. They patrolled.


ELEKES: I know about two of them, they stayed.

ROSS: Did some of them later become law? Like would they be appointed to a sheriff's office?

ALL: No.

HESS: I'll tell you one thing they did. Later, late when Mr. Roosevelt, the late president of the United States, and they done away with these thugs, they later went to work in the mines and they was all drawing miner's pension when they all died.

ROSS: Well, let's talk a minute about that. Which ones went to work in the mines? Name some of the names.

ALL: Tom Jordan.

ROSS: Tom Jordan was a yellow dog. What mine did he go -- this was at Farmington?

ALL: Yeah.

ROSS: Tom Jordan. Who else?

HESS: Uh, what was that --

HORNYAK: [El Delmar?] He yellow dogged at Rachel. El Delmar yellow dogged at Rachel.

BELOTSKY: Arthur Anderson. Arthur Anderson. And Harley Flynn.

HORNYAK: Harley Flynn

ROSS: Any of them alive?

BELOTSKY: No. (inaudible) cancer of the stomach. Every one of them. God took them away. (Laughter)


ROSS: Okay. Now, where did you come, Mr. Merriweather, when you came to this district in 1925? To Carolina?


ROSS: Who did it belong to then?

MERRIWEATHER: Consolidation Coal Company.

ROSS: Okay. And the mine was up where Carolina now is, not down at Idamay, huh?


ROSS: It was located, the mine, up at Carolina then?


ROSS: Okay. And what, were there yellow dogs there when you got there?

MERRIWEATHER: Yeah. There were yellow dogs there. Presumably, that's what they called them. But I was not acquainted with them where I come from.

ROSS: Now what -- you needed to go to work when you came here right?


ROSS: You were going to work when you came here.

MERRIWEATHER: Yeah. I come here to work.

ROSS: Okay. Now, did you come in a large group of people?

MERRIWEATHER: No. I come alone. There was a fellow and I was good friends down in Scott Haven, Pennsylvania and he come out here and wrote me a card saying I 80:00could come to work after this man made this speech, you see.

ROSS: Yeah.

MERRIWEATHER: And so, I come out here and went to work.

ROSS: All right. Now, were there men living in barracks at Carolina at that time? What's your recollection of a person going to work in 1925 or '6 of the people who were locked out and you know, still -- where were the closest ones? Were they at Farmington, the barracks, or where did you see for the next few years?

MERRIWEATHER: I think they was at, up here at Swisher Hill.

ROSS: They were at Swisher Hill?

HORNYAK: Kellytown, too.

(all talking at once)

ROSS: Kellytown is on the road into --

MERRIWEATHER: Yeah, Kellytown. That's right. That's the closest.

HORNYAK: That's the closest to Carolina.

ROSS: Where? At Carol?

HORNYAK: Between Idamay and Carolina.

ROSS: Yeah, I know Kellytown, I know Swisher Hill and there were barracks at Farmington or -- ?

HESS: Yeah, down there --


ROSS: How about at Barrackville?


HORNYAK: Barrackville, too.

ROSS: And how about out further. Anything at Rachel?

HORNYAK: There were some up on Swisher Hill, there.

ROSS: Now, how would you get land for the union to house them on?

ELEKES: Well, they had people that sympathized with the union.

ROSS: That would allow them to build on a farm? They'd be sympathizers or something? Or a miner might own a little land? Huh?

ELEKES: Well, it was all private people.

ROSS: All private? The union didn't take title then either.

HESS: No. Like down here at Barrackville, for instance, [Harry Conway?] owned a piece of ground there and the Bethlehem people trying to buy it. He said you ain't got enough money because these people, they let them have their farm --

ROSS: Is this the guy that became a sheriff later?

HESS: No. His father. His father. He used to be county commissioner. He saidthese fellows are all my friends and he says they can take this here and go --

ROSS: All right. Now these were usually not miners, but sympathizers?

ELEKES: That's right.

ROSS: So the company had turned off a lot of people around here. They'd made 82:00friends for the union by the way they treated them. They would usually be the local people originally, huh?

