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timeline 1886-1894

The possible search for coal in Moweaqua mentioned for the first time in the local newspaper. See MOWEAQUA REMEMBERS, Chapter 6, “The Coal Mine” essay by Betty Shaw for a description of the search for coal and the creation of the mine.

The first underground electric mine locomotive was used in an Illinois coal mine to move loaded coal cars.

October 3, 1889
The “Moawequa” Call-Mail reported that after more than two months of drilling, a coal seam was found at 540 feet deep using a bore on land about 150 yards west of the Illinois Central Rail Road tracks. However, despite local enthusiasm for the project it was two years later, with a different company on different land that ground was broken (December 21, 1891) on a shaft to get to the coal.

January 25, 1890
United Mine Workers of America was formed to work for safe workplaces, good wages and benefits, and fair representation.

Congress passed the first federal statute governing mine safety. The Federal Coal Mine Safety Act established ventilation requirements and prohibited operators from employing children less than 12 years of age.

November 12, 1891
The Moweaqua Call-Mail announced that the Moweaqua Coal and Manufacturing Company had been formed and had leased 1000 acres of land. Charles White of Pana was named to head the mining operation and the paper proclaimed: “Get out of the way croakers, this town is sure to go!”  Ground was eventually broken on December 21, 1891 on land purchased from Mrs. M.K. Duncan just north of the “fairgrounds” next to the rail road right-of-way.

Monday, January 4, 1892
Based on previous core samples, the first shot of dynamite was fired off in creating the Moweaqua Coal shaft at a depth of about 35 feet.

Thursday, July 14, 1892
The Moweaqua Call-Mail reports that the shaft is down to 452 feet and that “In less than a year from the time coal is uncovered there will be 1200 men at work in the mine. That will mean an addition to Moweaqua’s population of 500 at least. The band wagon of progress is starting sure.”

Thursday, August 11, 1892
The Moweaqua Call-Mail has been a big booster of having a coal mine in town and has advised farmers to wait until the coal comes in so they can buy locally. “Let us prepare for a big ‘jubilee,’ when the ‘big vein’ is tapped. Its importance to Moweaqua can not be over-estimated, and it should be properly celebrated. Work is moving along nicely at the shaft, and MOWEAQUA COAL, the finest in the state, will be on the market in ample time for the fall and winter trade. Don’t buy your coal until you can use the home product and save money.”

Tuesday, August 30, 1892
After eight months of digging a shaft, the Moweaqua Coal Mining & Manufacturing Company reached a 6-foot thick seam of coal 570 feet below the surface. Two days later the Moweaqua Call-Mail proclaims “COAL” in large red letters

September 22, 1892
The Moweaqua newspaper reports that a second mining company, the American Coal Mining & Manufacturing Company, plans to incorporate and begin another shaft in town. This company never goes into operation.

May 1, 1893
The World’s Columbian Exposition opened on the south side of Chicago and becomes one of the most famous World Fairs in history. Forty years later its Fine Arts Building will be remade into the Museum of Science and Industry and have the first coal mine exhibit in the United States.

August 18, 1893
The newspaper reports about the first broken bones in the coal mine. Two men broke leg bones that week in two separate incidents.

Thursday, February 9, 1893
The newspaper reports that the mine steam whistle was now being used. 25-30 tons of coal are now being raised each day and sold at the shaft at $1.25 per ton for nut coal and $1.50 for lump coal. The mine is about to install huge steel fiber cables each weighing about 1500 pounds and each able to safely lift 11 tons. 

October 11, 1893
About 60 miners are employed in the coal mine. Falling slate hits George Hayden causing injury to “cripple him for life.” He eventually received $100 compensation from the company.

Thursday, March 8, 1894
The newspaper reports that the shaft has been sunk down 20 feet to an even better vein of coal. “This strike means much to Moweaqua. It means the occupation of two score or more empty houses; renewed life and vitality to our leading industry; better business for the merchants; and most of all vastly better coal for the community. To every cloud there is a silver lining, and to us the dark days have passed and the sun of prosperity beams forth in all its radiance and glory. Success to the coal shaft.”

April 21, 1894
Many Illinois miners join a national coal miners’ strike for eight weeks as wages had been cut during the Depression of 1893. Moweaqua miners were not part of the United Mine Workers Union but did stop work several days that summer until they were promised 45 cents for each ton of coal they dug. The national strike failed and weakened the union greatly for the next 25 years.
The Illinois National Guard (Militia) was called out to the following towns for mine-related disturbances in 1894: Toluca, La Salle, Centralia, Pana, Minonke, Wenona, Carterville, Pekin, Peoria, Edinburg, Mount Olive, and Spring Valley. The Pullman Palace Car Company Strike started in Chicago on May 11 and led to a national railroad strike National Guard troops were called to Decatur, Danville and Springfield.

July 4, 1894
The Moweaqua Call-Mail proclaimed:
OUR NATIONAL DAY – Is Successfully Celebrated By Two Thousand People in Greave’s Grove and at a Miner’s Picnic  THE MINER’S PICNIC – At an early hour the miners turned out en-masse fifty strong in procession and with marshal music paraded to Greave’s grove, where they celebrated the national day in great style. Truly they represent the bone and sinew of Moweaqua’s leading industry, and they presented a very creditable appearance.” 

August 8, 1894
Moweaqua newspaper reports the first mule was taken down into the mine.

Wednesday, October 3, 1894
The Moweaqua Call-Mail reports that the mine just received roller screens to help automate the sorting of coal. “As the coal passes over the screen bars, the different sizes – egg, nut, pea and slack, are transferred into different buns, according to size.” Lump coal is the largest and most expensive and this week was selling for $1.60 per tone if picked up at the mine.

October 31, 1894
The local paper report that Moweaqua now has 25 Roman Catholic families and 21 single Catholic men (mostly miners) who all would like a church in town. In December the Archdiocese purchases four lots for $440 in the area of town known as “Grandview.”

December 17, 1894
Three Moweaqua miners are injured in blasting accidents with Andro Tomi losing one eye as a consequence.