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Old 12-13-2013, 12:46 AM
2,478 posts, read 1,061,471 times
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Did you or at least one of your parents grow up in a coal camp. I always enjoy reading
accounts of life in those communities. It seems as though life could vary significantly between
one camp and another. What do you miss about them? What was life like? What were the challenges? If you are describing
a parents upbringing in a coal camp, what were their expeeriences
and perspectives on life in a coal camp?
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Old 12-13-2013, 07:46 AM
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Ok, I'm young so I don't have any personal experience. However, my maternal grandmother still lives in a converted company house outside of Beckley. That whole area is littered with old company houses and, well, it isn't the happiest place on earth. But it isn't totally destitute and I've had some fond memories of the area. Anyway, she was born and partially raised in Cabin Creek and her father may have fought at Blair Mountain. Her first husband died in a mine explosion. Second husband (and my mom's dad) was also a coal miner.

On my dad's side, my grandpa thankfully never went into the mines. He was yardmaster at the Whitesville CSX yard for 40 years, but he grew up around coal camps. His wife's older siblings were miners and had it rough. My great uncle was in one of the first unions and suffered for it. He lived in a tent colony outside Sylvester with his wife and child for a year and a half. During the Depression, he walked 80 miles one week (to Charleston and back) looking for work. No work, and now no shoes as he wore the soles out. He also marched on Blair Mountain. They had paper-thin walls and essentially lived in one room. When food was scarce, the only thing they ate was tomato paste biscuits.
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Old 12-14-2013, 08:01 AM
Location: WV/Va/Ky/Tn
708 posts, read 1,062,402 times
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We grew in a old coal company house(near Davy)in McDowell County for the first 9 years of my life. My dad was born and grew in in several coal camps(Lex and Isaban). They were very rough times, with families of 8-10 family members living in each house. Some places didn't have running water. The house I grew up in had been modernized to a bit with running water but still had coal stove. My mom grew up in a coal company house as well, but my grandpa had bought it after the mines shut down. Families mostly helped each other out. My Dad's uncle owned a juke joint bar and they seemed to drink a lot, everyday, so I would have to say alcoholism was rampant. Looking at old pics of them days they looked pretty bleek. The improvement in life over the past 30-40 years is unbelievable considering how some of these people lived. All jokes aside I would have to consider the biggest improvement in Appalachian/coal camp life to the trailer and people moving into them. You could just burn down or tear apart your old company house and put a brand new trailer there and have a instant new clean life with modern amenities. With large scale coal companies closing down and then the selling off of the houses and property most camps were torn down.

You can still find modern coal camps in Coalwood, Inmann, Isaban, Bartley, Kimball, Keystone, Maybuerry, Wyoming, Omar, Premier, Jenkinjones, Bishop,Va, Davy, etc.
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