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Illinois
Coal & Coal Mining
History & Genealogy

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Grundy County, Illinois

Featuring Coal Mining
      Grundy County is a county located in the northern part of the state of Illinois.
The population was 37,535 at the 2000 census, and the population was 50,063 in the 2010 census.
The county seat is Morris.
 
      Grundy County was established on February 17, 1841; formed out of LaSalle County and named for Felix Grundy.
 
      Grundy County has seventeen townships :
            Aux Sable, Braceville, Erienna, Felix, Garfield, Goodfarm, Goose Lake, Greenfield, Highland, Maine, Mazon, Morris, Nettle Creek, Norman, Saratoga, Vienna, Wauponsee
 
      Some of the Cities, Towns, Villages and Communities are :
            Braceville, Carbon Hill, Coal City, Diamond, Dwight, East Brooklyn, Gardner, Godley, Kinsman, Mazon, Minooka, Morris, South Wilmington, Verona
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History       1883 Diamond Coal Mine Disaster
 
Coal Mines A - G       Coal Mines H - Z
 
Fatalities       Non-Fatal Casualties       Sources

 
A Bit of Coal Mining History in Grundy County, Illinois 1
 
Mining in the Campus Quadrangle
      Mining in the Campus quadrangle was centered around the town of Cardiff. The Cardiff Coal Company mined both the Colchester Coal and the Cardiff Coal. This is the type location for the Cardiff Coal, which is known to be found only in Northeastern Livingston, southeastern Grundy and western Kankakee Counties. The seam occurs in channels that trend northeast-southwest, and so has a limited areal extent (Willman, et al., 1975, p. 187). The Cardiff Coal is as much as 12 feet thick in parts of this mine. The Cardiff Coal and the Colchester Coal are separated by an average of only six feet of strata. This made it possible to drive blind slopes (underground slopes that do not reach the surface) into the Colchester Coal from the Cardiff Coal.
      In 1903, a series of explosions caused the No. 1 Mine of the Cardiff Coal Company to close, and the No. 2 mine was opened. The No. 2 Mine was primarily worked using the longwall method of mining in the deeper Colchester Coal, but some works did extend into the Cardiff Coal above.
 
Mining in the Coal City Quadrangle
      The Colchester Coal was mined in this area. The seam was generally around 3 feet thick and between 50 and 200 feet deep. Rolls were common and some faults and slips were seen. The coal had a moderate sulfur content and low ash.
      According to Pete Kodat, author of Goose Lake Township Centennial September, 1897 - September, 1997, Peter Lamsett discovered coal in the 1820's along Mazon River in Goose Lake Township in the form of outcrops. He sold it to local farmers and blacksmiths, but never made much of a profit because he was a nomad. By 1860, the Peart family was operating nine shafts on their farms which lay to the east and south of the pottery works. They were some of the first landowners in Goose Lake Township to mine coal to any extent.
      Coal City is in the heart of the old longwall district. The old method of longwall mining develops a rosette pattern on a mine map, removing all the coal and piling gob behind to support the roof. In such thin seams, some roof and/or floor had to be removed to allow a height for the mules to pull the coal cars. This method was expensive, hauling cars of material that could not be sold. It was feasible in this district because the large Chicago market was so close. However, the large surface gob piles became an environmental problem later, and extensive reclamation was required. Surface mining was also successful in this area with the development of large shovels and draglines to remove the overburden.
      Diamond No. 2 Mine on this quadrangle was the site of one of Illinois' earliest mining disasters, where 69 men drowned in February 1883. The surface topography is flat. When heavy rains melted snow, the countryside was flooded to depths of 1 to 3 feet. Water broke into the old works in the eastern part of the mine. The main shaft was east of the escape shaft, and was soon inaccessible. The roadway to the escape shaft had a 15-yard-long dip and the last men out by this route had to swim. When that passageway filled with water, there was no escape from the mine.
 
