After a conversation with (YES!) my mother, I truly realize just how special a place it is and why.
My great grandmother, Rosa Mary, built her own home in the mid-1930’s.
Quite a feat for a single mom with no occupation of which to speak.
The events which preceded the construction gave her the financial ability to see it through. Still, I feel she must have walked through that house many a day and wept for her loss in the midst of her gain.
You see, Rosa Mary was recently widowed.
Her husband, my great grandfather Frank, was a coal miner like so many men of that area; of that era: working for scrip which they gave right back to the company store in order to survive.
The coal company Frank worked for operated in a bituminous coal field in the southeastern Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia.i Bituminous coal is a soft coal which falls between anthracite and lignite on the quality scale.ii
My mother recounted Rosa Mary’s memory: “Ma Rosie said he talked about how loose it was and how he didn’t know how long it would hold for days before it happened.”
It happened on the 27th of June.
They heard the wail of the mine whistle that day. This time, it was to be a harbinger of sorrow for our family.
With pounding hearts, Rosa Mary and her 16 year old daughter, Freda, ran from their segregated bungalow situated along Meadow Creek. Their feet pounded the path up to the mine along with other wives and children.
There had been a slate fall.
Great grandfather Frank had been killed instantly.
Even on his meager earnings, Frank had had the foresight to pay for insurance; Rosa received $300—cash—“for his death.”
She moved back to her home county and with that $300, she built a four room house with a cellar which still stands solidly today—my grandmother’s house.
It is truly special place.
i Chris DellaMea, “Coalfields of the Appalachian Mountains, A Scrapbook of Appalachian Coal Towns.” Database and images. (http://coalcampusa.com/ : accessed 19 August 2014), p. 1.
ii Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org), “Bituminous Coal,” rev. 19:32, 15 July 2014.