by Polla Horn
for The Frostburg Express
Peter McGuire: The Last of the Eight McGuire Boys
Peter McGuire moved to Western Maryland from Nanticoke, PA in February of 1900. He boarded with the J.P. Kenny family in Allegany (Zihlman) and found work with the New York Mining Company. He became an important part of the Kenny family, quickly bonding with their four young children. The community also embraced Peter. He was described as an industrious, quiet, good man. Peter talked lovingly of his father and four sisters back in Nanticoke. Sadly, he told of the deaths of his mother and seven brothers.
On March 10, 1900, just one month after moving to Allegany County, Peter McGuire and Michael Lyons were loading a coal car when Peter was struck on the back by a fall of coal. Peter lived long enough to request that all of his property be given to his twin sister, Annie. The Kenny family was devastated, and Peter’s grieving father had lost his only remaining son. Mr. Kenny had Peter’s remains sent back to his family in Nanticoke.
Peter was the son of Patrick and Anne McGuire. Born in Ireland, Patrick and Anne relocated to Thornley, Durham County, England. The Thornley census of 1861 lists Patrick as age 35 and Anne, age 26. They had six sons and three daughters. Mr. McGuire and the two oldest boys, ages 11 and 12, worked in the coal mines. Mrs. McGuire had just given birth to a set of twins, Peter and Anne. Sometime before 1880, Patrick and Anne had moved their large family from England to Nanticoke, PA. We don’t know what happened to Peter McGuire’s mother and brothers. Were they victims of typhoid fever, diphtheria, or meningitis? Did his brothers suffer the same tragic fate as Peter? We do know that there were many mining disasters in Nanticoke. March 5, 1880: six men were killed in an explosion. December, 18, 1885: twenty-six were killed by flooding in the mine. April 2, 1890: five were killed in an explosion. November 8, 1891: twelve were killed in an explosion. June 22, 1893: five were killed in an explosion. Patrick McGuire died September 30, 1908 at the age of 79, ten years after the massive fall of coal and slate that claimed the life of his son, Peter McGuire.
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 Highway in Frostburg. A bronze statue will honor all of our Georges Creek Valley miners and name those who perished while mining.
Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to the Foundation for Frostburg CMMSF
P.O. Box 765
Frostburg, MD 21532.
Contact Polla Horn at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bucky Schriver at email@example.com
if you have a story of your own to tell. Look for more Miner Recollections in the coming weeks.