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This annotated guide will help you find primary source oral histories on Kentucky Coal Operators.
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Annotated Guide to the Kentucky Coal Operators Oral History Project: Part I

If not available online, audio copies and/or transcripts of the interviews in this project are available in the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History.

Guide Compiled by Suzanne Maggard

Edited by Jeffrey Suchanek

2006

89OH227 APP 191

DAVID A. ZEGEER

Date:  September 21 & 28, 1988

Location: Lexington, Kentucky

Interviewer: Henry C. Mayer

Length: 1 hour 30 minutes

Audio Conditions: Good

Transcript: First Draft

Restrictions: None

David Zegeer, a former Assistant Secretary for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, discusses his experience working in coal mines.  He was born in Charleston, West Virginia, but both of his parents were immigrants from Lebanon.  Zegeer’s father died when he was a child, and so Zegeer helped supplement the family’s income by selling peanuts and candy at football games and doing other odd jobs.  He attended West Virginia University where he majored in mine engineering, and after World War II, he moved with his wife to Jenkins, Kentucky where they lived for 38 years. 

Zegeer discusses his first jobs for the Consolidation Coal Company as a transit man, mining engineer, and surveyor.  He explains that he and his wife had a pleasant life in Jenkins where he even became a Boy Scout master.  Zegeer recalls when the Consolidated Coal Company stopped using scrip for money in the late 1940s and when the company stores were sold to private individuals. He talks about the often difficult relationship between foremen and the miners and provides examples from his own experiences as a foreman.  Zegeer discusses his job as a supervisor and remembers when he first hired women to work in the mines.  He also describes the process of hiring a foreman and the qualifications needed for the job.  Zegeer explains how long walls were established.  He talks about some of the men that he worked with including Sam Cassidy, Bill Stapleman, a miner who eventually became superintendent, and Hascel Davis.  Zegeer also describes the need for a well-trained workforce and how he handled morale after an accident.    

 

89OH229 APP 193

DAVID A. ZEGEER

Date: September 28, 1988

Location: Lexington, Kentucky

Interviewer: Henry C. Mayer

Length: 1 hour 30 minutes

Audio Conditions: Good

Transcript: First Draft

Restrictions: None

This is a second interview with David Zegeer, Assistant Secretary for the Mine Safety and Health Administration under President Ronald Reagan.  Zegeer discusses former mine superintendents that he worked with at the Consolidated Coal Company including James “Buster” Brown and Hershel Childers.  Hershel Childers was put in charge of implementing the 1969 Mine Safety and Health Act at Consolidated Coal.  Zegeer states that this law helped to put all coal companies on equal footing in the area of safety.  He discusses technological advancements affecting productivity during his career including the transition from hand-loading to mechanization.  He also describes changes in the union. 

Zegeer talks about creating a safe workplace at the Bethlehem mine.  He states that safety is a responsibility of everyone.  Zegeer discusses the Reagan administration’s interest in the health and safety of miners and describes the larger budgets given to health and safety.  He discusses the role of the media in the public’s perceptions of the mines, and explains the differences between state and federal safety inspection programs.  Zegeer also discusses the importance of reclamation once strip mining is completed.

 

89OH248 APP 197

FRANK C. THOMAS

Date:  November 16, 1988 

Location: Somerset, Kentucky

Interviewer: Henry C. Mayer

Length: 1 hour 30 minutes

Audio Conditions:  Poor

Transcript: First Draft

Restrictions: None

Frank Thomas’s father was the first dentist in McCreary County and came to Stearns, Kentucky in 1913.  Frank Thomas was born in Stearns in 1921.  He describes growing up in McCreary County and states that it was a pleasant but isolated area.  He describes the Stearns school system as excellent because it was subsidized by the Stearns Coal and Lumber Company.  He describes recreational activities in Stearns including the movie theatre.  Thomas also remembers the Great Depression and his father helping people who were less fortunate. Thomas discusses company officials who he remembers from his childhood including J.E. Butler, a former general manager, R.L. Stearns, who was also an artist, and John Wright.

