Appalachian Thursday–Mining My History
This week I’m dipping into one of the two boxes of family items my Dad had tucked away at the farm. My ultimate goal is to sort through everything and preserve these treasures, but for now, I’m just enjoying unearthing nuggets of pure gold.
First, we have a pay stub from the Q & Q Coal Company, Inc. My grandfather, Rex P. Loudin, worked there long enough to earn black lung payments that my grandmother continued to receive until her death a few years ago. On July 15, 1952, his tally included:
-60 tons @ $1/per = $60
-3 pick tons @ $1.20/per = $3.60
-10.5 hours @ $1.10/per = $11.55
Deductions include $1.80 for powder and caps, 60 cents for lights, and $1.09 for social security. His final paycheck was for $71.66. I plugged that into an inflation calculator and it came out to $643.06 in today’s dollars. If that’s what he averaged twice a month, that means he was making the equivalent of around $15,500 a year. I guess hunting and farming really were important!
And it may very well be that Grandpa needed cash to help pay for the land he and my Great Uncle Judd (Arthur Loudin) bought in 1946. Dad’s box also contains the deed to what I grew up calling The Rexroad Place. Turns out Grandpa and Uncle Judd bought it for $1,025. It’s around 40 acres measured in poles from tree to stake to stake up to the Higginbotham line (I assume this was a neighbor). The deed also addresses coal rights and an oil and gas lease.
I especially enjoy writing stories set in the 40s and 50s. Reading from these bits of paper makes me feel like I have a direct line back to that time period. It’s an opportunity to peek through the keyhole of a door set in time and oh, how I love peering through.
Who knows? A Higginbotham may show up in one of my books before I’m done.