Interview with Frank Stewart, August 21, 1987
Project: Appalachia: Social History and Cultural Change in the Elkhorn Coal Fields Oral History Project
Interview SummaryFrank Stewart began working as a miner in 1924 when he was fourteen years old. He started working for his brother who was a contractor for the Henry Clay Mine on Marrowbone Creek. During his 44 years as a miner, he worked at various mines in eastern Kentucky and in neighboring states. One of his jobs in the late 1920s was to fire the powerhouse at the Henry Clay mine. At nine o'clock every evening except Wednesdays the power was turned off in the coal camps. Wednesday was generally wash day. Every morning at five o'clock he would turn the power back on when the company whistle blew. The miners complained about the lights-out policy to no avail. He was paid $3.76 for a twelve-hour shift. He recalls working 36-hour shifts as a miner. He describes a mining accident that occurred at the Bowman Mine near Pikeville, Kentucky in 1939 that severely injured his foot. He discusses the company's denial that safety violations contributed to the accident. Stewart recalls an incident on Marrowbone where a black miner shot a white man in Clyde Childers' store at Wolfpit. He states that the area residents then "ran them [the black families] all off" and "wouldn't allow them to live there." Although he was not involved in the strike at the Henry Clay mine in the 1930s, he was a member of the union. He speaks strongly for the union as "one of the finest things poor people ever had." He comments that today's miners don't work as hard as the miners did in his day, and that they "think the world owes them a living."
Interview KeywordBlack miners Bowman coal mine Coal camps Coal mine accidents Elkhorn Coal Field Marrowbone Creek Mine safety Pikeville (Ky.) Racism in coal camps United Mine Workers of America African Americans--Segregation African Americans--Social conditions. Emigration and immigration. Immigrants--Kentucky Race discrimination. Appalachian Region--Social conditions Country life Families. Rural children Rural conditions Education--Kentucky Rural schools--Kentucky Children
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 Stewart, Frank Stewart, Frank--Interviews Appalachian Region--Social conditions Salaries Occupations Coal miners--Kentucky Collective labor agreements--Coal mining industry Coal miners' spouses Appalachian Region--Economic conditions Coal mine accidents--Kentucky Communities. Coal miners--Labor unions--Organizing Collective bargaining--Coal mining industry Strikes and lockouts--Coal mining Protest movements. Strikes and lockouts--Miners
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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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Stewart, Frank Interview by Nyoka Hawkins. 21 Aug. 1987. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Stewart, F. (1987, August 21). 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.
Stewart, Frank, interview by Nyoka Hawkins. August 21, 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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