FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
17 posts • Page 1 of 21, 2

FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

Postby Biff83 » 25 Jan 2007, 02:32

In the latter part of the 19th and early part of the 20th century, the fuel that fired and financed the Industrial Revolution was coal, hard coal or anthracite which was found exclusively in a roughly 485 mile square area of northeastern Pennsylvania and soft coal or bituminous found in eastern Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Wyoming and Colorado. Many of our ancestors mined that coal or worked on the railroads that transported it.

By the beginning of the 20th century, over 90% of all coal production in the anthracite area was controlled by seven or eight railroads whose majority stock was owned by a small group of financiers in New York and Philadephia under the influence of John Pierpont Morgan. The history of the coal owners from the opening of the anthracite fields in the 1820s until the 1920s reflected a strong anti-union attitude. Once the first miners of Welsh, Scotch and German ancestry made waves about organizing, the operators capitalized on the potato famine and brought in the Irish. And when the Irish began to grumble, they brought in emigrants from Eastern Europe and Italy.

My grandfather, Giuseppe Epifano, was one of them. He was the youngest of five brothers who all came to the Carbondale/Scranton area in the northern anthracite fields of Pennsylvania to work in the mines. Only the eldest brother, Antonio, continued in the mines. My grandfather and his other brothers, Leopoldo, Angelo and Saverio, left mine work for other employment, my grandfather as a laborer and then a hostler helper with the Delaware & Hudson Railroad which generated the majority of its revenue from the transportation of anthracite. The brothers emigrated from San Mango d'Aquino, a small town in Catanzaro, and followed many others from San Mango who settled in northeastern Pennsylvania, principally in the Providence and Green Ridge sections of Scranton. So many Sanmanghesi emigrated to Scranton that they formed the San Mango Mutual Aid Society in 1926 which celebrated its 80th Anniverary last year. I'm sure there are other towns in Italy which likewise saw a preponderance of emigrants to a coal mining area. In checking ship manifest records for another member whose ancestors emigrated from San Giovanni in Fiore to Harrison county, West Virginia, other passengers were found from the same town traveling to the same area.

My interests in the history of coal mining, unionism, and the local history of northeastern Pennsylvania has helped give a more human touch to my genealogical research and made me more sensitive to the sacrifices my grandparents made for their children and ultimately myself.

For those of you who have ancestors who settled in a coal mining area and are interested in finding out more about what life was like and the struggle for dignity, there are a couple of movies I'd suggest.

The Molly Maguires detailing the 1870s conflict in the southern anthracite fields of Pennsylvania.

Matewan detailing the bloody conflict in Mingo county in the early 1920s when coal operators brought in Italian and Black American miners to break a strike.

Both of the above movies have some historical inaccuracies but nonetheless give an accurate portrayal of working and living conditions as well as the sometimes violent tactics employed by operators and miners.

Harlan County USA an early 1970s documentary by Barbara Kopple detailing the unionization efforts of miners at Duke Power mines in Kentucky.

Although my expertise, if you will, is in the history of northeastern Pennsylvania, I'd be happy to take a stab at answering any questions relative to coal mining as well as make particular book and online resource recommendations.

I'll be adding a post later with a few book recommendations.
"There are only two lasting bequests we can give our children - one is roots, and the other, wings." -- Hodding S. Carter

"You live as long as you are remembered." -- Russian proverb
User avatar
Biff83
Master
Master
 
Posts: 2779
Joined: 02 Jan 2007, 01:00

Re: FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

Postby JIMMYSAL » 25 Jan 2007, 03:06

Great post Biff83 :) I found that very interesting. What region of Italy is the comune of Catanzaro located? What are some of your book recommendations on coal mining? Do you know of any good books about Italian Genealogy?
JIMMYSAL
User avatar
JIMMYSAL
Rookie
Rookie
 
Posts: 28
Joined: 10 Jan 2007, 01:00
Location: New Jersey

Re: FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

Postby Biff83 » 25 Jan 2007, 03:23

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS ANTHRACITE COAL

Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. Growing Up in Coal Country. New York NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996. Although written for a young audience, this is the best work detailing how a colliery operated and the job functions of both the surface and underground workers with a host of excellent pictures.

