Mary C. Jurbala R. N. August, 1972 2010 West 36 Street Page 1 Lorain, Ohio 44053
Being a former Eckley resident for a good many years, I’m glad to see that the town will someday be restored, so I’d like to give you some of the history as I can recall. Hope it may in some way help with your research work.
I lived at 133 Main Street in the center of the town. Almost next door were two Protestant churches fenced off with pipe running through the posts of wood. Uptown was a Catholic church and rectory. So there were three churches and not two as previously printed.
Directly behind the Protestant churches was a little red school house “pot” belly stoves to provide heat. As you entered the school, there was a partitioned off room where the coal and wood was kept. The school boys brought in the coal from there and also removed the ashes from the stoves. Behind this school was another building. Don’t exactly remember if it was a slaughter house or what it was used for, but I’m quite sure as my mind rambles that it was a slaughter house. It had a large ground brick or stone stuck. These buildings were gradually being surrounded by a desert of coal dust and dirt. These washings were carried to this large field by overhead troughs. This desert was a menace to the town especially when the wind was high as the dry coal dust blew all over the town. Finally this school house and slaughter house and churches were torn down and a new school was built to the east of the town opposite the Catholic Church.
Just a few houses southwest of the Protestant churches was a building called the “Bond House” whether there ever was a bond in the town or not I do not recall but i know meetings were held there and the folks used it for a voting place.
Behind the hotel and company store was a street also that had a few homes. West of the store were several large homes where the company bosses and store manager lived. Part of the home where the store manager lived was divided and occupied by a nurse brought in by the Coxe people, owners of the town and mine workings. She was an “angel” of mercy especially during the 1st “flu” epidemic as she worked diligently taking care of the towns sick and instructing families how to nurse the sick.
Opposite side of the store was a large mule stable to house the mules used for mine work. Every morning between 6 and 6:30 some of the workers would walk these mules up the main street to the mines and you could hear the heavy chains rattle andthe workers calls of “ge”-giddap” “whoah”, etc. as they would proceed to the mines. Around 3 p.m. they would be returned to the stable . This stable was fenced off so the mules could be left loose to graze and lay around. There were two large fields opposite the road leading into town where hay was raised and cut for these animals.
Mary C. Jurbala R.N. 2010 West 36 Street Lorain, Ohio 44053 August, 1972 Page 2
An old picnic ground was at the end of the these fields where the town’s folk would gather for a Saturday “good-time.” Later these picnic grounds were transferred to the eastern part of the town. We all knew a picnic was in store when we heard the orchester in a truck serenade the town.
In the home across from where I lived a two-room addition was added to it which was used by a doctor. Who he was I don’t recall.
Back of my house was a street called “shorty” street which ran almost the length of Main Street. There was also a street south of Main Street called “back” street.
South of “back” Street was the breaker, blacksmith shop, boiler house, round house, water tank for locomotives and a mine office.
Steam from the boiler house ran over head (piped) through the town towards the Highland Mountain on the north to be used for mine work and that was called #6 Eckley. East of #6 about 1 1/2 miles was what they called a “Bore Hole” containing good water and there were a few homes there and that was called #4 Eckley. West of #6 about 1 1/2 miles were also a few homes and that was called #5 Eckley.
In that section was a huge building that housed an”air-fan” operated by some of the steam to clear the mines of “foul-air.”
The coal-dust desert has now been re-used as it had a good source of coal that could be used and was hauled away by trucks.
Back (south) of the breaker was an abandoned cemetary. Lately the men from the local club got interested and restored it. East of this cemetary was a reservoir that supplied the town water. It was pumped up from the valley south of the reservoir. Twice daily a man inspected and measured the reservoir’s supply. The steam from the boiler house was used to pump this water to the reservoir. It was piped from the boiler house and carried over a very narrow swinging bridge across a very wide and deep stripping to the pumping house down in the valley. Many Sundays this swinging bridge was the attraction of the local youngsters, who would use it to race across the stripping. Sometimes they would run in opposite directions and pass each other on the bridge to see who could reach the other side the quickest. This bridge had no guard rails. The guardian angel must have been their guide as none ever fell into the stripping. How they made it, was beyond me. One would get dizzy just looking into the stripping from the edge. This stripping contained surface and springe water the sides were of smooth rock. This was also used as a swimming hole by many. They would crawl up the smooth stone, turn around, run down and jump into the water.
East of the new school house was the lumber yard where lumber for the mines and repair of homes was stored in the open.
Mary C. Jurbala, R.N. August, 1972 2010 West 36 Street Page 3 Lorain, Ohio 44053
Pay checks were given the workers the day before pay day. One pay day, a clean – polished train blowing its whistle would invade the town. I slightly recall that at one time the pay train was held up or an attempt to rob it was tried. Perhaps someone else could fill you in on this matter.
Some didn’t get “pays” cause everything was deducted at the Company Store. There you could buy anything from a pen, suit or even a loan of money.
If you received a pay and went to buy an article or two at the store you would be attacked by few as you come out especially if you emerged alone. These few young attackers were related in some way to the Molly Maguires. Many times my dad was robbed of what he purchased and got a beating besides.