ELEKES: This business people, the beginning, they remind me when a colored fellow come from Illinois. They talk to us a local -- 4048, I think they --

ROSS: That was the Idamay local.

ELEKES: Idamay local. And that's the time they break the strike -- a spot here, a spot there.

ROSS: This is 1925? They're breaking it in '26?

ELEKES: Well, yeah. Let me get through there. That happened in 1924 when this story happened. This colored fellow come in, he say now, a farmer had a bunch of milking


cows. He wanted one that was fresh. And his bull was out to field and when they tried to return the calf to its mother it (inaudible) and finally the calf it fought the men and they find it hard to get a hold of its tail, he couldn't get a hold of it and he run right after the bull. He say you go you -- can I say what I want to say?

ROSS: Yeah. Say it right here.

ELEKES: He say, you go you little son of a bitch, you find it by supper time. (laughter) So that's what happened --

ROSS: Who told that story to you?

ELEKES: The colored fellow, I can't remember his name. He's from Illinois. He was proud because he was from Lincoln Abraham state. So this business people, they follow the same line -- they follow the same line, the beginning. But now 84:00when we reached back in '28, '29, '30, then they all went broke. Then they all working for a union. But now he, he was naked, but people who wasn't working, he was hungry. And we was [odd?], we was hungry naked, the only difference we don't work and they work was starving. Now I recollect back to about 1930, '25.

ROSS: You were out from 1925 till '30?

ELEKES: Don't take me wrong now. I didn't wish that on. I tried to pick up work here. I have seven kids to feed.

ROSS: Odd jobs, huh?

ELEKES: Odd jobs.

ROSS: But you didn't go to work in the mines?

ELEKES: Not yet.

ROSS: But not everybody could afford to stay out that long.

ELEKES: Not scab mine. I had a shack and almost I lost it.

ROSS: You owned a house all during that time?

ELEKES: Yes, I did. Then they -- the they come to the big adding, there was I 85:00think, forty-four and forty-six cents a ton coal what he paid when cut this open-shut business. Then they cut it at thirty-two cents. Then they cut down twenty-two cents. Then they was crying. Because they --

ROSS: This was a ton?

ELEKES: A ton, yeah. Well, it wasn't very far from what happened when I started in 1911. Because you figure up at sixty-six and a half, that was about seventy cents a three and a half ton car coal and I would load forty-four and forty-eight cents in 1911. Between that length of time there was twenty years, and the cost of living was a whole lot higher than back in the day when it was 1911.

ROSS: Okay. Let me just question you in here to add to it. Let's say, what mine were you at when the strike began?


ELEKES: Twenty-five. Idamay.

ROSS: You were at, you were there, too, Julius? All right, where were you?

HESS: I was working at Rachel. They was the company that got this Baltimore --

ROSS: Let me understand. I just want to, explain that, Mr. Hess. Rachel stayed union during this?

HESS: Well, they shut it down. They laid half of us off and the rest of them were on strike.

ROSS: What happened to you?

BELOTSKY: Four States stayed union all the time.

ROSS: Yeah, now who owned the Four States? Wasn't R& P then, was it?

ALL: No.

HORNYAK: Jones Interest.

ROSS: Jones Interest remained union during the twenties? They were farmers, you say?

BELOTSKY: Mostly farmers had to stop for --

ROSS: But the men who worked there were UMW guys.

ALL: Oh, yeah.

ROSS: So what would they do, say at Four States, would they contribute part of their pay to help the union since they were working?

ELEKES: Paid dues.

ROSS: Paid dues is all. Okay.


ELEKES: They must they paid about five dollars.

ROSS: They paid $5.00 then? What, to help?

HESS: I paid $5.50.

ROSS: Where were you working?

HESS: After out there, after so long a time, I went back up to Rachel and I and Virgil Keener and Pat Durkin we went around through the mines and it didn't matter how much, I started loading coal, how much coal I put in that car I got two ton. It was three ton and a half, really.

ROSS: There was no check weighman. They just stole it from you. Is that right? Who owned Rachel, then?

HESS: Oh, I don't know.

ROSS: It was before [Joanne?]

HESS: Neon Gas Coal Company, Johnstown Pennsylvania.