Thomas became a dentist like his father and served in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War.  He took over his father’s dental practice in Stearns until 1958 when Bob Stearns, Jr. invited him to work for the coal company.  Bob Stearns died shortly thereafter, and Thomas describes taking over the coal company and modernizing it.  The coal company still owned all the homes, several stores, the movie theatre, the electric company, and other parts of Stearns when Thomas took over.  Thomas discusses mine safety and recalls an incident when three men were killed while inspecting a mine.  Thomas also provides his opinions on the economic conditions of eastern Kentucky as of 1988. 

 

 89OH249 APP 198

FRANK C. THOMAS

Date:  December 1, 1988 

Location: Stearns, Kentucky

Interviewer: Henry C. Mayer

Length: 1 hour 5 minutes

Audio Conditions:  Good

Transcript:  First Draft

Restrictions: None

This is a second interview with Frank C. Thomas.  He recalls how he went from being a dentist to a coal operator.  He talks about legal aspects of the coal industry including land titles, and mentions that Howard Baker Sr. and Howard Baker Jr. were the Stearns Company’s lawyers.  He recalls learning about the mine industry and his first day on the job.  Thomas describes the state of the mines when he took over.  At that time, they were phasing out hand-loading and the company owned a lot of obsolete equipment.  He talks about mine safety and states that he learned quickly that accidents can happen even in good conditions.  Thomas remembers the first fatality that occurred after he took of the operation of the mines.  He describes the town of Stearns itself, and the qualities he looks for in miners.

 

89OH250 APP 199

FRANK C. THOMAS

Date:  December 1, 1988 

Location: Somerset, Kentucky

Interviewer: Henry C. Mayer

Length: 1 hour 20 minutes

Audio Conditions:  Excellent

Transcript: First Draft

Restrictions: None

Frank C. Thomas, a former coal operator in Stearns, Kentucky, describes his experiences with the Stearns mines.  He discusses the opening of the Justus mine and states that it enabled Stearns to go back to the coal that had made the company famous.  Yet, he explains that this mine was not safe.  Thomas describes the relationship between the Stearns workers and the United Mine Workers of America.  The Stearns’ workers had their own private union until the early 1970s when the Blue Diamond coal company took over.  Thomas recalls how the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) gained control of the mine during this time.  Thomas discusses the strike that occurred at Stearns after the workers joined the UWMA, and the strike of 1935 which occurred when he was a child.

Thomas discusses the leadership of the Blue Diamond coal company.  He especially mentions the Gordons.   He remembers the early leadership in the Stearns mines including Mr. Butler.  He talks about company stores and states that things were more expensive in the stores, but only because they only carried the pricier brands.  Thomas also talks about safety, mine inspection, and the severance tax.

 

89OH104 APP 220

ISAAC CONGLETON

Date:  February 22, 1989

Location: Barbourville, Kentucky

Interviewer: Henry C. Mayer

Length: 45 minutes

Audio Conditions: Good

Transcript: Yes

Restrictions: None

Isaac Congleton is a native of Owsley County, Kentucky where his father worked in the timber business and farmed.  His father eventually sold the farm for a coal mine in Knox County starting the mine and coal camp at Brush Creek in the early 1920s.  Congleton describes his father’s work establishing the mine and moving from jackhammers to machine-cut coal.  He learned to mine coal by trying all the jobs in the mines and he remembers selling the coal they produced.  Congleton pays some attention to the evolution of mining techniques, expresses judgment about the adequacy of present strip mining laws and makes a recommendation.  He discusses the causes of mine accidents, whether politics affects coal mining in his section, how he went about selecting foremen, and what he expected of his workers.  He discusses briefly how they operated a coal camp and the company store as well as how they dealt with changes in mine operations

 

89OH105 APP 221

CLYDE E. GOINS, SR.

Date:  February 9, 1989

Location:  Coalgood, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length: 45 minutes

Audio Conditions: Good

Transcript: Yes

Restrictions: None

Clyde Goins describes the progression of his career from selling mining equipment to becoming a mine owner and CEO.  In the progression of his career, Goins learned every job in the mine.  He discusses the changing conditions in mining and employee relations and how the United Mine Workers of America has declined in popularity.  He discusses several leaders of the coal industry with whom he is familiar.  He discusses improvements in mine safety, freight rates, and the image of coal.  He talks about the present safety requirement which requires both state and federal safety inspection.

