Eveline’s Senior Year: The Weight of Mining

I shared a photo of my grandmother Eveline Coates’ high school graduating class in Mystic, Iowa a few weeks (now months!) ago. Along with the photo and her diploma, a couple of other mementos were saved. One is the program for the Junior-Senior Banquet in honor of the graduating Seniors. It was interesting to see how World War I seemed to be the overarching theme of the festivities. I decided to take a deeper look at what her life may have been like during the 1917-1918 school year. There was a lot going on, a war and the beginning of an influenza pandemic to name the two biggiesThe list of related posts is getting long, so I’ll link them at the bottom.

When I wrote my last post, I completely forgot about Eveline’s brother Joe! When Joe registered for the draft in 1917, he reported that he worked for Thomas Lee – not the same employer as his brothers.

Thomas Lee was one of three brothers who owned the Lee Brothers Coal Company. Thomas managed the Twin Mines, where he employed 300 men in 1916. Twin Mines had two 40-feet shafts, one on either side of the railroad tracks that led to long tunnels to two mines. I updated the map I shared last time to indicate the two mines where Eveline’s brothers, and probably her father, worked. The Coates family lived southeast of the #12 mine, less that 0.3 of a mile away.

Red = Diamond Block/Lodwick Mine #12
Purple = Twin Mines
Arrow is an approximate of location of the Coates’ home

During the days while the mines were operating in full swing, the lives of the miners’ families were practically ruled by the mine whistle. At 6 a.m. the whistle signaled the miners should be up and getting ready for the days’ work. The 7 a.m. whistle meant it was time for the day’s work to begin. The noon whistle signaled lunchtime for both the miners and the school children. The 3 p.m. whistle signaled that the miner would soon be home and that it was time for his wife to start the evening meal. One long blast at 4 p.m. meant that there would be work tomorrow, and three blasts meant no work.

HEUSINKVELD, W. M. 2007, THE HISTORY OF COAL MINING IN APPANOOSE COUNTY, IOWA, P. 20.

One can imagine the Coates home – and most of the community – rousing with the 6:00 whistle. Although I suspect many of the wives and mothers were up earlier, preparing a hearty breakfast and hot coffee for their miners and packing lunches for them too. For Eveline’s mother, that meant breakfast, coffee, and lunches for the four miners in the family plus feeding Eveline and her five younger siblings and getting them off to school. With no electricity, no running water, and a coal stove. As the oldest daughter, Eveline may have had some morning duties before leaving for school, perhaps helping the younger children. Joe had a longer walk to work, so he likely left home earlier than the others. As a side note – when Eveline married, her husband (my grandfather) also worked in the coal mines. Even long after retirement in another city, she seemed to keep that early schedule. Up very early (I never ate breakfast with them when I lived in their home), the evening meal around 4:30, and off to bed at 8:00.

Eveline’s father, Joseph Coates, is sometimes listed in the census and other records as a miner and sometimes as a carpenter. I was always told that he was a carpenter in the mines, although I now know that there were years that he was shoveling or picking coal. After some time working at both mining and carpentry, maybe he was hired to do carpentry work in the mine. His own father was a joiner (carpenter) in a coal mine in Durham, England. In the 1910 federal census, Eveline’s brother Carl is listed as a mule driver in a mine. In other years, he is listed as a miner.

When the whistle wailed day or night, it was a frightening sound because it was a danger signal. It might be a warning of a fire so that everyone would grab a bucket and rush to the scene. At night the wailing sound might warn of an approaching storm so that people could seek the safety of their storm caves. However the sound that was seldom heard, but could send shivers up one’s spine was the six long, sad wails that told that a miner was dead. All the women came out to find out if their loved one was a victim of one of the many underground dangers.

HEUSINKVELD, W. M. 2007, THE HISTORY OF COAL MINING IN APPANOOSE COUNTY, IOWA, P. 20.

