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Archive for November, 2013

Originally published in The Seattle Times, November 18, 1921

Pacific Coast Co. Hotel

The 67-room Pacific Coast Co. Hotel was across the street from the depot/museum, where the Eagles are today.

Ambushed and beaten by two men and a few minutes later by three men, L.H. Cook, 48 years old, manager of the Pacific Coast Coal Company’s hotel at Black Diamond, was beaten with clubs last evening and is in Providence Hospital suffering with numerous bruises and cuts. Investigation of the attack is being made by the sheriff’s office.

Cook was driving to Seattle and stopped about four miles out of Black Diamond to fill his radiator at a roadside trough. Two men suddenly appeared from the dark and seized him by the arm. Cook broke loose but was seized again. His assailants beat him with clubs and then ran into the underbrush.

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Originally published in the BDHS newsletter, November 1992

By Ann Steiert

Fire District No. 17's 1947 Ford Howard-Cooper (Photo courtesy Bill Kombol)

Fire District No. 17’s 1947 Ford Howard-Cooper (Photo courtesy Bill Kombol)

For the past several months the subject of arson and fires being set has dominated many newscasts. Reading and hearing all these reports has made us think about how fire protection came to be in our town.

When the town was first started there was a great hazard from fires for the homes were all heated by stoves and fireplaces. There was no water system as we know it now. It was quite a while before there were hydrants and trucks. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Star, November 14, 1905

Negro coal miner at Ravensdale expires under mysterious circumstances—glass of beer followed by fatal convulsions

Matt Starwich, the deputy sheriff at Ravensdale, is pictured top left (#1). King County Sheriff Robert Dodge (center) was previously deputy sheriff at Black Diamond.

Matt Starwich, the deputy sheriff at Ravensdale, is pictured top left (#1). King County Sheriff Robert Dodge (center) was previously deputy sheriff at Black Diamond.

Ravensdale, a coal mining town in King County, is in the throes of what appears to be a murder mystery.

The death of Thomas Myers, a negro coal miner, Monday morning after hours of intense suffering, has caused the authorities to suspect foul play.

Feeling runs high in the town against Frank Marcus, a saloonkeeper, and his brother, Steve Marcus. While they are not accused, they are being watched by Deputy Sheriff Matt Starwich. A few says ago Steve Marcus quarreled violently with the dead man over money matters. Frank Marcus claims that the colored man owed him $4 and refused to pay it. (more…)

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Miner Frank

Originally published in the Kent News Journal, November 13, 1981

Frank Grens

Staff photo by Mark Morris

Miner Frank Grens, about the only resident left in the old mining area of Franklin east of Black Diamond, puts on a pot of coffee in his one-room shack, formerly a miner’s wash house.

The “VIP, Mayor of Franklin and Dog Catcher,” as the sign outside his abode claims, spent 52 years working below the earth, harvesting the coal that gave Black Diamond its name. Now he’s content to live alone in his cabin, lit dimly by two hanging light bulbs.

Playboy centerfolds teasingly smile down from two of the dark wooden walls. There is an easy chair, several old kitchen chairs and a rumpled iron-cot bed. Fishing gear crowds a corner.

It is a lifestyle of someone unconcerned with material possessions.

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Originally published in the Pacific Coast Bulletin, December 25, 1929

W.E. Nichols

W.E. Nichols

Mr. W.E. Nichols, veteran purchasing agent of the Pacific Coast Railroad Company of Washington and the Pacific Coast Railway Company of California, retired from active and faithful service after more than forty years continuous employment.

Starting in the Engineering Department of the Port Townsend and Southern Railway Co., in 1890, Mr. Nichols became head draftsman for that company, with headquarters in Seattle in 1892. Shortly thereafter he was transferred to the Purchasing Department. In 1898, when the Pacific Coast Railroad Company was formed, Mr. Nichols became purchasing agent, holding that office until his retirement November 10, 1929.

While purchasing for the Columbia and Puget Sound Railroad, between 1893-98, Mr. Nichols brought to Seattle the first carload shipment of mild steel bars. (more…)

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Originally published in the Black Diamond Bulletin, Summer 2013

By JoAnne Matsumura

After coal mining disasters of the era, widows and their children often returned to their homeland, a place of familiarity and comfort. Mrs. Julius Persyn, along with her infant son Georges and brother-in-law Medard Persyn, returned to Europe on September 23, 1911, following the 1910 Lawson Mine disaster that claimed the life of her husband. She left her eldest son Henri with her brother’s family in Seattle.

Henri Joulia, Jr., Louise Fabre Persyn, Georges Persyn, ca. 1912.

Henri Joulia, Jr., Louise Fabre Persyn, Georges Persyn, ca. 1912.

The November 6, 1910, Lawson Mine explosion took the lives of 16 men, including Julius Persyn, 31, leaving behind wife Louise Fabre Joulia—who he had just married 10 months earlier on December 30, 1909—10-week-old son, Georges, born August 23, 1910, and stepson Henri Joulia, Jr.

Julius, along with his workmates Oscar and Ceazar Bael and Civili Maes—all of Belgium descent—and Fred Setti, an Italian, remain entombed in the 6th level of the mine more than 2,000 feet below the surface. The remaining 11 victims’ bodies were recovered.

Louise Fabre came to the U.S. in 1903 and resided with brothers Jules and Georges Fabre in Seattle. Sister Irene remained in Europe.

Julius was working as a pillar man at the Lawson Mine as early as 1907, earning $3 per day. How Julius and Louise met is a mystery. (more…)

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Originally published in the Kent News Journal, January 28, 1976

By Wini Carter

Dave Coby, Black Diamond ex-miner and logger, relies purely on his ears to get the right tone as he plays waltz on his Swedish steel saw. Coby was entertaining at a luncheon for senior citizens Thursday in Black Diamond.

Dave Coby, Black Diamond ex-miner and logger, relies purely on his ears to get the right tone as he plays waltz on his Swedish steel saw. Coby was entertaining at a luncheon for senior citizens Thursday in Black Diamond.

Dave Coby closed his eyes, tipping his head toward his right shoulder as his arms stretched out to the left to manipulate the shining band of Swedish steel whose handle was gripped between his knees.

The sweet singing vibration of bow sliding across the smooth back edge of the saw produced a waltz melody as a recorder on the floor softly provided backup music from a tape of waltzes and melody favorites of the past.

Some 75 senior citizens eating lunch in St. Barbara’s Parish Hall in Black Diamond nodded their heads with pleasure.

Coby’s expression was dreamy and withdrawn. One might think he was averting his head far from the source of the music because he can’t stand it.

But that’s not true. Coby turns his head because the musical saw artist relies on his ears to get the proper tone.

There are no keys to press, no strings to pluck, no notes to follows in the musical saw: Just the gentle pressure of the hand, bending the saw up or down, and the movement of the bow at proper angle and proper spot on the back edge.

“It’s as simple as can be,” said Coby, who learned to play to saw 30 years ago under the tutelage of an older brother. (more…)

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