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Posts Tagged ‘Welsh’

Originally published in the Maple Valley Reporter, July 1, 2011

By TJ Martinell

Black Diamond baseball field, circa 1915.

The Black Diamond baseball field during a game.

Coal mining towns have always been a point of fascination to me.

There were two things which prompted my interest as a kid. The first was when my family took a trip to Knott’s Berry Farm. The Calico Mine Ride, a train tour into an animatronic coal mine, had a way sparking the imagination of a precocious 3-year-old whose head was already in the clouds.

The second reason was both historical and personal. My ancestor, John Bush, was one of the first white people born in the Issaquah Valley where there was a very active coal mining industry. When I was around 9 years old, my grandfather gave me a special coin commemorating the formation of the Royal Arch Mason Chapter 39 in Issaquah—dated September 22, 1914, with John Bush’s name engraved on the back.

So, when I first went to Black Diamond in search of a story, I was already interested in what the town had to offer in terms of history. While I was writing articles about Franklin and Welsh heritage, however, I became more interested in their prolific sports history.

At the front desk of the museum is a glass exhibit of their sports legacy; old baseball uniforms, basketball trophies, soccer team portraits, and autographed baseballs. It wasn’t hard for me to perceive the kind of significance sports had there. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, June 4, 2003

By Kathleen E. Kear

Welsh descendant Joseph J. Thomas, 9, was laid to rest in the Black Diamond Cemetery in 1890 after being killed by a coal train.

Steeped in a rich heritage of life centered on coal mining, Black Diamond, which was the third largest city in the state of Washington at one time, could also boast of the many European immigrants settling in and around the bustling town.

One of the countries represented in the area was Wales. Between 1882 and 1885 a whole town of Welsh families from California moved to Washington bringing with them not only their rich Welsh inheritance, but also the name of their town—Black Diamond (known at times in California during that time period as Nortonville and today as Pittsburgh).

Along with their rich heritage, the families brought with them their mining tools and equipment in addition to their furnishings. Many of these items will be on view at the Black Diamond Museum during their 5th annual Welsh Heritage Day celebration on Saturday, June 7. (more…)

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Originally published in the Maple Valley Reporter, June 3, 2011

Gomer Evans’ Welsh family heritage and the story of a father’s years in the mines

By TJ Martinell

Gomer Evans Sr. left, holding a lunch pail, stands with his arm on the cart outside a mine in the Black Diamond area. The photo is undated. Photo courtesy Sherrie Evans

Walking through the Black Diamond Historical Museum is like strolling through the family room for Gomer Evans, Jr.

A framed picture of his parents’ wedding sits on top of a glass display of family Bibles.

A photograph of his older brother, Dave, hangs on the wall in the main room.

As he flips through a collection of historical pictures, he finds his father, Gomer Evans Sr., sitting among a row of Welsh engineers. (more…)

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Originally published in the Maple Valley Reporter, May 13, 2011

By Timothy Martinell

An old coal cart sits where the town of Franklin once stood by the Green River. The cart was donated by the Palmer Coking Coal Company. TJ Martinell, The Reporter

I have to admit, when I first went to Black Diamond, I didn’t think I’d be introduced to the mayor of a ghost town.

When I first spoke to Keith Watson, director of the Black Diamond Historical Society, I expressed my interest in Franklin, the nearby ghost town. After discussing how to get there, he looked at me with a subtle grin and asked, “Do you want to meet the mayor?”

At first, I wasn’t sure if he was being funny or not, but then he walked into another room. A few moments later, he reappeared with another man: Don Mason, the “mayor” of Franklin. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 3, 1961

By Frank Lynch

Richard H. Parry and son Elvede with account of mine disaster (Post-Intelligencer photo).

Found (and at long, long last)—

A regional folk song and a regional hero.

Richard H. Parry lives at 4429 Rainier Ave. He was born in Wales, and he is a retired coal miner.

Some several weeks ago one of his sons, Arthur, found a Welsh language Bible at Goodwill. He bought same, presented it to his dad, and the elder Parry was delighted with it—and for several reasons.

The Bible is a handsome one—and well-illustrated. It is certainly very old.

There were several bits of Americana hidden in the pages—a Blue Ribbon Army (Temperance) pledge card, some Christmas cards, and scraps of Welsh verse and copy of a song sung over our own land by one W.D. Reese and entitled—

“The disaster at Franklin.” (more…)

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Originally published in the Valley Daily News, April 21, 1995

By George Erb
Valley Daily News

Front-end loader, above, shovels dirt and rock into a truck to expose coal. (Valley Daily News photo by Marcus R. Donner.)