The quote above implies that the whistle signaled a death only when the death occurred in the mine. Many injuries would have been minor and not requiring a stretcher lowered into the shaft to bring up the injured miner, but that was obviously not always the case. Living in a small mining community, everyone surely knew everything that happened in the mines – and not just the mines in Mystic. The miners had a union and the newspaper reported injuries and deaths throughout the county. My limited research found some serious injuries and some deaths in Mystic during Eveline’s senior year of high school. Fortunately none in her family.

In June of 1917, a Mystic man died of injuries sustained at the Horridge Mine. Did the whistle wail six times? Probably not, as he was alive when he was pulled out of the mine and died in the hospital three hours later.

Semi Weekly Iowegian, Centerville, Iowa
18 June 1917

Charles Mickey, also of Mystic, was injured at the Porter mine in January of 1918. He died in April.

Semi Weekly Iowegian, Centerville, Iowa
04 April 1918

Another death at the Horridge Mine, this time in April 1918.

Semi Weekly Iowegian, Centerville, Iowa
15 April 1918

There were also reports in the news of more minor injuries and a couple of lawsuits brought by miners for injuries sustained at work.

Not only was coal mining a dangerous job – there were other difficulties. Wages were low; there was not always work, especially during the summer; there were layoffs and strikes. The war also impacted the work and wages of the miners. I’m not going to attempt to delve into any of that.

Below is an undated photo of my grandfather, Thomas Hoskins (Eveline’s future husband), and Miles Bankson (her sister Blanche’s future husband), sitting atop some structure along a track at one of the coal mines. They are not dressed for work – looks like their Sunday best.

Thomas Hoskins and Miles Bankson, undated, Mystic, Iowa

Another mining related family photo – Eveline’s sister Blanche, who married Miles Bankson. Were they on a date?

Miles Bankson and Blanche Coates, undated, Mystic, Iowa

The video below offers a glimpse into mining in Appanoose County. The New Gladstone Mine was in operation until March 1971, when it closed for highway reconstruction. The Gladstone Mine was the last pony mine operating in the United States. Shetland ponies were used to haul coal from deep shafts to the surface. Before the mine was completely closed and sealed, Iowa State University in Ames made a 23-minute documentary of the mine. Mine workers re-opened the mine and started the machinery long enough to make the film. One of the miners said that he began working in the mine in 1916. He is the man with an accent that differs from a typical Iowa accent – and is a reminder of the many immigrant families who migrated to Appanoose County to work in the mines. There is electricity in the mine in this film – lightbulbs strung throughout, which was not the case in 1918. There may be a few other improvements that occurred over the years, but it looks like it must have operated very much like it did when it first opened, even into 1971.

Miners were paid by the weight of coal they produced each day. Everyone bore the weight of potential injury or death of themselves or loved ones. Often that injury was caused by the weight of a large piece of coal falling. Coal mining families bore the weight of little, or no, income. Needless to say, coal mining was work that could “weigh” on a person.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday, where the prompt photo suggests we consider weight.

Please visit other Sepia Saturday participants here: Sepia Saturday. And if you would like to read other posts about Eveline’s Senior Year, you can find them here:
Eveline’s Senior Year, Part 1
Eveline’s Senior Year: The Draft and a Carnival
Eveline’s Senior Year: A Look Around Town
Eveline’s Senior Year: Musical Notes
Eveline’s Senior Year: Smallpox
Eveline’s Senior Year: What are you Serving?
Eveline’s Senior Year: Root Beer on the 4th
Eveline’s Senior Year: Miners, Miner and Maps

Eveline’s Senior Year: Miners, Mines, and Maps

I shared a photo of my grandmother Eveline Coates’ high school graduating class in Mystic, Iowa a few months ago. Along with the photo and her diploma, a couple of other mementos were saved. One is the program for the Junior-Senior Banquet in honor of the graduating Seniors. It was interesting to see how World War I seemed to be the overarching theme of the festivities. I decided to take a deeper look at what her life may have been like during the 1917-1918 school year.

Eveline’s Senior Year, Part 1
Eveline’s Senior Year: The Draft and a Carnival
Eveline’s Senior Year: A Look Around Town
Eveline’s Senior Year: Musical Notes
Eveline’s Senior Year: Smallpox
Eveline’s Senior Year: What are you Serving?
Eveline’s Senior Year: Root Beer on the 4th

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.