 

89OH106 APP 222

GEORGE E. EVANS, JR.

Date:  February 8, 1999

Location:  Lexington, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:

Audio Conditions:  Good

Transcript: Yes

Restrictions:  None

 George E. Evans, a former Secretary of the Kentucky Energy Cabinet, describes growing up in West Virginia where his father where his father managed the Tanna Coal Company.  He describes his first jobs in coal mining.  Evans attended college at Notre Dame and trained in business.  One summer during college, he took a job with a coal company in Wayland in Floyd County, Kentucky.  After finishing his degree he came back to Floyd County, and worked in the office at a coal mine.  He slowly worked his way up in the administration until he was able to buy a mine of his own.

Evans describes the transition to mechanization in the early 1940s.  He discusses the issue of paying miners in scrip instead of real money that they could use at the company store, but explains that his mine did not have a company store.  Evans also describes the unionization of the mines, and safety issues in the mine industry.  He recalls what qualities he looked for in good employees and building his business by buying defunct coal companies.   Evans also describes the Mine Safety Analyst Bill and the Scotia Coal Company mine disaster in 1976 where a methane explosion killed 26 men.

 

89OH107 APP 223

GEORGE E. EVANS, JR.

Date: March 8, 1989

Location:  Lexington, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:

Audio Conditions: Good

Transcript: Yes

Restrictions:  None

 This is a second interview with George E. Evans.  He discusses the Scotia mine disaster in 1976 and the image of coal mining in Kentucky.  He describes positive aspects of coal in comparison to the problems of oil.  

 

89OH108 APP 224

GEORGE E. EVANS, JR.

Date: April 20, 1989

Location:  Lexington, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:

Audio Conditions:  Good

Transcript: Yes

Restrictions:  None

This is a third interview with George E. Evans, a coal mine operator and former Kentucky Secretary of Energy.   He describes the role of the United Mine Workers in the coal industry.  He states that the high wages of the United Mine Workers helped to keep other industries out of eastern Kentucky.  Evans also discusses the role of safety and regulation in the coal industry, and describes how surface mining started before there were any regulations.  He explains the function of oil in America’s energy industry and states that OPEC is handicapping American oil production.  Evans also expresses the need for a national energy security policy, and discusses the role of the press in publicizing the coal industry.

 

89OH109 APP 225 and 89OH110 APP 226

CLOYD D. MCDOWELL

Date: April 22 and 23, 1989

Location:  Williamsburg, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:  1 hour 30 minutes

Audio Conditions:  Poor

Transcript: No

Restrictions:  None 

In these two interviews, Cloyd McDowell describes his family’s involvement in coal mining over three generations.  He emphasizes his experiences in Harlan County where he spent many years as the head of the county’s coal operators association.  McDowell discusses the many other jobs he had with the coal operators association and of national meetings where he met federal officials including President Jimmy Carter.  McDowell explains the problems of mining in Harlan and looks ahead to the future of coal in eastern Kentucky.  He talks about the leaders in the coal industry in Harlan, Kentucky and provides accounts of his first-hand experiences and impressions of the late John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers.  He describes the quality of state and federal programs, laws, and regulations relating to coal mining.  He discusses the impact of foreign competition on eastern Kentucky coal.

 

89OH111 APP 227 and 89OH112 APP 228

JAMES M. DANIEL

Date:  April 21, 1989

Location:  Kuttawa, Kentucky 

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length: 1 hour 30 minutes

Audio Conditions:  Poor 

Transcript:  No

Restrictions:  None

James M. Daniel is the son of former chief state inspector John F. Daniel.  Daniel discusses his experiences in coal mining working for his father and as a mine owner in Jackson County, Kentucky and later as an engineering consultant.  He explains how mining has changed, and comments on miner safety and health and unionization.  Daniel describes being trapped in a mine alone for three days.  He talks about the quality of state and federal mine safety inspection and discusses the pros and cons of both programs.  Daniel also talks about the future of coal mining in eastern Kentucky.

