by Polla Horn
for The Frostburg Express
May 16, 1904 ended tragically for two employees of Union Mine No. 2 of the New York Mining Company.
Union No. 2, previously known as the Keeley Mine, was one of the most prosperous mines along Jennings Run. Located on the east side of the C&P Railroad between Zihlman and Morantown, Union No. 2 mined the Big Vein seam and produced nearly 3.5 million tons of coal between 1847 and 1918. It was operated on a smaller scale by several coal companies until 1943, when the final 86 tons were removed by Henry Mullaney and two other employees. According to the Annual Report of the Mine Inspector this mine was “highly dangerous due to its great height…. 12 to 14 feet in many places.”
The first accident to occur on May 16 claimed the life of Albert Harris, a 28 year-old single man. He was killed by a fall of breast slate, which lies between the bottom and top coal, and is usually very thick. The mine inspector deemed this accident to have been unavoidable.
Albert, born in June 1876, was the son of William and Catherine Cross Harris. The family lived in Eckhart where Mr. Harris was employed as a miner supporting his wife, three sons and three daughters.
The census of 1900 lists Albert, age 24, as a miner. We don’t know at what age he began working or why he left that employment, but soon after the 1900 census, Albert enlisted in the Army in the Field Artillery Division. He served four years, some of which were in the Philippines; he was discharged on April 8, 1904 at Fort Myers, VA. One month later he was killed in Union No. 2.
Overcome with grief, his mother Catherine wrote a poem about Albert on the back of his memorial card. Catherine died in 1936, and was buried in the Eckhart Mines Cemetery near her son.
Later the same day, John Malooly, age 26, was injured by a fall of breast slate. He died fifteen days later from severe internal injuries. After inspecting the accident site, mine foreman John Sullivan and inspector Thomas Murphy wondered how John had not been killed outright.
John’s father, Patrick Malooly, was born in Ireland in 1840. At the age of seven he came to America with his parents. He married Bedelia Welsh in 1864; the first of their ten children was born within a year. John was their sixth child, born in August of 1878 in Lonaconing, where Patrick was employed as a coal miner.
The growing Malooly family moved to Mount Savage before 1900. Patrick had put aside his pick for a plow; perhaps he preferred warm sunshine and spacious fields. John’s brother, Arthur, helped out on the farm, while the other siblings lent their support by working in the mining industry. In addition to their own children, Patrick and Bedelia were caring for an orphaned grandchild and Bedelia’s 110 year old father, James Welsh. Mr. Welsh died in 1902 at the age of 112.
Newly-married John and his bride Mary Ann (Lynch) also lived in this home that overflowed with people and love. It would seem that a grandchild was welcomed into many caring arms when John and Mary Ann’s daughter,Nellie, was born in 1900. Perhaps they found a home of their own before their second daughter, Mary, was born two years later.
John Malooly lingered for more than two weeks after that fall of breast coal in 1904; he did not want to leave his wife, his four year-old Nellie, and his two year-old Mary.
According to the Frostburg Mining Journal, a young child, who once described “hell” to her father as “a big place where fire was always burning,”inquired as to whether Satan used Georges Creek Coal to build the fire. With their father John Malooly gone, only Mary Ann remained to provide answers to little Nellie and Mary’s profound questions.
Our committee would like to thank Linda Harden-Lantz of Greeneville, Tennessee for the picture of her great uncle, Albert Harris, and for her help with this “Recollection.” [note: no picture was received for posting with this article. ~Genie]
The Coal Miner Memorial Statue Fund is accepting contributions for the placement of a bronze statue to honor all of our coal miners and name those who died while mining. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to the
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.”