BLACK DIAMOND — In the earliest days, miners would tromp out of the tent city that was Black Diamond and go underground to pry coal from the earth with hand tools and explosives.

More than a century later, most work takes place in broad daylight at the John Henry Mine on the outskirts of town. The John Henry is an open pit, and even when the sun sets behind the debris piles, the work goes on under the glare of floodlights mounted on diesel generators.

Today’s miners are more likely to wrestle a steering wheel than swing a pick. For the most part, they are heavy equipment operators who drive oversized bulldozers, trucks, and front-end loaders. (more…)

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Originally published in the Kent News Journal, April 16, 1987

By Bruce Rommel
Staff Reporter

Black Diamond city employee Larry Marks, on ground, Carl Steiert and Ted Barner inspect one of damaged monuments. Staff photo by Bruce Rommel.

Julia Gallagher was only 15 when she died on April 18, 1889. Somebody remembers. They regularly clean the ornate marble marker over her grave at the Black Diamond Cemetery.

Brushed and scrubbed to a dull white, Julia’s monument stood out amidst dozens of aged and graying monuments, making it a tempting target two nights ago.

It was one of nearly 40 historic monuments toppled or broken by vandals in the cemetery, where early residents of the coal-mining community were first laid to rest in wood coffins in the 1880s. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, April 3, 2007

By Barbara Nilson

Kummer coal/clay bunkers (November 13, 1951 #262106-9022) This coal/clay bunker or storage/ processing facility is believed to have been built in 1944 by the Kummer Coal Company and was later operated by the Johnson Coal Company and Palmer Coking Coal Co., Inc. Its capacity was listed as 150 tons. It was originally built as a coal bunker, but later used for clay. The Kummer mine was unique in that both coal and fire clay were mined. Following mining, slabs of mill end wood were laid on the ground and covered first with coal and then with freshly mined clay. The wood/coal base was set on fire and the clay was burned to rid it of carbon contaminants. The resulting clay was sold to Gladding McBean in Renton for the production of bricks. The Kummer clay beds were founded by Jacob Sants on August 15, 1888, and named for George Kummer, ceramist for the Denny Clay Company. This site is located south of the Green River and west of SR-169 on property now owned by Washington State Parks and Recreation in Section 26-21-6. (Note: King County Assessor photo.) From “When Coal Was King,” April 7, 2009, by Bill Kombol.

Though the clay and coal mining town of Kummer no longer exists, motorists traveling out of Black Diamond today may turn right on to S.E. 352th from the Maple Valley highway and cross the Green River on what the locals still refer to as the “Kummer bridge.”

William Kombol, Palmer Coking Coal Co. explains some of the history, “In addition to their appetite for coal, the growing cities of the Puget Sound also needed deposits of clay, one of the prime ingredients in paving and building bricks. Clay was first discovered in this area near Kummer (an area now occupied by Flaming Geyser State Park) by Jacob Sant in 1888.

The deposit and the town were named for George Kummer, a ceramist and engineer for the Denny Clay Company. In 1905, two local companies joined to form the Denny-Renton Clay & Coal Company which by 1917 was producing 58 million bricks per year. (more…)

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Originally published in the Pacific Coast Bulletin, March 4, 1926

Editors and publishers of approximately 100 newspapers in the State of Washington were the guests of the Pacific Coast Coal Company at Newcastle and the Briquet Plant, last Saturday. This excursion was the closing feature of the Fourteenth Annual Newspaper Institute of the Washington Press Association.

The picture shows the group ready to board the special train after having made a trip into the Primrose Seam, a mile and a quarter into the heart of the mountain, from whence comes the famous Newcastle coal. (more…)

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5-year project to put life back into Franklin

Originally published in The Seattle Times, February 11, 1994

By Keith Ervin
Seattle Times South bureau

Lindsay Larson leads a group of students through the old cemetery they are cleaning up. Many of the deaths were caused by mining accidents. (Jimi Lott, Seattle Times)

HISTORIC FRANKLIN—Hidden beneath the maples and cottonwoods of the Green River Gorge are secrets unseen by the casual visitor.

Some of those secrets are a little more visible today than they were yesterday, thanks to eighth-graders from Cedar Heights Junior High School in Covington. (more…)

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