August Groh Memoir
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University of Illinois at Springfield Norris L Brookens Library Archives/Special Collections August Groh Memoir G894. Groh, August (1898-1987) Interview and memoir 1 tape, 82 mins., 31 pp. ILLINOIS COAL: THE LEGACY OF AN INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY Groh, immigrant from Austria-Hungary, discusses his work in the coal mines near Pawnee, Illinois, mine wars between the United Mine Workers and the Progressive Miners of America, coal mine operations, and his contribution to the construction of the Number Ten slope mine in Pawnee. Also discusses his education and training in electrical engineering, living and working conditions for miners, and the role of women in the mine wars. Interview by Kevin Corley, 1985 OPEN See collateral file Archives/Special Collections LIB 144 University of Illinois at Springfield One University Plaza, MS BRK 140 Springfield IL 62703-5407 © 1985, University of Illinois Board of Trustees Preface This manuscript is the product of a tape recorded interview conducted by Kevin Corley for a special project, "Illinois Coal; The Legacy of an Industrial Society." The project VBS sponsored by the Illinois State Historical Society and furrled in part by the Illinois Humanities Council and the National fudc::>tlllreilt for the Humanities. Additional support came fran the Oral History Office of Sanganon State University. Joyce Fisher transcribed the tapes and Susan Jones edited the transcript. August Groh was bom in Rashichia, Austria-lfungary in 1898. He imnigrated to the Unites States with his family in 1904 and began 'liiDrk in the coal mines at a young age. Vbile \\Drking he canpleted high school through the International Correspondence School and becane interested in electrical engineering. He 'liiDrked in this field as a repairman in the mines and was instrunental in wilding the Number Ten slope mine in Pamee, Illinois. Reooers of the oral history memoir should bear in mind that it is a transcript of the spoken 'liiDrd, and that the interviev.Er, narrator and editor sought to preserve the informal, con\Tersational style that is inherent in such historical sources. Sangarron State University and the Illinois State Historical Library are not responsible for the factual accuracy of the meJIDir, nor for views expressed therein; these are for the reader to judge. The manuscript may be read, quoted and cited freely. It may not be reproduced in Whole or in part by any IIEans, electronic or IIEC.hanical, without pennission in writing frcm the Oral History Office, Sangamon State University, Springfield, Illinois, 62708. August Groh, Pawnee, Illinois, November 27, 1985. Kevin Corley, IntervieV~er• Q: Mr. Groh, w::ruld you please state your A: August E. Groh. Q: What does the E stand for? A: Earl. Q: Earl? When V~ere you born? A: August 26, 1898. Q: That w::ruld be 1898? A: Yes, 1898. Q: All right. And v.here V~ere you born? full name for me? A: I -was only about five years old when my folks left Europe. I was born in Europe. Q: \here in Europe were you born? A: Austria, lhmgary. Q: Okay. A: That's G.u states. Austria Hungary was one providence at one time until World War I and they made t:w::> states out of it, Hungary and Austria. Q: I see. A: Put men I was born, they called it Austria Hungary. Q: Right, okay. Vhere you born in the cotmtry? A: tb, at a small village. Q: Okay. What was the village's name, do you remember? A: It sounds French--Rashichia. August Groh Q: Rashichl.a? A: R-A-S-H-I-C-H-I-A I think it is. Q: Okay, all right. A: It's just a foreign name. Q: All right, I see. You lived there until you \\ere five years old you say? A: Five years old, yes. Q: Okay. A: My dad ~rked in Lincoln at that time. He came to this country a year before 't\e did. After he was here a year he sent for us and V~e came over . • . Q: Okay. A: on a ship named Hamburg. Q: The Hamburg. A: Hambur~. We departed fran Hmnburg, Gennany, and "~Ae landed at Ellis Islarid. 0 course \le talked German, see, and at that tin:E, the porters all knew Gennan. futher had tied on Lincoln, Illinois. I had a sister older than I. The three of us, these porters took care of us ani showed us vbere to go. We couldn't talk English any and they routed us to <lri.cago. Then fran there on to Lincoln where ~ stayed about six rronths. My dad v.orked in a mine there at Lincoln and he heard that Peabody -was going to start a mine here at Pat-nee, Illinois. So he decided to C()[IE down here and try to get v.ork down here. He was lucky enough, he got a job, and that's when "~Ae came here, somewhere in late 1904. Q: I see. A: We bought a little house out here and my dad kept v.orking in the mines. We m::N"ed 011er to this place in about 1905. I was sixteen years old then and my dad thought maybe he'd try to get ~ to v.orking. Q: So you started WJrking in the mine when you "~Aere sixteen. A: Yes. You want to l<now v.hat I -was doing? Q: Yes, what "~Aere you doing in the mine? A: At that time I was mat was called a trapper. A trapper takes care of the main haulage lines where they pour the coal. I opened the door for than to got through, and after they \~ere through, make sure the door was closed due to the fact that a door is there to circulate the air. If I left that door open, then the ~inside WJUld be deprived of that rruch air. So I had to keep the doors, when they "~Aeren't going through it, I had to keep the door shut. ......_____________________________________________________ Q: I see. A: I did that for I'd say a year or so, and I got big after that so that I could load coal. So my dad got a roan, that's a tenn for the v.urking place for the miner, the roan. Q: The roan? A: Yes. So I stayed there, v.urked for my dad I v.uuld say four or five years, loading coal, hand loading. We loaded tw:J ton cars, the cars 'iNOUld hold a..u tons of coal. Q: I see. A: At that time the wages was $1. 08 a ton. Q: That's what you got paid when you first started, a $1.08 a ton? A: A $1.08 a ton, but the cars v.uuld hold tv.o tons, I think. '!hat w:mld thrOW" you Cfller tw:> dollars, each car you loaded . Q: I see. A: I did that for, like I said, tw:J or three years. Then I wanted to get out by myself, so I got a job at the same rrdne driving a mule hauling coal. Q: How old v.ere you then? A: I vasn't rut seventeen years old. Q: Okay. A: '!hat was a very unique occupation, driving a mule. Q: I see. Was that dangerous? A: Vkll, it was to a certain extent, yes. They always say a mule is contrary animal. Have you e~er heard "contrary as a mule?" Q: Yes. A: They had a crate that v.e 'd put on the cage. They always kept the nules up on top and they'd ride them dom. belOW". They WJU.ld all ride on that cage on down. ve 'd be down there and if our mule came down, v.e 'd take it on inside to the w:>rking place. Our job was pulling, driving the mule. Vk had to take an empty car into the 1.1eil v.iho v.ere w:>rking and in turn pull the loaded coal out. We had to pull it to v.hat v.e calle:l a parting. It was nothing but a double track about five lrundred feet long. 1he double track, the purpose of that is the road fran the bottan, the road for the main line IIDtor, came fran the bottom with the empties. He put his anpties on an anpty track and v.e in turn, when v.e pulled the coal, v.e put it on the other track and road IIDtor