Vol. 1-Interview-Feisner


A V inter. George Feisner 7/27/22 Tape 24

GF: school in his life, but he was an intelligent man and a many sided fellow for instance, if any of the neighbors or any of the town’s folk there had a cow that was sick and sent for my dad, it was my dad that received the call ofttimes if one of the children of the neighbors got sick they’d send for my dad, if grate broke in the stove, my dad, well he was a much sought after individual in a small way, so down, well down where we lived, we lived down where Kiscak’s lived, 132, I think, Main Street, and just below that there was a few houses we called Shanty Street and there was a gentlemen by the name of that had a cow that was sick, so he called for the cow doctor, my dad, and my dad went down and he said, “Now Mr. I think you need a veterinarian as this cow is seriously ill and there isn’t anything that I can do the only suggestion that I can offer is call veterinarian to get this cow well so he said, I would call Dr. Welch the veterinarian that lived in Drifton so when my dad went home one of the neighbors said, Mr. I don’t think he knows anything about a cow you’d better send to Evergreen Valley to Joe. Rinejx he was a farmer over about 3 miles, he’s a good cow doctor, I understand he was an immigrant, a Slovak nationality and Joe was a kind of boisterous fellow and he liked to project himself so Joe came up he drove up on a buckboard hitched to a mule, so Joe came in and he looked at the cow and he said, I know what’s wrong with this cow you feed her every night a bucket, the feed at that time they called a swill, it’s a mixture of chop and cabbage leaves and what not, beet tops and the like he said you know!s theirs nails in that chop and the cows at the nails and now they’re protruding from the stomach they’re sticking out of the stomach and we got to get those nails out of there, so he said, you got an old scrub rag so he got a block and tackle and put it under the cow’s chin somehow held it upright put this rag in the cows throat and took a broomstick and tried to push it down the cow’s throat his theory was that this rag would go into the stomach and the


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movement would swish around and take the nails out so is, I’m not exaggerating this is how it happened, so when he left the cow down and took the block and tackle out the cow fell and then they sent for my dad my dad laughed and said Mr. B you’d better send for the veterinarian, so the veterinarian arrived and said, what did you do, Mr. R. told them the story well he said, the cow’s going to die you can attribute the cow’s death to Mr. R cure.

HF: Well I know that it did happen that nails were found in the chop and accidentally the cows did take them but they survived but some of the things were really crazy.

DF: You know before I went to school, after I had graduated from high school, I needed some money and in those days my dad didn’t have any my dad said, I would like to see you go to school but you have to earn the money, so I got a job about the colliery here, working in the car shop or doing odd jobs, you know, and I was appointed a member of the fire squad.

HF: That was the one you had to pull

DF: Did you tell Angela about

HF: I told her about, there were so many men to be

GF: Well this is the story, it happened during prohibition days and I guess (Helen) told you about what went on in this town during prohibition

HF: I didn’t tell her as much as Mr. Sulkuski did and a couple of others

GF: Well practically every other family had a still and they made their own whisky and they called it hootch and every once in awhile someone would run up to the colliery, “Mr. ‘So & So’s shanty is on fire”, we called these little summer kitchens shantys, in the summertime and the folks lived in there and did their cooking there and during the winter, wash clothes, this is what happened, usually Mr. So & So before he went to work built a fire in the kitchen stove and get the mash, now the mash, they usually had a barrelbehind the stove, one of these 52 gallon barrels they would pour a lot of rye in there, sometimes corn, cabbage leaves, tomatoes, anything, yeast cakes to induce fermentation you understand and also


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GF: so many pounds of sugar, oh that thing would boil and you could smell it well you see Mr. So and So would get the fire started and get the still started before he went to work now he would dip out the liquid part of the mash and put it in the still and he had to be very careful and not get any of the mash into the still and then he’d start the fire and he would connect the coils, for the condenscing to the water spigot and he went to work but when making this liquid alcohol boils at 60 degrees, vaporizes, and then of course as the vapor rises you could see it pass thru the coils and when it comes in contact with the cold water it precipitates and forms liquid, well I guess Mrs. So and So wasn’t too vigilant and the coils block up and when the coils block up this thing would explode and set the shanty on fire and that’s where we came in

HF: Our Pete was on that fire squad too

GF: And we’d have to take this cart, about 40 gals. of water, sodium bicarbonate and sulphuric acid, well when we got there out on the street we would know what happened, you could smell, Mrs. So and So would say “Bad wire, kitchen set on fire.” we’d put it out and leave but down here, you know where (.….) lives, right across from the club house he made a still, steady the residue, especially in the winter was taken down and dumped over the fence and you know there is an awful lot of alcohol in the residue that’s the mash and a great many people had cows, they’d send the cows out after they milked them in the morning turn them out, the village green there weren’t so many cave-ins around here at that time but they discovered this pile of mash and they loved it and do you know what happened, the cows wobbled, some of them got down and couldn’t get up, I saw that, well in the brewery where they make beer malt was used in the making of beer many of the people here with cows would go over there, if they had the means of getting there, and buy this mash and the cows loved it, the cows were drunk, they were intoxicated

HF: I know (Mat…a’s) had a big cow oh my she was tremendous and we had a big apple tree


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HF: right in the front of the yard and it didn’t hold the apples but the apples were very good, they were very good baking apples but they seemed to start rotting and then they’d drop off well a lot of the apples were good layin’ on the ground and this cow she came around, and one day she came around the front there and she came over to the fence and she was tryin’ to get some of the apples well I went out and I started feeding her some of the apples and they were on the sour side and I thought it was great because I would hold the apple in the palm of my hand and tha’t when I saw the kind of tongue she has it’s real rough and she would get this apple off the palm of my hand and she would eat it and she would look for more and dad came out and he said, what were you doin’, and I said, feedin’ the cow, she wants apples and she can’t get them so I’m feedin’ them to her and he said, you’d better not feed her too much because those apples are sour and she’ll get sick and M are going to give it to you because she’s liable to die, you’d better not giver her no more, well the poor cow she wanted more apples but I couldn’t give her no more, because the old people undersood those things, we didn’t so I had to stop feedin’ her.

GF: Angela are you a graduate student at Penn

AV: Yes I am ^ p

 GF: Are you working for your PhD

AV: Yes

 GF: (name) landed here in Eckley about 1868 and he lived directly where Alex (Gavala?) lived, directly across, a little below the clubhouse he was married when he came and he had a daughter, naturally one of my aunts and he worked in the mines and he was very frugal, thrifty saved a few dollars and it was difficult in those days and he want down to Sandy Valley and bought a piece of land and in his spare time he cleared it and eventually he built a home, farm and then left the mines because to farm there’s where my father was born now I was born in 1899 I was born in Buck Mountain where the


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GF: you know that lady was murdered here recently have you been down to see that, that chalet type of building, well that one up along the creek, I was bornr there and when I was about 7 yrs. of age we moved to Sandy Valley on my father’s farm and spent 2 years there and then when I was nice we came to Eckley and moved up and lived on the Back Street

HF: Yeh, in the house right below us

GF: Then I went to school and finished high school in 1918 then worked 2 yrs. at the colliery and then I went to school and then I left the community here in 1933 and made my home in (blank) when I was married

AV: Where did you work in the colliery, doing what

GF: Well you see I was employed in the car shop, now that means these cars that we use to bring the coal up out of the mines and to convey the coal to the breaker where it was prepared oft times needed repaired and that’s what I was doing, it ddidn’t require any skill, just a little bit of knowledge, the work was steady and the work was difficult then there was times understand when I was asked to leave the car shop when there was someone who was ill in the dump shanty where the coal was dumped into a pit before it was taken up to the breaker, understand, to be prepared, see the coal in the form that it was taken from the mines into the pit and then a drag-line took it up to the breaker where it would come down thru rollers broken up and into varying chutes and sized in those days there was a boy sitting by pickcing this slate out of the coal now of course today they don’t do that they have a machinery to do that well if they were a man short because of illness then I was taken out of the car shop and would to down to the dump shanty to help dump these cars or if there was a man short up at the timber yard, do you know where that is, then I had to go up there and help, and so on, for 2 years