Mining in the Essex Quadrangle
      Coal was first said to have been discovered in Essex Township about 1820 by Matthewson, the State Geologist, at Cook's shaft (Essex, Illinois, A History, 1977 and A Journey into the Past, 1985). Evidence of coal mining in the Essex Quadrangle goes back to as early as 1874, known only as a location from an old atlas. The coal was fairly deep (55 to 180 feet), so early mining in this area was underground. The Colchester Coal was the seam most often mined and it averaged about three feet thick. Thin coals were usually mined in the old longwall method, where all of the coal was removed and gob from the roof was piled behind the advancing miners to support the roof. The Houchin Creek Coal varied greatly in thickness, ranging up to 5 feet thick where it was present. This coal was usually mined in the room-and-pillar method. The Clark City & Wilmington Coal Company mined both the Houchin Creek and Colchester Coals, but the Houchin Creek (the upper seam) had a tendency to spontaneously combust, and at one point several smouldering fires were active. These fires led the company to seal off the upper seam for a few years to smother the fires before they could come back and mine the thicker coal there.
      The last mine to operate was Peabody Coal Company's Northern Mine (mine index 834). This large surface mine operated until 1974, when the last pit closed in Kankakee County.
 
Mining in the Gardener Quadrangle
      The Colchester Coal was mined in this area by longwall mines that operated before 1915. The two underground mines ( Truckers Mine and the Number Three Mine) that operated after 1930 utilized the room-and-pillar method of mining. Much of the area is shown as a general area of mining because of a lack of good mine maps, an issue related to the age of the mining. The seam ranges between 90 and 200 feet deep and averages about 3 feet thick. Rolls and small faults interfered somewhat with mining. Roof falls from near-surface water percolating into the mines was a problem at two mines in this quadrangle.
      Near the town of Gardner, a mine was started in 1863 by James Congson & William Odell and operated for more than ten years. Another mine started in 1 865, was not so fortunate. The Joint Stock Coal Mining Company attempted to sink a shaft southwest of town, which was abandoned at 40 feet when water was hit. This shaft was then used as a water well for steam locomotives.
      Around the village of Braceville, the Milwaukee Coal Company bought out most of the mines and built 'Company Houses' for their employees. At one point, they employed over 600 miners. As these mines closed, most by the late 1800's, many of the 'Company Houses' were moved to southern Illinois by flat car.
      The most recent mining was from the surface. The Northern Mine operated in other seams where the coal was thick enough, such as the Houchin Creek and Cardiff Coals, in addition to the Colchester Coal. This mine ceased operations in 1974.
 
Mining in the Kinsman Quadrangle
      Mining in this quadrangle began in 1922 at what was then called the Verona Mine. This mine closed in 1930, then operating as the Sunlight No. 7 Mine. The Wright Brothers Mine opened the following year after constructing a slope down to the old workings of the Sunlight No. 7 Mine and also constructing an air shaft in one of the rooms of the abandoned mine. This mine operated north of the old mine, and closed in 1940. Both of these mines worked in the Herrin Coal, which was quite thick in this area, averaging seven feet thick and ranging up to eight feet. With the closing of the Verona Mine mining in this quadrangle ended.
 
Mining in the Lisbon Quadrangle -- See : Mining in the Morris Quadrangle
 
Mining in the Mazon Quadrangle
      The Sunlight Mine was an underground mine that operated from 1922 to 1930, mining the Herrin Coal. The Herrin Coal was quite thick in this area, averaging seven feet thick and ranging up to eight feet.
 
