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By 1921 Harlan had become the top coal-producing county in Kentucky (Bush)

Church burned in 

Battle of Evarts, May 4, 1931

Unfortunately, the international UMWA abandoned the Harlan miners, not once, but twice during the 1930s, first in 1931 and again in 1934.

 wage cuts and irregular employment prompted the union to initiate an organizational campaign. In May, tensions between miners and operators culminated in the Battle of Evarts. Thereafter, the union refused to contribute strike relief, joined with county officials in a call for troops to quell strike-related violence, and abandoned its campaign to organize the miners.

Michael Spzack’s work in Philip Grammich’s book Local Baptists, Local Politics: Churches and Communities in the Uplands’ South (The University of Tennessee Press, 1999) and contacted him. In a series of conversations with Reverend Szpack, he told about his visits to Harlan County and bombings at two Holiness-Pentecostal churches that supported the United Mine Workers union’ efforts to organize the miners during the Depression

The first UMWA secretary in Harlan County (1918-19) was a preacher by the name of Frank Keller. The tradition continued into the Depression when three local preachers, B.H. Moses, Marshall A. Musick, William Clontz, led the drive to organize the county. Matthew Hollars, a Church of God (Cleveland) minister from nearby Jellico, Tennessee, and Presbyterian minister and District 17 international organizer, Matthew Bunch, volunteered to go to Harlan in 1936.

Anyone willing to take up the cross of the Harlan miners did so at great risk. No one was safe. The list of fatalities and injuries included the young and old, women and children, and the Sheriff’s own kin.

When UMWA member and miner B.H. Moses met with the New Deal candidate for Judge, Morris Saylor, the mistreatment of holiness people was the first topic to be discussed. As a holiness minister himself, Moses refused to support a candidate who would not guarantee that all of the county’s citizens would be treated fairly under his watch. Saylor acknowledged the treatment that Holiness people and their churches received from the sheriff’s department and the courts. He recalled times when calls for assistance were left unanswered when they originated from Holiness churches. Saylor promised that if he were elected judge, holiness people would receive fair treatment under the law. Upon hearing this, Moses agreed to support Saylor in the upcoming election. Before the primary, Saylor held a political rally in Moses’ Blackbottom Baptist Church, a church whose congregation was made up of coal miners and their families. Their political

21 Hevener, Which Side Are You On? 2.



participation was rewarded with two sticks of dynamite that exploded at the end of the

On Sunday, March 1, 1931, the United Mine Workers Union held a rally in a

theater in Pineville, where more than two thousand Harlan and Bell County miners

listened to UMWA national vice-president Philip Murray speak on the reorganization of

District 19. The dismissals began the following morning after company spies reported

the names of the miners who attended the rally. The Harlan-Wallins Coal Corporation

fired 49 miners, Black Mountain Corporation more than 175, and Black Star Coal

Company fired 60. Black Star Local 4027 began holding its meetings at the community

church in the company town of Alva. The local would soon be forced to find a new

location, however. Soon after the local began holding its meetings in the church, it

he first such incident to occur during the Harlan County mine wars, but, unfortunately, it was not to be the last.

The burning of the church in Alva may have been

By the time that the Battle of Evarts erupted in May 1931, holiness-Pentecostal churches were scattered throughout the county. And as their number grew, so did the membership of the United Mine Workers. In 1931, the towns of Ages, Harlan, Highsplint, and Twila were homes to both churches belonging to the Church of God (Cleveland) local unions of the United Mine Workers of America. The tiny town of Evarts, an independent, commercial town where the union maintained its headquarters, had two such churches located within its corporate limits,

By 1921 Harlan had become the top coal-producing county in Kentucky

Soon after he resumed his union activities, the company sent the Moses family and the church at Black Bottom a clear message regarding their support for efforts to organize its miners in the form of four sticks of dynamiteelebration of 1937 would be a dual celebration for Harlan County’s miners. The following Sunday, on the seventh of July, miners gathered in Evarts to celebrate the law’s enactmen

he bag, he discovered that it contained four sticks of dynamite with fifty feet of fuse that had burned within eighteen inches of the cap. Moses believed that som moses

the Baptist miner preacher Marshall Musick. In time, Musick was wounded twice, his son murdered, and he became known as the most harassed organizer in the county.

After the thwarted bombing of the church, the local moved its meetings to the nearby Closplint Church of God. Within days, the church was destroyed by dynamite.

Lynch Church of God burned during the same period. 

Musick was constantly being


preacher’s involvement in the union when their oldest son Bennett was murdered during the 1937 organi

organizer Tom Ferguson had been shot the previous evening and was in serious condition.

