by Polla Horn
for The Frostburg Express
Blue Bell No 1 ~ Lonaconing, MD.
Francis Joseph “Frank” Meyers
“Take the coal off my feet, Fred, I’m alright.” These were the last words spoken by fifteen year-old Francis “Frank” Meyers. Frank and his brothers, Fred and George, along with their father, John, had left their home on St. Mary’s Terrace in Lonaconing to go to work. They walked along together in the crisp dawn on September 27, 1907, with work gloves in one hand and lunch bucket dangling from the other. The conversation centered on what needed to be done that day at the Blue Bell Mine. The four men had been working together in the same heading for two weeks. Upon entering the mine, John and his son George were directed to another area, while Frank and Fred remained to set up a prop. The heading was seven feet high, but Frank, being well over six feet tall, had to bend over. As he bent to grab the remaining end of the prop he heard a loud crack. Before he could stand up, a large lump of coal fell, crushing him to the floor. Other miners, including his father and brothers, rushed to his aid. They carried the injured boy down the hill past the Catholic cemetery, where he took his last breath. He did not make it home to say good bye to his mother.
John Casimir Meyers had immigrated to America from Munich, Bavaria, Germany in 1870. He worked as a gardener in Long Island City, NY for three years before relocating to the Georges Creek Valley, where he met Elizabeth Helen Knapp. The young couple married on May 12, 1874. Soon they were able to purchase a home on St. Mary’s Terrace, where they raised their large family.
Francis Joseph “Frank” Meyers was born December 23, 1891 to John and Elizabeth. He was the youngest of their ten children. His siblings were: John Matthew, 1875; Mary Ann, 1876; Christina, 1878; George Augustus, 1880; Elizabeth, 1881; Frederick J., 1883; Barbara H., 1885; Franceska, 1888; and Theresa, 1889.
Frank’s obituary portrays great esteem for this young man and his family. “The bereaved family has the keen sympathy of the entire community, for the Meyers family are good people and highly respected.” His teachers remarked that “Frank was a remarkable boy, he had a remarkable memory, very quick to learn; he was a steady worker and a home lover. He never gave his parents the slightest bit of trouble.”
John and Elizabeth Meyers had lost their eldest son, John Matthew, to typhoid fever in 1892, when he was seventeen. Despite the loss of their eldest and youngest born, they forged ahead, raising their other children to adulthood. The remaining sons, George and Fred, continued working as coal miners for a while. Eventually, they both opened stores, selling mining supplies. Mary Ann and Theresa stayed at home, cooking, cleaning, and caring for their parents. Christina, Barbara, and Elizabeth also lived at home. Christina was a clerk in George’s store, Barbara worked in Fred’s store, and Elizabeth taught school at Central Elementary in Lonaconing for 41 years. Franceska became Sister Mary Gabrielle, an Ursuline nun. None of the girls married.
Frank’s brother George and his wife Catherine (Kate Meyers) had seven children. George, Jr. became a union leader at the Celanese; Mary was a teacher, active in acquiring funds for the Lonaconing Library; John C. became a basketball and soccer coach at Valley High School; nothing is known about Joseph; DeSales became a physician and author of several books; Mary Catherine became a nurse; Michael became a dentist.
Frank’s brother Fred, who was working with Frank on the day of his fatal accident, married Molly McGowan. They had five children; John worked at Westvaco and had a trucking business hauling coal; Marie was a teacher; Margaret worked for the Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC; Angela worked for the Social Security Administration in Baltimore; Francis, who was to be the best man at his brother John’s wedding, died the night before the wedding of tuberculosis. He was in his early twenties.
John Casimir Meyers, the patriarch of this bright and ambitious family, died July 31, 1928. His wife, Elizabeth, preceded him in death on June 23, 1924. Our committee would like to thank Francis Meyers of Frostburg, a fourth generation member of the Meyers family, and great-grandson of John Casimir Meyers, for providing information for this Recollection.
The Coal Miner Memorial Statue Fund is accepting contributions for the placement of an educational memorial near the intersection of state Route 36 and the National Road 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
P.O. Box 765
Frostburg, MD. 21532.
We welcome updated information and encourage your participation.
Email Polla at email@example.com
Bucky at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts and stories. Be on the lookout for more Miner Recollections in the weeks to come.