WJU.ld take it on up fran the bottcm. It wasn't dangerous, but sorre of those mules WJU.ld get contrary and they'd go any certain place because it was dark dov.n there and they had no way of seeing anything. Q: I see. A: They was always looking at the dirt. Sanet:imes they wuld get contrary ... Q: I'm sorry, they'd v.ih.at? A: They'd get contrary. Q: Oh, get contrary, yes. A: You didn't dare use a whip on them because if you did, the nules are onery and he'd remember you. I found it this way with mules, if you treat them right, they'll treat you right. If you mistreat then, they've got a memory a mile long and if they get a chance they'll kick the daylights out of you. Q: So if you ~ipped them, then they v.ould turn around and try to kick you. A: Not at that time, hlt then a little bit later, the first shot they got. That was when they'd do that part of it. Q: How did the company feel about the nule drivers and the nules? A: They made everything as convenient as they could because that was the only source of that coal getting up fran the bottom. Q: I see. A: They wuld do to the best of their ability--that is the bosses down below--so that they'd be sure to get that coal out of that bottan because the coal sitting inside didn't do them any good. I did that for eight or ten years I guess. Q: So you \o.ere a nule driver for about eight or ten years? A: Yes. In the ueantine, I decided that when I graduated out of grade school I didn't have the opportunity to get an education at that time. My father couldn't afford to send ne. Well at that tine, there TNas very, very few students in high school. I decided that if I TNanted to get myself an education, I could. At that time, ~ had no electricity in our house, old coal lamps. So I kind of scouted around for a school , correspondence school. 'Ihey TNas in Scranton, Pennsylvania and they sent me the v.ork see. But it was hard that time v.orking in the day time, and I studied by coal oil lamp, see. But I stayed with it. Q: So you ~re v.orking in the daytime in the mines, and then at night you w:mld cc:ma hc:ma and study? A: Study, yes. Q: ~t grade e:lucation did you have \~hen you started this correspondence school? A: Wlat grade? Q: Yes, like v.:hat level ~re you when you started that? A: I was in grade school. There ~re tw:> girls ani I ~re one, ~. and three. E'1..rery time \Jlen I say, ''Well, ~ all ~nt through school together,"it seems just like either one of the girls or I was munber one. It was that way all through school. Q: Did you have like a ninth grade education When you started the correspondence school? A: No. I just bad a sixth grade e:lucation. Q: Sixth grade education when you started. A: fu.t I explained that to the correspondence school , and they said they ~ld teach ue accordingly. As I progressed, they elevated the schoolingin according to the seventh grade and on like that. It took rre a year of that schooling and at the erxl of that year the subject that I wanted to take after I got the schooling, I wanted to learn a subject, mechanical engineering. Q: I see. Vhy did you take that? A: Because I always favored engineering. Q: You liked engineering. A: I liked engineering. Q: Was that going to help you in the mines? A: Well, I didn't interrl to stay in the sane mine all my life. I looked forward to something else Whenever I got bigger enough to get away from my dad and away from hale. Q: Yes. A: So I seemed to do pretty gocd, you know, and then I'd get a little note of encouragement fran the people of the w::>rk. Q: How old mere you men you started the correspondence school? A: Oh, let's see. I ~t to grade school eight years, six years when I starterl, I was about seventeen years old. Q: Okay. How far did your education go when you ~re through with it? Did you get a high school diplana? August Groh A: Yes. Q: Okay, gcxxl. A: The International Correspondence School was the name of it. Q: International Correspondence &hool. A: It's in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Q: Okay. A: But they're saying now that they're not in business for it. They've started a university or SOIIEthing like that. But even now it's a correspondence school. 'lhey're not in business anyroore. But I just sent in my w::>rk once every tw::> \<leeks, and that's all there was to it. Mathematics was my favorite subject. I had mathematics, history, and spelling, geography. 'lhey reminded of SOIIEthing in school. Like I say, every once in motllle I'd get an encouraganent, encourage rre for it. Of course, I was doing all right. I imagine that the purpose of it was that if a boy like that way of doing the old w::>rk w:::mld get discouraged a little bit, he'll have to stop. Q: Yes. A: So that kept him encouraged . Q: IX> you feel like the education paid off? A: Yes. Oh yes. At the errl of my school , they wanted my pennission, if I cared if they'd use my grades and my way with the school for an advertisement. I said, ''Oh, you can.11 And they honored rre. The education I got, the heading they put on it says, ''Vbat a coal miner can do if he had the mind to, while v.urking in the dayt:ime and studying at night and still get top grades.11 Q: Well, that's great. A: Always turned towards electricity, I like:i electricity. I took up electricity after that, rut I didn't go to school, I just ~t to school un:ler 11a1 that w::>rked with electricity and studied under them. So by that time, "Well, yes I was living here then. My dad, in the rreantime, had got hurt in the mine and passed away. I had my mother and tt10 brothers to support. So I did that. Q: How did he get hurt in the mine? A: He had an accident. Him and another fellow was carrying a big heavy rail, a sixteen foot rail, and they ~re carrying it. 'lbis other man dropped his end for a mi..rrute and when he dropped his errl, that made a surge on my father. He had the mole ~ight on him, and he ruptured himself. August Groh Q: Ch. Did your family get any benefits frcm that? A: Yes. Very little, very little. So I -was staying at my rrother's when he passed a-way on the seventh day of November in 1918. He -was buried the tenth day of NO\Tanber, the day before Armistice. Q: Here in Pawnee? A: Here in Pawnee. 'That's when the w:>rld -war was going on. So I told my uother, I said, ''Well, Ma, I'm going to enlist." She said, "Son, what will we do , your tt..u brothers and I?" I said , ''We ' 11 do sanething." Q: You had t'\<ID brothers you say? A: Yes. No, a brother and sister. I ~nt to Springfield and I enlisted for the army on the twelfth day of Septanber, 1918. Vk were the next group of them goes going to the service. But at that time maybe you did hear, the flu epidemic that -was so bad 7 Q: 'Ihe flu epidanic? A: Yes. Ranember it, 1918? Q: No. Was that big here in Christian County or Sanganon County? A: That was all CNer the country, w:>rld-wide. Q: Okay. A: General Black -was in charge. I passed the examination and we were the next group to go. It was about that time General Black closed all the camps due to the fact, he said, "I want no uore men sent in anr, camp. We're losing uore uen with the flu than we are on the battlefield. ' So therefore, there was no m:>re mm. 