On February 9, 

Bennett was already there. A week after the shooting, one of his brothers recalled seeing Bennett get out of his chair and head for the bedroom after the first shot was fired. The shot hit the nineteen year old, for he fell to the floor shortly after he turned into the bedroom. The family remained on the floor for several

Reverend Clontz realized that he, too, was a marked man. In one incident, the preacher found three sticks of dynamite, two caps, with forty feet of fuse hooked to it, placed under his son’s bedroom. The fuse had been lit and burned up to about ten feet of the cap when it burned out. T

Propaganda very often works better for the educated than it does for the uneducated. This is true on many issues. There are a lot of reasons for this, one being that the educated receive more of the propaganda because they read more. Another thing is that they are the agents of propaganda.-Chomsky

Who are the people of Harlan County? What do the singers say? They say we know which side we’re on, how dark it is inside a mine, and that we’re going to roll the union on. That they can’t keep us down.


And they tell stories. One goes like this, “I remember it was the sixteenth morning of October nineteen hundred and thirty. My sister’s little girl, Flossie Lynn was going around the field to the soup kitchen where we had emptied in April all our canned stuff that we had canned up. And every bit of food we had thrower it all together to make soup to save the 




But folk singers


The scholars agree. They are full of admiration for courageous men and women who fought back against murderous coal operators and their thugs.


There are two narratives about Harlan County.


One is the one told by the singers and scholars where courageous men and women fought back against murderous coal operators and their thugs.These were people who knew without a doubt which side they were on. They were sometimes paid starvation wages and their children died of hunger. They died by the thousands  in mine disasters, by the hundreds of thousand from black lung disease. They were set upon by company thugs, local sheriffs, and National Guard troops but still stood by the union.


They lived inunspeakable conditions and 


Outside of Harlan County that is the story. Brave people, hard times, undefeated.


And that other story too: poverty, ignorance, snake-handling, broad form deeds, death in the mines


The other is the narrative of the coal operators. It was first told, and most authritatively, by the Harlan Daily Enterprise which mixed its full-leased AP wire and daily circulation with unadulterated, 100% of the time support for the Harlan County Coal Operators Association. The operators called  all the shots in Harlan County. 


The Enterprise did not see starving children and desperate parents. It saw lawless thieves who stole the food out of the grocery stores. Accidents were the fault of the miner.


The first story about the Three Point disaster in 1943 said that the operators would be heading to the mine to lead rescue efforts.




The Enterprise account of the accident went out over the AP wire and locally meant that every subscriber, every teacher, preacher, lawyer, store clerk got the same message: the miner did it. Just as there was no attempt to bring workers or union officials into the investigation, there was no one to hear or publish their opinion. The wash of official and newspaper accounts could not stand up to the common sense of the workers.


The report notes several areas that could stand improvement, like more ventilation and recommends


And when a miner died, and especially if a lot of miners died, you could be sure that the miners themselves would be blamed.


Diaspira is probably too grand a for us and we need a more patchwork word. Left comes to mind. It’s what we said of fathers. “He left.”


So Harlan County


Jim Garland described Jackson's pugnacious nature in this way: 

She was at the height of her glory when she was giving someone she thought was no good a hard time. If she believed someone was taking advantage of his or her position in life, whether that was a coal operator, a husband who beat his wife, a man who would not support his family, or a bookkeeper who denied some needy family scrip to buy food with, she made her feelings known. These troublemaking instincts led her to write many a fine song (Garland 63).


In one of Jackson's famous escapades, which would later cause ballad scholar John Greenway to liken her to the fabled Robin Hood, she pulled a pistol on the clerk of the company store, demanding that he allow her to take food for her neighbors' starving children. Significantly, this was a story Jackson often told about herself, an act epitomizing what biographer Romalis calls Jackson's "savior self-image" (Romalis 81). Here is Molly's version of the "Robin Hood" story:

Wind Westmoreland was convicted and sent to jail after an exposure at his colon call mine coal mine



List of research subjects



New page

How much coal was produced in Harlan County and what was the trail

How much was produced in the region and what was its value?