AV: You were paid by the hour then


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GF: Oh yes I was paid by the hour

HF: Isn’t that what they called the chain gang

GF: No the chain gang was something else

AV: What was your title, or the name of your job

GF: Just a laborer, but you were asked to do, oh many things

AV: Was this a company man

GF: Yes but we belonged to the union, see we were paid a union wage

AV: How important was the union in your day

GF: Well let me say this, originally as I understand this town was settled originally and primarily by Scotch-Irish, Welsh, German and Irish, now why did they come here well you have to go back to Europe, European history, now you take the potato famine in Ireland, the wars of unification in Germany, the impending Franco-Prussian War, and then there were economic conditions. Now later on when the unions in the early days, during the period of inception, that is began there was a battle between the employee, the unions and the companies now what the union did was send abroad to Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland, Lithuania, Russia and other places to recruit laborers and bring them here under contract many of them were brought under contract that meant they were to be paid a certain wage, hourly wage or daily wage and they were lied to they were told what a beautiful country this is, what a beautiful land, and that it wouldn’t take them long to become wealthy and that they could then go back to their native country. Now many of them came and you remember Helen #2 Buck Mountain, now #2 Buck Mountain was a little community, you’ve seen that, there’s only about 6 houses there now but there were many more and they were built by these stripping contractors to house these immigrants particularly the Czechoslovaks and the (blank), the Lithuanians, the Poles and so forth, understand, now the boarding boss the term that I used telephone when I was referring to (?) I said a boarding boss, a boarding mistress or Helen, some individual whose wife


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GF: was here would rent the home and then would take in as high as 10 or 12 boarders and they would have rooms, maybe 3 or 4 of them would stay in one room they would have their meals, well a meal would be a breakfast, a cup of coffee, a piece of bread and they would carry a lunch pail to work and the big meal was the evening meal now what would they pay, the man of the house was the boarding boss, on payday the grocer who delivered the groceries to these homes and the butcher who delivered the meat would come in and they would sit around the table with the boarding boss and the boarders and figure out the bill for the 2 weeks and then each one paid a certain amount to defray the expenses and then pay the boarding misses too and it was used for her work now they lived for a time like they lived abroad their habits

AV: What did they call this system of paying, was there a special name for it

GF: No it was a kind of commune type of getting together but that term wasn’t employed, now Mr. Reese, you remember, many’s the time that on the evening of the day that they were paid he would hitch his little grey horse in the rig and often as a youngster he would take me along and I would sit outside and wait until he was thru figuring out what they owed him, now they came home from work many of these peopole were, naturally they were very, very poor when they came here some of them in the summertime didn’t put on their shoes they had a pair of trousers and a belt was not put thru there but it was just strung around here and tightened and an undershirt, that’s all but one thing on Sunday these individuals would travel, walk on #2 Buck Mountain, I talk about #2 Buck Mountain but of course what was true here, walk from there to Freeland to church, it was interesting not 2 abreast where they could chat but all in a line

AV: This was at the time this Catholic Church here was not functioning

GF: No that church was in use at that time but they went to their own church, the Slovak Church, the Polish Church, now you see in a good many instances these poor individuals, naturally they didn’t understand the American way of life, after


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GF: church they would stop in at one of the taverns and they’d get a few drinks and then they would leave and some of them would feel pretty well but they were law-abiding people no harm in them and they would leave and as they left they would start to sing songs that were of their country and some of these nasty, ruthless, individuals would waylay them right on the outskirts of Freeland and drum up some charge against them and take them backc and show them a police badge as I said they did not understand the American way of life and take them back to a justice of the pace and this law enforcing officer would was a constable and justice of the peace were together and charge each one of them $10 for disturbing the peace, it was a terrible thing, they were exploited until they come to understand the way of life and someone told them that they were being exploited, that was a terrible, I sympathized very, very much with them, they were a good people, honest people, hard working I worked with them

AV: What helped them to become more Americanized

GF: Well, you know I worked in the strippins and the first few words they learned were words of vulgarity, vulgar words where some fellow that wanted to get a good laugh instead of and then there were honest people who with whom they worked and then of ccourse they would see things, understand the longer they lived here the longer they came in contact with the American way of life and they naturally had to learn but they didn’t receive any formal schooling except those who decided to make this country their home and become citizens they of course they had to become naturalized now incidentally you remember Frank Banas well Frank came to me one time and said, Mr. Feisner I want to become citizen you teach me how to become citizen, I said yes Frank I’ll help you out, so he come to my home in the evening and you know I would try to prepare, get him ready for it Americanization process and so forth and he was one of the best students I ever had in mmy life if he would leave my home and forget something I told him next day in the mines he would ask me or who ever he would come in contact, what does this mean


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GF: will you explain this , and he’d come to my home and the next night he’d come in and he would say, excuse me, I’m ashamed, you told me something and now I forgot it, well anyhow and when he appeared before the judge for his examination of course it wasn’t because of my teaching, he had a good memory, the judge said, why didn’t you apply before this, well he said I didn’t think I should ’till I was qualified until I knew enough about the country, so every once in awhile I meet him, you know, he said, that’s the way to become a citizen

AV: Well let me ask you this what have you heard about the original Mollie Maguires

GF: Oh yes, I’ll tell you, you know during the filming of the Mollie Maguires I was sick at heart, I thought that they werer doing entirely the wrong thing they were putting a whole lot of dramatics in it that didn’t occur, for what purpose, to make it more exciting and in so doing it didn’t have any continuity any unity

AV: What was it really like

GF: Well now listen the only thing I can give you is stories that came from my father and my grandfather, first I’ll take my grandfather, my grandfather lived in the valley, Sandy Valley, and not too far from where my granddaddy lived there’s a dirt road that leads off to , Helen you heard of this, the Owl Hole

HF: Yes you were down there Frank Zahay had you down at the Owl Hole, I don’t know how they went

GF: Not thru Sandy Valley, well at the extreme end of this dirt road about 3/4 of a mile from the Owl H ole itself was a farm and it was inhabited by a family known as Burka, headquarters of the Mollie Maguires there’s where they held their meetings now on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day a representative of the Mollie Maguires or 2 would come to my grandfather’s farm and say, John we want you to get in line with us tomorrow to march with us Harley, see they paraded from Eckley, well from Sandy Valley to Eckley and they picked up recruits at Jeddo and all the little patch towns and they got to (Harleigh) Harley now why they went to Harley I


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GF: don’t know but it was just a show of strength and my grandfather always consented, he’d go, now my grandfather was a German, not a Catholic, understand he was certainly not a Mollie Maguire but he had to concede to their wishes lest they would do some harm and they never interfered with him, now down at the other end beyond the Owl Hole about 4 miles down at what they call Tullys you know where the elk used to be well I think when you went to the Owl Hole you went down the old railroad bed, didn’t you,