'Ihat -was in September, and in NCNanber the Armistice vas signed, so . . . (laughs) Q: You missed out on it. A: . . . I missed out on it. I was ~nty years old and that's when I decided after that, I decided, ~11, I had that rrechanical engineering education. So I decided to try to get in the mines again. I was just fortunate that at that time they were recruiting young fellows to learn this mining JmChinery and mine w:>rk. Q: What kind of JmChinery? A: ve' ll cane to that. Q: Okay. A: So I was lucky enough that they picked me. \-Jhen I first started there, I didn't even see a machine yet. They said that they hadn't got the canpany machine repaired, w:>uld you hang suspension wire, and I said sure. 8 Q: Hang suspension wires? A: Yes, all over the mines, you know, for the cutting machines and the IIDtors. Q: I.bwn in the mine? A: Yes. So I did that for over a year. In the IIEantime \\bile I was doing that wire hanging, I got well acquainted with the chief electrician. He ldnd of took a liking to TIE. He said , "August, how W>uld you like to repair machinery?" I said, "Ed, I 1m sure glad you asked me," and I told him Where I got that fran International [ Corresporrlence] School and , ''Well , that will cooe in handy. " So I 'WaS doing odd jobs arourrl the shopdown below and I just v.orked myself up gradually. I did that for let's see, fifteen years. Q: fifteen years. A: fifteen years. I v.orked myself up fran the lx>ttom up to the top. Q: So your job, in the beginning, "Was fixing machines? A: Yes, repairing machines. Q: And then you w:>rked your way up to--vhat w:>uld it be called, foreman of the • • • A: tb, not foranan. They just had the chief electrician. Q: iliief electrician. A: Yes. They had three shifts, see, and the third shift electrician, he IIDVed to another line. They wanted rre to take the chief electrician and run for sheriff but I turned it down due to the fact that my wife didn't want to stay by herself at night. Then ~ had one child, and I really didn1 t like the line. I said, ''Well , if that means leaving the shopbecause I ~ldn't take the chief electrician, that 1 s up to you." "Oh, no," he said, ·~ don't want to lose you. We just . . . " Q: When you say leaving the shop . • . A: I thought maybe they'd let me go because I refused to take the chief electrician. I thought maybe they WJU!d fire oe or sooething like that, but they didn't. They said , ''No, ~ aren't going to fire you." Q: Did that happen a lot, did they fire people because they v.uuldn't take a certain position? A: tbt too often. They could make it kind of rough on them tmtil theyquit. Q: How did they do that? A: Giving them jobs they didn1 t like and they could shuffle them. But that didn1 t happen very often because maybe just like ~rking :in the garage, you becane friendly, buddies. Then "~£ never had no trouble because of that. Q: When you first started doing this type of job, ~re you down below rrost of the time? A: Yes, all the time, all the time. Q: And so there was a lot of repairs to be done? A: Oh, yes. I started at Number Nine. Like just like accutriggers, I could tell sorre tine ago, but I don1 t imagine they had tv.a1ty mach:ines, cutting IIBCh:ines at that mine. They broke tre :in the cutting machines and I got to where I could go up there and take than apart blindfolded. Q: Vhat type of repairs did you usually have to make on a cutting machine? A: The biggest trouble ~ld be the cutting cha:ins that cut the coal, because there 1 s so much impurities in the coal that the little, Yhat they call rru.ggets, little drunks of greased slate, like . . . Q: Clay? A: No, slate. Q: Slate. A: Slate and the impurities, it was like a solid ball. Vben they hit that it \IOU.ld break the cha:ins, you know. Q: Yes. A: Of course, they had the electric controllers, speeded the mach:ines. You knOW' anything about rrotors, do you? Q: No, not too much. A: You know what an arbiter is don1t you? Q: Arbiter? A: Arbiter, yes, that 1 s the big part of the machine. That 1 s v.hat drives everything. Q: Oh, I see. A: They'd blow once :in awhile and \le 'd have to change that. We 1d have a cable that ~d blow once in amile. You just splice the cables around. Q: So you ware there v.hen the cutting machine first came :in then, into the mine. Is that right? A: There vas sane of them. They had sane there, rut v.hile I vas there, you had three or four different varieties of machines. Q: Different varieties? A: fut that was about 1921. That's v.hen they started changing everybody's machine, you know, they invented a machine that ~1d do nore \lUrk. Q: VJha.t year did the cutting machine cane in itself? Into the mine. A: 'Ihey had sene cutting machines there. Q: Yes , v.hen you started . A: Before I started. Q: Yes. But you're saying the variety started changing and they improved them? A: Yes, they impr011ed, better machinery all the time. Q: I see. A: Then of course, I grew up with the new machines in all the time, see. Q: Yes. A: I knew than pretty ~11, and I got so I could do anything they wanted us to do on than. Seems like when the other mines \IU\lld shut doW!, they al-ways sent rre to the other mines to help than out. At one stage, the mines at Springfield there stopped and they needed a man in there because they had gotten sane fran the southern part of the state. 'Ihey wanted sOIIEbody there to assemble them, so they sent rre up there. Q: To sample them you say? A: To assemble than. Q: Oh, assemble than, put them together. A: Another fellow and I W;mt there and ~ stayed there all 8\llllrer. Just off and on that way. Q: W:lat kind of pay did you get vnen you started as an engineer? A: Well, you wasn't classified as no engineer then. Q: Okay. A: Machinery repairman. Q: Machinery repairn:an. August Groh A: 'lhe chief electrician by the name of Ed Gillespie, a ¥.Underful man, he knew everything there was to know about electricity. He could take a piece of machinery, you get new machinery that he had never seen before. Seems as though he had a vision that could penetrate through steel because whenever that machine ¥.UUld break down or not w:>rk right, he never seen it before, the inside of the machine. He could tell you just exactly Where to go and where the trouble was at. Q: And he'd never seen the machine before? A: And he never had seen it. He was that kind of a man. Q: Yes. A: He was the smartest man aroun:l mining machines that I ever saw, and he was at Number Nine before he passe:! away. George MJsey knows him ~11. Q: George Mosey knows him? A: Yes. See, George Mosey and I, when Number Nine shut down one year for repairs, they sent IIE to Number Eight. That's at TO\Tey. George Mosey was bossing at Number Eight then, and that' s when I got acquainted with him. He was ~t they called a face boss, that's in the mine, you know, Where they mine coal inside. I w::>rked in the shop at the bottan but I got acquainted with George there. Q: Did you becane friends then? A: Oh yes. Th.en When they shut down, they transferred him to Number Nine and he becane face boss in the sane section that I was repairing in. Q: When you say it, you're saying face boss? A: Face boss. That's What they call that boss that V~nrked inside, face boss. That's What they call the inside of the mine, the face of it or the front of it. Q: Oh, I see, like F-A-C-E. A: Yes, okay. A: It's at Number Nine. Q: \that year did you becare friends with him? A: That was in the 1920s. Q: late 1920's? A: Yes. Q: Did you stay friends during the 1930's then? A: I didn't see him very much. See, I belonged to Number Nine. Of course, TNhen Number Nine started up again, I