Many of the town men fequented a tavern in Sandy Valley (east of town) or the “Blue-Pig” west of town.
We had umbrella repairmen, beggers, peddlers with bundles of merchandise on their backs make visits in town at least once a week.
Rag men and bone pickers would ring their wagon bells or call “any rags or bones today” as they would go through town. We would all wait for him as it meant a few pennies. Later these all would use wagons to come into town.
Occassionally a band of gypsies would petch tents on the outskirts and we would all be on the alart for their visits to solicit from the town folks. They had to move after a few hours stay.
Water pumps were through the town on the corners for our supply. About one pump for a 10-family radius. In the winter, they would freeze and had to be thawed by anyone having hot water handy.
Winters had many high snow drifts. Isolated for several days. Men folks had to open roads to and from the town.
One winter, one family house was completely covered by snow. A young couple went for an afternoon ride before the storm and couldn’t return during the storm. One made it back to town while the other froze to death.
Had to go to Foundryville to pick up the mail. This was a little town about 2 1/2 miles west of Eckley. The train passed through and would have the Eckley mail there. Later the town was town down and the mail was dropped off one mile further at Jeddo.
No bus service into Freeland about three miles north, where a few stores were available. People walked to and from there. High school children had to walk from Eckley.
Mary C. Jurbala, R.N. August, 1972 2010 West 36 Street Page 4 Lorain, Ohio 44053
Later a town-man converted high wagon into a bus and conveyed the children to High School. He also took on folks going to town. A little later two town men (1 my brother-in-law still residing in Eckley) and Andrew Zurko converted a truck into a bus and transported anyone to Freeland. Then a bus company took over the route.
My dad repaired our shoes. Soon others asked him to do theirs. They nicknamed his “Talps”. He also gave “free” hair cuts. Later a shoe repairman opened up a shop across the hotel and two local men opened up barber-shops chargine 25c a hair cut.
My grandmother and another woman were midwives helping at deliveries. Most of the time they delivered alone. Later my mother gave a hand. She also helped with sewing.
Sometimes between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the school children would be visited by (Mrs. Coxe) the owner of town and mines. She would be driven in a surrey or wagon cab by her driver-gardener to the school to hear the youngsters sing Christmas Carols. And we would sing (yell) will joy and excitment. Seemed she got a “charge” out of hearing us.
The teachers would ask each child what thye wanted for Christmas whether it be a toy or clothing, no limit. Two days before Christmas (Mrs. Coxe) would send a truck loaded with these-wanted articles into town. Each child’s gift or gifts was placed on the desk of each child. We could hardly wait for the school bell to ring, when shcool was dismissed it was a bedlem. Horns, whistles, yelling, screaming each running home cluthching our presents.
Weddings would be a three day to a weeks affair. The orchestra would serenade the bride. The company carpenters would reinforce the floors in her home. For that hard dancing. The young “gang” from the store would demand food and drink. If not given any they would cause trouble and steal what they wanted and break up the wedding.
The bridal couple attendants would be transported to Freeland churches in horse-drawn cabs on the order of stage coaches but without roof racks.
When the union between the workers and operators was organized it had a hard beginning. Each member was given a button to wear to and at work. When the boss noticed the button, the worker was sent home and suspended for several days. Union officials came into town and had street corner speeches urging the people to join. Members from other towns also came to help organize. Many of the workers remembered their suspensions and threatened the bosses who had to have guards for protection.
Mary C. Jurbala, R.N. August, 1972 2010 West 36 Street Page 5 Lorain, Ohio 44053
Someone in town got the idea of ice-cream making but with no ice available, the men and young lads looked for abandoned mine holes when they could see icicles. So they climbed in, chopped the icicles, brought the ice home and used it in hand-cranked freesers.
We often tried to pick our own coal. This was forbidden, but we tried. Many times we were caught by the Company policeman and had to pay for more than we picked. Sometimes we’d escape but to get revenge, he’d destroy our brackets, wagons, or whell-barrows that we abandoned in our flight.
I believe Filmore was the towns first name. Later to Eckley.
At one time the youngest of the MollyMaguires (Jim McHugh) lived with his daughter across the street form me which was once the doctor’s home. Prior to that, he lived uptown more and watched for the school children coming home for lunch or evening. He would try to talk to the children but he was hard of hearing and would take very loud. Knowing who he was, I was scard to death of him, yet really there was no harm in him. So I would go to the other side of the street and then run for all that was in me to get by him.
A family near the Catholic Church bought self-player piano. The town’s children hung around all day to hear the music and try to figure what made it play.
The young generation would meet at certain corners and spend their leisure time there.
One of the young men built a steam locomotive (model) which drew a lot of attention. Had it on display at W. Barre R.R. station.
The town folk would go blue berry picking in the woods and mountains surrounding the town and sell it to buyers who would crate and ship them out to different markets. The price would range form 35c a quart at the beginning of the season to 2c a quart. It was back breaking.
Hope I’ve been of help and wish you to do a good job of research.
Marisa Bozarth, Daryl Bojarcik, Barbara Olsav-Hudock and Camille Westmont