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Coal companies that paid way for immigrants

  • 15 January 2023 4:17 AM
    Reply # 13057877 on 13044664

    I think Professor Magocsi wrote in "The People from Nowhere" that one of the first activities of miners and their families that emigrated to America was to build a new church.  In contrast to Europe, these miners owned the land and buildings.

    They would invite a priest to come to America and be INTERVIEWED for the job of pastoring their church and community.  Shocked a few priests.  Created a rivalry between Greek, Russian and Roman Catholic institutions in Europe.

    In addition to Churches, mining communities also created Insurance Companies and Community Welfare Societies to help offset death of a family breadwinner.

    They promoted education.  Started their own newspapers that covered local news as well as news from their homeland.



    PS: "People from Nowhere" phrase is attributed to Andy WARHOL(A) when asked where he came from.  Details of his life are on Wikipedia.com.

    GRAVESITE: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/1459/andy-warhol

    24/7 EARTHCAM:


  • 14 January 2023 9:08 PM
    Reply # 13057691 on 13044664

    I served in the Benld church as recently as 2017. The church is listed as being in the Chicago Mid America Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. It was directly under the Patriarchal Parishes until relatively recently. 

  • 14 January 2023 4:06 PM
    Reply # 13057507 on 13044664

    The Russian Orthodox church in Benld, Illinois is been closed for many years.  It was founded early in the 1900's when the Rusyns from eastern Slovakia came to the US.  Spoke with a  descendent of the Benld church, she mentioned only a few members may be living in the area.  The congregation was small and elderly by the 1950's, as children have moved on to colleges and better paying jobs.  

    This area never had a Rusyn population, on the church members.  The Rusyns came to small coal mines thoughout central and southern Illinois because they had little to no education and money to purchase farms.   Most mines closed by the 1950's. because of new & stronger mining restrictions.

    It was a rough life for our people.  

  • 13 January 2023 3:07 PM
    Reply # 13056424 on 13044664

    I am a "coal cracker" from PA with a long line of immigrants who settled in the Scranton area and worked in the mines. My grandfather was one. My grandparents had there own home but I do remember being in a company house. It was small and comfortable for the couple who lived there. The miners could never get ahead. They got paid and spent the money at the company store. I remember the stories of the black mariah  delivering the body of the dead miner and placing him on the homes table. Several of my relatives the death certificate notes the roof fell in as cause of death. It was a very difficult time. 

  • 12 January 2023 10:52 AM
    Reply # 13054383 on 13044664

    I looked up PLISHKA surname on my Ancestry DNA matches. 

    My 2C1R cousin was born in Zakarpattya Oblast.  He shares DNA with a person that has Fedor PLISHKA born 1877 in Czortkow which I think is now Chortkiv, Lviv Ukraine.  Mother was Hafie OLCHOWY born  in Malopolskie, Poland which borders Ukraine.

    I am very involved with genealogy, especially Eastern Europe.  I'm able to view DNA matches for about 40 of my Ancestry DNA cousins.  DNA is helpful because many records of Eastern European ancestors have been lost or difficult to find and translate.

    From forebears.io website that explains surnames and provides alternatives:

    How Common Is The Last Name Plishka? 

    The surname is the 802,733rd most frequently occurring surname internationally, borne by approximately 1 in 20,881,220 people. The last name occurs mostly in The Americas, where 95 percent of Plishka live; 95 percent live in North America and 95 percent live in Anglo-North America.

    This surname is most common in The United States, where it is borne by 261 people, or 1 in 1,388,732. In The United States Plishka is most numerous in: Nevada, where 40 percent are found, Pennsylvania, where 11 percent are found and New Jersey, where 10 percent are found. Not including The United States Plishka exists in 5 countries. It is also found in Canada, where 22 percent are found and Belarus, where 2 percent are found.

    Coincidentally, PLISHKA family my cousin is related to emigrated to Canada.

    If you want to know more, please send email to my C-RS address.

  • 11 January 2023 10:58 AM
    Reply # 13052879 on 13044664

    Thank you for sharing your personal experience and for the coal company records tip! 

  • 08 January 2023 3:53 AM
    Reply # 13048828 on 13044664

    There a family stories that when a miner was killed in an accident, the company moved his family out of company owned housing, sometimes the same day of his death.  Many women with children sought a husband soon as possible to avoid further hardship.

    After immigrants embarked from ships and were processed at places like Ellis Island, coal company representatives were waiting on shore with promises of jobs and housing.  Many immigrants could not even sign their name.  X marks the spot.

    Almost all family stories have been lost as that generation died off and technology replaced men with machines.

    Although I'm "only" 80 years old, I remember visiting my relatives in Dunbar and Leisenring in Fayette County in the early 1950s.  They retired from working in coal mines and coke ovens.  They lived in company houses, had outdoor toilets, pumps in the kitchen, coal cooking stoves and bought most of their goods from a company store.

    By the time I graduated in 1960, they had indoor plumbing and gas for heating and cooking.  Scary thought.  I'm beginning to sound like my grandparents!

  • 08 January 2023 3:39 AM
    Reply # 13048827 on 13044664

    Pennsylvania, U.S., Coal Employment Records, 1900-1954


    NOTE: Ancestry requires a subscription.

    Hudson Coal Company Records

    The Hudson Coal Company records (previously Anthracite miners' heritage collection) consists almost entirely of microfilms of office files generated by the Hudson Coal Company of Pennsylvania for anthracite coal mines located in Lackawana and Luzerne Counties, and microfilms of payroll records for mines located in Luzerne County.


    NOTE: Anthracite Coal was mined in Luzerne, and Lackawanna Counties in PA around 1850 to end of WW1 1918.  Bituminous Coal was mined in Northern PA, Southwest PA (Fayette County) and WV from around 1900 through the 1950s.  Later, mining moved West.

    NOTE: Approximate date ranges.  Both are still mined for special applications.



    At one time, Dunbar in Fayette County was known as the Iron Capital because they supplied iron for cooking ware, transportation vehicles and tools for families heading West to claim their Homestead. 


    Discovery of high grade iron ore in Michigan, purchase of new technology steel furnaces and replacement of barges by trains made Pittsburgh the Steel Capital.  Steel replaced Iron, and Pittsburgh replaced Dunbar.

  • 04 January 2023 3:26 PM
    Message # 13044664

    Hello, I am aware that coal companies paid the way for some immigrants to come to the US. I am curious if anyone has tried to research which coal company paid for their relative's journey and uncover any related documents like cost, travel itinerary, etc.  I'm curious about the specific path my great grandfather took to the port, like which train stations, etc. I can probably make an educated guess about the journey but wondering if specific documents exist. Thanks in advance. 

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