cane back to Number Nine. He stayed at Number Eight. Q: I see. Okay. A: But then WJ.en he came to Nt.nnber Nine, men Eight shut down, doing the sane job he did at Number Eight, and I was doing the job arourrl him all the time. Q: I see. A: George is a pretty nice fellow. Q: All right. let's 100\Te on a little bit to the mine \Iars for a second. The mine 'WarS when they started in 1932, you know, be~en the ProgressiveMiners of America and the United Mine Vbrkers? A: You IIEan the trouble they bad? Q: Right. Did you becane a Progressive? A: No, no. Q: rkre you considere:i part of the tmnaganent by then? A: No. I'd been offered officer rut I always wanted to stay a buck private. Q: A buck private? A: Yes. Vhen that trouble broke out, I wanted no part of the trouble due to the fact that they \VaS tm.reasonable in my opinion. Another thing was I decided that if I started anything like that, if any trouble broke out, I'd be rocking them people that I w:>rked with. Q: You'd be going against sane of your frien.is. A: Sure. So I didn't want anything like that to happen. In the first place, I didn't think they bad any reason to be out on strike. Q: What effect did the 'Wars have on you then? A: Nothing. 'Ihat was in 1932, yes, in 1932. Q: Right. August, 1932 I think it all began. A: Yes, and I ne~~er did , I didn't take sides. I just thought ~ bad officials that was supposed to take care of the stuff like that, try to settle up, you knCM, ~t they had. Just the men themselves, they had no jurisdiction CNer anything like that arrl there was no sense in getting involved in sanething you have no authority in. Q: Did you continue to v.urk then? A: No. I was out three nnnths I think, until they went back to w::~rk. I ~t back to the sane old job. Q: Were you harassed at all by the Progressives? A: No. Well, yes, I'11 take that back. One t~, it happened right out here in front, see I drCJile back and forth fran Number Nine from home. Q: Fran Honer? A: Fran here, home. Q: Oh, fran here, at hane, I see. A: I was an electrical and they figured if they could stop the electricians fran going to w::>rk, if they kept than here, that that ~ld kind of set the coal ccmpany back and they might settle up quicker. Q: It'd stop the machines in other w::>rds. A: Yes. So I didn't l::udge. I said I wasn't going to get mixed up with that trouble. Q: So v.tlat did they do, they came . . . A: I wmt one nnrning, and sane of those nen, they stayed with us, see, the Progressives. They kind of catered to these Progressives, and the union had sanething to do with that. At that time, I think it was in 1932, our contracts ran out. That's v.tlat started the Progressive rrovanent, our contracts ran out, our officials signed up and that group didn't like it. So then they tried to take us down too. So I stayed out of it quite aWhile. The only harasSIEnt I got, tre and the machinery repairman. I had another man that I v.urked and I drwe back and forth to w::>rk--you know \\here our high school is here? Q: Yes, in Pawnee. A: We used to go down there e.ren before they had that hard road. W; didn't have [Highway] 104 until 1932. Q: I see. A: So ~'d go backway and there was a group of tren with shotguns in the nrlddle of the road. Q: With shotguns? A: Yes. They shot at us and said you can't go to w::>rk. I said, ''Well, if you have to have a shotgun to go to w::>rk, I w::>n 't go to y,ork." (laughs) Q: Just tum around and \lent back heme. August Groh A: went right back home. Then later on after that, they must 've got wind of how we'd go to Y.Ork. They had a chance, the Progressives, to settle the thing, and it backfired on rre. I got up one IIDming and there was a group of men out in the front of my yard with shotguns on their shoulders. ''No, you ain1 t going to ~rk." Q: So that was part of the reason you stayej horre for those three IIDnths? A: Yes. Q: I urrlerstand that. (laughs) A: You have radical people in all walks of life. If they're Y.Orking and say that the official that you1re Y.Orking under signed up for a certain wage or something like that, maybe they thought they'd tum up for IIDre than one year, better conditions. You can't satisfy everybody. The good L:>rd was on this earth and he couldn't satisfy everybody. Q: IX> you feel that the people in this area of these mines were maybe a little bit IIDre radical than other groups of people? A: No, no. The canpan;y imported sa::re strike breakers in, and they even got the militia to cane in. That made them IIDre aggravated than ever, so they decided to stay out until the canpany backed dovn. But since those days we haven't had any trouble. Now men the contract nms out and we're off a few days while our officials are signing up and everybody is satisfied. Q: Was there a lot of friction beD~een people who had been friends or family manbers? A: Ch yes, yes. In Tovey, one case Where the father was on one side and the son the other. Q: Other, yes, different side? A: Yes. Of course, that was due to the effect of our friends too, but you can1t play both sides against the middle. I couldn't see any sense in doing that. 'lhere was old man killed over here. 'Ihe militia shot and killed him. Q: Andy Gynes? A: Andy Gynes, yes. You heard about that? Q: Yes, I did. Were you there when that happened? A: No. I was horre. I don1 t know vhy the carrpany, well he went to state and asked for the militia in to help break the strike, but they didn't do it, they just caused uore friction. Q: What role did wonen play at that time? August Groh A: The Y.OIJen had, in Tovey here, they used to have a group, a canmittee. 'This coomittee ~ld just get out arrl they v.xruld picket these few who were v.orking. Then they had the soup kitchens and they took care of the food for the miners that were on strike arrl their families. Q: Did they march the picket lines themselves? A: Yes, sooe of them did. Q: How did the opposing side feel about that? A: They didn't like it l:ut they didn't dare touch a ~. Q: They v.ouldn' t touch them because they were v.omen? A: Yes. Q: So did the Y.OIJeO kind of use their weight? A: Well, their persuasion. Q: Their persuasion? A: Yes, ani then I think that sane of the Progressives kind of softened up ani they started listening to each other a little bit then they v.xruld hop back CNer to the union side. Q: So some of the v.omen you feel helped to influence the Progressives to cooe back to the UMW? A: Yes. It looked to me like they did • Q: like their wives or other people? A: Vhen these men's wives heard that was going on, they might 've had sooe influence on their husband . Q: Vho were some of the v.o:nen that you remember as being active at that tilre? A: I don't know of any. That's been a long time ago. I wanted to forget the whole thing. Q: Ib you ranember Emna OJmerlatto? A: Yes, I knew her. Q: Yes, men she was shot in 1932? A: Yes. Q: There -was a big funeral arourrl this area for her? A: Yes, I knew her and I know the OJmerlatto family there in Kincaid. Q: Okay. A: 'Ihat was all uncalled for. Father against son and brother against brother. Q: Vhat about the children, how did they take it? A: SalE of the kids VlJUld take it to heart and others, they va1t ahead playing with each other like they always did. The only reprimand they got was fran their oWl folks for associating with the other kids. Q: Ib you remE.'mber W:len the Kincaid high school students ~nt