by Polla Horn
for The Frostburg Express
Margaret Blubaugh Lancaster Starkey Lafferty
Miner Recollections documents the stories of our brave and industrious coal miners. Occasionally, we have mentioned the women who stood beside them, keeping the home fires burning.
Margaret Blubaugh was a woman who seemed to draw strength from adversity. Born on March 12, 1853, Margaret was the daughter of Andrew and Sarah Winter Blubaugh. On August 17, 1870, Margaret, age 17, married “the boy next door.” Her husband, Jeremiah Lancaster, was the son of John and Rose Lancaster. One year later, on August 13, 1871, they welcomed their daughter Sarah into the family. Two and a half weeks later, on August 30th, Jeremiah was working under the tipple at Midland Mines near Ocean, located on the Cumberland and Pennsylvania Railroad. Somehow he got caught between two loaded coal cars and was so badly crushed that he died the following morning. At the age of 18, and in less than three weeks, Margaret became both a mother and a widow.
A year after Jeremiah died, Margaret married John Frederick Starkey, who worked on the farm of her in-laws. John was born in Hampshire County, Virginia (now WV) on June 9, 1849. He was the son of Frederick and Susan Oats Starkey and a descendent of Revolutionary War soldier Frederick Starkey, Sr. John and Margaret added three sons to the family: Charles in 1873, James in 1875, and John in 1877. Soon after their last son was born, John noticed a swelling on the left side of his face. When the swelling didn’t go away, he sought the advice of a physician. John was diagnosed with cancer of the face, and had surgery to remove it in the summer of 1878. John succumbed to cancer in March of 1879. At the age of 27, Margaret was widowed for the second time. She was left to raise her children alone, and remained single for the next 20 years.
In 1910, Margaret married Jacob Lafferty. Jacob became her strength, and soon offered her his shoulder to cry upon. The following year, on September 25, 1911, Margaret’s son James (age 36) and her grandson William (age 14) were killed when the roof of Washington Mine #2 collapsed.
Margaret and Jacob were married for 21 years. She died on June 3, 1926, followed by Jacob in 1936. They are buried side by side in Eckhart Mines Cemetery. Margaret endured heartache and tragedy, yet persevered. She represents the strength and determination of all women who married miners and raised families, traits that serve as an enduring connection to our mining ancestry.
Our committee would like to thank Linda Harden Lantz for providing the information and pictures for this Recollection.
The Coal Miner Memorial Statue Fund is accepting contributions for the placement of an educational memorial near the crossroads of state Route 36 and the National Road in Frostburg. A bronze statue will honor all of our Georges Creek miners and name those who perished while mining.
Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to
Foundation for Frostburg CMMSF
P.O. Box 765
Frostburg, MD 21532.
We welcome updated information and encourage your participation.
Contact Polla Horn at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bucky Schriver at email@example.com to share your thoughts and stories. Be on the lookout for future “Miner Recollections.”