The prompt image this week highlights two boys atop a rock that has carvings of letters and dates. This was a nudge for me to dig into coal mines and miners and maps.

In an earlier post in this series, I included the 1917 draft registration cards for Eveline’s two older brothers, Carl and John. The brothers worked as coal miners for Diamond Block Coal Co. John’s form clearly indicates that he is employed at mine #12.

It has taken me a while to locate the mine and where it was situated in relation to Eveline’s home. I’m not the most efficient researcher, but I can be persistent. Now that I think I figured it out, it seems simple. Sigh.

Fortunately, I visited the Appanoose County Historical and Coal Mining Museum several years ago and purchased most of the available booklets. I could not have pieced much together without those resources. The first is an untitled booklet that must be copies of a larger book as the cover page is page 16. I’ll include an image of the cover because it also includes a legend for understanding the enclosed maps and shows the location of Mystic in the county.

My scan of a copy of a copy isn’t great, but the arrow points to the relevant designation for an underground coal mine.

The page below is opposite a map of the mines in Mystic and here I found the notation for Diamond Block Coal Co. No. 12.

14. Diamond Block Coal Co. No. 12
SW1/4 of Sec. 13 #040514

The town of Mystic is on the bottom portion of the map. Coal mines are located within the town limits and most, but not all, are underground mines. I have highlighted 14 on the map, the Diamond Block Coal Co. No. 12.

In the late teens of the 20th Century, Mystic had between 18 and 23 mines operating at once, with each mine having access to the railroad for the hauling of their coal. And at one time there were three switch engines that stayed in Mystic just to pull loads of coal, and they hauled 35 to 40 carloads a day.

History of Mystic, Iowa: 1887-1987, pg. 25.

Another book I picked up includes this map (which I found somewhere on the internet for a better copy). But here the mine is identified as Lodwick No. 12.

Mystic Block Coal Co. No. 12 – Lodwick Bros.
Location: NE SE SW of Section 9, T-69N R-18W, Walnut Twp., northwest part of Mystic
Lodwick Bros. Coal Co, 1889-99, Diamond Block No. 12, 1905-14, Mystic Block No. 12, 1907-20
Slope & vertical, longwall and room & pillar, 123 acres, unknown depth
David Lodwick was General Manager with 400 employees producing 170.000 tons in 1916.

Heusinkveld, W. M. 2007, The history of Coal mining in appanoose county, iowa, p. 85.

One source says the mine is located in Section 9 and the other in Section 13. This confused me, but when I place these two maps side by side they match pretty well, accounting for the difference in scale. Mine 3 on the left map is identified as Twin Mine (Lee Brothers) just as on the map on the right.

Everyone apparently knew the mine by its number, no matter who owned it. The Heusinkveld book states that it was the Diamond Block No. 12 only until 1914. It gives the years the name Mystic Mine was used as 1907-1920. At least that’s the way I read it. Maybe there is a typo in the dates? In any case, Carl and John reported that they worked at the Diamond Block mine when filling out their draft registration cards in 1917. Joseph Coates, their father, also worked in a coal mine. He didn’t have to register for the draft in 1917, so I don’t have that record for confirmation, but it is likely that they all worked in the same mine.

One of the best known mines in Mystic was the Lodwick Mine, pictured here. It was drilled in 1889 three years after the Milwaukee Railroad came through Mystic and two years after the town was platted. … The Lodwick Brothers, David and Llewyn, established their Lodwick Bros. Coal Co. in 1889. A third brother, Gwelyn S. Lodwick was an engineer and invented much of the equipment for the mines, such as the dirt dump car and possibly the mining machine.

Heusinkveld, W. M. 2007, The history of Coal mining in appanoose county, iowa, p. 85.

Often the local boys went to work in the mines after completing 8th grade, possibly looking just a bit older than the boy on the left in the prompt photo. It was my understanding that this was true for Carl and John. However, the 1910 Federal Census shows Carl working as a miner, but Johnnie, age 15, working as a delivery boy for a store.