 

89OH113 APP 229

DOUGLAS LEE BLAIR

Date:  February 11, 1989

Location:  Barbourville, Kentucky 

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length: 

Audio Conditions:  Good 

Transcript:  First Draft

Restrictions: None

Douglas Lee Blair is the son of John Henry Blair who served as sheriff of Harlan, Kentucky from 1929-1933.  He describes growing up in Harlan as a pleasant experience and discusses the quality of the schools.  Blair talks about the reputations of several coal operators who have been publicized in earlier accounts of Harlan coal history, and other local leaders including George War, Merle Middleton, and the Methodist pastor, Carl Vogel. Blair remembers instances of violence in Harlan especially while his father was sheriff.  Blair’s father hired a bodyguard to protect his family after threats against his life.  He also recalls a car explosion in which Harlan County Attorney Edmond Middleton was killed. 

Blair also remembers good things about the people of eastern Kentucky.  He recalls how company stores gave people credit during the Great Depression.  Blair describes the trip he took to Europe upon graduation from high school, and attending the University of Kentucky where he met his future wife.  Blair secured a job with the Kentucky Utilities Company and describes the primitive means of providing electricity in eastern Kentucky at that time.

 

89OH114 APP 230

DOUGLAS LEE BLAIR

Date:  March 20, 1989

Location:  Barbourville, Kentucky 

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length: 

Audio Conditions:  Good 

Transcript:  First Draft

Restrictions: None

 In this second interview, Douglas Lee Blair describes his father, Sheriff John Henry Blair, as a fair man as well as a hill man or mountain man.  Blair recalls that one of the hardest jobs his father had was to find illegal moonshine stills and prosecute the bootleggers.  He describes some of his father’s adventures.

Blair talks about some of the positive aspects of the coal mines including the coal owners who provided college scholarships.  Blair also discusses the safety conditions of the mines when he was a child.  During World War II, Blair served as a marine in the Pacific Theatre.  After the war he got a job in the lumber business owned by his wife’s family.  Soon after, he decided to try to get into coal mining.  He describes how he got started at the Richmond Coal Company in 1954 mining blue gem coal.  He discusses his preparation plant and the laboratory testing of the coal before they mined. He recalls some notable miners that he worked with including a man who mined with a goat, and another who dried dynamite in his stove.  Blair also describes both the challenges and advantages of mining the blue gem coal, and he talks about the importance of state and federal inspectors in the mines.

 

89OH115 APP 231 and 89OH116 APP 232

SAMUEL M. CASSIDY

Date:  March 28 and April 5, 1989

Location:  Lexington, Kentucky 

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:  1 hour 30 minutes

Audio Conditions:  Poor

Transcript:  No

Restrictions: None

Samuel Cassidy recounts his mining career with the Consolidated Coal Company, and looks at the present and future prospects for the coal mining industry.  Cassidy describes his first experience in Jenkins, Kentucky in 1922 when he took a summer job in a coal mine while he was an engineering student at the University of Kentucky.  He talks about what it was like to live and work in a coal camp, and describes the management style used by the Consolidated Coal Company both at Jenkins and Van Lear.  Cassidy discusses coal mining before and after unionization in eastern Kentucky.  He describes mine safety and changes to mechanization.  He expresses his views about state and federal regulations and inspection.  He talks of meeting with union leaders including John L. Lewis, and hiring David Zegeer. 

 

Annotated Guide to the Kentucky Coal Operators Oral History Project: Part II

If not available online, audio copies and/or transcripts of the interviews in this project are available in the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History.

 

89OH150 APP 233

LON ROGERS

Date:  May 30, 1989

Location:  Lexington, Kentucky 

Interviewer:  Nyoka Hawkins

Length:  3 hours 

Audio Conditions:  Good

Transcript:  First Draft

Restrictions: None

 Lon Rogers was born in Pikeville in 1905 and attended a Presbyterian school.  He talks extensively about his father’s job as a coal operator.  Rogers father, Fon, and his brother became involved in banking in Greensburg, Kentucky and then in Pikeville, Kentucky.  Rogers explains that his father took over the Elkhorn Consolidated Coal and Coke in 1907 due to the debts that it owed to his bank in Pikeville.  Rogers describes how his father and his uncles increased production and sold the mine in 1916.  Rogers also discusses some legal problems surrounding the ownership of the mine, which was taken over by the Semet-Solvay Company.  Rogers explains that his father bought and sold a series of properties and small mines, but was never truly successful in the coal mining business.  Rogers also discusses his view of the unionization efforts in Pikeville.

