Tag Archives: lackawanna county pennsylvania

Kids Working (and dying) in the Coal Mines

mine-disaster

I’m still tracing my Pennsylvania coal mining roots. The Engle family and the Thomas family joined when Charles F. Engle and Anna May Thomas married in 1897. They were married in Taylor, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. The Engles were originally from Germany and the Thomas family was from Wales. Anna’s father’s John Thomas had to sign for her as she was underage. Charles Frederick Engle was my biological great grandfather, born in Pennsylvania in 1874. Anna May Thomas was my biological great grandmother, born in Pennsylvania in 1879.

anna and charles

I’ve had a hard time trying to trace the Thomas side because their names were so common. I found them all listed on the 1880 Federal Census.

Thomas family 1880

Please note that the father, John, was a coal miner. My Great Grandmother, Anna Thomas Engle, is 9 months old at the time of the census.

If you think all of the old documents were this easy to read, please think again. All of the original records were hand written. Patient volunteers have generously given their time and skills to index the records and to make them digitally available.

Below is what the original 1880 Federal Census shows for the Thomas Family.

original 1880 census

I have tried to trace the family forward, but the 1890 Federal Census was destroyed in a fire in Washington, D.C. in 1921. The first I can find the family again was in the 1900 census. I found Anna and Charles Engle (married) and Anna’s sister, Gwennie, living with them. I also found William. I haven’t been able to find the parents, John and Mary, or the boy James.

Something brought me back to the 1880 census and I noticed that James was listed as working in the mines. Because I couldn’t find him again in the 1900 census, I wondered if something had happened to him.

james thomas

The mine accident reports have all been digitized and are easy to find on the internet. I did a quick search and found a listing for a James Thomas, age 14, who died in an 1884 mine accident. I can’t be positive that this is my relative, but the ages fit. His age was listed as 9 in the 1880 census and his age was listed as 14 in the 1884 report — he may have had a birthday.

james thomas death

I will keep searching to find out if this is the same James Thomas. I defy anyone to say that they had a crappy childhood in comparison to these little kids working underground in the mines.

PA-breaker-boys

I urge everyone to take up genealogy because it is an easy and personal way to learn history. The stories become your stories and mean more because it happened to your family.

R.I.P. little James Thomas.

youngminers

I’m Proud to be a Coal Miner’s Great Granddaughter. . .

I’ve recently been doing a lot of research on the paternal biological side of my family (the Engle side). I haven’t found when they arrived or entered the United States, but I have discovered that most of them came from the coal mining region around Scranton (Lackawanna County) Pennsylvania. And many of them were coal miners or worked in some capacity for the mines. And they married coal miner’s daughters. A lot of these “in-laws” were miners who came from Wales looking for a better life . . .and ended up working in the mines anyway.

I haven’t found the exact documents yet to prove when the Engle family first arrived, but several census documents say that George W. Engle’s father was born in Germany.

George W. Engle is my 2nd Great Grandfather, born 1849 in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania

and his son was —

Charles Frederick Engle is my Great Grandfather, born 1874 in Peckville, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania

and his son was —

Charles Frederick Engle, Jr. is my Grandfather, born 1899 in Taylor, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania

and his son was —

my biological father, William Leonard Engle, born 1919 in Montana.

Charles F. Engle, Jr. (grandfather) switched from being a coal miner to being a wildcatter during the oil boom days. And that explains why my father was born in Montana.

R.I.P. Olivette Engle, Born 1901 & Killed in 1922 by Deranged Husband

I don’t have a lot of information about my biological father’s family, so I have been slowly working backward from my father’s records to his father, etc.

It is always surprising when you find an early death or an interesting newspaper article about one of your relatives. Today I found that Olivette Engle, my paternal Great Aunt (sister to my paternal grandfather) was murdered by her 2nd husband Frank Wesley Johnson. And she wasn’t divorced from her first husband, Joseph G. Crum.

Olivette Engle, 1901 - 1922

Olivette Engle, 1901 – 1922

Olivette Engle was born on 7 Nov 1901 in Scranton, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania to Charles F. Engle & Anna Thomas Engle. She was one of six Engle children. The family moved to Union, Broome County, New York at some point between 1910 and 1920. The 1910 U.S. Federal Census shows them living in Taylor, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. And the 1920 U.S. Federal Census has them living in Union, New York.

 
Murder1
 
Murder or Suicide1
 

Olivette Engle Crum Johnson's Death Certificate

Olivette Engle Crum Johnson’s Death Certificate

Frank Wesley Johnson, Olivette Engle's 2nd Husband

Frank Wesley Johnson, Olivette Engle’s 2nd Husband


Frank Wesley Johnson

Frank Wesley Johnson


Frank Wesley Johnson

Frank Wesley Johnson

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