by Bucky Schriver
For the Frostburg Express
Meshack Tobias Preston
Anna Preston Loses Husband and Father to Barton's Potomac Mine
John Thomas Greenhorn, along with his wife, Margaret Ellen Robertson, their daughter Anna, and John's widowed mother, Elizabeth Janet Reid, sailed from Scotland on April 5, 1848 on a 515 ton barque, mastered by William Grange, and aptly named "Hope." On board were 70 adults and 67 children. Nearly all of the men were colliers heading for Pictou, Nova Scotia, at the behest of the General Mining Association to work at the Albion Mines.
After working long enough to pay for their passage, the Greenhorn family moved to the Barton area of Georges Creek.
Their daughter, Anna, married Meshack Tobias Preston. Born near Frostburg in 1841, Meshack was the son of Meshack and Eliza (Metz) Preston.
On October 2nd, 1886 Meshack Preston was killed by a fall of top coal in the Potomac Mine in Barton. His son, Charles, was one of the miners who had the onerous task of carrying his body down the hillside from the mine on that fateful day. Preston's death left his wife, Anna, with 10 children, seven of whom were younger than 16 years of age.
Just 27 days later, on October 29th, 1886, Anna's burden was doubled when her father, John Greenhorn, was killed in the same Potomac Mine in an accident similar in nature to the one that had just take her husband's life. John Greenhorn's death left his wife, Margaret (Anna's mother) with seven children.
Within twenty-seven days of each other, these two accidents at the Potomac Mine claimed the lives of two family bread-winners, leaving mother-daughter widows Margaret Greenhorn and Anna Preston with seventeen fatherless children.
In 1863, Meshack Preston had been honorably discharged after three years of service with the 2nd Maryland Potomac Home Brigade. In 1893, seven years after his death in the Potomac Mine, his wife, Anna, received a Widow's and Surviving Children's Pension for his military service. She was given $8 per month, and $2 for each of her five children who were still under 16 years of age. Anna's income was also supplemented by the generosity of the grateful parents of the many newborns that were brought into the world in the Barton area, with the help of Anna's devoted service as a midwife.
Anna Preston took many of the neighborhood's less fortunate children into her Back Road Street home, feeding, bathing, and dressing them in hand-me-downs. In 1902, Anna purchased a lot in the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Moscow for $13. She was laid to rest there, beside her late husband, in 1908.
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 George's 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
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