on strike in C:Ctober, 1932? They ~t on strike because the high school was using coal that was mi.ne:l by Peabody. A: I rananber that l::ut I still don't have the menory. Q: I just ~ndere:l if maybe your children ~re about that age to remember it. A: No. ve was always here in Pamee. We didn't even fun around over there. Q: Okay. A: The only place they had any trouble was Kincaid, Tovey, and Bulpitt because your jobs v.ns off a ways fran there, had that trouble out there. But Tovey and Kincaid, they had mine trouble. Q: Yes, okay. ve could stop there for tcxiay I think. (tape turne:l. off and back on again) Okay, go ahead. A: 1932 was the yearly election, big election, and my wife use:l to nm an elevator at the Leland Hotel. She got acquainte:l. \\he was the Secretary of State by the name of Ed Hughes. Of course, he used to see her everyday, you know, going in. Before the primaries in 1932, my wife and I ~re walking into Springfield to do shopping and ~ ran across him. He stopped and talked and she gave me an intrcxiuction to him. He asked me, ''What are you doing?" I said, "Well, nothing now," I said , 'With all that, mine trouble and I don't want to get mixed up in it." He said, "I '11 tell you What. If you help me out as IIDJCh as you can among the coal miners and I'm in, they'll have to take care of you." Q: He said if you ~ld help b.lgging the coal miners? A: No, help him be elected. Q: Oh, be electe:i. Q: He wantai you to help him get electai? Erxi of Side One, Tape One A: Yes. That was before the primaries. So I didn't go back to w:>rk, I stayed out and I did all I could for him, Natalie and I. Of course he was nominated. He got in touch with us and he wanted to know if we'd continue doing the good w:>rk. I said , "Sure." I wasn't doing anything anyhow. I had no idea of going to w:>rk for the state, so he was electe:l. We still wasn't settled up on the ~rk. That was way after the election. So I stayed unanploye:l tmtil ... oh, the primaries was in April and about March I was still out. Q: That was March of 1933? A: 1932. A: So this other man and I , '1'.-.e wasn't w:>rking. Th.is other man and I '~'.-.ere together w:>rking for Hughes as mJCh as I could. He said, ''Well, you just sit back and I 111 take care of you." So time went on and wmt on into April. A lot of my friends had political jobs with the electric canpany. look arouni a bit with friend of mine fran Williamsville. He's sitting there at the mtel and I was there with him and I was about asleep. He rrud.Red ne, "Hey Augie, that man wer there1 s trying to get your attention. So I kind of w:>ke up arxl see him. So I went aver to him ... Q: 1932, okay. A: No, 1933. Q: 1933, yes. Q: Okay, this VBS Mr • Hughes? A: Yes. He said, ''You go up and see Nellie Walsh." He was in charge of all the patronage for that ti..ne. Tell him you're the guy I was talking to him about." I went up there. He said, 1'Well, we 1ve got sanething for you." He said, "But when you go home, don't you tell nobody about this," because at that time there VBS so many men was out of w:>rk, you know. All of them WJUld be hounding them for jobs. ''When people give help like that, '1'.-.e take care of you." That was in April. So the eighth day of May, the next mnth, I got a call to care up there and I got that with the highways. Q: A job on the highway? A: No. In the Centennial Building. Engineer's assistant. Q: You got a job as an engineer's assistant? A: Yes. Q: How long did you do that then? A: lhtil 1941. Q: From 1933 until 1941 then. A: Yes. Q: Wlat 'WaS your job then? You said engineer 1 s assistant, mat did you do? A: We took care of the road lettin.gs and repairs to be done on the highways and stuff like that. '!hey had tw:> blueprint machines in that department, and ~ had a m1lti-graph, a nultilith, and an addressograph and addressotype, all that machinery. I stayed there until 1940. At that time all the mine trouble was settled down. Worked for the state but they paid as little as they could. You l<now mat I started w:>rk for? Cbe hundred dollars a oonth. Q: Cbe lrundred dollars a tmnth men you ~re V~Drkin.g for the state, for the highway? A: Yes. That's what it was vhen I started. '!hey was starting everybody at that, and I v.orked myself up to $175. Q: Did you like doing that? A: Yes. Q: W:ly did you go back to the mines? A: Because it paid tmre ooney. Q: Okay. A: Gee miz, they paid about four times what I was making there. Q: So really, by not becoming a Progressive and by keeping your nose clean and helping with the A: That's right. Q: •.. then it helped you get this job, this p:llitical job. A: That's right, yes. Because they look up your history. 'Ihe first thing he told DE, he said, 1'Well, I see you've kept your nose clean.1' I got acquainted with the chief of police. He said, 11Augie, I want you to cane 'W:>rk for DE.11 I said , ''No, I don't want a p:llice job.11 Q: Wlat year "Was that? A: 1938 I think. I didn't want no IX>lice job. Q: Yes. A: I stayed there until 1940 when Dwight Green was elected governor. Q: I'm sorry, what was that? A: Dwight Green? Q: Dwight Green, yes. A: He t11as elected governor. Q: Electe:i governor, okay. A: Ibn' t you ranember that? Q: Right. So that was in 1940. A: 1940. When he got over there he t11as starting to weed out the people you know, get his side of the fence going. Q: So did you get cut because of that? A: No. I beat him to it. Q: You beat him to it? A: I went back to the mine. I was going to go back anyway because at that time they settled up and I 'illerlt back to the mine. Q: So you went back to the mine in 1940 or 1942? A: 1941. Q: 1941, okay. A: I went back to Number Nine. Q: What did you do v.hen you went back to the mine in 1941? Did you go back as an electrical engineer again? A: No. At that time, they didn't have any openings and I did odd jobs for about just a IIDnth or t\10. I was pretty -well acquainted with the generators that made po-wer for the mine. So Ed Gillespie, he was still chief of police, he seen ne one day. He said, "Augie, you've got to cane back." I said, "If you want ne to cane back, talk to them." Q: To rrechinery repairs? A: Yes. Q: So how long did you do that then, fran 1941 to . . • A: To 1951. August Groh Q: • • • until 1951. A: That's vhen we started the Ntlnber Ten mine. I was transferred fran Number Nine to Number Ten. But before I left Nine, Nine slru.t dom and I had to help hoist all the machinery out of the inside to the oottan. We hoistei SCIIE of it, and Number Nine had holes through undergrourrl to Number Seven. My job was to get the machines fran other parts of the mine, haul it over here and run through hole fran Number Nine to Number Seven, undergroun:i. I tmVed all the machinery across underground. Q: You liD\Ted it all across fran one mine to another? A: Yes. Q: Underground? A: l.hdergroun:l. Q: How far YJa.s that? A: A side of mine at Number Nine was quite a YJa.ys by the time I -went over to Number Seven. That's quite a ways. Q: Yes. A: So I did that until Nine slru.t down in 1951. 