Longo, Stephanie. Italians of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Charleston SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.

Miller, Donald L. and Richard E. Sharpless. The Kingdom of Coal: Work, Enterprise, and Ethnic Communities in the Mine Fields. Philadelphia PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985. The best single volume general history of the anthracite region. A scholarly work that is eminently readable.

Richards, John Stuart. Early Coal Mining in the Anthracite Region. Charleston SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2002. Pictorial history from the late 19th and early 20th century.

Roberts, Ellis. The Breaker Whistle Blows. Scranton PA: Anthracite Museum Press, 1984. A history of unionism in the coal region woven around major mine disasters and strikes, and labor leaders John Siney, Terence Powderly, John D. Mitchell and John L. Lewis from anthracite's apogee to its decline.

ONLINE RESOURCES FOR ANTHRACITE

Mining Anthraicte

http://www.explorepahistory.com/stories.php

The Anthracite Strike of 1902

http://www.ehistory.osu.edu/osu/mmh/gil ... efault.htm

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BITUMINOUS COAL

Pennsylvania

Beik, Mildred Allen. The Miners of Windber: The Struggle of New Immigrants for Unionization, 1890s-1903s. University Park PA: Pennsylvania University Press, 1996.

West Virginia

Lee, Howard Burton. Bloodletting in Appalachia: The Story of West Virginia's Four Major Mine Wars. Morgantown WV: West Virginia University, 1969.

ONLINE RESOURCES FOR BITUMINOUS

Canada

Coal Mining in Western Canada

http://www.coalking.ca

Colorado

Colorado Coal Field War Project

http://www.du.edu/anthro/ludlow/cfhist.html

Pennsylvania

The Early Mining Industry of Indiana County

www.lib.iup.edu/spec_coll/exhibits/tabl ... tents.html

West Virginia

The West Virginia Mine Wars

http://www.wvculture.org/hiStory/minewars.html

The West Virginia Coal Mine Site

http://www.rootsweb.com/~wvcoal/
"There are only two lasting bequests we can give our children - one is roots, and the other, wings." -- Hodding S. Carter

"You live as long as you are remembered." -- Russian proverb
User avatar
Biff83
Master
Master
 
Posts: 2779
Joined: 02 Jan 2007, 01:00

Re: FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

Postby Biff83 » 25 Jan 2007, 03:58

JIMMYSAL wrote:Great post Biff83 :) I found that very interesting. What region of Italy is the comune of Catanzaro located? What are some of your book recommendations on coal mining? Do you know of any good books about Italian Genealogy?
JIMMYSAL


San Mango d'Aquino was and is a small town of just under 2000 residents in Calabria. Sanmanghesi (natives of the town and those who are their descendants) are fiercely proud of their their heritage. If you'd like to see pictures of what the town looks like today you can visit:

http://www.sanmango.net

There's also another site in Italian established by current San Mango residents for its current and former residents and their descendants.

http://www.sanmango.org

And another:

www.sanmangomia.it

Since your great grandparents lived in West Virginia in the early 1900s, you might want to read Howard Burton Lee's Bloodletting in Appalachia: The Story of West Virginia's Four Major Mine Wars which recounts events in the 1912-1922 time frame. It's still in print but might not be available at your library unless they can locate a copy via interlibrary loan. I've seen used copies on amazon and on ebay go for pretty reasonable prices though. Used copies don't bother me. My books are like a good pair of **SPAM**, meant to be read and reread many times. I'll do a little more research to see what else I can find. Also, make sure to check out the state of West Virginia site I previously posted in response to your query about your great grandparents.