AV: No we went thru some of the roads that were the strippings

GF: Oh that’s it and that was the old railroad, it looks like strippings, the rails are not in, there was a family lived there by the name of Harris and this home was isolated, alone, down at the foot of the mountain with a little stream coming down and in the yard were two huge while pines and somehow Mr. Harris didn’t get along very well with the Mollie Maguires, he didn’t concede to their wishes, understand, and he did something that irritated them aggravated them and they planned to punish him but somehow thru a confederate he learned of this now he got in touch with his son that lived in Hazleton and they were going to take him out and punish him someway on a certain Saturday night and he was told about this and he got in contact with his son and his son came down and went up in one of these large pine trees with a rifle and when they started in, I don’t know how many of them, he asked them to halt and they didn’t and he shot them, he shot them dead and then they asked him if they could take out the dead men and he said, yes and they left and they never bothered that man since, and that’s an actual fact now down here you know where Henry Jane lives and where Bella Spire lives at the present time now there was a man that was a mine foreman by the name of McGinley that lived there right across from where the Reformed Church used to be, now Mr. McGinley was an assistant mine foreman, no mine foreman and you see the in those days a mine foreman could give, well he apportioned the work to the miners now he could say to John now, here I’m going to give you this breast to work,


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GF: now John would look at that and he was happy because he knew that he could make a lot of money see they were paid by contract, the number of cars that they load and then he could say to Andrew, now I’l give you this breast, and Andrew didn’t like it because the coal was so hard and the vein was very small and he would have to work like the dickens to make ends meet to make a days wages so the Mollie Maguires, one of their purposes was compel these mine foremen to give the choice jobs to their own members and they were deathly opposed to the importation of the Slavs, the Yugoslavs, etc., very very much opposed so Mr. McGinley was the type of individual he wouldn’t concede so one night they came to punish him and my dad told the story and he said it was true and Mr. McGinley was prepare, he was on top of the stairs with his shot gun and he said the first one that comes up, I’ll shoot and do you know what they did they took his son and they pushed his son up in front of them and they disarmed him and they beat him unmercifully

HF: Angela Mrs. Bachman told you about that, that very incidence

GF: Now some time, you take old Mr. Stoffa, Andy Stoffy, I don’t know if you told Angela about that accident

HF: Yes I did, I told her about him

GF: There was one little story I would like to tell you in connection with that, they waylaid him, and Mr. Stoffa was a huge man he was sabout 6 ft. 3 or 4, powerfully built they way-laid him on top of Highland Hill, those days if you wanted to go to town you had to walk and they beat him up, what they did a lot of the stories haven’t been explained, now my grandfather lived as I said in Sandy Valley and my father, I’m citing this little story to prove that many of the deaths that occurred around here have never been explained, that is in the days of the Mollie Maguires my father went to work when he was 9 yrs. of age he never went to school and he walked from Sandy Valley to Sandy (blank) work in the breaker and in those days they wore leather boots and sometimes in the winter when they would


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GF: they’d have to stand along the steam pipe till they could get their boots off their feet were near frozen but anyhow my grandfather sent to Germany for his brother and one day someone brought a German immigrant up to the breaker the German immigrant was looking for Feisner probably it was grandfather’s brother and they took him up to the breaker to show him Feisner, he/it was my dad, 9 yrs. of age and he looked at him and in German he said, no it’s not the man, and he went back towards Freeland and they never heard of him, now this is pure speculation, some years later the Ruman property in Freeland where the laundrymat is now located that was a hotel, headquarters of the Mollie Maguires always frequented by the members of the organization, many years later it was sold and they went to excavate in the cellar and they came up with the remains of an individual, now that is speculation, was it he, now my brother in Washington had access to millions of names, he worked for the government and he searched diligently for the Feisner name and he found that one had been a professor at Princeton University it was spelled Feissner that was the only one, oh incidentally there was a lady last year she was visiting the Poconos and she saw the advertisement Feissner Garage and she came down and she chatted with me but I don’t think there was any relationship now I mention that to show that ofttimes an individual disappeared and that was the end of it

AV: They really operated well

GF: Oh indeed they did, they were very cruel, very cruel,in Buck Mountain I can show you another place where they held their meeting where (blank) lived the McMullins, old Dan McMullin, you knew old Shaney Shaney

HF: Oh yeh, he was the secretary

GF: Yeh Shaney McHugh

AV: What do you know about him

GF: Well I’ll tell you we lived next door to them and he was a little Irishman about big, very much to himself, very much, I don’t think he did any harm but he was


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GF: one of the group probably not one of the policymakers

HF: He probably had to take orders

GF: But I wish you could have been around when my dad lived he could have given you first-hand information I’m sure you would have loved to have listened to my father, yes indeed

HF: He was a very interesting man

GF: He could really tell a story

HF: He certainly could, he was a wonderful person, I think

AV: Now about Shaney McHugh, was there something

GF: Well now Mary Zurko, Mary Gaffney down here would like to hear it

AV: That’s o.k. she wouldn’t

HF: Jimmy Gaffney does tho he’s proud of it

AV: Yes he is, he’s very proud

GF: Well, well, is that right, oh dear oh dear, did you tell Helen about the school that existed here

HF: We were talkin’ about schools this morning

GF: Do you remember the school down here

HF: Yes I started down there in the first grade and then the second grade already I went up here to school but the first grade Miss Gaffney from Freeland was my teacher and the only thing that separated us was a pot bellied stove and I can still smell the cocoa that Miss Gaffney got ready for herself for lunch and before we went home for lunch she would put on the milk and get ready to make the cocoa and Kate Hauser was teaching the second room but we never got mixed up we did our studies and the others did their studies

GF: You know my dad was a jokester he was witty

HF: I remember a good many stories he told

GF: We lived down here where John (blank) lives and the family on the other side was Sauers, George, Mr. Sauers was a short fellow and Mrs. Sauers was quite tall


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GF: and a little heavy and she was domineering and he was the receding type so he and Mrs. Sauers said they were going to raise some chickens so he said, I’ll have to build a chicken coop and he raised about 200 chickens they were white leghorns and he was so proud of these chickens so in the evening he would go up with a pail or a pan or dish and pick out the eggs so one evening my dad and I were working in the garden he said, Feissner come over here I want to show you something, see I got 35 eggs isn’t that wonderful? And my dad said how many chickens do you have, oh about 200, oh that’s nice so my dad the next evening went down to my mother and said, mother how many eggs to you have, she said, oh about a dozen, he let me have them, so he took the dozen and he went up to our chicken pen and he put these 12 eggs in with the eggs the chickens laid so he had 20 chickens so he timed it so Mr. & Mrs. Sauers would be in the back yard in the garden when we would go up so he took a dish and went up and he said, now I’m going up to gather my eggs to see what my chickens done today, he went over to the fence and said look here and Mrs. Sauers looked at him and said, how many do you have there, well 18, how many chickens do you have, 20, she turned around to her husband and said, you goddam fool I told you uou didn’t know anything about raisin’ chickens, well he created a disturbance there,

HF: I remember your dad tellin’ that story up at our house

GF: I’ll never forget that, well after I received my bachelors degree from Penn State University I later took my masters at Columbia, I took chemistry, and organic chemistry in school I learned how the French made intoxicating beverages so in the evening I thought, I’m going to build a little still, this is the truth in the shanty, this was in the winter time and I thought I’m going to make a little liquor, now mind I never drank, I wouldn’t touch it at that time, now today I may take a cocktail or so, I’m not a drinking man, so I set up a still and made it all myself, marquette, I had a barrel behind the stove and I got the rye and put it in and a couple yeast cakes to produce fermentation and water and so forth and finally


