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Document of NamesRandy Greenwalt found this listing on a sheet of paper folded and placed inside a book he purchased at an auction in 2004. With this donation, we were able to reference the Keystone Courier (which we have available on microfilm) and dig deeper into what was happening when this roster was prepared June of 1881.

The first strike in the coke region of any serious proportion was that of 1881. The strikers, whose names are written on this original document, were led by Peter Wise. He, along with J. R. Brynes, later became leaders of the Knights of Labor and enlisted quite a number of workers under this banner. The local paper announced this was a strike of “the diggers and the drawers,” referring to the miners and coke workers. The men and their families were evicted from their company owned homes on June 6, 1881, and eventually lived in tents along the railroad tracks near Everson, Pa. The work stoppage threw 10,000 men out of employment, but only lasted one month. The workers were demanding a 1¢ increase for each bushel of coal and 10¢ more for drawing an oven. Their efforts were unsuccessful since the management claimed that demands for coke were low during the summer and the plants could “run light.”

Names of parties who camped during the strike of June 6, 1881*
John C. Brownfield
J. R. Byrnes [Brynes]
Peter Wise
John Needham
Martin Gibbons
Todd Byrnes [Brynes]
Connelly-Young man heavy set
Thomas Lockhart
Abe Turner
Daniel Nolan
John Rape
James Rape
Michol Rape
John Murphy
Thomas Gibbons
John King
Stephen Sweny
James Rittenour
Lemuel Beck
John Shafer–German Interpreter
Georg Beck
John Vanhoy
John Weaver
Albert Coburn
Mike Mulvehill
J. J. Brady
Christ Helzell [Hetzell]
Georg L. Beaver
John Hammell
John McMahon
Martin Dewitt
Ned Kelly
John McGregor[y]
Ike Sherwood
Bill Wolf
Wm Barnum
David Baker
Jack Myers
James Ridenour
Adam Brown
Owen King
Harry Swartz
Isaac Rollison
Edward Washabaugh
 *Note: Names taken directly from roster, as indicated; several have no first names assigned. Although the original handwriting is faded and difficult to read, listing is as accurate as possible.

We’ll need your help to dig deeper and find out more information concerning the photo below donated in 2007 by Malinda Lamp Whipkey. Although “taken in Banning Mine” is penciled on the back of this image and Mrs. Whipkey and her family lived in Banning at one time, she has no idea what the circumstances were when this photo was taken. Can anyone offer any insight? We’re completely in the dark! Contact us by calling 724-430-4158.


In 1994, Mel Remington donated a sizable collection of materials from the coal and coke era, including this original document. In 1904 it was necessary for George Kelly, age 14, to obtain this certificate before working in H. C. Frick’s United Mine, Westmoreland County. According to the 1903 Department of Mine Reports, boys at least 12 years old could be employed outside, the mine while boys at least 14 years old could work underground. A letter, dated December 15, 1903, from James E. Roderick, “Chief of Department of Mines,” to all mine operators and published in the 1903 Department of Mine Reports (p. xii-xvi) further clarifies the issue.

Certificate for Work

Dear Sir: You are hearby notified that on and after January 1, 1904, all boys who appear to be under the legal age shall be required to furnish affidavits, sworn to before a justice of the peace or other officer qualified to administer oaths, setting forth the fact that they have attained the age required by the mine law; that said affidavit shall be filed with the superintendents or mine foremen at the collieries, and the Mine Inspectors shall examine them on their visits of inspection. These certificates shall be filed in the mine offices, convenient for examination by the Inspectors.


Coal Belt