Rogers’ family moved to Lexington when he started high school in 1921.  In 1937, his father sent him to western Kentucky to look into a coal venture.  While there he married.  He then moved to Pikeville where he and his wife raised their family.  Rogers describes getting into the oil business in the early 1970s.

 

89OH193 APP 234 and 89OH304 APP 258

HARRY LAVIERS, JR.

Date:  November 4 and November 30, 1988

Location:  Irvine, Lexington, and Whitesburg, Kentucky 

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:  Approximately 2 hours 

Audio Conditions: Good

Transcript:  No

Restrictions: None

 In this series of interviews, Harry LaViers, Jr. describes his family and how they came to Kentucky and entered the coal industry.  He discusses how his father introduced him to the business and learning to be a coal operator.  Laviers describes his business philosophy and employee relations, and how these activities have changed over the years.  He discusses his company’s safety policies and training program.  He talks about the changes which have taken place in the Kentucky coal industry throughout his career, and the role of politics in the industry.  He provides his view of the image of the coal industry and the role of the media.  LaViers discusses the impact of both state and federal inspection programs in Kentucky.  He describes his experiences as a member of the Kentucky Coal Association, and also takes a look at the future of coal in Kentucky.

 

89OH194 APP 235

WILLIAM B. STURGILL

Date:  November 14, 1988

Location:  Lexington, Kentucky 

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:  25 minutes 

Audio Conditions: Fair

Transcript:  Yes

Restrictions:  None

William B. Sturgill provides some details about his family’s background.  His great-grandfather came to Kentucky from North Carolina after the Civil War.  Sturgill’s father moved to Lackey, Kentucky in Floyd County and started a general store and that is where Sturgill grew up.  He describes growing up in the mountains and the importance of close ties with families and friends among the people of eastern Kentucky.

Sturgill got into the coal industry right after college.  He discusses the bad image of coal due to such things as the labor problems of the 1930s.  He states that part of the bad image of coal operators stems from their lack of public relations.  Sturgill also talks about eastern Kentucky politicians whom he admires including former Kentucky Governor Bert T. Combs.  He explains that politics is Kentucky’s biggest business.

 

89OH195 APP 236 and 89OH300 APP 254

DUANE BENNETT

Date:  December 8 and June 18, 1989

Location:  Brookside, Kentucky 

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:  1 hour 30 minutes 

Audio Conditions: Fair

Transcript:  Yes

Restrictions: None

Duane Bennett was born in Harlan, Kentucky.  His father was a carpenter who became involved in the coal business.  Bennett discusses some of the local mines including the Harlan Central Coal Company, B.& C. Coal Company, and Dartmouth Coal Company, and the people who operated them.  He describes the process of starting a mine in the 1930s in eastern Kentucky.  Bennett states that the coal mining camps were close knit communities and he explains how eastern Kentuckians had a different lifestyle than other Kentuckians.  He recalls how the coal mines would pay the miners in scrip and he describes the problems that this would cause.  Bennett also remembers attempts to unionize the mines and discusses the importance of the unions at that time since some companies would take advantage of their workers.  He recalls the Battle of Evarts at Bell Crossing during the push for unionization where several men were killed.  Bennett states that the downfall of the unions were the sweetheart contracts that were offered to operators allowing them to pay the miners whatever they wanted as long as they gave money to the union.  Bennett discusses changes in safety standards and the role of the foreman in keeping his workers safe. 

 

89OH196 APP 237 and 89OH197 APP 238

WILLARD STANLEY

Date:  January 12 and 19, 1989

Location:  Lexington, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:  1 hour 30 minutes

Audio Conditions:  Good

Transcript:  No

Restrictions:  None

Willard Stanley, head of Kentucky’s Department of Mines and Minerals, discusses growing up in eastern Kentucky in a coal mining family.  He describes his own mining experiences, including his life as a coal operator, and how he became involved professionally in miner safety and health.  He discusses B.F. Sisk, one of the major names in mine safety in Kentucky, and how the mine safety laws have changed over the years.  Stanley also talks about mine inspection.

 

89OH198 APP 239

B.W. WHITFIELD, JR.