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GF: I made 5 gallons, ran it thru twice tested it, 100 proof, bought a charcoal barrel and you understand the poison in liquor is fusel oil and fusel oil boils at the same temperature that alcohol boils and it vaporizes of course and there’s no way to take the fusel oil out of liquor only by charcoal and why charcoal takes it out chemists don’t know today well anyhow I bought the charcoal barrel, filled it, corked it built 2 horses and put it in the cellar what I intended to do I don’t know well I’ll leave it there and see well about 3 months later one Saturday I decided to go down in the cellar to do a little cleaning and I thought well I’d better move that barrel over here and I got I got a hold of it and I could hear it swishing in there it was full in the first place so I began to put 2 and 2 together now dad has been down here and he’s been sampling this, he’s siphoning it out and I looked around and on the beam and I found a little hose that he used to sephon it out and fill out a quart bottle and take it up to the chicken pen and hide it so I got a kick out of that I didn’t say anything for about a week and one evening and we were eating supper, today we call it dinner we were all there the whole family and I said, dad I was down in the cellar on Saturday doing some work, he was very serious never let on he heard me, because he didn’t know how I was going to take this, I said, you know that barrel that was down there, I moved it over on the other side, then I think he began to perspire, well I waited for about 3 minutes and then I finally said, Well dad, how is it? Then he began to smile and he said, Oh it’s out of this world. I said well you can have it now

HF: He was a card

GF: Well now here’s another story that I must tell you see he used to go down to #11 every once in awhile he was called down to #11 mine, #11 was a mine area where they had a hoisting engine where they brought coal out of the mine and they had a boiler house where they made steam to operate the engine and so forth and there was a little shop there and every once in awhile he would go down and do some blacksmithing so it was


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GF: about this time of year when the blueberries were ripe especially the swampers are you familiar with swampers, are you from a mining area

AV: No but I know what a swamper bush looks like

GF: Yes it’s tall

HF: She was out picking berries, she went out with Bruno Lagonosky one morning

GF: Oh I picked 28 quarts

HF: And she surprised me with how many she got

GF: Oh in Senecsville, I know where that is well in his spare time he took a walk in the woods and he found a nice place (blank) when he came home at noon you see me after George and we’ll both go down and pick them swampers and of course my dad always had a little dog, a little beagle, rabbit hound and he said, take the dog along, so when we got down there there was a lady and a fellow in picking the berries and they from #2 Buck Mountain and I would assume judging from their talk that they were maybe 18, 19 years of age and they were having a chat, they were talking incidentally and he said to me, I guess we’re a little late but we got to get them out of there, I said, what do you mean, he said sit down there by this tree, it was pretty thick, you know and the little dog was running thru the woods he made a noise like this whoooooooooo and the talking stopped and he went whooooooooooooo and she said, Johnny what’s that thing that sounds like a cow, and away they went the bucket banging against the bushes they ran for their life and he started laughing and I said, Dad that was an awful thing to do, and he said, well it’s done the berries are ours. That’s the way he was and I guess I have inherited some of those traits and I dearly love youngsters, here last year there were 2 little girls see I live on the corner and there is a hedge that high and I have an English Setter, a bird dog, in a wire pen not too far from the sidewalk and


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2 little girls came down and they had a cat and they stood at the corner of my garage looking at the dog and the dog was barking terribly at the cat and he was jumping up at the fence and what I wanted them to do was to move on but you know there’s no point in insulting them so I walked down and instead of saying, ladies move on, move on, and they’d think I was an old crab, but I didn’t, my girls that’s a lovely cat, where did you get the cat, oh it’s a nice cat take it in to my dog there he likes cats he ate 2 yesterday, you ought to seen those girls run, well I had a grape arbor and they were concord grapes and the neighbors youngsters, little Jackie and little Mary used to come over and crawl up and as soon as they would begin to turn and they would pull the off and they would taste them and they were sour and throw grapes all over the place so there’s no use in antagonizing those youngsters so I went out one day and I pulled a bunch off and I said, do you like these grapes, I said, I would eat these, do you know what kind of grapes they are, dog grapes, and down they came and they went home that evening Mrs. Machello said to me what kind of grapes do you have, dog grapes, but I love the youngsters why antagnoize them.

HF: Tell her about what your dad did, I was tellin’ her here one night Mr. Horvatz had a dog that always followed him around and when he came home from work and he had to go up to the shop to have some tools sharpened so he went up to the shop and our Pete was your dad’s helper at that time, and well they were 2 of a kind, and this dog followed them and your dog [dad?] said to Pete, we’ll fix him, so somehow or other they got the dog into the shop and Mr. Horvatz [? Horwath] was waiting and your dad was busy but he wasn’t too busy that he run a rasp across the dog’s behind and then he put turpentine on and the dog came home and he was all over the floor he was riding all around on the floor and they thought he went mad andd then one day Mr. Horvatz came in with the drill and he said that he wanted that done fast, the auger, and so your dad did it fast he was going to teach him a lesson he didn’t say anything to him but he takes and sharpened it the


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HF: opposite way, so Mr. Horvatz [? Horwath] went right down in the mines and tried to use the auger and it wouldn’t work so after he found out what was wrong he come up and he was cursin’ like everything because he sharpened the auger the wrong way and your dad said, well you wanted it fast so it was real fast.

GF: Your not getting very much to use in your history are you

AV: No but I’m getting good stories, do you remember in town they use to have these wakes

GF: Oh yes, let me tell you a little story maybe you heard this, Pat was very sick very, very sick and he knew that he didn’t have long to live and Mary his wife knew that he didn’t have long to live now this story will give you some significance of wakes so Mary was cooking ham in the kitchen and of course Pat was upstairs on his death-bed and Mary went up to him and said, Pat is there one last wish that you have before you die, yes Mary there is will you go down and get me just one little slice of the ham you’re cookin’, oh my God no, that’s for your wake Pat, well I’ll tell you wakes, they are a thing of the past like when a person dies see, neighbors and friends gathered and they sat up all night and they had cigars and cigarettes, liquor, lots of liquor not too much beer and some times there were sandwiches

HF: Especially the ones that stayed after midnight

GF: Yes that’s true, every night until the burial and of course there were many, many stories that were told but let me tell you something, Spongy does he live next door

HF: No he lives up where old man Petro lived, oh yes she knows him

GF: He used to tell some tall stories, he lived right next door here and they were waking Spongy’s mother or his father, and it was in the summertime, Spongy and a number of men were sitting out on the porch now this is Spongy’s story, and what he was illustrating in this story was how powerful his gun shot, how powerful his gun was, and a rat made an appearance in the yard Spongy said, I went in and I got my shot gun I put a shell in it and I went out and I took aim


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GF: and I took the shot gun and took it back in the house placed it in the corner and went out and looked around and I’ll bet I was looking for 2,3 minutes and couldn’t see the rat when all at once pooh down he comes,

HF: He must have gone up into space

AV: These stories they use to tell were there anything spooky

GF: Oh about ghosts, well I was never allowed to attend these wakes my father was a strict disciplinarian, as I said to Helen one time, he used the rod and when he administered it was like a vaccination, it took, but he didn’t have to use it very often and we had to be in the house when we were children, youngsters just as soon as it got dusk, we had to be in there, Helen did you tell Angela about the weddings, and the christenings

HF: No I didn’t tell her anything about that

GF: Well listen, this was particularly true

HF: Well the weddings used to start on a Friday night

GF: Well the weddings say they were going to take place on Saturday and oh this was a big affair the neighbor women and the relatives were busy cooking, I’ll bet they’d cook 50 chickens at least, a lot of cooking, and they would hire this gypsy orchestra there was 2 of them, old Mr. Steffen and his son old Mr. Steffen played the big bass fiddle, now I’ll tell you about the big bass fiddle, and his son the violin, now a good many of the boys that were invited to the wedding of course you couldn’t go unless you were invited, they use to come up to the shop where I worked and prepare for this wedding because every so often when they played they would go around and you had to reach in your pocket and give 50 cents or a quarter in the bass fiddle, you can anticipate what I’m going to say, you know what a washer is that you put with a bolt, they’d say give me a pocketful of half-inch washers and we used a monell bar on the breaker, a rodlike and it looked like silver and we used to saw off 25 cent pieces off this bar and if there were any rough edges, we’d take the hammer and smooth it well when these fellows


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GF: went to the wedding they would have a pocketful of washers, some were monell and some of them would take pieces of lead and hammer it out and they’d dance and then they’d go over to the fiddle and put in these and there would be a smile from ear to ear when he got home and opened the fiddle they were full of these washers and these slugs but they served beer oh beer was served like water and then of course after the wedding it would end up in a big fight

HF: We had a pair of knuckle rings that our Peter took away from someone at one of the weddings

GF: Steel knuckles

HF: Yes, because they were in a fight and they had the knuckle rings and he took them away from them and we have 2 billie clubs that were taken away but I don’t know what in the world ever happened to those billie clubs nor, the knuckle rings. I know I had showed to Joe Falatko’s oldest boy they were, they had to bring things in to school from years ago and I loaned them to him he returned them to me but I do not know where those knuckle rings are.

