The Assumption Coal Company, the state’s deepest underground coal mine at 1,004 feet, closes after operating since 1890 in Section 2 of Township 12 North, Range 1 East of the 3rd Principal Meridian.
Wednesday, January 23, 1929
The Moweaqua News reported: “Art Dove had the ligaments torn from his left knee, when a heavy mass of coal fell upon him in the Moweaqua coal mine. Clarence Hartsella was also injured in the mine, having his back, shoulder and knee affected. A body cast has been placed upon Claude McIntyre, whose hip was recently fractured in the mine.”
February 20, 1929
The local paper reported that Mike “Rogellas” suffered a badly mashed foot after a coal cart ran over his foot in the mine. Michael Raugellis dies in the 1932 mine disaster.
October 24, 1929
The U.S. stock market began a steep decline after reaching record highs. The next week things got worse and the economic depression that had already been felt by farmers and small towns became official national news. By 1932 the market lost 90% of its 1929 value, many banks were failing and over 30% of America’s workforce was unemployed.
Thursday, October 3, 1929
Mine manager Foster spoke at the Moweaqua Rotary Club. The mine was closed all summer and had just reopened that September despite rumors that it was in economic trouble. Foster praised the ability of the current work force but said it was difficult to keep many persons from picking up coal beneath the cutes or convince them that such a proceeding is very dangerous to life and limb.
Wednesday, November 13, 1929
The Moweaqua News reported: “Hugh Green and his son Lynn were overcome by black damp http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackdamp about 10 a.m. last Wednesday in a room of the Moweaqua coal mine in which they were working together. Mr. Green first felt the effects of the death dealing damp, and told his son to summon help. The young man started out of the room and managed to call for help, when he, too, was overcome and dropped where he was. The two men were taken from the mine to the Moweaqua hospital, where they received treatment in time to counteract the worst effects of the black damp. Thursday they were recovering rapidly from their experience. This is the first time in the history of the mine that black damp has been detected there.” (Lynne Green dies in the 1932 mine disaster.)
Thursday, December 26, 1929
The local paper reported that Tom Jackson collected money from his fellow miners in order to buy enough coal for the winter ($21.00) for Mr. and Mrs. Hays, “both old and feeble and respected citizens of our community.” He also collected food and cash from townspeople and merchants to help these seniors at a time when there was neither social security nor much public welfare from the government.
Wednesday, September 3, 1930
After its usual summer season lay off, the Moweaqua mine reopened with about 125 employees. For the past few months the newspaper and many people in the community have discussed the importance of the mine to the local economy and that people should buy their coal from this mine and not elsewhere.
Saturday, February 28, 1931
The mine closed down for the season after storing up a supply and brought the mules up to the top. The mine stayed closed until September. The owners decided this mine was no longer profitable so a campaign led by the Moweaqua News and some local clubs to create a group to lease and operate the mine independently moved forward during the summer.
Wednesday, September 16, 1931
The newly formed “Moweaqua Mine Corporation” opened the mine with about 75 men. The mine is leased from the Pana Coal Company. The new president is Dr. J.L. Sparling and Louis O. White of the Macon County Coal Company is hired to be manager. The local paper opined “‘The reopening of the coal mine here means a great deal to Moweaqua,’ remarked a resident of this city. Most of the miners who were engaged here though foreigners in the main, are thrifty industrious workmen, owning their own homes. Now that local people have reorganized and financed the local mine they will be furnished with work at home again. And this action is certainly commendable on the part of the stockholders of which there are about 125. It is a movement to save their own town, to rehabilitate their own community – a policy which is being adopted more and more to save and build up the entire economic structure of the countries of the world.”
Wednesday, October 7, 1931
The local paper urges readers to buy their coal from the mine. “By using Moweaqua coal you are enabling this community to weather the pressing time of unemployment and relieve the supervisors from doing what townships is unable to do.”
Wednesday, January 13, 1932
The paper reports that the mine has worked steadily for three months and now employs about 100 men. It appears they are getting paid $6.10 per day.
August 10, 1932
The Progressive Mine Workers of America was formed in Benld, IL. On September 1, 1932 at a meeting in the old Colonial Theater in Gillespie, IL a convention of miners recommended the organization of a new union to be called the Progressive Miners of America. An essay by Victor Hicken gives some background on this and other mine-related events. Mine Union Radicalism in Macoupin and Montgomery Counties
Wednesday, September 28, 1932
The Moweaqua mine reopens after its usual summer hiatus after closing last April
Wednesday, October 5, 1932
The Moweaqua News prints a long article explaining how the citizens and miners through the Community Chest have kept the mine open by leasing it from the Pana Coal Company. The Moweaqua mine pays the owners 10 cents for each ton of coal mined. During the last mining season, 31,000 tons was hauled out of the mine with half of this being sold in Decatur. The mine is not being operated at a profit for local stockholders, but rather as a means to keep 500 people (about a third of the village) off the relief rolls during the Depression.
Friday, October 28, 1932
Despondent because he was out of work, Ernest Roff, age 21 of Moweaqua, committed suicide by shooting himself with a shotgun while in his truck near the north-side cemetery.
December 24, 1932
Moweaqua Coal Company had 54 miners die in a gas explosion on the morning of Christmas Eve.