I don't have a recommendation on Italian genealogy but from what I've read Trafford E. Cole's Italian Genealogical Records has gotten high marks. You might want to post this request in the "Italian Genealogy" forum since there are others who can better answer that question. I've only been doing my research over the past three months.
"There are only two lasting bequests we can give our children - one is roots, and the other, wings." -- Hodding S. Carter

"You live as long as you are remembered." -- Russian proverb
User avatar
Biff83
Master
Master
 
Posts: 2779
Joined: 02 Jan 2007, 01:00

Re: FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

Postby wldspirit » 25 Jan 2007, 06:38

Biff is correct........Trafford Cole's book is excellent, an investment you won't regret. It's a fast, easy read, but it doesn't miss a beat!!
wldspirit
___________________________

"Cambiano i suonatori ma la musica è sempre quella."
User avatar
wldspirit
Staff
Staff
 
Posts: 5603
Joined: 17 Nov 2004, 01:00
Location: U.S.A.

Re: FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

Postby nuccia » 25 Jan 2007, 08:31

Biff..

Do you know of any books involving Colorado and Pennsylvania history (late 1800's, early 1900's history perhaps)?
nuccia - IG Moderator
Gente di Mare
Gente Italian Genealogy Forum
Image
Extractions of various Comuni in Reggio
User avatar
nuccia
Staff
Staff
 
Posts: 4588
Joined: 20 Nov 2005, 01:00
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

Postby Biff83 » 25 Jan 2007, 18:10

Nuccia,

I don't know of any general histories but can suggest the following which deal with coal mining and unionization in Colorado and Pennsylvania.

For Colorado, George S. McGovern and Leonard F. Guttridge's The Great Coalfield War published by Houghton Mifflin in 1972 and recently reprinted by the University Press of Colorado.

For works on anthracite coal in Pennsylvania, check the books listed in the third post on this page. For bituminous, Mildred Allen Beik's The Miners of Windber: The Struggle of New Immigrants for Unionization, 1890s-1930s published by the Pennsylvania University Press in 1996.

I've also added more online links to the third post on this page, including a site which recounts the history of Coal Mining in Western Canada. Let me know if I can help more.

Best
"There are only two lasting bequests we can give our children - one is roots, and the other, wings." -- Hodding S. Carter

"You live as long as you are remembered." -- Russian proverb
User avatar
Biff83
Master
Master
 
Posts: 2779
Joined: 02 Jan 2007, 01:00

Re: FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

Postby nuccia » 25 Jan 2007, 19:36

Thanks..will look into these and let you know. I appreciate it..
nuccia - IG Moderator
Gente di Mare
Gente Italian Genealogy Forum
Image
Extractions of various Comuni in Reggio
User avatar
nuccia
Staff
Staff
 
Posts: 4588
Joined: 20 Nov 2005, 01:00
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

Postby JeanR » 17 Dec 2008, 00:06

This is an interesting thread. My Italian ancestors all ended up in the coal mining regions of Illinois when they first came to America. I recently was viewing a 1920 townships' census records and almost everyone in the township was listed as Italian with some Irish mixed in the area. It's my understanding from oral history that mine recruiters would go to New York City---several states over--- to the poorest neighborhoods and bring back workers for the mines. My dad (1911 to 1999) had been down in the mines as a boy and he told stories about how the pay rates were listed on a sign in the pay office and it was divided by nationalities with Sicilians being on the bottom, then next to the bottom was Irish and 3rd from the bottom were Italians. Our ancestors faced prejudice attitudes that I can only imagine.