Mining in the Minooka Quadrangle
      The underground mining occurred early, all abandoned before 1934. According to Richard Patrick Joyce in Miners of the Prairie: Life & Labor in the Wilmington, Illinois Coal Field, 1866-1897 (1980), Micajah Adams dug two loads of coal at Aux Sable in 1839-1840, and took coal to Chicago. By 1857, at least six mines were said to have been operating in the Dresden and Morris areas, which were small local mines that stripped 7 to 15 feet of topsoil to reach the coal. The next known mine was shown on the 1874 Atlas of Grundy County, and two others were abandoned before
 
Mining in the Morris Quadrangle
      The earliest mining in this area was reported in the 1850s. In 1853, James Watson found a 5 foot vein of coal on the Schoonmaker's farm, near the Illinois River on Waupecan Creek, which he mined and sold in Chicago (Joyce, 1980). Samuel Wood and Daniel Williams opened the first coal bank in the vicinity of Morris (Sereno) about 1954, which operated in the winters for ten years. James Telfer is attributed with the first shaft mine in Grundy County. This mine was located on the Old Peacock farm in Morris Township, and was 58 ½ feet deep. By 1857, six mines, including Telfer's, were said to have been operating in the Morris and Dresden areas. These mines were small, local mines, which often stripped 7 to 15 feet of topsoil and clay to reach the coal (Joyce, 1980).
      Many of the earliest mines were shaft mines. These often did not have extensive workings, only extending a few hundred feet until drainage, haulage and ventilation became problems. A new shaft was then sunk rather than extending the mine. Because of the problems in the mines and the relatively thin coal found here (2.5 - 3.0 feet thick on average), there were few shipping mines in this area.
      Numerous mines existed in the area around the city of Morris. As early as 1882, the History of Grundy County reported that more than one hundred openings had been made, with many more in the years that followed. Many of the old, small mines known to exist in the areas north and south of Morris have notbeen able to be definitively located.
 
Mining in the Stavanger Quadrangle
      Only one mine was known to have operated in this quadrangle. The Heather Coal Company only operated from 1936 to 1937 with a small operation. This mine lies near the crop line for the Colchester Coal, the predominant coal mined in this part of the state.
 
Mining in the Wilmington Quadrangle
      The first shaft was sunk in this area in 1864 to supply local trade, and was bought the same year by the Robbins Company. In 1866, the Chicago & Wilmington Coal Company was organized. They hired James Braidwood because of his experience with water problems in underground mines. Braidwood worked with the B and C Mines, then formed a cooperative with others and opened the Eagle Mine. By 1873, eleven shafts were operating, including those operated by the Wilmington Coal Mining Company, the Coal, Iron & Transportation Company (A. B. Meeker), Wilmington Coal Mining & Manufacturing Company, Wilmington Star Coal Company, and the Eureka Coal Company. A great deal of the mining in this quadrangle occurred before 1882, when annual production was listed in the Coal Reports. The Chicago, Wilmington & Vermilion Coal Company dominated the area.
      Early mining in the Colchester Coal was by longwall method. In early longwall mining, the coal was removed along a continuously advancing face that produced a circular pattern in ideal conditions. Near Braidwood, the coal was often quite shallow (30 to 65 feet was common), and with little bedrock above the coal to support the glacial till and surface soils, water was a common problem in the early mines. Few of the mines in the Wilmington Quadrangle have developed the circular outline, probably because of avoiding areas where the roof was too poor or too much water infiltrated. The proximity to the Chicago market was a great inducement to try to overcome the difficulties of mining a seam that averaged only 3 feet thick.
      The shallow depth of the coal and lack of adequate roof was a bonus to later mining, which took advantage of large machinery to surface-mine great tracts of land. The large Peabody Northern Mine ceased operations in the early 1970s.
      A thick seam, which may correlate with the Rock Island Coal, was mined about 5 miles north of Braidwood. This was a coal that occurred in pod-like deposits that were very thick (8 to 10 feet) but would thin to nothing within ½ mile. This seam was reputedly mined during the Civil War by Schoonmaker and Bardwell.
 