Pop changes for harlan co. and the coal region

WV stands in for the region since coal is produced in so much of the state

Average was dry. Harlan County was dryer except for the town of Cumberland which was 40 miles away.
Only the most dedicated on with money on a car to make that trip.
So there were a few bootleggers around who starred beer

On the low end it’s a blog no not a blog it’s a website of Marlin County recorder 
Mostly of interest to script collectors
But I’m going to interweave some history
From the cold wars of the 30s
And waves of strikes
It’s sort of an answer to JD Vance
Every New one every literate hillbilly I know is trying to counter hillbilly elegy
Vance did not write about mount the mountains or about Mountain people it was a liar when he said hillbilly and his title
His book was about his immediate family and about what awful people they were
That he was lucky enough
To acquire some education and paying work
There will be an account of poverty in the 1950s
Jodie via Wezel scoundrel
There will be a piece about the value of the coal taken out of Harlan County newline buy any object of measure Harlan County was one of the registers counties in the country. New line new line
What about deaths in the March there’s a memorial in Harlem that I think you’ve seen it list the name of 1400 and hardwoods there will be a discussion about the number of times Harlan County has made national news and towel which side are you on weight as a household name disproportionate towards rule in the labor struggles
About starvation
A story about the battle of effort
A story about how many books have been written about her and Gary
And how Harlan County USA made it nationally famous yet again and white 1976?
And I’ll give an answer of shorts to that age old question
Why are you the way you are?
Eamon and cc sans asked him that watch
That’s a fair question and when I answered
So I’m going to try to link what happened to us there
Hell we are now

Sent from my iPhone

You there, in the pandemic. It’s like that. 


As I write, over two million people have died of covid-19, over two hundred and fifty thousand in the US.


It’s like watching somebody drown slowly for 10 days

Sparrow president Alan Vierling

Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital

But for most people, most of the time, it’s not. It’s just boring. And for some wsayo?

Dave Alvin HC Line

Harlan photog


The economically important coal beds found in Kentucky formed from plants living during the Pennsylvanian period, which lasted between 320 and 280 million years ago. During this period, Kentucky existed near the equator and possessed large forests that were intermittently covered by shallow seas, slowly generating the peat that became coal. Lignites occur in the Jackson Purchase area, but these are not economic to mine. Kentucky lignites formed during the Eocene Epoch, between 60 and 50 million years ago.

isolation, lack of car, geography, seeing


Post Offices


Created 1819

Named for Major Silas Harlan (1752-1782

468 sq. mi.

Most rugged terrain

Pine Mountain crosses it on the north

Cumberland Mountain parallels that on the south

In NE is Black Mountain, just south of Lynch, 4,145 ft,. highest point in KY

Cumberland River arises there from  branches

Straight, Brownies, Puckett and Walins Creeks

Catron, Crummies, Cranks Creeks of Martins Fork

Yocum Creek of Clover Fork

Clover Lick and Looney Creeks of Poor Fork

By the 1930s Harlan was KY’s leading coal producer

Peak Pop. 75,000 in 1940

Harlan town was formerly Mount Pleasant named for an Indian mound and is 153 road miles from Lexington

RR in 1911

county ' s first coal mine on Terry ' s Fork of Wallins Creek

Named for local families, postmasters or coal company officials.


Its name source, Samuel Insull (1859- 1938) was the Chicago-based owner of several Harlan and Bell County coal


By 1926 the rail station had also taken the Insull name but, some


years later, until it closed, it was also known as Fee.


ce of Ledford, some two miles up the creek and (the present)

Ky 568 from US 421, was named for the family of Aley Ledford's emancipated

slaves who had been given several thousand acres in that valley which they

farmed and timbered . James H. (called Jeemes), the son of the family ' s

patriarch Sinclair (Sinkler) Ledford, established the post office on May 15,

1890. It was first called Leadford, a misinterpretation by postal clerks of

Ledford's illegible handwriting, but it closed in November 1893.

had the office reopened on January 11, 1898 as Ledford but it closed again, for good, in January 1913. After most of the creek's black population had ed or moved away, the land was acquired by the Peabody Coal Company and


today almost nothing remains

It's said that some early settlers on the creek had once observed a large herd of buffalo with crumpled horns. (Such an animal is still called a crummie or crummy.)

Frank F. Cawood's newly organized Lena Rue Coal Company (named for his daughter, nee 1915

On June 15, 1918 a post office called BeePee (source unknown) was established by Frank C. Eaton, the mine company' s commissary manager . On December 17 of that year it was renamed for the model 490 Chevrolet said to have been driven by another Williams brother Tom that had broken down on the local road.

1927 (with Louis J. Hampton, postmaster), a post office called Three Point . The company ' s name is said to have denoted the three virtues: service, quality, and dependability claimed for its local opera- tion. The company permanently shut down in April 1954, and the office closed in 1965.

Catron Gap of the Little Black Mountain and joins Martins Fork just above Dressen. The creek, whose name is locally pronounced kaet/~rnz (but identified on some Civil War era maps as Catherines)

Bardo, at the mouth of Jones Branch, half a mile below

(north of) Liggett, gave their name to the Bardo post office operating between March 12, 1928 and 1963. The name is said to have been corrupted from Bordeaux, the French city, and was suggested by James Bowling, the superintendent of a nearby mine, who had served in France in World War One.