The Atlas of Appanoose County, Iowa, 1915 contains the plat map for Mystic. I located Joseph Coates in the upper right corner. His plot of land is larger than I expected. I have not yet found any deeds or land transactions for more details. The map image file is too large to include here, so I’ll just include the relevant portion. There are a few street names on the map, but no streets adjacent to the Coates property are named.

My mother and her siblings grew up in Mystic. Her brother Roy provided me with a sketch of how he remembers the location of the Coates home. He located the house between Clarkdale Rd. and Log St.

A look at these two maps side by side …

The map on the left shows the location of the #12 mine to the west of E. Lodwick St. – not far from the Coates home. I got out my ruler and looked at the scale on the map on the right and it came out to about 1200 feet, or less than 0.3 of a mile. The mine was within walking distance, although they could have taken their buggy.

Joseph and Mary Harris Coates

In 2016, I made a trip to Iowa and my Uncle Roy gave me a quick tour of Mystic. He located the property where his grandparents lived – and where his mother Eveline had grown up. All that remained was a chimney.

Remains of Coates house in Mystic, Iowa, 2016
by Kathy Morales

The Heusinkveld book also has this photo and mentions Joe Coates (Junior), the son of Eveline’s brother Joseph Robert Coates.

I’ve dug up a little more, but it is this end of this miner’s work day. Please visit other Sepia Saturday bloggers and see what summit they have topped. Sepia Saturday


Eveline’s Senior Year: Summertime – The Draft and a Carnival

Eveline Coates, top left

I shared this photo of my grandmother Eveline Coates’ high school graduating class in Mystic, Iowa a few weeks ago. Along with the photo and her diploma, a couple of other mementos were saved. One is the program for the Junior-Senior Banquet in honor of the graduating Seniors. It was interesting to see how World War I seemed to be the overarching theme of the festivities. I decided to take a deeper look at what her life may have been like during the 1917-1918 school year. There was a lot going on, a war and the beginning of an influenza pandemic to name the two biggies. See Eveline’s Senior Year, Part 1

Six weeks after the United States formally entered World War I, the Selective Service Act went into effect on May 18, 1917. The act required all men in the U.S. between the ages of 21 and 30 to register for military service. Eveline’s two oldest brothers, Carl and John, were required to register and did so on the national registration day, June 5, 1917. (Click to enlarge photos.)

Carl Coates Draft Registration, June, 5, 1917

Carl was twenty-four years of age, married, and living in Mystic at the time of his registration. He and his wife, Nellie Metcalf, had married in September of 1916 and were expecting their first child.

John William Coates Draft Registration

Eveline’s brother John was twenty-two, single, and presumably living in his parent’s home. Although his registration card has an incomplete second page, we can assume he also registered on June 5th, as required. Anyone who did not register was subject to arrest.

A headline on the front page of the June 8th edition of a local newspaper published in Centerville, the county seat, read: Hope of Allied Victory in 1917 Gone – Prepare for Three Years. Not a headline anyone would want to read.

Carl, married and with a child on the way, would be exempt from the draft.

Eveline became an aunt on June 29, 1917, when Carl’s wife, Nellie, gave birth to Pauline June Coates. It must have been an exciting event for Eveline.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen 1917 July 2

I haven’t found a photo of Pauline as an infant, but here is a photo of Nellie and son, Keith, born in 1921.

Nellie Metcalf Coates and Keith Coates 1921

On July 21st, the paper printed a list of men whose names had been drawn in the first draft. A more complete list was published on the 23rd. And on the 30th, the paper published a list of the 384 men in the county who were required to report for examination.

John’s number wasn’t selected in the first draft. Perhaps John and the rest of the family breathed a sigh of relief, at least for the moment.

In addition to men enlisting, names being drawn for the draft, and general concern about the war, the area was experiencing a heat wave and a very little rain. There was concern about the survival of the corn crop.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen 1917 July 31

On the hottest day of the year The Great Patterson Shows opened in Centerville for a six day engagement.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen 1917 July 24
Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen 1917 July 28

John and some of his friends must have been intrigued by the prospect of the carnival shows – or maybe were simply in need of entertainment and distraction from news of the war and what their futures might hold. Maybe there would even be some cold drinks and carnival fare to make things bearable. Did they hop on the Interurban, or did someone have a car?

