This is a re-run from Nov. 25, 1998 and here are some updates. Since 1998, Preston and his wife have passed on. Larry had a kidney transplant, which was not successful and he left us.
I have so much to be thankful for, especially being saved in the Pike Adena Hospital on Memorial Day weekend. My temperature rose to 106 degrees-plus and I was packed in ice for a while, but I recovered with no damage. I’m thankful also for my family, son Mark, daughters Paula and Lori, for taking such good care of me.
Also, lately I was blessed by three times people have paid for my meals at local restaurants. Thanks a lot.
This Thanksgiving card is from my collection and dates from the early 1900s.
The remainder of this article is a column that I originally wrote for the Wednesday, Nov. 25, 1998 edition of the Pike County News Watchman.
The days of coal mining in county remembered
One of Pike County’s almost forgotten industries is coal mining and in several locations east of the Scioto River, coal has been an important source of income. One of those places from the past was brought to my attention last month when a friend, Preston Wickline, sent me recollections of his family business.
One page showed the cover of a magazine named “Mid-West Mining”, January 1996, with the story headlined “Southern Ohio Coal Mine” is reopened over a photograph of a hillside mine entrance. Also pictured is the entire five members of the Wickline family and the subtitle: “Wickline Mine #14” as it appeared Dec. 25, 1937.
Here are Wickline’s memories.
Remembering the way we made a living back in our youth
There were three of us kids, two boys and one girl. My dad and mother owned a small 63-acre farm in East Jackson Township. We were fortunate that the ground was underlaid with a small vein of coal, which my dad, Charles Wickline, operated in the wintertime. He sold coal to neighbors and to the one-room schools around there. The Wickline School was within 100 yards of our home — where I went to school; when children had to walk to school. The small buildings were heated with coal in a big pot-bellied stove. After I got out of school I worked in our little mine where I had to crawl in and out on my hands and knees.
We had a small coal buggy (which set on wheels that moved on rails) and which held about one-half ton of coal. We sold the coal by the bushel measurement. A metal tub held a bushel and required 121/2 tubs to make a ton, for which we charged $2.50.
To work the coal loose, we bored a hole in the coal vein with a hand auger and put a cartridge (of powder) to shoot the coal loose. We then went into the mine, loaded the buggy, brought it out and dumped it into a pile.
Some people would come with a horse and wagon and some in cars and trucks. I remember a family from Omega that brought two teams and wagons. Al Stauffer and his son would come early of a morning and haul their winter supply of coal. My dad never worked at a public works job. He mined in the winter and farmed in the summertime. We always kept a cow or two and hogs for our meat. Mother would sell cream and eggs to help buy the groceries. Times were hard and this was a hard way to make a living. I live (on Wickline Road off Hay Hollow Road) where my grandfather Isaac Wickline came when he took up homestead land, which is the same land that my father owned and mined in later years.
Those were the days that neighbors helped neighbors and appreciated every minute of the hard times we went through to make a living.
My dad and mother lived a long life; mother just lacked a couple of months of being 103 years old. My wife passed away about six months ago. I miss her very much. But we all have that day come.
I could go on and one with this, but I better bring this to a close and say, Thanks to the Good Lord for my 79 years.
My wife was Lois, and my two daughters are Katie (Mrs. Larry Maple) of Waverly and Dona Fairchild of Richmond Dale.
Thanks to Preston Wickline for this 1998 Thanksgiving story. I think it is appropriate for this season.
A personal connection — Katie and Larry Maple’s son, Mike, married my youngest daughter, Lorinda, and they have two girls, Emily and Olivia.