GF: You know old Pat Sweeney had a son John and John was an educated fellow he was a professor of engineering at Villanova and it was the custom here in the evening especially in the summer time, you couldn’t go anywhere, you had no place to go to stand at the corner down here we used to call [Y???] corner right where the store is now so on a certain Saturday evening I walked out of the house and I walked up to this corner was Sweeney and we chatted and you remember Kelley Kistlin, and Joe Kistlin they married sisters they lived in right beside where Litchies used to have, in the house there

HF: Right where the country store is now

GF: Yes where the country store is, both Joe and Kelley drank heavily and on this particular Saturday night the intoxicated, they were drunk and when they got drunk they used to beat their wives and clean house so this Saturday night was no exception so we were standing there talking and the first thing we know we heard a lot of


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GF: crying and an awful rumpus and dishes were going out into the garden and pans and whatnots oh there was a terrible disturbance and Sweeney said, I believe I’ll go in to see if I can settle that, that is terrible, he walked in on the boardwalk and just as he got to the steps of the back porch Joe said, you sonofabitch what do you want, and he made one race for him, Sweeney never stopped until he got in and locked his door, I met him later and he said to me, Oh my God, I was never so scared in my life, never again will I attempt to settle a family quarrel oh that was often [?] fights of that sort

HF: Well you know Cochick saved Joe’s wife one Sunday afternoon, you know where the slate banks used to be on the Back Street and they were living in that house where Mrs. Urich was living on the Back Street and he would go to church on Sunday and then he would go drinkin’ and he would come home pretty late in the afternoon and the first thing Mamie got a beatin’ so she was runnin’ down the alley and Cochick happened to be at the back gate and he protected her because otherwise Joe could have even killed her

GF: She’s living yet, she was a mother of 12 or 13 children

HF: I was talkin’ to her not too long ago

GF: In her early life she was a victim of tuberculosis, she spent some time in the White Haven Sanitarium right after their marriage, came home and bore was it 12 or 13 children and you know later in life he turned out to be an ideal, model husband he attended church with the regularity of an orthodox clergyman

HF: And he was very good to her then, when he stopped drinkin’, my dad asked him once, he was working with my dad, and my dad asked him once, Joe how did you stop drinkin’ you drank so heavily and raised so much fuss, how did you ever stop, he said, well I sat down and I thought it over one day and my children were growing up it’s a shame to be carrying on like this, and I just decided I was going to stop and that was it, that was willpower but his son does a lot of drinking, John


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GF: Yes I think he does, I think he has a liver condition.

HF: Oh he’s been drinking very heavily and you know he wanted to punish him because they were living in that house right down below us on the Back Street and, when Mrs. Smith used to live one time and after Joe stopped drinking he wanted to put a stop to him drinkin’ and Mamie use to protect the boy she used to lay awake and Joe used to have the door locked so he would know when the son comes in but Mamie sneaked down and opened the door so Joe wouldn’t know when the boy would come in so Joe wouldn’t punish him

AV: I guess it was a pasttime that they had, drinking

GF: Yes that’s true, the accessibility of it, you see at one time we called them beer men, businessmen from Freeland used to drive thru here sometime in a 2 horse drawn vehicle, loaded with beer

AV: Was that an open wagon

GF: Yes it was an open wagon

HF: And jugs of whiskey under the front seat

GF: And big jugs of whiskey under the front seat well sometimes the men on their way home from work, now Mr. Mickel he was the liquor dealer in in Freeland and he would load his wagon with beer, all bottled beer and the jugs of whiskey under the seat where he sat as he drove his team and he’d come up town and sometimes the miners were going home from work and they would stop and they’d say hey John, how about a drink? They had this copper funnel and it had a little catch in it that would close it and he’d take the jug and he had a way of pouring it out and when they took a drink out of that funnel they took a drink, they were embalmed

HF: I saw that done

AV: How much was a funnel full

GF: Well you see, why did he have a funnel, people who bought liquor had a bottle for their husband, a quart bottle, and the liquor dealer would go into the house and say Mrs. Jones your husband want anything today yet? Well he wants his bottle


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GF: and he’d take the bottle out and he’d put the funnel in and turn the jug and fill the bottle, sometimes if he had more liquor than would go into the bottle he didn’t want to lose it he’d shut a little valve and keep it [?} and put the funnel back into the jug and open the little valve and it would run back into and then a box of beer, Christmas time, sometimes Helen they would have 2,3 loads as high as this house, oh yes indeed, at one time a bottle would be 50 cents and then it went up to 75 and then $1.00 and so on, not to go on to a different subject but did you tell this woman about the nurse that used to be in town and how the doctors leave cards on the windows and how Miss Whiteman used to come up the street

HF: Yes Miss Whiteman and then Miss Smith

GF: And the number of people that were taken down to Lehighton to have their eyes examined

HF: I forgot about that

GF: You see Mrs. Coxe was a philanthropist of Eckley, you heard a lot about her, oh I could entertain you for hours I believe talking about Mrs. Coxe

HF: I told her that store should never been named the Betty C. because Betty Carnahan didn’t do anything for the town that store should have been the Sophia Coxe but the people in town were afraid to speak up they talked among themselves but I guess they were afraid to speak out and she said supposing they make a memorial to Mrs. Coxe how would you suggest the memorial to be done, well I said the only thing that I can say is put wings on it, because I said she was known as the angel of the anthracite, well she said she was thinking if there was a special room of exhibits that would sort of touch on her life what all she did and everything would she be able to get any information on that and I said I think you can get information from Mr. Kunkle because she is still running that fund that Mrs. Coxe had endowed and I said the one that was her last chauffer, Billie Gower, I said maybe he’d have some information I said the only thing I remember of her


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HF: is when she would come up to school at Christmastime

GF: Oh I can tell you a lot about her, you know where she’s buried, in Drifton, well see Mrs. Coxe was a philanthropist in the real sense of the work first all the colliery’s in the communities are, where there was a colliery, the Coxe brothers owned she gave Christmas gifts not only to every youngster in school but every youngster that attended the Episcopal Church because she was Episcopalian now I lived in Buck Mountain and Buck Mountain was run by the Coxe Brother’s Coal Co. and there was a one-room schoolhouse and each year Mrs. Coxe made a visit and she arranged to send us gifts, now let me tell you what went on, about, in the early part when school would start, school would start in October we’d begin to prepare for Mrs. Coxe’s visit see our teachers were not college graduates but were high school graduates just one-room and one teacher and every individual in school, we had about 25 or 30 youngsters in school, had to take part in the program I remember my first poem, I recited a poem Lucy Locket lost a pocket and Santa Claus found it and tied a ribbon around it, when I was a little fellow, now let me say this, I wish I could describe this in detail, how we were dressed, well in those days, you know, hand-me-downs, hand-me-downs from my brother who was a little older, from my sister and from my father, as a matter of fact, my mother had a sewing maching but my mother had a cataract that was developing and she couldn’t see very well and she fashioned a jacket, as a shirt or blouse and the tie was over here you see, now here’s where it should have been but it was here because she put it in the wrong place so when I went to school my mother tied a big bow here, red or blue and I had little short pants up here buttons up along the side now I had long stockings but I always wore long underwear and you know you had to roll the underwear

