by Polla Horn
for The Frostburg Express
The Trezise Father and Son
St. Agnes is a town located on the north coast of Cornwall, England, on the Celtic Sea. Until the 1920’s it was a center for mining copper, tin and arsenic. George Trezise was a tin miner in St. Agnes. He and his wife Cheston (“Chessie”) had five children. Their second son, William, born December 28, 1842, followed in the footsteps of his forebears and was an experienced tin and copper miner. In 1863, at the age of 21, William immigrated to the United States and settled in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan, the site of the first copper boom in the United States. He met Martha Eden, a native of Michigan, and they married in 1868. Their first daughter, Gertrude, was born in January 1870. Two years later, the family moved to Kentucky where two more daughters were born: Lilly in 1872 and Jessie in 1873. William remained a miner---but not for copper; he mined for coal. Sometime before 1875, the family relocated to Lonaconing and had two more children: William, in 1876, and Emma, in 1879.
William had been swinging a pick for more than 30 years when, on October 4, 1902, mining finally got the best of him. He was working with his son, William Jr., in the Appleton Mine of Maryland Coal Company when the roof fell, crushing him to death. His family laid him to rest in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Moscow, MD. His wife Martha died 34 years later on March 15, 1936, and was buried next to William.
Fifteen years later, on January 31, 1917, William, Jr., who had witnessed his father’s death, met a similar fate while working in Consol Mine No. 12 in Borden Shaft. This mine was one of the few vertical mines to operate in the Cumberland Coal Region. William, Jr. was working with Louis Skidmore and had fired a shot into the left side of the breast coal, loosening it. Mr. Skidmore began trimming down the loose coal when an 8 ½ foot by 6 ½ foot by 2 ½ foot thick piece of coal fell, striking William, Jr. on the head. Bashed against the front end of a coal car, William, Jr. called out for help. Mr. Skidmore had been hit by a piece of coal that knocked off his cap and lamp. He could not locate William, Jr. in the Stygian darkness of the mine; William, Jr. died before help arrived. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lonaconing.
William, Jr. and his wife, Margaret Rollins Trezise, were living on Park Avenue in Frostburg and had been married for seventeen years when the tragic accident occurred. They had three children: Mary, 16; Maude, 12; and Rollins, 10. Like her mother-in-law Martha, Margaret lived for many years as a widow. She died in 1970 at the age of 95, and was buried with her husband, William, Jr., in Oak Hill Cemetery.
Throughout our research, we repeatedly discover multi-generational coal mining deaths. The sting of losing multiple family members, in particular, calls for pause and ponder. Every surviving wife and child, while grieving, had to find and employ the tenacity to overcome hardship. At the same time, a gray cloud hovered above the mining family: the fear of losing yet another loved one
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.”