Coal Mine Riots - Virden Macoupin County IL
©1996
contributed by Sharon Buethner


Mine #8 at Mt. Olive
by
Sharon Buethner


I learned about the coal mines in the county when I discovered the cause of death of my Great Grandfather, Henry Schultze. Henry Schultz had been in this country for less than a year, having come to Mt. Olive with his wife, Auguste, my Grandmother, Marie, and the baby, Freidrich, who was but 5 months old. The trip must have tough as the little one, Freidrich, died within days of their arrival in Mt. Olive. On 2 Aug 1892 they buried Freidrich in the Immanuel Lutheran Church cemetery. The following May, Wilhelm was born to them, and Henry was working in the mines. Six weeks later, on the 26 of July 1893, Henry was killed in a horrid mine accident (had a huge rock, 10 feet by 20 feet fall covering all of him but one hand). The newspaper gave all the gory details, titled, "Mashed Into a Pulp. Henry Schultze, a loader at No. 8 Shaft, Killed Tuesday Afternoon by Falling Rock".

My Grandmother, Marie, was then nearly five years old. According to the newspaper, Henry's body was carried through Mt. Olive, to their home on "the West end of First South Street". As a child I had always asked Grandma what happened to Henry. She always became very quiet, got a very distant look in her eyes, and if pressed, she would just say "he died". Perhaps she had some memory of that horrid day.

I have made a couple trips to the county for research, and discovered a little knowledge of the coal mines. Auguste's second husband, John Hillmann also worked in the mines, as did Auguste's son, Wilhelm [William].

Mt. Olive must certainly be big in coal mining and there is a separate, Union Miners Cemetery in Mt. Olive. The cemetery is graced with the Mother Jones Monument, erected and dedicated the 12 Oct 1936 "in memory of Mary 'Mother' Jones and 'General' Alexander Bradley and the Martyrs of the Virden Riot of 1898."

The Mt. Olive Public Library has a small area chucked full of mine information.

Consolidated Coal Company owned many mines. There also appeared to be a Nilwood Carbon Coal Co. [at Nilwood], Chicago Virden Coal Co. [Virden], a coal shaft at Shipman,

From the 1875 Macoupin County Atlas, it says "There are some excellent exposures of micaceous sandstone along the bluffs of Macoupin Creek, and silver ore was once reported to have been discovered. The lowest exposed strata are on Apple and Hodges Creeks. At the latter place coal crops out in the bluffs, and has, from time immemorial, been mined to supply the local demand. It will thus be seen that coal underlies the entire area of the county, and Professor Worthen estimates the amount at over ten billions of tons."

It seems that coal mining has a LONG history in the county.

 

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