 
Grundy County, Illinois
Non-Fatal Casualties

July 1, 1923 - June 30, 1924 & July 1, 1925 - December 31, 1925
ADAMS, George age 47 years, Married with 4 children; 4 depedents, of So. Wilmington
5 Mar 1924 - Toe broken, falling rock - Time lost - 97 days
 
CANNON, Ray age 39 years, Machineman, employed at No. 7 Mine of the Sunlight C. Co.
7 Aug 1925 - Toe broken, falling jack pipe - Time lost - 30 days
 
CERFALI, Peter age 43 years, Married with 3 children; 4 dependents, of So. Wilmington
28 Sep 1923 - Back injured, lifting rock - Time lost - 31 days
 
CLIVETTI, Anton age 38 years, Married, of So. Wilmington
13 Oct 1923 - Leg injured, falling rock - Time lost - 79 days
 
CORNEGLIO, Joseph age 18 years, Married, of So. Wilmington
27 Aug 1923 - Leg broken, pit car - Time lost - 99 days
 
CRANGER, Robert age 25 years, Married with 1 dependent, of So. Wilmington
18 Sep 1923 - Body injured - Time lost - 46 days
 
DINALLI, Angelo age 50 years, Married with 1 dependent, of So. Wilmington
30 Jul 1923 - Finger injured, pit car - Time lost - 37 days
 
EAVIRILLA, Andrew age 48 years, Married with 1 child; 2 dependents, of So. Wilmington
13 Feb 1924 - Back injured, fell down - Time lost - 48 daysBack injured, fell down - Time lost - 48 days
 
ENGLISH, John A. age 31 years, Married, of So. Wilmington
15 Jan 1924 - Leg injured, tail chain - Time lost - 40 days
 
ENGLISH, Matthew age 22 years, Married, of So. Wilmington
5 Jan 1924 - Finger broken, pit car - Time lost - 58 days
 
ENGRAM, John age 23 years, Loader, employed at No. 7 Mine of the Sunlight C. Co.
14 Sep 1925 - Finger mashed, spragging cars - Time lost - 30 days
 
FERRARA, David age 58 years, Miner, employed by the Wilmington Star C. Co.
8 Dec 1925 - Eye injured, flying coal - Time lost - 56 days
 
GRAFE, Dewey age 27 years, Cager, employed at No. 7 Mine of the Sunlight C. Co.
3 Nov 1925 - Finger broken, falling coal - Time lost - 30 days
 
GUISTAT, Peter age 44 years, Married with 3 children; 4 dependents, of So. Wilmington
27 Oct 1923 - Leg injured, falling rock - Time lost - 38 days
 
LARDIE, August age 26 years, Driver, employed at No. 7 Mine of the Sunlight C. Co.
28 Sep 1925 - Finger broken, spragging car - Time lost - 33 days
 
MAGNETTI, Peter age 48 years, Miner, employed by the Wilmington Star C. Co.
30 Nov 1925 - Eye injured, flying coal - Time lost - 60 days
 
MARKETTI, Lawrence age 27 years, Married with 1 child; 2 dependents, of So. Wilmington
9 Oct 1923 - Finger injured, rolling coal - Time lost - 30 days
 
MEREDITH, Louis age 37 years, Machineman, employed at No. 7 Mine of the Sunlight C. Co.
26 Aug 1925 - Toe broken, machine - Time lost - 32 days
 
OLIVETTI, Peter age 33 years, Married with 1 child; 2 dependents, of So. Wilmington
10 Jun 1924 - Finger broken, pit car - Not returned to work
 
PERINO, Dominic age 60 years, Married with 1 dependent, of So. Wilmington
14 Sep 1923 - Body injured, powder explosion - Time lost - 108 days
 
RUBIS, Andy age 29 years, Loader, employed at No. 7 Mine of the Sunlight C. Co.
7 Aug 1925 - Toe broken, machine - Time lost - 34 days
 
SPESE, Carlo age 69 years, of Coal City
9 Aug 1923 - Eye injured, flying coal - Time lost - 38 days
 
THOM, John D. age 53 years, Married with 2 children; 3 dependents, of Coal City
27 Jun 1924 - Shoulder injured, struck by coal - Not returned to work
 