HF: Don’t I know it, I could never get it right

GF: You had to roll it and if you didn’t get it right there was a lump here, a lump here and a lump there up here you had a garter on to hold the socks up now the


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GF: shoes you could buy for 75 cents or 90 cents but as soon as you got them father had a last, shoe repair kit, he’d put another sole on there to last longer but when you went to school and you’ld look down, holy gee, you had big lumps on your legs and your hair my father didn’t cut the hair but there was a fellow in the community that cut it with a pair of scissors [barber] and the clippers and what he didn’t cut he pulled out

AV: Did you pay for it

GF: Oh no, steps all over the place you looked as tho you were shot at and missed, but anyhouw now listen we were talking about Mrs. Coxe we started in October to practice, everybody had to say their piece, and in the latter part of November the boys went way over in the swamp and cut a Christmas tree, got that done, now remember this was in November and Christmas didn’t come until the 25th of December, then we had to get this trailing spruce and make wreaths cross the school this way and that way and one over the door and one over the blackboard and now Mrs. Coxe sent us cards printed cards with the Christmas Carols on it We Three Kings of Orient Are, Silent Night, and so on and then about 2 weeks before Christmas old Mr. McCaron from Lattimer, nothing but decayed teeth in front and when he opened his mouth all these decayed teeth, it was terrible, well he wanted to teach us how to sing to prepare for Mrs. Coxe’s visit well honest to God when I reflect we sang loud, made a lot of noise, but when Mrs. Coxe came we knew the day she was coming and so did the teacher now the teacher’s desk was up there and the road led down this way and you know the teacher was specially dressed that day, we were all clean

HF: I told Angela we use to shine going up the street

GF: Oh yes and the shoes polished for the first time ever, special shirt on and special tie and the teacher would look up there and then we would go on with our work and she’d look up again and then, she’s coming, she’s coming and she would go over to the mirror and fix her hair all fixed up and we sat there as tho we


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GF: were mumified, there’s an angel entering here, someone unusual, I didn’t realise the significance and Mrs. Coxe walked in all in black, a little bit of a black bonnet monacle with a black ribbon and she went up and greeted the teacher and I don’t know if the teacher had brains enought to greet her but anyhow then we sang oh we made a lot of noise, but to Mrs. Coxe it was the most beautiful music she ever heard, she’d tell us that and in a sweet voice and her whole heart and soul was in it caused us to feel that we sang beautifully well you know it was impossible then she told us that she would not forget us that we would receive a Christmas gift from her and I’ll never forget, I can see Mr. Fisher at the livery stable too, horse drawn sled come down with these big boxes mind for about 30 youngsters and sometimes you had to take them apart before you got them in the school door then they were given out during the program, this program and the parents had to attend this program and my what a program that was no music but singing and our recitations there were 30 people there were 30 recitations and everybody applauded well the teacher would call the names, George Feissner a Flixiflyer sled, a dollar, an orange, a winter cap and a box of candy, Mary Jones – a tam-o-shanter, a doll, a sweater and a box of candy and an orange.

HF: The bigger girls use to get enough material for a dress but always an orange and that was a treat because we didn’t get oranges like we do today.

GF: I got a sled but youngster lower than me got a horn and he started to cry right then and there he wanted a sled, well everything was written down and the teacher had an awful time quieting him and when the parents left they blamed the teacher because he didn’t get a sled like George Feissner did that wasn’t right she did that, the teacher, that teacher she’s not going to teach here next year.

HF: That went according to age

GF: Yes but you know Mrs. Coxe was a very religious woman, we lived in Buck Mountain across the road from a beautiful grove of pines oh tall pines and there wasn’t any vegetation underneath just pine needles, twice a year she would have drivers


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GF: drive her and her nurse in a two seated rather tired rig down there and they would stop in front of our place and she would walk thru that grove of pines and she said she just loved hearing the wind sighing in the top most branches it would comfort her soul, she could worship there she just loved it she was that kind of person now in Eckley kids got presents

HF: And in Drifton

GF: And in Beaver Meadows too, Coal Rain etc. but we youngsters that went to the Presbyterian church got 2 presents, so some of the kids here thought they’d better go to the Presbyterian church whether they were Presbyterians or not but she was a grand lady. Now Miss Whiteman who was a nurse lived here hired by Mrs. Coxe and was paid by Mrs. Coxe her office was equipped by Mrs. Coxe she made daily visits thru the town and wherever she saw a card in the window, see Dr. Maise had a red card, Dr. Neil had a yellow card, Dr. Truckmiller had a blue card and so on and she would come in and investigate, and some times she would come into a home and she would investigate and she would ask what kind of food they were serving the youngsters, well she would say we have to get an order for them and she would send this information to someone, Mrs. Coxe’s secretary and the order was brought there was milk, shoes, clothing and so forth and maybe Johnny was having difficulty in school well Miss Whiteman would say, well we have to have his eyes examined on Saturday, now she had a nurse here and a nurse in Drifton and on a Saturday they’d have as high as 15, 20 youngsters, take them by train to Lehighton to Dr. Kistler to have their eyes examined and fitted with glasses all by Mrs. Coxe. We told you about Mr. Steffon, well Mr. Steffon was just an ordinary boy about town and he and his mother went for huckleberries, did you tell her this story, well on the way home they had their pails filled and up here where the breaker was a train of cars loaded with coal and as a car was filled at the breaker and ran down hit the train of cars they moved a bit, now Andrew and his mother coming home from berries were confronted with this train of cars the mother said


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let us walk around the cars and the boys said, no mother I’ll crawl under the cars and meet you when you come around while he was under the car they ran a car down from the breaker and they hit this train of cars and it moved just about that much and one wheel rested on his leg and on on his arm now my father was a first-aid man and they called for my father now the pont that I’m going to make is that I’m going to tell you the complete story involving Mrs. Coxe he carried him in his shoeing apron now that was a leather apron, carried him up to the first-aid and the hand was hanging and it was just hanging by a piece of tissue and he snipped it and gave it his mother, but the point is he was hospitalized now Mrs. Coxe was interested in him she paid for his hospitalization bought him an artificial hand and an artificial leg and it so happened that he got back to school and he was wearing the artificial arm and the artificial leg Mrs. Coxe came to visit the school I was in his class and at an appropriate time during her visit he got up came out of the seat and it was really a dramatic moment and he walked up the aisle with some difficulty he wasn’t used to the artificial leg and he thanked Mrs. Coxe for what she did. I’ll never forget what she said “My young man if I could spend every cent of money that I have to restore that leg and that arm that I would do for you,” and tears rolled down her cheeks she took him and she saw to it that he went to the Miner’s Mechanical and there was no tuition or anything else and then to Lehigh University and paid for all his schooling and saw to it that he had a life time job at the Institute in Freeland where he taught for about 40 years/ and my son whose love for mathematics is very great starts with this man Steffon, he was a great teacher a crude fellow in many respects in the classroom but you got it, you had to get it

HF: And he always appreciated what she done for him, he never forgets on Thanksgiving Day a group of boys from Miners goes down to her grave and puts at wreath on

GF: Oh she was a remarkable person but there was so many people took advantage of her, with lies, people with means with money in the bank would plead poverty


