domestic reform followed
by Gerald D. Swick
Editors note: Today begins the first in a series of stories about pivotal moments in the 20th century and how they helped to change life in West Virginia.
When an assassins bullet felled President William
McKinley in September 1901, it dramatically altered the course of America.
1902 coal strike
a taste of the
by Troy Graham
In the spring of 1902, a fledgling United Mine Workers of America requested a joint meeting with coal operators to discuss standard wages, shorter hours and improved working conditions. The coal companies refused and, on June 7, 1902, the union ordered a general strike.
The 1902 anthracite strike, named after the hard, anthracite coal mined at the time, was one of the most pivotal events in the history of labor and coal mining.
Out of that strike came one of the unions most legendary figures Mary Harris Mother Jones. Born in Ireland in 1830, Mother Jones became involved in the union movement after her husband and children died in a yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, and after her business burned down in the great Chicago fire of 1871, according to her autobiography.
Turning her lifes work to helping the working man, she became a walking delegate for the UMWA in early strikes.
Mother Jones and the others who fought for better pay and better conditions in the mines are fondly remembered by UMWA officials today.
Theres just a great deal of history. We talk about it all the time, said Rich Eddy, the president of the UMWA District 31 in Fairmont. We still have the same principles of representing the miners.
But, Eddy said, its a different era for todays UMWA, where the union and companies have joined forces.
In the 20s, 30s and 40s we used to fight amongst each other, he said. Today were fighting battles together.
The biggest threat to the worker today is government regulation and international treaties on clean air, he said. The unions and the coal companies believe coal is being unfairly blamed for global warming, and they fear some of the measures could put coal out of business for good. It was a whole lot easier battling the coal companies than battling the government, he said.
The cooperation between the companies and the unions is something that would have never seemed possible in Mother Jones day. But todays unions are still carrying the legacy and the tradition started in the days of the anthracite strike, Eddy said. The general purpose hasnt changed, he said. How we get to it has changed.
The anthracite strike order was initially ignored at the large mines in Clarksburg, Fairmont and Monongah. The Clarksburg Telegram ran a headline on June 18, 1902 that read: Mines Running As Usual. It was as if there had been no order issued at all, the paper wrote.
Farmington miners, however, obeyed the strike order and marched on the Monongah mines, where some disorder resulted, the paper wrote.
Mother Jones memoir is littered with descriptions of armed thugs hired by the coal companies and miners who disappeared when the unions were organizing workers and holding rallies.
The Telegram declared the strike a decided failure. The paper, leaning strongly toward the coal operators, wrote that the companies have absolute confidence in their employees and believe they will continue at work.
Nonetheless, the Fairmont Coal Co. and the Clarksburg Fuel Co. obtained a federal injunction to keep rallies from taking place in coal mining neighborhoods and on roads leading to coal mines. Injunctions had been used successfully in previous strikes to battle unions.
Despite the injunction, and the danger of the armed men, Mother Jones and other UMWA officials attempted to hold their rallies. A small item in the June 20, 1902 Clarksburg Telegram said that handbills had been seen in Clarksburg announcing a rally, where Mother Jones would speak, but the exact location was not disclosed.
In Monongah, the coal company forbid the promotion of a rally. So the union had pairs of men walk through the streets, one pretending that he was hard of hearing, while the other shouted to him that Mother Jones would be holding a rally.
Then the deaf fellow would ask him what he said, and he would holler to him again, Mother Jones wrote. So the word got around the entire camp and we had a big crowd.
When the Clarksburg rally was held the following week, Mother Jones, Fairmont union leader Tom Haggerty and nine other union agitators, as they were called, were arrested for violating the federal injunction.
Federal Judge John J. Jackson, who issued the injunction, refused to jail Mother Jones and later released another union organizer who had heart disease. Jones called him a human judge and a play called Brimstone and Lace, first produced in 1976, was written about their courtroom encounter.
The strike ended that fall but only after coal shortages drove President Theodore Roosevelt to mediate an agreement. A board of inquiry set up by Roosevelt found in favor of the miners and their demands.
Mother Jones, however, was critical of UMWA leader John Mitchell. She felt Mitchell allowed the coal operators to get off without having to recognize the unions. Labor walked into the House of Victory through the back door, she wrote.
Mother Jones died on Nov. 30, 1930. According to the magazine Golden Seal, she promised, When I get to the other side, I am going to tell God Almighty about West Virginia.
In 1932, Congress enacted the Norris-LaGuardia Act, which recognized the right of unions to organize and limited the use of injunction in labor disputes.
by Paul Leakan
Jerry Bartley has scooped up junk in Clarksburg for about 17 years. This year, he almost cant believe what hes seeing.