VIANO, Joe age 50 years, Married with 1 dependent, of Verona
28 Jun 1924 - Face and hands burned - Not returned to work
 
WENDELL, Fred age 44 years, Loader, employed at No. 7 Mine of the Sunlight C. Co.
4 Sep 1925 - Finger injured, falling coal - Time lost - 35 days
 
WILSON, Albert age 35 years, Driver, employed at No. 7 Mine of the Sunlight C. Co.
30 Jul 1925 - Fingers injured, kicked by mule - Time lost - 30 days
 
WILSON, Arthur age 34 years, Married with 4 children; 5 dependents, of Coal City
30 Apr 1924 - Shoulder blade broken - Time lost - 30 days
 
WINSHIP, William age 33 years, Driver, employed at No. 7 Mine of the Sunlight C. Co.
8 Oct 1925 - Back injured, struck by object - Time lost - 30 days
 

 
Sources :
 
1 Coal Mines in Illinois, Grundy County
                Illinois State Geological Survey, 615 East Peabody Drive, Champaign, IL. 61820

2 Statistics of Coal Production in Illinois, 1883,
                A Supplemental Report of the State Bureau of Labor Statistics,
                by John S Lord, Secretary; Springfield, ILL: H. W. Rokker, Printer and Binder; 1883

3 Third Biennial Report, Bureau of Labor Statistics of Illinois, 1884
                Springfield, ILL; H. W. Roker, State Printer and Binder, 1884

4 Statistics of Coal In Illinois 1885 -- A Supplemental Report; State Bureau of Labor Statistics
                Reports of Mine Inspectors; For the Year Ended July1, 1885
                Springfield, ILL; H. W. Roker, State Printer and Binder, 1885

5 Statistics of Coal in Illinois, 1887 - A Supplemental Report of the State Bureau of Labor Statistics
                Springfield, ILL.; H. W. Rokker, State Printer and Binder, 1887

6 Sixth Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of Illinois, 1890
                Springfield, ILL.; H. W. Rokker, State Printer and Binder, 1891

7 Statistics of Coal In Illinois 1893
                Twelveth Annual Report ;    Springfield, ILL.; H. W. Rokker, State Printer and Binder, 1894

8 Statistics of Coal In Illinois 1894
                Thirteenth Annual Report ;    Springfield, ILL.; Ed. F. Hartman, State Printer, 1895

9 Statistics of Coal In Illinois 1895
                Fourteenth Annual Report;    Springfield, ILL.; ED. F. Hartman, State Printer, 1896

10 Fifteenth Annual Report of the State Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1896
                Springfield, ILL; Phillips Bros. State Printers, 1897

11 Sixteenth Annual Report of the State Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1897
                Coal in Illinois;    Springfield, ILL; Phillips Bros. State Printers, 1898

12 Seventeenth Annual Report of the State Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1898
                Coal in Illinois;    Springfield, ILL; Phillips Bros. State Printers, 1899

13 Eighteenth Annual Report Prepared by the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1899
                Springfield, ILL; Phillips Bros. State Printers, 1899

14 Nineteenth Annual Coal Report of the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1900,
                also the Second Annual Report of the Illinois Free Employment Offices, for the Year Ended
                October 1, 1900, David Ross, Secretary; Springfield, -- Springfield, ILL.; Phillips Bros., State Printers, 1901

15 Twentieth Annual Coal Report of the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1901,
                also the Third Annual Report of the Illinois Free Employment Offices, for the Year Ended
                October 1, 1901, David Ross, Secretary; Springfield, -- Springfield, ILL.; Phillips Bros., State Printers, 1902

16 Twenty-first Annual Coal Report of the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1902,
                also the Fourth Annual Report of the Illinois Free Employment Offices, for the Year Ended
                October 1, 1902, David Ross, Secretary; Springfield, -- Springfield, ILL.; Phillips Bros., State Printers, 1903