ROSS: All right. Let me see if I got it. But you mean the stealing of the tonnage was even worse than before? It got worse in the '20s?

HORNYAK: Oh my lord, there wasn't nobody there to weigh it. Four ton car, they'd steal a ton off of it. And after that there --

ROSS: Now, what did the men do? Here you were working, and it was non-union by then, huh, near the end? But what would you do? Would you send some money to the 88:00union? How did the men who had to go back to work --

HESS: That's what I was going to tell you. What I was going to tell you. That was in 1930, and the beginning of 1931 and the first the company said that they wouId, before they would recognize union they would seal over. I said okay, I'll furnish the men if you'll furnish the material. So they [bluffed that way?] so we took it up with Frank Myer down here said what you going to do? We can't afford to pay you. Well he said, don't you want us to join the union? If you don't, we'll join the AF of L. And finally they said okay. And then they started charging us $5.50 a month union dues to pay their salary down in the district office.

ROSS: Now, how many places were working? Four States remained union. Anything else that remained union?

(All talking at once)

ROSS: Yeah, but for a while they remained union.


ALL: Oh, yeah.

ROSS: Now, let me go back to you. You're at Idamay and you're at Idamay. How many men go out on strike when you shut down Idamay?

ALL: All of them.

ROSS: All right, all of them. How many stayed out?

ELEKES: Let me state it this way. In 1925, April 18, they shut Idamay down. They was --

ROSS: You shut it down or the company?

ELEKES: No, the company.

ROSS: And they opened it up scab, then?

ELEKES: Then about two months later they opened up Carolina. To keep --

ROSS: Oh, to keep Idamay down? The same company?

ELEKES: Same company. The reason did that was because Idamay was in a place where the people get through.

HORNYAK: Where you could get to them.

ELEKES: But now Carolina was an isolated place.

ROSS: Yeah. They could stop that one road and keep you out of --

BELOTSKY: And they didn't want to hire Ray Kelly, he'd been the president of 90:00that union there and they's afraid of him. That rotten company, they's afraid --

ROSS: Ray Kelly?

BELOTSKY: That's exactly what it was, and he --

ROSS: He still lives, doesn't he? Down there?

ELEKES: His son is teacher.

ROSS: His son's a teacher? At Farmington?

BELOTSKY: Yeah. You couldn't control Ray Kelly.

ROSS: He was president of which local? Idamay?

ALL: Idamay.

ROSS: Was he a good man?

BELOTSKY: Yes, he was .

ELEKES: I know that man when he give us everybody relief. Give us really better relief. They had some colored people had a house full of kids, now he was living on credit, Ray Kelly. Hard coal miner. [Captain?] And he give his share when it does good.

ROSS: Who was J. H. Coleman?

BELOTSKY: Had a feed mill store in Farmington.

ROSS: And he carried him?

BELOTSKY: Oh, yeah.

ROSS: So there were merchants who stayed loyal to the men.

HORNYAK: Oh, yeah. Some.

ROSS: Few. Okay. Name some of the people who could -- everybody couldn't, as I 91:00understand it, afford to stay out five years. You follow me? They had to do something. Who were the main ones you remember that were able to stay out so long?

ELEKES: Well, they had Horace Able.

ROSS: This was out of Idamay bunch?

ELEKES: Idamay bunch. Yeah.

HORNYAK: My dad.

ELEKES: Your dad.

HORNYAK: I stayed out.

ELEKES: And they had several colored people --

HESS: They worked other jobs.

(all talking at once)

HESS: Some of them couldn't afford to work anyplace. That's what he's talking about. You had to work someplace. It may not have been a union mine --

ELEKES: Let me go back in '22. See in 1922, April 1, we come out on strike. And John L. Lewis pulled a coke region job, Pennsylvania, 90,000 people.

ROSS: The coke ovens came out?

HORNYAK: Coke region. They called it the coke region.

ROSS: Coke region. Yeah. I've read about it. Yeah.

HESS: That was Pennsylvania.


