Category Archives: Coal mines and mining

‘Bird Lady’: A Lithuanian immigrant mother’s life in Springfield

On the day in 1912 when 16-year-old Mary Ann Yezdauskas arrived in Springfield from Lithuania, her brother took her to the elegant Bressmer’s Department Store to buy a new coat. Then the sister and brother posed together in their finery … Continue reading

Posted in Coal mines and mining, Family life, Lithuanians, Lithuanians, Women | 8 Comments

Zinc works, Devereux Heights

Spanish immigrants were skilled zinc workers, but they were also tough labor negotiators, managers of Springfield’s zinc smelter learned. The smelter, owned first by the United Zinc & Chemical Co. and then the National Zinc. Co., operated off Peoria Road … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Coal mines and mining, Ethnic groups, Industry, Prominent figures, Spanish | 2 Comments

George Voyzey, union radical

The radical sympathies of Springfield labor activist George Thomas Voyzey (1893-1950) got him in trouble with both local authorities and other union leaders. Voyzey served as chairman of the Springfield affiliate of Save the Union, a miners’ group that broke … Continue reading

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Worst coal mine accident (1918)

Four coal miners were killed Feb. 23, 1918, in the worst coal mine accident in Sangamon County history. Six employees of the mine, Citizens Coal Co.’s Mine A west of Springfield, were charged with negligence and violating mining laws, but … Continue reading

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Hunger march blockade, 1933

Police cordoned off Sangamon County in April 1933 to quell a planned “hunger march” on the Statehouse by unemployed people from around Illinois. Springfield Mayor John “Buddy” Kapp summed up authorities’ opinion of the demonstration: “The law enforcing officers of the … Continue reading

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First labor strike, 1872-73

Sangamon County’s first labor strike failed, but it was only the first step in a coming struggle between business owners and the growing power of unionized workers. The issue in December 1872 was a demand by the county’s coal miners … Continue reading

Posted in Coal mines and mining, Labor unions, Springfield Survey | Leave a comment

Coal mines in Sangamon County (maps)

The map above is a small-scale reproduction of an Illinois State Geological Survey map showing the extent of underground coal mining in the two Springfield quadrangles, Springfield East and Springfield West. The original map can be found at the survey’s … Continue reading

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The Battle of Virden (1898)

The 1898 “Battle of Virden,” a 10-minute gunfight that killed 13 men and had lasting significance for Illinois coal mining, was fought in Macoupin County, just south of the Sangamon County line. However, the Virden confrontation also led to turmoil … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Business, Coal mines and mining, Labor unions, Markers, Oak Ridge signs, State government | 7 Comments

Windstorm hits Auburn mine, 1911

A violent windstorm demolished the headworks of the Solomon Mine south of Auburn on July 11, 1911, killing one man and injuring several more. The Illinois State Register covered the devastation: The storm approached Auburn from the northeast and all … Continue reading

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Chatham mine cave-in, 1910

The cave-in of an abandoned coal mine on Oct. 15, 1910, caused some nervous moments in Chatham, but turned out not to be a serious danger. The mine, originally opened by the Chatham-Virden Coal Co. about 1900, was closed a … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Coal mines and mining, Disasters, Industry | 2 Comments