Refrigerators. Televisions. Rusted steel barrels. Baby carriages. Pea green seat cushions. Psychedelic easy chairs that survived the 60s. Cracked bath tubs. And, yes, even a few kitchen sinks. Where can all this garbage be coming from? Bartley wonders. This is the worst Ive ever seen it.
Bartley, a heavy machine operator, is one of 14 city employees picking up and hauling away residents unwanted junk during the citys annual spring cleanup.
As always, small mountains of unwanted merchandise line the curbs. Its man versus junk. Junk versus time. Junk. Junk. Junk.
Bartley and the crew have had plenty of work to do since the three-week program began April 12. They hauled away 25 truck-loads of junk to the landfill on one day alone. Each truckload can weigh around 3 tons or more.
Despite the large loads, theres some confidence. Confidence that their hard work will once again successfully provide residents with what many believe is one of the best programs the city offers.
They try to make the best they can out of the situation, said Anthony Bellotte, a superintendent in the citys public works department. Its part of a days work here. They just work together and get it done.
The crew has a long way to go before it accomplishes the feat of clearing away all the junk before April 30.
The city corralled 234 tons of unwanted junk from residents last year.
This year, crews have been tied up for hours loading up junk on one street. One small house on Williams Avenue in North View had four console TVs and a pile of furniture. Two houses filled one truck.
Carlo Byrd, who has been a public works employee for about 11 years, wonders how people can store all the junk in the house. Its almost as if people are throwing away their entire house, he said.
The city added another end-loader to help the cause. They are using two end-loaders and six trucks. Two workers man the trucks. Still, the city has started to get behind schedule.
A large part of the problem is that many residents are not following the citys instructions to bag, box or tie all small items. Small pieces of junk are scattered in piles on several residents lawns, making it time-consuming for workers to pick up.
Some residents are tossing out old tires and batteries items that the city will not collect.
Huge loads at individual houses have made it difficult for workers to keep up with the schedule. And Bartley believes some people are unfairly taking advantage of the service.
But there arent too many options, Bellotte said. Sometimes it gets out of control. We used to allow no more than one load per residence, but that doesnt seem to work. Once people put it out theyll never bring it back in. Were just as well to pick up everything.
Byrd knows that some residents could choose a much more destructive solution. If they dont throw it out this way, theyll throw it over a hill somewhere.
While the city may end up going a few days longer than it expected to retrieve all the junk, they will finish the job, Bellotte said. Be patient, he said. If somehow or another we dont pick up on a certain day, just be patient with us. Well be there.
Until then, Byrd and others said they will take pride in their hard work. God is blessing the city for this service, Byrd said. And were blessed to do it.
Glassworkers helping to
put Jane Lew on the map
by Deanna Wrenn
Nestled in the hills of Lewis County lies a town of hard working people who enjoy their spot in the mountains.
Jane Lew offers residents a close proximity to both Buckhannon and Clarksburg and offers tourists a look at the areas historic glass industry.
The citizens of Jane Lew have a tradition of hard work, residents there say. These ideals are still alive and well in Masterpiece Crystal, a glass factory with 38 employees. As visitors can observe on tours, the glass is hand-blown and formed into many different shapes, then cooled and prepared to be shipped all over the country.
There is a huge market for hand-blown glass, said Rick Bailey, production supervisor at the factory. We work hard to make sure everything is unique and perfect.
Both local residents and visiting tourists enjoy learning how the glass is made on the factory tour, Bailey said.
During the summertime, tours really pick up. We get tour buses and everything, Bailey said. Its really unbelievable.
The 20 workers on the floor of the factory turn out a total of about 3,000 pieces of glass per day, depending on what theyre working on. Ninety percent of the employees have worked for a glass factory before, and most of them live in Jane Lew or Lewis County.
This factory is a great employment opportunity in the area, Bailey said, And by shipping this glassware all over the country, were putting the name Jane Lew on the map.
That name could become more and more known since the factory continues to grow after its re-opening (after the original factory from the 1970s was closed) in 1991.
Weve been steadily growing since we opened, Bailey said. Over the past seven or eight years weve had nothing but growth, which is really nice.
One of the main reasons Bailey thinks the factory is expanding is because of the hard work and dedication of the workers.
These guys really know what theyre doing, Bailey said. They make it seem so easy.
The glass factory plays a big role in the town of Jane Lew, just like any major employer in other places. One resident thinks that the city needs more places like the glass factory to attract more and more young people to the area.