'Ihe superinterrlent, a man Ila1lEd John Hardy--division superinterrlent was William Stark. Q: Willian Stewart? A: Stark. Q: Stark, okay. A: '!bat wa.s before Nine slru.t down. This Mr. Stark, he very seldan went into the 'W:>rldngs. He always stayed a'bave ground in the office and see eJerytbing that the manager did was right. But this day, I was inside v:ork.ing on a machine and I noticed that he cat.na in. "Hi Augie, how're you doing?" I said, "Okay, Bill. I'm ~rking, busy on this machine." I said ' "If you wmt to talk to tre, why' you talk to tre mile I 'm \lUrking.II I said, "I 've go so nuch to do." I hal a big job. I had the machine torn dov.n and it was going to take tre an hour, tw:l hours to get it back together. So he sat down on a chunk of coal and we talked for a long time. Q: Vbat year was that did you say? A: That was in the 1930s. Q: What did he ask you about? What did he talk about? A: He asked ne if I didn't want to take a job as chief electrician. I said , ''No , I 'm not cut out to be no 'boss." Q: Vby didn't you VJant to be a boss? A: Because I don't like to order people arourxi, I never did. Another reason is I've been among the average public , around v.orkers ~ere you've got ten or twelve good w:>rkers, you've got one or tw:> drones in it. Q: Vbat do you rnaan by drones? A: Fellows that w::>n 't w:::>rk. Q: Yes. A: They're there to draw their pay, you know, and they're in the my of everybody else. So if I was chief electrician and a fellow w:>Uld lay down like that, I couldn't take it. I'd fire him right then. Q: Yes. A: So rather than have all those fellows ~~re my friends, even if they ~re my friends, they w::>Uldn' t v.ork like they should because it v.as nothing to rna, then I wuld just w::>rk by myself. But I'd have to be a boss aver than fellows that I w:>rked with for years ani I knew that they didn't like to w:>rk, they w:>n' t w:>rk unless they have to. I wanted nothing to do with it that w::ruld put rna in a spot, see. Q: Yes, I see. A: So I said, "I thank you partner," I said, "no." 'Well, ~'11 hold it up a ~ek or so. 'Maybe you'11 change your mind • " I said , "No, I don't think I will." So they kept after rna for another ~ek. Everytime he seen rna he'd say, "Are you going to take it?" and I'd say, ''No." I said, "Does it make you mad because I said no?" ''No, no, no. We can see your point.II Q: So you stayed on that job fran 1951 until . A: Until 1951. Until then. 'lbat's 'When Nine shut dom. ani they transferred me to Number Ten. Q: And how long did you lii.Urk at Number Ten then? A: Until 1967. Q: Is that ~en you retired? A: Yes. You see, men I wrked at Number Ten, I had the same job w:>rking on the machinery. Of course, they ~re just starting up. This ms a new mine, they -....eren' t in very far and the 'W:>rkers ~re close by. A man by the naae of John Danko, he was chief electrician and I got acquainted with him. I had to start on the night shift and I stayed on nights about six to eight m:>nths. I saw the mine manager and I said, ''Hey, it's about time I get transferred aver to day shift, isn't it?" "First chance ~ get sonebody equivalent to your experience ani can handle your job, we '11 put him on nights and put you on days.'' That was the division superintendent who told me that, a fellow by the narre of Joe Craggs. Q: Yes. A: You know him? Q: I've heard of him, yes. A: Joe, his dad was mine manager at Number Nine and also Number Eight, I had 'li\Orka::l at Ntmlber Eight under Bill Craggs, that ' s Joe's dad and Joe knew that. I told Joe, I said, "I'd like to get back on days." ''Yes Augie, just hold your horses." So al::xru.t tv;o or three tmnths after that, I ~t to the wash house v.here ~ changed clothes in, ''You're supposed to report on the day shift :imnadiately.11 So I repairerl machinery like machinery that I knew and I think it was Craggs said, "Augie, ~'re going to make a slope mine." Q: A slope mine? A: Yes. Ni..nnber Ten is a slope mine. See, Number Nine and Seven, they were cage mines, cages V~"eD.t up and dm;n than. But this is a slope mine at Number Ten. I said, ''Well, how steep is it going to be?" "A sixteen percent grade, and when the slope is done, it will be nearly 300 feet long fran the bottcm to the top." He said, "Although you're 'li\Orking and your 1re no boss, l::ut you can be the shift manager. I want you to take it CNer and see that ererything runs like a Cherrolet." Q: I'm sorry, say that again? A: He wanted ne to take over maki.ng that slope. My job was to hang your pmo;er line, air line and water line. See, they used jack ha:nrers to drill with, they had to have electricity to power and run the machines. They had to have air for the jack hBliiiErs too. Air and water for the jack ha:m:ners and po~r for the machines. So I put that in for him and he had ~t they call a slusher special l::uilt. Q: A slusher. A: Yes. It -was a regular coal cutting machine, but they took the caterpillars off of it, the conveyor part of it off it. No, they left the conveyor part on it. '!hey bolted it on another chassis. It lill:lS special built to go up the slope on 'Wheels in place of the cats. '!hey had a drum, a metal drun, it's special l::uilt, see. So he p.lts a big drum that they v.:ound the steel cables arOl.liXi it and they had t'li\0 shCNels like they use on bard roads, scoop shovels with the t'li\0 handles on them that can go up and doWJ., you know. Q: Yes. A: Glt t:v.l::> of those, and they hooked one end of the cable on the shovel because the shCNel had a handle with a loop on the end of than, besides the 'li\Ooden handles. 'Ihey could, you knCM, flop the shovel CNer upside dovn. They put cables CNer this drun and they serrl na1 with jack har.m:ers, they w:>Uld drill and they v.uuld face the solid rock going up the slope because the coal 'li\OU!d run all the way to the botton. August Groh Q: Now, are they starting fran down in the rrdne and making the slope up to the surface? A: Yes. That was my job to service that. Of course, I couldn't tell nobody "What to do because there was the boss there. As they YJent up, they'd get the machinery all set, tiM:> rren and jackhamrrers, and they v..uuld drill on in there. 'Ihey v;ould shoot that solid rock with dynamite. Then that slusher, he ~uld pull that shovel up there and another lever, pull it dow:1, one on each side, each corner of the roan. Then the rren up there could reverse it. After they loa:l their cars out, they -was supposed to shov'el 0\Ter the middle of the roan and get that stuff there. They'd pull that middle there to that shovel 0\Ter there so it v.ould pick up that rock. Q: How'd they pick it up, with the shovels? A: Yes, the po~r shO\Tels. Q: 'Ihe pcnNer shovels. A: Yes. They were there, they'd turn it upside down and make it quick -ways to get it lo.aded up. The operator, he'd m:J\Te it and they just pull that shovel into this machine. 'Ihe machine h.ad a cotlV'eyor on it and it -was a coal lo.ading machine with conveyors. Then the man there v.ould turn the sbo\rel 0\Ter W:len it cut all the machine on ahead of it and then that ~ld fall on the conveyor. It came to another battery IIDtor. It was on track alongside the slusher that nm. into that battery IOOtor. 'Ihen the other one, the other shovel \<\UU.ld cone dow:1 and do the same thing. They drilled the shute and of course, the top, it was, ~11, it goes straight like that, your slate IIDre or less and your coal, and that by nature lays flat. Q: Why does it lay flat? A: Nature, nature caused that because coal was nothing but a during the dinosaur days. Q: Yes, so it's in seams like. A: Yes, seams, and they lay flat. 'Ihen v.hen you're going up like that, you ~re cutting into that flat part, making it ~k. It h.ad a tendenancy to c<Ne in all the time. Q: Yes, I see. A: So then they h.ad another man and tt«> ~lders, and they used !