They were named by the owner of the Mary Alice Coal Company, Dr. Buttermore, for his two daughters Mary Jane and Ruth Alice.


Ages post officJrad been established on June 8, 1892 with Lloyd Ball, postmaster, and named for its site at the mouth of the 2.4 mile long Ages Creek cation between two brooks

 n 1970 the Duke Power Company of Charlotte, North Carolina acquired the Harlan Collieries and several other mining operations in the county and established the Eastover Mining Company to run them. After a crip- pling 1974 strike at Brookside, many of the company's employees moved to Ages leaving nothing at the Brookside site but the company's offices.

In 1980 Eastover was sold to Duane Bennett

ome say the town, rail station, stream, and post office of Kitts were named for a family but others maintain it was named for someone's mule.


December 14, 1918, to serve the operations and camps of the Bowling

Mining, Clover Coal, Upper Harlan Coal, and W.E. Garrett Coal Companies, two miles below Highsplint, Leander Bowling, Sr. opened the lejunior post office which he named for his son.

ney post office was re-established as such on December 13, 1922

by Henry Surgener at its 1918 site, 2~ miles above the present Kenvir post

office site . After his death in 1939 it was moved a short distance to

Pace's store, with Lucy Pace as postmaster. It was moved again in 1951 to

the Jones Brothers store , just above Pace ' s, with Milton Jones, postmaster, For some years the local communit


23 has been referred to as Punkin Cente 

 us coal and coke town, named Lynch for the late Thomas Lynch (1854-1914), the company ' s first president, 


  1. P. 18

  2. R.C. Tway is best known to Harlan historians as a founder, in 1916,

of the Harlan Coal Operators Association of which he served as presi- dent from 1917 to 1926. By the 1930s Tway and his business interests were located in Louisville.


he brothers Bryan W., Sr. and August F., Jr. Whitfield came from Alabama in 1911 and invested in the Clover Fork Coal Company at Kitts and the Harlan Collieries at Brookside where they built their offices, stars, and tipples, and the homes for their newly recruited work forces. In 1919 August F. remained at Kitts and Bryan took over at Brookside .


-~- is "a hard coal that will not break into small pieces when handled

or shipped....It makes a good coal for domestic use and for locomotives


20. According to The Annual Report of the Inspector of Mines of the Sta

and hard-stoked steam boilers. It ships well and stocks well . ...entucky for the Year 1900, Louisville, 1901, P. 213, spli


The first thing I remember is the dragon weaving in and out of the windows. Our front room was large, across the whole front of the house and my mother had moved our beds and hers into the that room where the stove was. She had closed off the rest of the house. 


Every fall and winter morning my mother would build a fire, so much crumpled paper, so much kindling, some lumps of coal, and have our end of the room warm by the time she woke us up. All over Evarts, all over Harlan County, women were building fires to heat the house and cook the breakfast. They were building those fires all over the coal fields, from Alabama to Ohio, from western Pennsylvania to eastern Kentucky.


Then we would eat oatmeal, always oatmeal, the portion carefully measured. As I think of it now I see that the portions did not grow as we did and so we were thin. I was five, my brother was nine and my sister was thirteen. My younger sister was on the way.


As my dream of the dragon faded I was aware that I was hungry, more so than usual. I think there had been no supper the night before. I listened to the conversations Mother sold her cedar chest to a friend who had admired it. Other items left, one by one. 


Our lives were about food all day long. As you see the birds and woodland creatures


And then we moved to a house on the other end of the tiny street. If the house we moved out of was  the largest, the one on the other end was the smallest.  The one next to it  lived Lois Manning and here husband Buddy. They saved our lives. I don’t know how it evolved, I think from Lois offering some extra cornbread, but every evening about dusk Lois would go out on here back porch and call, “Mrs. Thomas…” and my mother would answer and Lois would ask if she wanted some beans or something else that was left over.


Lights out.


I remember the day that Mrs. Hightower visited. She said with surprise that the house was really clean. And it was spare. Our beds, a table and chairs, a stove and a refrigerator. When she opened the refrigerator there was only a pickle jar with just pickle juice.


My brother was sent to ask m



Killing for coal reminds me of a story.


The questions about what the corporations will do when they have no regulations have all been answered.


Child labor


Safety on the job



feeding the starving children of the coal miners was seen as aiding the strikers and hurting the companies. big companies with a lot of power. Insull, Ford, 


…how the wealth passed down and corps at the top



stakes were frequent during the scrip system years. Low pay was the main problem


co stores were cynical schemes to gouge every penny out of the miners. 



this is my collection of Harlan County Coal Scrip and assorted photographs and history. ...a list of the coal camps...maps lyrics…



run pages together





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