Date:  February 9, 1989

Location:  Harlan, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:  45 minutes 

Audio Conditions: Fair

Transcript:  Yes

Restrictions:  None

B.W. Whitfield’s family was from Alabama where his father had been in the coal business.  Whitfield recalls working in his father’s coal mines during the first years of commercial mining in Harlan County, and he describes the conditions.  He discusses the formation and activities of the Harlan County Coal Operators Association and its leaders, George Ward and Cloyd McDowell.  Whitfield remembers the role of the mine guards along with his personal response to the United Mine Workers (UMWA).  He describes his contacts with and opinion of John L. Lewis, the leader of the UMWA. Whitfield contrasts the “native” miners with the “outsiders” from the labor organizations.  Whitfield also discusses local leaders including Sheriff Blair, Sheriff Middleton, and coal operators.  He recalls the living conditions throughout the county prior to World War II. 

 

89OH199 APP 240 and 89OH201 APP 242

ELMER WHITAKER

Date:  February 18 and April 7, 1989

Location: Lexington, Kentucky 

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer  

Length:  1 hour 30 minutes 

Audio Conditions:  Poor

Transcript:  First Draft available for APP 240, No transcript for APP 242

Restrictions:  None

Elmer Whitaker operated a coal mine in Perry County, Kentucky.  Both his father and grandfather were coal miners.  Whitaker recalls growing up in a coal mining town in Perry County and going to school at Cornettsville and later at Viper High School.  He graduated from high school just after the end of World War II when he was sixteen.  He went to work for the old Diamond Block mine operated by Mr. Rowell and Mr. M.K. Evelyn.  His first job consisted of loading coal with a shovel, and he describes the safety processes in the mines when he starting working.

Whitaker and his father soon bought interest in a coal mine in Wooten in Leslie County, Kentucky.  He describes working with his father in this mine for as many as seventeen hours a day.  Whitaker recalls the evolution in safety procedures in the mines throughout the years and mentions state and federal safety inspectors.  He also describes the mechanization of the mines.

 

89OH200 APP 241

JAMES L. ROSE

Date:  March 28, 1989

Location:  Lexington, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length: 

Audio Conditions: Fair

Transcript:  No

Restrictions:  None

In this interview, James Rose discusses his experience as a coal operator and as a leader in the Kentucky coal industry.  He explains how he became involved in coal and his views about the need for state and federal mine safety laws and inspections.  He tells of changes he has seen in mining and discusses his approach to employee relations and safety.  Rose discusses primacy and reclamation and provides some comments about what it takes for success in the eastern Kentucky coal industry.

 

89OH202 APP 243

B. F. REED

Date:  April 5, 1989

Location:  Lexington, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:  1 hour 5 minutes

Audio Conditions: Poor

Transcript:  No

Restrictions:  None

Boyd F. Reed is a former president of the Kentucky Coal Operators Association, a member of the Board of Directors of the National Coal Association, and the founding officer of the Eastern Kentucky Regional Planning Commission.  He and his brother, C.D. Reed, bought a small coal mine in the No. 3 Elkhorn seam in Jacks Creek, Kentucky in February of 1927.  They started with thirty men on the payroll.  He describes the machinery that they used in those days including a locomotive to pull the mine cars and a coal cutting machine.  He describes how the men were paid and starting a company store.  Reed discusses the difficulties caused by the flood of 1927.  He describes a scary experience when he let a store owner put some merchandise in one of their railroad cars.  He and his brother bought more coal mines from Elkhorn Coal Company further down the creek, and later made a deal with Mr. Turner to create the Turner-Elkhorn Coal Company.  Reed discusses the trouble between some coal operators and the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) during the Great Depression, and he explains President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s role in solving the disagreement.  Reed also explains how the Big Sandy Coal Association was organized and how he became president of this organization and of the Kentucky Coal Association.

 

89OH203 APP 244 and 89OH207 APP 248

RAYMOND A. BRADBURY

Date:  May 11 and June 27, 1989

Location:  Inez, Kentucky 

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer 

Length:   3 hours

Audio Conditions:  Poor

Transcript:  Yes

Restrictions:  None 

Raymond Bradbury states that he was born into a coal mining family.  His father and two uncles worked in the coal mining business before coming to the United States.  Bradbury provides details about his father’s career in Illinois and then in Wheelwright, Kentucky where he worked in the safety department at the Inland Steel Company.  Bradbury graduated from high school right after the end of World War II in 1946.  He describes the effect that the returning veterans had on his own job prospects.  Bradbury was able to secure a job as a hand loader in a coal mine, and was later transferred to the mechanical loading section.  He discusses his work using a loading machine. 