-beans. Q: !-beams, yes. A: 'Ihe "i.\elders v.ould cut these IJ:easures, v.hat they called a leg, put it on an !-beam and cut an !-bean for the roof on the top, fran side to side. 'Ihen they'd cut a leg with that welder, cut that 1-bea:n off and prop it on the leg. Q: Yes. A: That's what you call a leg. Q: Yes, I see. Okay. A: 'Ihey did that all the way up the slope. Right today if you go up there, you'll fin:l an !-bean about every six feet. Q: Now, you got trapped into being a boss is what happened, didn't it? A: Yes, rut I had no authority. Q: You didn't get any extra u:oney for that probably. A: No, I didn't. But Joe Craggs, he knew me, see. This battery buggy, it's on this ... mat they haul coal with. Q: It's a battery buggy? A: Yes. It's operated by batteries. Q: Yes. Now, ~t year is this? A: 'Ihat was in 1951. Q: Okay, so you're building this slope in 1951. A: Yes. Q: Okay. A: We built that slope, we started building that slope, the lines went do~ in 1951. They started building that slope in 1952. Q: 1952. A: Yes. Q: Okay. A: Had a battery buggie, because as a rule, all these other mines all had electric operated rrotors, operator to run the IIDtors. But they couldn't use the rotors going up the slope, because the battery buggy, it'd have wheels on it, tired wheels. They took those off, the rubber tires and made track wheels on it. Wheel with phalanges on it. Q: Phalanges, yes. A: Yes. They laid track as they went up the slope, they kept adding rore track. But they started laying the track fran the bottan, and the battery buggy ran on that track, see. Q: Yes, I see. A: 'Iha.t battery ruggy was hooked onto this slusher. It had a big steel cable about three-quarter inch thick fastened. onto the errl. of the slusher, and the slusher, it had a shive ¥.heel. Q: I'm sorry, what? A: A sbive vheel. Q: A shave \\heel. A: Shive. Q: Shive, okay. A; That's a \\heel w.i.th phalanges on it. Th.e steel cable that 'WaS fastened. on the buggy through the shive and on to, they had a great big rotor at the J:.x:,ttan of the slope. It 'WaS a big IIDtor, it's about 440 or 400 horse mtor. Just like the generator. Then they laid the slusher, it ran on track. But it was controlled. and held up by this cable, that big IIDtor held it up. Then in turn, this buggy, it was hookerl onto this shive Wheel also. I'll take this back. It -was hooked onto that big IIDtor. W::ten that slusher w:mld dump, w:mld swing the coweyor and dump that rock on it into this buggy. Q: It w:mld drop the rock into the buggy? A: Yes. And. then that man down in the bottan--of course, he muldn' t need no partner, he'd run it by himself, he'd release the brakes on the cable and let that buggy run on down. Q: W::ten he'd release the brakes, he'd just do it gradually? A: Yes, just gradually. Q: If he tried. to brake it again, \IDUJ.d it stop? A: Oh, yes. It w:mld cane dO\in on it's OYD veight. Q: On it's veight. A: Yes. Q: By gravity. A: Yes. After they got down that v.ay, they had to have a place to dump all that rock that they got out of the throat. So they took t\ID loading machines and a cutting machine. 'Iha.t cutting machine \'Duld cut the coal first and the loading machines \IDUJ.d load it. They set up tm entries that ..ere fourteen feet w.i.de, and that's What they turned. their roans off of. They turned a roan wery sixty feet. So like I said, they had to have a room to do sanething with this rock that they got out of the throat. That was the purpose of running these roans, twelve roans off of each entry. The entries ~re parallel to each other and then they turned a roan off of the entry. Q: 'lhey'd tum into other roans? A: Yes. They turned a roan every sixty feet. They took all the coal out of than, made roans out of than and loaded that up. It 't\Ullld take a long time to make the slope. \-here the track is, that battery buggy runs up and dov.n on it. They ran an entry fran one of these roans to Where the track is, CNer towards vhere the slope is. Then in turn, they dug a hole fran bet~en the ties on that battery 1:uggy track all the way dovn to the roan down below that's about thirty feet down. They had these coal buggies that pull the coal, they use:l than. As the battery buggy ~ld cc.ma down full of rock, they ~uld stop CNer this glory hole they calle:l it . . . Q: Glory hole. A: Yes, that's the nicknane for it. Q: Yes. A: He v.uuld let that rock run out of his buggy ani dump it down into a buggy undemeath that \\liS t\liiting for that rock. He in turn v.uuld take that rock an:l. dump it into those roans that ~re ~rked out. Q: Yes. Arrl that's Where they stored the coal then? A: They stored the rock. They wanted to get rid of it. Q: Get rid of the rock, so they left it in there. A: Yes. Q: I see. A: That's the process they used in making that slope. Q: Sounds pretty efficient to be able to get rid of the rock that way. A: It \\liS. 'lhey really had that all figured out, sane of the engineers. Q: Okay, that's interesting. Sounds like you know a lot about that since you ~re right there helping to run the thing. A: The man that \\lis bossing there, he was sort of fidgety. He'd get excited and all that, they used to make fun of lrim. But it's human nature. He use:i to be a face boss on a coal part and they'd tease him about that. A person that's fidgety like that, ~11, you can't say nothing to him. You know, if you don't feel like insulting than or anything, just let it go. If you kn~ him to a certain extent, he had gocxi ideas, he knew v.:ihat he \\liS doing and ~t they wanted done. The best t\BY to get along with a man like that \\liS to do mat you ~re told. Q: Yes. A: And everyb<xly got along. Ch, v.e got in squabbles. Q: You v.ere right there watching through all this tine that machines were caning in. In the process that you just described to rre vas a far cry fran vtlat happened in the 1920s by using machines. The conti.rru.ous miner and that type of thing. Wlat effect did these machines have on jobs ani things? A: Vben they got the continuous miner, that--did you ever see one of them? Q: No, I haven't. A: We've got to go back on our story to get to them. Before then When the nen v.ere hand loading ani stuff like that, they'd turn a roan and .. . solid coal is 'What they called a face. The rren w::>uld shoot the coal, load it by hand, and your face vas square. Your block of coal was square and thirty feet wide. They w::>uld take approximately the center of the face of the roan ani they w::>Uld drill a hole on an angle like that so that the tip of the drill w::>uld be practically in the center of the roan. Q: Why did it have to be in the center of the roan? A: Well' I I 11 tell you Wl.y. Then thatIs mat they called a buster. Q: A buster. A: Yes. 'Ihe purpose of that is I '11 get to in a mi..rrute. 'Ihey shoot that first and the p.lipose of the angle like that if you drill a hole in solid and you put pow:ler in it, it'11 kick right back out of the hole. It can't do anything else because it's up against solid coal. Q: I see. A: You drill the buster on an angle like that and you shoot that. When they light it, it blows that coal out because they're on the beam. There's no resistance there, see? Q: Yes. A: Then after that, they shoot that buster out. 'Ihey cane along on v.hat they call the rib shot. 