Jean
I just wrote a blog about my family and coal mining in southern Illinois if anyone is interested. http://riva-alaria.blogspot.com/2008/12 ... -1920.html
User avatar
JeanR
Rookie
Rookie
 
Posts: 25
Joined: 03 Dec 2008, 01:12
Location: Michigan, USA

Re: FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

Postby Cathynap » 24 Dec 2008, 22:01

Great blog Jean. Its obvious you put a lot of hard work into it. I love the pictures too.
User avatar
Cathynap
Veteran
Veteran
 
Posts: 241
Joined: 26 Aug 2006, 00:00
Location: Illinois

Re: FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

Postby JeanR » 28 Dec 2008, 04:44

Thank you Cathy. Without the help of ItalianGenealogy.com I never could have gotten as far as I did as fast as I did on my family history.
User avatar
JeanR
Rookie
Rookie
 
Posts: 25
Joined: 03 Dec 2008, 01:12
Location: Michigan, USA

Re: FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

Postby Sal » 08 Jan 2009, 14:44

nuccia wrote:Biff..

Do you know of any books involving Colorado and Pennsylvania history (late 1800's, early 1900's history perhaps)?


Nuccia,
I probably have some info on Colorado books at home. I do have a bit of info about Colorado coal mining on my website at http://www.trentinoheritage.com/colorado.htm including photos of old coal mines. My mother's family was from Trentino and came to the US in the early 1900s to work at the mines, then returned to Trentino after about 6 years.
Researching Iob (Job, Yob), Dalpiaz, Zanon in villages of Cunevo and Flavon (Trentino) and Romano in Spadafora (Sicily).
www.trentinoheritage.com
User avatar
Sal
Rookie
Rookie
 
Posts: 73
Joined: 27 Sep 2002, 00:00
Location: New York

Re: FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

Postby PeterTimber » 08 Jan 2009, 16:03

Hi Nuccia there is one website that covers what you want from 1859 forward for mining in Colorado that I came across just recently when a friend of mine in Arizona asked me about an entire town from trento area migrated there to mine and wanted to know more about them. The website that I came across is www.geosurvey.state.co.us/default.aspx?tabid=237 =Peter=
User avatar
PeterTimber
Master
Master
 
Posts: 6733
Joined: 16 Dec 2007, 19:57
Location: Yonkers NY

Re: FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

Postby nuccia » 09 Jan 2009, 02:28

Sal wrote:
nuccia wrote:Biff..

Do you know of any books involving Colorado and Pennsylvania history (late 1800's, early 1900's history perhaps)?


Nuccia,
I probably have some info on Colorado books at home. I do have a bit of info about Colorado coal mining on my website at http://www.trentinoheritage.com/colorado.htm including photos of old coal mines. My mother's family was from Trentino and came to the US in the early 1900s to work at the mines, then returned to Trentino after about 6 years.


I have seen your website SEVERAL times when I first started researching. The first ancestor I started researching was my great grandfather and he went to Colorado to work in the mines. Alice Romeo from the Library was very helpful to me and she raved about your site. I think you have a picture of one of my great uncles somewhere in there.

Excellent site! I spent hours on it! :)
nuccia - IG Moderator
Gente di Mare
Gente Italian Genealogy Forum
Image
Extractions of various Comuni in Reggio
User avatar
nuccia
Staff
Staff
 
Posts: 4588
Joined: 20 Nov 2005, 01:00
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: FROM ITALY TO THE COAL FIELDS

Postby nuccia » 09 Jan 2009, 02:32

PeterTimber wrote:Hi Nuccia there is one website that covers what you want from 1859 forward for mining in Colorado that I came across just recently when a friend of mine in Arizona asked me about an entire town from trento area migrated there to mine and wanted to know more about them. The website that I came across is www.geosurvey.state.co.us/default.aspx?tabid=237 =Peter=


Thank you Peter. I have also bookmarked this site and will have a look. For the record..my family was from Cosenza but many of their close friends were from Trento which makes looking at all these sites so great.
nuccia - IG Moderator
Gente di Mare
Gente Italian Genealogy Forum
Image
Extractions of various Comuni in Reggio
User avatar
nuccia
Staff
Staff
 
Posts: 4588
Joined: 20 Nov 2005, 01:00
Location: Toronto, Canada

Next

17 posts • Page 1 of 21, 2

Return to Italian History & Culture

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

Copyright © 2014. www.ItalianGenealogy.com.