Bradbury attended West Virginia University’s School of Mines.  He graduated in 1950 and went to work in the mining division’s supervisory training program at Armco Steel Company.  The Korean War interfered with his career for a short time as he volunteered for the air force. Bradbury left the service in November of 1954 and went to work for his uncle at Mid-West Utilities Coal Company in Illinois doing engineering work.  He explains that his uncle’s company was unsettled at the time and so he went to work for the Princess Elkhorn Coal Company in David, Kentucky as a junior industrial engineer.  Bradbury later went back to Armco Steel, where he advanced from superintendent at the Robin Hood mine to manager of the mines for the Elkhorn Division.

Bradbury eventually went to work for the A.T. Massey Coal Company as vice-president and general manager.  This provided him with the opportunity to start the Martin County Coal Corporation.  Bradbury describes starting the operation, hiring personnel, and choosing the mining equipment.  He talks extensively about the diesel-powered equipment that he chose.  Bradbury also discusses how coal mining in Martin County is different from surrounding counties.  He explains the obligations of a coal mining operation to its shareholders and its employees.  Bradbury recalls times when he has had to downsize and discusses the training procedures at his mine.   He describes the reclamation process and talks about the importance of the environment to coal miners.  Bradbury also mentions politics, acid rain, and what may lie ahead for coal in eastern Kentucky.

 

89OH204 APP 245 and 89OH208 APP 249

BRUCE STEPHENS

Date:  June 1 and June 28, 1989 

Location:  Hazard, Kentucky 

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer 

Length: 1 hour 30 minutes

Audio Conditions:   

Transcript:  No 

Restrictions:  None

Bruce Stephens is considered an expert on coal leases, deeds, and the various legal aspects of buying and selling coal properties.  In these interviews, he discusses the broad form deed and other verbal and/or written agreements regarding coal land.  Stephens cites a large number of cases in order to place the long form deed in its historic context.  He discusses the procedures by which John J.C. Mayo secured properties, and presents his views on the controversial Widow Combs situation which took place in 1965.  He provides his opinion on various leaders of the coal industry and public officials who deal with the coal industry.  He specifies the contributions the Kentucky River Coal Company made to the community.  Stephens describes the situations which led to the unionization of the eastern Kentucky coal fields and whether the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) has a role in the future of the coal in industry in eastern Kentucky 

 

89OH205 APP 246

EDDIE J. MOORE

Date:  June 2, 1989

Location:  Hyden, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:  45 minutes 

Audio Conditions: Average

Transcript:  No

Restrictions:  None

Eddie J. Moore describes the establishment of large scale mining in Leslie County, Kentucky and the men associated with it.  He talks about his own experiences as an operator and the process of selling coal.  Moore was a leader in the fight to regulate surface mining.  He describes that struggle and talks about Widow Combs.  He also discusses the attempts made by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) between 1949 and 1953 to organize the miners in Leslie County.   

 

89OH206 APP 247

DUANE BENNETT

Date:  June 20, 1989

Location:  Brookside, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:  45 minutes 

Audio Conditions: Fair

Transcript:  Yes

Restrictions:  None

Duane Bennett discusses his role as coal mine operator in Harlan County.  He describes the responsibility of the state and federal government in the regulation of coal mines, and states that he feels that the mines are over-regulated.  He discusses the trend toward mechanization, and describes the improvement in equipment over the last twenty-five years, especially in regards to safety.

Bennett talks about the role of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) in the mines and states that he does not believe that there is a need for a union today.  He provides his opinion on the media and the negative image of the mines in the media.  Bennett discusses the environment and the role of acid rain.  He also mentions the severance tax.  He feels that the counties are suffering because of this tax since little money is coming back to them.    