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen 1917 Aug 1

The Circus History Society website provides this information about the Patterson Shows:

The biggest circus deal of the year was consummated by James Patterson, sole owner of the Great Patterson Shows, when he purchased from Gollmar Brothers their entire circus property, known as Gollmar Brothers Circus. Mr. Patterson took complete charge at Fredericktown, Mo., and shipped the show into his winter quarters at Paola,Kan. For the past seventeen years Mr. Patterson has been the successful owner of a big carnival company. Recently he incorporated under the title of The James Patterson Trained Wild Animal Show. Stock was issued and about half of it was immediately taken by friends of The Great Patterson Shows, with no particular effort on the part of Mr. Patterson to dispose of it. The property and title of the James Patterson Trained Wild Animal Circus will be combined with the Gollmar Brothers’ property and title, and it is Mr. Patterson’s intention to make it the best twenty-five car circus in America.

The deal covers the entire circus as a going concern. There are seventy-eight head of fine baggage horses, about thirty-five head of ring stock, seventeen dens of animals, including the Gollmar hippopotamus, and twenty-five cars, together with all the wagons and paraphernalia of every description. The officers of the James Patterson Trained Wild Animal Circus are James Patterson, president and general manager; A. T. Brainerd, vice-president; Raymond E. Elder, treasurer, and A. K. Kline, secretary. The Great Patterson Shows Carnival Company will not be affected in any way by this addition to the Patterson interests. . . . Mr. Patterson will devote his entire time to the management of the circus. Harry S. Noyes will look after the railroad contracting of both shows, and Raymond E. Elder will be the general agent. The circus property will take the roade as a twenty-five car show.

Billboard, November 11, 1916, pp. 26, 27.

Perhaps the arrival looked something like this.

A few images of the Patterson Shows.

One of the acts mentioned in the newspaper article is the Don Carlos Dog and Monkey Hotel.

Around the turn of the 20th century, a show promoter from Flint, Mich., carried a traveling show from state fair to state fair. It featured the Don Carlos Dog and Monkey Hotel. Newspapers from Kentucky to Oklahoma to Texas raved about the spectacle. “A miniature hotel on the stage is operated entirely by monkeys and dogs,” the Eastern Utah Advocate reported on Aug. 28, 1913, “and romances and disagreements with police interference and the ultimate removal to jail and the trial of all wonderfully enacted and the audience is sent into spasms of laughter by the antics of the educated animals.” The hotel “is the cutest and funniest show travelling,” noted the Indian Journal of Aufala Oklahoma. “The best poodle dogs and monkeys … run a hotel. It is an act for women and children as well as men.” In Texas, the El Paso Herald reported, the dog and monkey show was paired with an educated horse performance. The horse, Red Riding Hood, “spells, adds, waits table, tells ages, gets mail and assumes wonderful poses on the instant of the command and without a perceptible cue.”

https://www.npr.org/sections/npr-history-dept/2015/03/05/386957834/amazing-animal-performers-of-the-past
Dog and Monkey Hotel https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002699156/

The newspaper followed up with another article once the carnival arrived.

Centerville Daily Iowegian and Citizen 1917 July 30

I was not able to find a photo or much in the way of information about Earle Freiburger, who I infer was the bandleader in the article above. This 15 member military band may or may not be under the direction of Mr. Freiburger.

When I started this post, I knew I would not match the prompt photo this week. But as I read my way through three months of old newspapers, there was John Coates at a carnival right in the midst of registering for the draft and waiting for his number to come up. It seemed to fit.

I hope John had fun. Did he go home with lots of stories to tell Eveline? Was she jealous or just pleased to hear all about it?

Humming Birds Concert Party (Sepia Saturday 610 Theme)

Get in your clown car or hop on the circus train and see what spectacles await at Sepia Saturday.

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.