17 Twenty-second Annual Coal Report of the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1903,
                also the Fifth Annual Report of the Illinois Free Employment Offices, for the Year Ended
                October 1, 1903, David Ross, Secretary; Springfield, -- Springfield, ILL.; Phillips Bros., State Printers, 1904

18 Twenty-third Annual Coal Report of the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1904,
                also the Sixth Annual Report of the Illinois Free Employment Offices, for the Year Ended
                October 1, 1904, David Ross, Secretary; Springfield, -- Springfield, Illinois State Journal, State Printers, 1905

19 Twenty-Fourth Annual Coal Report of the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1905,
                also the Seventh Annual Report of the Illinois Free Employment Offices, for the Year Ended
                September 30, 1905, David Ross, Secretary; Springfield, -- Springfield, Illinois State Journal, State Printers, 1906

20 Twenty-Fifth Annual Coal Report of the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1906,
                also the Eighth Annual Report of the Illinois Free Employment Offices, for the Year Ended
                September 30, 1906, David Ross, Secretary; Springfield, -- Springfield, ILL.; Phillips Bros., State Printers, 1907

21 Twenty-Sixth Annual Coal Report of the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1907,
                also the Ninth Annual Report of the Illinois Free Employment Offices, for the Year Ended
                September 30, 1907, David Ross, Secretary; Springfield, -- Springfield, ILL.; Phillips Bros., State Printers, 1908

22 Twenty-Seventh Annual Coal Report of the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1908
                Springfield, Illinois; Illinois State Journal Co.. State Printers, 1909

23 Twenty-Eighth Annual Coal Report of the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1909
                Springfield, Illinois; Illinois State Journal Co.. State Printers, 1910

24 Twenty-Ninth Annual Coal Report of the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1910
                Springfield, Illinois; Illinois State Journal Co.. State Printers, 1911

25 Thirtieth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1911
                State Mining Board -- Springfield, Illinois; Illinois State Journal Co.. State Printers, 1912

26 Thirty-First Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1912
                State Mining Board -- Springfield, Illinois; Illinois State Journal Co.. State Printers, 1913

27 Thirty-Second Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1913
                State Mining Board -- Springfield, Illinois; Illinois State Journal Co.. State Printers, 1914

28 Thirty-Third Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1914
                State Mining Board -- Springfield, Illinois; Illinois State Journal Co.. State Printers, 1914

29 Thirty-Fourth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1915
                State Mining Board -- Illinois State Journal Co., State Printers, 1915

30 Thirty-Fifth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1916
                State Mining Board -- Springfield, ILL.; Illinois State Journal Co., State Printers 1916

31 Twenty-Sixth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1917
                Department of Mines and Minerals; Year Ended June 30, 1917
                Printed by authority of the State of Illinois; Springfield: Illinois State Journal, State Printers, 1917

32 Thirty-Seventh Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1918
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Springfield, ILL.; Illinois State Journal Co., State Printers 1918

33 Thirty-Eighth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1919
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Springfield, ILL.; Illinois State Journal Co., State Printers 1919

34 Forty-First Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1922
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Illinois Printing Co., Danville, ILL., 1922

35 Forty-Sixth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1926
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Illinois Printing Co., Danville, ILL., 1927

36 Forty-Sixth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1927
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Illinois Printing Co., Danville, ILL., 1928

37 Forty-Seventh Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1928
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Illinois Printing Co., Danville, ILL., 1929

38 Fifty -Fourth Coal Report of Illinois, 1935
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois

39 Fifty -Sixth Coal Report of Illinois, 1937
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois

40 Sixty First Coal Report of Illinois, 1942
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois

41 Eighty-First Coal Report of Illinois, 1962
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois

42 Eighty-Fourth Coal Report of Illinois, 1965
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois

43 Ninety-Third Coal Report of Illinois, 1974
                Department of Mines and Minerals -- Printed by authority of the State of Illinois

 

Coal & Coal Mining in Illinois

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