'Ihe sides of the roan, they call them ribs. Q: A rib shot? A: Yes. The p.1rpose of the buster is you've got to make roan for the rib shot and after that busts out you've got a big vee there see. 'Ihen they cane along the other side and shoot alongside the rib, shoot that coal out and that gives you a square face again. Q: I see. Okay, and then they could hand load it after that? August Groh A: Yes. Well, they hand loa:ied the buster out first, because you1Ve got to get that buster out first because, see, with that buster out, they1Ve got a chance to blow the other coal out. Q: Okay. All right. A: 'lhat1 s the purpose of that angle shot, the buster , to make roan for the other shots to cone out. Q: Does the seam have a lot to do with the angle of the shot then? A: No. There1 s t\10 streaks of impurity. They have what they call a steel band and . . Q: A steel band. A: It1 s impurities, it1 s just like rock about tw:::> inches wide maybe. It varies fran a half inch to maybe t\10 inches wide. Q: It1 s just rock inside the coal , a sean of rock in the coal? A: Yes. Q: They had to get rid of that. A: Of course, all that goes up. In m:xiern mines like that, see that coal is all crushed, crushed with the steel in it, like Number Ten does. Q: Yes, crush the coal. A: It crushes the coal and then it1 s dumped with water into a vat. 'llie coal floats and the impurities don1 t. Q: I see. A: Then they take the impurities out. Q: Now, is that the way they do it nowadays? A: Yes. Q: But they didn1 t do it back then that way. A: No. Q: Yes, they had to hand pick it out? A: They had to hand pick it out. Q: Yes , okay. All right. Well , good . let1 s stop here. Eni of Side '.[W), Tape Che
|Title||Groh, August - Interview and Memoir|
Coal Mines and Mining
Coal Mines and Mining--Strikes and Lockouts, "Mine Wars"
Coal Mines and Mining--Women
Progressive Miners of America (PMA)
United Mine Workers (UMW)
|Description||Groh, immigrant from Austria-Hungary, discusses his work in the coal mines near Pawnee, Illinois, mine wars between the United Mine Workers and the Progressive Miners of America, coal mine operations, and his contribution to the construction of the Number Ten slope mine in Pawnee. Also discusses his education and training in electrical engineering, living and working conditions for miners, and the role of women in the mine wars.|
|Creator||Groh, August (1898-1987)|
|Contributing Institution||Oral History Collection, Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield|
|Contributors||Corley, Kevin [interviewer]|
|Digital Format||PDF; MP3|
|Relation||ILLINOIS COAL: THE LEGACY OF AN INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY|
|Rights||© Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this material, please contact: Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield, One University Plaza, MS BRK 140, Springfield IL 62703-5407. Phone: (217) 206-6520. http://library.uis.edu/archives/index.html|
|Title||August Groh Memoir|
|Source||August Groh Memoir.pdf|
|Rights||© Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this material, please contact: Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield, One University Plaza, MS BRK 140, Springfield IL 62703-5407. Phone: (217) 206-6520. http://library.uis.edu/archives/index.html|
University of Illinois at Springfield
Norris L Brookens Library
August Groh Memoir
G894. Groh, August (1898-1987)
Interview and memoir
1 tape, 82 mins., 31 pp.
ILLINOIS COAL: THE LEGACY OF AN INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY
Groh, immigrant from Austria-Hungary, discusses his work in the coal mines near Pawnee, Illinois, mine wars between the United Mine Workers and the Progressive Miners of America, coal mine operations, and his contribution to the construction of the Number Ten slope mine in Pawnee. Also discusses his education and training in electrical engineering, living and working conditions for miners, and the role of women in the mine wars.
Interview by Kevin Corley, 1985 OPEN See collateral file
Archives/Special Collections LIB 144
University of Illinois at Springfield
One University Plaza, MS BRK 140
Springfield IL 62703-5407
© 1985, University of Illinois Board of Trustees
This manuscript is the product of a tape recorded interview conducted by Kevin Corley for a special project, "Illinois Coal; The Legacy of an Industrial Society." The project VBS sponsored by the Illinois State Historical Society and furrled in part by the Illinois Humanities Council and the National fudc::>tlllreilt for the Humanities. Additional support came fran the Oral History Office of Sanganon State University. Joyce Fisher transcribed the tapes and Susan Jones edited the transcript.
August Groh was bom in Rashichia, Austria-lfungary in 1898. He imnigrated to the Unites States with his family in 1904 and began 'liiDrk in the coal mines at a young age. Vbile \\Drking he canpleted high school through the International Correspondence School and becane interested in electrical engineering. He 'liiDrked in this field as a repairman in the mines and was instrunental in wilding the Number Ten slope mine in Pamee, Illinois.
Reooers of the oral history memoir should bear in mind that it is a transcript of the spoken 'liiDrd, and that the interviev.Er, narrator and editor sought to preserve the informal, con\Tersational style that is inherent in such historical sources. Sangarron State University and the Illinois State Historical Library are not responsible for the factual accuracy of the meJIDir, nor for views expressed therein; these are for the reader to judge.
The manuscript may be read, quoted and cited freely. It may not be reproduced in Whole or in part by any IIEans, electronic or IIEC.hanical, without pennission in writing frcm the Oral History Office, Sangamon State University, Springfield, Illinois, 62708.
August Groh, Pawnee, Illinois, November 27, 1985.
Kevin Corley, IntervieV~er•
Q: Mr. Groh, w::ruld you please state your
A: August E. Groh.
Q: What does the E stand for?
Q: Earl? When V~ere you born?
A: August 26, 1898.
Q: That w::ruld be 1898?
A: Yes, 1898.
Q: All right. And v.here V~ere you born?
full name for me?
A: I -was only about five years old when my folks left Europe. I was born in Europe.
Q: \here in Europe were you born?
A: Austria, lhmgary.
A: That's G.u states. Austria Hungary was one providence at one time
until World War I and they made t:w::> states out of it, Hungary and Austria.
Q: I see.
A: Put men I was born, they called it Austria Hungary.
Q: Right, okay. Vhere you born in the cotmtry?
A: tb, at a small village.
Q: Okay. What was the village's name, do you remember?
A: It sounds French--Rashichia.
A: R-A-S-H-I-C-H-I-A I think it is.
Q: Okay, all right.
A: It's just a foreign name.
Q: All right, I see. You lived there until you \\ere five years old you say?
A: Five years old, yes.
A: My dad ~rked in Lincoln at that time. He came to this country a year before 't\e did. After he was here a year he sent for us and V~e came over . • .
A: on a ship named Hamburg.
Q: The Hamburg.
A: Hambur~. We departed fran Hmnburg, Gennany, and "~Ae landed at Ellis Islarid. 0 course \le talked German, see, and at that tin:E, the porters all knew Gennan. futher had tied on Lincoln, Illinois. I had a sister older than I. The three of us, these porters took care of us ani showed us vbere to go. We couldn't talk English any and they routed us to