 

89OH209 APP 250

RONALD M. GAUDIANO

Date: June 28, 1989

Location:  Jackson, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:  45 minutes

Audio Conditions:  Good

Transcript: No

Restrictions:  None

Ronald M. Gaudiano describes growing up in a coal mining family in Pennsylvania.  He discusses his education and his early mining employment.  Gaudiano worked for AMAX and then ARCH Minerals.  He explains how AMAX ran their mines and what he learned about employee relations.  Gaudiano mentions the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and what both ARCH and AMAX have done to further miner safety and health.  He talks about production, the changes in technology, and how he has promoted safety.  Gaudiano alludes to the differences between union and non-union mines and what led ARCH to buy into Kentucky coal.

 

89OH210 APP 251

GEORGE E. EVANS, JR.

Date: August 6, 1989

Location:  Lexington, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:

Audio Conditions: Fair

Transcript: No

Restrictions:  None

This is a fourth interview with George Evans, Jr.  Evans discusses his activities as Kentucky Secretary of Energy including his work during national meetings sponsored by his Cabinet and the Coal Summits I & II.  Evans talks about acid rain and the future of this problem.  He describes overproduction, technology, and the need for a national energy policy.  He emphasizes the lack of accurate information about energy among the public and some current attempts by the union to gain members in eastern Kentucky.

 

89OH276 APP 252

B. F. REED

Date:  June 20, 1989

Location:  Brookside, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:  45 minutes 

Audio Conditions: Fair

Transcript:  Yes

Restrictions:  None

In this second interview with Boyd F. Reed, he provides further details about his own start in the coal mining business.  His experience in coal goes back to the Shamokin coalfield in Pennsylvania where he worked in the office of an anthracite coal mine starting in June of 1914.  He describes advancing in the company until he was asked to work in the company headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio.  He recalls problems resulting from attempts to unionize the mines, and his company deciding to expand operations into Kentucky.  He describes the good market for coal in the Midwest and his decision to buy a coal mine with his brother on Jacks Creek in Kentucky.  He describes starting production at this mine.  He also briefly describes establishing the Big Sandy Coal Association. 

 

89OH277 APP 253

JAY R. BARLOW

Date:  June 20, 1989

Location:  Hyden, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:  45 minutes 

Audio Conditions: Poor

Transcript:  No

Restrictions:  None

Jay R. Barlow tells of his life and work in Harlan County, particularly as president of the Harlan County Coal Operators Association.  He describes some of the coal operators that he has known and the organization itself.  Barlow remembers attempts to unionize the mines and the intervention of the National Guard.  He recalls how difficult it was to mine coal profitably and describes freight rates, competition, and mine safety.  Barlow also discusses changes in mine technology, media coverage of coal related events in Harlan, and the effects of regulation on mining.

 

89OH301 APP 255

STONIE BARKER, JR.

Date:  November 23, 1989

Location:  Lexington, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:  45 minutes 

Audio Conditions: Good

Transcript:  No

Restrictions:  None

Stonie Barker describes his career from working in the mines during summer vacations to becoming CEO of Island Creek Coal Company.  His comments include his impression of outstanding coal leaders, management, and union officials.  His discusses the problems of taking over a mine with low coal, a poor safety record, and a rash of wildcat strikes and making it into a safe and profitable operation.  Barker also explains his management philosophy. 

 

89OH302 APP 256 and 89OH303 APP 257

ROBERT E. GARBESI

Date:  November 29 and 30, 1989

Location:  Lexington, Kentucky

Interviewer:  Henry C. Mayer

Length:  45 minutes 

Audio Conditions: Good

Transcript:  No

Restrictions:  None

In these two interviews, Robert Garbesi provides his views on a wide range of coal-related topics and traces his own career, first with Consolidated Coal Company and then with Falcon and Diamond Shamrock.  He discusses his management philosophy and the reciprocal responsibilities of employees and employers.  He describes the 1989 strike at Pittston.  Garbesi mentions mine safety in surface operations and changes in surface techniques.  He explains the role of politics in coal mining and looks at what might be significant for the future of coal mining.  Garbesi discusses the writings of Dr. Curt Harvey on coal economics and leaders of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) including Richard Trumka, Sam Church, Arnold Miller, Tony Boyle and John L. Lewis.  He analyzes past attempts to carry on coal synthesization and what it may take for it to succeed in the future.  He also talks about the impact of acid rain.

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