for The FROSTBURG EXPRESS
by Polla Hammond Horn
JAMES & WILLIAM STARKEY
In 1908 the general minimum age for coal mining in the United States was fourteen and John Mitchell, president of the United Mine Workers, wanted it raised to sixteen.
In 1910 William J. Starkey, age 13, was already working in the mines with his father, James F. Starkey.
James, the father, was born in 1875. Before his fifth birthday his mother, Margaret, age 27, was already a widow with four children under the age of nine. They lived in Rawlings, MD on a farm.
James married Ida Twigg in 1896, they lived in Cumberland and he worked for the railroad. Sometime before 1910 James and Ida moved their family of seven to Eckhart, MD. James and young William worked in the Washington #2 Mine of the Piedmont and Georges Creek coal Company. On September 25, 1911, three months before William’s 15th birthday, the roof of mine #2 collapsed killing father and son instantly.
In the Annual Report of the Mine Inspector Mr. Starkey was “recognized as being one of the most careful and practical miners.” The report goes on to say that his working place was in excellent condition but a dangerous slip of coal fell without warning crushing James and William.
This accident left Ida, age 33, to grieve for her husband and son and raise the remaining four children alone, just like her mother-in-law.
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 the Foundation for Frostburg CMMSF, P.O. Box 765, Frostburg, MD 21532.
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