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GF: and receive aid, assistance. Mrs. Coxe yes a remarkable [individual] woman an angel of the coal fields now she left a lot of money to be used, how I’m not altogther sure a lady in Drifton who incidentally is an Episcopalian I can’t think of her name administers, some money goes to the Mechanical Institution and other for poverty purposes, people in need but, poverty is not dispensed with on the scale today as it was when she lived, she was remarkable

HF: And when a man was killed in the mines his widow didn’t have to pay any rent but you know after she died there was people living in Drifton were getting aid from her because they were supposed to be so poverty stricken and they lived there up until the time that she died and after she died they came in to Freeland and built beautiful, big homes and lived very nicely

GF: Well now something just came to mind when you were talking about husbands that were killed that brought to me an experience in first-aid, I was first-aid man here with my father and some other men

HF: Our Pete was on the team

GF: Yes I think that Pete was on at this particular time now this is another story that concerns my dad, now his brand of wit, we received some information from the mines #2 Slope that they were bringing out a miner that was deathly sick a fellow that lived up on Back Street but anyhow they brought him into the first aid room and he was pale and he had been regurgitating, vomiting, my dad was a good first aid man, a fearless type of fellow and he said, Mike what did you eat for breakfast, I ate the bacon, well you know at that time we got the bacon in a slab, how much did you eat, maybe half a pound for breakfast? Yeh, did you that black rind on it, I eata everything, so my dad begn to smile and went over to the cupboard and we had a big tin cup there, more than a pint and there was a box of Epsom Salts standing there and he took about so much and put it into the cup filled it up with water and he said, here drink this, and Mike said,


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GF: and my dad said, Scotts Emulsion, Scotts Emulsion I never hear that before, so dad said, drink it, so he drank it and made a lot of bad looking faces, and dad said to one of the men, take him home, they took him home and the next day Mike wasn’t at work

HF: I can imagine why

GF: So the evening of that day after work dad went down to Mike’s home and of course dad knew that Mike had a little bottle and of course my dad liked a little nip and he said, Mike how do you feel, Oh I feel good but no sleep last night why not, oh, pants down all night

HF: I can imagine after all that Epsom Salts, he wasn’t sick anyhow

GF: Well you know on the other hand I saw some very sad things, you remember Bruno father, Bruno Lagonosky, Bruno’s father was a nice man a clean, quiet a man to be respected, used good judgment now he and his buddy Valentine who lived up town here a big tall fellow were working together, they were both miners, now they ran a car into the face of the breast, they put a branch in and the coal and they were both on the same side of the car if this was the car one was on this side shoveling this way and like where Angela is the other was shoveling in the same car and they heard something above they thought it was protected and Valentine looked up and a chunk half as big as that stove came down and hit him in the face and one portion of it hit Bruno’s father in the back well Bruno’s father died instantly and when we took him out there wasn’t one mark on his body, his body was clean, it was a Monday, he had put all new clean mining garments on and the other man was conscious and the peak of his face was broken off and his eyes were gone and we sent for old Dr. Neil and Dr. Neil arrived and said, where does he live, and I said, and he said you’d better go for his wife, he’s going to pass away, I went up for his wife and she was out picking huckleberries and by the time I got back, he was dead. Now things of that sort, now here’s another interesting thing


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HF: Yes I remember, they had a silk handkerchief over his face at the wake

GF: Yes the peak of his face was broken off and I talked to him Valentine do you hear me, yeh he was still conscious, now there was another fellow by the name of Valentine one time here too, he was a big fellow and he worked with Frank Shane’s father at #2, Frank Shane’s father lived in Freeland and Valentine this other Valentine lived I think up town here somewhere I think it was on Back Street, he was a big man, they worked together, now you see the breast of the place where the miners worked is supposed to be inspected by the mine foreman, before the miner went in but somehow this morning it wasn’t so Valentine went in a little early about a quarter of seven he wanted to put in a little piece of rail so they could move the car closer to the coal so he’d be ready when his buddy Frank would come in so Valentine took of his lunch pail and his bottle the lunch pail was put down over the rope and the bottle held about 2 quarts and he hung it on a nail on the prop and he took off his smock when he went into this job so when Frank his buddy arrived he saw his smock and his lunch pail hanging there and he looked in and didn’t see any light and he called, Valentine, and there wasn’t any response, where did he go and he took his light

end 1381 footage

continued on side 2 tape 24


AV inter. George Feissner & Helen Fedorsha -32- 7/7/72 Tape 24-2

GF: and there was a hole that big along side of the car now what happened there had been an old working underneath there that was filled with water and as trains went on it wore the roof down and when Valentine stepped on that particular spot it was weak and down he goes so they sent word out that a man drowned went down in a mine that they didn’t know but they should have known the company should have known and if it was in modern days it would cost the company about a half million dollars but Pete and my dad got busy and made some grappling hooks and I remember the superintendent from Hazleton came over the superintendent of operations and he went down and he just happened to drop one of these hooks down and maybe 40, 50 ft. and hooked on Valentine’s belt now in those days they didn’t wear overalls with the straps on because that wouldn’t give them free movement to shovel and on this belt and he pulled him up and he was dead as a door nail

HF: I remember that drowning but I couldn’t remember the whole story about it you know th is lady that was out picking huckleberries that had her husband’s face done that way wasn’t she raised by these people that this man was drowned

GF: Well no doubt

HF: They lived up there where Andrew Gaydos’s lives now and I’m sure that man, I can’t think of his name it started with an “S”, they were Polish people this girl they used to call Monya and her name was Mary and they used to call her Monya and wasn’t she that Lagonosky’s daughter, that was the blacksmith they lived at #2 Buck Mountain I think she was his daughter by his first wife, she had a pretty rough life and then she married this man but this family up there raised her and I think that the man that raised her was the one that was drowned and then her husband was killed with Mr. Lagonosky


AV inter. George Feissner & Helen Fedorsha -33- 7/7/72 Tape 24-2

GF: Oh I could tell you about the shooting down here you remember Washko, what was his first name the fellow that was shot, Mike and Coojo was his brother that shot him well that was a strange thing, I could tell you that whole story because

AV: What happened

GF: Well one of the Washko’s died right before you came, John he lived up there in the end house

HF: She’s been up there a number of times talking to his wife

GF: Oh yes, his wife is tall, well John and Coojo were 2 brothers and Fred Monk was assistant foreman at the colliery he was given in to intoxication, he wouldn’t get alone without his drink, now Coojo lived, was married and he lived down on Shanty Street, he was married and he liked his liquor too and when he became intoxicated he became violent too and he used to beat his wife but John liked liquor but he was not married, he lived at home but I never saw him really intoxicated well now before I go any further let me stop there, I use to love to go out shooting grouse and I would go down in Buck Mountain and my father said we should have a short barreled shot gun, a hammer gun because it shoots close and it spreads you can shoot more grouse in the swamp so I had this gun and one day I was down in the village green shooting at some peach cans they threw up in the air and Coojo was there and he asked me if I would sell that gun I sold it to him for 5 bucks whatever he was going to do with it I don’t know, but anyhow he had that gun so one Sunday afternoon John, Coojo and Monk went over the hill to Hazlebrook, there was an inn there situated close to the tunnel they called it the Blue Pig, there they socialized and had their drinks and before they left Coojo bought a pint of liquor and Coojo was already intoxicated so was Monk intoxicated so on the way up


AV inter. George Feissner & Helen Fedorsha -33A- 7/7/72 Tape 24-2

GF: John took the pint of liquor from him he thought that if he got more he would go home and beat his wife so they quarreled about it enroute to Eckley and they all met down in Coojo’s yard. Coojo said to John give me the pint, John said no, and he went in the house his wife had hid the gun, she had anticipated his return, liquored up so to speak but he came up and put his hands on the gun to black powder shells in the gun and he came out and said, give me the pint, and John said no, and he pulled up the


