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    HOME > TIMELINE > 1895-1899
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timeline 1895-1899

January 19, 1895
Eli Connor lost the little finger of his left hand in a mine car accident.

May 8, 1895
The local paper reports that on Friday, May 2, Miss Wilha Young took her class of students down in the coal shaft and “they enjoyed a most entertaining and instructive visit, delving into the mysteries of physical geography and geology as seen from a coal miner. Charles Ahl chaperoned the party. Such a visit as this impresses upon the minds of the young those wondrous resources of old mother earth, which not even time can eliminate. Object lessons and practical illustrations are the true keys to intellectual development.” (Two weeks later miner Ahl was injured when a beam hit his head.)

The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry opened in 1933 and included the first hands-on exhibits for children in this country. One of the original exhibits was a visit underground to a replica of an Illinois coal mine and is still open today.

August 21, 1895
The local paper reports that veins of coal were reached at 904 feet below the surface. “May success ever attend Moweaqua’s mining industry. It has cost time, patience and money, now let the harvest of dusky diamonds be most bountiful.”

August 27, 1895
Miner Johnnie Puschkar broke his leg in a fall in the coal shaft.

January 1896
Harrison air compressor cutting machines are introduced in the Moweaqua mine.

February 11, 1896
C.J. White resigned as superintendent of the Moweaqua mine in order to work in Birmingham, Alabama. Mr. White lived in Pana and took the train back and forth to work each day. A.J. Combs will become the new superintendent.

March 25, 1896
The Moweaqua newspaper reports that miner John Fortner broke his leg when a timber fell on it.

Monday, April 13, 1896
The first marriage held in the Moweaqua Catholic Church was of miner Jon Yenik.

July 1896
Water is found while digging the air shaft for the mine. After much debate and negotiating, the village buys the well in June 1897.

August 19, 1896
The Moweaqua mine is averaging nearly 200 tons of coal per day.

Friday, January 8, 1897
Italian miners John Geraldi, Anton Bruno and James Bruno were burned about their faces when a cap lamp (possibly oil wick) ignited gas released after a “shot” (small dynamite blast).

Monday, January 18, 1897
The first Moweaqua mine fatality was to Jacob Spitz, age 53, after being hit by falling slate. A German immigrant, he had just started working in the mine in December.

January 27, 1897
Two more Moweaqua miners were burned in another small coal gas explosion.

Tuesday, July 6, 1897
Moweaqua miners join in a sympathy strike for other miners from Illinois and four other states who according to the United Mine Workers Journal wanted wages so that “at least the necessaries of life might be procured.” The national strike had begun July 1. The Moweaqua men were only out for one week and returned with the promise of wages of 55 cents per ton taken with a hand pick and 33 cents a ton for coal cut by machine.

Friday, July 16, 1897
After 100 striking miners from Pana met with the Moweaqua miners, the Moweaqua men agreed to go back on strike until the national strike was settled. The Assumption mine also closed down.

Wednesday, July 28, 1897
“Outside men” went into the Moweaqua mine to bring out enough coal for local farmers who wanted to do threshing.  Coal was in such short supply locally that the Shelbyville water works plant had to burn wood in order to keep pumping.

August 20, 1897
Superintendent A.J. Combs warns striking miners that they will be discharge if they don’t load coal “for the local trade.”

September 16, 1897
The national coal strike is settled. The mine starts producing 500 tons per day.

November 9, 1897
Peter McLean is burned on his face and arms from a small gas explosion in the mine.
The price of coal is now $1.75 ton for lump, $1.50 for nut and $1.25 for pea.

December 6, 1897
Miner Patrick Dowd is injured by a premature shot explosion.

April 1, 1898
The Moweaqua UMWA local union 94 held a church supper to celebrate the adoption of the 8-hour day for miners in the United States.

July 1898
Pana miners go on strike.

Saturday, October 1, 1898
Andrew Corba had his leg broken by a moving coal car in the Moweaqua mine.

October 12, 1898
Battle of Virden, Illinois
The Chicago-Virden Coal Company attempted to break the strike by bringing in African-American miners from Alabama. Seven miners and five coal company guards were killed and scores wounded in what is recognized as a landmark event in the history of the labor movement in the United States. As a result, October 12th was declared Miner’s Day.

Union Miners Cemetery constructed in Mount Olive Illinois. The local UMWA union purchased a one-acre site and the bodies of the miners killed during the Battle of Virden were moved from the town cemetery and laid to rest in the new Union Miners Cemetery. It has been enlarged three times.

1899 (undated)
Andy Toni was again burned in the shaft in preparing a shot, a spark from his cap lamp fell into the can of powder he was using thus exploding and burning his face, arms and back.  Two years ago he was nearly blown up in the same mine.

April 11, 1899
Another fatal Pana riot associated with the mine.

Monday, October 16, 1899
The Moweaqua coal company installed three new electric coal cutters driven by a dynamo above. It is expected that the electric machines will cut as much coal in 5 minutes as the old compressed air machines did in 30 minutes.