ELEKES: So, they spent a hell of a lot of money in 1922 and finally they feed them people

more than feed us because we was under the contract we was able to protect ourselves. But those people he don't and they need help at most. And finally, they send them people back and then when this other trouble was beginning, you know, the mine treasury at that time it almost was empty. So when we was a strike, naturally we use up our resource. Then very little they can help us. Now they give us about fourteen dollars a month. I had seven kids.

ROSS: When did they give you fourteen dollars a month, in the ''22 strike or in the '25 strike?

ELEKES: Twenty-five.

ROSS: Twenty-five. They could only afford fourteen dollars a month -- you had 93:00seven kids. What would a man working average then a month?

HORNYAK: He didn't make much more.

ROSS: Well, I don't mean after the company strike. What would he earn?

ELEKES: Well, when we was work under the contract, people make ten dollars, twelve dollars a day.

ROSS: Then they cut them back though without the contract?

ELEKES: Of course, when they work it was seven-something a day. But now loading coal, we make ten, twelve dollars a day.

ROSS: Okay.

HORNYAK: But not -- that wasn't during scab time.

ELEKES: No, no. I'm talking under the contract.

HORNYAK: Yeah. Seven thirty-six was the pay (inaudible) --

ROSS: Now, did the union pay you that and try to build the barracks so that you had this to eat? This was for food.

ELEKES: Union build the barracks. Oh, yeah.

HORNAYK: We built the barracks. They furnished the timber.

ROSS: Yeah. They furnished you the timber.

ELEKS: They furnished the gas.

ROSS: Who?

ELEKES: Union furnished the gas.

ROSS: For cars, you mean, to get around?

ELEKES: No, car, no. (crosstalk)

ROSS: Oh, they put in gas to heat the place. Let me see. The UMW furnished the 94:00materials and the men built the barracks.


ROSS: The UMW furnished the lines and the gas, I guess, so you could heat the place.

HORNYAK: Then we dug coal at this little Kelly Coal Mine. I dug coal up there and he did too. We dug coal there for --

ROSS: And then some merchants occasionally, a few, would try to help out in some way, but not much. You had to live on the fourteen bucks.

ELEKES: At the end, he couldn't help himself. He don't have -- (crosstalk)

HORNAYK: Listen, I seen a time I didn't have a pair, only one pair of pants.

BELOTSKY: And [Coleman?] there he had to borrow money off his uncle (inaudible) keep warm.

ELEKES: In 1927, I remember right, I had thirty-five cents in my pocket. And I walked from Farmington to Fairmont looking for odd jobs. And I walked back to 95:00save that thirty-five cents so we could buy some bread.

ROSS: How long would it take you to walk?

ELEKES: I don't think, I don't (laughs).

HORNYAK: I remember when he and I couldn't walk. That's a fact. Walked down the middle of the road.

ROSS: Yeah. That's what I want to talk about -- when your rights were taken away. Where'd you live then?

HORNYAK: I lived in Farmington.

ROSS: Where'd you live?

ALL: Farmington.

ROSS: Now what'd you mean you had to walk down the middle of the road?

ELEKES: When you go to picket --

HORNYAK: Number Eight, go to Number Nine. We had to stand in the middle of the --

ROSS: Walking down there because you were on their -- (break in audio)

HESS: -- those fellas at Rachel were trying to organize these mines around here, this same morning they arrested Charlie, Charlie, I don't remember (inaudible).

ELEKES: Number Eight.

HESS: Down at Number Eight they put him, threw him down in jail, that same morning --

ROSS: Where'd they take you to jail -- in Fairmont?

ELEKES: Fairmont.

ROSS: That was 1932, before NRA, before section 7A.


HESS: Yeah. So that same morning one of these thugs had died and went to hell at, at, was it --

ROSS: Where had he gone, to Rachel from Farmington?

HESS: No. We went down Number Eight trying to organize those mines, that's when those fellows were going around to these different mines trying to organize them. So thatmorning when that thug out there, Flynn, Harvey Flynn hit me in the back of the head with them (inaudible) sticks when I wasn't looking, and I prayed all day that I had that machine gun that I used in the war so I could mow him down. (crosstalk)

ROSS: Why were you lucky?