Interview with Edgel Hutchinson, August 6, 1987
Project: Appalachia: Social History and Cultural Change in the Elkhorn Coal Fields Oral History Project
Interview SummaryEdgel Hutchinson was born in Carter County, Kentucky in 1915. His father, Ed, began working at the age of nine in 1896 for fifty cents a day. He carried water, worked at a blacksmith shop, and drove ponies in the clay mines of Carter County. Later he worked at Paint Creek in West Virginia. He joined the union there in 1918-1919 and was later blacklisted for it when the family tried to move to Van Lear, Kentucky. Edgel's grandfather, Robert, was from Wales. He came to this country to help ventilate mines in Carter County as well as Clinchco and Dante, Virginia. Hutchinson's family moved to Pike County when Edgel was five years old. His father worked at the Dunleary, Wolfpit, and Henry Clay mines. Miners were paid no overtime, were required to sign yellow-dog contracts and pressured to trade in the company store. Hutchinson began working at the Henry Clay mine in 1932. He gives a detailed account of the UMWA efforts to organize Marrowbone Creek in the 1930s. He describes the initial organizing meeting that was held at the Greenough mine. He estimates that about 1500 miners came to hear Sam Caddy speak about the union in the early fall of 1933. He recalls that everyone joined the union, and the next day the company began firing the men who had joined. Hutchinson believes that this action is what precipitated the Henry Clay strike in early 1934. Hutchinson remembers that Sam Caddy feared for his life, and the miners provided security for him. He talks about the relationship between the county sheriff and the coal companies. He also recounts in great detail the violence at the Henry Clay mine the day Perry Adkins was killed and another miner was wounded. Hutchinson states that he was one of the miners arrested that day. He describes the aftermath of the violence and the eventual NLRB hearing that ruled in favor of the union. Hutchinson talks about the reasons for his loyalty to the union. He also speaks eloquently about the conditions the miners suffered under before the union. He offers a wide-ranging perspective on life on Marrowbone Creek including the churches, women, mine guard harassment, and union violence. He also reflects on the state of the UMWA today. Hutchinson lost a leg in a mining accident in Harmon, Virginia, in 1943. The company denied that the injury was caused by safety violations. He also lost a finger at the Dunleary mine. He comments on mine inspectors and their relationship with the companies.
Interview Keyword"Blacklisting" Churches Coal camps Company guards Company stores Early mineral buyers Elkhorn Coal Field Floods G. Tom Hawkins Greenough Mine John Y. Brown Sr. Joseph Yablonski Marrowbone Creek Mine inspectors Mine safety Miners for Democracy Murder of Perry Adkins National Labor Relations Board Paint Creek (W. Va.) Pike County (Ky.) Role of women in coal camps Roving pickets Sam Caddy Scrip Timber industry Unionization in 1930s United Mine Workers of America Wages Wales
Interview LC SubjectAppalachian Region Coal miners Coal miners--Kentucky--Elkhorn City Coal miners--Kentucky--Pike County Coal mines and mining--Kentucky--Elkhorn City Coal mines and mining--Kentucky--History Coal mines and mining--Kentucky--Pike County Hutchinson, Edgel, 1915- Hutchinson, Edgel, 1915- --Interviews Pike County (Ky.) Pike County (Ky.)--Social life and customs Coal miners--Kentucky Mining camps Coal miners--Labor unions Coal mine accidents Protest movements
Interview RightsAll rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interview UsageInterviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
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Hutchinson, Edgel Interview by Nyoka Hawkins. 06 Aug. 1987. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Hutchinson, E. (1987, August 06). Interview by N. Hawkins. Appalachia: Social History and Cultural Change in the Elkhorn Coal Fields Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Hutchinson, Edgel, interview by Nyoka Hawkins. August 06, 1987, Appalachia: Social History and Cultural Change in the Elkhorn Coal Fields Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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