Interview with Autie Stiltner, June 8, 1987
Project: Appalachia: Social History and Cultural Change in the Elkhorn Coal Fields Oral History Project
Interview SummaryAutie Stiltner was born in 1906 on Kennedy’s Branch near Elkhorn City, Kentucky, and began working as a coal miner when he was sixteen years old. His parents, Fed and Diadema Stiltner, were small mountain farmers. Autie worked at 24 different mines in eastern Kentucky and neighboring states during his 35-year career. He vividly recalls the common experience of working for extremely low wages. He also discusses the scrip system and the inability of the miners to confront the coal companies about unjust treatment. Stiltner tells of miners working at the Dunleary mine who became sick due to “bad air” and were laid off by the company for two weeks. He talks about the “clean-up” system that required a miner to clean up all the rock and coal that had been “shot down” that day before he left the job, regardless of the hours it took.
Stiltner worked at several mines on Marrowbone Creek including Edgewater, Henry Clay, Allegheny, Ratliff, and Greenaugh. He comments on the recruitment of labor by Edgewater Coal Company and on the high mortality rate of immigrant miners at the Wolfpit mine on Marrowbone Creek. The Wolfpit mine was known to have a bad slate top, and many local miners would not work there because of the danger. Stiltner also mentions that his brother, Baby Ray Stiltner, worked for the Polley Mining Company near Pikeville, Kentucky. After getting in debt for his board the first week, his brother ended up staying a year and earned a total of six dollars. Autie Stiltner recalls that he once worked for one week and earned $1.25 that bought him one broadcloth shirt. He comments on the miners’ fear of the mining companies. If you asked any questions, the company fired you.
Interview KeywordBarrowman Mine Bug dust Clean-up system Company stores Debt peonage Dunleary Mine Dust mines Edgewater Coal Company Elkhorn Coal Field Federal mines G. Tom Hawkins Immigrant miners Marrowbone Creek Mine safety Mountain farming Polley Mining Company Scrip Wages Weeksbury Mine Wolfpit Mine Union mines Non-union mines Henry Clay Mine Allegheny Mining Company Careers
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 Pike County (Ky.) Pike County (Ky.)--Social life and customs Stiltner, Autie, 1906- Stiltner, Autie, 1906- --Interviews Pikeville (Ky.) Coal mines and mining United Mine Workers of America Kentucky West Virginia Virginia Work Life
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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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Stiltner, Autie Interview by Nyoka Hawkins. 08 Jun. 1987. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Stiltner, A. (1987, June 08). 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.
Stiltner, Autie, interview by Nyoka Hawkins. June 08, 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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