Jane Lew is a good town to retire in, but its hard for young people to come here and make a living, said Joseph Lightburn Jr., 70. The glass factory has been a really big help to our community.
If it is one person who knows about the Jane Lew community, it is Lightburn. His great-grandfather was Gen. Joseph A. J. Lightburn, who fought with the Union Army in the Civil War. The historic marker commemorating the general now sits beside Lightburns hardware store. Lightburn and his father started the general store in 1956 and converted it into a hardware only store in 1978.
Now, Lightburn stands behind his antique 1901 cash register, spending his days talking to friends and waiting on customers who wander in. Theres so many new people in Jane Lew that you dont really know as many people as you used to, Lightburn said. I used to know everyone who came in here, but this town seems to be growing.
Lightburn said the town is growing mostly on the outskirts, and that more and more businesses are helping the economy of the area. We have new businesses, but we still have some of the same businesses in the area, he said. When you have a business like this one with an individual owner, its more likely to stay in the area.
Another business that isnt planning on going anywhere soon is Post Office Pizza. The restaurant, which converted a post office into a pizza place, was recently bought by Kenneth and Samantha Singleton.
POP sells a variety of foods, from peroghi pizza to chicken wings to steak sandwiches, and they are the only delivery service in the area. Its good food and were good to the customers, said Singletons aunt Janet Short, who works at the restaurant. (Kenny) makes his own dough and his own sauce. We get a lot of compliments from people all over.
Singleton worked in a much larger pizza restaurant in Maryland before moving to Jane Lew.
I got robbed at gunpoint, he said. Thats when I said, thats it and moved out here. I am glad to be here.
Most residents of this small town seem to enjoy living in the hills of Lewis County. Its a regular small town, Bailey said. Its quiet; the people are friendly; and theres not a lot of trouble here.
Lightburn also enjoys living in Jane Lew. I was born in the same house I live in now. It was the finest place in the world then, and it still is, he said. You feel like your nestled in these hills and you just feel secure.
Clarksburg Publishing Co. finishes third
in Press Association advertising contest
From Staff Reports
The Clarksburg Exponent and Telegram claimed third
place in the West Virginia Press Association Advertising Awards Contest.
The honor was announced Friday night in Charleston at the press associations
annual advertising banquet.
Barbour residents help make
the Tygart Valley River shine
by Torie Knight
Tom Jones knows that picking up trash one weekend near the river wont change the ecosystem significantly or purify the water.
But, the general biology and ecology professor from Alderson-Broaddus College does believe every little bit helps.
Jones and other members of the Tygart Valley River Watershed Preservation and Development Alliance gathered in the misty cold Saturday morning to clean up the area around Party Rock near Moats Falls in Barbour County. The cleanup was part of the West Virginia Make It Shine project.
Realistically, were not moving enough trash to make a big impact, Jones said. This is more public awareness.
He is an aquatic ecologist who has done extensive research on West Virginias waters. He believes water across the state from the Tygart Valley River to the Ohio River improved dramatically after the 1972 passage of the Clean Water Act.
Things are better than they were, much better, he said.
Party Rock, as local folks call it, extends above Moats Falls. The large rock has been weathered by the wind and river, colored by cans of spray paint and littered by ashes from camp fires and the broken bottles of weekend parties.
Its a popular hangout for both college and local youth. Its also a magnet for litter, which often floats down the Tygart to neighboring counties.
I just wish people would bring their own garbage bags so that when they leave theyll take their garbage with them, said alliance member Whitni Kines.
In just one hour of picking up litter, the volunteers collected more than 15 bags of trash.
Philippi resident Tammy Stemple said she hated to think that after the first nice weekend and the first big party out on the rock the trash would return. There is just no policing of this area, Stemple said. She would like to see trash cans out near the river a project the alliance may undertake.
Last week, many of the same volunteers helped with the Philippi Main Street Cleanup. I think people will, hopefully, get excited about doing something positive for the community when they see the efforts we make to clean it up, said Karen Weaver, assistant city manager for Philippi.
Philippi resident Andrew Trader was out on litter patrol Saturday simply because he likes to fish and loves the rushing Tygart Valley River. His home is a rocks throw from the river, he said. And during flooding he knows about the trash that floats downstream.
A younger generation yet to party on the rock also helped with the cleanup. This is really disgusting I think, said Chelsea Reed, 11, as she and friend Kimberly Starkey, 13, filled up a black trash bag.
When it is their turn to venture out to the rock for good music, some kayaking and a camp fire, theyll remember Saturday morning. They plan to go to the rock with trash bag in hand.
Clarksburg Publishing Company, P.O. Box 2000, Clarksburg, WV 26302