Robert C. Byrd: Child of the AppalachianCoalfields

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Sort order. Dec 26, Erin marked it as to-read Shelves: biography-memoir , nonfiction. A Christmas gift from my husband.

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Roger rated it it was amazing Dec 30, Joe Buckland rated it it was amazing Jan 31, Marc rated it it was ok Aug 17, DH rated it liked it Feb 23, Areilly rated it liked it Aug 12, Rich Perry rated it it was amazing Dec 03, Jack D. Riner rated it liked it Jan 02, Neo rated it liked it Dec 27, Todd Burris rated it it was ok Mar 28, Erik rated it really liked it Nov 18, Cliff Jennings rated it really liked it Jul 06, Sara rated it liked it Mar 31, Maa rated it liked it Sep 13, Chapin rated it it was amazing Feb 06, Brandon rated it it was amazing Jan 03, Luiz Rens rated it it was amazing Mar 31, Tammy Landy rated it liked it Jan 10, To each car of coal that he loaded, he attached his brass check with this number, so that when the coal was unloaded into the tipple and later into the railroad cars, he would get credit for having dug and loaded that carload of coal.

In the mids, a miner would sometimes load more than ten tons of coal a day. Companies in those days would haul the coal to the surface, using mules or ponies, until small electric locomotives were introduced. When the mine union came to the coal fields in the s, one source of constant tension between miners and coal companies was the matter of fair payment to the miner for the coal that he had produced.

ISBN 13: 9781933202006

These practices became so commonplace that one of the first demands of the miners when the union was formed was for their own weighman to monitor the company weighman, because the miners felt that only with such a system would they be guaranteed a fair amount for the coal that they had so arduously dug and loaded.

With the coming of large mining operations, coal mining camps were to be found all over the southern counties of West Virginia.

Senator Robert C. Byrd - Turkey in the Straw

Large mine-mouths gaped grimly from the hillsides. Gaunt tipples, miners' bathhouses with separate facilities for "whites" and "colored" , and other buildings stared down upon the mining community itself from the steep, bleak slopes of the mountains. Railroads sent their sidings in many directions, and long lines of squat mine cars ran along the narrow-gauge tracks and disappeared around the curves of the hills.

When unionism invaded these peaceful valleys, it often made itself familiar through bloody scenes. To the miner, his employment in the mines was his only way of making a living, and if a considerable number of mines closed down, whole mining communities sat around idle. Many times in miners' homes, I have looked into family cupboards that contained only a little food, perhaps for a single meager meal. I have seen the haunted look in the eyes of men who did not know how they were going to provide for the immediate wants of their half-starved and ill-clothed children and wives. As a boy, I lived at Stotesbury, West Virginia. It was a typical coal mining town, yet it was not a "town" in the ordinary sense. The place where the coal camp was built was the point at which coal seams had been opened, buildings had been erected, and machinery had been installed.

The dwellings — many were little more than shacks — were clustered about the tipple and straggled along the bed of the creek. There always seemed to be a creek in those coal mining communities. These dwellings were occupied solely by the men who worked in the mines. Oh, there were some management personnel — the superintendent, the store manager, the company doctor and other company officials, and the principal of the nearby school — who lived in larger, more capacious houses.

But other than these, the houses almost all of which had only four rooms, no bath, and no running water were occupied by miners and their families. These communities were more often called "camps. On the "upper end" of Stotesbury was the mining camp of McAlpin. White people lived at one end of each community, "colored" people at the other end. The two races attended separate schools. When I was a boy, the surface privy, or "backhouse," was nearly everywhere in evidence and was a prevalent cause of soil and water pollution, and its contents usually washed toward the bed of the creek.

There was a sidewalk here and there in the community. Some of the miners kept their houses neat and attractive and grew flower gardens. Some did not. It was a subservient existence — a civilization within a civilization. No miner owned his own house. He could not acquire title to the property.

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No one owned a grocery store or a garage or a haberdashery. There was no Main Street of small independent businesses in the mining camp. There was no body of elected councilmen to vote on repairs for roads or sanitation problems. There was no family physician who built up a successful practice by competing with other physicians. The coal company owned all of the houses and rented them to the miners.

It owned the company store, the poolroom, the movie theater, and it built the church. The company employed a physician and collected a small sum monthly from each miner to pay the company doctor. The coal company controlled life and most of the activities of the little community. It was responsible for the sanitation and sewage disposal. The company's ownership extended to the dirt roads that ran alongside the railroad tracks and through the middle of the mining camp or by the creek.

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  6. Semimonthly paydays occurred, and miners were given statements showing how much they owed the company or how much the company owed them. Byrd Foreword by Governor Gaston Caperton. This autobiography follows West Virginia senator Robert C. Within these pages, Senator Byrd offers commentary on national and international events that occurred throughout his long life in public service.

    His journey from the hardscrabble coalfields to the marbled halls of Congress has inspired generations of people in West Virginia and throughout the nation. Until his death on June 28, , Byrd stood by his principles, earning the affection of the people of his home state and the respect of Americans from all walks of life.