AV inter. George F. & Helen Fed. -34- 7/7/72 Tape 24

GF: gun and he fired, and Monk put up his arm like this to protect the brother and he shot the muscle, the biceps off Monk’s arm and shot his brother in the neck in the jugular, well they quick took Monk to my father, he was a first-aid man and he administered first-aid and put a torniquet on and so forth and then arranged to take him to the hospital and we had one of these old Fords it was the days where you could put the top up and down and we took some 6 ft. plank and put them from one back door to the other back door and we laid the injured man on and we were taking him to the hospital and I could tell by the gargling that the jugular was severed and when we got to Harley he died, now this is interesting, of course the police were on the job and took Coojo away and put him in jail and he was tried and he was given 5 years, 5 years. Now the man was a good man basically but under the influence of liquor he didn’t know what he was doing and the next morning when he was told that he shot his brother and that he had died and that he had injured Monk he almost went insane but for good behavior he served 3 years, his wife kept the home intact and when he returned he went to Mr. Jane, the mine foreman, and Mr. Jane gave him the same job he had when he left and the first day he started a fall of coal came down and killed him, wasn’t that sad

HF: I knew he was killed but I didn’t know it was the first day he started

GF: Now this stuff you’re not going to use are you Angela

AV: I like the way you tell it tho, you tell it so nicely

GF: Well you know I’m consuming a lot of your time

HF: I have something I want to show you [tape turned off]

GF: If you’re around you could come over here sometime, where did that come from oh that’s a long story, I was 3 days old, was that something Pete and my dad made, yes indeed it’s a pair of pincers you know my brother in Washington retired has an awful lot of my dad’s tools and he was an expert in making tools and he used to shine them oh he prized them highly, when my dad passed away he got most of them before I had an opportunity to get some but my dad was an expert


AV inter. GF & HF -35- 7/7/72 Tape 24

GF: tool maker

HF: I have a hammer also that they made when we used to go up at the slate banks to pick coal, well the one side you can use to drive a nail with and the other side is pointed that you can dig with I have it up in the garage but thosse pincers I hold on to them because you can’t buy a pair like that and they’re hand-made

GF: You know up in Buck Mountain is where the water comes from the tunnel now this is a story told by my mother and father you see there was a large body of water imbedded in the mines the mining engineers knew it and they were drilling in to it they had to drain it to get the coal now that tunnel I guess is about 6 ft. high and 12 ft. wide thru the rock it’s right above the town now we lived down where the Paminos lived right along the creek and there wasn’t any water at that particular time but they knew there was a large body of water in the mines and eventually sooner or later they would tap it and it would break thru and probably cause some flooding so they came to our home at various times and, move out today we are going to tap water, well that never came, weeks went on, months went on it was the old story of the sheep and the wolf, finally it did come without any previous warning so it so happened that I was 3 days old my mother was upstairs in bed with me when this water broke loose and it came down and out a ditch oh much deeper than this room and we had swinging doors on the back porch and every stick of furniture including the stove, downstairs was washed out and it came up next to the last step, upstairs and I understand that dad had a beautiful garden he had some chickens, he had turkeys everything was gone, after the flood subsided, the water subsided, then started the normal flow down he went to the swamp to see what he could resurrect, what he could find, you know the only thing he could find was the high-chair and we kept that and I believe one of my brothers or sisters have it. Now there was a deposit, according to my mother of coal dirt about a foot, downstairs all that the company did was paid


AV inter. GF & HF -36- 7/7/72 Tape 24-2

GF: a woman a weeks wages to come in and clean it, we lost everything, well I have to go [recorder turned off] Mrs. Coxe why she used to love to come over and see old Mrs. Granny Davis, she was a grand woman, she was well versed in the Bible and she could sit there and quote passages after passages and that’s what Mrs. Coxe loved but our young Danny Coxe now I saw him come in to attend church the Episcopal for some occasion I don’t recall what it was it was in the winter time and he had one of those big fur coats on and he took it and threw it under the seat but I sat right behind him and I was particularly interested to see what he would put in the collection plate and I was a little amazed 20 bucks, 20 dollars to my nickel

AV: You know I wanted to ask one thing about Mrs. Coxe why was it do you think that she did all this stuff, all this charity?

GF: Oh deeply religious woman, in the first place she had the money and it was her religion, she believed it was a Christian duty, you know you read the Bible and it says a rich man cannot enter the kingdom of heaven and so forth they interpret that literally, she was a millionaire and I guess that she believed she didn’t earn this money it was the people that actually earned it for her and she had to return it to them but the primary motive was religion, unquestionably

AV: You think so

HF: Well I was still going to [Mrs. Coxe] school when the First World War was on and Belgium was in such a terrible position they were really down and out and she came to school one day and and there was a song, I don’t know who composed it but she had us learn it and sing it for peace and she told us the reason why she came down was that at Christmas time she wouldn’t be able to give us all the gifts we got we still would get a new dollar bill, an orange and a box of candy but she said in Belgium those children don’t have anything and she said you children here are lucky that you aren’t in the war and that she wanted to help the Belgium


AV inter. GF & HF -37- 7/7/72 Tape 24-2

HF: children out and I’m sure none of you would mind that and as you grow older you will know what it means, right now you don’t know what it means but you will know what it means, it is better to give than to receive.

GF: Well now she endowed a great many universities, Lafayette in particular, have you ever been down, there’s a Coxe building and I think she made some donation to Lehigh University those in particular

AV: Which area did she do all this charity in besides Eckley

GF: Buck Mountain, Eckley, Drifton, Beaver Meadows, Coal Rain, Derringer, Mary Dee, Tom Higgins [? Tomhicken]

AV: Jeddo

GF: No Jeddo was under Markle, Jeddo Highland Coal Company, Markle

HF: Oneida was Coxe’s too

GF: There was a great many, she spent millions of dollars

AV: And with all her money why was she buried under a simple cross

GF: Her wish

HF: She was laid out very simply I was down

GF: That was her wish, she didn’t want an expensive burial, no expensive casket or expensive vault

HF: She never dressed expensively

GF: You know years ago when people were buried they had a casket that was very cheap then they were put in a white pine box, that’s just a vault with a lid on, now up here in this cemetery that’s what I’ve been interested in, I’ve been trying to interest them in trying to do something about it because some of my relatives are buried over there but some of the graves are covered, we went up there, when I was in school I know my grandfather’s grave and my heaven’s sake it was all grown up scrub bushes and trees oh it was terrible and to get the exact location I knew the area but not the lot so I tell you what I did, I took an iron rod now in those days they didn’t go down any deeper than, I’d say about 3 1/2 ft.


AV inter. GF & HF -38- 7/7/72 Tape 24-2

GF: this doesn’t sound reasonable but I took this rod and I pushed it down on it once it come thru and I got the whole perimeter of the thing and I cleared out the brush and so forth but that’s a dirty shame up there I spent one whole summer there myself cleaning that out and I spoke to our representative in Washington

HF: I heard you down there at the meeting

GF: And I talked down to this fellow at the state and asked him since they’re taking over Eckley did that include the cemetery near colliery and he said not, and I tried to get money from living relatives from people buried there and some of them absolutely forgot about it now Mr. Tosh who at one time had been superintendent at the [blank] hospital and I happened to be on the board there for about 5 years, I knew him very well, now his relatives are buried there I called him on the phone and told him what I was doing and asked him if he would care to make a contribution and he said, how much do you want, I said, it’s not what I want it’s what you care to give, and I told him what we were going to do with it, you know he never sent a nickel I am a little afraid to meet that man because I’m going to tell him where to get off in plain English

Contributions Message

Janis Sheppard, Avery Ohliger, Camille Westmont and Regina M Dziak